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Sat, 24 Mar 2018
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EU approves Bayer's $62.5bn takeover of GMO & pesticide evil giant Monsanto

Activists from the environmental organization Friends of the Earth Europe
© Eric Vidal / Reuters
Activists from the environmental organization Friends of the Earth Europe stage a 'marriage made in hell' during an action in front of the European Commission against Bayer and Monsanto in Brussels.
Germany's Bayer won EU antitrust approval on Wednesday for its multi-billion-dollar purchase of Monsanto. The mega-merger is expected to reshape the agrochemicals industry.

The deal will create a giant company with control of more than a quarter of the world's seed and pesticides market.

The European Commission said Bayer had addressed its concerns with an offer to sell a swathe of assets to boost rival BASF. Bayer pledged to sell certain seed and herbicide assets for €5.9 billion ($7.2 billion) to BASF and to give it a license to its digital farming data.

"Our decision ensures that there will be effective competition and innovation in seeds, pesticides and digital agriculture markets also after this merger," said European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

Comment: See also: Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine files suit against Monsanto for concealing the toxic effects of PCB chemicals
The Monsanto corporation knew that prolonged exposure to PCBs could produce 'systemic toxic effects' back in 1937! And even after the EPA ban back in the 1970's the toxicity persists. Several cities across the US have filed similar lawsuits, Seattle, Portland, San Diego, Oaklandand Berkeley. As the company clearly stated above 'we will defend ourselves aggressively' and always play dirty!
  • Monsanto's dirty dealings - chemical reform bill could grant the evil empire legal immunity for PCB pollution - As noted by The Environmental Working Group: "Slipped at the last minute into the House version, H.R. 2576, of a bill to update the broken Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 is a provision that could shield the company from liability for decades of pollution with a family of chemicals made only by Monsanto: polychlorinated biphenyls, better known as PCBs. While the insertion was so subtle many lawmakers probably did not even notice it, the implications of the Monsanto bailout clause are huge. The implications of the provision - added at the last minute - are significant enough that perhaps it should be called the "Monsanto bailout clause."
  • 'Poison Papers': Monsanto knew of grave health risks from toxic PCB chemicals it sold for years before ban - As far back as 1969, an internal policy document admitted "damage to the ecological system by contamination from PCBs," and stated that "evidence proving the persistence of these compounds and their universal presence in the environment is beyond questioning." The non-biodegradable nature of PCBs, which are still found both in water and in soil worldwide, has since turned out to be one of its most serious legacies. "Direct lawsuits are possible... because customers using the products have not been officially notified about known effects nor do our labels carry this information," read the assessment. At the end of the document, the author provides Monsanto with three solutions: Do Nothing ("poor customer relations" and "potential loss of business"), Discontinue Manufacture ("not that simple") and presumably the option the company chose: Respond responsibly by phasing out the product ("maximizing the corporate image by publicizing this fact"). "At the end of the day, Monsanto went for the profits instead of for public health and environmental safety," said Sherman.


Austin mail bomb suspect dies after detonating bomb inside his car as SWAT team approaches

austin texas package bombs
© Scott Olson / AFP
FBI, ATF and local police investigate an explosion at a FedEx facility on March 20, 2018 in Schertz, Texas
The Austin bombing suspect, who has been keeping the public and authorities on high alert for days, is dead after blowing himself up in a car, police announced during a press conference.

According to Chief of Police Brian Manley, law enforcement pinpointed the person in a car in Round Rock, 27km from Austin and followed him. Police were waiting for ballistic vehicles to arrive when the man's automobile began to drive away, but soon stopped in a ditch at the side of the road.

A SWAT team then approached the vehicle, but the suspect blew himself up, injuring one of the special operators. The perpetrator was identified as a 24-year-old Mark Anthony Conditt.

Comment: See also:

Star of David

Ahed Tamimi 'plea bargain': 8 months in jail for slapping Israeli soldier

Ahed Tamimi
© Ammar Awad / Reuters
Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi
Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi will serve eight months in prison for slapping an Israeli Defence Force soldier. The 17 year old reached a plea bargain Wednesday after serving three months in detention.

Tamimi was arrested on December 19 for assaulting an Israeli soldier after troops shot her 15-year-old cousin Mohammad Tamimi in the head at close range with a rubber bullet. Footage of the confrontation went viral and the teenager's subsequent arrest and detention has garnered international attention, with many seeing her as the poster child for Palestinian resistance against Israeli occupation.

Tamimi's trial in military court began on February 13. The Military Court of Appeal rejected a request to have the hearing in public, which Tamimi's attorney said would deprive her of a fair trial.

Comment: Considering the vindictiveness of Israeli military courts, Tamimi's sentence is light. Only the world's focus on Israel's egregious behaviour towards the Tamimi family has shielded her from a much worse fate. And yet there's this:


Venezuela builds 2 million affordable homes in seven years, plans to complete additional million by 2019

Venezuela affordable housing
© Twitter / @Minhvi_Oficial
President Nicolas Maduro said the new homes belong to the Venezuelan people.
The government plans to build another million homes by 2019.

The Venezuelan government has built two million houses in seven years as part of the People's Social Protection System.

President Nicolas Maduro made the announcement in a Venezuela Housing Great Mission (GMVV) event in the new "Mirador de Caiza" housing complex in Charallave, state of Miranda, in which he also spoke of future housing plans.

Comment: Quite an accomplishment considering the continual onslaught from the US in efforts to destabilize the country: Venezuela and the revenge of the 'mad-dog' empire


Twitter duel over Bernie Sanders revealed network of fake bot accounts connected to Democrat Sally Albright

twitter logo
© Kacper Pempel / Reuters
Someone automated dozens of accounts to amplify anti-Trump, anti-Sanders and pro-Democratic Party content.
One Democratic Party consultant said an unnamed client controlled many of these accounts.

When Russians at the Internet Research Agency interfered in U.S. politics, they created false online personas and fake political groups to amplify divisive messages that already had a homegrown American audience. It's not too far from what some U.S. political consultants are doing themselves.

Take Sally Albright, a Democratic Party communications consultant who backed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016. Unsurprisingly, Albright is vocally opposed to President Donald Trump and a big supporter of the resistance to his administration. She is also one of the loudest, most divisive voices attacking Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Clinton's onetime Democratic primary opponent, and his left-wing supporters.

Well after the primary, Albright continues to claim that Sanders is a fraud, a liar, racist and corrupt, among many other things. In one instance she declared that the policy idea of free college, as promoted by Sanders, was racist. This provoked Sanders supporters to argue back.

Trevor, a Sanders supporter who declined to provide his last name for fear of being doxxed, but goes by @likingonline on Twitter, noticed a strange pattern of behavior when Albright responded to him. Her tweets addressing him were rapidly retweeted by the same series of accounts. This created a barrage of notifications making it look as though there was an avalanche of opposition to everything he said.

Bizarro Earth

British media admits it: Due process in Skripal case 'does not apply' to Russia

Statue of Justice
Commentaries in Guardian and Financial Times say that Russia can be declared guilty without being given chance to defend itself

It is becoming increasingly difficult for the British authorities and for the British media to deny that 'due process' - ie. the well-established system of rules for conducting fair and impartial trials and investigations in order to determine questions of guilt or innocence - are not being followed by the British authorities in the Skripal case.

Here are some of the violations of due process the British authorities which in my opinion the British authorities are committing:

Arrow Up

Iraq ready to cooperate with Turkey on securing common borders

army iraq
The Iraqi government has expressed its readiness to cooperate with Turkey on ensuring security of the countries' shared borders, the Iraqi Justice Ministry said Tuesday in a press release received by Sputnik.

"The Iraqi government has expressed its intention to cooperate with Turkey on all issues related to the security along common borders," the minister stated.

According to Zamily, Iraq is strengthening good-neighborly relations with countries in the region, particularly with its Turkish neighbor.

Comment: See Also:


The secret yacht summit that realigned the Middle East

Riyadh summit Trump
Last year in Riyadh, US President Donald Trump with many of the same Arab leaders who were on the yacht.
George Nader, the Lebanese-American businessman and convicted paedophile, who is co-operating with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Donald Trump's campaign funding, organised a secret summit of Arab leaders on a yacht in the Red Sea in late 2015, Middle East Eye can reveal.

Nader proposed to the leaders gathered on the yacht that they should set up an elite regional group of six countries, which would supplant both the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the moribund Arab League.

Nader said this group of states could become a force in the region "that the US government could depend on" to counter the influence of Turkey and Iran, according to two sources briefed on the meeting.


Assange will give evidence to UK Parliament on Cambridge Analytica scandal

© Rodrigo Garrido / Reuters
WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange may soon give evidence to a Parliamentary Committee about Cambridge Analytica, a voter-profiling company which accessed data of some 50mn Facebook users, triggering an international scandal.

"I have accepted a request by the select committee of the UK parliament @CommonsCMS to give evidence, via video link, about Cambridge Analytica, and other matters, later this month,"Assange, currently holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, said on Twitter.

Just over half an hour later, the British Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee confirmed that Assange "has offered to appear" before the House of Commons body, explaining that "no formal invitation" has yet been issued to the whistleblower.

WikiLeaks rushed to clarify the matter, stating that the Australian was "approached" on a number of occasions to offer his expert opinion to British MPs. During the last attempt, on Monday, the investigative committee allegedly proposed holding the session with Assange on March 28 via video link, "to which Mr. Assange agreed."

Eye 1

Snowden docs reveal NSA targeted Bitcoin users around the world

© Borut Zivulovic / Reuters
The US National Security Agency targeted Bitcoin users around the world, according to classified documents released by Edward Snowden. The revelations strike a blow to the financial privacy of bitcoin users, academics warn.

The National Security Agency (NSA) managed to find ways to 'track down senders and receivers' of Bitcoins, according to an internal NSA report dated March 2013. The findings come from classified NSA documents, exposed by ex-CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden and first published by The Intercept.

Crucially, the tracking may also have involved amassing information from bitcoin users' computers. One NSA memo suggests that the NSA collected some Bitcoin users' password information, internet activity and MAC address, which is a type of unique device identification number.

Bitcoin is a digital currency which uses encryption to regulate its units of currency. From the outset, cryptocurrencies were designed to circumvent the control of banks and provide discretion for financial transactions. But they could not easily evade the attention of national governments, who take a keen interest in controlling flows of money.