Last week I had the opportunity to present a talk to a group in West Lafayette, IN. They were interested in knowing about the risks of genetically engineered crops. This is a pet subject of mine. I have concluded that the only benefits that come from GM crops are additions to the bottom line profit of the giant companies that both provide the seed and then sell the herbicide for weed control. The crop is “engineered” to withstand normally lethal doses of the herbicide. Until recently, weeds were killed and corn or soy beans or cotton plants survived to harvest. Now, superweeds are becoming a major problem. The answer: the chemical companies want to offer more potent toxins to kill weeds and engineer the crops to be able to take the more lethal poisons and survive. The wheel turns, ever escalating to more and more environmental damage with no end in sight.
Elements of the genetically engineered crops and harvest from them are finding their way directly or indirectly into the human food system. Genes can transfer and pesticides are chemicals that can bioaccumulate or screw around with human hormones causing damage. The effects can be acute or chronic. They can come on quickly or may take years. Kind of reminds one of the story of tobacco, doesn’t it? The industry denies any harm, only good. Time will tell. Then it may be too late because calling back engineered genes from our environment is simply not possible.
There were 19 firefighters lost fighting a fire in Arizona this week. They were consumed by smoke and fire as they attempted to prevent fire from destroying homes in a small subdivision. No home is worth 19 lives.
These firefighters were among the most highly trained in the nation. Many had come from a military background. All were trained to the highest level possible and were dedicated to their work. They were not just a team but a family that looked after each others’ backs. They were cautious and safety conscious, but nature got the best of them. The perfect storm came in the form of a huge fire combined with the winds of a thunderstorm. They became trapped with no escape. Aircraft water drops were made where the pilots thought the firefighters might be, but even that was in vain given visibility was zero.
This tragedy was in fact brought on by years of government policy of preventing forest fires. One report said that no burn had occurred in this area for over 40 years. The policy of the US Forest Service for decades was zero tolerance for forest fires. This was incredibly stupid in that it allowed debris to accumulate on the forest floors just waiting for the big one. The policy has changed in recent years to one of controlled burns. But this policy obviously did not make it to this part of Arizona. Nineteen brave and dedicated souls lost their lives.
Two points occur to me. The first is that humans don’t seem to get that building of homes should not occur in some areas where fire or flood or landslide or other high risks of serious natural events might occur is wise. Those that do build should be on their own. Secondly, safety policies should be reviewed continuously. Again, no home or subdivision is worth even one life.
Edward Snowden has sure caused a stir. Where is he? China or Russia? You know darned well he does not want to be found by any agent of the United States or surrogate thereof and in his lifetime, never will. You know, you gotta think, what was Edward thinking?
Here is a guy that says he did not like what he was seeing. It bothered him that the United States government was spying on its own citizens…. not a little but a lot….. without court approval. Here is a guy that had a high clearance level to the secrets of our government and who worked for some independent contractor charged with managing those secrets.
Think about it. What did Snowden have to gain from going public with what he has? It sure has not made him safer and as far as we know now, it sure has not made him richer. What we do know is that he has drawn the curtain back on practices of our federal government that likely violate the Constitution. And all this from a guy who worked for an independent contractor.
The insanity of the situation starts first with the fact that Edward Snowden was in a place to know what he does. Are we nuts! The most closely guarded secrets of government are left to independent contractors. Incredible. And Snowden was not even a long time trusted employee. Smart choice.
It has been speculated that Snowden is a spy for China or Russia. If so, why would he go public? That makes no sense whatsoever. If a spy, he likely would have just faded into the woodwork and taken what he knows to aid countries not particularly friendly to us. By going public, he diminished the value of what he knows. By going public, our security agencies now know how vulnerable they are and can institute remedies. By going public, Snowden has informed the people of the United States that their government is spying on them in the name of making us safe from terrorists.
Those in Congress who are incensed over what Edward Snowden has revealed and want him caught and tried for espionage should step back. Snowden has done a service for those of us who believe in government for the people, not over the people.
The US Senate is about to debate amendments to the proposed immigration reform bill. Even the amendment is hundreds of pages with much of it designed to negate language in the original bill promoted by the “Gang of Eight”. Conservatives and Liberals have gone nuts over this bill. All are betting on the outcome being more voters for their respective parties. Time for them to step back and do what is right.
Current law that has been in place for decades says that if you are in the United States without going through established legal procedures, you are here illegally. The law refers to those as “illegal aliens”. No matter how you massage the language to be politically correct, the operative term is “illegal”. This means against the law. This means being in the United States without legal permission. What about that is not clear? Those here illegally have not been deported only because they have not been caught and local or state law enforcement has been hog-tied and are unable to do anything about it.
Now the Gang of Eight wants to enact a law that provides a pathway to citizenship for about 11 million people who are in the United States illegally. This should not happen. For humanitarian reasons, there is a case for children of illegal aliens who were born in the United States to be legal citizens. Even this is bending the case for “anchor babies”, but it was no decision made by the baby. However, the parents should never have a path to full citizenship. Permanent residency, maybe under certain circumstances, but not full citizenship, ever. They should never have voting rights or be able to collect financial benefits paid for by legal citizen taxpayers. If they want citizenship, they should have to return to their country of origin and make application in line with all others who have followed the legal pathway.
The border with Mexico must be secured. If this means fences and armed outposts, that is what it means. If this means drones, airplanes, and boots on the ground; that is what it means. We do no less for protection of our ocean coasts and the border with Canada is a totally different matter. For an example of border control, take a look at how Mexico manages its southern border. The border between Mexico and the US should be nothing less and probably more. The goal is total stopping of illegal crossings, period.
We will see if the Congress has the guts to do what is right and lawful.
The countryside has been filled with tractors plowing and planting crops for this year. About all that can be seen from horizon to horizon are fields dedicated to growing genetically modified, or genetically engineered, corn and soybeans. This is Indiana. The final destinations for these crops following harvest this fall will be livestock feed and, in one form or another, food for our tables. No one will know though because none will be labeled, “GMO”, or genetically modified.
Labeling is required for GMO’s in about 65 countries worldwide. These include all of Europe, Australia, Japan, Russia, South Africa and dozens of others. Some countries ban genetically modified foods altogether. One must wonder if other countries know something the United States does not. The big seed and chemical corporations do not want labels. So far, they have successfully stopped labeling in this country. They do not want people to know GMOs are in the food they eat. It is a secret to be kept by them only.
There are many questions about genetically modified foods and their long term safety for people and the environment. More and more evidence is accumulating saying all is not well. All is not well for people and animals that eat these foods. All is not well for the natural environment and the genetic contamination GMOs bring. All is not well with the use of the toxic chemical poisons, herbicides and pesticides, used on crops or in the case of GMO corn with the pesticide that each cell of the plant produces on its own in every plant cell and corn kernel. All is not well with the pesticide residues on harvested crops. All is not well. But all that is to be kept secret, too.
The historical record shows that even the scientists in the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) were concerned about the safety of genetically modified crops over 20 years ago. That did not matter because those who approved GMOs were political appointees. One key appointee at the FDA was an attorney for a firm that did legal work for Monsanto before coming to the FDA. Although he has been in and out of the FDA and Monsanto more than once, he is now in a key food safety position at the FDA
Many states have had GMO labeling legislation introduced, including Indiana. The most visible one was California. Big agriculture and food corporations spent about $45 million on a publicity campaign to narrowly defeat Proposition 37 there. Private Citizens who believe they have a right to know what is in their food could not match that kind of steamrolling propaganda effort. One wonders what there is to hide if millions are spent to defeat a law that would openly tell people what is in their food.
The controversy about GMOs and poisons, pesticides, is reminiscent of the tobacco companies that kept people in the dark for decades about the bad or even catastrophic long term health effects of smoking. Tobacco corporate executives lied to Congress. The largest GMO seed and chemical corporation that wants us to trust it is the one that gave us DDT, Dioxin, PCBs, and Agent Orange.
It is time for the Republicans in Congress to go home for Christmas. There is no sense in staying in Washington to be subject to Democrat whining.
The Republicans need to get some backbone. They need to come to the realization that the House of Representatives holds all of the cards. The power of the House is absolute. No appropriations of money for anything the federal government does happens without being initiated by the House of Representatives. No changes in the tax laws can happen without being initiated by the House of Representatives.
In other words, no compromise with or caving in to the Democrats is needed. The House of Representatives needs to pass the appropriations and tax bills they believe to be the right ones and send same along to the Senate. Let the Senate take the responsibility for blocking. The House needs to get on with its business on all sorts of matters without concern about what the President or the Senate thinks. Neither the President nor the Senate controls the purse. The House does.
The House needs to decide where government should be cut, then cut off the funding. The first place to start would be with all of the czars created by Obama. Maybe the next should be a cut in the amount of money available to the President for traveling like a rock star all over the place all of the time.
The President is not a king nor an emperor, nor a dictator….. yet. He may want to be. It sure looks that way when he comes with a proposal that would give him unilateral power to raise the debt ceiling all by his little own self. What a completely arrogant thing to even suggest.
The people power resides in the House of Representative. It is time for them to act like it.
The Russians learned. The United States has not. Afghanistan is a bottomless pit.
We have about 68,000 troops still fighting in Afghanistan after being there over 10 years. Obama wants to keep significant troops in that country until the end of 2014. WHY?
It is crystal clear no military victory over the Taliban is possible. Meanwhile, the people we are supposed to be training to take over their own security are killing our soldiers and the “nation-building” in this most primitive of countries is failing. Yet, we continue to put our young men and women in harm’s way meaning many do not come home and many that do are horribly maimed or mentally and emotionally damaged.
Rest assured, when we do leave, the Taliban will move in. Afghanistan will remain a backward and fractured country ruled by tribes and extreme Islamists. This is true whether we leave now or two years from now.
And al Qaida…. it has already established outposts in many other countries including Iraq, the country we allegedly freed and left already. We need to be very aggressive in counter terrorism efforts but this does not mean thousands of boots on the ground in areas where clear wins are not possible. It means search, destroy, and get out.
It is way past time to bring our troops home. NOW.
The election is over. All of the “swing states” went for Barack Obama. The Republicans for the office of the Presidency were trounced.
The only saving grace for Republicans, and I believe for the country, is the fact the Republicans remain in firm control of the House of Representatives and the Democrats did not gain enough in the Senate to reach the 2/3rds majority to enable shutoff of filibuster. This means that if President Barack Obama wants anything through Congress, he will have to work with the Republicans or the federal government will be in a state of gridlock for the next four years.
Then there is Benghazi. I pray the House of Representatives will not let this issue go. There were four Americans murdered including the Ambassador from the United States of America. It is clear the Obama administration attempted a coverup of the events leading to the death of these four. In short, they lied.
The Obama foreign policy is in shambles. The Middle East is a complete mess with dictators being replaced with worse, the Islamists. Israel no longer trusts the United States to be at their back. And Obama goes off to Burma for what?
And this at a time when there are millions in the USA that are in dire need of federal assistance to get their lives back from the hurricane and storms that hit the east coast. It is ironic that many of the states affected voted for Obama and that now federal response to their plight has been pathetic. There was little, if any, prepositioning of assets before the storms.
We have to live with a President who wants to lead this country down a path that many of us do not want to go. Where we have the power to stop the slide to more and more government, there should be no compromise.
In two days a President of these United States will be elected. This country under the leadership of whomever is elected will be headed on an upward course or a further decline. The choice is clear. Romney believes in the free enterprise system and smaller government. Obama believes in socialism and larger government with more and more people dependent upon the government.
Then there is Benghazi and the death of an Ambassador. It is crystal clear that President Obama and Hillary Clinton and others have been lying. They have been kicking the can down the road to try to get past the election.
Although I am not for all positions the Republicans have on various issues, I deeply believe an election of a Democrat President, Barack Obama, and a Democrat Congress spells “D” for disaster or “down the tube”. In two days we will know.
The more that is revealed about the deaths at the United States Consulate at Benghazi, Libya, the more sickening it becomes. President Barack Obama and those closest to him are either grossly incompetent or were criminally negligent. Obama was the only authority who could have ordered a response by the military and CIA in time to go the aid of our Ambassador and those with him to have saved them. Instead Obama did nothing. The military and CIA were ready for the trigger to be pulled. No order came. Brave people died needlessly.
Obama now claims that he did give an order to act. What did he do then, go to bed? Obviously, no one monitored the response assuming he gave an order. If there was no response to a Presidential order, that should have triggered an immediate discharge and possibly a Courts Martial. That has not happened. I more think that President Barack Obama is lying. He and his surrogates tried to sell the story that all of the events in Libya and Middle East around 9/11 were the result of a video that was derogatory of the Prophet Mohammad when they already knew that was a lie. The US representative to the United Nations tried to sell the video story for days as did others in the administration including dear Hillary Clinton, our Secretary of State.
It has been weeks now since this tragedy. The Democrats say the matter is being studied and that they will get to the bottom of it…… of course, after the election. This is yet another example of either incompetence or lying. The facts are already known. If they are not by now, more incompetence.
If it turns out the drones overhead watching the slaughter of American citizens including the Ambassador, the personal representative of the President of the United States, were armed. It is time for impeachment if he is still in office. Nothing less will do.
Oh, you would have to catch the President first. He was off to Las Vegas for a campaign party right after the Ambassador was murdered.