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Monday, 27 April 2015

Turning America into a battlefield: A blueprint for locking down the nation

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.—President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961

A standing army—something that propelled the early colonists into revolution—strips the American people of any vestige of freedom. How can there be any semblance of freedom when there are tanks in the streets, military encampments in cities, Blackhawk helicopters and armed drones patrolling overhead?

It was for this reason that those who established America vested control of the military in a civilian government, with a civilian commander-in-chief. They did not want a military government, ruled by force. Rather, they opted for a republic bound by the rule of law: the U.S. Constitution.

Unfortunately, with the Constitution under constant attack, the military's power, influence and authority have grown dramatically. Even the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which makes it a crime for the government to use the military to carry out arrests, searches, seizure of evidence and other activities normally handled by a civilian police force, has been weakened by both Barack Obama and George W. Bush, who ushered in exemptions allowing troops to deploy domestically and arrest civilians in the wake of alleged terrorist acts.

Now we find ourselves struggling to retain some semblance of freedom in the face of police and law enforcement agencies that look and act like the military and have just as little regard for the Fourth Amendment, laws such as the NDAA that allow the military to arrest and indefinitely detain American citizens, and military drills that acclimate the American people to the sight of armored tanks in the streets, military encampments in cities, and combat aircraft patrolling overhead.

Making matters worse, we find out that the military plans to use southwestern states as staging grounds for guerilla warfare drills in which highly-trained military troops equipped with all manner of weapons turn American towns and cities in quasi-battlefields. Why? As they tell us, it's so that special operations forces can get "realistic military training" in "hostile" territory.

They've even got a name for the exercise: Jade Helm 15.

Whether or not Americans have anything to fear from Jade Helm 15, a covert, multi-agency, multi-state, eight-week military training exercise set to take place this summer from July 15 through Sept. 15, remains to be seen.

Insisting that there's nothing to be alarmed about, the Washington Post took great pains to point out that these military exercises on American soil are nothing new. For instance, there was Operation Bold Alligator, in which in which thousands of Marines and sailors carried out amphibious exercises against "insurgent" forces in Georgia and Florida. Operation Robin Sage had Green Beret soldiers engaging in guerrilla warfare in North Carolina. And Operation Derna Bridge sends Marine special forces into parts of South Carolina and the National Forest.

Yet if Americans are uneasy about this summer's planned Jade Helm 15 military exercises, they have every right to be.

After all, haven't we been urged time and time again to just "trust" the government to respect our rights and abide by the rule of law only to find that, in fact, our rights were being plundered and the Constitution disregarded at every turn?

Let's assume, for the moment, that Jade Helm 15 is not a thinly veiled military plot to take over the country lifted straight out of director John Frankenheimer's 1964 political thriller Seven Days in May, as some fear, but is merely a "routine" exercise for troops, albeit a blatantly intimidating flexing of the military's muscles.

The problem arises when you start to add Jade Helm onto the list of other troubling developments that have taken place over the past 30 years or more: the expansion of the military industrial complex and its influence in Washington DC, the rampant surveillance, the corporate-funded elections and revolving door between lobbyists and elected officials, the militarized police, the loss of our freedoms, the injustice of the courts, the privatized prisons, the school lockdowns, the roadside strip searches, the military drills on domestic soil, the fusion centers and the simultaneous fusing of every branch of law enforcement (federal, state and local), the stockpiling of ammunition by various government agencies, the active shooter drills that are indistinguishable from actual crises, the economy flirting with near collapse, etc.

Suddenly, the overall picture seems that much more sinister. Clearly, as I point out in my new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, there's a larger agenda at work here.

Seven years ago, the U.S. Army War College issued a report calling on the military to be prepared should they need to put down civil unrest within the country. Summarizing the report, investigative journalist Chris Hedges declared, "The military must be prepared, the document warned, for a 'violent, strategic dislocation inside the United States,' which could be provoked by 'unforeseen economic collapse,' 'purposeful domestic resistance,' 'pervasive public health emergencies' or 'loss of functioning political and legal order.' The 'widespread civil violence,' the document said, 'would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security.'"

At what point will all of the government's carefully drawn plans for dealing with civil unrest, "homegrown" terrorism and targeting pre-crime become a unified blueprint for locking down the nation?

For instance, what's the rationale behind turning government agencies into military outposts? There has been a notable buildup in recent years of SWAT teams within non-security-related federal agencies such as Department of Agriculture, the Railroad Retirement Board, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Office of Personnel Management, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Education Department. As of 2008, "73 federal law enforcement agencies... [employ] approximately 120,000 armed full-time on-duty officers with arrest authority." Four-fifths of those officers are under the command of either the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or the Department of Justice.

What's with all of the government agencies stockpiling hollow point bullets? For example, why does the Department of Agriculture need .40 caliber semiautomatic submachine guns and 320,000 rounds of hollow point bullets? For that matter, why do its agents need ballistic vests and body armor?

Why does the Postal Service need "assorted small arms ammunition"? Why did the DHS purchase "1.6 billion rounds of hollow-point ammunition, along with 7,000 fully-automatic 5.56x45mm NATO 'personal defense weapons' plus a huge stash of 30-round high-capacity magazines"? That's in addition to the FBI's request for 100 million hollow-point rounds. The Department of Education, IRS, the Social Security Administration, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees the National Weather Service, are also among the federal agencies which have taken to purchasing ammunition and weaponry in bulk.

Why is the federal government distributing obscene amounts of military equipment, weapons and ammunition to police departments around the country? And why is DHS acquiring more than 2,500 Mine-Resistant Armored Protection (MRAP) vehicles, only to pass them around to local police departments across the country? According to the New York Times:

[A]s President Obama ushers in the end of what he called America's "long season of war," the former tools of combat — M-16 rifles, grenade launchers, silencers and more — are ending up in local police departments, often with little public notice. During the Obama administration, according to Pentagon data, police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft. The equipment has been added to the armories of police departments that already look and act like military units.

Why is the military partnering with local police to conduct training drills around the country? And what exactly are they training for? In Richland, South Carolina, for instance, U.S. army special forces participated in joint and secretive exercises and training with local deputies. The public was disallowed from obtaining any information about the purpose of the drills, other than being told that they might be loud and to not be alarmed. The Army and DHS also carried out similar drills and maneuvers involving Black Hawk helicopters in Texas, Florida, and other locations throughout the U.S., ostensibly in order to provide local police with "realistic" urban training.

What is being done to protect the American populace from the threat of military arms and forces, including unarmed drones, being used against them? Policy analysts point to Directive No. 3025.18, "Defense Support of Civil Authorities" (issued on Dec. 29, 2010), as justification for the government's use of military force to put down civil unrest within the United States.

Why is FEMA stockpiling massive quantities of emergency supplies? On January 10, 2014, FEMA made a statement enlisting the service of contractors who could "supply medical biohazard disposal capabilities and 40 yard dumpsters to 1,000 tent hospitals across the United States; all required on 24-48 hour notice." This coincides with other medical requests seeking massive amounts of supplies, such as "31,000,000 flu vaccinations," "100,000 each of winter shirts and pants and the same for summer" and other goods and services requests as well like tarps, manufactured housing units, and beverages. And why does the TSA need $21,000 worth of potassium chlorate, a chemical compound often used in explosives?

Why is the Pentagon continuing to purchase mass amounts of ammunition while at the same time preparing to destroy more than $1 billion worth of bullets and missiles that are still viable?

Moreover, what is really being done to hold the Pentagon accountable for its doctored ledgers, fraud, waste and mismanagement, which has cost the taxpayer trillions of dollars? According to Reuters, "The Pentagon is the only federal agency that has not complied with a law that requires annual audits of all government departments. That means that the $8.5 trillion in taxpayer money doled out by Congress to the Pentagon since 1996, the first year it was supposed to be audited, has never been accounted for. That sum exceeds the value of China's economic output."

Given the similarities between the government's Live Active Shooter Drill training exercises, carried out at schools, in shopping malls, and on public transit, which can and do fool law enforcement officials, students, teachers and bystanders into thinking it's a real crisis, how much of what is being passed off as real is, in fact, being staged by DHS for the "benefit" of training law enforcement, leaving us none the wiser? These training exercises come complete with their own set of professionally trained Crisis Actors playing the parts of shooters, bystanders and victims in order to help schools and first responders create realistic drills, full-scale exercises, high-fidelity simulations, and interactive 3D films.

Given that Americans are 110 times more likely to die of foodborne illness than in a terrorist attack, why is the government spending trillions of dollars on "national security"? How exactly is the $75 billion given to various intelligence agencies annually to keep us "safe" being spent? And why is the DHS giving away millions of dollars' worth of federal security grants to states that federal intelligence agencies ruled have "no specific foreign or domestic terrorism threat"?

Why is the government amassing names and information on Americans considered to be threats to the nation, and what criteria is the government using for this database? Keep in mind that this personal information is being acquired and kept without warrant or court order. It's been suggested that in the event of nuclear war, the destruction of the U.S. Government, and the declaration of martial law, this Main Core database, which as of 2008 contained some 8 million names of Americans, would be used by military officials to locate and round up Americans seen as threats to national security, a program to be carried about by the Army and FEMA.

Taken individually, these questions are alarming enough. But put them together and they add up to the kind of trouble that the American founding fathers not only warned against but from which they fought to free themselves.

Indeed, when viewed collectively, they leave one wondering what exactly the U.S. government is preparing for and whether American citizens shouldn't be preparing, as well, for that eventuality when our so-called "government of the people, by the people, for the people" is no longer answerable to "we the people."

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Shell directs EU institutions in renewable energy farce


© Reuters / Arnd Wiegmann

Energy giant Shell lobbied to have renewable energy targets reduced in the run up to an EU-wide agreement on curbing carbon emissions, new documents reveal.

The agreement in question was brokered by EU states in October 2014 at the 2030 climate talks.

After the deal was announced, then-European Commission (EC) president, Jose Manuel Barroso, said it signaled real progress for the fight against climate change.

However, documents released to the under Freedom of Information (FoI) indicate a core section of the deal was put forward by a Shell lobbyist as early as 2011.

As the 2030 climate talks came to a close, EU leaders finally backed a 40 percent overall target for the bloc's cuts to emissions.

Throughout the course of negotiations, member states differed on how they felt emissions could be curbed. Britain and other leading EU states resisted the prospect of binding targets for individual states on renewable energy and energy efficiency and the proposal was scrapped from the deal.

But renewable energy advocates say this marked a missed opportunity to show global investors that the EU embraces clean energy.

Lobbying, power and influence

Shell is the sixth biggest lobbyist in the Belgian capital, allocating €4.25-4.5 million each year to lobbying ley EU institutions.

Excluding Washington, Brussels is reputed to have the greatest number of lobbyists in the world. More than two thirds of these policy brokers represent corporate and banking interests.

According to documents seen by the , Shell lobbied ex-European Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso, in November 2014 to scrap the EU's existing program for linking its carbon-slashing goals with binding renewable energy laws.

Shell favored Europe's embrace of an economy focused on low carbon usage rather than renewable energy usage. It stressed a market-driven plan of gas expansion could free up a total of €500bn (£358bn) for Europe as it transitions to a low carbon economy.

"Gas is good for Europe, and Europe is good at gas," the firm's upstream executive director Malcolm Brinded wrote in a letter to Barroso.

"Shell believes the EU should focus on reduction of greenhouse gases as the unique climate objective after 2020, and allow the market to identify the most cost efficient way to deliver this target, thus preserving competitiveness of industry," the five page letter said.

Brinded also stressed the importance of "protecting employment and consumer buying power" in a bid to increase economic growth.

Participants in the 2030 climate talks told the Shell was the first lobbyist to push for a single target in Brussels, and its drive gave the concept momentum.

"Shell has a lot of clout in the UK, where they are very active in the policy debate," a source close to the lobbying discussions told the .

"That is partly because the UK likes to have companies saying what the UK government wants to hear."

The energy giant's 'single target' idea gathered considerable traction, particularly among advocates of nuclear power and shale gas. It subsequently became a cornerstone position of the UK government in talks between the Britain's Treasury and the Department of Energy and Climate Change in mid-2013.

The concept was later floated by Britain during schedule 2030 climate talks, with other EU states lending support.

It was then incorporated into the final inter-state agreement last October.

Chinese Honor Guard arrives in Moscow for the first time ever to participate in Victory Day parade

© AFP 2015/ Frederic J. Brown

The Chinese army's Honor Guard has arrived in Moscow for the first time ever in what the country's ambassador calls a new stage in inter-military ties.

The Chinese army's Honor Guard arrived in Moscow on Saturday to participate in the May 9 Victory Day parade.

This is the first time that China is sending its Honor Guard to take part in a parade on Red Square. The 110 Guards of Honor are based in Beijing's Capital Garrison and report directly to the Chinese General Staff.

"This is an important event for inter-army exchange between Russia and China this year, and will assist in making the two countries' inter-military cooperation enter a new stage of development," China's Ambassador to Russia Li Hui previously told Xinhua.

Ambassador Li added that the guard's arrival shows the high level of strategic cooperation between Russia and China, as well as the peculiar character of their relationship.

Ten countries have so far announced that they will have their military participate in the May 9 parade, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

War veterans from the former Soviet Union as well as other countries will also take part in the parade.


Iran seeks nuclear-free Middle East and insists Israel 'give up the bomb'


© Reuters / Mike Segar

Iran has demanded that Israel give up its "nuclear weapons", as it spoke on behalf of the 120-nation Non-Aligned Movement. Iran's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif said the bloc also wants a nuclear free-zone in the Middle East.

Mohammad Javad Zarif was speaking at the United Nations for the non-aligned group of countries. Israel has never admitted or denied the widespread assumption it has nuclear weapons. However, Zarif says Israel's assumed nuclear arsenal was a threat to regional security.

The Iranian Foreign Minister said the non-aligned movement regards Israel's nuclear program as, "a serious and continuing threat to the security of neighboring and other states, and condemned Israel for continuing to develop and stockpile nuclear arsenals," according to Reuters.

Israel has not signed up to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), though it has sent an observer to the month long conference for the first time in 20 years.

Zarif added that the non-aligned bloc are looking to create a nuclear free-zone in the Middle East "as a matter of high priority," which will only be possible, if Israel abandons its nuclear stockpile.

"Israel, [is] the only one in the region that has neither joined the NPT nor declared its intention to do so, (...) renounce possession of nuclear weapons," cited Zarif as saying.

The plan to create a nuclear free Middle East was agreed at the previous conference in 2010, but steps were never taken to ensure it was enforced.

Iran has been accused on numerous occasions by the West of trying to develop a nuclear weapon, a charge that Tehran has repeatedly denied. The country says its nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes. Iran recently agreed on a framework deal concerning its nuclear interests with the P5+1 group in Switzerland, which would pave the way for it to be finalized in the summer.

However, Israel was highly critical of the move. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that it "would not block Iran's path to the bomb. It would pave it."

During the conference, Tehran also demanded that countries who possessed nuclear weapons should not seek to modernize their weapons stockpiles.

"We call upon the nuclear-weapon states to immediately cease their plans to further invest in modernizing and extending the life span of their nuclear weapons and related facilities," Zarif said.


© Reuters / IRNA / Mohammad
Bushehr nuclear power plant.

The head of the UN, Ban Ki-moon singled out the US and Russia for criticism for failing to advance their nuclear disarmament. He added this was a setback that marked a return to a Cold War mindset.

He added that a nuclear free world was a "historic imperative of our time."

"I am deeply concerned that over the last five years this process seems to have stalled," the UN leader said, reported.

The NPT came into force in 1970 and has seen a drastic cut in the number of nuclear weapons. However, UN officials believe that more can be done to reduce these stockpiles further.

Thimerosal: Let the science speak


© ageofautism.com

The common canard that U.S. autism rates rose after drug makers removed most thimerosal from pediatric vaccines is wrong.

I am pro vaccine. I had all of my six children vaccinated. I believe that vaccines save millions of lives. So let me explain why I oppose the current wave of state legislation to remove parents' right to choose whether to give their children particular vaccines.

Vaccines are big business. Pharma is a trillion dollar industry (1) with vaccines accounting for $25 billion in annual sales. (2) CDC's decision to add a vaccine to the schedule can guarantee its manufacturer millions of customers and billions in revenue (3) with minimal advertising or marketing costs and complete immunity from lawsuits. High stakes and the seamless marriage between Big Pharma and government agencies have spawned an opaque and crooked regulatory system. Merck, one of America's leading vaccine outfits, is currently under criminal investigation for fraudulently deceiving FDA regulators about the effectiveness of its MMR vaccine. Two whistleblowers say Merck ginned up sham studies to maintain Merck's MMR monopoly. (4)

Big money has fueled the exponential expansion of CDC's vaccine schedule since 1988, when Congress' grant of immunity from lawsuits (5) suddenly transformed vaccines into pay dirt. CDC recommended five pediatric vaccines when I was a boy in 1954. Today's children cannot attend school without at least 56 doses of 14 vaccines by the time they're 18. (6)

An insatiable pharmaceutical industry has 271 new vaccines under development in CDC's bureaucratic pipeline (7) in hopes of boosting vaccine revenues to $100 billion by 2025.(8) The industry's principle spokesperson, Dr. Paul Offit, says that he believes children can take as many as 10,000 vaccines. (9)

Public health may not be the sole driver of CDC decisions to mandate new vaccines. Four scathing federal studies by Congress, (10) the US Senate, (11) the HHS Inspector General, (12) and the HHS Office of Research Integrity, (13) paint CDC as a cesspool of corruption, mismanagement and dysfunction with alarming conflicts of interest suborning its research, regulatory and policymaking functions. CDC rules allow vaccine industry profiteers like Dr. Offit to serve on advisory boards that add new vaccines to the schedule. In a typical example, Offit in 1999 sat on the CDC's vaccine advisory committee and voted to add the rotavirus vaccine to CDC's schedule paving the way for him to make a fortune on his own rotavirus vaccine. (14) Offit and his business partners sold the royalties to his rotavirus vaccine patent to Merck in 2006 for $182 million. (15) Offit told Newsweek, "It was like winning the lottery!" (16)A 2009 HHS Inspector General's report found that as many as 97% of the individuals who sit on the CDC advisory boards that approve vaccines may have similar conflicts. In addition to lucrative business partnerships with Merck, Offit holds a $1.5 million research chair, funded by Merck, at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia. (17) From this industry sinecure, he broadcasts vaccine industry propaganda and annually publishes books urging unlimited vaccinations and vilifying safe-vaccine advocates. (18) (19)

The corruption has also poisoned CDC's immunization safety office, the research arm that tests vaccines for safety and efficacy. In August 2014, seventeen year CDC veteran, Dr. William Thompson, who is author of the principal study cited by CDC to exculpate mercury preserved vaccines from the autism link, invoked whistleblower protection, and turned extensive agency files over to Congress. (20) Thompson, who is still employed at CDC, says that for the past decade his superiors have pressured him and his fellow scientists to lie and manipulate data about the safety of the mercury based preservative, thimerosal, to conceal its causative link to a suite of brain injuries, including autism. (21) (22)

Thimerosal is 50% ethylmercury which is far more toxic and persistent in the brain than the highly regulated methylmercury in fish. (23) Hundreds of peer reviewed studies by leading government and university scientists show that thimerosal, is a devastating brain poison linked to neurological disorders now epidemic in American children. My book, Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak, (24) is a summary of these studies, (25) which CDC and its credulous journalists swear don't exist. Although Thompson's CDC and vaccine industry colleagues have created nine patently fraudulent and thoroughly discredited epidemiological studies to defend thimerosal, no published study shows thimerosal to be safe. (26)

The common canard that US autism rates rose after drug makers removed most thimerosal from pediatric vaccines in 2003 is wrong. That same year, CDC added flu shots containing massive doses of thimerosal to the pediatric schedule. (27) As a result, children today can get nearly as much mercury exposure as children did from all pediatric vaccines combined in the decade prior to 2003. (28) Worse, thimerosal, for the first time, is being given to pregnant women in flu shots. (29) Furthermore, CDC's current autism numbers are for children born in 2002, when kids were still getting thimerosal in their pediatric vaccines. The best science suggests that thimerosal's complete removal from vaccines is likely to prompt a significant decline in autism. For example, a 2013 CDC study in JAMA Pediatrics shows a 33% drop in autism spectrum disorder in Denmark following the 1992 removal of thimerosal from Danish vaccines. (30) That paper is among 37 peer reviewed studies linking thimerosal to the autism epidemic. (31)

Thimerosal has precipitated a journalistic as well as a public health crisis. Big Pharma pumps over $3.5 billion annually into TV, newspapers and other advertising, targeting news departments, which have become vehicles for pharmaceutical sales and propaganda platforms for the industry. Television and print outlets feature spokespeople like Dr. Offit - without identifying their industry ties - while censoring criticisms of vaccine safety and excluding the voices of informed vaccine safety advocates. Busy journalists parrot the deceptive talking points dispensed by government and pharma officials rather than reading the science themselves. Unable to argue the science, they bully, pillory and demonize vaccine safety advocates as "anti-vax", "anti-science" and far worse. The unwillingness of the press to scrutinize CDC has emboldened both industry and agency to follow the lowest paths of easy profit and bureaucratic preservation.

The measles scare was classic disaster capitalism with media outlets dutifully stoking public hysteria on editorial pages and throughout the 24 hour broadcast cycle. With Dr. Offit leading the charge, CDC, drug makers and industry funded front groups parlayed a garden variety annual measles outbreak into a national tidal wave of state legislation to ban religious and philosophical vaccine exemptions. The national media frenzy over 159 measles cases (32) left little room for attention to the the autism cataclysm which has debilitated 1 million American children since the pandemic began in 1989, (33) with 27,000 new cases annually. CDC refuses to call autism an "epidemic". In defiance of hard science, and common sense, CDC and Offit have launched a denial campaign to gull reporters into believing the autism plague is an illusion created by better diagnosis. (34) (35) (36)

Big Pharma is among the nation's largest political donors giving $31 million last year to national political candidates. (37) It spends more on political lobbying than any other industry, $3.0 billion from 1998 to 2014 (38) - double the amount spent by oil and gas and four times as much as defense and aerospace lobbyists. (39) By February, state legislators in 36 states were pushing through over one hundred new laws to end philosophical and religious vaccine exemptions. Many of those state lawmakers are also on the industry payroll. (40) You can see how much money bill sponsors from your state took from Big Pharma on here.

Normally plaintiffs' tort lawyers would provide a powerful check and balance to keep vaccines safe and effective and regulators and policymakers honest. But Pharma's dirty money has brought the industry immunity from lawsuits for vaccine injury no matter how dangerous the product. An obliging Congress disposed of the Seventh Amendment right to jury trial making it impossible for vaccine injured plaintiffs to sue pharmaceutical companies for selling unsafe vaccines. (41) That's right! No Class Actions. No discovery. No depositions and little financial incentive for the industry to make vaccines safer.

Vaccine industry money has neutralized virtually all of the checks and balances that once stood between a rapacious pharmaceutical industry and our children. With the research, regulatory and policymaking agencies captured, the courts closed to the public, the lawyers disarmed, the politicians on retainer and the media subverted, there is no one left to stand between a greedy industry and vulnerable children, except parents. Now Big Pharma's game plan is to remove parental informed consent rights from that equation and force vaccine hesitant parents to inject their children with potentially risky vaccines which the Supreme Court has called "unavoidably unsafe". (42)

Ending exemptions is premature until we have a functioning regulatory agency and a transparent process. The best way to insure full vaccine coverage is for the vaccine program to win back public trust by ending its corrupt financial ties with a profit-making industry.

To educate yourselves about CDC corruption and the truth about vaccine science, download the movie Trace Amounts (43) and insist your legislators watch it before voting on any of these bills.





4.huffingtonpost.ca (An article detailing whistleblower allegations that they were forced to lie about the efficacy of the mumps vaccine in Merck's MMR-II formulation)

5.hrsa.gov [PDF] (This is the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act which granted legal immunity to vaccine manufacturers)

6.http://1.usa.gov/1z7zIR5 (Current ACIP recommended vaccine schedule for infants, children and adolescents through age 18)






12.oig.hhs.gov[PDF] (97% of CDC officials on vaccine committees have corrupting financial entanglements and conflicts of interest).


14.medicalveritas.com [PDF]




18.vec.chop.edu (This reference includes a list of the books that Dr. Offit has published)

19.paul-offit.com(This reference includes the articles and opinion pieces that Dr. Offit has penned)

20.morganverkamp.com (This statement, made directly by Dr. William Thompson, includes an admission that CDC researchers intentionally hid a link between the MMR vaccine and autism)

21.ringoffireradio.com (This opinion piece by RKF Jr. includes admissions by Dr. William Thompson that the CDC forced him to lie regarding vaccine safety in light of the autism epidemic)

22.youtube.com (This video includes direct statements made by Dr. William Thompson regarding malfeaseance at the CDC)


24.http://bit.ly/1z7zGsn (Link to the book, Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak)

25. safeminds.org/ [PDF] (A list of 74 peer reviewed studies, compiled by Ms. Lyn Redwood, regarding the dangers of thimerosal)

26. Methodological Issues and Evidence of Malfeasance in Research Purporting to Show Thimerosal in Vaccines is Safe, Dr. Brian Hooker et al. 2014. hindawi.com (Critique of six epidemological studies cited by CDC to exculpate thimerosal)

27.cdc.gov (This article details the recommendations made by the ACIP in 2003 for the annual pediatric flu shot)

28.nvic.org (This article includes details the total level of mercury exposure prior to and after the addition of the flu shot to the pediatric and maternal schedule)


30.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov (See Table 3 which shows a 1.5% autism spectrum disorder prevalence in 1994 dropping to 1% in 2004).

31.focusforhealth.org [PDF] (37 studies linking thimerosal to autism, Dr. Brian S. Hooker, 2015)


33.all.org [PDF] (This EPA study calls 1989 the "gateway year" for the upturn in autism cases in the U.S. and the beginning of the autism epidemic).

34.oxfordjournals.org (In this research paper, Offit and his coauthor, Jeffrey Gerber, claim that increases in autism are "likely driven by broadened diagnostic criteria and increased awareness")

35.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov (In contrast to the unsupported statement by Gerber and Offit, this paper from the UC Davis MIND Institute shows true increases in autism levels, far beyond that possible through "broadening diagnostic criteria and increased awareness")

36.thimerosalbook.com (Thimerosal, Let the Science Speak, pp. 19-20, details the dramatic rise in autism incidence in the U.S. starting in 1989)




maplight.org (This link gives an example of industry donations to state lawmakers, i.e., the campaign funding profile of Dr. Richard Pan, a state senator who is heavily supported by the health care industry and is leading the charge to remove parental vaccine consent rights in California)

41.hrsa.gov [PDF]

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Huge eagle owl nails landing on Dutch woman's head

© YouTube screengrab
An eagle owl lands on the head of a Dutch woman.

A friendly and precise Eurasian Eagle-owl is catching the fancy of bird lovers in the Netherlands as it routinely lands on people's heads.

The owl was first filmed landing on the head of Marianne in Noordeinde. Her husband captured the whole event, with the huge owl swooping down on her.

Marianne had the foresight to put up her hood and the owl perched on her head for about 30 seconds before flying off.

From the couple's YouTube page: "Tonight I went to the Eagle Owl in Noordeinde while shooting landed the Eagle Owl with Marianne on the head. The dear animal is totally not aggressive and it was a super experience for Marianne as an animal lover."

[embedded content]

The Eurasian Eagle-owl is one of the largest in the world, measuring up to 2 1/2 feet long and weighing as much as 9 pounds. With its bright orange eyes and feathery ear tufts, it's a very striking bird, even when it's not perched on someone's head.

It's not clear why the apparently tame owl has taken to head-sitting, but some Noordeinde residents speculate that it escaped from a aviary in a nearby town, according to the .

This YouTube video highlights the couple who shot the viral video; they're celebrating their 30th anniversary this year, apparently. Gefeliciteerd!

Modern life is a frightening experiment in how much exposure we can take from toxic chemicals


© ktffilms.com


Back in 1974, the agricultural multinational Monsanto developed a class of herbicides using glyphosate as the key ingredient. By the 1990s, the company had created corn, soy and cotton seeds genetically altered to resist glyphosate herbicides, meaning farmers could kill weeds without fearing for the health of their crops. Today, Monsanto's Roundup is the most widely used weed-killer in the world.

One problem: we now know with certainty that glyphosate is carcinogenic to humans and animals. Though Roundup has been plagued by controversy for years, a report released this March by scientists affiliated with the World Health Organization definitively linked the herbicide to increased risks for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, as well as DNA and chromosomal damage in mammals.

Roundup is only one of tens of thousands of chemicals we encounter every day in our food, clothing, furniture, electronics and cosmetics. Over 84,000 chemicals are used in U.S. commerce, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, most of which have never been tested for potentially toxic effects on human and wildlife health and the environment.

, a new documentary narrated by Sean Penn and directed by journalists Dana Nachman and Don Hardy, takes a wide-angle view on the health risks perpetuated by the chemical industry, and demonstrates how in their eyes we're all just guinea pigs available for testing.

The documentary uses three case studies to provide a sampling of the potential health consequences of sustained chemical exposure. Marika Holmgren is an active, non-smoking Bay Area woman with no family history of cancer who receives a diagnosis of advanced breast cancer at age 37; Jenn Canvasser is a healthy young woman who discovers she has polycystic ovarian syndrome and endures several difficult, expensive rounds of IVF treatments as she and her husband try to conceive; and Hannah Cary, whose brother is severely autistic, is an advocate at the Autism Society of America. The subjects and filmmakers make the case that chemicals in the environment are responsible for these health conditions, and there is plenty of unnerving science to back up their fears.

Many of the professors and scientists interviewed in the film point to rising rates of cancer, learning disorders and infertility that cannot be fully explained by genetic drift or changes in diagnostic criteria. Breast cancer rates have gone up more than 30 percent in both men and women since 1975. Rates of asthma have increased by 80 percent in the last 45 years, and ADHD has increased by 53 percent. As Sean Penn narrates, these conditions "are all on the rise since the dawn of the chemical revolution."

But correlation and causation are not the same thing, as any scientist (or journalist) knows. In the case of women like Jenn Canvasser, there could be many other environmental and genetic factors at play. Like 6.5 million other women in the U.S., Canvasser has trouble conceiving. When she finally gives birth to twins after multiple rounds of IVF treatments, both are plagued by health problems and one eventually dies after a few short, hospital-ridden months. Her story is heartbreaking, but at no point is her or her sons' condition explicitly linked to chemical exposure. Instead, the filmmakers say "Numerous studies associate adverse pregnancy outcomes with toxic chemicals including pesticides, DDT, PCBs and BPA." Again and again, they hammer home the connection between rising rates of disease and chemical usage, but the strongest language they use is "linked to" or "associated with."

Still, consumers and health advocates undoubtedly have cause for concern, as the Roundup controversy shows us. Over the past several decades, the chemical industry has repeatedly demonstrated a blatant disregard for public health. Existing and new chemicals are supposed to be monitored by a 1976 law known as the Toxic Substances Control Act. But loopholes in its language mean that companies don't have to test chemicals before including them in consumer products and make it very difficult for the EPA to pull hazardous chemicals from the market. Sixty-two thousand chemicals, including toxic substances like asbestos, were grandfathered in under the law, assumed safe because they were already in use. Essentially, the TSCA functions as little more than a long list of known chemicals, and consumers have no way of knowing which products contain flame retardants, formaldehyde, cadmium, or other chemicals that can be toxic to humans and animals.

As David Rosner, a professor at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health, says in the film, there have been "real mistakes, major mistakes where we allowed these industries to get away with murder."

The lack of available information about the linkages between chemicals and disease is partly the design of the $770 billion chemical industry. Dow, Exxon and other major firms spend millions each year lobbying Washington for favorable legislation and funding the campaigns of industry-friendly representatives. In the late 1990s, bisphenol A, an endocrine-disrupting chemical that mimics estrogen and can lead to health problems ranging from obesity to infertility, was discovered to be in many hard plastics. These everyday products included everything from baby bottles to Tupperware. During the ensuing public outcry, chemical industry trade groups released a rash of bunk studies, insisting that BPA is safe for humans at the levels to which we're exposed.

A great deal of work needs to be done to combat the industry's influence, and tracks the difficult, mundane efforts being made by health advocates, families and legislators to obtain stricter consumer protection laws. But this is only one angle pursued in the sprawling film, which tries to cover far more ground than its hour-and-a-half run time allows. By taking on the "chemical industry" as a whole, the filmmakers can only spend a few minutes discussing a particular chemical, or case study, before moving on to the next. This overly sweeping approach, paired with a lack of hard research connecting specific chemicals to specific health problems, can make the film somewhat juvenile at times, a documentary that basically boils down to the thesis "chemicals are dangerous."

Yet despite this broad focus, there are notable absences in the film. With the exception of Maria Cruz, a housecleaner who immigrated from Mexico with her two children, almost all of the interview subjects are middle-class white people who have the financial resources to afford needed medical care and combat ineffective legislation. Little mention is made of the disproportionate effects of toxic chemicals on minorities and the working class, or of heavily polluted areas like Louisiana's Cancer Alley, where the wastes pumped out by surrounding petrochemical refineries have caused high rates of miscarriages, cancer and other diseases.

The real takeaway of the film is one that aligns quite closely with the values of middle-class white America: learning how to be a better consumer. Jenn Canvasser and Marika Holmgren now both work as consumer protection advocates, warning people of the dangers of toxic chemicals in their makeup and home furnishings. Consumer protection efforts are certainly admirable, but after gaining even a cursory understanding of the public health risks perpetuated by the chemical industry, learning how to make more educated decisions about which bar of soap to purchase isn't exactly an inspiring rallying cry.

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Climber captures video of shocking moment avalanche hits Mt. Everest base camp after Nepal earthquake


© AFP Photo/Roberto Schmidt
A cloud of snow and debris triggered by an earthquake flies towards Everest Base Camp on April 25, 2015.

It is hard enough to survive a massive earthquake in Nepal and for that to be followed by a horrific avalanche at Mount Everest. However, some climbers managed to capture the moment they were hit by a sea of ice and snow crashing into them on camera.

A terrifying video posted on YouTube by German climber Jost Kobusch shows people at the Everest Base Camp stumbling in confusion as powerful the 7.9-magnitude earthquake hit Nepal on Saturday.


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Kobusch can be heard saying "the ground is shaking, while laughing nervously at the start of the clip. The visibility was so poor, he was hardly able to see the slopes of the Himalayan Mountains.

Climbers nearby begin scrambling, yelling and trying to warn others of the imminent avalanche. Caught off guard, people try to find some cover, but the wall of snow was quick and brutal.

Cursing profoundly, the German hides in front of a tent with no proper protection. Seconds later, the climbers are buried by a wave of snow. One can hear Kobusch and another man trying to catch their breath, as the climber goes into a state of shock.


© AFP Photo/Roberto Schmidt
In this photograph taken on April 25, 2015, rescuers use a makeshift stretcher to carry an injured person after an avalanche triggered by an earthquake flattened parts of Everest Base Camp.

The men in the video were lucky to survive, but the massive avalanche ended up killing some 20 people at the camp and injuring dozens of others. Rescue missions were launched, with the critically injured evacuated by helicopters. However, other rescue operations were hampered by bad weather, aftershocks and the fact that some 100 climbers were cut off from the Base Camp due to the collapsed Icefall route.

A new 6.7-magnitude aftershock hit Nepal at 07:09 GMT on Sunday, which unleashed another series of avalanches in the Himalayas.

An avalanche came close to hitting the base camp at Mount Everest as well, but luckily, fell just short.

Kobusch was not the only climber who ended up filming the terrifying passage that unfolded. RT's video agency Ruptly obtained the helmet camera footage of Belgian climber Jelle Veyt, who also was at the Base Camp, located at an altitude of 5,364 metres (17,598 ft), when the avalanche smashed through it. AFP photographer Roberto Schmidt managed to grab a photo of the enormous wall of snow headed towards the camp, before running for his life

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Over 3,300 people have been killed following the earthquake on Saturday, while more than 6,200 have been injured. Many hundreds are still unaccounted for.

International organizations and countries have been sending aid to Nepal. On Sunday, Russian, American and Canadian aircraft flew out with rescue teams onboard. Sweden has pledged $1.5 million in aid, with Canada vowing to send $5 million.

Incredibly bizarre, investers take on debt as an investment

Negative Interest Rates: The Black Hole of The Financial System

A black swan event is a metaphor for an enormous problem that develops underneath the surface and then suddenly puts the whole financial system at risk. The financial crisis of 2008 was a black swan event, for example, that slowly developed in the US real estate market where excess had ruled in the years before.

Today, market conditions are ideal for a new black swan event to develop. An event like this takes people by surprise, because it matures under the radar in places where no one is looking. Today, for example, everyone is afraid of deflation. That means that everyone is also trying to prepare for deflation.

If everyone takes measures against deflation you get a mass migration to cash and government bonds, however, which are the assets that perform the best in a deflationary environment. Take a look at Japan: the yen had been on the rise for years up until the Japanese central bank took exceptionally aggressive monetary measures to fight the trend (at which they succeeded). Japanese investors historically also like its country's government bonds, however, ever since deflation tormented the country in the '90s. At one point you got a 5% yield on a 10-year Japanese government bond, today you get 0.3% per year for the next 10 years.

Source: Trading Economics, Japan Treasury Department

A comparable drama can be found in Europe today. Even worse, the fear of deflation has grown so much over there that negative interest rates can be spotted in an increasing amount of countries and for increasingly longer maturities. In France, a 10-year bond will still get you 0.35%, while in Germany a government bond with the same maturity will barely yield 0.07%. It only seems like a matter of time before people will have to start paying to keep government bonds in their portfolio. Isn't that crazy?

Negative interest rates are not exclusive to Europe as well. Last week the first government bond ever with a negative yield was issued in Australia. Not many market watchers saw this coming, which underlines the seriousness of the problem. Negative interest rates change the rules of the game in the financial system, namely. Those who want to save money, have to pay money. Those who create debt, receive additional reward. It is the world upside down, but that is in fact what is happening.

In a few countries in northern Europe a few large investors are already seeing negative interest rates on their mortgage financing. They are not getting a monthly paycheck for creating debt just yet, because at the moment this is still offset by the costs, but it only seems like a matter of time before this mechanism gets going and the larger public gets its hands on it. Because when local countries issue bonds, they often come with a yield that is lower than or equal to the ECB deposit rate, which also dropped below zero (-0.2%) in the meantime (see table below).

Source: FT, Citigroup

Who is going to save money then? Not a single soul, of course. People will start to create debt en masse, because it is the better and cheaper option. The resulting investments will rise in value, moreover, when an increasing amount of people take on debt in search for returns. Things cannot get a lot crazier than this.

If this is how the system ends up working, we fear that the effects will be irreversible. It is like a black hole that sucks in more and more matter - read: capital - and never lets go. This financial black hole story will also end with a sudden implosion, a flash of light and a big bang, just like in space, and those who do not own hard assets at that point in time could lose every bit of wealth they've ever accumulated. As Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Fed and original promoter of monetary expansion, said once: "Or how you can lose your savings in a blink of an eye".

The big issue is that we do not see any measure that can reverse this process. Governments are not moving a finger to turn things around; and why would they? They are on the side of the debt creators; the ones that are profiting enormously from this black hole. Central bankers are frustrated, however, because they do not have a lot of tools other than to make monetary demands more flexible, which has the wrong effect: it accelerates the wildfire of negative interest rates.

All of this can only end in financial drama, in our opinion, if no measures are being taken to stop it. Negative interest rates are only attracting more capital, not less, like a black hole in space continuously increasing in size and strength. The ending will be bloody, but that is something no one wants to acknowledge today because returns on government bonds are still the primary focus. We will not participate in this game, for which we cannot envision a happy ending. You are warned!

US ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Japan


© Flickr

The United States is ready to use all military options, including nuclear weapons, to defend its Japanese ally.

"Central to this is the ironclad US commitment to the defense of Japan, through the full range of US military capabilities, including nuclear and conventional."

The US Navy base in Yokosuka will station more ballistic missile defense warships by 2017 and receive an advanced nuclear-powered supercarrier in 2015, according to a joint US-Japan statement issued on Monday.

"The Ministers [Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, Defense Minister Gen Nakatani] welcomed US plans to deploy additional Aegis ships to Yokosuka Naval Base by 2017, as well as the swap-out of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington with the more advanced USS Ronald Reagan later this year."

On April 6, 2015, the US Defense Department announced it would locate 60 percent of its military fleet to the Pacific-Indian Ocean, with the newest and most capable weapons systems first going to the Asia-Pacific region.

The US Fleet Activities Yokosuka naval base, located south of the Japanese capital city Tokyo, was established in 1945. The base is the largest overseas US Naval installation in the world and is considered to be one of the most strategically important bases in the US military, according to the US Navy.

"The Ministers also reaffirmed that the Senkaku Islands are territories under the administration of Japan and therefore fall within the scope of the commitments under Article 5 of the US-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security," the joint statement read.

The Diaoyu, or Senkaku, Islands have long been a disputed territory between China and Japan. Tokyo claims it has occupied the islands since 1895, while Beijing argues that the islands were recognized as Chinese as early as 1783.

The ministers stated that "they oppose any unilateral action that seeks to undermine Japan's administration of these islands."

The joint statement that outlined updated US-Japan military guidelines was issued on Monday by the US-Japan Security Consultative Committee (SCC) that includes US Secretary of State John Kerry, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida and Japanese Minister of Defense Gen Nakatani.

India placed Ford Foundation on national security watchlist

© Adnan Abidi | Reuters
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi

India has placed the Ford Foundation, the U.S. philanthropy group, on a national security watchlist following complaints about its links to an activist seeking the conviction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for human rights abuses.

The news was greeted with alarm by Indian and foreign non-government organisations and western donors, but hailed by many nationalist Indians on Twitter as an overdue crackdown on foreign meddlers.

A letter on Thursday from the home affairs ministry to the Reserve Bank of India, published by Indian news media, asks the central bank to place the Ford Foundation on a watchlist to ensure that the funds it distributes are used "for bona fide welfare activities without compromising on concerns for national interest and security".

The Ford Foundation — which has worked in India since 1952 on programs ranging from the "green revolution" in agriculture to urban planning and good governance — was previously under the purview of the finance ministry, but can now disburse funds only after clearance from the home affairs ministry.

The curbs apparently arise from a complaint by the government of Gujarat — where the Hindu nationalist Mr Modi was chief minister for more than a decade — about an NGO called Sabrang and led by activist Teesta Setalvad that previously received funds from the Ford Foundation. Ms Setalvad herself has demanded that Mr Modi be tried for his alleged role in the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, though Mr Modi denies involvement.

A week ago, Rajnikant Patel, a Gujarat minister, said Ms Setalvad's NGO had misused funds from Ford to create "communal disharmony" and carry out "antinational propaganda against India in foreign countries". A week before that, Mr Modi had pointedly asked in a speech to judges whether the judiciary was driven by "five-star activists", a comment widely assumed to refer to Ms Setalvad.

The Ford Foundation confirmed it had learnt officially that "the Ministry of Home Affairs is reviewing information related to their ongoing investigation of Sabrang Communications and Publishing".

The foundation said it was confident it was complying with the law and was transparent about its grants. "Over many decades, the foundation has built strong relationships with the people, institutions, and governments of India, and has contributed to the remarkable growth and development of the nation," it said.

According to the foundation's website, it last made a grant to the Sabrang Trust of $250,000 in 2009, "to strengthen its conflict resolution and peace building activities in Gujarat and Maharashtra".

The Ford Foundation is not the first donor or NGO to fall foul of Indian governments. Last year, New Delhi blocked incoming foreign contributions to Greenpeace India, just after a leaked intelligence bureau report accused it and other NGOs of stalling India's growth by fomenting opposition to large industrial projects.

In January this year, however, Greenpeace won a case in the Delhi High Court, which ordered the Modi government to release Rs18m in foreign contributions to the India branch and rejected the blocking of the funds as arbitrary, illegal and unconstitutional.

Foreign investors have also sometimes complained of unfair treatment at the hands of Indian governments, with the latest criticism focusing on large and unexpected tax demands directed at multinationals such as Vodafone.

Baltimore protests lead to reporters robbed by youths, arrested and beaten by police


© Reuters / Sait Serkan Gurbuz

Journalists fell victim to the chaos in Baltimore, engulfed in protest since Freddie Gray's death in custody. While police beat up and detained reporters, a producer with RT's Ruptly was robbed by a street gang on Sunday.

RT's Paulina Leonovich was surrounded by a group of aggressive youths while filming. They cursed and displayed obscene gestures into the camera.

Then suddenly one of them snatched the TV worker's bag and tried to run away with it. But the woman began chasing the perpetrator, shouting "Stop! Give it back!" until the he was apprehended by the police.

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The Ruptly producer wasn't the only journalist who got in trouble in Baltimore on the night.

The claims its photo editor, JM Giordano, was brought to the ground and beaten by Baltimore City cops in front of the police HQ.

Mind you. Worse violence I've seen from last night is the video of the POLICE beating a member of the press.

— Block Samson (@insanityreport) April 26, 2015

Giordano said he was standing next to a protester when somebody threw a rock at the police line, hitting a riot shield, provoking an indiscriminate reaction from the officers.

"They mobilized. They just swarmed over me. I got hit. My head hit the ground. They were hitting me, then someone pulled me out," he said.

The beating by at least five policemen went on despite one of Giordano's colleagues shouting "He's a photographer! He's press!"Giordano also said Reuters photographer Sait Serkan Gurbuz was arrested during the protest and taken away in a police van.

Gurbuz was later released, with police saying he had been detained for disorderly conduct.

Incredible gallery of photos from the Baltimore protests by @jmgpix, who was beaten up by police and kept snapping http://bit.ly/1Gz2ppY

— Nicky Woolf (@NickyWoolf) April 27, 2015

Freddie Gray was arrested in Baltimore on April 12 after making eye contact with one of several police officers in the area and running away. Sometime during his detention, he suffered a severe neck injury that damaged his spinal cord.

When he was taken to a hospital, the 25-year-old slipped into a coma and died on April 19. Gray's death has created outrage in Baltimore, with demonstrators calling for the six officers involved in the arrest to be disciplined.

The Baltimore PD has suspended the officers with pay, saying that they "failed to give medical attention in a timely manner multiple times" to Gray.

Czech diplomat condones slaughter of Odessa innocents


© Odessa-media

To avoid civil unrest, a government must kill its own citizens and burn them near a road, said Vaclav Bartuska, the Czech Republic's energy envoy.

Vaclav Bartuska, the Czech Republic's energy envoy, justified the monstrous slaughter of innocent people that took place in the Ukrainian city of Odessa on May 2, 2014.

Last May, clashes broke out in Odessa between independence supporters on one side and pro-Kiev extremists on the other. As a result, at least 48 people were killed by the right-wing radicals.

According to Bartuska, Prague carefully studied the model used in eastern Ukraine to rally up independence movements.

The Czech envoy commented about the tragedy in Odessa:

"Groups of civilians — including men, women and children — seize government buildings. Within two days they get arms and after that women and children disappear, leaving only the armed men. If they [independence supporters] are quickly resisted, as it was done in Odessa where they were simply burned to death, or Dnepropetrovsk, where they were simply killed and buried by the side of the road, everything will be calm. If this is not done, then there will be war. That's all."

#Czech diplomat V. Bartuška: It you want peace you have to kill or burn your opponents like they did in #Odessa | http://bit.ly/1DuMTXI

— Peter (@creepersk) 26 апреля 2015

Bartuska was born in Prague in 1968. During the 1989 Velvet Revolution, a non-violent transition of power in Czechoslovakia, Bartuska was one of the student leaders who participated in the overthrow of the Communist regime. Bartuska studied journalism and worked as a reporter for Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes. In 2006, he has been Czech Republic's special envoy for energy security.

It is shocking how harshly Bartuska spoke about the tragedy that took the lives of 48 people. One member of the Czech government certainly showed his true democratic colors and European values.

Hillary Clinton's foundation under scrutiny for hiding foreign donors on tax returns


© Reuters / Gary Cameron

The non-profit foundation run by presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton and her family has acknowledged it's made "mistakes" amid increased public scrutiny concerning donations it's received from foreign entities.

On the group's website on Sunday, Maura Pally, the acting CEO of the Clinton Foundation, said the organization has erred, but remains committed to transparency.

"Yes, we made mistakes, as many organizations of our size do, but we are acting quickly to remedy them, and have taken steps to ensure they don't happen in the future," Pally wrote in a blog post published on the group's website on Sunday.

The Clinton Foundation has come under attack in the days since former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton announced her bid for the Democratic Party's nod in the 2016 presidential election. Last week, the foundation said it would re-file at least five previous tax returns after an audit undertaken by Reuters raised questions about government donors.

"While some have suggested that this indicates a failure to accurately report our total revenue, that is not the case," Pally said.

Rather, according to the acting executive, the foundation's total revenue was accurately reported on each year's form, but government grants were mistakenly combined with other donations.

"Those same grants have always been properly listed and broken out and available for anyone to see on our audited financial statements, posted on our website," Pally said.

"We are committed to operating the Foundation responsibly and effectively to continue the life-changing work that this philanthropy is doing every day."

Along with Mrs. Clinton's recent announcement concerning the 2016 presidential race, a new book 'Clinton Cash', has increased attention on the presidential hopeful and the organization that she runs with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and daughter, Chelsea.

In particular, the book reportedly takes aim at funds raised by foreign donors during the presidential hopeful's stint as secretary of state and the potential impact those donations may have had on American foreign policy.

Also on Sunday, Peter Schweizer, the book's author, called for a criminal investigation into the Clinton Foundation's funding during an interview on ABC's .

"It's not up to an author to prove crime," he said. "This is part of the broader pattern. You either have to come to the conclusion that these are all coincidences or something else is afoot."

Pally said that the organization is now publishing its donor list on a quarterly basis instead of annually.

Over 130K march in LA marking 100th anniversary of Turkish genocide of Armenians


© Reuters/Kevork Djansezian

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Los Angeles on Friday, marching through the city and onto the Turkish consulate. They were demanding that the killing of around 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 be recognized as genocide.

More than 130,000 took part in the rally to mark the centennial of the massacre, according to estimates from the Los Angeles Police Department. Demonstrators started the march from the Little Armenia neighborhood and proceeded to walk six miles to the Turkish consulate on Wilshire Boulevard.

Along the way, people shouted slogans such as "Shame on Turkey," and "We want justice."

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Turkey has so far refused to acknowledge the slaughter of around 1.5 million Armenian Christians as genocide. Forty-three states in America have accepted the event as such, but the federal government has not.

President Barack Obama promised to recognize the genocide prior to his election in 2008, but has since avoided the term to placate key NATO ally Turkey.

In remembering the 100th anniversary, President Obama used words such as "massacre" and "horrific violence," but stopped short of calling it "genocide."

Many marchers have reached Turkish consulate on Wilshire Blvd. @Sky5Tim is overhead. Watch: http://bit.ly/1bMcXrJ http://bit.ly/1DuMUe4

— KTLA (@KTLA) April 24, 2015

At least one person was arrested during the LA rally, when protesters reportedly got in a scuffle.

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While the vast majority of the marchers were commemorating the Armenians who were killed, there was a small contingent supporting the Turkish viewpoint. One protester, Kutsal Kocer, told local KTLAthat her group had eggs and bottles thrown at them.

"It's a shame that these people are violent and they are turning this into a Christian/Muslim war," Kocer said.

Over 100.000 people showed up at the Armenian Genocide march in Los Angeles, California! ❤️ #ArmenianGenocidehttp://bit.ly/1bMcYMq

— #ArmenianGenocide (@katyperryshore) April 24, 2015

Other demonstrators said it was important for Turkey to recognize the genocide and that doing so would benefit people around the world.

"We also believe tremendously that this will help all genocides in the world be eradicated for all people. Had it been recognized, perhaps we wouldn't have had the Holocaust," Sophie Jihanian of Pasadena told the .

#ArmenianGenocideCentennial protest for @latimesphotos @latimes @LANow #ArmenianGenocide http://bit.ly/1bMcXIa

— Patrick T. Fallon (@pfal) April 24, 2015

Meanwhile, Catholic Archbishop Jose Gomez, posted a message on Twitter under the #ArmenianGenocide hashtag in support of Armenians.

"Our brothers and sisters became #martyrs for the name of #Christ during the tragic events that happened 100 years ago."

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In a separate interview with KTLA, the Turkish consulate general in Los Angeles, Raife Gulru Gezer, said the country "[does] not deny the suffering of the Armenians and we do not deny the fact that hundreds of thousands of Armenians did die during the First World War."

However, she said "genocide is a legal term" that is being used "loosely," and said the number of Armenians killed is "debatable"

Chipotle bans GMO foods from its restaurants

© Reuters / Lucy Nicholson

Chipotle has become the first fast-food chain to ban genetically modified foods, known as GMOs, in all foods served in its restaurants. The Mexican fast-casual chain has removed non-organic soy and corn from its tortillas and other menu items.

"Chipotle was the first national restaurant company to disclose the GMO ingredients in our food, and now we are the first to cook only with non-GMO ingredients," the company wrote on its website.

Back in 2013, Chipotle started showing which items contain GMOs. On Monday, it removed those items altogether from the 68 ingredients ‒ including salt and pepper ‒ served at its 1,831 restaurants.

"This is another step toward the visions we have of changing the way people think about and eat fast food," Steve Ells, founder and co-chief executive of Chipotle, told the . "Just because food is served fast doesn't mean it has to be made with cheap raw ingredients, highly processed with preservatives and fillers and stabilizers and artificial colors and flavors."

"The vast majority of our ingredients don't come in a GMO variety, and we use lots of whole, unprocessed foods, so it was easier for us to do," Ells added.

The move required getting rid of genetically modified corn and soy, as well as byproducts of those ingredients.

"One reason customers love Chipotle is that we use great ingredients. For us this means great taste, but it also means that the food we serve should be made with ingredients raised with care for animals, farmers, and the environment," the company said on its website. "We're doubtful that the GMO ingredients that used to be in our food meet these criteria."

Removing genetically engineered corn was easiest, the reported, because Chipotle's primary tortilla supplier was already producing non-GMO corn flour in small amounts, and it agreed to increase its production.

GMO corn made up 93 percent of all corn grown in the US in 2014, the company said on its website, including 76 percent of corn that is both herbicide resistant and pesticide producing, with the remainder engineered for only one of those traits.

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Replacing soy was more difficult because GMO soybean oil was used in Chipotle's fryers and in the shortening used in its flour tortillas. In 2014, 94 percent of the soy grown in the US was engineered for glyphosate resistance. The organic soybeans already used to make the tofu for Chipotle's Sofritas are not genetically modified, like all certified organic ingredients, the company noted.

Different oils have different smoking temperatures and infuse food with different tastes, so switching can have a vast effect on flavor. Chipotle solved that problem by using two different oils: It uses sunflower to fry its chips and tortillas, while a non-GMO rice bran oil is mixed into rice and used to fry fajita vegetables.

The flour tortillas posed a bigger problem for Chipotle.

"The shortening had an oil in it that was derived from soybeans," Chipotle's spokesman Chris Arnold told the . "We won't use lard for tortillas because of our vegan and vegetarian customers, and we can't use palm oil because of the environmental impact."

© Screenshot from Chipotle.com

Chipotle is replacing that shortening with a non-GMO canola oil in its flour tortillas. However, that oil costs more, and the company said last week that it might have to raise prices slightly this year.

The restaurant chain has benefited from Americans' efforts to eat simpler foods they perceive as healthier. While its same-restaurant sales continue to rise at a more rapid pace than more traditional competitors like McDonald's Corp., some Wall Street analysts worry Chipotle's growth rate is cooling, the reported. Its quarterly revenue, reported last week, increased 20 percent ‒ below analysts' expectations, sending shares down about 5 percent.

Chipotle called for independent studies of GMO foods that evaluate the long-term effects of of widespread GMO cultivation and consumption, noting that in October 2013, a group of about 300 scientists from around the world signed a statement rejecting the claim that there is a scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs for human consumption. It added that the majority of testing that has been done so far has been paid for by companies that produce GMO seeds.

"The World Health Organization recently designated Glyphosate as 'probably carcinogenic to humans," Chipotle said on its website. "Given the concerns surrounding these types of GMOs and the chemicals associated with them, we felt it was particularly important to seek out non-GMO ingredients when possible."

GMOs may still sneak into Chipotle's food supply, however. It noted that many of the beverages sold in its restaurants contain genetically modified ingredients, especially corn syrup, "which is almost always made from GMO corn."

It also raised the issue of GMO animal feed, but added that the company hopes to solve this problem in the future.

"[I]t is important to note that most animal feed in the US is genetically modified, which means that the meat and dairy served at Chipotle are likely to come from animals given at least some GMO feed,"Chipotle said. "We are working hard on this challenge, and have made substantial progress: for example, the 100% grass-fed beef served in many Chipotle restaurants was not fed GMO grain—or any grain, for that matter."

Despite moves by McDonald's ‒ which ditched antibiotic-fed chicken in March ‒ and other fast-food chains to become healthier in the face of plummeting sales, it is uncertain whether they will follow Chipotle's lead, according to the . The increased demand for non-GMO products has made them more expensive and difficult to obtain in the amounts that big businesses need, which can lead to supply shortages.

Chipotle has already faced that issue more than once. It has run short on beef from time to time, and has been facing a shortage of pork since December because one of its suppliers had failed to meet Chipotle's standards for raising pigs.