Daily Archives: October 14, 2014

Pollution Inequality & Income Inequality


TheRealNews

Published on Oct 14, 2014

Low income and communities of color are disproportionately impacted by pollution across the United States, according to a new study by economist James K. Boyce

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Is This “American Exceptionalism”?

Tuesday, 14 October 2014 14:18 By The Daily Take Team, The Thom Hartmann Program | Op-Ed

(Photo: Tim Hamilton / Flickr)

Just how exceptional is the United States really?

Everyone loves to talk about US exceptionalism.

We constantly hear our politicians say that “America is the greatest country in the world.”

But just how great are we?

In reality, when it comes to things that could really make the US great, we’re lagging behind much of the developed world.

Take health care for example.

A study earlier this year by the Commonwealth Fund found that of the top 11 developed nations, the United States ranks dead last in health care and health outcomes like infant mortality and life expectancy.

A similar report from the World Health Organization ranks our health care system 30th in the world – although we pay more per person for our health care than any other developed country in the world.

Meanwhile, while the US is at the bottom of the health-care barrel, we’re also far behind when it comes to education and educational outcomes.

Last year, the Program for International Student Assessment looked at how 15-year-old students in 65 nations across the globe performed on a variety of tests.

The group found that US students ranked just 17th in reading comprehension and 21st in math.

…(read more).

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Pesticide Use by Farmers Linked to High Rates of Depression, Suicides

Tuesday, 14 October 2014 09:52 By Brian Bienkowski, Environmental Health News | Report

Farmers spraying pesticide. Research suggests that pesticides applied by farmers and their workers may alter brain chemicals. (Photo via Shutterstock)

On his farm in Iowa, Matt Peters worked from dawn to dusk planting his 1,500 acres of fields with pesticide-treated seeds. “Every spring I worried about him,” said his wife, Ginnie. “Every spring I was glad when we were done.”

In the spring of 2011, Ginnie Peters’ “calm, rational, loving” husband suddenly became depressed and agitated. “He told me ‘I feel paralyzed’,” she said. “He couldn’t sleep or think. Out of nowhere he was depressed.”

A clinical psychologist spoke to him on the phone and urged him to get medical help. “He said he had work to do, and I told him if it’s too wet in the morning to plant beans come see me,” Mike Rossman said. “And the next day I got the call.”

Peters took his own life. He was 55 years old.

No one knows what triggered Peters’ sudden shift in mood and behavior. But since her husband’s death, Ginnie Peters has been on a mission to not only raise suicide awareness in farm families but also draw attention to the growing evidence that pesticides may alter farmers’ mental health.

…(read more).

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From Indigenous Socialism to Colonial Capitalism, Examining Native History of a Settler State

Tuesday, 14 October 2014 12:44 By Laura Flanders, Truthout | Interview

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous People’s History of the United States. (Screen grab )The false narrative of Columbus “discovering” the Americas still pervades history books and the Eurocentric mindset of the United States. Learn the true history of what author and professor Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz calls the legacy of Columbus’ voyages: the annihilation and conquest of Native Americans.

An injury to one is an injury to all, the old labor slogan goes. What if we applied that idea to US indigenous history? How does the history of genocide affect all people in the United States even today?

This week, as some in the United States mark Indigenous People’s Day, author and professor Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz suggests that while remembering native history is good, it would be far better if we took the time and all got a lot smarter about how the treatment of Native Americans set wheels in motion that affect us all through to the present.

In her new book An Indigenous People’s History of the United States, longtime author-activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz corrects the record: The precolonial continent wasn’t untamed, uncultivated: “There was a road from Alaska down to southern Mexico; roads that [went] from east to west, north to south . . . Not paths . . . not roads just for hunting paths or migrations.” These were trade routes, reports Dunbar-Ortiz. “They had stops; they had places to stay . . . And trade items from central Mexico ended up in what is now Quebec and the Great Lakes area and vice versa.”

Before colonial capitalism, there existed what she calls “indigenous socialism.” The destruction of that economy through war, denial of self-determination, dispossession, criminalization and violence against women affected no group more than indigenous people, but they weren’t the only ones.

Colonialism, she argues, served as “an escape valve for the mother country.” Peasants thrown off their lands with the enclosure of the commons were assuaged with an offer of land “where they could be lord,” she says. But poor settlers too were “duped.”

“Corporations are predators to everyone now,” she said.

Understanding indigenous history not only reveals a lot about how we all live and why; reconnecting the dots of this history gives glimpses of alternatives and ways, she suggests, to, as Naomi Klein says, “change everything.” Dunbar-Ortiz traces her own heritage to Oklahoma white settlers and to Cherokees. Her other books include Red Dirt, Growing Up Okie, Outlaw Woman and Blood on the Border, A Memoir of the Contra War. The video of our conversation can be seen on The Laura Flanders show at GRITtv.org, or on Telesur English. The text has been edited lightly for publication.

…(read more).

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BBC News – Biofuels: ‘Irrational’ and ‘worse than fossil fuels’

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-22127123
14 April 2013 Last updated at 20:29 ET
By Matt McGrath Environment correspondent, BBC News

The majority of biodiesel in the UK comes from recycled cooking oil
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The UK’s “irrational” use of biofuels will cost motorists around £460 million over the next 12 months, a think tank says.

A report by Chatham House says the growing reliance on sustainable liquid fuels will also increase food prices.

The author says that biodiesel made from vegetable oil was worse for the climate than fossil fuels.

Under EU law, biofuels are set to make up 5% of the UK’s transport fuel from today.

“It creates a financial incentive to buy refined palm oil, cook a chip in it to turn it into used cooking oil and then sell it at profit…” Rob Bailey Chatham House

Since 2008, the UK has required fuel suppliers to add a growing proportion of sustainable materials into the petrol and diesel they supply. These biofuels are mainly ethanol distilled from corn and biodiesel made from rapeseed, used cooking oil and tallow.

Deep fried fuel

But research carried out for Chatham House says that reaching the 5% level means that UK motorists will have to pay an extra £460m a year because of the higher cost of fuel at the pump and from filling up more often as biofuels have a lower energy content.

….(read more).

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BBC News – Italy pushes ahead with ‘next generation’ biofuels from waste

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-29618889
14 October 2014 Last updated at 13:50 ET

By Matt McGrath Environment correspondent, BBC News

The Crescentino facility is one of the first to turn waste into fuel on a commercial scale

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Italy will become the first country in Europe to legally require “advanced biofuels” in cars and trucks, the BBC has learned.

Made from waste, the new fuels are said to reduce the amount of land taken out of food production.

The world’s first commercial scale plant making fuel from straw opened in Italy last year.

From 2018, all fuel suppliers in the country will have to include 0.6% advanced biofuel in petrol and diesel.

The use of fuels made from crops has been a controversial issue across the EU in recent years.

A Renewable Energy Directive, adopted in 2009, required that 10% of energy used within the transport sector came from renewable sources.

Amid concerns that land was being converted from food production to grow crops for biofuels, the EU ultimately reduced this to 5.75%.

At the same time, the European Parliament voted to require a 2.5% target for advanced biofuels by 2020.

However European Council of energy ministers diluted this to a non-binding goal of 0.5% much to the dismay of the biofuels industry.

Now the Italian government have given the enterprise a shot in the arm.

…(read more).

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BBC News – Oil prices see further declines

13 October 2014 Last updated at 12:30 ET

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Global oil prices have fallen again amid worries about slow global growth and reports that key oil producers want to maintain current output levels.

Brent crude fell to a near four-year low of $87.74 a barrel earlier, before recovering some ground to $88.46.

US light crude oil was down $0.93 at $84.76, close to a two-year low.

Weak economic growth will cut demand for oil. In addition, Reuters reported that Saudi Arabia had indicated it could cope with lower prices.

The gloomy growth outlook weighed on stock markets at the start of trading on Monday, although shares then recovered and the UK’s FTSE 100 index was 0.4% higher at 6,366.24. In New York, the Dow Jones opened 13 points higher at 16,556.75.

Confidence ‘dismantled’

Last week, the International Monetary Fund shaved its forecast for global growth for this year from 3.4% to 3.3%.

Brent Crude Oil Futures $/barrel Last Updated at 14 Oct 2014, 16:30 ET *Chart shows local time

price change %
85.27 – -3.62 – -4.07

It said overall global growth would be held back by weakness in Japan, Latin America and Europe, with any recovery in the advanced economies “weak and uneven”.

Share values have been falling recently, with some analysts arguing they are catching up with economic reality.

Several times this year the UK’s FTSE 100 index came close to topping its all time high of 6,930.2, last reached at the end of December 1999. However, since the start of September the FTSE 100 index has lost 10%.

Alastair McCaig, market analyst at City watchers IG, said: “Just over a month ago expectations that the FTSE could break above the 7,000 level were the norm, with the index trading less than 100 points away.

“The subsequent economic data out of Germany and dismantling of confidence has not only slaughtered European markets but dragged the UK down too.”

Key changes

Although some members of the Opec oil producers’ cartel are pushing for production cuts to take the oil price back to the $100-a-barrel level, the Reuters news agency reported that Saudi Arabia had let it be known informally that it would be unlikely to push for a cut in production to boost prices even if they fell to $80 a barrel.

Oil prices have fallen 20% since June.

…(read more).

Global Climate Change
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