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Saturday, March 01, 2014

Spinning Yarns About Genetically Modified Crops

A compelling narrative often makes a good engine to pull public policy. Unfortunately, this means we are sometimes unwilling to let facts get in the way of the story we want to tell.

Consider, for example, the science and pseudo-science behind the ginned-up opposition to genetically modified crops ("organisms" in the parlance of critics who want to skip past the detail that crops are useful for feeding people), or GMOs.

Out in the real world, genetically engineered crops are helping to boost yields, reduce pesticide spraying and its associated runoff, improve product quality and conserve water and soil. Farmers, agronomists and biologists know this. But their voices are often drowned out by critics whose main objections appear to be economic and political (some people just don't like it when other people make money), but who wrap their agenda in claims of health problems, genetic contamination and "superweeds" whose actual existence is about as well documented as Sasquatch.

But don't take my word for it. Lest you dismiss me as some sort of profit-loving, coldly logical Republican CPA (charges to which I would mostly plead guilty), let's look at a recent story in the eco-sensitive columns of The New York Times. A story, as it happens, that is about the investigative activities of a councilman in the Democratic island paradise of Hawaii. (1)

The Times focused on Greggor Ilagan, a member of the County Council on Hawaii Island (known as the Big Island). When the Council considered a measure to ban most GMOs from the island last year, Ilagan set out to try and verify or debunk the various claims the measure's supporters used to argue for such a ban. To his initial surprise, the councilman found that most reputable scientists agree that genetically engineered crops are no riskier than others. The American Medical Association has stated that "there is currently no evidence that there are material differences or safety concerns in available bioengineered foods." (2) A group of prominent scientists wrote an editorial for Science Magazine last fall standing up for the benefits of GMOs.

Yet the accepted wisdom on GMOs among many of its opponents is that such crops are big agriculture's attempt to maximize profits at the expense of public safety. When Ilagan and others trying to get at the truth of GMO research have pushed such claims, they have found that the evidence is disputed, when it exists at all. Though certain future GMOs, just like future non-engineered crop breeds, might be dangerous, the evidence so far that genetic engineering is itself a dangerous process is vanishingly slim.

Jon Suzuki, a molecular biologist at the national agriculture research center in Hawaii, told Ilagan that genetically engineered food had so far proved safe. "With scientists, we never say anything is 100 percent certain one way or another," he said, according to The Times. "We weight conclusions on accumulated knowledge or evidence - but often this is not satisfactory for some." (1)

Nuance and uncertainty are hard sells. It is easier to demonize the process than to discuss the actual results of decades of GMO use. Moreover, objections to GMOs are a true "First World problem." Wealthy people can afford to pay double for organically grown food and whatever is left over after yields are reduced by a variety of diseases or pests. Yet for many in the developing world, crops modified to grow in less than ideal circumstances or to resist blight can mean the difference between nourishment and hunger.

There are 7 billion people on the planet, all of whom need to be fed. We have finite supplies of fertile land and usable water, and these resources must be employed efficiently if we want to succeed at feeding our planet's population. Such efficiency is what GMOs are all about. It is what selective breeding has been about it for centuries, too. Genetic engineering is not totally new, but rather a new advance in an existing process.

The consequences of rejecting this progress are easy to imagine, and in some cases may have already arrived. Citrus crops, especially oranges, are threatened by a greening blight spreading among producers via insects. If unchecked, such fruit may revert to the luxury it was in medieval Europe. Agricultural threats spread at the speed of jet planes, and this one is no exception. Citrus greening disease now threatens the $9 billion Florida citrus industry, and has shown up in Brazil, an even bigger producing region. California is at risk as well.

Even if a team of scientists announced tomorrow that they had engineered a blight-resistant orange, the demand would far outpace the potential supply. Still, introducing a resistant strain could preserve a larger, heartier population than would be possible without it - much as Hawaiian papaya farmers said an engineered version of the fruit saved their crops. It would be a travesty to ban or reject outright new citrus breeds that could resist this threat.

Invasive species are a fact of modern life. They travel with us wherever we go. Crops and other native species have had no chance to develop resistances against them at a natural pace. GMOs are a way to fight back against an existing problem, and to use our resources efficiently. Banning GMOs will not leave us in a natural state. It will simply leave us in a contaminated state, complete with crop failures and dangerously unbalanced ecosystems. I only wish we had genetically engineered chestnuts and American elms in time to resist the blights that virtually wiped out these beautiful trees during the past century.

On the surface, it seems odd that so many people who accuse climate-change skeptics of being anti-science have jumped on the anti-GMO bandwagon, while many of those who fall into the climate-skeptical camp (and I consider myself a skeptic of conjectural computer modeling and breathless climate hype) tend to be more accepting of genetically altered crops. Psychologists might say we are all just exhibiting confirmation bias, in which we accept only the facts and arguments that support our pre-existing conclusions. Let's grant that the psychologists could be right.

But it could also be the case that the climate skeptics want hard evidence for their views. It's difficult to point to specific weather and say it was caused by man-made climate influence. But we can point to scientifically modified crops that grown for decades all over the world without ill effects, yet remain the targets of bans like the one that passed in Hawaii, despite councilman Ilagan's efforts.
We all love a good story. It seems we hate to let facts ruin one for us.

Sources:
1) The New York Times, "A Lonely Quest for Facts on Genetically Modified Crops"
2) Los Angeles Times, "GMO foods don't need special label, American Medical Assn. says"

Sunday, November 03, 2013

America - America Today, Tomorrow, and Beyond

America, America Will You Be Heard

Something is definitely going wrong in the World and the America that we once knew and cherished. Our children, and grandchildren and future generations may be growing up in an America, that no one will recognize, all in the name of "political correctness, or for fear of being labeled". Radical Islam and Sharia Law must be stopped from making any further inroads into America. Just look at Dearborn, Pennsylvania for one example.

Enough is enough people, when Jews, Christians, priests, and non believers are being murdered, and churches are being burned to the ground, it's time to stand up, and voice your free speech opinion and be counted folks.

Recently in a Mall in Kenya, anyone that was not of Islam faith were gunned down and murdered. There was some outcry, but certainly not enough. When it happens in a Mall in America, it will be far too late. An American citizen was recently savagely beaten by "Muslim Sharia Law Patrols" in London, while on vacation.

We need our leaders and everyone, to speak out in a uniformed voice and condemn this type of violence everywhere it occurs. We no more can simply hide from this issue in the 21st century, and just expect it to go away. It will only gain in strength and numbers and more violent acts will occur and more innocent people will be murdered as a direct result of this kind of radical violence.

"Political correctness" is causing the spread of Sharia Law in America, where honor killings are far too common and women are treated as sub-human slaves. It is a fact that over 50% of Islam are illiterates and 80% are ignorant of the Qur'an. All over Europe there is no political will to stop their conquests. In fact, Germany, Australia, France, Belgium, England and now even Russia are facing serious bankruptcy, due to the massive immigration of Muslims. Most of the immigrants live off public assistance and simply do not want to integrate into society, but rather want to dominate and establish Sharia Law where ever they immigrant to. They want Islam to be the dominant religion in the World and will stop at nothing to achieve their goals.

I know that there are good Muslims out there that do not follow a strict interpretation of the Qur'an, which when read calls for the killing of all infidels. Many Muslims are silent for fear of their lives; in fact if they leave their religion, they are subject to death.

Prayer and love for sure, are the good things to do for mankind, but much more is needed. I want to give my children and grandchildren and future generations a better America and World that exists today. How about you? When good men and women are silent or do nothing evil will always win, simply don't let that happen, speak out loud and clear every chance you get.

For now I have joined a non violent association across America, called actforamerica, or simply ACT. The goals of the organization are to stop the spread of Sharia Law in America and to help prevent textbooks, in school and universities, from not telling the truth about Islam. It might not be for everyone, but it is spreading across America with over 200+ chapters now.

Simply do a Google search on the Muslim Brotherhood and see for yourself their hidden agenda to destroy America from within.. They have recently went underground and have become a hidden stealth front organization here in America, via over 200 political organizations and are making inroads into every America, town, city, universities and government, mostly at taxpayers' expense.

Recently, they have been successful in re writing many social and history books in all schools, to put Islam in a more favorable light. This should never be allowed to happen, but again, due to political correctness there is no political will to stop them, so they succeed. "Act" has been successful in preventing and stopping textbooks in history from being changed in our schools, but much more is needed.

Would very much like to hear your recommendations as to how to improve America, stop the violence and Sharia Law from being imposed on our judicial system.

Most of American families are simply far too busy, trying to raise a family, and many work two jobs, and quite frankly have no time to get involved or research any of the violence and causes of the violence in America and the World today.

They must rely on the mainstream media, which quite often is bias and under the "political correctness doctrine" can never really tell the "true" news for fear of repercussions. Thus their fear becomes an indirect endorsement of the violence, by way of default.

Whatever happened to our first amendment right of free speech folks? It is long overdue, to stand up for America and be counted in one voice against the spread of radical Islam and Sharia Law in America. Can we count on you?

Thank you, for you, your children, your grandchildren and future generations of America.
Ray Lanfear

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Why Obama Is Not A Communist

A continuing lie from the Right is that Obama is a communist or a totalitarian.
I've lived under Communism, and I can tell these people right now that, if he had been any such thing, they would not be here to say what they are saying.

A Communist, or a totalitarian, would have put these people away in labor camps or had them shot. Instead they are free to spread their lies, using the government-built Internet of all places. And that shows just how far from reality the claims of this kind are.

A Communist would have nationalized the banks and the car manufacturing industry. Instead Obama bailed them out. And while that took a lot of outlays up front, the car manufacturing industry is recovering and is now posting strong gains. Obama has saved American capitalism from what would have been a much worse and much greater crisis. And American capitalism owes a lot to this president.

There are in fact totalitarian-minded people in America, and most of them are on the Right. These people claim that they are America and that the rest of America isn't. These people want to force everyone to be the same person and live the same way. These people want to do everything in their power to prevent Obama administration from being successful, then blame whatever problems there are on Obama and then come riding in proclaiming themselves saviors of America. And they think that the American people would be stupid enough to fall for their gag.

The people who howl wolf become not credible when a real wolf appears. And the real wolves are not on the left; they are on the Right. The Tea Party for one is a completely despicable organization. The problems they claim to address, such as the large deficits, started under Bush; but under Bush the Tea Partiers were nowhere to be seen. Obama had an excuse; he had an economy to rescue. Bush however had no such excuses even as he put America, completely unnecessarily, an additional 5 trillion dollars in debt after Clinton had the debt problem solved.

And that makes the Tea Party complete hypocrites.

Why does Obama get labeled with such ugly things by these people? Obviously because he is not one of them; and the thing that the conservative hates the most is to see someone who is not like himself be in a stronger position than is he. Clinton wasn't of them either, and he got maliciously attacked throughout his administration as well, even though by the standards of conservative "money talks BS walks" logic he was the best president that America has had - as by the standard of peace and prosperity. This is not a problem with Obama, and it is not a problem with Clinton. This is a problem with the American Right.

Not enough is being done to confront these people's lies and abuses; and there should be. When unchecked, conmen pull all sorts of tricks on the people. America's primary education system is so weak that many people fall for these conmen.

It's not enough to just reach the educated people. The rest of the population need to hear the truth as well.
Ilya Shambat

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Friday, November 28, 2008

What We're Fighting Against

Today was like every day of my life; there was something about it that I observe, feel and know through my experience every single day. And my life is no different to yours if you're reading this. Chances are that you're reading this because you're a caring person. You care about people, our planet, and yourself, for instance. And you see the same thing I do each day. It's part of life, frustratingly so.
That thing that we see each day is the motorist that thumbs their nose at the road laws, or the adult that abuses or neglects a child, or the legal system, which yet again, decries the victim. One feels for authorities like the Police and Customs who are at the pointy end of the cursed life where things routinely get just plain ugly. We could certainly understand a hardening of attitude in these circumstances over years of one person's career. There's no immunity. But, we all taste this life because none of us is immune to it.
What we're fighting against each day is a lack of justice and respect and often a sense of gross unfairness. Only today I had to counsel a couple of contract employees for horseplay--that phenomenon we don't see much of these days. Horseplay is not only "rough and boisterous play," as the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it; in the workplace it's often a reckless endangerment to parties beyond those engaged in it.
The types that engage in this rebellious behaviour normally take a dim view of being taken to task, and they normally have a rampant distaste and disregard for authority. And we might ask, 'How did they get these attitudes?' There are probably many reasons why the minority don't respect authority figures, and thrive on injustice to others, creating the sort of inequity of fairness that leaves us outraged, if not simply bewildered.
Is there a comparison we could make here to the typical spoilt child? Perhaps these people have never been disciplined and trained to conform to societal norms, i.e. sacrifice of self for the benefit of the many. We look at parents of young children who can't control them and we just want to take over and be firm; and this is where I believe it starts. These children who've never been exposed to strong, firm but fair parental discipline will either be disciplined by others who love them less later in life (and this is rare) or not at all.
And then there is us. We are the people left to deal with the problem. We ought not to give up and get despondent--although there are times when we will, inevitably. We need the support of our own; people who will encourage us to go on in our good work in the defence of justice, respect, and fairness. That's what we're fighting for.
Copyright ? 2008, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
Steve Wickham is a safety and health professional (BSc) and a qualified lay Christian minister (GradDipDiv). His passion in vocation is facilitation and coaching; encouraging people to soar to a higher value of their potential. Steve's key passion is work / life balance and re-creating value for living, and an exploration of the person within us.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fourth of July Links

Waving American Flag

Waving American Flag
American Flag and Statue of Liberty Italian Charm

American Flag and Statue of Liberty Italian Charm
American Flag Black Laser Charm

American Flag Black Laser Charm



American Flag Heart Italian Charm

American Flag Heart Italian Charm
1 American Flag Italian Charm

1 American Flag Italian Charm
America Italian Charm

America Italian Charm



Classic American Flag

Classic American Flag
American Flag State

American Flag State
American Flag with Yellow Ribbon

American Flag with Yellow Ribbon


More patriotic Fourth of July Italian Charms at ItalianCharmsMarket.com

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Truth About Credit Repair...

Have you ever wondered what companies send you when they claim you can erase bad credit overnight? How about those ads that say you can get any major credit card without a deposit or a credit check? Ads abound almost everywhere these days (online and off) selling books, systems and secrets to help you fix your credit. Many of these programs have claims, which read like the covers of supermarket tabloids:

"In 3hrs my credit score jumped from 580 to 676!"...

"Erase bad credit and smash your debts with just 2 Magic Letters!".

Are these types of claims ALWAYS too good to be true? The answer is "Yes and... no".

While many people would love for you to believe the only thing that can fix bad credit is time; in reality... nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is, time is only one factor, which can fix a credit report, but it is a far cry from being the only factor. How can I back this up? Easy.

Under a consumer, protection law knew as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (a.k.a. the FCRA) the only negative information, which can remain, on your credit report is not what is accurate... but what can be proved as accurate under the FCRA. What is this mean to you?

It means any negative item on your credit report can only remain there if it is accurate and can be proved as such under the guidelines of the FCRA. This undisputable fact presents consumers with both good news and bad news.

The good news is that through the FCRA your credit score can most likely be improved dramatically in a very short period with only a modest amount of effort on your part.

The bad news is that while the actual "work" will take very little of your time, it is vital that you have good information on "how" to go about it. This is the bad news; 9 out of 10 courses on restoring your credit will do nothing more than lead you into snake pits because they will provide you with what the industry refer to as "Boiler Plate" dispute letters. These are nothing more than form letters and... Frankly (more bad news) the Credit Bureaus and Creditors will laugh at you if you try to use them.

While I agree with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that "Anything a Credit Repair Clinic can do for you legally, you can do for yourself at little or not cost"... the key element you need for success is the latest inside techniques and procedures to get the results you want. This involves strategies such as "Proof of Contract", "Constructive Notice", "Challenge of Procedure" or "Restrictive Endorsement" and many others.

All these terms may "sound" impressive but they are really quite simple. In the end, it is nothing more than a method of communication, which exercises your consumer protection rights, gets the results you want and raises your credit score. Even more impressive, once you learn how simple it can be by doing it for yourself, you will find there is a fortune to be made doing it for others!

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Slow Economy, Slow Job Gains

Job growth will probably rebound from April's meager gain, but not by much. Employment will track the economy's tepid growth rate.

April's ho-hum job figures reflect an economy in low gear as well as attempts by companies to preserve profit margins by limiting new hiring. But the less-than-expected gain of 88,000 jobs -- the lowest monthly tally in about two and a half years -- doesn't mean the economy is heading into a tailspin. In fact, more than half a million jobs were added in the first four months of this year -- not as strong a pace as last year, but by no means indicative of a slump.

Some of the slowdown in Friday's Labor Department report is a bit deceptive. It arises from complex seasonal adjustment estimates each spring relating to the construction sector, which officially shed 11,000 jobs in April. In effect, these adjustments probably made the decline in construction seem worse than it actually was. The employment report also featured a surprising loss of 26,000 jobs in the retail sector, which is likely to pick up again this month as stores start to sell summer merchandise.

There is also good reason to believe that manufacturing, which lost 19,000 jobs last month, could soon post a better performance. March factory orders -- a harbinger of the future pace of business -- posted a solid gain, while a recent survey of purchasing managers in manufacturing showed them to be upbeat about the orders outlook and about future hiring.

That said, don't expect a significant upswing in job creation. Although the economy is likely to steer clear of a recession, the pace of economic growth will remain tepid -- in the 2% to 2.5% range this year. For all of 2007, we expect a total of 1.3 million jobs to be added on a net basis, or an average of about 110,000 a month.

The job report includes some good news on the inflation front: Growth in average hourly earnings slowed a bit, rising a relatively modest 0.2% in April and 3.7% for the past 12 months. At the same time, the unemployment rate rose to 4.5% from 4.4% a month ago.

The Federal Reserve is counting on slower economic growth to loosen up the labor market a bit and hence reduce inflation pressures. This would allow the Fed to avoid raising interest rates and exacerbating the economic slowdown.

We think job trends are on the Fed's preferred path. The unemployment rate is likely to continue to creep higher, reaching about 5% by year end. However, the Fed probably won't feel comfortable about cutting rates until the central bank sees solid evidence that inflation is on a sustainable downward path. So we stick with our outlook for steady rates through this year.
source

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