Toronto Board of Health Wants Canada to Decriminalize All Drugs

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In one of the most important steps towards drug reform in Canada thus far, the Toronto Board of Health is urging the federal government to decriminalize all drug use across the nation. The board announced its recommendation Monday, July 16, 2018, and called on Canadians to turn the moment into a cross-country movement. “The only way that federal laws are going to change is if we provoke that national conversation,” said Board Chair Joe Mihevc, a Toronto City Council member. “We will be the first to do it, but we can’t be the one and only.”

The endorsement of drug decriminalization came after the board was presented a report by Dr. Eileen de Villa, the medical officer of health for Canada’s largest city.

“What we are saying here is drug use has always been with us,” de Villa said. “Humans have always used drugs in one way, shape or form. The potential harms associated with any of these drugs is worsened when people are pushed into a position where they have to produce, obtain and consume those drugs illegally.”

The board will now be sending a letter of recommendation to Ottawa in the hopes that the call for countrywide drug decriminalization won’t fall on deaf ears. . .

via Toronto Board of Health Wants Canada to Decriminalize All Drugs — Marijuana

In global warming fight, new tactics to make cows burp less

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Scientists around the world are making strides in reducing methane emissions from belching livestock by developing probiotic supplements, breeding animals that emit less, and planting trees in pastures to absorb greenhouse gasses.

Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters/File
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From New Zealand to the United States and Kenya to Colombia, scientists are on a mission to fight global warming by making livestock less gassy.

Livestock are responsible for about 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

According to calculations by some experts, this puts the livestock sector on par with transport. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says transport is responsible for 14 percent of emissions.

Ruminants such as cattle, buffalo, sheep, and goats produce nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, and methane, which is the most emitted gas and is released through belching.

Scientists are working on ways to reduce those emissions, including by breeding animals that burp less, adjusting their diets so they produce less methane, and planting trees in pastures.

via In global warming fight, new tactics to make cows burp less

After Surviving 5 Drone Strikes, Citizen Sues US Government To Be Taken Off Of ‘Kill List’

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Bilal Abdul Kareem, a black American citizen who had been living for years in Syria, where he ran a small news organization, happened to find himself in Aleppo during the waning days of the battle for the city, in a room full of desperate Free Syrian Army rebels, when one of the group half-seriously raised the subject of kidnapping him for ransom.

Kareem

“I was understandably nervous,” he remembers. “I was the only American inside of this very small area that was besieged.”

The talk in the room turned ominous.

“One of the guys said, ‘You know what? I heard you get $20,000 for kidnapping an American.’”

Kareem pauses as he recalls the scene. He would have stood out in that crowd, as he does everywhere in the Middle East: a black New Yorker with a loud belly laugh.

“You’ve got these nanoseconds to come up with some kind of response,” he explains. “You don’t want them to see you sweat.”

All the eyes in the room turned toward Kareem. Would this American fetch $20,000?

“Nah, man,” he said to his audience.“That’s just for the white ones.”

The room roared with laughter.

“I was like, ‘Phew,’” Kareem says. Then, slipping out: “‘All right, guys, I gotta go.’”

And that’s not the only time Kareem, born Darrell Lamont Phelps in Mt. Vernon, New York, has come close to dying in recent years.

According to a profile by Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi, Kareem has survived five attempted dronings after winding up on the US government’s infamous “kill list” – the same “kill list” that was first introduced to the public via the New York Times just months before Nobel Peace Prize laureate President Obama was elected.

Obama, the paper explained, had masterminded the list in the early days of his presidency, placing himself at the head of a committee that would effectively decide whether terror targets – some of whom might be innocent bystanders or even US citizens – should be unilaterally murdered by US drones. The Times presented the list as a “test of Obama’s principles” in a headline, glossing over the fact that Obama himself had ordered its creation.

Kareem

Kareem told Taibbi that after narrowly escaping death five times (more than one time, the missile seemingly meant for him accidentally killed an innocent bystander), he learned from a former source that he was on the US’s “disposition Matrix”, bureaucratic speak for the “kill list”, at Incirlik, the Turkish air base where the US launches many of its attacks in Syria. Instead of waiting for his home country to murder him, Kareem got in touch with a nonprofit based in the UK and is now suing the US to try and have his name taken off the list. That was a year ago. Soon, the court will render a decision, and whatever it decides will have impact more people than ever before: Trump promised during the campaign that he would increase US dronings in the Middle East and elsewhere (warning that “you need to take out the families”) and he’s done just that.

Kareem described the first time he realized that the US was after him. It was right before his third brush with death.

It was in the third incident, he says, when he first saw an American drone overhead. He and his crew were shooting a story in a remote town in the Aleppo countryside.

“They were picking off Al Qaeda and Al Nusra members,” he says. “I didn’t pay it much attention. I thought, ‘It’s not the first time I’ve heard a drone.’”

But after he’d completed the segment and begun heading back to the car with his crew, he still heard the drone.

“That’s when we first felt a little bit alarmed,” he remembers, speaking by Skype. “For 20 minutes to be hovering over us, that wasn’t normal. Usually they come and then they go.”

His crew got into the car and drove a mile or two, then parked to wait for an interview subject. Suddenly, a nearby SUV exploded.

“I thought the Earth had split” Kareem says. “Our car was flipping into the air. I thought the car had fallen off something into the Earth.”

As Taibbi points out in his reporting, the decision has serious implications for US case law:

It’s not a stretch to say that it’s one of the most important lawsuits to ever cross the desk of a federal judge. The core of the Bill of Rights is in play, and a wrong result could formalize a slide into authoritarianism that began long ago, but accelerated after 9/11.

Since that day, we have given presidents enormous power – to make war, to torture, to detain indefinitely – and our entire legal system has been transformed on a variety of fronts, placing huge questions about illegal searches, warrantless arrest, indefinite detention, torture and other matters behind an impenetrable wall of secrecy, outside the reach of courts.

But while the NYT and a handful of other US news organizations covered Kareem’s decision to file the lawsuit – burying the coverage on their websites and in their papers – few, if any, are still paying attention.

via After Surviving 5 Drone Strikes, Citizen Sues US Government To Be Taken Off Of ‘Kill List’

‘Hi, I’m a soybean’: In trade war, China deploys cartoon legume to reach U.S. farmers

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July 20, 2018

BEIJING (Reuters) – In the tense trade war with the United States, China’s government has turned to an unlikely weapon: a cartoon bean.

“Hi, everybody. I am a soybean. I may not look like much, but I’m very important,” says the animated character in a video posted on Friday on the website of China Global Television Network (CGTN), the overseas news network of state-owned China Central Television.

The short video in English with Chinese subtitles seems designed to undermine support for the trade dispute from U.S. farmers, key supporters of President Donald Trump, by highlighting the damage tariffs could have on American soybean exports.

Its release follows the imposition on July 6 of tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports by the United States. In return, China levied taxes on the same value of products from the United States, including soybeans. Trump has also threatened further tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods.

The video also highlights efforts by China’s Communist Party to turn to foreign actors, cartoons and even rap to try to deliver its ideas in less turgid formats.

Opting for the unusual narrator illustrates how Beijing views soybeans as a powerful tool in its battle with its top trading partner. Soybeans were the United States’ biggest agricultural export to China, worth $12 billion last year.

The video is partly educational, but is mostly aimed at delivering a political message.

After outlining the main uses of soybeans from tofu to animal feed to biscuits, the bean turns its focus to its central role in the trade war.

China can choose to buy beans from other exporters, such as Argentina and Brazil, if prices become too expensive, the bean says in the video.

But falling prices and lower sales would hurt U.S. soybean farmers, it warns, pointing out that U.S. prices have fallen by 18 percent from May to early July, to their lowest this year. <Sv1>

Nine out of the top ten soybean growing states voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election, the video notes.

“So will voters there turn out to support Trump and the Republicans once they get hit in the pocketbooks?” asks the bean.

 

via ‘Hi, I’m a soybean’: In trade war, China deploys cartoon legume to reach U.S. farmers

Gallup Shows How Much Americans Really Care About The “Situation With Russia”

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By Keith Preston

When the ruling class tries to work up hysteria over bullshit, and the people don’t buy it or don’t care, that’s a sign the elite have lost or are losing their legitimacy.

“Gallup recently did a poll of what Americans say is the most important problem facing the country. One finding: the percentage of Americans saying “Situation with Russia” is the most important problem is literally too small to represent with a number. ”

Zero Hedge

 

via Gallup Shows How Much Americans Really Care About The “Situation With Russia”

Clinging to Collusion: Why Evidence Will Probably Never Be Produced in the Indictments of ‘Russian Agents’

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By Joe Lauria | Consortium News Special to Consortium News

Charges against 12 Russian intelligence agents for allegedly hacking emails from the Democratic Party during the 2016 presidential election were announced by the U.S. Justice Department on Friday at the very moment President Donald Trump was meeting Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle and just days before a summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

A central claim of Russia-gate has been that the Russian government with help from the Trump campaign stole emails from the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton campaign and then gave those emails to WikiLeaks for publication to damage Clinton’s quest for the White House.

Until Friday however, the investigation into the allegations had produced no formal indictment of Russian government interference in the election. Like previous U.S. government accusations against Russia for alleged election meddling, the indictment makes assertions without providing evidence. Indictments do not need to show evidence and under U.S. law, indictments are not considered evidence. And it is highly unlikely that the government will ever have to produce any evidence in court.

Friday’s indictments do not include any charges against Trump campaign members for allegedly colluding with the Russian government to carry out the hacks. That has been at the core of allegations swirling in U.S. media for two years. If the alleged co-conspirators “known” to the DOJ were on the Trump team, the indictments do not say. There is only a hint that “unknown” persons might be.

In announcing the indictments at a press conference Friday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said: “The conspirators corresponded with several Americans during the course of the conspiracy through the internet. There’s no allegation in this indictment that the Americans knew they were corresponding with Russian intelligence officers.”

The indictment alleges that Russian agents, posing as Guccifer 2.0, communicated on Aug. 15, 2016 with “a person who was in regular contact with senior members” of the Trump campaign, mostly like advisor Roger Stone, who has spoken about communicating with Guccifer 2.0. The indictment says Guccifer offered to “help u anyhow,” apparently indicating that Stone did want Guccifer 2.0’s help.

Clinging to ‘Collusion’

The lack of evidence that the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia has never stopped Democrats and their media outlets from believing unnamed U.S. intelligence sources for two years about such collusion. “Collusion” is the title of a best-selling book about the supposed Trump-Russia conspiracy to steal the election, but such a charge is not to be found.

The indictment excluding collusion also undermines the so-called Steele dossier, a work of opposition research paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign masquerading as an intelligence document because it was compiled by a former MI6 agent. The memos falsely claimed, it turns out, that Trump’s people started colluding with Russia years before he became a candidate.

But even after Friday’s indictments failed to charge anyone from Trump’s team, the Democratic media continued to insist there was collusion. A New York Times story, headlined, “Trump Invited the Russians to Hack Clinton. Were They Listening?,” said Russia may have absurdly responded to Trump’s call at 10:30 a.m. on July 27, 2016 to hack Clinton’s private email server because it was “on or about” that day that Russia allegedly first made an attempt to hack Clinton’s personal emails, according to the indictment, which makes no connection between the two events.

If Russia is indeed guilty of remotely hacking the emails it would have had no evident need of assistance from anyone on the Trump team, let alone a public call from Trump on national TV to commence the operation.

And as Twitter handle “Representative Press” pointed out: “Trump’s July 27, 2016 call to find the missing 30,000 emails could not be a ‘call to hack Clinton’s server’ because at that point it was no longer online. Long before Trump’s statement, Clinton had already turned over her email server to the U.S. Department of Justice.” Either the indictment was talking about different servers or it is being intentionally misleading when it says “on or about July 27, 2016, the Conspirators attempted after hours to spearphish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third party provider and used by Clinton’s personal office.”

Instead of Trump operatives, the indictments name 12 Russians, allegedly agents from the GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency. The agents “knowingly and intentionally conspired with each other, and with persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury (collectively the ‘Conspirators’), to gain unauthorized access (to ‘hack’) into the computers of U.S. persons and entities involved in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, steal documents from those computers, and stage releases of the stolen documents to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” the 29-page indictment says.

“Starting in at least March 2016, the Conspirators used a variety of means to hack the email accounts of volunteers and employees of the U.S. presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton (the ‘Clinton Campaign’), including the email account of the Clinton Campaign’s chairman,” the indictment says.

Obvious Timing

The timing of the announcement was clearly intended to embarrass Trump as he was meeting the Queen and to undermine his upcoming meeting with Putin on July 16. The indictments may also have been meant to embarrass Russia two days before the World Cup final to be held in Moscow. . .

via Clinging to Collusion: Why Evidence Will Probably Never Be Produced in the Indictments of ‘Russian Agents’ — A Sweet Dose of Reality

From corn to cornflake: Healthy compounds lost during food processing

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From corn to cornflake: Healthy compounds lost during food processing

The healthy bits are removed

For many Americans, highly processed foods are on the menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Even when the raw materials – grains, for example – are high in vitamins and health-promoting phenolic compounds, processing can rob the final product of these nutrients. In a set of recent studies, University of Illinois scientists reveal what happens to cancer-fighting phenolic acids in corn when it is processed into cornflakes…

“What we found was not particularly good news, but it was interesting. Regardless of the concentration in the grain at the beginning, the dry-milling process removes the majority of phenolics,” says Carrie Butts-Wilmsmeyer, lead author of the two studies and research assistant professor in the Department of Crop Sciences at U of I…

via From corn to cornflake: Healthy compounds lost during food processing — Eideard