AuthorTopic: Knarf's Knewz Channel  (Read 565531 times)

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Re: Knarf's Knewz Channel
« Reply #6600 on: April 21, 2017, 08:02:11 AM »
What if C. Columbus had arrived in North America and had the realization that native culture was morally and ethically superior to his Pope-centric Catholic feudal system with it's royalty and serfs, and instead of enslaving the native populations, decided to learn from them?

It'd make a good premise for a story.

That's your story to write.  I'm already writing one.

Far as CC goes, suppose he had decided to "go native" like Fletcher Christian and not sailed back to Spain?  Then somebody else would have come again a year or two later.

You would have to go back a lot further I think to be able to change the trajectory.

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SAVE AS MANY AS YOU CAN

Offline knarf

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Re: Knarf's Knewz Channel
« Reply #6601 on: April 21, 2017, 08:47:15 AM »
So essentially what you all are saying is that...live simply ,awake and aware, do what you can physically, morally, and spiritually to do the best you can now, and make the world livable for our future generations. Yep, that is what I have been doing for the past 20 years ( took me about 10 years stop riding myself with my ego. :) I am not so sure anymore that is what I will do the rest of my life. I have forgotten HOW to be interested in the mundane. If it is all going to shit, let it. The sooner the better. Maybe we will begin to learn on the way down the steep collapse. As you all have pointed out, that being prepared, living a simple life, and studying and implementing sustainable living, is the only game left in town for those who are aware of our situation. I think we try to make sense of life, but we are not close to understanding it. So I am leaning these days to begin a sort of life of madness. Maybe by mirroring the sensible with insensible is not such a bad idea, and for some reason I am drawn to just let it all loose. Forget the fucking world and it's problems. Every generation has tried to make the world better, and that has worked out terrifically.
  What is sanity? Feeling like we are doing the best we can to be part of the human species? Maybe that is a trap every generation faces as they grow old. All the crap we did to help bring down the world, now repenting to absolve our own sins by being the best we can. A Trap.
  I remember the movie "King of Hearts" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_of_Hearts_(1966_film) or "One flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest".  Living in an environment that has no expectations on you. Maybe that is the fastest way to communicate the absurdity of our "sain world."     
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Re: Knarf's Knewz Channel
« Reply #6602 on: April 21, 2017, 12:54:24 PM »
  I remember the movie "King of Hearts" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_of_Hearts_(1966_film) or "One flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest".     

I think Charleton Heston said it best in "Planet of the Apes".

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/DMnM_cQu6Fo" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/DMnM_cQu6Fo</a>

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Volkswagen Slapped With Largest Ever Fine for Automakers
« Reply #6603 on: April 22, 2017, 04:34:45 AM »
 A federal judge in Detroit Friday signed off on what could be one of the last big developments in the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal, ordering the German maker to pay a $2.8 billion criminal penalty negotiated as part of a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department last January.

The ruling now brings to around $30 billion the costs VW will incur after being caught rigging two of its diesel engines to pass U.S. emissions tests — a figure that includes the price of buying back almost 500,000 vehicles sold in the country. Meanwhile, seven current and former Volkswagen employees have been charged with crimes connected to the scandal, while an investigation continues in Germany.


W emblems at a Volkswagen production line in Wolfsburg, Germany

 "I just can't believe that VW is in this situation that it finds itself in today," said Judge Sean Cox, calling it a "very serious and troubling case involving an iconic automobile company."
Largest Fine for Automakers

The deal is the largest criminal fine ever negotiated by the U.S. government for a carmaker, dwarfing the penalties levied in recent years against Toyota, General Motors, and Japanese airbag supplier Takata.

For its part, the company took a contrite tone. "Volkswagen deeply regrets the behavior that gave rise to this case," general counsel Manfred Doess told the court, adding, "Plain and simple, it was wrong,"

In a subsequent statement, the automaker said it has "taken significant steps to strengthen accountability, increase transparency and transform our corporate culture."

VW will be held to its word. Under terms of the plea agreement, Larry D. Thompson, a former U.S. Deputy Attorney General, will serve as an Independent Compliance Monitor to ensure compliance with the terms of the government settlement during a three-year probation period.
A Plethora of Penalties

The Friday morning ruling was the latest in a series of settlements federal judges have approved since the scandal first broke in September 2015. At the time, the Environmental Protection Agency accused VW of installing a so-called "defeat device" in products like the Jetta TDI equipped with 2.0-liter diesels. The engine control software was programmed to reduce emissions to legal levels when the vehicle underwent testing. In normal use, however, pollution levels increased as much as 40-fold.

VW soon acknowledged the subterfuge while subsequently admitting it had rigged a more upscale 3.0-liter engine, as well. All told, about 580,000 vehicles sold in the U.S. were impacted, while the global total came to about 11 million.

The scam was apparently launched when Volkswagen engineers failed to come up with an effective technical solution that would allow them to deliver diesel vehicles that were both quick and fuel-efficient while also meeting tough emissions standards.

Related: This Scandal-Ridden Car Company Is Now the World's Best-Selling Automaker

"Who has been hurt by this corporate greed? From what I can see it's not the managers at VW, the ones who get paid huge salaries and large bonuses. As always it's the little guy," added the judge, referring to both Volkswagen customers and its blue-collar workers.

The judge declined to order compensation for alleged victims of the diesel scandal, though VW will pay out billions to those who purchased its rigged models — along with a smaller fund set aside by German supplier Bosch, which participated in the scam.

In July 2016, VW reached a $14.7 billion civil agreement with the EPA and other federal agencies, as well as authorities in California. As part of that deal, it agreed to repurchase the 2.0-liter diesel vehicles it has sold in the States at a cost of more than $10 billion. The package also included money to help offset the extra pollution those vehicles created, along with funds to help promote new zero-emissions vehicle technology, such as battery power.

Later last year, VW also reached a civil settlement covering the 3.0-liter engine. And it negotiated a deal reimbursing its U.S. dealers for their losses. At one point, diesel models accounted for over 20 percent of the brand's U.S. volume. Volkswagen recently received approval to fix and sell off leftover 2015 diesel vehicles. But Herbert Diess, the global VW brand boss, has said the maker will no longer offer diesel models in the U.S.
Executives Under Indictment

One of the last remaining legal hurdles for Volkswagen in the U.S. is negotiating a settlement covering claims by investors who say their holdings lost significant value when the scam was revealed.

However, criminal charges remain active for six current and former company employees. Another pled guilty in the U.S. District Court last year. Currently, one of the six is being held in a Michigan federal prison. Oliver Schmidt, once based in Michigan, had been in charge of VW's compliance with U.S. emissions laws. He was denied bail last month and faces a trial next January.

The other five are believed to be in Germany, which does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S. covering this sort of case.

But prosecutors in several German states are continuing their own criminal investigations and have raided offices of both VW and its sibling Audi brand in search of evidence in recent months. Among those considered targets is former Volkswagen AG CEO Martin Winterkorn, who may have assisted in a cover-up once senior management learned of the diesel engine rigging.

http://www.nbcnews.com/business/autos/judge-approves-largest-fine-u-s-history-volkswagen-n749406
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Cleanup is underway in Civic Center Park after some people got into trash bags left over from Thursday’s 4/20 rally and threw trash all over the grass and sidewalks.



So far it’s not clear who made the big mess, but an organizer of the rally said he is taking responsibility for it.

“The park had been picked up last night. All the trash had been placed in about 74 big trash bags and I believe last night, from what I hear from Parks and Rec, we had a few people come and dump all the bags out on the park,” Santino Walter told CBS4.



Walter said trash bags from the marijuana celebration should have been cleared out sooner.



“This was my fault, this was a producer mistake. I should’ve at midnight, when I staged all the stuff, I should’ve had it set up to have all the trash bags thrown into the roll-off. So, as bad as the park looks, the one thing that I know is we have a really good cleaning crew that we work with and we have the permit for today so I imagine this will look a whole lot different at noon today.”

The 4/20 rally ran from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday.

Employees with Denver Parks and Recreation were on hand to help deal with the mess, and while it’s unknown who actually took part in making it, some employees from the city department told CBS4 they believe some members of the homeless population are to blame.

Miguel Lopez, another organizer of the rally, says cleanup efforts were stalled Thursday night when a man with a knife started cutting open trash bags.

Lopez said he called the police’s non-emergency line and the man was asked to leave. That’s when he allegedly threatened the contracted cleanup crew with the knife.

Lopez said Denver Police arrived but he declined to press charges and said the man ran off. Denver Police say they have no record of the call or response but did say they responded to an incident at around 2 a.m. about people throwing trash into the park.

http://denver.cbslocal.com/2017/04/21/litter-strewn-all-over-civic-center-park-morning-after-420-rally/


The people that trashed the park are IDIOTS!!!!
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Re: My view of the world has changed dramatically
« Reply #6605 on: April 22, 2017, 07:37:41 AM »
That's why I value what LD and GM are doing down in Bumfuck, South Cackalacky, and the premise of the SUN project. They are putting their lives into the breach to try to get off the wheel.

As for me, I've given up on thinking we can effect a shift in viewpoint. I know that personally, I am morally called to behave as if I can.
It's not about effecting a shift in viewpoint for the entire society, that requires a miracle.  All we can do is help individuals change their own viewpoints and "save as many as we can".
Making pigs fly is easy... that is, of course, after you have built the catapult....

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‘Sherlock Holmes of Armenian Genocide’ Uncovers Lost Evidence
« Reply #6606 on: April 22, 2017, 09:24:36 AM »

A small stream flowing into the Dudan cave in Turkey. It was here that the Armenian residents of a local village are said to have been thrown, after being led there by Ottoman gendarmes and local Kurdish paramilitary personnel.



For more than a century, Turkey has denied any role in organizing the killing of Armenians in what historians have long accepted as a genocide that started in 1915, as World War I spread across continents. The Turkish narrative of denial has hinged on the argument that the original documents from postwar military tribunals that convicted the genocide’s planners were nowhere to be found.

Now, Taner Akcam, a Turkish historian at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., who has studied the genocide for decades by piecing together documents from around the world to establish state complicity in the killings, says he has unearthed an original telegram from the trials, in an archive held by the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

“Until recently, the smoking gun was missing,” Mr. Akcam said. “This is the smoking gun.” He called his find “an earthquake in our field,” and said he hoped it would remove “the last brick in the denialist wall.”

The story begins in 1915 in an office in the Turkish city of Erzurum, when a high-level official of the Ottoman Empire punched out a telegram in secret code to a colleague in the field, asking for details about the deportations and killings of Armenians in eastern Anatolia, the easternmost part of contemporary Turkey.
Continue reading the main story
Related Coverage

    Armenia, on Day of Rain and Sorrow, Observes 100th Anniversary of Genocide APRIL 24, 2015
    Remembering the Armenian Genocide APRIL 24, 2015
    A Century After Armenian Genocide, Turkey’s Denial Only Deepens APRIL 16, 2015
    Pope Calls Killings of Armenians ‘Genocide,’ Provoking Turkish Anger APRIL 12, 2015

Later, a deciphered copy of the telegram helped convict the official, Behaeddin Shakir, for planning what scholars have long acknowledged and Turkey has long denied: the organized killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians by the leaders of the collapsing Ottoman Empire, an atrocity widely recognized as the 20th century’s first genocide.

And then, just like that, most of the original documents and sworn testimony from the trials vanished, leaving researchers to rely mostly on summaries from the official Ottoman newspaper.

Mr. Akcam said he had little hope that his new finding would immediately change things, given Turkey’s ossified policy of denial and especially at a time of political turmoil when its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has turned more nationalist.

But Mr. Akcam’s life’s work has been to puncture, fact by fact, document by document, the denials of Turkey.

“My firm belief as a Turk is that democracy and human rights in Turkey can only be established by facing history and acknowledging historic wrongdoings,” he said.


The gutted and abandoned interior of an Armenian monastery, north of Diyarbakir, Turkey, which, according to locals, is now used to house livestock.

He broadened his point to argue that much of the chaos gripping the Middle East today was a result of mistrust between communities over historical wrongdoings that no one is willing to confront.

“The past is not the past in the Middle East,” he said. “This is the biggest obstacle to peace and stability in the Middle East.”

Eric D. Weitz, a history professor at the City College of New York and an expert on the Armenian genocide, called Mr. Akcam “the Sherlock Holmes of Armenian genocide.”

“He has piled clue upon clue upon clue,” Professor Weitz added.

Exactly where the telegram was all these years, and how Mr. Akcam found it, is a story in itself. With Turkish nationalists about to seize the country in 1922, the Armenian leadership in Istanbul shipped 24 boxes of court records to England for safekeeping.

The records were kept there by a bishop, then taken to France and, later, to Jerusalem. They have remained there since the 1930s, part of a huge archive that has mostly been inaccessible to scholars, for reasons that are not entirely clear. Mr. Akcam said he had tried for years to gain access to the archive, with no luck.

Instead, he found a photographic record of the Jerusalem archive in New York, held by the nephew of a Armenian monk, now dead, who was a survivor of the genocide.

While researching the genocide in Cairo in the 1940s, the monk, Krikor Guerguerian, met a former Ottoman judge who had presided over the postwar trials. The judge told him that many of the boxes of case files had wound up in Jerusalem, so Mr. Guerguerian went there and took pictures of everything.

The telegram was written under Ottoman letterhead and coded in Arabic lettering; four-digit numbers denoted words. When Mr. Akcam compared it with the known Ottoman Interior Ministry codes from the time, found in an official archive in Istanbul, he found a match, raising the likelihood that many other telegrams used in the postwar trials could one day be verified in the same way.

For historians, the court cases were one piece of a mountain of evidence that emerged over the years — including reports in several languages from diplomats, missionaries and journalists who witnessed the events as they happened — that established the historical fact of the killings and qualified them as a genocide.

Turkey has long resisted the word genocide, saying that the suffering of the Armenians had occurred during the chaos of a world war in which Turkish Muslims faced hardship, too.


Tripods used for hanging people during the Armenian genocide that started in 1915.

Turkey also claimed that the Armenians were traitors, and had been planning to join with Russia, then an enemy of the Ottoman Empire.

That position is deeply entwined in Turkish culture — it is standard in school curriculums — and polling has shown that a majority of Turks share the government’s position.

“My approach is that as much proof as you put in front of denialists, denialists will remain denialists,” said Bedross Der Matossian, a historian at the University of Nebraska and the author of “Shattered Dreams of Revolution: From Liberty to Violence in the Late Ottoman Empire.”

The genocide is commemorated each year on April 24, the day in 1915 that a group of Armenian notables from Istanbul were rounded up and deported.

It was the start of the enormous killing operation, which involved forced marches into the Syrian desert, summary executions and rapes.

Two years ago, Pope Francis referred to the killings as a genocide and faced a storm of criticism from within Turkey. Many countries, including France, Germany and Greece, have recognized the genocide, each time provoking diplomatic showdowns with Turkey.

The United States has not referred to the episode as genocide, out of concerns for alienating Turkey, a NATO ally and a partner in fighting terrorism in the Middle East. Barack Obama used the term when he was a candidate for president, but he refrained from doing so while in office.

This year, dozens of congressional leaders have signed a letter urging President Trump to recognize the genocide.

But that is unlikely, especially after Mr. Trump recently congratulated Mr. Erdogan for winning expanded powers in a referendum that critics say was marred by fraud.

Mr. Shakir, the Ottoman official who wrote the incriminating telegram discovered by Mr. Akcam, had fled the country by the time the military tribunal convicted him and sentenced him to death in absentia.

A few years later, he was gunned down in the streets of Berlin by two Armenian assassins described in an article by The New York Times as “slim, undersized, swarthy men lurking in a doorway.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/22/world/europe/armenian-genocide-turkey.html?_r=0
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Offline knarf

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Archie Comics Artist Refused Entry To USA From Canada Over Her Sketches
« Reply #6607 on: April 22, 2017, 09:34:23 AM »


Gisele Lagace is a Canadian comic book artist for Archie, Dynamite IDW, a number of comic book publishers in the USA – and her own webcomics, specifically Menage A 3. She was planning to drive down to Chicago to attend this weekend’s C2E2 exhibition.

But immigration officers at the US border had other ideas.

----------------------------
Gisele Lagace
April 20 at 3:51pm ·

Welp, no C2E2 for me. Was refused entry at the border. They kept pressing about the comics I had and the sketches, and well, I had to be honest and said that I did get paid for commissions but before hand, but since they weren't complete, it was considered work in the us. Comics wise, I had maybe $700 in value if I had sold everything. Honestly, it's not a lot.

Was asked if I was the only one doing this as I looked surprised to be refused entry. I said no, many artists from around the world attend these to promote themselves. I don't think they cared.

My car was searched and is a mess. And to top it off, I was body searched and finger printed too (they do that when you get refused entry apparently.) It was an awful experience.

Things then went worse when they searched me throughout and found 2 white pills in my wallet. There was no identification on them and I wasn't sure what they were. Once I calmed down after being touched all over, I remembered they were generic acetaminophen from the dollar store that I carry around in case Marc gets a headache as it sometimes happen. I forgot they were even in there.

Anyway, I wasn't turned around for the 2 acetaminophen, as they found those after I was refused entry for the comics in my car and the unfinished sketches but they kept us longer there until they were convinced they weren't narcotics. I never took drugs in my life!

And to think we drove close to 2 days to get there. For nothing. (No, I didn't get anything from that body search. Maybe Zii would think it's a good deal.) Anyway... Driving back home.

Now that I've been refused entry in the US for this, it's on file. Don't expect to see me at a US con until I can figure out a way to get in and being absolutely certain this won't happen.
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The reasons for denying her entry into the US were down to the incomplete commissioned sketches she had in the car. Working on them while in the country would be considered working in the USA.

And for this, she was body searched and fingerprinted and, as she said “Now that I’ve been refused entry in the US for this, it’s on file. Don’t expect to see me at a US con until I can figure out a way to get in and being absolutely certain this won’t happen.”

https://www.bleedingcool.com/2017/04/20/archie-comics-artist-refused-entry-usa-canada-sketches/
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Offline knarf

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California doctors, pharmacists charged in $40 million kickback scheme
« Reply #6608 on: April 22, 2017, 09:38:21 AM »
A Beverly Hills couple was among more than two dozen doctors, pharmacists, and business owners charged Thursday in an alleged $40 million kickback scheme, CBS Los Angeles reports.

Prosecutors say Tanya Moreland King, 37, and her husband Christopher King, 38, the owners of medical billing and medical management companies Monarch Medical Group, Inc, King Medical Management, Inc. and One Source Laboratories, Inc., orchestrated a complex insurance fraud scheme of recruiting doctors and pharmacists to prescribe unnecessary treatment for workers’ compensation insurance patients.

Two Irvine pharmacists – Charles Bonner, 56, and Mervyn Miller, 66 – are accused of conspiring with the Kings by selling more than $1 million in compound creams that were not federally approved nor have any known medical benefits.

More than 13,000 patients and at least 27 insurance carriers statewide were victims in the scheme, which the Orange County District Attorney’s office says took place between 2011 to 2015 and involved billing for unnecessary creams, tests, and treatments to maximize profits.

According to prosecutors, the Kings worked with pharmacist and co-defendant Charles Bonner, owner of Stevens Pharmacy in Costa Mesa, to manufacture a variety of creams with unknown effects that were not FDA approved.

After purchasing assorted creams for between $15 and $40 per tube, the products were then billed to patients’ workers’ compensation insurance carriers for between $250 and $700 dollars per tube.

Tanya King allegedly invited physicians to participate in the scheme by offering a flat $50 rate or a share in the profits.

“The Kings and their co-conspirators played with patients’ lives, buying and selling them for profit without regard to patient safety,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “Patients have the right to expect treatment decisions by health care professionals are based on medical need and not unadulterated greed. The magnitude of this alleged crime is an affront to ethical medical professionals.”

The California Department of Insurance led the investigation with assistance from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigation, the FBI, and National Insurance Crime Bureau. Approximately $23.2 million was paid out to the defendants, but a total of $40 million was billed to insurers, according to officials.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/california-doctors-pharmacists-charged-millions-in-kickback-scheme/?
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Nearly 40 million people live in UK areas with illegal air pollution
« Reply #6609 on: April 22, 2017, 09:45:21 AM »
Exclusive: analysis commissioned by Labour reveals 59% of Britons live in areas where diesel pollution threatens health


Traffic drives past air quality monitoring equipment on Marylebone Road in London, England.

Nearly 40 million people in the UK are living in areas where illegal levels of air pollution from diesel vehicles risk damaging their health, according to analysis commissioned by the Labour party.

The extent of the air pollution crisis nationally is exposed in the data which shows 59% of the population are living in towns and cities where nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution breaches the lawful level of 40 microgrammes per cubic metre of air.

Labour says the air pollution crisis is a “national scandal”. Sue Hayman, shadow secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, said a Labour government would bring in a new clean air act to tackle what was a public health emergency.

“Labour will not allow the Tories to use the snap general election or Brexit to kick this issue into the long grass or water down standards that would put millions of UK adults and children at risk,” said Hayman.

She said the party was committed to putting in place a network of clean air zones across the UK where there are high emissions, and would act at an international level to close loopholes in emissions testing of vehicles.

The analysis published by Labour shows more than 38 million people, representing 59.3% of the UK population, are living in areas where levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution are above legal limits.

Local authorities including Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Burnley, Derby, Chelmsford, Leeds, Northampton, Richmond and Sheffield – among many others – have NO2 levels above the legal limit.

The new figures were revealed as the government made a last-minute application to the high court to delay publication of a new tougher air quality plan to tackle the pollution crisis.

On Friday at 7pm, ministers lodged the court application – too late for it to be considered.

Judges had ordered them to come up with a tough new draft air quality plan by 4pm this coming Monday – 24 April – after judges said the original measures were so poor as to be unlawful.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, criticised ministers for failing to produce a new air quality plan.

“I am deeply disappointed that ministers have missed a golden opportunity to show real leadership and urgently introduce new plans to deal with our filthy air,” he said.

“This could have been done well before the pre-election period started had the government treated this as a priority as I do. Instead they have used the general and local elections as a smokescreen to hide their incompetence as they seek to extend the court-ordered deadline for publishing their draft plan.”

James Thornton, the CEO of legal NGO ClientEarth, which successfully took the government to court over its air quality plans, said the Labour data showed air pollution was a national problem which required a national solution.

“Our court case forced the government to come up with new plans to bring down illegal levels of air pollution across the country,” said Thornton.

“Those plans must include a national network of clean air zones to keep the dirtiest diesel vehicles out of pollution hotspots, if we are to stand any chance of dealing with this public health crisis.”

ClientEarth condemned the government’s application to the high court to delay the plans being published.

Thornton said: “This is not a political issue but a public health issue. Whichever party is in power, the British public need to see an air quality plan which relies on good scientific evidence and which ensures that people no longer have to breathe toxic air and suffer the grave consequences to their health as a result.”

ClientEarth will be able to raise objections if the new draft plan - when it is eventually published after the election – does not fulfil the NGO’s five clear lines in the sand.

These are:


    The need for robust modelling and roadside, not lab-based, emissions testing.
    Proper funding to make sure cities and towns can delivery the necessary changes.
    Mandated clean air zones in every town and city with illegal levels of air pollution.
    A diesel scrappage scheme or other form of compensation for drivers who bought their cars in good faith as successive governments favoured diesel over other fuels.

The Guardian revealed earlier this month that tens of thousands of children in schools and nurseries across England and Wales are being exposed to illegal levels of damaging air pollution from diesel vehicles.

The joint investigation with Greenpeace, which examined the government’s most recent air pollution modelling, showed 2,091 schools, nurseries, further education centres and after-school clubs are within 150 metres of a road emitting illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide.

European data shows modern cars emit 10 times more noxious fumes than trucks and buses – which are subject to a much stricter testing regime.

Research consistently shows exposure to traffic fumes is harmful for children and adults. Children are more vulnerable because their lungs are still developing and exposure to nitrogen dioxide reduces lung growth, produces long term ill-health and can cause premature death.

Nitrogen dioxide emissions from diesel traffic cause 23,500 of the 40,000 premature deaths from air pollution each year, according to figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). In April last year, MPs said air pollution was a public health emergency.

In London, Labour mayor Sadiq Khan will force polluting cars to pay up to £24 a day to drive into the city when he creates an ultra-low emission zone in 2019. The price will comprise the existing congestion charge of £11.50 per day, which applies to all cars entering inner London, plus an extra amount.

The government’s original air quality plan involved clean air zones in five cities and an ultra-low emission zone in London – but these were rejected by the high court.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/apr/22/nearly-40-million-people-live-in-uk-areas-with-illegal-air-pollution
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Offline knarf

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'The monsoon's bountiful rain is crucial to the economy and to livelihoods in the region'


A shepherd drinks water on the dry bed of a reservoir that once supplied water to Latur in Marathwada

Pollution from Europe helped cause a drought in India that was one of the country’s worst ever natural disasters, affecting more than 130 million people, according to new research.

Sulphur dioxide – produced mainly by coal-fired power plants – causes a number of harmful effects, such as acid rain, heart and lung diseases, and damage to plant growth.

But sulphate aerosols also have a cooling effect on the atmosphere because it reflects sunlight back into space, a property that has led some to suggest it could be used as a form of ‘geo-engineering’ to reduce the rate of global warming.

However, emissions from the northern hemisphere can change the relative rate of warming in the south, causing the tropical rain-band to shift – with potentially devastating results.

Now researchers at Imperial College London have calculated just how big an effect emissions of sulphur dioxide had on rainfall in India in 2000.

The north-west of India experienced a staggering drop in precipitation of about 40 per cent because of emissions from the northern hemisphere’s main industrial areas.

Europe’s emissions alone caused reductions of up to 10 per cent in the north-west and south-west regions.

One of the researchers, Dr Apostolos Voulgarakis, of ICL’s Grantham Institute, said the study showed how emissions in one part of the world could have a significant effect on another – even if the pollution itself didn’t actually get there.

“East Asia is contributing more [of an effect] because it’s closer, but there is an effect from Europe and also the US,” he told The Independent.

Dr Voulgarakis said their research, along with other studies, showed the kind of problems that might result from attempts to use sulphur dioxide in a geo-engineering scheme.

“Geo-engineering has generally suggested to be problematic because of the knock-on effects it could have,” he said.

“This research shows one of those reasons as it can affect rainfall quite dramatically.”

The figures were produced using a climate model which Dr Voulgarakis said tended to give results on the high side of the range produced by different methods.



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European pollution helped cause one of India's worst-ever droughts, researchers show

'The monsoon's bountiful rain is crucial to the economy and to livelihoods in the region'

    Ian Johnston Environment Correspondent
    @montaukian
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indiadroughtcrop.jpg
A shepherd drinks water on the dry bed of a reservoir that once supplied water to Latur in Marathwada

Pollution from Europe helped cause a drought in India that was one of the country’s worst ever natural disasters, affecting more than 130 million people, according to new research.

Sulphur dioxide – produced mainly by coal-fired power plants – causes a number of harmful effects, such as acid rain, heart and lung diseases, and damage to plant growth.

But sulphate aerosols also have a cooling effect on the atmosphere because it reflects sunlight back into space, a property that has led some to suggest it could be used as a form of ‘geo-engineering’ to reduce the rate of global warming.

However, emissions from the northern hemisphere can change the relative rate of warming in the south, causing the tropical rain-band to shift – with potentially devastating results.
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Now researchers at Imperial College London have calculated just how big an effect emissions of sulphur dioxide had on rainfall in India in 2000.

The north-west of India experienced a staggering drop in precipitation of about 40 per cent because of emissions from the northern hemisphere’s main industrial areas.

Europe’s emissions alone caused reductions of up to 10 per cent in the north-west and south-west regions.

One of the researchers, Dr Apostolos Voulgarakis, of ICL’s Grantham Institute, said the study showed how emissions in one part of the world could have a significant effect on another – even if the pollution itself didn’t actually get there.

“East Asia is contributing more [of an effect] because it’s closer, but there is an effect from Europe and also the US,” he told The Independent.

Dr Voulgarakis said their research, along with other studies, showed the kind of problems that might result from attempts to use sulphur dioxide in a geo-engineering scheme.

“Geo-engineering has generally suggested to be problematic because of the knock-on effects it could have,” he said.

“This research shows one of those reasons as it can affect rainfall quite dramatically.”

The figures were produced using a climate model which Dr Voulgarakis said tended to give results on the high side of the range produced by different methods.
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A briefing note prepared by Grantham researchers about the techniques to assess air pollutants said they could have “complex and diverse” effects.

Sulphate aerosols could “cool the atmosphere and so off-set some global warming” but “also increase air pollution levels and cause drought”.

“The impacts of short-lived pollutant emissions on air quality and climate change vary greatly depending on both the region where emissions occur and the location of the affected region,” it said.

“The climate effects of air pollutants are best assessed on a region-by-region basis, and are not easily captured by global metrics.”

It suggested air pollution and global warming should be dealt with as a single issue.

“Air quality and climate policy should be designed simultaneously to maximise beneficial outcome,” the briefing note said.

As the harmful effects of sulphur dioxide became clear, the European Union worked to reduce emissions.

A switch away from fuels with high levels of sulphur saw a 74 per cent reduction between 1990 and 2011.

By 2011, sulphur dioxides were less than half the amount in 2000.

In a blog post, Dilshad Shawki, a PhD student at the Grantham Institute, described how important understanding rainfall was, particularly in India and the surrounding area.

“Each summer the South Asian monsoon drenches the Indian subcontinent, as strong moisture-laden winds from the Indian Ocean deliver over 70 per cent of the region’s annual rainfall in just three months.

“As such, the monsoon’s bountiful rain is crucial to the economy and to livelihoods in the region.

“In recent decades however, rising pollution levels and increases in global surface temperatures have influenced atmospheric circulation patterns in the tropics, in turn affecting monsoon rainfall patterns.

“The challenge for scientists, including myself, is to gain a better appreciation of these relationships in order to build more accurate forecasts. Understanding and predicting monsoon rainfall is of huge importance to those societies that have developed following its rhythms.”

Despite the fall in European sulphur dioxide emissions, India’s droughts have continued as the world has got warmer.

Last year, the country saw its highest temperature on record – a sweltering 51 degrees Celsius (123.8F). Hundreds of people died as crops failed in more than 13 states.

Tens of thousands of small farmers also abandoned their land and moved to cities, while others killed themselves rather than face life in an urban shanty town.

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/european-pollution-india-drought-worst-ever-sulphur-dioxide-geo-engineering-grantham-institute-a7694491.html
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Nationwide medical marijuana program would save more than $1B in tax money...
« Reply #6611 on: April 22, 2017, 03:31:36 PM »
Study: Nationwide medical marijuana program would save more than $1B in tax money, lives too



A new study says that a nationwide rollout of medical marijuana would save taxpayers close to $1.1 billion each year on Medicaid prescriptions because medical marijuana use correlates with a decline in prescription drug usage.

The study by the University of Georgia’s father-daughter research team of Ashley Bradford and W. David Bradford lines up with a similar study the two did last year, which found similar correlation with Medicare prescriptions and states with medical marijuana programs.

That study found that taxpayers would save about a half-billion dollars each year under a national medical marijuana program.

But the new study, published this week in Health Affairs, looked at Medicaid – the country’s health care program for low-income people and not Medicare, the health system for elderly Americans.

It found that in states with legal medical marijuana programs, the number of prescriptions through Medicaid written and filled for certain types of drugs fell significantly.

The researchers saw an 11 percent drop in the prescription of painkillers, which include opioids – often blamed for the ongoing opioid and heroin epidemic currently plaguing the U.S.

But they saw larger drops in prescriptions for other drugs as well: There was a 17 percent reduction in nausea medication prescriptions; a 13 percent reduction in depression drug prescriptions; a 12 percent drop in seizure medication prescriptions; and a 12 percent drop in psychosis medication prescriptions.

“Patients and physicians in the community are reacting to the availability of medical marijuana as if it were medicine,” the researchers wrote.

But since most insurance programs don’t offer coverage for medical marijuana, even though it’s available in more than two dozen states, low-income and elderly Americans would be offsetting the cost to taxpayers with out-of-pocket costs.

The study estimated that Colorado saved around $14.4 million in 2014 in Medicaid prescription spending because of its medical marijuana program.

The researchers noted that there could be some instances in which replacing FDA-approved treatments with medical marijuana could be harmful, but also wrote that the research has begun to dispute the DEA’s Schedule I classification of the drug as having no medical uses.

A study published earlier this month in the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence also said states with legalized medical marijuana programs have seen fewer opioid-induced hospitalizations per capita than states with no program.

New U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recently compared marijuana to opioids and suggested the idea that medical marijuana could help some addicts recover is “stupid.”

“Medical marijuana has been hyped, maybe too much,” Sessions said.

The Washington Post reports that Sessions also said that he was “dubious” of medical marijuana and research that points to it being an alternative painkiller and treatment option for opioid addicts.

“I’ve heard people say we could solve our heroin problem with marijuana. How stupid is that? Give me a break.”

Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana sales, but medical marijuana is legal in 28 states and D.C.

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/marijuana/study-nationwide-medical-marijuana-program-would-save-more-than-1b-in-tax-money-lives-too
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Pope likens migrant holding centres to 'concentration camps'
« Reply #6612 on: April 23, 2017, 04:56:45 AM »


Pope Francis urged governments on Saturday to get migrants and refugees out of holding centres, saying many had become "concentration camps".

During a visit to a Rome basilica, where he met migrants, Francis told of his visit to a camp on the Greek island of Lesbos last year.

There he met a Muslim refugee from the Middle East who told him how "terrorists came to our country". Islamists had slit the throat of the man's Christian wife because she refused to throw her crucifix the ground.

"I don't know if he managed to leave that concentration camp, because refugee camps, many of them, are of concentration (type) because of the great number of people left there inside them," the pope said.



Francis praised countries helping refugees and thanked them for "bearing this extra burden, because it seems that international accords are more important than human rights".

He did not elaborate but appeared to be referring to agreements that keep migrants from crossing borders.

In February, the European Union pledged to finance migrant camps in Libya as part of a wider European Union drive to stem immigration from Africa.

Humanitarian groups have criticised efforts to stop migrants in Libya, where - according to a U.N. report last December - they suffer arbitrary detention, forced labour, rape and torture.

Last year the EU and Turkey reached a deal to send back irregular migrants from the Greek Aegean islands to Turkey in exchange for political and financial rewards for Ankara. The agreement was criticised by rights groups.



The pope urged people in northern Italy, home to an anti-immigrant party, to take more migrants, hoping that the generosity of southern Italy could "infect the north a bit".

Noting that Italy had one of the world's lowest birth rates, he said: "If we also close the door to migrants, this is called suicide."

The basilica of St Bartholomew is a shine to Christians killed for their faith in the 20th and 21st century.

It contains a prayer book used by Father Jacques Hamel, the 85-year-old French priest killed by Islamist militants who stormed into a church in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray last year, forced Hamel to his knees, and slit his throat while they chanted in Arabic. His sister Roselyne attended the service.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/22/pope-likens-migrant-holding-centres-concentration-camps/
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Sears has 'substantial doubt' that it can survive
« Reply #6613 on: April 23, 2017, 05:07:08 AM »
After years of huge losses and store closings, the future is officially in doubt for Sears and Kmart.

Sears Holdings (SHLD), the holding company for the two iconic retail brands, warned investors late Tuesday that it can't promise it will stay in business.

It included the language in its annual report while insisting it might still turn things around.

"Our historical operating results indicate substantial doubt exists related to the company's ability to continue as a going concern," said the statement.

While its recent history has been written in red ink, Sears was once one of the nation's most powerful companies, both the Walmart and Amazon of its time. But its once-proud brands have mostly been forgotten by the modern American shopper.

 Now Sears Holdings is not even sure it can raise enough cash through loans and debt financing to survive. The company owes $4.2 billion, up from about $3 billion a year ago.

It lost $2.2 billion in the fiscal year ending in January and has not turned an annual profit since 2010. Its losses since then total $10.4 billion.

Sears Holdings said its ability to sell assets, such as stores and store leases, could be limited because it needs those assets to pay for pension plans. In January, Sears sold its Craftsman brand of tools to Stanley Black & Decker (SWJ). It is looking to sell Kenmore appliances and Diehard auto parts.

 The company issued a statement later Wednesday stressing that despite the cautionary language in the annual report, it believes it is on course to turn around its struggling business.

"It is very important to reiterate that Sears Holdings remains focused on executing our transformation plan," said Chief Financial Officer Jason Hollar. "This is evident in the decisive actions we have taken in recent months. Despite the risks outlined we remain confident in our financial position."

 Still, Sears Holdings has been in trouble almost since the 2005 merger that joined the two department store brands.

At the start of 2006, it had 3,400 U.S. stores and 370 more in Canada that it has since sold. By the end of this January, it had only 1,400 stores left, all in the United States. The company still has 140,000 employees, but that too is down sharply from the 355,000 it had in 2006.

Even that doesn't tell the full picture of the decline.

Sears was once the nation's largest retailer and business employer. Long before the ascendance of Walmart (WMT), and decades before Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) was even born, the Sears catalog was how many Americans learned to shop from home for a large variety of items they wanted.

It developed an extensive store network, helping furnish homes as Americans moved to the suburbs after World War II -- and causing trouble for small, locally owned shops.

 The company at one time grew to include not just the retail business but a bank, a brokerage, a real estate company and what was then the world's tallest building, the Sears Tower, for its Chicago headquarters.

Kmart had a proud tradition of its own as one of the first major discount chains.

Its history, like that of Sears, stretches to the late 19th century. It became known for its "blue light specials," short-lived sales signaled by a flashing light and a public address announcement.

Kmart also bought many other retail chains that have since gone out of business, including Borders Books and Sports Authority. It filed for bankruptcy in 2002 shortly before Sears merged with its remains.

The retail landscape is littered with storied brands that have closed in recent years as brick-and-mortar stores became an albatross in the face of growing competition online.

Just in the last year, Sports Authority and The Limited have closed, and RadioShack and American Apparel are both in their second bankruptcies and in danger of shutting down. Macy's (M), JCPenney (JCP) and Staples (SPLS) have announced widespread store closing plans.

The problems for Sears started well before the growth of online shopping. More than 20 years ago, it began to suffer from competition from low-price competitors such as Walmart, and big-box stores such as Home Depot (HD). It lost its place in the Dow Jones index of the nation's most important companies in 1999.

Then came growing competition from Amazon and other online retailers. Analysts said Sears Holdings did little to invest in either the Sears or Kmart brand, instead trying to cut its way back to profitability by trimming advertising and closing stores.

It announced plans to close 150 more stores in January, and its stock hit a post-merger low in February. Then the stock rebounded when the company announced a deal with creditors to borrow $140 million more and cut at least $1 billion in operating costs a year, along with reducing its debt and pension obligations by $1.5 billion.

The "going concern" warning sent shares down about 15% in midday trading Wednesday.

http://money.cnn.com/2017/03/22/news/companies/sears-kmart-future/index.html
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Medicinal cannabis prescription now allowed by S. Australia doctors
« Reply #6614 on: April 23, 2017, 05:17:17 AM »
Doctors will be able to prescribe the medicinal use of cannabis without government approval in South Australia from this week.


Medical Marijuana Capsules

The SA Government said it was slashing red tape so the drug could be prescribed for periods of up to two months without a state sign-off being required.

Acting Premier Kyam Maher said the change, which applies from Monday, was made after consultation with key parties.

"We heard that it was extra red tape and an extra layer of administration for doctors to have to get state approval every single time, for every single patient prescribed medicinal cannabis," he said.

    "If a doctor in consultation with their patient thinks it's the right thing for them, we've decided you don't need that state approval."

Only medicinal cannabis products approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration will be covered by the change.
Cannabis in same category as morphine

The Federal Government last year legalised the prescription of medicinal cannabis, leaving the finer details up to the states.

The drug is now in the same category as treatments such as morphine.

"[There has been] a lot of consultation with medical professionals, industry representatives and health consumers to come up with what is a good balance between making sure that the drug is approved, and safe," Mr Maher said.

"[It gives] South Australian patients easy access if their medical specialist thinks it's of benefit for them."

Meanwhile, the SA Government is establishing an Office for Industrial Hemp and Medicinal Cannabis as it considers ways to develop both sectors.

Legislation to let farmers supply hemp for industrial uses passed State Parliament this month.

Hemp is used in the production of such things as clothes, cosmetics and building materials.

Industrial hemp is defined as containing less than 1 per cent of the psychoactive drug THC.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-23/medicinal-cannabis-prescription-south-australia/8465072
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