Archive | January 14, 2016

U.S. Senate Blocks Bill to Audit the Federal Reserve*

U.S. Senate Blocks Bill to Audit the Federal Reserve*

apocalypse-statue-of-libertyThe U.S. Senate failed to advance a piece of legislation on Tuesday afternoon that would require an independent audit of the Federal Reserve bank.

The US Senate failed to advance a piece of legislation on Tuesday afternoon that would require an independent audit of the Federal Reserve bank.

The bill to audit the Federal Reserve would call for two independent auditors to look into its books, including Government Accountability Office (GAO) and another independent auditor. The Federal Reserve, which has more than $4.5 trillion on its balance sheet, is currently only subject to an internal audit.

“The bill was sponsored by Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul. Ahead of the Tuesday vote he stated his “opposition to the lack of accountability of the Federal Reserve… an institution that for too long has been shrouded in secrecy.”

Last week, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen stated her opposition to the audit, and argued such a move would undermine the independence of the organization and could cause fears of inflation.

The bill mainly received support from conservatives in the Senate, though Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, an opponent of the excessive influence of private finance in the United States, threw his support behind the bill as well.

Source*

Related Topics:

House Passes Bill to Overhaul the Federal Reserve*

Federal Reserve Returns Only Five Percent of Germany’s Gold*

After not Returning Most of Germany’s Gold, Federal Reserve Refuses Again not to be Audited*

Signs of Federal Reserve Instability Coming to the Surface*

Fed Official Confesses Federal Reserve Rigged the Stock Market Crash*

Foreign Countries Held Hostage by the Federal Reserve*

Texas Pulls $1 Billion In Gold From NY Fed*

New Gene Editing Technique on Human Embryos*

New Gene Editing Technique on Human Embryos*

By Dr. Mae-Wan Ho

A new gene-editing technique has taken the world by storm, it can disable or change specific gene in the genome of all animals including humans faster and more efficiently than ever before but it has raise unprecedented concern over safety and ethics Dr Mae-Wan Ho

The new gene-editing technique CRISPR (see Box) [1] has taken the world by storm. It enables geneticists to disable or change the sequence of specific genes in the genome of practically all animals including humans faster, more efficiently than ever before, promising to improve our understanding of how genes work, delete genes that cause diseases, even modify human embryos to rid them of diseases or to ‘enhance ‘ them. The applications are moving ahead so fast that many scientists are calling for caution as major safety and ethical concerns need to be addressed.

The issue came to a head when a team of Chinese researchers created the first genetically modified human embryos using the technology.

CRISPR the new wonder tool for genetic modification

CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat) refer to short, partially repeated DNA found in the genome of bacteria and other microorganisms that protect the organism against viruses (see Figure 1).

Figure 1   CRISPR-mediated immunity (see text)

In Fig. 1, CRISPR regions are composed of short DNA repeats (black diamonds) and spacers (colour boxes). When a new virus infects the bacterium, a new spacer derived from the virus is incorporated among the existing spacers. The CRISPR sequence is transcribed and processed to generate short CRISPR RNA molecules. The CRISPR RNA associates with and guides bacterial DNA cutting protein (Cas9 protein) to a matching target sequence in the invading virus. The Cas9 protein cuts up and destroys the invading viral genome.

CRISPR has become the latest gene-editing technique, which enables precise changes to be made in the genes of fruit flies, fish, mice, plants and human cells. To do that, geneticist first design and synthesize short a RNA molecule that match a specific DNA sequence. Then, as in the targeting step of the bacterial system, this guide RNA shuttles the Cas9 protein to the intended DNA target, and can silence a gene or change the sequence of a gene by adding a repair template with a specified change in sequence, so that it is incorporated into the DNA during the repair process. The targeted DNA is now altered to carry the new sequence (see Figure 2).

Figure 2    CRISPR gene silencing or gene editing

First genetically modified human embryos created in China

A team of researchers at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou China used CRISPR to edit the b-haemoglobin gene (HBB) in human pre-implantation embryos . Actually the team used defective embryos with three pronuclei that normally would not be implanted. They found that CRISPR/Cas9 could effectively cut the HBB gene, but the efficiency of homologous recombination directed repair of HBB was low and the edited embryos were mosaic. Off-target cleavage was also found. Moreover, the endogenous d-haemoglobin gene (HBD), which is homologous to HBB, competed with exogenous donor sequence to act as the repair template, resulting in untoward mutations. The researchers concluded: “Taken together, our work highlights the pressing need to further improve the fidelity and specificity of the CRISPR/Cas9 platform, a prerequisite for any clinical applications of CRISPR/Cas9-mediated editing.”

Even before the official publication of the paper, two independent groups of scientists wrote editorials in the journals Nature and Science respectively expressing their concerns. The group in Nature called for a halt to editing the human germ line on grounds that heritable human genetic modifications pose serious risks, and the therapeutic benefits are tenuous. It would also jeopardize current efforts to apply the technology to somatic cells as a potential functional cure for HIV/AIDs and b-thalassaemia. Studies using gene-editing in animals such as rats, cattle, sheep and pigs show that it is possible to delete or disable genes in an embryo – a simpler process than actually correcting or changing the DNA sequence – in only some of the cells. The precise effects of genetic modification of an embryo may not be known until after birth, and long after birth. Patient safety is the primary concern, before ethical concerns are considered. Today some 40 countries ban it. Fifteen of 22 nations in Europe prohibit the modification of the germ line. The U.S. NIH’s Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee explicitly states that it “will not at present entertain proposals for germ line alterations.” Non-therapeutic genetic enhancement is also a concern.

The group in Science emphasize that research is needed to understand and manage risks arising from the use of the CRISPR-Cas9 technology. Considerations include the possibility of off-target alterations, as well as on-target events that have unintended effects. It is critical to implement standardized benchmarking methods to determine the frequency of off-target effects and to assess the physiology of cells and tissues that have undergone genome editing. The potential safety and efficacy issues arising from the use of this technology must be thoroughly investigated and understood before any attempts at human engineering are sanctioned.

Just before an International summit in December 2015 co-sponsored by the US National Academy of Sciences, the US National Academy of Medicine, the UK Royal Society and the Chinese Academy of Sciences to consider the scientific and social implications of genome editing, Jennifer Doudna, a researcher at University of California Berkeley who helped invent CRISPR/Cas9, and a signatory on the editorial in Science, wrote in a commentary in Nature [5] stating that “we do not yet know enough about the capabilities and limits of the new technologies, especially when it comes to creating heritable mutations.” Hence, “human-germline editing for the purposes of creating genome-modified humans should not proceed at this time, partly because of the unknown social consequences, but also because the technology and our knowledge of the human genome are simply not ready to do so safely.” She also stated that future discussions should address other potentially harmful applications of genome editing in non-human system, such as “the alteration of insect DNA to ‘drive’ certain genes into a population” (see below).

In the event, the international summit called for a slowdown on research involving heritable modifications of the human genome . Although the academies acknowledged that such research has the potential to eradicate genetic diseases or enhance human capabilities, they also said the science is just too new to do any of that safely or successfully.

However, they argued it is alright to use germline cells or early human embryos in basic and preclinical lab research, so long as they are not then used “to establish a pregnancy”. (This goes beyond what Francis Collins, National Institutes of Health’s director, said on the publication of the China experiment, that the NIH would not fund genomic editing involving human embryos, even if the embryos were not used to create a pregnancy.)

Not all scientists are satisfied with the outcome of the summit [7]. Paul Knoepfler a cell biologist at University of California Davis said he was disappointed that the organisers did not propose at least a temporary moratorium on germline human genetic modification.”

In January 2016, a team led by Keith Joung at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts in the United States reported the successful construction of a high-fidelity CRISPR/Cas9 nuclease that has little or no detectable genome-wide off-target effects. This is achieved by changing 4 amino acids with long side chains to one with a short side chain (alanine) to reduce the protein’s non-specific interaction with the phosphate DNA backbone. The resultant SpCas9-HF1 (Streptomyces pyogenes Cas9-high-fidelity 1) nuclease retains on-target activities comparable to the wild type enzyme with 85 % of the single guide-RNAS (sg-RNA) tested in human cells, with very little or no off-target effects. The specificity of SpCas9-HF1 and its potential target was improved with further substitutions to reduce non-specific interactions with the DNA [8].

Reducing off-target effects does contribute substantially to safety. But other safety aspects such as unintended consequences from on-target events and the stability of the modifications, as well as ethical concerns still need to be addressed.

In addition, other worrying applications raise new issues on safety, such as ‘gene drive’ in transgenic insect disease vectors.

Gene drive’ for transgenic mosquitoes

The World Health Organization reports that mortality from malaria continues to decrease and estimates that ~3.3 million lives have been saved since 2001 as a result of new drugs, personal protection, environmental modification and other measures; but there were still ~580 000 deaths globally from malaria in 2014 .

Researchers at Universities of California Irvine and San Diego has just created a transgenic mosquito in the malaria vector species Anopheles stephensi carrying genes against the malarial pathogen Plasmodium falciparum using CRISPR/Cas9 in a new construct to produce a ‘gene drive’ that makes almost all the progeny of the transgenic male mosquitoes anti-Plasmodium .

The ‘gene-drive’ is actually a mutagenic chain reaction first devised by two of the researchers at UC Irvine in Drosophila melanogaster. Previous gene editing was done with Cas9 and the guide RNA and transgene sequence on separate plasmids. By engineering Cas9 next to the gRNA and transgene sequences in a single plasmid, a mutagenic chain reaction is triggered that converts the unmodified gene in the wild-type chromosome to mutant state.

Anopheles stephensi is estimated to be responsible for ~12 % of all transmission in India, mostly in urban environments, accounting for ~106 000 clinical cases in 2014 . Laboratory strains are transformed efficiently with transposable elements to facilitate analysis of transgene expression in diverse genomic locations. Site-specific integration allows insertion of exogenous DNA into the mosquito genome at locations with minimum impact on fitness . Furthermore, a dual anti-parasite gene was developed based on the single-chain antibodies miC3 and m2A10 that target the Plasmodium ookinete protein Chitinase 1 and the cricumsporozoite protein respectively . Transgenic female mosquitoes expressing miC3 and m2A10 were free from P. falciparum sporozoites (infectious stage of the parasite) in their salivary glands under infection conditions expected in the field, and hence incapable of transmitting the parasite. Modeling of gene drive system, which exceed Mendelian inheritance, results in a more rapid transformation of a population with fewer releases than the ‘inundative’ approach, in which engineered mosquitoes (without gene drive) ware released in numbers substantially exceeding those of the local populations .

All these considerations encouraged the researchers to construct their gene-drive system in A. stephensi using CRISPR/Cas9-mediated homology-directed repair (HDR) adapted from the mutagenic chain reaction developed in the fruit fly. The drive system as designed works in both the male and female germ lines of mosquitoes derived from transgenic males [10]. Cas9-mediated gene targeting is also evident in the somatic cells of embryos derived from transgenic females. The system can carry a relatively large set of genes (~17kb in length).

The structure of the gene-drive plasmid consists of the Cas9 gene and its promoter, the gRNA and its promoter, the dual antibodies genes with their promoters and marker gene encoding the Drosophila red fluorescent protein (DsRed) with its promoter; this long continuous stretch flanked by sequences homologous to the target the autosomal gene kh encoding the enzyme kynurenine hydroxylase. Altogether, the plasmid is 21 kb in length with 16 625 bp comprising the ‘cargo’ to be inserted into the target gene.

A total of 680 G0 wild-type embryos were injected with the transforming plasmid and other components to aid transformation; 122 and 129 males and females respectively survived to the adult stage, and were assigned to 22 male-founder and 9 female-founder pools and outcrossed to wild type adults of the opposite sex. Two males positive for DsRed, designated 10.1 and 10.2 were recovered after screening 25 723 G1 larvae.

When outcrossed to wild-type females, 10.1 produced all DsRed+ adult progeny (n=14), whereas 10.2 produced only 57 of 129 (44 %) DSRed+ adult progeny.  DSRed+G2 males and females from both 10.1 and 10.2 were outcrossed to wild-type mosquitoes, and the G3 larvae progeny were scored for DSRed. Line 10.1 produced 1 321 (99.7 %) DSRed+ while line 10.2 produced 4 631 (99.2 %) DSRed+ G3 larvae. These results are consistent with highly efficient gene-drive.

When the 10.1 and 10.2 G3 males and females were outcrossed to wild type mosquitoes of the opposite sex, the G4 male and female progeny of G3 males and females derived from G2 10.1 and 10.2 transgenic males show a high frequency of DsRed transmission, corresponding to a 96.9 % rate of gene conversion. In contrast, a much high proportion of G4 larvae progeny of G3 males and females derived from G2 10.2 and 10.2 transgenic females appeared to have inherited mutations at the kh locus instead of gene-conversion events with a ratio of 1.33 DsRed+ to 1.0 DsRed. This indicates that the transgene is unstable in the female, and there as key safety issues involved (see later).

Importantly, the anti-Plasmodium genes are actively transcribed in the DsRed+ mosquitoes.

Gene-drive under fire

Long before the transgenic mosquito with gene drive was constructed, a group of scientists have expressed their concerns as the ‘regulatory gap’ regarding such insects . They highlighted the need for containment measures and ‘reverse drive’ to undo the process. They point out that gene drive has not been evaluated for safety. A drive may move through only part of a population before a mutation inactivates the engineered trait. (This was indeed the case in transgenic female mosquito progeny, where the CRISPR/Cas is also active in somatic cells, see above). In some cases preferred phenotypes might be maintained as long as new drive encoding updates are periodically released.

The commentary also made the key point that (p. 627): “In theory, precision drives could limit alteration to target populations, but the reliability of these methods in preventing spread to nontarget or related populations will require assessment. To what extent and over what period of time might crossbreeding or lateral [i.e., horizontal] gene transfer allow a drive to move beyond target populations? Might it subsequently evolve to regain drive capabilities in populations not originally targeted?”

This is crucial in the light of the instability of the gene drive in transgenic female mosquitoes reported [10]. When these females bite animals including humans, there is indeed the possibility of horizontal gene transfer of parts, or the entire gene-drive construct, with potentially serious effects on animal and human health. Cas9 nuclease could insert randomly or otherwise into the host genome, causing insertion mutagenesis that could trigger cancer or activate dominant viruses. In addition, the many transcripts and gene products encoded by the gene-drive construct could also have harmful effects including immunological reactions. These same hazards apply, all the more so to species of animals that feed on mosquitoes, as it is now well-known that nucleic acids in food can get into cells and tissues Nucleic Acid Invaders from Food Confirmed, SiS 63).

Finally, the ecological risks of gene drives are enormous, so warns conservation scientists from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation . They stated: “The question is no longer whether we can control invasive species using gene drive, but whether we should.” As the gene drive can in principle lead to the extinction of a species, this could involve the species in its native habitat as well as where it is considered invasive. As distinct from conventional biological control, which can be applied locally, there is no way to control gene flow. They point out that because the CRISPR/Cas gene drive remains fully functional in the mutated strain after it is created, the chance of off-target mutations also remain and the likelihood increases with every generation. “If there is any risk of gene flow between the target species and other species, then there is also a risk that the modified sequence could be transferred and the adverse trait manifested in nontarget organisms.” (This commentary has not even begun to consider horizontal gene flow, which would multiply the risks many-fold.)

There is also increasing awareness that many invasive species will have considerable niche overlap, such that removal of one species will enable another to rapidly take its place.

They call for a thorough ecological risk assessment before any application of CRISPR/Cas gene drive is contemplated in the control of alien species, to prevent a ‘silver bullet’ becoming a ‘conservation threat’.

To conclude

There are numerous reasons to proceed with caution with CRISPR/Cas9 applications. It is a powerful, efficient, and cheap gene-editing tool beset with risks for health and the environment. Particularly worrying is its use in gene-drive, a currently irreversible and uncontrollable process once released into the environment.

Source*

Related Topics:

Conscientious Scientists want a Ban on Editing the Human Genome*

DNA Editors Forget it, as Another Code is Discovered*

DNA Changing to Three and Four Strands*

Powerful DNA ‘Editing’ Has Arrived*

FBI Errors Lead to Discovery that DNA Evidence is not Reliable*

Ancient Ancestors Had More DNA Than We Do Now*

Google, the NSA & DHS are Creating a Global DNA Database*

Drugs that Damage your DNA: When Dementia isn’t Alzheimer*

Nestlé’s Bid To Squash a Child Slavery Suit Rejected*

Nestlé’s Bid To Squash a Child Slavery Suit Rejected*

The high court left in place a 2014 ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Nestle, Archer-Daniels-Midland Co and Cargill Inc, filed by former victims of child slavery.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a bid by Nestle, the world’s largest food maker, and two other companies to throw out a lawsuit seeking to hold them liable for the use of child slaves to harvest cocoa in Ivory Coast.

The high court left in place a December 2014 ruling by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Nestle, Archer-Daniels-Midland Co and Cargill Inc filed by former victims of child slavery.

The plaintiffs, who were originally from Mali, contend the companies aided and abetted human rights violations through their active involvement in purchasing cocoa from Ivory Coast. While aware of the child slavery problem, the companies offered financial and technical assistance to local farmers in a bid to guarantee the cheapest source of cocoa, the plaintiffs said.

The case focused in part on how lower court judges have interpreted a 2013 Supreme Court decision that made it harder for plaintiffs to sue corporations in U.S. courts for abuses alleged to have occurred overseas.

In its 2013 ruling in the Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co case, the court unanimously threw out a lawsuit by 12 people from Nigeria that accused British and Dutch-based Royal Dutch Shell Plc of aiding state-sponsored torture and murder.

The court said the law under which the Nigerians brought the case, the 1789 Alien Tort Statute, was presumed to cover only violations of international law occurring in the United States. Violations elsewhere, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, must “touch and concern” U.S. territory “with sufficient force to displace the presumption.”

U.S. companies facing similar suits have had considerable success fending off such cases by citing the ruling, although judges have differed in how they have interpreted it.

In the Nestle case, the appeals court said the plaintiffs could update their lawsuit to see if they could meet the higher burden required under the Supreme Court ruling. Several business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, urged the court to hear the case.

The case is Nestle Inc v. John Doe, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 15-349.

Source*

Related Topics:

The International Elite vs. Communal Democracy of Ivory Coast

From Liberation to Re-enslavement

Nestlé’s Selling You Your Water!

Nestle ‘Liberating’ Water from Drought Stricken Indian Reservation*

A Small Town Fights Back When Nestlé Tries to Sell Them Their Own Water*

Nestlé Removes GMOs from South African Baby Foods not U.S. Baby Foods*

Protestors Shut down Nestlé Plant in Drought Stricken California*

Nestle Being Sued for $100 Million Dollars over Hazardous Lead in Food*

U.K.’s Poverty, Food and Flood Victims*

U.K.’s Poverty, Food and Flood Victims*

A case of eugenics!?

By Jon Danzig

The British government has turned down millions of pounds of E.U. funding to help those affected by flooding and lack of food.

Streets have been flooded in coastal areas as high spring tides and gale force winds swept in from the Atlantic. Hundreds of homes were evacuated and residents in other areas were warned to keep a bag packed in case they had to leave their homes at short notice. Above, Telegraph photographer Paul Grover captures the moment a huge wave crashes into the sea wall at Ilfracombe, North Devon.

Hundreds of thousands across the U.K. are so poor that they are having to rely on charitable food banks to stave off hunger.

The EU parliament agreed to provide aid for those suffering extreme poverty in the E.U. The EU offered up to £22 million to help subsidise Britain’s food banks, but the money was blocked by the U.K. government.

Telegraph reader Malcolm Richards emailed in his photo of storm damage to the harbour wall and road in Amroth, Pembrokeshire.

Food-bank use in Britain is at record levels, with the Trussell Trust charity running over 400 food banks across the country. More than one million food parcels, each providing enough food for three days, were given out between 2014 and 2015, more than 400,000 of which went to children.

Residents of Ballater, Aberdeenshire, clear their homes of damaged belongings after the river Dee burst its banks on 5 January. Photograph: Mark Runnacle

Thirteen million people live below the poverty line in the UK. According to the Trussell Trust, 1 in 5 mums in Britain regularly skip meals to feed their children.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, urged the Prime Minister to reverse the decision to reject E.U. funds for food banks, but to no avail.

British government officials explained that the government rejected the E.U. funding for food banks because it considers that member states are best placed to take charge of such funding.

The Department of Work and Pensions commented that the government was not saying no to the money but, rather, “no to Europe about how it should be spent.”

David Cameron’s official spokesman said the issue is whether the U.K. should be in charge of the funds that are spent in the U.K.

Cumbrian Floods. Carlisle, Cumbria, UK. 13th December 2015. Flood damaged property outside flooded houses. Flooding caused by Storm Desmond. © Andrew Findlay/Alamy Live News

“This Government believes that it should be, and that it should not be the European Commission and other European institutions that tell us how to spend funds spent in the UK.”

Mr Cameron’s government has welcomed food banks, describing them as an “excellent example” of active citizenship.

By the same principle, the British government has also not applied for EU funding to help the many thousands in Britain who have lost their homes and businesses because of wide-spread flooding following record-levels of rain fall.

E.U. member states are entitled to apply for money from the EU Solidarity Fund when a natural disaster causes substantial damage, calculated as a percentage of Gross National Income.  In the U.K’s case, this would be a natural disaster causing damage in excess of  3 billion euros.  An application to the emergency fund must be made within 12 weeks of the commencement of the disaster.

 

The governments of Bulgaria, Italy and Romania accessed a total of €66.5 million (£48m) from the fund following recent severe flooding in those countries.

According to accountants, KPMG, the cost of the U.K. floods has so far topped £5 billion, which is roughly €6.8 billion, so Britain is entitled to apply for the EU emergency help.

But so far, the U.K. government has refused to accept any E.U. support for Britain’s flood victims, just as it has rejected available EU support for those in Britain too poor to buy enough food.

Labour MEPs have written to the Prime Minister urging his government to apply immediately for E.U. funding to help the communities hit by flooding.

In the letter, the MEPs pointed out to Mr Cameron that when, in 2014, the South West of England was hit with similar flooding, “the U.K. government failed to draw down on vital European Union funding, leaving people in that area without extra financial support to rebuild their lives.”

Continued the letter:

“We would like to ask you to make sure this situation is not repeated, and that this time the U.K. government makes use of the resources at its disposal and applies for full E.U. support.”

Last month Labour MP, Jamie Read, asked the Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, if his department would apply for E.U. funding to support communities affected by flooding. But Mr Hammond replied that more time would be required to provide an answer.

Catherine Bearder, Liberal Democrat MEP for south-east England, said that E.U. officials told her that the U.K. government could apply for £125m in grants for flood victims, 10% of which could be available within six weeks.

She told The Guardian,

“It is baffling that the government has still not applied for E.U. solidarity funding. Millions of pounds could be made available within weeks to help pay for cleanup costs and the rebuilding of vital infrastructure. The Conservatives must not deprive flood-hit communities of desperately needed funds.”

E.U. commissioner Corina Creţu said she was surprised that Britain had not yet applied for any E.U. help for the floods in Britain.

Back in the summer of 2007 the then Labour government had no qualms in applying to the European Union Solidarity Fund for support and subsequently received £134 million to help deal with the flood crisis that year which also caused billions of pounds of damage.

Flooding on the River Irwell

As reported then by the BBC:

“The E.U. Solidarity Fund is particularly aimed at helping countries cope with the uninsurable costs of natural disasters, such as cleaning up and restoring infrastructure.”

At the time, the Conservative opposition welcomed the Labour government’s decision to appeal for European funds, but said Britain should have applied earlier.

But now that they are in government, it appears that the Conservatives prefer not to apply for E.U. help at all, even though such support is clearly needed by people suffering right now.

Is it because the current government, whose MPs and many of its Cabinet appear to be predominantly Euro-sceptic, is too proud to ask for E.U. help?

If so, such pride is needlessly hurting many ordinary, every-day people in Britain who tonight are homeless because of severe flooding, and/or don’t have enough money to properly feed themselves or their families.

In his Christmas message last month, the Prime Minister said, “giving, sharing and taking care of others” was something Britain could be proud of. And he urged the public to “think about those in need” over the festive period.

Isn’t it time for the Prime Minister to practice what he preaches?

Source*

Related Topics:

Britain’s Hunger Crisis Sparks First Student-Led Food Bank*

Food Poverty in the U.K. Causing Soar in ‘Victorian’ Illnesses*

In 10 Months, This Cafe Has Fed 10,000 People with 20 Tons of Unwanted Food*

93k UK Children Go Hungry*

Birmingham Mosque’s Open’s Christmas Soup Kitchen*

U.K. Going through an Earth Shift*

Big Bank Food Speculation: U.K. Blocks Move to End Rising Prices*

Legionnaires’ Disease Spikes in Flint amid Poisoned Water Crisis*

Legionnaires’ Disease Spikes in Flint amid Poisoned Water Crisis*

By Gordon Duff

Flint has been going down the tubes for some time, murdered by General Motors.  The UAW (United Auto Workers) was born in Flint and this town, above others, became a target, closing the plants, eliminating jobs, beating down unions.

Unions had an agenda some couldn’t live with, pushing for public education, clean water and other environmental issues, fighting public corruption and crime and demanding financial accountability.  You see, it wasn’t just factories that closed, it went further, companies were destroyed, investors defrauded, pension plans looted, this was the real business of Wall Street and still is and Michigan governor Rick Snyder, as with Scott Walker of Wisconsin and John Kasich of Ohio, these are the guys who have finished America’s Midwest off.  

If America has become a police state, certainly the neocon goal, Flint, Michigan is what they want for all of us, poisoned water, poverty and despair.  Snyder is a monster, and Flint is his handiwork.

As Flint, Michigan residents continue to deal with a state of emergency declared over their contaminated water supply, a sharp increase in cases of an atypical pneumonia known as Legionnaires’ disease has hit the community.

On Wednesday, state officials hosted a press conference acknowledging the uptick in the cases of Legionnaires’ disease, but gave no new advice to the public regarding water usage, saying they have yet to determine the cause of the disease. Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, said a more thorough analysis was still to come.

‘Toxic stress’: Max blood lead levels in Flint children 7 times higher than CDC guidelines – doctor

Between June 2014 and November 2015, there were 87 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Flint, with 10 ending in death, according to Wells. The fatality rate for the disease ranges from 5 to 30% depending on access to antibiotics and other factors, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

The source of the drinking water in Flint was changed from Lake Huron to the Flint River in April 2014. Although the river water was sent to a city water treatment plant, its salt levels were overlooked, causing the lead pipes to corrode. The changeover was noticed by residents right away. Though they complained of bad tastes and smells after the changeover, the Department of Environmental Quality only conceded its failure in October of 2015. DEQ had not added the chemicals necessary to combat corrosion in the pipes, leaving the water to dissolve lead, a poisonous metal.

The water source was switched back in October.

Governor Rick Snyder (R) declared a state of emergency because of the situation earlier this month, and on Tuesday activated the Michigan Army National Guard to join with the Michigan State Police and other officials in dispensing bottled water, filters, and test kits door-to-door. If a door knock isn’t answered, the “water resource teams” leave an information sheet instead.

Furthermore, all parents of Flint children aged 6 years or younger were encouraged to go to a hospital to have their blood tested for lead exposure.

Seven National Guard troops began to help out on Wednesday, and as many as 30 to 40 are expected to join in by Friday of next week. The only other time Snyder has called them up was for the Duck Lake Fire in May of 2012.

“Our role will not be out in the neighbourhoods at all. We’re going to go to the fire stations and basically try to relieve the Red Cross volunteers who’ve been very supportive from the get-go on this,” Major John Keelean of the National Guard said at a Wednesday press conference.

“We will have probably five to six soldiers at each of those five stations.”

Speaking to ClickOnDetroit, Snyder said,

“This is part of my legacy. I’m responsible for the entire state and our operations, but there are many other good things going on, and we’re working hard to recover from the situation in terms of doing the right thing.”

Source*

Related Topics:

Severely Contaminated Water System Calls for Arrest of Michigan Governor, for Genocide against Black People*

Detroit in the New Fight for Water Rights*

Cities and Countries that Are Rebelling Against Water Privatization, and Winning*

Taiwan Bans GMOs in Schools*

Taiwan Bans GMOs in Schools*

By Lorraine Chow

Taiwan has banned schools across the nation from serving GMOs to students, citing health and safety concerns.

On Dec. 14, 2015, Taiwanese legislature passed amendments to the School Health Act to stamp out raw genetically modified ingredients as well as processed food containing GMOs.

“To ensure food safety and protect students’ health.” https://t.co/eviqmzfsmw #GMOs #Taiwan #students #kids pic.twitter.com/dWzoZGYceU

— Cornucopia Institute (@Cornucopia_Inst) January 10, 2016

The ban affects cafeterias and food stands in every elementary school, middle school and high school in Taiwan, The China Post reported. Schools have traditionally served food products such as soybeans, corn, salmon, tofu and soy milk that contain GMOs.

“Soy is a major ingredient in Taiwan’s school lunches,” said Lin Shu-fen of the Democratic Progressive Party, who advocated for the passage of the bill. “Genetically modified soy has been shown to contains toxic residue from pesticides.”

It’s not just schoolchildren eating tons of GMO soy. Taiwan, as a whole, is a large consumer of the crop. According to Agri-View, “Taiwan consumes more than 8 million bushels of soybeans used in soy foods. Ninety-five percent of those 8 million bushels originate in the U.S., and 7.2 million bushels of those soybeans are GMO soybeans from the U.S.”

Lin also said that most genetically modified crops are grown using chemical herbicides and stored and shipped through a procedure fit for animal feed, according to Focus Taiwan.

Lin also argued that if such crops were used in meals for schoolchildren, it would have a huge impact on their physical and psychological health.

Education Minister Wu Se-hwa reportedly said that the Taiwanese government is very concerned about students’ health and encouraged schools to prioritize locally grown farm produce and food ingredients instead.

The Ministry of Education indicted that the new GMO ban will start next semester at the earliest and result in a price hike of around NT$5 per meal (about US$0.15), the China Post reported.

As a result, the Ministry of Education’s budget for subsidizing school meals for 262,000 financially disadvantaged elementary and junior school students will increase by NT$235.8 million (US$7.17 million) a year, a Ministry official said.

Taiwan is known for being notoriously skeptical of GMOs. About a year ago, the country passed their Food Act Amendments that placed major regulations on bioengineered food products being sold in the country, such as the mandatory labelling of foods containing GMOs.

Here are six main points of the decree as described by Natural News:

  1. Requiring the mandatory labeling of GMOs on all food products that contain 3 percent or more GMOs. Foods that use no GMOs may be labelled “non-GMO” … and many already are, causing their sales to skyrocket across Taiwan. Just last year, imports of non-GMO soybeans to Taiwan grew nearly 300 percent to 58,000 tons.
  2. Limiting the use of food additives to just 799 compounds approved by the Taiwan FDA [Food and Drug Administration]. The FDA of the United States, by comparison, allows tens of thousands of chemicals to be used as additives, even when they are well known to cause cancer.
  3. All GMO ingredients are required to be registered with the Taiwan government, and food manufacturers that use GMOs are required to establish an origins tracking system to identify where those GMOs originated.
  4. All the soy milk, tofu, miso and other soy-derived products sold everywhere across the country—including at cafes and street food vendors—must be clearly labeled as GMOs if they use genetically modified soy.
  5. Food products made using genetically modified soy as a processing agent or blended ingredient must also label their final food products as GMO, even if the soybean oil is not, itself, the final product.
  6. Fines for violating these food safety provisions have been set at NT$50 million (about US$1.5 million).

Last November, Taiwan banned the import of GMO salmon from the U.S. shortly after it was approved by the U.S. FDA.

Source*

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