Month: January 2014

Farmer reports: GMOs causing deformities, birth defects in piglets

Farmer reports: GMOs causing deformities, birth defects in piglets

We are the powers-to-be’s science experiment! 


Thanks to Monsanto’s genetically modified crops and creations, one pig farmer in Denmark is sounding the alarm on what he believes are deformities caused by genetically modified feed, crippling the pigs he raises.

According to The Ecologist, farmer Ib Pedersen has found piglets born with spinal deformities, visible growths and abnormalities, and even conjoined twins. He blames glyphosate—the herbicide found on genetically modified crops.

A primary ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, glyphosate is a weed-killing chemical routinely sprayed on crops that have been genetically-modified to withstand it’s killer effects. Glyphosate has been found in staggering amounts in human urine and is not only found in our food, but in the water system.

For farmers like Pedersen, there are multiple problems with glyphosate. Not only does he have to worry about consuming it himself, but he has rising concerns about its effects on his piglets.


Pedersen produces 13,000 pigs each year and is a supplier to Europe’s largest pork producer Danish Crown. When he became alarmed at the deformities among his pigs, he eliminated the genetically modified food sources and switched to non-GM feed. While some of the problems didn’t entirely disappear, improvements were remarkable.

“When using GM feed I saw symptoms of bloat, stomach ulcers, high rates of diarrhea… but when I switched [to non GM feed] these problems went away, some within a matter of days,” said Pedersen.

In addition to making the piglets healthier, the switch also saved Pedersen money and time. “Less abortions, more piglets born in each litter, and breeding animals living longer,” he said among the changes. He’s had to use less medicine and has had higher productivity as a result.

When the deformed piglets were tested, Pedersen says they all had glyphosate in their organ tissues.

In humans, glyphosate has been linked to hormonal disruptions, sterility and cancer. But it’s long-term effects are simply not known. For the most part, we are all the guinea pigs in this scientific experiment, one that those in charge refuse to pull the plug on.

Farmers in the US have seen similar results with genetically-modified feed. An Iowa farmer said, “There is little doubt based on the results of putting GM feed into a livestock ration and based on results of removing GM feed from a ration that animal health is better on conventional feed and grain.”

Non-GM is better for the animals and better for the people. So who exactly are GMOs better for?


10 Most Essential 1970s Conspiracy Thrillers

10 Most Essential 1970s Conspiracy Thrillers

Techno-paranoia has become the norm in our post-Snowden world, and hit shows like Person of Interest play on our fears of being watched. But the high-tech conspiracy tale has its roots in the 1970s, which saw a great wave of movies about assassins, surveillance, secret governments, and corporate cabals. The result was a decade’s worth of paranoid thrillers, many of them extremely entertaining. Here are the ten you must watch.

Between the Watergate scandal and a series of ugly revelations about the CIA, the FBI, and other federal agencies, the public was more receptive to stories where the country’s leaders were the villains. And with the rise of the so-called New Hollywood, a younger, more countercultural group of filmmakers was ready to deliver them.

These aren’t the best ’70s conspiracy thrillers—a couple of them aren’t all that good, though they’re worth watching for other reasons. They’re just the essential ones: necessary stops on any extended tour of the genre. In chronological order:

1. Executive Action (1973)

Not just the first on the list, but the worst on the list—a movie far more dull than the step-by-step story of a bunch of oligarchs plotting the execution of John F. Kennedy ought to be. But it’s fascinating to watch anyway, if only because it somehow manages to be both deeply cynical and incredibly innocent at the same time, as though the filmmakers couldn’t imagine an evil elite without also making the plotters’ target improbably pure. On one hand, a character can casually declare that the secret purpose of the Vietnam War is to bring down the Third World population. On the other hand, there’s the moment when a reluctant conspirator asks, “There ought to be a better way of settling things like this. Have you researched [Kennedy’s] private history?” The unlikely reply: “If we could find a way to discredit him, believe me, we would have done it by now.”

2. The Paralax View (1974)

The ideal introduction to the ’70s conspiracy cycle. It’s got a series of political assassinations, a compromised federal investigation, a hidden cabal that’s behind it all, and the best brainwashing sequence this side of A Clockwork Orange.

3. The Conversation (1974)

Francis Ford Coppola’s tale of a surveillance expert forced to confront the consequences of his work was written in the 1960s, and in some ways it has more in common with paranoid ’60s pictures like Mickey One than with the other movies on this list: The story hinges on an internal conflict within an anonymous corporation, not a broader plot against the public good. But it appeared as the Watergate scandal was cresting, and suddenly everything in the film seemed to take on a more directly political meaning.

Continue Reading…

Secrets of FBI Smartphone Surveillance Tool Revealed in Court Fight

Sounds quite similar to ‘The Wire.’ Maybe the producers were telling us something. (One of them taught my high school during my tenure)

A legal fight over the government’s use of a secret surveillance tool has provided new insight into how the controversial tool works and the extent to which Verizon Wireless aided federal agents in using it to track a suspect.

Court documents in a case involving accused identity thief Daniel David Rigmaiden describe how the wireless provider reached out remotely to reprogram an air card the suspect was using in order to make it communicate with the government’s surveillance tool so that he could be located.

Rigmaiden, who is accused of being the ringleader of a $4 million tax fraud operation, asserts in court documents that in July 2008 Verizon surreptitiously reprogrammed his air card to make it respond to incoming voice calls from the FBI and also reconfigured it so that it would connect to a fake cell site, or stingray, that the FBI was using to track his location.

Air cards are devices that plug into a computer and use the wireless cellular networks of phone providers to connect the computer to the internet. The devices are not phones and therefore don’t have the ability to receive incoming calls, but in this case Rigmaiden asserts that Verizon reconfigured his air card to respond to surreptitious voice calls from a landline controlled by the FBI.

The FBI calls, which contacted the air card silently in the background, operated as pings to force the air card into revealing its location.

In order to do this, Verizon reprogrammed the device so that when an incoming voice call arrived, the card would disconnect from any legitimate cell tower to which it was already connected, and send real-time cell-site location data to Verizon, which forwarded the data to the FBI. This allowed the FBI to position its stingray in the neighborhood where Rigmaiden resided. The stingray then “broadcast a very strong signal” to force the air card into connecting to it, instead of reconnecting to a legitimate cell tower, so that agents could then triangulate signals coming from the air card and zoom-in on Rigmaiden’s location.

Continue Reading…

Report: 20% of Obamacare ‘Enrollees’ to See Cancellation Notices Soon

One in five Obamacare “enrollees” could have their plans cancelled for failure to pay their first month’s premium. That figure is based on reports from health insurers themselves, some of whom have made 10 attempts to collect the first payment.

The exact percentage of those who pay (the actual definition of enrollment) varies among insurers according to a report Thursday by CNN Money. Medical Mutual of Ohio put the figure at 88 percent while CoOportunity Health put it lower at 82 percent. CoOportunity CEO Cliff Gold tells CNN “We figure either those people had a change of heart or thought it was too expensive.” WellPoint would only say a majority but not a “vast majority” had paid their first premium. CNN estimates the overall percentage of insurers it polled at one in five.

Earlier this month health insurance expert Bob Laszewski estimated, based on his contacts in the industry, that 10-20 percent of Obamacare enrollments would be dropped for failure to pay. CNN’s report suggests the actual figure will be closer to the upper end of Laszewski’s estimate.

The Obama administration has reported that, as of December 28th, 2.1 million people had enrolled in private insurance plans. However the administration counts anyone who selected a plan on a health exchange website as enrolled whether or not they have paid a premium.

The high rate of cancellations will certainly have a political impact in not an immediate policy impact. If the 20 percent figure highlighted by CNN is accurate, roughly 400,000 people the administration has already counted as enrolled under Obamacare will receive cancellation letters. That’s considerably more than the total number who enrolled in October and November combined. It would also mean the total number of people enrolled did not pass 3 million as HHS claimed last week.

Those individuals who are canceled for non-payment will need to start over in order to get insurance before the enrollment period ends in March. Presumably, those who do so will be counted as enrolled a second time unless HHS is careful to exclude duplicates or simply revises its earlier numbers downward to account for cancellations. It’s just one more asterisk to add to the list of already dubious numbers coming from the administration.


A Lost Interview With Tupac About Life, Death, Race, and John Wayne

Throughout his short life, Tupac Shakur was known for his candor in both his music and his interviews. The latest installment of PBS’ fun animated interview series Blank on Blank offers yet another glimpse into the rapper’s complex personality.

In this newly released 1994 interview with journalist Benjamin Svetkey, Shakur discusses the allegations of rape, his tense relationship with the press, and how he defines himself and his public image. “If I was white,” he says, “I would have been like John Wayne.”

Interview by Benjamin Svetkey
March 1994
Microcassette recorder


M.I.A. Discusses Money, Politics, Love and Matangi


When it comes to international star, recording artist, director, entrepreneur and designer M.I.A., there is no denying the fact that her sonic and visual style is the equivalent of a gamma ray burst. Slithering to bouncy electro-beats, M.I.A. holds a mirror to the globe, exposing its beauty and repulsiveness. At the same time, she skillfully maintains a firm grip on both the disdain and adoration of mainstream audiences. As with many leaders who stand for what they believe in, controversy surrounds Maya Arulpragasam (M.I.A’s given name) but the singer takes it in stride and allows it to inspire her, which is one reason her art remains refreshing.

M.I.A.’s fourth studio album Matangi dropped five days ago, and amid a storm of engagements, the Wavy One cleared time to talk with Stop Being Famous about life, love, and music.

Stop Being Famous: Tell me about your first love.

M.I.A.: My first love?

SBF: Yes.

M.I.A.: My first love, as in the first time I fell in love, or what I love first right now?

SBF: Your first time in love.

M.I.A.: Oh, the first time I fell in love was this guy that I dated for like, three years when I was sixteen. He was part of this gang called Brick Lane Massive,  but he was also at my college – college meaning high school, I guess – sixteen? He was really smart in school, and then I found out he was also really respected in his neighborhood because he was a pretty good gangster. I don’t want to say that, but –

SBF: It’s okay, you said it.

M.I.A.: I had a lot of respect for him because he was a really odd person ’cause – so he would surprise me a lot because he was really clever in school, and he was really shy. No girls really wanted to date him because he wasn’t like, this popular guy. He was just a nice, quiet, shy guy when a lot of other people were really in your face and stuff.

And we started dating and then he took me to Brick Lane. In Brick Lane at that time, there was a massive gang issue in that neighborhood because all of the Bengalis lived in East London and all the Bengalis hated each other, and they fought each other all the time and killed each other.

SBF: Wow.

M.I.A.: His gang was Brick Lane Massive, but then they’d fight different gangs around the neighborhood. So there’s one from Stepney, one from Bethnal Green, one from Shadwell –  there were loads of gangs.

The Brick Lane one had three different divisions. They had an older one, the middle one, and the younger one. He was the head of the middle one, which was our age group. The older one was like, twenty to twenty-four, and then the younger one’s were fourteen and under. They all fought, but depending on who started the fight, different age groups wanted to get called in. He sort of was part of the middle one.

I was with him for a long time, then it turned out he wasn’t even Bengali, he was actually Pakistani but grew up with Bengalis all his life. So he was already an oddball, because he was the only Pakistani in like, a hundred-deep gang of Bengalis. He was the leader of the middle layer, and that was really impressive that he had this double life as well. He learned Bengali fluent, learned all their culture, and sort of embraced it. That was really cool.

Click to Continue Reading the Interview

Powerful Non-Stereotypical Portraits of Homeless People



Photographer Rosie Holtom, a long-time volunteer at a homeless shelter in London, embarked on a portrait project depicting homeless people in a very humane light that doesn’t exploit or stereotype their situation. Instead, the black and white portraits reveal a very human side to each individual, one that shows consideration for their value as a person with a place in the world, just like anyone else.

Instead of encouraging stereotypes of the homeless as drug-addled, disheveled, madmen, the photographer presents her subjects as they are—ordinary people—reminding viewers that the “homeless” is not a mythical breed of creatures to fear or look down upon. They are human beings, full of life, like anyone else. And, as the photographer says, “They’re not defined by the fact that they’re homeless.”

Holtom explains, “I was inspired to start this photography project because I felt a huge disconnect between the interesting people I’d met at Shelter from the Storm throughout my years volunteering there and the stereotypes we constantly see depicting homeless people in London, especially in the run-up to Christmas.” She adds, “Positive imagery is more powerful amidst the misery photography we get bombarded with. People are desensitized to that now… I wanted them to be viewed in a positive light.”

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