Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Feeding the World

Climate change could decrease maize yields by as much as 18 per cent by 2050-making it even more difficult to feed the world if farmers cannot adopt agricultural technologies that could help boost food production in their regions.

A new report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)  examines 11 agricultural practices and technologies and how they can help farmers around the world improve the sustainability of growing three of the world's main staple crops - maize, rice, and wheat. Using a first-of-its-kind data model, the Washington-based IFPRI pinpoints the agricultural technologies and practices that can most significantly reduce food insecurity in developing nations - .crop protection, drip irrigation, drought tolerance, heat tolerance, integrated soil fertility management, no-till farming, nutrient use efficiency, organic agriculture, precision agriculture, sprinkler irrigation, and water harvesting.

Findings indicate that no-till farming alone can increase maize yields by 20 per cent, but also irrigating the same no-till fields can increase maize yields by 67 per cent in 2050. The report says nitrogen-use efficiency can increase rice crop yields by 22 per cent, but irrigation increases the yields by another 21 per cent. Heat-tolerant varieties of wheat can increase crop yields from a 17 per cent increase to a 23 per cent increase with irrigation. The technologies with the highest percentage of potential impact for agriculture in developing countries include no-till farming, nitrogen-use efficiency, heat-tolerant crops, and crop protection from weeds, insects, and diseases.

Yet, no single silver bullet exists. "The reality is that no single agricultural technology or farming practice will provide sufficient food for the world in 2050," said Mark Rosegrant, lead author of the book and director of IFPRI's Environment and Production Technology Division. "Instead we must advocate for and utilize a range of these technologies in order to maximize yields."

However, it is realistic to assume that farmers in the developing world and elsewhere would adopt a combination of technologies as they become more widely available. However, based on current projections, stacked technologies could reduce food insecurity by as much as 36 per cent. Making this a reality, however, depends on farmers gaining access to these technologies and learning how to use them. This underscores the need for improved agricultural education to ensure that farmers are able to use the best available technologies for their region and resources.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Bible Snake-bite

A Kentucky snake-handling preacher who appeared in a television show about the religious practice has died of a snakebite after refusing medical treatment, authorities said on Sunday.  Mark 16:17-18  “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will … pick up snakes with their hands.”
Mark 16:18: “…and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all.” 

There is some evidence that these verses were not originally part of the Gospel of Mark. Some of the oldest and most reliable Greek manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark do not contain verses 9-20. Some other manuscripts contain Mark 16:9-20, but set them apart from the rest of the Gospel of Mark. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Primum Non Nocere

First do no harm

Dr Gary G. Kohls, a retired physician with a 40 year medical career, is a critic of what he calls the  Big Business of Medicine.

“It is often said that the real clinical trials of new drugs start when the brief pre-marketing studies — involving only hundreds or occasionally thousands of test subjects — have been approved by the FDA, for that is when millions of unsuspecting, but excited patients get their first prescriptions of the latest wannabe blockbuster drug that they saw presented so appealingly on TV.
Big Business argues that the profitability of business enterprises depends on getting new products into the marketplace quickly in order to generate profits as soon as possible. Thus, paying for thorough, independent long-term studies (especially with watchdog agency oversight) is only grudgingly accepted by the profit-driven investors on Wall Street.
In light of the current corporate reality of profit maximization (and that goes for HMOs, hospitals and most clinics, especially the for-profit kinds with their multimillionaire CEOs), we physicians should be the ones who make sure that no harm is being done because of the drugs we prescribe. Throughout history, physicians have always accepted, as a sacred trust, the duty to warn patients about the potential dangers of their treatments, and there are many. ..
...n order for a patient to give fully informed consent to a treatment option, he or she must be given thorough information about the risks, safety and efficacy of the treatment both short-term and long-term, which, in the case of most psychiatric drugs, is virtually impossible to do given the lack of long-term studies that were done prior to FDA approval and the poor post-marketing surveillance that is done. Medical malpractice suits commonly revolve around the issue of adequate informed consent.
Patients deserve to know whether or not psychotropic drugs are addicting or dependency-inducing, are capable of causing withdrawal symptoms or whether or not the patient can be sickened or intoxicated by the drugs. Patients also deserve to know about the existence alternative therapies which, in the case of mental health issues, utilize good psychotherapy and nutritionally-based, life-style alterations, approaches that are often falsely discredited by medical trade association groups like the AMA, the APA and their medical journals. The giant multinational corporations that generously fund such groups, are always looking for ways to eliminate the competition in order to achieve a near-monopoly for the sale of their substances.
The time-honored Precautionary Principle says that an ethical business, governmental agency or culture should err on the side of caution before new chemicals, technologies, procedures, services, food additives, drugs, surgical procedures, etc are introduced into the marketplace (and the environment) – and only then should they be allowed on the market when there is absolute proof that the substances are not dangerous to the environment (which includes human/animal life, the water supply, the soil and the air – i.e., our fragile planet).

So when medical industries wish to market new synthetic chemical substances that have the potential to adversely affect human or environmental health (even years or decades into the future) the Precautionary Principle requires that adequate and aggressive long-term studies (funded by agencies totally independent of those who want to profit from the substance) be undertaken and then only approved when it has been proven to be totally safe.

So, under the Precautionary Principle, regulatory agencies must be given permission to aggressively withhold the marketing approval of potentially carcinogenic, disease-producing, neurotoxic or immune system-destroying products from the environment from where they may be ingested, inhaled or otherwise absorbed into the bodies of potential victims.
Therefore, before potentially dangerous substances are allowed onto the grocery store shelves or into our pharmacies, hospitals, clinics and then, inevitably, into our bodies, the Precautionary Principle says that they should be first proven that they will do no harm, short-term or long-term.
As was documented in last week’s Duty to Warn column America has a drug-induced dementia, suicide, violence and mental ill health epidemic on its hands that should be obvious to every critical thinker that looks at the evidence. But because there are not many in the medical professions with the time (or willingness) to look at the evidence, the epidemic will surely continue to worsen because of the continued chronic use of non-curative drugs that are, in America, too often used as first-line “treatment”. Both psychiatric drug-induced brain disruption and psychiatric drug withdrawal syndromes can be mistaken for mental illnesses of unknown cause.
We can do better for our patients — and our dying planet — if we just go back to the honorable past traditions exemplified in the Hippocratic Oath and the Precautionary Principle.

From Dissident Voice

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Calling India


Will be held at:
Head Office,
257 Baghajatin ‘E’ Block (East),

Tel: 2425- 0208,

 1 March, Saturday, 2PM – 8 PM (with breaks):
Subject: Theory of value: 
Speaker: B. Sarkar

2 March, Sunday: 
Session – I: 2PM – 4 PM: 
Present world and the socialist movement
Session – II: 5 PM – 8 PM: Membership, Publication and Campaign



We need ~
Through ~ Political class struggle,
In a peaceful and democratic way,
By applying our power of knowledge and number
Via ballot in elections,
And establishing a stateless,  moneyless, wageless, classless world


That is the end of poverty, famine, environmental destruction, war and terrorism; and beginning of peace, freedom and participatory democracy:
The only practical alternative awaits recognition.
Socialism needs you – And you need Socialism.
Recognize Socialism – Vote only for Socialism.

Why waste time? Visit us at the following addresses to know more about our organization and activities:

The World Socialist Party (India)
257 Baghajatin ‘E’ Block (East), Kolkata – 700086,
Tel: 2425-0208 / 7256 / 7378,

Saturday, February 08, 2014

RFK Stands by the Warren Commission

Another JFK conspiracy myth shot down

On April 30, 1964, five months after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, his brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, was interviewed by John B. Martin in one of a series of oral history sessions with RFK. Part of the interview appears in the book “JFK Conservative” by Ira Stoll, published three months ago. (pages 192-3)
RFK: The president … had a strong, overwhelming reason for being in Vietnam and that we should win the war in Vietnam.
MARTIN: What was the overwhelming reason?
RFK: Just the loss of all of Southeast Asia if you lost Vietnam. I think everybody was quite clear that the rest of Southeast Asia would fall.
MARTIN: What if it did?
RFK: Just have profound effects as far as our position throughout the world, and our position in a rather vital part of the world. Also it would affect what happened in India, of course, which in turn has an effect on the Middle East. Just as it would have, everybody felt, a very adverse effect. It would have an effect on Indonesia, hundred million population. All of those countries would be affected by the fall of Vietnam to the Communists.
MARTIN: There was never any consideration given to pulling out?
RFK: No.
MARTIN: … The president was convinced that we had to keep, had to stay in there …
RFK: Yes.
MARTIN: … And couldn’t lose it.
RFK: Yes.
These remarks are rather instructive from several points of view:
1. Robert Kennedy contradicts the many people who are convinced that, had he lived, JFK would have brought the US involvement in Vietnam to a fairly prompt end, instead of it continuing for ten more terrible years. The author, Stoll, quotes a few of these people. And these other statements are just as convincing as RFK’s statements presented here. And if that is not confusing enough, Stoll then quotes RFK himself in 1967 speaking unmistakably in support of the war.
It appears that we’ll never know with any kind of certainty what would have happened if JFK had not been assassinated, but I still go by his Cold War record in concluding that US foreign policy would have continued along its imperial, anti-communist path. In Kennedy’s short time in office the United States unleashed many different types of hostility, from attempts to overthrow governments and suppress political movements to assassination attempts against leaders and actual military combat; with one or more of these occurring in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, British Guiana, Iraq, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba and Brazil...

Friday, February 07, 2014

The Fake Benevolent Big Pharma

 Pharmaceutical companies have over taken banking and defence contracting (that’s saying something) for committing the most grievous acts of fraud and theft, getting slapped with the biggest amount of fines totalling 6.6 billion for any industry in 2012. Which in some way is small change in the price of doing business, seeing as the industry in the USA does $325 billion annually turn over in sales.

These corporations are legally bound to maximise profit, not improve the health and well-being of the public .It has been shown time and time again, how these corporations are willing to lie, cover up, delay, litigate, bribe and do whatever they can within, around and outside of the law, to ensure profits keep coming.

Court documents released in October 2008 indicated that GlaxoSmithKline “and/or researchers may have suppressed or obscured suicide risk data during clinical trials” of paroxetine, an anti-depressant they own, which increased suicidal tendencies in teenagers. So lets be clear what happened here, GSK suppressed the data, knowing there was greater probability that teenage boys and girls would die directly from that action, which they did. Placing profits over the life of children.

Why would we be surprised that an industry worth billions of dollars ,driven solely by profit ,ends up peddling lies, committing fraud, misleading the public, promulgating misinformation and generally behaved in despicable  kind of way? Name one industry that is worth billions that isn’t covered head to toe in lies and mistruth? As we  now have an medical industrial complex, where vast fortunes and profits are made from testing ,diagnosing, and treating peoples health .That surely the fact “profit” drives this industry, not peoples health  is worthy of some attention and focus? As how  have we have ended up with a billion dollar industry built for our health, that has a vested interest that people are less healthy than more? That treating symptoms, is more profitable than creating cures. How is it medical errors in hospitals is now the third leading cause of death , after cancer and heart disease, isn’t seen as serious red flag?  How is it, that any of these issues aren’t being seen as serious problem?

It is not conspiracy theory to conclude that if a pharmaceutical company developed cheap cure to an illness, that up until then they were making billions in alleviating  symptoms of the same said illness, that they would not release that cure or more practically, they would not put the time, research and money in finding it in the first place. We don’t need a shadowy cabal and global conspiracy for this to happen, we just need to follow the logic of what happens when profit is the sole objective.

As running parallel to global billion dollar industry of treating “health” is this is gradual concentration of ownership across all spectrums of the corporate landscape, as we witness a fusing of global corporate power. That each of these big industries from defence, property, banking, petro chemical, big agriculture, security, pharmaceutical and media all have stakes in each other. These corporations,  hold no national or political allegiance  and are bound by their universal pursuit of profit. So we can see the majority of the media most people consume, from TV news, to newspapers, radio, cinema ect.  is owned by the same interests,  that own banks, pharmaceutical companies, defence contractors, large agriculture etc… Given their shared ownership or mutual drive for profit, do you think we are going to be told and informed  by the mainstream media of anything that’s outside of their broad interest? Therefore the information we are feed, the environments we work in, the food we eat, the good and services we consume ,the structure of political systems, all  end up in service to the enhancement and furthering of  these larger ventures and business interests.

This obsessions and fundamentalism toward growth and profit not only corrupts healthcare outcomes but  most facets of society .The result of this across board focus on profit first ,is a legacy of societal dysfunction that manifests as of crime, job dissatisfaction, unemployment, poverty, illness and stress, debt ect..All these social ills are not by chance, they are created purposely and in the end have very easy solutions .It’s not like we don’t have the resources, capacity and intelligence to fix these things. What prevents us, is those with a high concentration of power and money are unwilling to concede any portion of what they have taken, stolen and acquired.  By replacing profit with peoples “wellbeing” at the centre of all innovation, research and treatment, the health industry becomes in service to citizens rather than the shareholders of large corporate interests.

What  would the world look like without being awash with guns, bombs and so many means of destruction? What would life look like without financial  debt? What would the world be like knowing our planet is being truly stewarded for future generations?   Yet none of this solutions to the world problem are seriously discussed and explored for the simple reason they take money and power from those with all the money and power, it’s really that simple. Unless we address that bigger picture, these issues will never get solved, they will just change in name, and other versions pop up elsewhere and on it goes. Radically fucked up problems warrant, radical solutions, radical questions and for sure, radical answers.

From Things That Matter website