Neonicotinoid insecticides (neonicotinoids) were present in a little more than half of the streams sampled across the United States and Puerto Rico, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study. This is the first national-scale study of the presence of neonicotinoids in urban and agricultural land use settings across the Nation and was completed as part of ongoing USGS investigations of pesticide levels in streams.
Neonicotinoids are one of the fastest growing classes of insecticides worldwide and are registered for use throughout the United States and the world. They are used in agricultural and urban settings and some are used predominately as seed coatings to protect seedlings such as corn and soybeans. The insecticides are also used as foliar sprays on horticultural, vegetable, and ornamental crops, pastures, and grasslands, and for domestic pests…
As an addition to the national reconnaissance study, four complimentary studies were led to determine how neonicotinoid concentrations varied in streams over time and during different streamflow conditions. Neonicotinoids were present in urban streams throughout the year, whereas pulses of the insecticides were typical in agricultural streams during the crop planting season.
None of the neonicotinoid concentrations exceeded U.S. Environmental Protection Agency aquatic life criteria, and all detected neonicotinoids are classified as not likely to be carcinogenic to humans. However, the occurrence of low levels in streams for extended periods of time highlights the need for future research on the potential effects of neonicotinoids on aquatic life and terrestrial animals that rely on aquatic life.
We must politely tiptoe around the lobbying and other political power of the manufacturers of pesticides. In alliance with agribusiness, they are a wondrous Goliath to behold. If you think brute power worth admiring.
Meanwhile, Europe continues with it’s interim ban on such substances and more studies on the death of bees from this crap continue in assent. As a nation, we don’t especially care any more for the death of little creatures essential to our existence – than we do the death of human beings in foreign lands. Especially when and where the profits of large American corporations might be affected.
UN Security Council voting to remove Iran sanctions
The Iran nuclear deal offers a long-term solution to one of the most urgent threats of our time. Without this deal, Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, would be less than 90 days away from having enough fissile material to make a nuclear bomb. This deal greatly reduces the threat of Iran’s nuclear program, making Iran’s breakout time four times as long, securing unprecedented access to ensure that we will know if Iran cheats and giving us the leverage to hold it to its commitments.
Israel cheats – and that’s OK with Congress.
Those calling on Congress to scrap the deal argue that the United States could have gotten a better deal, and still could, if we unilaterally ramped up existing sanctions, enough to force Iran to dismantle its entire nuclear program or even alter the character of its regime wholesale. This assumption is a dangerous fantasy, flying in the face of economic and diplomatic reality…
In the eyes of the world, the nuclear agreement — endorsed by the United Nations Security Council and more than 90 other countries — addresses the threat of Iran’s nuclear program by constraining it for the long term and ensuring that it will be exclusively peaceful. If Congress now rejects this deal, the elements that were fundamental in establishing that international consensus will be gone.
The simple fact is that, after two years of testing Iran in negotiations, the international community does not believe that ramping up sanctions will persuade Iran to eradicate all traces of its hard-won civil nuclear program or sever its ties to its armed proxies in the region. Foreign governments will not continue to make costly sacrifices at our demand.
Indeed, they would more likely blame us for walking away from a credible solution to one of the world’s greatest security threats, and would continue to re-engage with Iran. Instead of toughening the sanctions, a decision by Congress to unilaterally reject the deal would end a decade of isolation of Iran and put the United States at odds with the rest of the world…
We must remember recent history. In 1996, in the absence of any other international support for imposing sanctions on Iran, Congress tried to force the hands of foreign companies, creating secondary sanctions that threatened to penalize them for investing in Iran’s energy sector. The idea was to force international oil companies to choose between doing business with Iran or the United States, with the expectation that all would choose us.
This outraged our foreign partners, particularly the European Union, which threatened retaliatory action and referral to the World Trade Organization and passed its own law prohibiting companies from complying. The largest oil companies of Europe and Asia stayed in Iran until, more than a decade later, we built a global consensus around the threat posed by Iran and put forward a realistic diplomatic means of addressing it.
The deal we reached last month is strong, unprecedented and good for America, with all the key elements the international community demanded to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Congress should approve this deal and ignore critics who offer no alternative.
By JACOB J. LEW, US Secretary of the treasury
The point of any negotiations is a context of agreement upon what is possible – not what is ideology. I feel equally strong about the hypocrisy of our government’s fealty to Israel – a nation which has rejected the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, has a deadly stockpile of nuclear weapons and consistently threatens all of its neighbors. I think Israel should bear the weight of sanctions equal to those applied to Iran – and I’m also perfectly aware our government will continue to be decades out-of-date – and there is no chance at present that honesty will prevail.
So, I support the premise of honoring this agreement.
The latest round of wrangling between Greece and its European creditors has demonstrated yet again that countries with such disparate economies should never have entered a currency union. It would be better for all involved, though, if Germany rather than Greece were the first to exit.
After months of grueling negotiations, recriminations and reversals, it’s hard to see any winners. The deal Greece reached with its creditors — if it lasts — pursues the same economic strategy that has failed repeatedly to heal the country. Greeks will get more of the brutal belt-tightening that they voted against. The creditors will probably see even less of their money than they would with a package of reduced austerity and immediate debt relief.
That said, the lead creditor, Germany, has done Europe a service: By proposing the Greece exit the euro, it has broken a political taboo. For decades, politicians have peddled the common currency as a symbol of European unity…
Now that the idea of exit is in the air, though, it’s worth thinking beyond the current political reality and considering who should go. Were Greece to leave, possibly followed by Portugal and Italy in the subsequent years, the countries’ new currencies would fall sharply in value. This would leave them unable to pay debts in euros, triggering cascading defaults. Although the currency depreciation would eventually make them more competitive, the economic pain would be prolonged and would inevitably extend beyond their borders.
If, however, Germany left the euro area…there really would be no losers.
A German return to the deutsche mark would cause the value of the euro to fall immediately, giving countries in Europe’s periphery a much-needed boost in competitiveness. Italy and Portugal have about the same gross domestic product today as when the euro was introduced, and the Greek economy, having briefly soared, is now in danger of falling below its starting point. A weaker euro would give them a chance to jump-start growth…
The disruption from a German exit would be minor. Because a deutsche mark would buy more goods and services in Europe (and in the rest of the world) than does a euro today, the Germans would become richer in one stroke. Germany’s assets abroad would be worth less in terms of the pricier deutsche marks, but German debts would be easier to repay…
Perhaps the greatest gain would be political. Germany relishes the role of a hegemon in Europe, but it has proven unwilling to bear the cost. By playing the role of bully with a moral veneer, it is doing the region a disservice. Rather than building “an ever closer union” in Europe, the Germans are endangering its delicate fabric. To stay close, Europe’s nations may need to loosen the ties that bind them so tightly.
Reynolds American, maker of Camel cigarettes, can be sued by the European Union on claims the tobacco company orchestrated a worldwide scheme to launder drug money, a federal appeals court ruled in reviving a suit filed more than a decade ago.
The EU can use U.S. racketeering law to sue Reynolds American, a three-judge panel of the court in Manhattan ruled today, reversing a lower-court judge’s decision to dismiss the suit. The lawsuit was originally filed by the European Community, which was legally replaced by the EU in 2009…
The EC claims Reynolds American directed a scheme in which Colombian and Russian criminal organizations laundered drug profits through European money brokers. The brokers sold discounted euros obtained from the drug sales to cigarette importers, who then purchased Reynolds American cigarettes from wholesalers, according to the complaint.
U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis…dismissed the claims because the alleged money laundering took place outside the U.S. He also ruled that the EC’s presence in the suit deprived the court of jurisdiction.
Golly, are we to believe an industry so respected and concerned with the well-being of folks around the world would participate in criminal activity that benefited drug cartels as well as lining their own pockets?
Wait. Let me get my rubber boots on before we hear from corporate tobacco lovers.
Oh, the photo? John Wayne died from lung cancer.
Demonstration by Confederation of German Trade Unions for minimum wage
Germany’s cabinet agreed on Wednesday to a national minimum wage of 8.50 euros ($11.75) per hour – a flagship project for the Social Democrats who share power with Angela Merkel’s conservatives.
The minimum wage will take effect in Europe’s biggest economy from 2015 but will not cover minors, trainees and some interns. Some employers can continue to pay their workers less until the end of 2016 if they are covered by certain collective agreements…
The Bundestag lower house of parliament is due to debate the law in June before passing it in July. The Bundesrat upper house is expected to wave it through after the summer break.
Employer lobbies say blah, blah, blah.
Of the 28 states in the European Union, 21 have minimum wages. EU states without minimum wages tend to have smaller low-wage sectors than Germany and a bigger proportion of their workers are covered by collective wage deals between unions and employers.
Then, we have the United States where our courageous Democrats are considered too radical for Republicans and the rest of the right-wing crowd for offering a proposal that wouldn’t match inflation since the last update years ago – by the time the change took place. Assuming it ever gets past the Party of No in Congress.
Just one more moment to look back over the half-century or so since the end of WW2 and consider our victory in the War in Europe and what the losers have achieved compared to the winners.
The hijacking of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767 airliner on 17 February has seen the Swiss Air Force subject to widespread ridicule as it was unable to respond due to the incident occurring ‘outside of office hours’, international media has reported.
With Swiss Boeing F/A-18 Hornet and Northrop F-5 Tiger II fighters being unavailable due to the timing of the incident at 4am on Monday morning, Italian Eurofighter Typhoon and French Mirage 2000 jets, which had earlier intercepted the airliner as it passed through their respective airspaces were forced to remain on station as the Ethopian Airlines co-pilot diverted his aircraft to Geneva Airport.
“Switzerland [could not] intervene because its air bases are closed at night and on the weekend … It’s a question of budget and staffing,” Swiss Air Force spokesperson Laurent Savary was quoted as telling the AFP…
…The hijacking brings into focus the lack of resources available to the country’s air force at a time when it is looking to procure 22 new Gripen E fighters from Saab.
A national referendum into that procurement is due to go ahead on 18 May, and the air force’s embarrassment at its seeming inability to carry out its core mission to safeguard the national airspace could hardly have come at a worse time. With the government looking to convince the Swiss people of the need to spend US$3.5 billion on new fighter aircraft, many in Switzerland and beyond will be questioning whether that money might be better spent in properly funding the assets it already has.
Or they could spend the money developing a few more resorts to provide income and employment for the few not already making a living off 19th Century idiots who attach more importance to war and belligerence than peacefully going their own way.
Look at the circular reasoning in this event: The co-pilot wanted asylum. He waited till the pilot was off taking a pee and locked him out. Because the whole world has to change procedures because of 9-11 in the US, the air marshall on board [remember 9-11] and the pilot couldn’t break in through the new specially reinforced cockpit door [remember 9-11]. Why were fighter jets from France and Italy scrambled to follow the hijacked plane in to the Swiss border – remember 9-11 and be ready to shoot down the airliner if it looks ready to crash into something.
Multiply that by the thousands of commercial aircraft in the air at any minute around the world.
The Swiss don’t belong to NATO, don’t belong to the military forces of the EU and haven’t invaded another European country since Hector was a pup…BTW. They’re not worried about being invaded except during normal working hours.
The European Commission has called…for new protection for Europeans under United States’ law against misuse of personal data, in an attempt to keep in check the U.S. surveillance revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding said she wanted Washington to follow through on its promise to give all EU citizens the right to sue in the United States if their data is misused. “I have … made clear that Europe expects to see the necessary legislative change in the U.S. sooner rather than later, and in any case before summer 2014,” she said.
Reding’s message was reinforced in a draft report obtained by Reuters that called for “very close attention by the EU” in monitoring data-exchange agreements given the “large-scale collection and processing of personal information under U.S. surveillance programs”.
The remarks underline a growing sense of unease in Europe at a delicate moment in transatlantic relations, when the globe’s two biggest economies seek a trade pact to deepen ties…
In the report, they highlighted the need for improving transparency in the ‘Safe Harbour’ scheme that allows companies in Europe who gather personal information about customers, for example, to send it to the United States…
“We are an economic giant and we behave like a political midget,” said Sophie in’t Veld, a Dutch member of the European Parliament. “The Commission and the member states are extremely timid and soft. They are failing their citizens.”
“It’s not a legal question,” she said. “It’s about Europe behaving like a politically self-confident entity…”
The EU is preparing to establish new rules, regulations and protection of data for member-states. Though it talks about a “right to erasure” some critics feels the members of the Euro Parliament still have little understanding of where the world has come to with the advent of the World Wide Web.
Should we expect them to be more or less behind the times than Congress or the UK Parliament, eh?
The European Union is threatening to freeze a crucial and controversial data-sharing deal with the US aimed at tracking terrorist funding because of the National Security Agency snooping scandal…
The terror finance tracking programme (TFTP) was agreed in 2010 under strong US pressure, requiring the EU authorities to transfer data to the US treasury from the Brussels-based system which collates global financial transaction data under the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT).
MEPs on the committee called for the agreement to be scrapped following recent reports that the NSA was also tapping into the SWIFT databases to gain access to the private data of Europeans on their financial dealings.
The Dutch liberal MEP, Sophie in ‘t Veld, said the US breach of trust meant the transatlantic agreements, including another one divulging European air passenger details to the US authorities, should be ditched…
Senior EU officials and a SWIFT executive denied the reports that the NSA was grabbing the financial data, or said there was insufficient evidence to level the allegation. But Malmstrom emphasised that it was up to the Americans to clear their own names with adequate information.
Here’s the European Parliament supposed to be evaluating the progress made through this program to stop terrorist funding. They didn’t know when they agreed that they were constructing a direct connection to siphon data about the inner workings of EU banks straight into the vaults of the NSA.
Apologists for US snooping say there’s been no divergence from the original goals of the pact; but, both Snowden and then Obama have clearly pointed out the boatload of extra-curricular snooping Uncle Sugar built into the system.
Chinese telecommunications equipment maker Huawei plans to create 5,500 jobs in Europe within five years as the company expands its services in the region, state-owned newspaper China Daily said on Saturday.
Huawei, the world’s second largest maker of telecoms communication equipment, is to offer information technology solutions to European businesses, Patrick Zhang, president of marketing and solutions at Huawei Enterprise Business Group, told the newspaper…
Zhang said Europe offered more growth potential than the United States, where a congressional report last year found the company posed a security threat and essentially blocked it from the market.
“Our expansion progress in Europe is different from that in the U.S., where we have encountered access difficulties due to some groundless reasons given by the American side,” Zhang said.
Huawei representatives said last week that the company expected to have its revenues expand by 10 percent annually over the next five years, thanks largely to consumer devices and enterprise services.
Isn’t there something your grandma said about cutting off your nose to spite your face?
Europeans have had beefs with Huawei in the past over prices – the usual excuse when you’re not competitive. However, their corporations and governments have no problems using Huawei communications systems, products – aiding Huawei on their path towards number 1 in that market in the world.
Uncle Sugar and the Cold Warriors in Congress and the White House think they will somehow protect investments in out-of-date and uncompetitive designs from American companies by blocking foreign competition. And the United States may as well drop the fear of eavesdropping ploy about foreign governments. There’s one area where we definitely lead the world.
My bowling partner
US Secretary of State John Kerry has urged the European Union to postpone a planned ban on EU financial assistance to Israeli organisations in the occupied Palestinian territories…
Kerry made the request at a meeting with EU foreign ministers on Saturday at which he also called on them to support Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which resumed on July 29 after a nearly three-year hiatus.
The EU imposed restrictions in July, citing its frustration over the continued expansion of illegal Jewish settlements in territory captured by Israeli forces in the 1967 Middle East War.
Asked about her response to Kerry’s comments about the aid guidelines, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told reporters the guidelines were simply “putting down on paper what is currently the EU position”…
The EU guidelines render Israeli entities operating in the occupied territories ineligible for EU grants, prizes or loans, beginning next year.
They angered Israel’s rightist government, which accused the Europeans of harming Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and responded by announcing curbs on EU aid projects for thousands of West Bank Palestinians.
Palestinians praised the guidelines as a concrete step against illegal settlement construction, which they fear will deny them a viable state…
…Many in Israel worry about possible knock-on effects the EU steps may have on individuals or companies based in Israel that might be involved in business in the settlements, deemed illegal by the international community.
Israeli-Palestinian peace has been Kerry’s main foreign policy initiative since becoming secretary of state on February 1.
Which delineates  how little Kerry has achieved since he took up his job as substitute for Hillary and  how little anyone expects him to achieve – since the United States doesn’t wish to nudge the apartheid government of Israel into anything like justice or peace.
The issues needing to be sorted after more than six decades of phony negotiations include borders, the fate of Palestinian refugees, the removal of illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the status of Jerusalem. That’s all.