A Third of All Birds Have Disappeared From the US and Canada Since 1970

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American and Canadian bird populations have decreased 29% in the last 50 years, finds a study just published by Cornell University researchers in the journal Science.

All together, the population is down by 2.9 billion breeding adult birds.

Researchers day the losses are driven primarily by habitat loss.

A billion of those birds formerly lived in forests, and 700 million in grasslands.

More than 90 percent of the losses come from  12 commonly known bird species, including sparrows, blackbirds, warblers and finches.

Dark-eyed juncos (little gray snowbirds) and meadowlarks were among the hardest hit, with 160 million and 130 million lost respectively.

“It’s a strong signal that our human-altered landscapes are losing their ability to support birdlife,” said Ken Rosenberg, lead author and conservation scientist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in a press release.

“And that is an indicator of a coming collapse of the overall environment.”

“It’s telling us that our environment is not healthy. Not for birds, and probably also not for humans.” […]

via A Third of All Birds Have Disappeared From the US and Canada Since 1970 — Return to Now

Regenerative Agriculture: Farmer Makes Farm Prosper with Age Old Soil-Saving Technique

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This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Katharine Rooney, Senior Writer, Formative Content


Our soil is under threat.

It’s estimated that we’ve got just 60 years of topsoil left, with 24 billion tons of fertile soil lost every year.

With most of the food on our plate dependant on soil, its declining health is a major issue.

[…]

On his own North Dakota ranch, Brown started encouraging cover crops and avoiding tilling were he could – and has seen a boost in soil health. Farming in this way comes big benefits too – regenerative agriculture could deliver up to $1.4 trillion in increased crop production, without using any more land.

Failure to act isn’t just bad news for our food system, though. Loss of topsoil leads to more wildfires, droughts and floods – and accelerates climate change.

The 5 principles

As a result, Brown has developed 5 principles to mitigate the loss of top soil.

1. Minimise mechanical or chemical disturbance

2. Armour the soil

3. Promote diversity

4. Leave living roots in the soil

5. Use animals as nature intended

[…]

via This farmer used an age-old technique to save his soil and now his farm is prospering — The European Sting – Critical News & Insights on European Politics, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Business & Technology – europeansting.com

Freedom in Sight for Mumia Abu-Jamal?

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Prison Radio | September 16, 2019

Freedom is now in sight. New evidence, recently found, and suppressed for decades could be the key to relief for Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Joe McGill and Ed Rendell, trial prosecutor and DA, respectively, manipulated evidence and framed Mumia Abu-Jamal for first degree murder in 1982.

Six boxes of undisclosed case files labeled “Mumia Abu-Jamal” were found in a furniture closet last December by new DA Larry Krasner. Here is the exculpatory “Brady” evidence that was inside:

  • A letter from a witness demanding his money.
  • Memo after memo to and from Joe McGill tracking the open cases of another key witness.
  • Handwritten notes on original files, closely tracking the race of jurors.

Now we know that for 37 years the District Attorney’s office actively lied. They scrubbed clean every single document production, during multiple appeals, for years. It is cliché and almost predictable: evidence “lost” in a storage closet for 37 years by evil absent-minded hoarders.

Make no mistake- this evidence would have directly challenged the only “witnesses” at trial who identified Mumia Abu-Jamal as the shooter of officer Daniel Faulkner on Dec. 9, 1981.

The testimony of these two witnesses was compromised, something the jury was kept from knowing. One witness had as many as 35 prior convictions and 4-5 open cases. Now we know the DA was monitoring those cases very closely asking to be advised when they were in court. The other witness to the shooting was driving a cab on a suspended license and was on probation for throwing a Molotov cocktail into a school for pay. The jury never heard this. This information certainly would have challenged prosecutor Joe McGill’s statement to the jury that they had nothing to gain from lying. Remember this is a jury who asked for re-instruction on the charges and were wavering on a finding of 1stDegree Murder. Remember Albert “I am going to help them they fry the nigger” Sabo, was the judge. And Alfonso “I retired with full pay and was indicted” Giordano, a commander, was the highest ranking officer on the scene that night.

On July 3rd, 1982, this was not an open and shut case. The petition to the Superior Court also raises the reinstated appeal issues from the Castille decision handed down by Judge Tucker. These include claims of improper jury selection (Batson Claims), ineffective assistance of counsel, and errors of law made by the court in previous appeals.

Every time you see Joe McGill in the courtroom or at an FOP event, or you see Ed Rendell at a party or a campaign event, remember this- they were stepping on the scales of justice from the beginning.

Mumia came within 10 days of being executed because of this misconduct. I was there. I got that call from the strip cell. Mumia had nothing but an orange jump suit, a half a sheet of paper and the cartridge of a pen (so he could send another prisoner as a proxy to the law library). Before and after his two death warrants he was held in solitary confinement on death row for decades!

Fast forward to 2017: Common Pleas Court Judge Leon Tucker admonishes the District Attorney to produce all of the requested material from their files. Finally, having no faith in their review, he demands that they deliver all of their files to his chambers. There he found documents revealing the bias of PA Supreme Court Judge Castille that the DA had somehow “missed”  – or willfully suppressed. After all that, in 2018, newly elected DA Larry Krasner* comes across six boxes of original trial material labeled “Mumia Abu-Jamal” in a storage closet. A week later they find hundreds of more boxes in that “storage cavern” […]

*[In April 2019 Krasner withdrew his objection to Mumia’s appeal to the Pennsylvania supreme court: see The Intercept]

via Freedom in Sight for Mumia Abu-Jamal?

Martial Law Masquerading as Law and Order: The Police State’s Language of Force

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By John W. Whitehead | The Rutherford Institute | September 16, 2019

Forget everything you’ve ever been taught about free speech in America.

It’s all a lie.

There can be no free speech for the citizenry when the government speaks in a language of force.

What is this language of force?

Militarized police. Riot squads. Camouflage gear. Black uniforms. Armored vehicles. Mass arrests. Pepper spray. Tear gas. Batons. Strip searches. Surveillance cameras. Kevlar vests. Drones. Lethal weaponsLess-than-lethal weapons unleashed with deadly force. Rubber bullets. Water cannons. Stun grenades. Arrests of journalists. Crowd control tactics. Intimidation tactics. Brutality.

This is not the language of freedom.

This is not even the language of law and order.

Unfortunately, this is how the government at all levels—federal, state and local—now responds to those who choose to exercise their First Amendment right to peacefully assemble in public and challenge the status quo.

Recently, this militarized exercise in intimidation—complete with an armored vehicle and an army of police drones—reared its ugly head in the small town of Dahlonega, Ga., where 600 state and local militarized police clad in full riot gear vastly outnumbered the 50 protesters and 150 counterprotesters who had gathered to voice their approval/disapproval of the Trump administration’s policies.

To be clear, this is the treatment being meted out to protesters across the political spectrum.

The police state does not discriminate.

As a USA Today article notes, “People demanding justice, demanding accountability or demanding basic human rights without resorting to violence, should not be greeted with machine guns and tanks. Peaceful protest is democracy in action. It is a forum for those who feel disempowered or disenfranchised. Protesters should not have to face intimidation by weapons of war.”

A militarized police response to protesters poses a danger to all those involved, protesters and police alike. In fact, militarization makes police more likely to turn to violence to solve problems.

You want to turn a peaceful protest into a riot?

Bring in the militarized police with their guns and black uniforms and warzone tactics and “comply or die” mindset. Ratchet up the tension across the board. Take what should be a healthy exercise in constitutional principles (free speech, assembly and protest) and turn it into a lesson in authoritarianism.

Frankly, any police officer who tells you that he needs tanks, SWAT teams, and pepper spray to do his job shouldn’t be a police officer in a constitutional republic.

Indeed, this is martial law masquerading as law and order.

All that stuff in the First Amendment sounds great in theory. However, it amounts to little more than a hill of beans if you have to exercise those freedoms while facing down an army of police equipped with deadly weapons […]

 

via Martial Law Masquerading as Law and Order: The Police State’s Language of Force

Amazon Jeff Bezos Cuts Health Benefits for Part-Time Whole Foods Workers

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Telesur

Amazon acquired Whole Foods in 2017 for US$13.7 billion and took control of its 460 grocery stores.

Amazon acquired Whole Foods in 2017 for US$13.7 billion and took control of its 460 grocery stores. | Photo: Reuters

RELATED:
Amazon Reduces Whole Food’s Employees Hours, Erasing Minimum Wage Gains

“I am in shock,” said an employee who asked for anonymity to avoid retribution for speaking out, adding that she’s “worked here 15 years. This is why I keep the job—because of my benefits.”

The decision will affect 1,900 of the business’s 95,000 workers, those who work part-time, or around 20 hours a week.

“We are providing team members with resources to find alternative healthcare coverage options, or to explore full-time, healthcare-eligible positions starting at 30 hours per week,” a Whole Foods spokesperson told Business Insider who broke the story.

The move surprised many as owner Jeff Bezos, the richest man in modern history whose net worth just crossed the US$150 billion mark, and other several tech CEOs signed a pledge committing to invest in their employees and support the communities they operate in.

“Each of our stakeholders is essential,” the pledge read. “We commit to deliver value to all of them, for the future success of our companies, our communities, and our country.”

Yet deteriorating labor conditions are not new for Bezos’ companies.

In March 2019, following public pressure, Amazon raised its minimum wage to US$15 an hour, a decision that was expected to improve the lives of workers by giving them livable wages. However, at Whole Foods, the benefits of that decision were counteracted with other tactics aimed at maintaining high levels of corporate profitability.

“My [working] hours went from 30 to 20 a week,” a Whole Foods part-time employee told The Guardian back in March, which reported that full-time employees decreased their average weekly working term from 37.5 to 34.5 hours. Now, these workers will have their health benefits slashed as well.

In November of 2017, Amazon acquired Whole Foods for US$13.7 billion and took control of its 460 grocery stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

“The Whole Foods decision is not just hypocritical of Bezos, but also proves why workers should never put too much trust in kind words from CEOs and instead push for lasting changes to uphold their interests and those of their coworkers,” Business Insider columnist Bob Bryan wrote.

via Amazon Jeff Bezos Cuts Health Benefits for Part-Time Whole Foods Workers

Green-smearing – from Nicaragua to Bolivia

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By Stephen Sefton | September 11, 2019

A fundamental dimension of contemporary psychological warfare has been dual-purpose corporate co-option of non-governmental organizations. In that psy-warfare dimension, NGOs serve both as disinformation partners with Western news media and too as false interlocutors in international forums and institutions, where they attack governments challenging the US elites and their allies. They actively subvert governments inside countries challenging the West, for example, in Latin America, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia. But they also pervert due process in institutions like the UN, posing as civil society but in fact serving Western elite corporate imperatives, for example in international human rights and environmental mechanisms and forums.

Among these NGOs figure high profile human rights organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Federation for Human Rights and Avaaz along with environmental organizations from 350.org and the World Resource Institute to Global Witness and Greenpeace. An increasing interrelationship has developed between corporate NGO funding and the exploitation of people’s general willingness to volunteer for and support apparently good causes. Symbolic of this is the way World Economic Forum attendees like Kumi Naidoo move readily between top management from one NGO to another, in Naidoo’s case from Greenpeace to Amnesty International. From Libya and Syria to Venezuela and Nicaragua, Amnesty International has played a key role using false reports to demonize governments resisting the US and its allies.

As Cory Morningstar has pointed out, Greenpeace is a key player in promoting the corporate driven New Deal for Nature aimed at financializing what remains of the natural world, especially its biodiversity, as a way of engineering a “Fourth Industrial Revolution”. [See See Saving the Earth or Saving Capitalism: The Inconvenient Truth Behind Today’s Youth Climate Campaigns]

Western corporate greed underlies the identical patterns of news media and NGO misrepresentation and outright deceit supporting regime change offensives against Libya and Syria, or Venezuela and Nicaragua. Right now, that very same pattern of media and NGO manipulation is clearly at work preparing for an intervention to prevent Evo Morales being re-elected as President of Bolivia.

Bruno Sgarzini and Wyatt Reed have noted how Western media and NGOs have falsely attacked Evo Morales blaming him for not controlling the fires in Bolivia’s Amazon. This is exactly what happened in Nicaragua immediately prior to the coup attempt in 2018 when the Nicaraguan authorities were fighting a fire in the Indio Maíz Biological Reserve. That episode softened up Nicaraguan public opinion and set in motion social media networks involving thousands of youth activists trained for that purpose beforehand over several years with US and also European government funding. In mid-April 2018, barely a week after the Indio Maiz fire was extinguished, those networks launched a social media blitzkrieg of lies and inventions marking the start of the actual coup attempt. A practically identical process is well under way now in Bolivia, which holds presidential elections next October 20th […]

via Green-smearing – from Nicaragua to Bolivia

Trump Move To Undo Bolton’s Arrogant Mistakes, Considers $15 billion Credit Loan To Iran

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Trump Flirts With $15 Billion Bailout for Iran, Sources Say


Trump says he hates the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran. But he’s toying with a French proposal to get the Iranians to comply with it: a $15 billion line of credit to Tehran.

NICHOLAS KAMM

President Donald Trump has left the impression with foreign officials, members of his administration, and others involved in Iranian negotiations that he is actively considering a French plan to extend a $15 billion credit line to the Iranians if Tehran comes back into compliance with the Obama-era nuclear deal.

Trump has in recent weeks shown openness to entertaining President Emmanuel Macron’s plan, according to four sources with knowledge of Trump’s conversations with the French leader. Two of those sources said that State Department officials, including Secretary Mike Pompeo, are also open to weighing the French proposal, in which the Paris government would effectively ease the economic sanctions regime that the Trump administration has applied on Tehran for more than a year.

The deal put forward by France would compensate Iran for oil sales disrupted by American sanctions. A large portion of Iran’s economy relies on cash from oil sales. Most of that money is frozen in bank accounts across the globe. The $15 billion credit line would be guaranteed by Iranian oil. In exchange for the cash, Iran would have to come back into compliance with the nuclear accord it signed with the world’s major powers in 2015. Tehran would also have to agree not to threaten the security of the Persian Gulf or to impede maritime navigation in the area. Lastly, Tehran would have to commit to regional Middle East talks in the future.

While Trump has been skeptical of helping Iran without preconditions in public, the president has at least hinted at an openness to considering Macron’s pitch for placating the Iranian government—a move intended to help bring the Iranians to the negotiating table and to rescue the nuclear agreement that Trump and his former national security adviser John Bolton worked so hard to torpedo.

At the G7 meeting in Biarritz, France last month, Trump told reporters that Iran might need a “short-term letter of credit or loan” that could “get them over a very rough patch.”

Iranian Prime Minister Javad Zarif made a surprise appearance at that meeting. To Robert Malley, who worked on Iran policy during the Obama administration, that visit indicated that “Trump must have signaled openness to Macron’s idea, otherwise Zarif would not have flown to Biarritz at the last minute.”

“Clearly, Trump responded to Macron in a way that gave the French president a reason to invite Zarif, and Zarif a reason to come,” he said.

The French proposal would require the Trump administration to issue waivers on Iranian sanctions. That would be a major departure from the Trump administration’s so-called “maximum pressure” campaign to exact financial punishments on the regime in Tehran. Ironically, during his time in office, President Barack Obama followed a not-dissimilar approach to bring the Iranians to the negotiating table, throttling Iran’s economy with sanctions before pledging relief for talks. The negotiations resulted in the Iran nuke deal that President Trump called “rotten”—and pulled the U.S. out of during his first term.

Trump’s flirtations with—if not outright enthusiasm toward—chummily sitting down with foreign dictators and America’s geopolitical foes are largely driven by his desire for historic photo ops and to be seen as the dealmaker-in-chief. It’s a desire so strong that it can motivate him to upturn years of his own administration’s policymaking and messaging.

And while President Trump has not agreed to anything yet, he did signal a willingness to cooperate on such a proposal at various times throughout the last month, including at the G7 meeting in Biarritz, France, according to four sources with knowledge of the president’s conversations about the deal.

Several sources told The Daily Beast that foreign officials are expecting Trump to either agree to cooperate on the French deal or to offer to ease some sanctions on Tehran. Meanwhile, President Trump is also considering meeting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in September […]

via Trump Move To Undo Bolton’s Arrogant Mistakes, Considers $15 billion Credit Loan To Iran