‘OUTRAGE’ FOLLOWS USDA’S ADVANCEMENT OF NEW GENETICALLY ENGINEERED CROPS (Source Common Dreams) Environmental groups warn that advancing Dow’s new genetically engineered crops means a continuation of a toxic chemical treadmill that threatens human health. Watchdog groups are denouncing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommendation on Wednesday to approve new varieties of genetically engineered corn and soybeans as a path towards more toxic pesticides that threaten the environment and public health. The new crops are Dow AgroScience’s 2,4-D- and glyphosate-tolerant corn and soybeans. They are made to be used with Dow’s Enlist Duo herbicide, which contains 2,4-D and glyphosate and is also under review by the USDA. The calls not to green-light the crops focus on the dangers of 2,4-D, whose use the USDA admits will increase at least three-fold with the Enlist package. Writing at Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) AgMag blog, Mary Ellen Kustin and Soren Rundquist detail the group’s analysis showing that over 5,600 American schools are within 200 feet from a field where 2,4-D could be sprayed if the Enlist Duo package is fully approved, a particularly noteworthy finding as 2,4-D has been linked to Parkinson’s, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cancer and other health problems.
Russian Nuclear Bombers Keep Roaming Closer to U.S. Airspace (Source Yahoo) Russian nuclear bombers were spotted flying near Alaska this week. The bombers were escorted by fighter jets, floating just outside of U.S. and Canadian airspace. This is the second such sighting since June, sparking the attention of American military jets. Major Beth Smith, of the U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), has said “Over the past week, NORAD has visually identified Russian aircraft operating in and around the U.S. air defense identification zones.” There have been about 16 Russian forays in the Alaskan and north Canadian area in the last 10 days. It is not entirely uncommon to see Russian planes in this airspace, however, the increased number of such planes seems to be triggering some concern amongst the aviation military community, particularly given the increased tension in Ukraine. Smith referred to this number of forays as “a spike in activity.” Smith noted that these were training missions, though a spy plane and anti-submarine plane were spotted among the bombers. However, another defense official told the Washington Free Beacon they believe this is more than just a training flight. The official stated “(Russian strategic nuclear forces appear to be)trying to test our air defense reactions, or our command and control systems. These are not just training missions.”
RUSSIA DELIVERS BLOW TO PETRODOLLAR IN HISTORIC $20 BILLION IRAN OIL DEAL (Source Zero Hedge) Currency wars are set to escalate as the petro dollar’s decline continues. Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and his Iranian counterpart signed a five-year memorandum of understanding in Moscow, which included cooperation in the oil sector. “Based on Iran’s proposal, we will participate in arranging shipments of crude oil, including to the Russian market,” Novak was quoted as saying. The five year accord will see Russia help Iran “organise oil sales” as well as “cooperate in the oil-gas industry, construction of power plants, grids, supply of machinery, consumer goods and agriculture products”, according to a statement by the Energy Ministry in Moscow. The deal could see Russia buying 500,000 barrels of Iranian oil a day, the Moscow-based Kommersant newspaper has previously reported. Under the proposed deal Russia would buy up to 500,000 barrels a day or a third of Iranian oil exports in exchange for Russian equipment and goods. The Russian government withdrew the statement regarding the deal last night, but said it would issue a new statement today. In January, Russia said that they were negotiating an oil-for-goods swap worth $1.5 billion a month that would enable Iran to lift oil exports substantially to Russia, undermining Western sanctions.
FIRST BRICS BANK, NOW BRICS FOOD BANK (Source Zero Hedge)Despite President Obama’s dictating that Russia is increasingly “isolated,” it appears they have found a whole new set of friends to play with in the global trade sandpit. In retaliation to Western sanctions, Putin yesterday unveiled a total food import ban from all sanctioning nations, and, just as the BRICS created their own ‘IMF-lite’ away from Washington’s prying eyes, Russia plans to substitute banned goods with not just domestic supplies but imports from Latin America, China, and several other nations. Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fedorov said “no food shortages are expected,” but more isolation for the West. Russia is already turning away trucks at the border and cancelling orders (as FruitNet reports) Catalan producer association Afrucat is urging its members not to send lorries to Russia until the situation regarding the ban on EU imports has been fully clarified, following reports that trucks laden with fruits and vegetables are already being refused entry at border crossings. “Initially it seemed that the Russian government was making its decision on a product-by-product and country-by-country basis after discussions with its producer associations to ascertain the possibility of meeting demand with local production, but as the morning wore on, a growing number of Russian importers starting cancelling orders – first as a precaution and subsequently as it was confirmed that trucks would be turned away at the border,” Afrucat said in a statement.
Sheep-Goat Hybrid Born: ‘Geep’ Is Rare (Source Inquisitr) A sheep-goat hybrid known as a “geep” is stealing hearts at My Petting Zoo in North Scottsdale, Arizona. The baby ball of fluff is named Butterfly, and she’s lucky to be alive — according to Buzzfeed, sheep-goat hybrids are usually stillborn. Goats and sheep have a hard time making babies together because they have different amounts of chromosomes and are from different genera. However, when they do succeed in mating, the result is pretty adorable. The female sheep-goat hybrid’s mother could be featured on an upcoming episode of I Didn’t Know My Pet was Pregnant. According to AZ Central, My Petting Zoo owner Priscilla Motola didn’t know that Momma the sheep was knocked up because there are no male sheep in the petting zoo. However, there is a male pygmy goat named Michael, and apparently he didn’t care that he and Momma the sheep are genetically different.
THE DROUGHT GOES FROM BAD TO CATASTROPHIC (Source Zero Hedge) When scientists start using phrases such as “the worst drought” and “as bad as you can imagine” to describe what is going on in the western half of the country, you know that things are bad. However, in recent weeks the dreadful situation in California has gone from bad to catastrophic as the U.S. Drought Monitor reported that more than half of the state is now in experiencing ‘exceptional’ drought, the most severe category available. And most of the state – 81% – currently has one of the two most intense levels of drought. While California’s problems are particularly severe, that state is not alone in experiencing significant drought right now. There are wide swaths of moderate to severe drought stretching from Oregon to Texas, with problems impacting numerous states west of the Mississippi River. Some of the most severe droughts outside of California are impacting large pockets in Oklahoma, Texas and, particularly, Nevada, where more than half of the state is currently experiencing one of the two most intense drought conditions. Most people just assume that this drought will be temporary, but experts tell us that there have been “megadroughts” throughout history in the western half of the United States that have lasted for more than 100 years. If we have entered one of those eras, it is going to fundamentally change life in America.
America: Nuclear Missiles Battle-Ready? (Source thetrumpet.com) The United States currently has 4,804 nuclear warheads, 450 of which are located on Air Force bases in Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota. These 450 Minuteman 3 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) are supposedly in constant battle-ready mode. Worryingly, the equipment used to secure these missiles was built in the 1960s. The bases are still using computers that require eight-inch floppy disks. As one missileer stated, she had not seen such “technology” until she started working in the command center. One would think the world’s superpower would use the latest state-of-the-art technology to safeguard its deadliest weapons. However, it is not the shrinking army and its lack of up-to-date technology that should worry the American public the most, but the sketchy personnel in charge. In 2013, the Air Force relieved the two-star general in command of the 450 ICBMs. The general was suspended because he “exceeded the limits of accepted standards of good conduct and proper behavior” while on an official trip to Moscow. He reportedly drunk during the four-day trip. Earlier in the week, a vice admiral who oversaw the military’s nuclear forces, missile defense and cyber warfare operations was also relieved of his duties because of a probe into his possible use of counterfeit chips at an Iowa casino. The irresponsibility of our nuclear launch officers does not stop with these two high-ranking men. It has seeped down the chain of command. Earlier in 2013, two of the three missile bases under the general’s command received unsatisfactory ratings in regular annual inspections. In August, the officers at the Montana Air Force Base failed their third inspection in five years. Seventeen nuclear-launch officers in North Dakota were sidelined after they received a D in their missile launch skills inspection.
THE BEGINNING OF AN END OF THE TRANS-ATLANTIC ALLIANCE (Source blacklistednews.com) Indeed, since the Ukrainian crisis began to ratchet up international pressure on Moscow several months ago, the Russian defence establishment has become even more entrenched in its ambition to reconstitute parts of its defence industry that withered after the break-up of the Soviet Union. Most of Russia’s $81Bn defence budget is spent internally. Since 2000, Russia has only engaged in 10 military contracts of any size from overseas suppliers: 4 light transport aircraft from the Czech Republic; 2 diesel engines from Germany; 8 drones from Israel; 60 light armored vehicles from Italy; 3 light helicopters and 4 amphibious landing craft from France to complement the Mistrals; and from Ukraine, 264 engines, 34 transport aircraft and 100 guided missiles. Many ex-Warsaw Pact countries still rely on Russian-made military equipment”. So far not so alarming other than as a statement of intent. What I do find alarming because it’s blatant aggression is the idea of targeting Russia’s energy development. That’s telling the Russians that America and Europe holds them in the same contempt they hold Iran. Not wise. If you try to strangle their economy and simultaneously point a dagger at their heart they’re going to conclude not unreasonably that you intend waging a regime change war in the not to distant future. Such a war is unlikely to end well for anyone and anyone who thinks that Russia will not strive to lay waste their enemies heartlands has never talked to a Russian soldier let alone a Russian officer. They take threats to their home and those who live there very seriously and they believe in playing rough.
Russia increases battalions, firepower near Ukraine border(Source One India News) Weeks after the Malaysian Airline MH 17 was shot down by Pro Russian rebels in Ukraine, Russia is now preparing to respond to the Ukrainian government as it has doubled the number of battalions near the border. According to a report in The New York Times (read here), Russia has built up 17 battalions within a few miles of the Ukrainian border and has also expanded its firepower and surface to air missiles units to 14. Intelligence experts say that on the pretext of ‘peacekeeping operations’ Putin may send his forces across the border in case the Ukrainian government tried to regain the territory in eastern Ukraine. Some officials even say that more the Ukrainian forces succeed, it will add more pressure on Putin to escalate the matter. Several American intelligence agencies have confirmed the presence of Russian armored vehicles and trucks near the border. But the Western intelligence had no independent confirmation that they had crossed into Ukraine.
RUSSIA AND GERMANY ALLEGEDLY WORKING ON SECRET “GAS FOR LAND” DEAL (Source Zero Hedge) Sources close to the secret negotiations claim that the first part of the stabilization plan requires Russia to withdraw its financial and military support for the various pro-separatist groups operating in eastern Ukraine. As part of any such agreement, the region would be allowed some devolved powers. At the same time, the Ukrainian President would agree not to apply to join NATO. In return, President Putin would not seek to block or interfere with the Ukraine’s new trade relations with the European Union under a pact signed a few weeks ago. Second, the Ukraine would be offered a new long-term agreement with Russia’s Gazprom, the giant gas supplier, for future gas supplies and pricing. At present, there is no gas deal in place; Ukraine’s gas supplies are running low and are likely to run out before this winter, which would spell economic and social ruin for the country. As part of the deal, Russia would compensate Ukraine with a billion-dollar financial package for the loss of the rent it used to pay for stationing its fleets in the Crimea and at the port of Sevastopol on the Black Sea until Crimea voted for independence in March.