Society's Child


British scientists warn only 100 harvests left in farm soil

Modern society's dependence on grains is destroying both the soil and human and animal health
Intense over-farming means there are only 100 harvests left in the soil of the UK's countryside, a study has found.

With a growing population and the declining standard of British farmland, scientists warned that we are on course for an "agricultural crisis" unless dramatic action is taken.

Despite the traditional perception that there is a green and pleasant land outside the grey, barren landscape of our cities, researchers from the University of Sheffield found that on average urban plots of soil were richer in nutrients than many farms.

Sampling local parks, allotments and gardens in urban areas, Dr Jill Edmondson showed that the ground was significantly healthier than that of arable fields. Allotment soil had 32% more organic carbon, 36% higher carbon to nitrogen ratios, 25% higher nitrogen and was significantly less compacted.

Comment: For more on the devastating effects of modern agriculture and a grain-based diet on the health of the planet and that of its human and animal inhabitants, listen to Sott Talk Radio's interview with author of 'The Vegetarian Myth', Lierre Keith.


Less freedom to protest in London's Parliament Square than in Hong Kong!!

Occupy Democracy rally
© Nina Tailor / @ninatailor2
The Occupy Democracy rally in London's Parliament Square.
Donnachadh McCarthy went to Parliament Square yesterday to address a peaceful rally about the failings of British democracy. The intimidatory, violent and inflammatory police reaction only confirmed everything he had to say - as did the dignified restraint of the Occupy Democracy protestors.

Yesterday I was invited to speak about 'The Prostitute State - How Britain's Democracy Has Been Bought' - at the Occupy Democracy Rally in Parliament Square.

The plan was to give the talk (which went well - despite being nervous) and meet up with a friend later for dinner.

Instead I ended up being threatened with arrest not once, not twice but six times and ended up sleeping rough in the open all night in Parliament Square with the amazing people seeking to establish the week-long democracy Occupy Democracy forum!

Chris Hedges: 'The Imperative of Revolt'

© AP/Seth Wenig
Protesters chant as they are arrested at the intersection of Wall Street and Broad Street in New York on Sept. 22. The protesters, many of whom were affiliated with Occupy Wall Street, were pointing to the connection between capitalism and environmental destruction.
Toronto - I met with Sheldon S. Wolin in Salem, Ore., and John Ralston Saul in Toronto and asked the two political philosophers the same question. If, as Saul has written, we have undergone a corporate coup d'état and now live under a species of corporate dictatorship that Wolin calls "inverted totalitarianism," if the internal mechanisms that once made piecemeal and incremental reform possible remain ineffective, if corporate power retains its chokehold on our economy and governance, including our legislative bodies, judiciary and systems of information, and if these corporate forces are able to use the security and surveillance apparatus and militarized police forces to criminalize dissent, how will change occur and what will it look like?

Wolin, who wrote the books Politics and Vision and Democracy Incorporated, and Saul, who wrote Voltaire's Bastards and The Unconscious Civilization, see democratic rituals and institutions, especially in the United States, as largely a facade for unchecked global corporate power. Wolin and Saul excoriate academics, intellectuals and journalists, charging they have abrogated their calling to expose abuses of power and give voice to social criticism; they instead function as echo chambers for elites, courtiers and corporate systems managers. Neither believes the current economic system is sustainable. And each calls for mass movements willing to carry out repeated acts of civil disobedience to disrupt and delegitimize corporate power.

33 police officers fire 600 bullets into car knowing it contained a hostage

© Unknown
"You do not riddle a vehicle with 600 shots, by 33 people, knowing there is an innocent person inside."

An attorney for the family of Misty Holt Singh spoke out on Thursday, asserting that Stockton police used unreasonable force in the July 16th incident when they took the life of this 41 year old mother of two.

Holt-Singh was taken hostage by robbers at Bank of the West in Stockton, California, in front of her 12 year old daughter who was waiting for her in the car.

"Misty was crying," a witness told KOVR. "She was saying her daughter was alone in the car. She said, 'I don't want my daughter to see me coming out with you,' and they said, 'Don't worry, nothing is going to happen,' and they took her anyway."

Unfortunately it was not only the robbers that Holt-Singh needed to worry about.

Holt-Singh was in the vehicle as the three suspects lead police on a high speed chase which lasted for nearly an hour. The suspects reportedly fired over 100 rounds at officers during the 55 mile incident.

Two other women were taken hostage as well, but were either thrown or jumped from the vehicle as it was speeding from police, both survived.

The beloved wife and mother was ultimately shot at least 10 times- not by the suspects, but by the police- 33 of them, who fired 600 rounds into the vehicle despite knowledge that it contained a hostage. Holt-Singh as well as two of the three suspects were killed in the barrage of bullets.

Praise for Cuba that is sending hundreds of medical professionals to West Africa

© teleSUR
Apparently, there is a U.N. special envoy on Ebola, Mr. David Navarro, who hasn't been very active, to say the least
The New York Times joins the U.N. Special Envoy on Ebola and the leaders of ALBA nations in lauding Cuba's impressive efforts against the deadly disease in West Africa.

The U.N. Special Envoy on Ebola, David Navarro, arrived in Havana on Sunday to participate in the Extraordinary Summit of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Latin America (ALBA) on Ebola to begin on Monday.

Navarro hailed the contributions of Cuba in attacking the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, particularly in Sierra Leone, where a contingent of 165 health care professionals, including some from Venezuela, are hard at work.

"You are providing impressive support to African people now, as you have done for many years," said the special envoy.

He told the press that Cuba "is providing a high level of solidarity... and it is gratifying to know that the government has agreed to cooperate with other governments."

Comment: If only the U.S. and the EU could do the same.

Navarro said that on Monday, he will speak of the "threat posed by the outbreak of Ebola in the world, and the courage of those who are helping those who have fallen ill with the disease."

Comment: Is the West allowing Cuba to do its dirty work? Double shame on the rich elite that doesn't give one bit about the suffering of others and that gladly hands over responsibility to a small country that they were hell-bent on destroying before.


Huge fire breaks out at Didcot power station in Oxfordshire, England

Fire crews have been battling a major blaze at Didcot B Power Station, Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue has said.

At the height of the fire, which broke out in one of the cooling towers, 20 fire appliances were at the scene

Energy company RWE npower, which owns the gas-burning power station, has said the fire is now under control and there have been no injuries.

Police have warned local people to stay indoors and close their doors and windows.

The plant was shut down and all areas isolated before crews moved in to tackle the fire.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey said: "First, I want to thank the emergency services who are at Didcot working to tackle the blaze.

"I've been reassured by National Grid that there is no risk to electricity supplies. I will be keeping in touch with the relevant authorities throughout.

Comment: Are you paying attention yet?

Take a look at this small sample of recent gas explosions. Don't you think it's a bit peculiar, if not worrying?

Snowflake Cold

2nd Ukrainian refugee wave coming this winter - ombudswoman says Russia needs to be ready

Ukranian refugees
© ITAR-TASS/Aleksey Pavlishak
"We should be ready for the second wave of migration and not only from the southeast of Ukraine," she said
Russia should be ready in winter for a second wave of migration of refugees from Ukraine, and not only from the country's embattled southeast, Russia's human rights ombudswoman Ella Pamfilova told Russian government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta during a business lunch.

Pamfilova said that "the first wave of refugees is now on a decline as people are inspired with a possible truce".

"But there will be winter, which will be hard to live through in affected Ukrainian territories. So we should be ready for the second wave of migration and not only from the southeast of Ukraine. We should also not forget that many refugees who arrived earlier remain in Russia," she said.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in early September Russia has had to pay some 1 billion rubles ($25.3 million at current rates) for the stay of Ukrainian refugees on its territory.

Unprecedented wave of refugees

Pamfilova said Russia was not ready for the unprecedented wave of refugees from the neighboring country, but that aid to the people was provided promptly thanks to joint efforts by officials and ordinary people.

"I don't remember such a burst of civic activism... People got involved in work jointly with the authorities; businessmen, volunteers, ordinary people who decided to house refugees united their efforts. Russia has lived through a unique kind of unity in this connection," she said.

Pamfilova said regional human rights ombudspersons are involved in constant monitoring of the situation with refugees, and she said she plans to submit a package of proposals to the Russian government taking into account the monitoring results.

Western selectiveness

The ombudswoman sharply criticized selectiveness of Western media in their coverage of the situation in Ukraine's southeast. According to Pamfilova, "independent" European media "are writing about Iraq, Syria and Palestine" but for some reason "fail to notice the death of civilians in Ukraine's southeast."

"Why such selectiveness? Instead of demonstrative breadth of independent views, [they are] only following the order to label Russia accusing it of everything," she said.

"Russia has things to be criticized for, but [critics] should have the moral right to do so. I have the utmost disappointment and I don't hide it from my Western colleagues when I meet with them," the ombudswoman said.

Speaking about the work of human rights organizations in the world in general, Pamfilova said many institutions under the United Nations aegis have yielded to the situation and stopped providing information objectively.

"The powerful human rights billy club is masterfully used to defend someone's economic and political interests. I can't name a single institution in the world which would be absolutely objective and unbiased," she said.

"The values of human rights, understood in a certain way, are imposed by force: you must, you have to. But different countries have different history, culture and mentality," Pamfilova said.

"When a country with a certain history, traditions, culture and religion is censured for the absence of same-sex marriages, people have a feeling that the entire system of European values makes that the cornerstone," she said. "The fundamental rights are played down at that, and people have a natural rejection."

Comment: Ms.Pamfilova has summarized the situation very well. The UN and other "human rights" organizations are completely under the influence of Western hegemonic goals, while the Western media broadcasts this rampant bias as objective news. Russia's compassionate treatment of the refugees from Ukraine's aggression is a clear mark of a sane country, but we just don't hear about it. Contrast these policies with the total lack of concern shown by the US for the multitudes it murders and makes homeless around the world.

Brick Wall

Tennessee woman sent to jail for having a messy yard

Karen Holloway
© Local 8 Now
Karen Holloway
Ever fall behind on yard work? This East Tennessee woman did -- and now she's headed to jail.

Karen Holloway was cited by Lenoir City officials for not keeping up her yard.

She says this all started over the summer, when the city sent her a citation, claiming her yard wasn't properly maintained.

"With my husband going to school and working full time, me with my job, with one vehicle, we were trying our best," she said.

Holloway, who has two kids still at home, says she'll be the first to admit this yard needed some attention. But she feels the city has gone too far by imposing jail time.

"[The bushes and trees] were overgrown. But that's certainly not a criminal offense," she said.

Some good cops: 44 U.S. police officers sign petition to fire their corrupt chief

Fed up with corruption and power abuse: Asheville School Resource Officer team
Amidst the rampant, brutal corruption of American police departments today, another department decided to cross the 'thin blue line' this week, signing a petition to fire their chief of police who has a long record of power abuse.

Lt. Mark Byrd was a vocal figure in the creation of the petition and movement against the chief of the Asheville Police Department in North Carolina.

He says he was retaliated against by the chief because his wife sued the department over sexual harassment.

The chief who is being held accountable for being corrupt by his department, William Anderson, faced previous accusations of racism in Florida, and has brought controversy wherever he went, including Greenville, NC and an unnamed city in Florida.

In the petition against Chief William Anderson, the 44 officers agreed,
Asheville is not best served by its current police department leadership and request that these issues be addressed.

Comment: Every now and then (but not often) we get to hear about decent and human police officers. And although we should applaud their willingness to take a firm stand against corruption we should expect nothing less. But since we live in a world that is dominated by psychopaths, their behavior has a trickle-down effect on all of us.

Heart - Black

The real welfare queens: Low wage employers shift labor costs to taxpayers by impoverishing employees

© Wikimedia Commons
McDonald's in Times Square
The federal minimum wage of $7.25 is now worth 30 percent less than it was in the 1960s, after adjusting for inflation. It is quite literally a poverty wage - if you support a child, working full-time at the federal minimum will land you $650 below the federal poverty line; supporting two kids will put you more than $4,000 beneath it.

We've noted before that low-wage employers shift some of their labor costs onto the backs of taxpayers by encouraging their workers to apply for public benefits. These employers are the true "welfare queens," their profits indirectly subsidized by the public, which allows them to keep prices artificially low. We've argued in the past that this is one of several reasons why conservatives who oppose spending on the social safety net should favor raising the minimum to a point where workers can get by on their own labor.

Comment: Many low-wage workers have to take some form of public assistance; many are forced to rely on food stamps to feed themselves and their families. Often, they must hold two or three jobs, and even then there are still never enough hours to earn enough to have enough to eat.

A whistleblower's tale of the new minimum wage economy

Walmart gets $7.8 billion a year in tax breaks and subsidies from the US tax system - Employees forced to depend on social programs to get by‏

McDonald's advice to underpaid employees: Break food into pieces to keep you full