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25 января, 00:16

Trump’s Agriculture Pick Slashed Food Safety Funding In Georgia Before Deadly Outbreak

function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, nominated as agriculture secretary by President Donald Trump, would face the task of helping ensure the safety and quality of America’s food supply. His record in Georgia raises doubts about whether he could handle the job. Georgia slashed its budget for food safety 29 percent under Perdue. Two years after the cuts, in 2008, at least 714 people across 46 states were sickened by salmonella traced to peanut paste produced at a Peanut Corporation of America factory in Blakely, Georgia. Nine people died, triggering one of the largest food safety recalls in U.S. history. The company’s CEO was later sentenced to 28 years in prison for knowingly shipping tainted products. Other executives also were jailed. Blame fell on Perdue’s state Agriculture Department and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which had delegated responsibility for inspecting the peanut factory to the state. State officials said manpower and funding prevented inspections that could have spotted the contamination issues, according to media reports at the time. Perdue responded by restoring some of the money that had been cut from his Agriculture Department’s consumer protection division. In his final state budget, in 2010, funding for the division remained 22 percent below what it was when he took office. “You had to have a situation where you had a bunch of people die before Georgia got its act together,” Jaydee Hanson, senior policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety, told HuffPost. “Sonny Perdue may have helped cause it, and he may have helped correct it.” Perdue took office in 2003. His first budget, for fiscal 2004, provided $39.5 million for the Agriculture Department’s consumer protection division. Georgia, like many states, gets some of its food safety funding from federal government and contracted with the FDA to perform inspections. Two years later, the consumer protection division budget was slashed 29 percent, to $28.2 million. The impact of the cuts on food inspections, compared with other duties of the division, is unclear.  Following the peanut factory scandal, Perdue signed legislation in 2009 that gave regulators authority set higher standards for food safety practices, testing and reporting. The state legislature approved funding for a new food processing program. The budget for the Agriculture Department’s consumer protection division increased slightly, though it remained far below what it was before Perdue’s term. The Peanut Corporation of America outbreak wasn’t Georgia’s first indication that its inspections of peanut processing facilities were inadequate. In 2007, at least 625 people were sickened after eating contaminated Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter in a salmonella outbreak traced to a Sylvester, Georgia, facility.  ConAgra, Peter Pan’s parent company,  paid $11.2 million in fines for knowingly shipping tainted products that contributed to the outbreak. The Associated Press called it the largest criminal fine ever in a U.S. food safety case. It’s unclear whether Perdue personally had a role in cutting Georgia’s food inspection budget. A state Agriculture Department spokeswoman offered few specifics, but said there “are no direct ties of management” between the governor and the agriculture commissioner. Despite the deadly toll of the contamination, Perdue has his defenders. Bill Marler, a prominent food safety attorney who represented victims in the outbreak, said it would “probably be a stretch” to “put all the onus” on Perdue. The blame, he said, should primarily go to the companies and the regulators themselves. Still, Marler said he’s concerned about Trump administration signals to reverse food safety progress made under President Barack Obama. The FDA, together with the USDA, oversees the nation’s food supply. The FDA is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. Trump’s nominee to lead that department — Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) — voted against the Food Safety Modernization Act, an overhaul of food safety laws in the wake of the Peanut Corporation of America outbreak.  Trump has offered few recent details of his plans for food policies. Last fall, his campaign website briefly featured a threat to “eliminate” the “FDA Food Police” due to “inspection overkill.”  Marler said he suspects his law firm will be “busier than ever” under Trump. But it will be hard to know for sure until more appointments, including the USDA’s food safety undersecretary. “The volume of outbreaks has dropped significantly over the last several years,” Marler added. “But who knows what’s going to happen once they may or may not start enforcing anything anymore?” type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related... + articlesList=588010e9e4b02c1837e9a38d,58826920e4b070d8cad255e7,5665d709e4b08e945ff03f74 ―- Joseph Erbentraut covers promising innovations and challenges in the areas of food and water. In addition, Erbentraut explores the evolving ways Americans are identifying and defining themselves. Follow Erbentraut on Twitter at @robojojo. Tips? Email [email protected] -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

25 января, 00:16

Trump’s Agriculture Pick Slashed Food Safety Funding In Georgia Before Deadly Outbreak

function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, nominated as agriculture secretary by President Donald Trump, would face the task of helping ensure the safety and quality of America’s food supply. His record in Georgia raises doubts about whether he could handle the job. Georgia slashed its budget for food safety 29 percent under Perdue. Two years after the cuts, in 2008, at least 714 people across 46 states were sickened by salmonella traced to peanut paste produced at a Peanut Corporation of America factory in Blakely, Georgia. Nine people died, triggering one of the largest food safety recalls in U.S. history. The company’s CEO was later sentenced to 28 years in prison for knowingly shipping tainted products. Other executives also were jailed. Blame fell on Perdue’s state Agriculture Department and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which had delegated responsibility for inspecting the peanut factory to the state. State officials said manpower and funding prevented inspections that could have spotted the contamination issues, according to media reports at the time. Perdue responded by restoring some of the money that had been cut from his Agriculture Department’s consumer protection division. In his final state budget, in 2010, funding for the division remained 22 percent below what it was when he took office. “You had to have a situation where you had a bunch of people die before Georgia got its act together,” Jaydee Hanson, senior policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety, told HuffPost. “Sonny Perdue may have helped cause it, and he may have helped correct it.” Perdue took office in 2003. His first budget, for fiscal 2004, provided $39.5 million for the Agriculture Department’s consumer protection division. Georgia, like many states, gets some of its food safety funding from federal government and contracted with the FDA to perform inspections. Two years later, the consumer protection division budget was slashed 29 percent, to $28.2 million. The impact of the cuts on food inspections, compared with other duties of the division, is unclear.  Following the peanut factory scandal, Perdue signed legislation in 2009 that gave regulators authority set higher standards for food safety practices, testing and reporting. The state legislature approved funding for a new food processing program. The budget for the Agriculture Department’s consumer protection division increased slightly, though it remained far below what it was before Perdue’s term. The Peanut Corporation of America outbreak wasn’t Georgia’s first indication that its inspections of peanut processing facilities were inadequate. In 2007, at least 625 people were sickened after eating contaminated Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter in a salmonella outbreak traced to a Sylvester, Georgia, facility.  ConAgra, Peter Pan’s parent company,  paid $11.2 million in fines for knowingly shipping tainted products that contributed to the outbreak. The Associated Press called it the largest criminal fine ever in a U.S. food safety case. It’s unclear whether Perdue personally had a role in cutting Georgia’s food inspection budget. A state Agriculture Department spokeswoman offered few specifics, but said there “are no direct ties of management” between the governor and the agriculture commissioner. Despite the deadly toll of the contamination, Perdue has his defenders. Bill Marler, a prominent food safety attorney who represented victims in the outbreak, said it would “probably be a stretch” to “put all the onus” on Perdue. The blame, he said, should primarily go to the companies and the regulators themselves. Still, Marler said he’s concerned about Trump administration signals to reverse food safety progress made under President Barack Obama. The FDA, together with the USDA, oversees the nation’s food supply. The FDA is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. Trump’s nominee to lead that department — Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) — voted against the Food Safety Modernization Act, an overhaul of food safety laws in the wake of the Peanut Corporation of America outbreak.  Trump has offered few recent details of his plans for food policies. Last fall, his campaign website briefly featured a threat to “eliminate” the “FDA Food Police” due to “inspection overkill.”  Marler said he suspects his law firm will be “busier than ever” under Trump. But it will be hard to know for sure until more appointments, including the USDA’s food safety undersecretary. “The volume of outbreaks has dropped significantly over the last several years,” Marler added. “But who knows what’s going to happen once they may or may not start enforcing anything anymore?” type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related... + articlesList=588010e9e4b02c1837e9a38d,58826920e4b070d8cad255e7,5665d709e4b08e945ff03f74 ―- Joseph Erbentraut covers promising innovations and challenges in the areas of food and water. In addition, Erbentraut explores the evolving ways Americans are identifying and defining themselves. Follow Erbentraut on Twitter at @robojojo. Tips? Email [email protected] -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

24 января, 16:11

US Navy's Ultimate Dream Weapon (That Russia Feared): Merging a Super Battleship and an Aircraft Carrier

Kyle Mizokami Security, Was it possible?  In the early 1980s, the Reagan Administration was looking to fund high visibility defense programs. Reagan had been elected on a platform of rebuilding the armed services after the “hollowing out” of the early 1970s. One example was the reactivation of four World War II-era Iowa-class battleships, which started in 1982. Each of the four ships, Iowa, Missouri, New Jersey and Wisconsin was refurbished, their sixteen and five-inch guns brought back online. Each battleship was also equipped with sixteen Harpoon anti-ship missiles, thirtytwo Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles and four Phalanx close-in weapon systems (CIWS) for defense. The four battlewagons were swiftly retired after the end of the Cold War because the manpower-intensive vessels each required a crew of nearly two thousand. That made them early victims of the post-Cold War drawdown as the defense budget was sharply reduced. Today, all four serve as memorials or floating museums. Retirement put an end to future upgrades, which might have included the boldest of them all. In the November, 1980 issue of the United States Naval Institute Proceedings, Captain Charles Myers, USN (retired) proposed reactivating the battleships with significant modifications to the aft section.The proposal envisioned deleting the number three turret near the stern and the three sixteen-inch guns housed in it. In place of the number three turret would be an extraordinary set of armaments. A V-shaped, ramped flight deck would be installed, with the base of the V on the ship’s stern. Each leg of the V would extend forward, so that planes taking off would fly past the stacks and ship’s bridge. Two elevators would bring Boeing AV-8B Harrier II jump-jets up from a new hangar to the flight deck. It was envisioned such a conversion could support up to twelve Harriers. Read full article

22 января, 08:44

*Forged Through Fire*

Written by John Ferejohn and Frances McCall Rosenbluth, with the subtitle War, Peace, and the Democratic Bargain, this is a very important book.  Here is the main thesis: If the modern democratic republic is a product of wars that required both manpower and money for success, it is time to take stock of what happens […] The post *Forged Through Fire* appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

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20 января, 19:10

Russian expert: ISIS demolishes what is easiest to destroy in Palmyra

On Jan. 20, Syrian state television reported that militants from the Islamic State terrorist group had destroyed the facade of the Roman Theater and the Tetrapylon architecture complex in Palmyra. The news report did not specify the extent to which the ancient monuments had suffered in the act of vandalism. Timur Karmov, scientific advisor at the Russian Culture Ministry Heritage Institute, said latest information he had received suggested the militants had not blown up the entire amphitheater but only the façade and structures adjoining the stage - the easiest sections to demolish. A combination of satellite pictures shows the Roman Amphitheater before and after it was damaged, in the historical city of Palmyra, in Homs Governorate, in these handout picture acquired on Dec. 26, 2016 (top) and Jan. 10, 2017. Source: Reuters "The monolithic stands are more difficult to blow up. You need more explosives and effort. Concerning the Tetrapylon, the small structure near the theater, this was simpler to destroy. It was a prefabricated structure standing on four columns and blowing it up required a small quantity of explosives," Karmov said. "It seems that the entire top was blown off, only the foundation remains." Karmov added that the institute had received details of the destruction via photos taken with satellites provided by Boston University. Militant return Speaking on Jan. 18, Lieutenant-General Sergei Rudskoy, Chief of the Russian General Staff Main Operations Department, said that ISIS militants were moving weapons and manpower "almost without impediment" towards Palmyra. A combination of satellite pictures shows the Tetrapylon before and after it was damaged, in the historical city of Palmyra, in Homs Governorate, in these handout picture acquired on Dec. 26, 2016 (top) and Jan. 10, 2017 Source: Reuters According to Rudskoy, the Russian military have received information "on a large amount of explosives being moved to the area of Palmyra as ISIS terrorists are aiming to destroy the world cultural heritage in the town." ISIS attacked Palmyra on Dec. 9, 2016. They attempted to seize oil installations and a military aerodrome near the city. On December 11 Syrian government forces retreated from the ancient city, which they had taken on March 27, 2016 with the help of Russian air support. Russian sappers later participated in removing mines from the city and its ancient monuments. Possible restoration The theater in Palmyra is not the biggest of similar ancient monuments preserved in the Middle East, thought it is considered unique. Before the current destruction, the Roman theater in Palmyra was noted for the high level of its preservation, Karmov said. "If we speak about its restoration, there exist sketches, plans and photographs of the structure, that is, material that can be used for the work. Fortunately, researchers from various countries have managed to photograph all this. Therefore, I think that with the right resources and efforts, restoration will be possible." Read more: After the end of hostilities in Aleppo, what next for Russia in Syria?>>>

20 января, 00:35

Why Halliburton Is the Best Oilfield Service Stock Right Now

Halliburton has significantly reduced costs, and has nine consecutive beats of the Zacks Consensus Estimate under its belt.

19 января, 17:37

Amazon to Open Ninth Robotic Fulfillment Center in Texas

In order to meet growing demand in the online shopping space, Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) announced plans to open its ninth fulfillment center in Coppell, TX.

18 января, 19:01

Philippine police extorted money after murdering S. Korean man

Philippine police kidnapped and murdered a South Korean businessman, then led his wife to believe he was alive for months to extort money from her, authorities said yesterday. The killing is the latest

18 января, 01:26

Sessions Is Done Talking: How Will He Act On Legal Marijuana?

By Al Olsen Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) rope-a-doped his way through two days of grilling during his confirmation hearing without suffering anything close to a knockout blow, or really saying much about legal marijuana. President-elect Donald J. Trump's embattled nominee for Attorney General, an ardent opponent of legal marijuana, provided vague answers to questions about his approach to the issue. Despite the grilling from Democratic senators, Sessions suggested that he would not radically shake the status quo. But there is a lot of tea-leaf reading in between the lines. RELATED STORY: Sessions Needs To Think Like An Accountant, Not An Attorney "I won't commit to never enforcing federal law," said Sessions, responding in a double negative when asked if he would spend precious federal dollars and manpower to prosecute people for consuming cannabis in accordance with state laws. "But absolutely it's a problem of resources for the federal government." Sessions also suggested that the guidelines provided by his predecessors Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch were "truly valuable" in maintaining an appropriate balance. The testimony that made the biggest headlines occurred on Tuesday when Sessions challenged Congress to do its job as the legislative branch of the federal government and pass a law if it wants to put an end to the incongruity of state and federal policies. Until then, he maintained, he was adamant that he would follow current law "in a just and fair way." RELATED STORY: 6 Reasons Why Marijuana Wins No Matter Who Becomes Attorney General "It is not so much the Attorney General's job to decide what laws to enforce," Sessions said. "We should do our job and enforce laws effectively as we are able." Some policy wonks and marijuana legalization advocates were cautious in their criticisms of the testimony. On one hand, his answers were innocuous and non-threatening. But on the other hand, Sessions has a decades-long reputation of anti-marijuana rhetoric. Marijuana Majority: "It's a good sign that Sen. Sessions seemed open to keeping the Obama guidelines, if maybe with a little stricter enforcement of their restrictions," said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority. "The truth is, his answer was skillfully evasive. Drug Policy Alliance: "Jeff Sessions is a nightmare. He is a threat to progress, especially marijuana reform, sentencing reform, and asset forfeiture reform," said Bill Piper, senior director of national affairs for the DPA. "It is clear that he was too afraid to say the Reefer Madness things he said just a year ago, but he left the door open to interfering in the states. I think he will follow Trump's lead, whichever way that goes" Piper said, adding that Sessions' performance was "wishy-washy at best." National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws: "If anything, his comments are a cause for concern and can be interpreted as leaving the door open for enforcing federal law in legalized states," said Erik Altieri, executive direction of the NORML. "If Sessions wants to be an Attorney General for ALL Americans, he must bring his views in line with the majority of the population and support allowing states to set their own marijuana policies without fear of federal intervention," he said. Marijuana Policy Project: Sessions "chose not to commit to vigorously enforcing federal prohibition laws in states that have reformed their marijuana laws. He also recognized that enforcing federal marijuana laws would be dependent upon the availability of resources, the scarcity of which poses a problem," said Robert Capecchi, director of MPP. During a Senate hearing in 2016, Sessions vehemently urged the federal government to act against the legalization efforts, declaring that "good people don't smoke marijuana." He also took a swing at Obama's pragmatic approach to the issue, saying: "We need grown-ups in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it is in fact a very real danger. To make it socially acceptable creates increased demand and results in people being addicted and being impacted adversely." Even more alarming is his belief that America's $1 trillion War on Drugs was a success. If confirmed -- which seems almost a forgone conclusion at this point -- Sessions would run the Department of Justice, the agency that enforces federal marijuana law. He would have the authority to roll back decades of progress in marijuana policy. But would Sessions -- of Trump for that matter -- want to wage a battle against eight states that have legalized full adult recreational use and another 29 states with medical marijuana programs? Cannabis is even legal in Washington D.C. It would appear to be a waste of resources to re-engage in this battle. RELATED STORY: Why Even Jeff Sessions Can't Stop The Marijuana Train From Rolling Polling is clear that the American people are in favor of legalization. States are collecting huge revenues from fees and taxes on marijuana sales. It is conceivable that Sessions would take a tepid, hands-off approach to the issue. At least one Congressman thinks so. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), a legalization proponent, believes it would not be in Sessions' best interest to interfere with states that have legalized marijuana on the books. Rohrabacher is co-author of the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment, which prohibits the Justice Department from spending federal funds to enforce the federal prohibition laws in states where medical marijuana has been legalized. Some legalization advocates express worry that there will be pressure applied to Congress to eliminate or change this rule. Rohrabacher dismisses such chatter. "Jeff Sessions is a loyal man with integrity, he will do what his boss wants him to do," Rohrabacher said. Trump, during the wildly contentious presidential campaign stated that he believes states should decide on marijuana legalization for themselves. "In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state by state," Trump said. Incoming press secretary, Sean Spicer, agrees. "When you come into a Trump administration, it's the Trump agenda you are implementing, not your own, and I think Sen. Sessions is well aware of that," Spicer said. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

17 января, 23:58

Will States Take Up the Mantle of Worker Protection?

The attorney general of New York, Eric Schneiderman, is getting ready to protect employees from wage theft and other illegal practices if the federal government doesn't.

13 января, 14:58

How will Mexico deal with The Donald?

President Enrique Peña Nieto's invitation for Donald Trump to visit Mexico in August 2016 offended 74% of Mexicans, according to polls. Reuters Carlos Bravo Regidor, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas What is Mexico's plan for facing incoming US president Donald Trump, whose presidential campaign included heated anti-Mexican rhetoric? How is the country's government preparing for threatened changes to the US-Mexico relationship in terms of policy, immigration and trade? If they're any insight into Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto's strategy for the coming years, two key decisions in this realm have been disconcerting to say the least. Rolling out the red carpet The first, in August, was to invite then-candidate Donald Trump to Mexico, responding to his hostility with conciliatory gestures and goodwill. The results were not good. Rather than moderating his views, Trump jumped on the occasion to imply that the Mexican president actually supported his positions. After the meeting with Peña Nieto, in a speech made later that night in Phoenix, Arizona, Trump told supporters: I've just landed having returned from a very important and special meeting with the president of Mexico, a man I like and respect very much. [...] We will build a great wall along the southern border. And Mexico will pay for the wall. One hundred percent. They don't know it yet, but they're going to pay for it. And they're great people and great leaders but they're going to pay for the wall. We will use the best technology, including above and below ground sensors that's the tunnels....Towers, aerial surveillance and manpower to supplement the wall, find and dislocate tunnels and keep out criminal cartels and Mexico you know that, will work with us. I really believe it. Mexico will work with us. This episode did not play out well in Mexico. According to the Reforma newspaper, 81% of Mexicans disagreed with Trump's visit. The daily El Universal found that 74% of citizens felt offended that the government had invited him to Mexico. The stunt also ended badly for its mastermind, Luis Videgaray, a scandal-tainted confidante of president Peña Nieto since his days as governor of the State of Mexico (2005-2011); he was forced to resign his post as Secretary of Treasury. The Mexican government's second move to prepare for Trump, just a few days ago, was to sack Secretary of Foreign Relations Claudia Claudia Ruíz Massieu. Mexico's top diplomat for only 16 months, she had recently shown herself reluctant to work with Trump. So, on the eve of the inauguration, Peña Nieto decided to put in her place none other than Luis Videgaray. Given the new secretary's admitted lack of international diplomacy experience, the press has speculated that his alleged relationship with Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, is his main "qualification" for the job. Some commentators are also suggesting that this high-profile appointment reveals Videgaray as Peña Nieto's preferred Revolutionary Institutional Party successor for the presidency in 2018. Why not play a two-level game? So what's going on here? And what does it mean for Mexico, just days away from four years of President Donald Trump? To start with, it shows that the Mexican government does not, for whatever reason, find it necessary to correct its course or to recruit new personnel in order to regain some of the credibility it has lost both nationally and internationally. In this delicate moment, when Mexico will require the talent and experience of the best men and women its foreign service has to offer, the president's most recent appointment leaves no doubt: Luis Videgaray is Mexico's response to Donald Trump. The man is the policy. Here the government has squandered an opportunity to take diplomatic advantage of the Mexican people's disregard for Trump to strengthen the relative power of Los Pinos, Mexico's presidential palace, vis-a-vis the White House. As Robert Putnam outlined in his classic study on diplomacy, domestic and international politics can interact as a "two-level game". Just as external events and pressures can help impel national policies, governments can also leverage internal pressure to strengthen their stance in foreign negotiations. That is, Peña Nieto could have used Mexicans' repudiation of Trump to place hard and very credible limits on what Mexico will - and won't - accept from the US going forward. But he didn't do it. Picking a figure so friendly toward his American counterpart, and so disliked at home, Mexico's president missed his chance to put domestic discontent to good use. Instead, he made the government even more vulnerable. Finally, there's the issue of the so-called "constituencies of foreign policy". In reiterating his position of collaborating instead of confronting, Peña Nieto turned his back on a multitude of potential American allies of Mexico's cause. Numerous American churches, cities and universities have declared that they will defend undocumented immigrants. There are border states whose economies are deeply integrated with Mexico's and industries that would collapse without NAFTA. And hundreds of communities and hometown associations send remittances to Mexico. Peña Nieto's government could coordinate with these actors to look after their shared interests and present a united front against Donald Trump's anti-immigrant, anti-NAFTA agenda. Instead of building relationships and alliances, however, Peña Nieto's administration seems determined to isolate itself - to give up. It's as if the only constituency for Mexican foreign policy were one person: The Donald. The threat that Trump represents to Mexico is, or could be, an extraordinary platform for demonstrating political leadership. But based on the disquieting decisions that President Peña Nieto has made thus far, it is impossible not to ask: who is Mexico's government working for? Carlos Bravo Regidor, Associate Professor, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

12 января, 23:38

War Consciousness and the F-35

"The F-35 Lightning II Program (also known as the Joint Strike Fighter Program) is the Department of Defense's focal point for defining affordable next generation strike aircraft weapon systems for the Navy, Air Force, Marines, and our allies. The F-35 will bring cutting-edge technologies to the battlespace of the future." Lurking behind this perky little PR blurb, from the F-35's own website, is the void into which the soul of the human race has disappeared. This is war consciousness: locked into place, awash in money. The deeply flawed F-35, the most expensive military weapons system in history, is ultimately projected to cost over $1 trillion, but no matter: "It will bring cutting-edge technologies to the battlespace of the future." What does that mean? It sounds like an ad for the next Star Trek movie, but it's U.S. foreign policy -- or, more accurately, the defining assumption of nationhood: We will always be at war with someone. It's the quintessential self-fulfilling prophecy. When we spend trillions of dollars "preparing" for war, by God, we'll find an enemy. This is the consciousness we must transcend, and opposing Lockheed Martin's way-over-budget, absolutely-unnecessary-for-national-security F-35 fighter jet, which is supposed to be ready to go by 2019, is certainly a good place to start. "The F-35 is a weapon of offensive war, serving no defensive purpose," reads the petition now in circulation, initiated by a dozen organizations. "It is planned to cost the U.S. $1.4 trillion over 50 years. Because starvation on earth could be ended for $30 billion and the lack of clean drinking water for $11 billion per year, it is first and foremost through the wasting of resources that this airplane will kill. . . . "Wars are endangering the United States and other participants rather than protecting them. Nonviolent tools of law, diplomacy, aid, crisis prevention, and verifiable nuclear disarmament should be substituted for continuing counterproductive wars. Therefore, we, as signers of this petition, call for the immediate cancellation of the F-35 program as a whole, and the immediate cancellation of plans to base any such dangerous and noisy jets near populated areas." At the local end of this travesty, the F-35s, which would be based in Burlington, Vermont, and Fairbanks, Alaska, are so dangerous they could render nearby residential areas uninhabitable. The extreme noise level could cause cognitive impairment in children, according to a World Health Organization report; and the planes' high risk of crashing, combined with highly toxic materials used in their construction, put local residents at an unacceptable risk. But the absurdity of subjecting people to such risks is magnified exponentially by the needlessness to do so. Roots Action, one of the organizations calling for the F-35's cancellation, describes the fighter jet as "a first strike stealth weapon designed to penetrate air space undetected. It will be used for massive killing and destruction in more wars like Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, and Vietnam in which millions of civilians have been killed and wounded and millions of refugees created." Yet these wars didn't advance any rational agenda whatsoever. They didn't make America safe, much less "great." To confirm this point, the Roots Action site cuts to CIA director John Brennan, testifying before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee last June: "Unfortunately," Brennan tells the committee, "despite all our progress against ISIL on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group's terrorism capability and global reach." He goes on: "The resources needed for terrorism are very modest, and the group would have to suffer even heavier losses of territory, manpower, and money for its terrorist capacity to decline significantly." Let's sit in silence with these words for a moment. In the silence, the word "why" emerges with enormous force, more force, perhaps, than it's possible to bear, at least when one begins adding up the costs of our ineffective efforts. Why are the weapons of war the only tools we choose to wield -- the only tools we can imagine wielding -- against the threat we call terrorism? Why are the multi-billion-dollar agencies of government trapped at such a feeble level of consciousness -- war consciousness -- that they are able to envision nothing but the wreaking of more destruction to "keep us safe," when everything about this activity weakens us, endangers us, makes us ever less safe? What if we began waging peace against terrorism? That is to say, what if we began to recognize that understanding the enemy is what's crucial, while thinking we can destroy what we fear is an illusion of monstrous proportions? Consider: "The Defense Department is designing robotic fighter jets that would fly into combat alongside manned aircraft," the New York Times reported in October. "It has tested missiles that can decide what to attack, and it has built ships that can hunt for enemy submarines, stalking those it finds over thousands of miles, without any help from humans. . . . "Defense officials say the weapons are needed for the United States to maintain its military edge over China, Russia and other rivals, who are also pouring money into similar research (as are allies, such as Britain and Israel). The Pentagon's latest budget outlined $18 billion to be spent over three years on technologies that included those needed for autonomous weapons." What a world we're planning! I believe there's still time to change directions, but the demand to do so must begin today. - - - Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound is available. Contact him at [email protected] or visit his website at commonwonders.com. © 2017 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, INC. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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