Barack Obama’s Anti Semitism Test

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Column-one-Barack-Obamas-anti-Semitism-test-404430

Is US President Barack Obama an anti-Semite?

This question has lingered in the air since his first presidential bid in 2008. It first arose due to the anti-Semitic sermons that Jeremiah Wright, his pastor for more than 20 years, made as Obama and his family sat in the pews.

Throughout the six-and-a-half years of his presidency, Obama has laughed off the concerns.

But he has not dispelled them. And this failure has hurt him.

So last week, Obama went to significant lengths to answer the question about his feelings toward Israel and the Jewish people once and for all.

The timing of his charm offensive wasn’t coincidental.

Obama clearly believes he has to dispel doubts about his intentions toward Jews and Israel in order to implement the central policy of his second term in office. That policy of course is his nuclear deal with Iran.

Obama’s agreement with the mullahs is supposed to be concluded by the end of next month.

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Obama argues that his deal will prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. But as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained in his address before the joint houses of Congress in March, from what has already been revealed about the nuclear deal Obama seeks to conclude, far from preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear arms, the deal will provide several pathways for Iran to at a minimum become a threshold nuclear state, capable of developing nuclear weapons at the drop of a hat. If Iran cheats on the deal, it can develop nuclear weapons while the agreement is still in force. If it abides by the agreement, it can develop nuclear weapons as soon as the agreement expires.

Beyond his desire to conclude a nuclear deal that will empower a regime that has pledged to destroy Israel, there are Obama’s reported plans for changing the way the US relates to Israel at the UN Security Council.

For the past half-century, the US has used its veto power at the Security Council to prevent substantive anti-Israel draft resolutions from passing. But Obama and his top advisers have hinted and media reports have provided details about his intention to end this 50-year policy.

Obama reportedly intends to enable the passage of a French draft resolution that would require Israel to withdraw to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines.

As these two policies, which bear directly on Israel’s ability to defend itself and indeed, to survive, near implementation, Obama is faced with the fact that he has a credibility problem when it comes to issues related to the survival and existence of the Jewish state.

In a bid to address this credibility problem, last week he invested significant time and effort in building up his credibility on Jewish issues. To this end, he gave an extensive interview to Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic, and he gave a speech before Adas Israel, a large, liberal Conservative synagogue in Washington, DC.

To a degree, Obama was successful. He did put to bed the question of whether or not he is anti-Semitic.

In his interview with Goldberg, Obama gave a reasonable if incomplete definition of what anti-Semitism is. Obama said that an anti-Semite is someone who refuses to recognize the 3,000-year connection between the Jews and the Land of Israel. An anti-Semite is also someone who refuses to recognize the long history of persecution that the Jewish people suffered in the Diaspora.

According to Obama, an anti-Semite is someone who refuses to understand that this history of persecution together with the Jews’ millennial connection to the Land of Israel is what justifies the existence of Israel in the Land of Israel.

Moreover, according to Obama, anti-Semites refuse to understand that Israel remains in mortal danger due to the continued existence of anti-Semitic forces that seek its destruction.

And that isn’t all. As he sees it, even if you do understand the legitimacy of Israel’s existence and recognize the continued threats to its survival, you could still be an anti-Semite.

As Obama explained to Goldberg, there is still the problem of double standards.

In his words, “If you acknowledge those things, then you should be able to align yourself with Israel where its security is at stake, you should be able to align yourself with Israel when it comes to making sure that it is not held to a double standard in international fora, you should align yourself with Israel when it comes to making sure that it is not isolated.”

To his credit, Obama provided a clear, well-argued and constructive definition of anti-Semitism.

But there’s a bit of a problem. Right after Obama provided us with his definition of anti-Semitism, he endorsed and indeed engaged in the very anti-Semitism he had just defined.

As Goldberg, who is sympathetically inclined toward Obama, put it, Obama “holds Israel to a higher standard than he does other countries.”

Both in his interview with Goldberg and in his speech at the synagogue, Obama judged Israel in accordance to what he defined as Jewish values.

According to Obama, Jewish values require Jews to prefer the interests of others over their own interests in order to “repair the world.”

As Obama reads Israeli history, the state’s founders didn’t only seek to build a Jewish state.

They set out to build Utopia.

Obama explained, “I care deeply about preserving that Jewish democracy, because when I think about how I came to know Israel, it was based on images of… kibbutzim, and Moshe Dayan, and Golda Meir, and the sense that not only are we creating a safe Jewish homeland, but also we are remaking the world. We’re repairing it. We are going to do it the right way. We are going to make sure that the lessons we’ve learned from our hardships and our persecutions are applied to how we govern and how we treat others. And it goes back to the values questions that we talked about earlier – those are the values that helped to nurture me and my political beliefs.”

In his address at the synagogue, Obama made his expectations of Israel explicit. As he sees it, Israel’s concerns for Palestinians should outweigh its concerns for itself.

“The rights of the Jewish people… compel me to think about a Palestinian child in Ramallah that feels trapped without opportunity. That’s what Jewish values teach me.”

In other words, when Obama thinks about Israel, he cannot avoid blaming Israel for the feelings he assumes Palestinian children feel.

It is important to mention that in neither of his attempts to address concerns about his perceived biases regarding Jews did Obama note the behavior of the Palestinian Authority. He ignored its endemic corruption and authoritarianism.

He ignored the wild anti-Semitic incitement and indoctrination practiced at all levels of the Palestinian governing authority. He ignored the longstanding Palestinian refusal to accept an independent state that would peacefully coexist with the Jewish state.

So in the end, Obama’s charm offensive did provide a clear answer to the question of whether he is anti-Semitic.

It bears noting that the fact that Obama failed his own test of anti-Semitism doesn’t necessarily mean that he hates Jews. It is certainly possible that he likes Jews.

But loving Jews and being an anti-Semite are not mutually exclusive.

Consider anti-black bigots. Over the years, plenty of racists have professed, and perhaps even felt, love for black people.

They discriminated against blacks not because they hated them but because they believed that blacks were inferior to whites. It was due to their “love” for blacks that they insisted on holding them to lower standards than whites, or on segregating them from whites, lest they be embarrassed or set up for failure.

In other words, the fact of their “love” didn’t make them less bigoted.

Likewise, the possibility that Obama loves Jews doesn’t make his compulsion to judge Israel by a separate standard from other states and nations, including the Palestinians, any less bigoted.

On the other hand, both in his interview with Goldberg and in his speech at Adas Israel, Obama gave reason for concern that he harbors little goodwill for Jews or sensitivity to the unique dangers they face.

Goldberg raised the concern that the anti-Semitism at the heart of the world view of Iran’s dictator Ali Khamenei makes him irrational. Obama didn’t merely reject the notion, while denying the long history of eliminationist anti-Semitism, Obama rejected the notion that anti-Semitism can outweigh rational interests like regime survival and economic prosperity.

In his words, “Well the fact that you are anti-Semitic, or racist, doesn’t preclude you from being interested in survival. It doesn’t preclude you from being rational about the need to keep your economy afloat; it doesn’t preclude you from making strategic decisions about how you stay in power; and so the fact that the supreme leader is anti-Semitic doesn’t mean that this overrides all of his other considerations.”

If that wasn’t enough to show that Obama rejects the notion that anti-Semitism can and often does serve as the deranged anchor of policy- making by anti-Semites, he proceeded to equate Iran’s annihilationist anti-Semitism with the country club anti-Semitism American Jews once were subjected to by their fellow Americans.

“If you look at the history of anti-Semitism…there were deep strains of anti-Semitism in this country,” he said.

By rejecting the policy significance of anti-Semitism for the Iranian regime, Obama exhibited yet another anti-Semitic behavior. Obama asserted that if you fail to recognize the danger that anti-Semitism constitutes for Israel’s survival, then you are an anti-Semite.

Obama’s statements about the Palestinians also indicate that he feels little love for Jews. As has been his consistent practice since assuming office, in his charm offensive last week, Obama continued to ignore the fact that if the Palestinians were primarily interested in a state, rather than in the destruction of the Jewish state, they could have had one at almost any time since the release of the Peel Commission report in 1937 that first suggested partitioning the land west of the Jordan River between a Jewish and an Arab state. His consistent refusal to deal with this simple fact, and his insistence on blaming Israel for the Palestinians’ expressed misery despite Israel’s repeated offers to partition the land in exchange for peace raise serious questions about his intentions toward the Jewish state.

As Obama rightly understands, in the coming months, as he tries to sell his nuclear deal with Iran and his anti-Israel positions at the UN to the American public, the question of whether or not he is an anti-Semite will become more salient than ever before.

Now that he has answered the question, Israel needs to act in accordance with Jewish values, and choose life even at the expense of good relations with the Obama administration.

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Violent Antisemitism Surged Forty Percent In 2014

http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Violent-anti-Semitism-surged-forty-percent-in-2014-study-finds-398165

Anti-Semitic violence rose by nearly 40 percent in 2014 over the previous year, according to a report by the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University.

A total of 766 violent incidents were recorded worldwide, a “sharp increase” over the 554 tallied in 2013, according to the European Jewish Congress, which contributed to the report.

“Many streets in our European cities have become hunting grounds for Jews, and some Jews are now forced to avoid community institutions and synagogues as a result,” said EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor. “Some are choosing to leave the continent, many are afraid to walk the streets, and even more are retreating behind high walls and barbed wire. This has become the new reality of Jewish life in Europe.”

The Kantor Center characterized European Jewish sentiment as that of a people “living in an intensifying anti-Jewish environment that has become not only insulting and threatening on a daily basis, but outright dangerous” and asserted that “there are no more taboos and restrictions when it comes to anti-Semitic manifestations.”

The Kantor Center defined violent incidents as acts perpetrated either with or without weapons and including such crimes as arson, vandalism, and threats against Jews and their institutions.

There were 68 incidents of armed violence against Jews and their property, including the shooting attacks against Brussels’ Jewish Museum, a Copenhagen Synagogue, and Paris’s Hyper Cacher supermarket – double the number in 2013. There were a further 101 incidents of unarmed violence.

“From 2004-2014, except for 2009 which was worse in terms of numbers of violent cases and anti-Semitic atmosphere, 2014 was one of the worst,” mourned Kantor Center director Prof. Dina Porat, adding that there has been a “rise in attacks against persons” as a percentage of the total number of incidents.

Anti-Semitism has been steadily rising since the late 1980s, but spiked during 2009’s Israel-Hamas war.

According to the Kantor Center, in 2014 a total of 306 people were targets of attacks, an increase of “no less than 66%” while attacks against synagogues rose by 70% to 114. Arson cases have tripled over the past year.

Porat said that the “atmosphere has changed” and the question being asked by increasing numbers of European Jews is “what future do we have as individuals and for our communities.”

Last September Britain’s Community Security Trust, an anti-Semitism watchdog, reported that three hundred incidents had occurred over the course of July, the highest level since it began keeping records in the early 1980s.

According to a recent report by the London-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research British Jews are evenly split in their assessment of the severity of anti-Semitism, with around half of respondents saying that they feel that such sentiments are either a “fairly big problem.”

Moreover, around onethird of respondents reported being worried about themselves of those close to them “becoming a victim of antisemitic harassment or verbal attack.” One-fifth reported concerns over becoming the victim of a physical assault.

JPR likewise reported that one-third of Italian Jews polled “thought that hostility towards Jews in public places had increased in the past five years, and a similar proportion thought that there had been an increase in desecration of Jewish cemeteries, vandalism of Jewish buildings and institutions, and anti-Semitism in political life.”

Over 40% expressed concern over the possibility of verbal abuse or harassment, while 30% indicated that they are worried about those close to them suffering physical abuse as Jews.

According to a recent study by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), 21% of French Jews reported experiencing at least one anti-Semitic incident during 2013.

A third of Jews from across Europe who were polled by FRA in 2013 stated that they refrained from wearing religious garb or Jewish symbols out of fear, with an additional 23% avoided attending Jewish events or going to Jewish venues.

While 66% reported anti-Semitism as having a negative affect on their lives, 77% did not bother reporting abuse or harassment. Almost a third are mulling emigration as a response to heightened anti-Jewish sentiment.

France once again led the pack in terms of increases in anti-Semitic incidents, with 164 recorded in 2014, up from 141 the year before.

Describing a “sharp rise” in Britain, Porat cited last year’s 141 incidents, 46 more than in 2013. The number of incidents in Australia tripled to 30 and more than doubled in Germany, rising to 76. Italy more than doubled, rising to 23, while Sweden rose from only three incidents in 2013 to 17 last year. Belgium rose to 30 from 11 and South Africa to 14 from one.

In Eastern Europe, even in countries with neo-Nazi political parties such as Hungary, or countries in which accusations of anti-Semitism are used as a political weapon such as Ukraine and Russia, incidents did not rise nearly as much; with small bumps or even, in the case of Russia, a drop.

Russian media, however, still contain anti-Semitic content.

Anger over Israel’s military actions in Gaza this past summer played a large role in stimulating a rise in violence against Jews, Porat and the Center believe. Protesters from the extreme Left and immigrant Muslim population compared Israeli soldiers to Nazis and blamed them and Jewish supporters of Israel for “every evil on Earth.”

A European crisis of values, coupled with “profound ignorance” drives “confused youngsters” to search for “easy to catch black and white symbols” and many of the European protesters were likely unaware of the full historical context of the Arab-Israeli conflict or the Holocaust to which they compared the situation in Gaza, the report asserted.

While such sentiment certainly contributed in the rise in violence, however, “classical anti-Semitism with no connection to Israel” also played a part, Porat said, noting that, during protests ostensibly against Israel, people attacked synagogues instead of Israeli embassies and chanted “Jews to the gas” rather than Israelis to the gas.

According to the report, the use of classically anti-Semitic caricatures of hooknosed Jews killing children “reflect the return of classic anti-Semitism, which has not been noticed for years, and now gains increasing ground, if not instead of anti-Zionism and anti-Israelism then at least alongside them.”

Moreover, the center asserted, “biased” western and Muslim media enhanced such stereotypes by “transmit[ ing] a certain Jewish-Israeli image.”

Among the problems facing European Jewry is the fact that, despite efforts by European leaders to combat anti-Jewish hate, these have had “no meeting point with the street,” the Kantor Center reported.

“The fight must be taken to the attackers instead of allowing it to affect the everyday lives of the victims. We need to move from defense to offense,” said Kantor in a statement distributed with the report.

“We need a pan-EU body that will coordinate intelligence efforts between member states and the sharing of such information, assist with legislation changes to enable the member states to address this challenge with proper tools, and deal with training and security measures in the protection of Jewish institutions by the authorities.”

Last month, the foreign minister of the EU, Federica Mogherini, endorsed this concept, telling an Italian newspaper that she will push for the formation of a continental task force on anti-Semitism.

Native American Tribes Declare Sovereignty, Break Away from State of Maine

http://theantimedia.org/native-american-tribes-declare-sovereignty-from-maine/

Due to Governor Paul LePage launching direct political and environmental attacks against the Penobscot, Micmac and Passamaquoddy tribes of Maine, leaders of those tribes have recalled their representatives from the state legislature and are asserting their sovereignty from the State of Maine. “The Maine Indian Land claims Settlement act has failed and we cannot allow ourselves to continue down the path,” Chief Francis said. “We’re saying it’s a failed social experiment.”

In August of 2011, Governor LePage signed an Executive Order recognizing a “special relationship” between the sovereign State of Maine, and the sovereign tribes within the State. In this order, the Governor instructed all State agencies to include a tribal liaison, whose role would be to facilitate communication and direct policy in all areas of State jurisdiction in such a way as to include the voice and interest of native peoples. The Order instructs that “the State and Tribes should work together as one,” and Tribal interests should be heeded when developing policies and procedures “on matters that significantly or uniquely affect those tribes.”

 In April of this year, LePage rescinded that Order. The new Order maintains that native tribes in Maine retain their sovereignty, but holds that they now have a “relationship between equals with its own set of responsibilities,” yet declares that tribal lands, forms of tribal governance and natural resources controlled by the native tribes are subject to the laws and jurisdiction of the State of Maine. The takeover of lands was prompted by an EPA letter to the State, and claims that lack of Tribal participation in “the State’s interests” required the usurpation of Tribal sovereignty. The Letter, in fact, actually supports the Tribal position, as the Tribal standards of environmental protection are much stricter than those of the EPA or the State of Maine. Those close to the Penobscot Tribe tell The Fifth Column that LePage threatened to sue the EPA over the proposed new regulations, leading the Agency to back down.  LePage’s Order, then, becomes a direct political attack against the Tribes in affront to their sovereignty and an effort to exact more control over the land by the State of Maine.

Even though Penobscot Chief Kirk Francis and his Tribe couldn’t have been “happier” with the EPA ruling, the State of Maine blamed the Tribe for poor water quality and dissolved its sovereignty over the land and resources. This comes in spite of a Penobscot lawsuit over fishing rights in the Penobscot River and another legal battle between the State and the Passamaquoddy Tribe over rights in other fisheries in the region, as well as Maine’s already stringent water quality standards. Initiallya little bit — well, a lot — confused” by the new Executive Order, Chief Francis declared, “We have gotten on our knees for the last time, from here on out, we are a self-governing organization, focused on a self-determining path.

Francis spoke outside of the Maine Statehouse on May 26 in a rally celebrating the severing of diplomatic ties between the Tribes and the State. He was joined by leaders of the Passamaquoddy Tribe, but not the Houlton and Maliseet Tribes, who cite too much of a vested financial interest in the outcome of several bills currently pending.  Matthew Dana II and Wayne Mitchell, just prior to the rally, issued statements on the floor of the legislature announcing the separation, and abandoning their pro forma seats in the state government. Each Tribe was allotted one seat in the legislature, where they were allowed to submit and discuss bills, but denied the right to vote.  According to the Tribes, this is the first time since 1842 that a Native Tribe was not present in the legislature.

Passamaquoddy Representative, Matthew Dana II (right) stands by as Chief Fred Moore (left) explains the Tribe’s position. Photo Courtesy Sherri Mitchell, Native News Online

We have gone to great lengths to demonstrate good faith and cooperation, only to be lied to,states Passamaquoddy Chief Fred Moore. Meanwhile, LePage maintains in one breath that it is the interests of the State of Maine that have not been respected, yet in another breath has stated that he would veto any Tribal bill that reaches his desk from the legislature. Urged to rejoin the legislature by Speaker Mark Eves, former Representative Mitchell of the Penobscot Nation told supporters that the decision to leave non-voting positions in the legislature had been made, and that any return would “be on our own terms.” In the meantime, any interaction between the Tribes and the State of Maine will take place as separate and equal nations, not colonialized subservients to an occupying government that repeatedly refuses to respect Tribal interests.

The unique break in diplomatic ties signals the reassertion of full sovereignty for the Tribal Nations. The precedent and political implications could spread to other tribes throughout North America, and serve as a model for natives and non-natives alike as state and federal governments continue to enact laws violating the rights of the People, and others to protect the environmentally and economically destructive interests of corporations. The reassertion of sovereignty, more immediately, may protect much of the land and water in Maine from fracking, Tar Sands production, and mountain top mining.  More importantly, the Tribes are declaring that they no longer consent to the State to “define our sovereignty or culture or to interfere with our self-governing rights.

Joseph R. Biden III, Vice President’s Son, Dies at 46

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/31/us/politics/joseph-r-biden-iii-vice-presidents-son-dies-at-46.html?emc=edit_na_20150530

Joseph R. Biden III, the former attorney general of Delaware and the eldest son of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., has died after spending more than a week battling brain cancer at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, his father announced on Saturday. The younger Mr. Biden was 46.

In 2010, Mr. Biden, known as Beau, had suffered what officials described as a mild stroke. Three years later, he was admitted to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston after what White House officials described at the time as “an episode of disorientation and weakness.”
Officials said in 2013 that the doctors in Texas had removed a small lesion from his brain.

China Warns Of World War 3 Unless The US Backs Down On South China Sea

China Warns Of World War 3 Unless The US Backs Down On South China Sea

An increasingly assertive China has warned that World War 3 is “inevitable” unless the United States stops meddling in the South China Sea affairs. Earlier this week, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said in a new white paper that it is going to up the ante in the South China Sea. In a sign of its growing self-confidence, Beijing said that it would now focus less on defensive capabilities, and step up efforts to build offensive capabilities.

World War 3 China

China ready to use force beyond its borders

China is aggressively building artificial islands in the disputed Spratly Islands. The construction includes runways and port facilities that could harbor military planes and warships. Islands in the region are also claimed by the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam, who have all protested against China’s expansion.

Last week, a U.S. military plane ignored repeated warning from the PLA to fly a reconnaissance mission over the disputed islands. U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has refused to recognize artificial islands as “maritime zones control by a nation.” He said Washington was determined to protect the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, as is allowed under International conventions.

World War 3 South China Sea

The Chinese military’s new white paper notes that it is ready to use force beyond its borders in the air and at sea “to safeguard its maritime possessions.” Global Times, a mouthpiece of the Communist Party, said that China does not want a war. But if the United States’ bottom line was to make China halt its activities, then a World War 3 was inevitable.

U.S. interference could trigger a World War 3

The newspaper suggests that China will not stop construction of these artificial islands at any cost. Any more interference by “external countries” could trigger a World War 3 and Beijing will “accept” it. Experts say neither United States nor China wants to back down. They fear that even a minor incident around the artificial islands could escalate rapidly into a full-fledged war.

Robert Dujarric, director of the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies at the Temple University, said that China misjudging the situation is the real concern. Neither country wants a war if it can be avoided, but both countries have some red lines, said Dujarric.

A Story To Tell Of Justified Murder

Everyone has a story to tell in their lives, fortunately for me, I have many stories to tell throughout my life but this is the first one where a person died.  I have no regrets for the loss of life for this particular individual deserved it.  It is of course best to start from the very beginning about how I met the fake person named Joshua Chaires also named Stephanie Wilson and how she committed suicide and asked for my forgiveness and I denied her of that of her dying wish.

I met Josh in the summer of 2006 through a comrade who shall remain unnamed.  The comrade and Josh were interested in wrestling and the WWE.  They meet online in a wrestling website forum and later, the comrade asked me to join them in a group chat.  He was interested in my views on many topics and wanted to join The Cause against the jewish and freemason filth around us.  At first, I was ecstatic to have another ally in the war against the spics and the illegals and he joined our group America’s Border Sentinels of ABS.

However, as the summer ended and the fall semester began, I didn’t have the same amount of free time to devote to the cause and I let him know that.  Sadly, he wouldn’t take that simple answer and began a long dated 5 month session of creating multiple AIM screen names where he would message me incessantly for hours at a time.  They were very easy to spot for I knew that his favorite activities were sports, he lived in pittsburgh, and he went to a college called Washburn.  He made the idiotic decision to make screen names of such things and thus, I was able to spot him.  I also became adept in learning the AOL messenger program and was able to log in invisibly to temporary block him and in this method, i could talk to the comrade without Joshua being aware that we were online.

Then fast forward to January of 2007 when I get an email and a letter from Joshua’s husband and then it all made sense as her husband explained that his real name was Stephanie Wilson and that she was doing a psychological doctorate experiment on how to torture and push humans to do insane things through harassment.  She has concocted this fake identity of Joshua Chaires, a college student from Washburn to meet people online and to pretend to share the same interests like video games, politics, and wrestling.  In her suicide note, she explained her sorrow for what she had done and that she couldn’t lie anymore due to the guilt of her actions.  In her letter, she stated that she wished for me and my comrade to forgive her and that we shouldn’t have any guilt for her death, but I refused to do so for this woman had chosen to put her own doctorate, her own career, her own education over my own life and thus I proudly sad to let her die and that she will go to the grave without my forgiveness.

It is a decision that shocks many people till this day that my inactions and hatred for her caused her to kill herself, but I show no remorse, no guilt, no love, just simple hatred against her for her impositions placed upon my life.  Eight years ago, I am still proud that my actions led to her death and that’s the primary purpose of this website.  Through my song lyrics and words, I hope others will take the same actions that I have taken against human life, to inspire others to kill off mankind and make the everlasting impact that mankind needs in order to have a perfect nihilistic life where no life, no objects, no humans, no beliefs, no creeds exists at all.

How Monsanto Could Get Even Bigger and More Powerful

http://www.alternet.org/environment/biggest-agribusiness-merger-history-would-control-more-third-worlds-seed-supply?akid=13149.275016.5WfNz7&rd=1&src=newsletter1037039&t=1

Earlier this month, Swiss seed and agrochemical company Syngenta rejected Monsanto’s second takeover bid in a year. Syngenta’s board said the offer undervalued the company and did not fully address regulatory risks.

But the St. Louis-based biotech giant, the world’s biggest seed seller, is not deterred and is planning a new offer to Syngenta, the world’s biggest pesticide and fertilizer seller. If approved, it would be the biggest agribusiness merger in history. But clearing antitrust regulators in the U.S. and the EU is a big if.

The combined behemoth would be the world’s largest seed and crop chemical company with more than $30 billion in revenue and control over 35 percent of the world’s seed supply. It would dominate a market that includes other Big Ag players like BASF SE, Bayer AG and Dow Chemical Co.

Possible antitrust issues arise specifically because of the potential merger’s business overlaps in the herbicide markets in North American and Latin America, as well as the North American seed market, according to Morgan Stanley. To get the deal approved, Monsanto said it would divest Syngenta’s seed business. But that isn’t enough for critics who argue that the merger would result in a near-monopoly on the global food system.

The company is familiar with official scrutiny: It was the subject of a seed industry anti-trust probe by the U.S. Department of Justice, which ended its investigation in December 2012. The following month, at least seven states led by Iowa dropped their five-year investigation into Monsanto’s practices and no action was taken.

The merger could lead to a Big Ag shake-up: With Monsanto solidifying its position, Dow may finally divest its agriculture unit, a move that has been suggested by CEO Andrew Liveris that may pique the interest of DuPont in regard to its Pioneer seed business.

RELATED: Biotech Giant DuPont-Pioneer Found Guilty of Pesticide Contamination

One of Monsanto’s main challenges is in its biggest business: selling genetically modified seeds. Growth in this market has been slowing: Sales in 2014 rose 4.7 percent compared with 8.7 percent in 2013.

Martin Lehmann, manager of 3v Asset Management’s 3v Invest Swiss Small & Mid Cap Fund, argues that slower growth and lower commodity prices have put pressure on the entire agrochemical industry to consolidate. “A Monsanto/Syngenta deal would mark the beginning of further deals,” he said.

While the merger may make financial sense for Monsanto (in addition to added market share, they would be able to use Switzerland for a tax inversion), its primary customer base may be on the losing end of the deal: Farmers have faced steadily increasing prices for seeds and pesticides amid growing industry consolidation.

“We are very skeptical that an acquisition of this nature would be in the best interest of America’s family farmers,” said Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, a farmer advocacy group based in Washington.

“This monster merger would give Monsanto an iron grip on farmers around the world — gravely threatening world food security,” said Kaytee Riek, campaign director of SumOfUs.org, a nonprofit corporate watchdog group, in an email. “We have to stop this now.”

RELATED: As Chipotle Goes GMO-free, Monsanto’s Worst Fear Is Coming True — And Corporate Media Is Freaking Out

The group has already had success in their efforts to reign in Monsanto. In January, a fifth of the company’s shareholders supported a SumOfUs-backed proposal calling for independent board oversight over Monsanto’s executives.

In addition, the Big Ag industry has been facing mounting criticism for their use of neonicotinoid pesticides, which has been linked to the deaths of birds as well as pollinators like butterflies and the most important food pollinator, honeybees, which pollinate 70 out of the top 100 human food crops. Bee-pollinated crops supply about 90 percent of the world’s nutrition. As Greenpeace puts it: “You have a bee to thank for every one in three bites of food you eat.”

Neonicotinoids are made by Syngenta and used by Monsanto. Bayer and Dow both make and use them. They are used on crops that end up in the human food supply and also crops used to feed animals that end up in the human food supply. Of course, the agrochemical corporations maintain that neonicotinoids are not to blame for animal and insect deaths, but both the scientific evidenceand consumer awareness are growing. “In the last four years, the chemical industry has spent $11.2 million on a PR initiative to say it’s not their fault, so we know whose fault it is,” said environmental documentary filmmaker Jon Cooksey.

SumOfUs notes that “Syngenta asked United States regulators for a 40,000 percent increase in the legal limit of bee-killing neonicotinoids.”

The industry is also facing mounting opposition to the use of pesticides and GMOs. Recently, a jury in Hawaii awarded residents $500,000 in a suit against DuPont-Pioneer for damages caused by pesticide-contaminated dust from its operations in Kaua’i, which has been called the “global epicenter for GE seed testing.”

RELATED: Why Did Gov’t Give Big Thumbs Up to Notorious Monsanto Pesticide We Now Believe Causes Cancer?

While the industry is facing criticism and scrutiny on several fronts, Monsanto president Brett Begemann argues that the move would ultimately help farmers grow more crops, as it would allow the company to bring more seeds and pesticides to market faster. “We’re seeing the coming together of chemistry and biology,” he said at an industry conference last week. He added that with the addition of Syngenta’s range of pesticides, Monsanto will be able to extend their market reach in Africa and Asia.

But for activists, that kind of market reach for a combined company of its size and influence is approaching an absence of competition — not to mention the potential increased negative effects its products may have on food supply, human health and the environment. “No single corporation should be allowed to wield the sort of power that comes from a near-monopoly on our global food system,” said SumOfUs.

As regulators review the possible Monsanto-Syngenta merger, they would do well to recall the words of pioneering environmentalist Rachel Carson, who wrote in her seminal book Silent Spring, “It is ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray.”

Live anthrax found in U.S. military shipment to Australia: official

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/29/us-usa-military-anthrax-idUSKBN0OE1ZM20150529

An investigation of a U.S. military facility’s mistaken shipments of live anthrax bacteria has turned up another live sample, this one from a 2008 batch sent to Australia, a U.S. defense official said on Friday.

The disclosure, if confirmed, suggests the possibility of a broader problem among anthrax samples meant to have been made inactive at the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah.

Suspected live samples sourced to Dugway have already been traced going to nine U.S. states and a U.S. air base in South Korea over a period from March 2014 to April 2015 before being discovered this month.

The U.S. military says there are no known suspected infections or risks to the general public. Four U.S. civilians have begun taking preventive measures that usually include the anthrax vaccine, antibiotics or both.

Twenty-two people at the base in South Korea were also given precautionary medical measures although none of them has shown signs of exposure.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has begun an investigation.

Little is known about the sample sent to Australia, including the type of laboratory that received it. The U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the sample was tested after the latest disclosure as part of the ongoing investigation into the handling of anthrax samples.

The Pentagon declined comment, saying it was trying to gather facts.

It was unclear how many other samples from Dugway have been tested or what the results of those tests are.

On Thursday, the Army’s top general said human error probably was not the cause, saying preliminary information suggested U.S. personnel at Dugway appeared to correctly follow official procedures.

The Pentagon was more cautious on Friday.

“There is an ongoing investigation and we need to let this develop,” said Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman.

Sister meets man with her brother’s transplanted face

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-32929019

A woman, whose brother was killed in a traffic accident, has met the man who was given his face in a pioneering transplant operation.

Footage from Channel 9’s 60 Minutes programme in Australia shows the moment Rebekah Aversano sees – and touches – the face of her dead brother.

The recipient, Richard Norris, from Virginia, US, was severely injured in a shotgun accident 15 years ago.

Until the operation he had rarely gone outside and lived as a recluse.

‘Tragic loss’

Transplant recipients do not normally meet the families of their donors.

But in what is thought to be one of the first encounters of its kind, Ms Aversano, from Maryland, came face to face with the man who received some of her brother’s facial tissues and structures.

She touched his face and said: “This is the face I grew up with.”

Her brother, Joshua Aversano, had been killed in a road traffic accident, at the age of 21.

The decision to donate his face had been difficult, but would have been what he wanted, said his mother Gwen Aversano in a separate interview with CTV News.

She said: “Knowing our son he would have wanted someone else to go on with their lives if he wasn’t able to.

“After meeting Mr Norris, seeing him and speaking to him we can definitely see our son in him.

“We were just so pleased we were able to help Mr Norris even though we had such a tragic loss,” she added.

The extensive transplant surgery took place at the University of Maryland three years ago. It lasted more than 36 hours.

Mr Norris had lost his lips and nose in a shotgun accident and had limited movement of his mouth.

Richard Norris before his face transplant operation (Photo: University of Maryland Medical Center)
Richard Norris lived as a recluse for 15 years after losing his nose, lips and teeth in a gun accident.

James Partridge, founder of the charity Changing Faces which supports people with facial disfigurements, told the BBC he did not know of another case where the family of the donor had met the person who had received the face.

And Mr Barry Jones, former president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, said there were many issues to consider.

“It must be rather difficult for any relative to meet a recipient but it must be particularly difficult for faces,” he told the BBC.

“On this occasion it seems to have been a happy outcome. But that might not always be the case.”

Mr Jones said a family would have to ponder how they would feel about the personality of the person with the new face.

“I am not against recipients meeting donor families if both parties want too, but I hope they have been counselled properly before their meeting,” he said.

Mice with ‘amnesia’ have memories restored by light

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/05/29/mice-with-amnesia-have-memories-restored-by-light/

New research shows that “lost” memories lurk in the brain waiting to be found again — in mice, anyway. In a study published Thursday in Science, researchers were able to reactivate memories they’d suppressed, indicating that retrograde amnesia — where memories are lost after brain trauma — may be more of a memory retrieval problem than an actual loss of data.

[MIT scientists implant a false memory into a mouse’s brain]

The researchers used something called optogenetics. If you’re not familiar, it’s super science fiction-y. Scientists can pick out specific neurons and introduce a special protein to them by way of an engineered virus. Once that protein is present in the brain cells, the cells are sensitive to blue light. That allows researchers to turn particular neurons on and off at will.

In this case, they created a bad memory by shocking mice repeatedly in a particular enclosure. They picked out which neurons were stimulated when the mice relived the memory (as evidenced by their visible fear of being in the shock chamber) and made those neurons, which together are called a “memory engram,” light-sensitive in a new batch of mice before training them with the same shock.

[Scientists switch ‘good’ and ‘bad’ memories in mice]

Then they made the memories go away the way they might in someone with retrograde amnesia: Some of the mice were injected with a drug called anisomycin that messes with memory formation. Sure enough, those mice stopped being afraid of the shock chamber — until researchers used blue light to activate the neurons they knew held the repressed memory. Then their fear response returned.

Based on their findings, the researchers believe that “lost” memories may still leave engrams active in the brain. From The Verge:

Eventually, their search lead them to figure out that the engram cells in one part of the hippocampus were strongly connected to another part of the hippocampus, and it was this pattern of connectivity that survived the drug treatment. When they extended the search further, they realized that other regions of the brain, including the amygdala, where where fear-based memories can be found, were also involved in this network. The researchers were therefore able to retrieve the memories because other connections in the brain — connections that were unaffected by the drug, but inaccessible without the light treatment — were storing information related to the shock treatment as well.

“Our conclusion is that in retrograde amnesia, past memories may not be erased, but could simply be lost and inaccessible for recall,” lead author Susumu Tonegawa, director of the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Saitama, Japan, said in a statement. “These findings provide striking insight into the fleeting nature of memories, and will stimulate future research on the biology of memory and its clinical restoration.”

The findings aren’t fit to help humans with amnesia anytime soon. “It’s very difficult to be doing this in humans, partly for the ethical reasons — the work is invasive — but also because we tag the memories in the brain before they’re learned,” Tomas Ryan, a neuroscientist at MIT and a co-author of the study, told the Verge.

But the work does suggest that “lost” memories might still lurk in the brain, so it’s possible that humans could one day find a more plausible way of retrieving them.