Monthly Archives: May 2013

Genetically Modified Wheat Isn’t Supposed to Exist. So What Is It Doing in Oregon?


Wheat farmers, advocates of food safety, and pretty much anyone who eats bread or noodles have turned their attention to Oregon, where a wheat farmer found a genetically engineered strain of wheat in his otherwise unmodified crop. He couldn’t kill it in any of the normal ways, so he sent it to the lab for testing, which sounds like the set-up for a farm-belt horror movie. The reality has caused alarm of a different sort: Genetically modified wheat hasn’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and unlike corn and soy and other so-called GMO foods, there isn’t supposed to be any genetically modified wheat in the U.S. food supply at all.

There are two reasons to care. Food safety folks lobby hard for labeling of genetically modified foods, saying that the jury is out on the long-term health and environmental effects and consumers deserve to know what they’re buying. The companies that make the seeds say they’re perfectly safe. And for wheat farmers and exporters, this potentially cripples the export market: Many foreign buyers don’t want genetically modified wheat and can switch their buying to Russia, Ukraine, Australia, and other large exporters. Japan reacted quickly, canceling an order today for nearly 25,000 tons of wheat, Bloomberg News reported, and wheat futures dropped on the Chicago Board of Trade.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), which is responsible for keeping unapproved GMOs out of the food supply, has begun testing the wheat. In a full-court PR press, the agency has also released a Q&A (PDF) and video to address the issue. Here are a few points to consider:

It’s probably too late to do much about this.

The U.S. has some 1,000 field trials for new gene-altered crops each year, most in multiple sites. The protocols for containing those genes are lax, argue such critics as the Center for Food Safety, which wants a moratorium on field testing of gene-altered crops. ”I would not be at all surprised if there are a number of experimental genes that have contaminated and are happily being passed along at low levels in the food supplies of various crops already, but nobody’s testing,” says Doug Gurian-Sherman, a senior scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington. “It’s really a ‘don’t look, don’t tell’ situation. We just really don’t know.”

After all, this isn’t the first time.

In 2000, a strain of corn called StarLink, engineered by Aventis (SNY) to kill caterpillars, was found in taco shells. In 2006, Bayer’s (BAYN) LibertyLink experimental rice made its way into the food supply, leading to lost exports. In 2012, the German company agreed to pay $750 million to settle claims from 11,000 U.S. farmers in five states. Restoring genetic purity to a crop is a very expensive process and takes time.

Is there a public safety issue?

That’s a matter of debate. Regulators were quick to jump on the Oregon discovery with a battery of tests and extensive investigations that are under way now. Monsanto (MON) designed the Roundup Ready wheat to withstand its Roundup herbicide used to keep fields free of pests, and the gene isn’t considered harmful. “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed the food and feed safety of Roundup Ready wheat more than a decade ago,” Monsanto said in a May 29 statement.

Critics of gene-altered food argue that the periodic crop discoveries highlight a regulatory system that is woefully inadequate to monitor the expansion of modified crops and to detect any dangerous genes that could materialize. “The question is why APHIS does not tighten its procedures for field trials. It’s incredibly lax, whatever APHIS may try to say,” says Bill Freese, a science policy analyst with the Center for Food Safety.

Does the rogue wheat have any Sarah Palin connection?

No.

via Genetically Modified Wheat Isn’t Supposed to Exist. So What Is It Doing in Oregon? – Businessweek.

Irish taxpayers will have to foot multi-billion Statoil bill – Aftenbladet.no


Farmer Willie Corduff is just one of the Irish taxpayers that have to pick up Statoils bill on the Coribb-project.

The cost overrun is mainly due to poor handling of local residents’ protests. Locals complain of lack of dialogue with the oil companies, little information, and fear of getting a pipeline almost under their houses.

The intense protests have delayed the project and made it more expensive.

Boomeranged

Paradoxically enough, though, it is the Irish themselves who must foot the bill for the extra due the country’s legislation.  Losses for companies are tax-deductible.

Ireland’s favourable tax policy means Statoil’s losses could actually be very small. Losses, capital costs, and exploration costs can be written off against future income in their entirety, while the tax rate is only 25 per cent.

Irish tax havens

Ireland has long been known to have very favourable tax rules for companies. Both the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and organisation Tax Justice Network defines the country as a tax haven – a term often associated with palm-treed islands in distant waters.

Standard corporation tax in Ireland is 12.5 per cent, which has successfully tempted Internet giant Google to establish its European headquarters in the country. Apple has also received criticism for using the Irish’ tax regime to evade taxes. Apple top Tim Cook had to answer to the US Congress regarding the practice last week.

Norway pays nothing

Statoil’s multi-billion kroner loss falls to the Irish to pay in its entirety, while Norwegian taxpayers remain unencumbered. It would have been different had the project been in Norway.

Companies can write off about 78 per cent of their losses here. This rate may be reduced if the government succeeds in getting its planned tax changes through.

In return, the Norwegian government receives 78 per cent of the hydrocarbon industry’s profits.

“There’s no doubt the tax system is attractive for oil companies. It must be this way, however, to draw companies here. Very few significant discoveries have been made in this country and the outlook for revenues is uncertain. In many ways, Ireland is where Norway was before the Ekofisk discovery in the ‘60s,” says Fergus Cahill, head of the Irish Offshore Operators’ Association.

The oil companies decided

Many among the Irish population are sceptical to the favourable tax regime for oil companies. Padraigh Cambell is a former rig worker and has been a spokesperson union Siptu. He knows Irish history oil well.

“What taxation authorities drew up in the ‘80s was based on what the oil companies said. They dictated the terms; 25 per cent tax and 100 per cent depreciation. All expenses 25 years back in time can be written off, as well as gifts, sponsorships, everything! Politicians said that this would be good for Ireland, but now the situation is that the supply business happens from Scotland, for example. So the oil-related costs can then be written off in Ireland. We want the Norwegian model. We want jobs for Irish ports, Irish companies, and Irish workers,” says Mr Campbell.

The controversial gas pipeline from the Corrib field comes ashore near the town of Rossport, northwest Ireland. Several residents in the town neither believe Ireland will benefit from the Corrib field because depreciation rules are so favourable, nor that the country will not get tax revenues.

“People in Norway will benefit from the project through Statoil. We’re not going to profit from it because of the Irish tax rules,” says farmer Willie Corduff.

Fergus Cahill in the Irish Offshore Operators’ Association disagrees.

“I know this is a popular argument among some opponents of the hydrocarbon industry in Ireland. Calculations by the authorities show that tax revenues from commercial fields will be substantial – even in relation to the present system,” Mr Cahill says.

Modified in 2007

The Irish government has announced a review of the tax system in the autumn. However, there is nothing to suggest that this will result in the country approaching the tax system as it presently is in Norway.

“I struggle to understand how anyone can expect we’ll have a Norwegian tax system without having Norway’s amounts of commercial discoveries,” newspaper The Irish Times reported Ireland’s Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte saying at a hearing earlier in May.

The system was also changed in 2007. Authorities then introduced a surplus tax of up to 15 per cent that could bring the total tax rate up to 40 per cent, depending on the project’s profitability. The change was not retroactive, and has no significance for the Corrib project Statoil is involved in.

25-year deadline

Statoil’s annual report on its 2011 operations in Ireland shows total national losses of EUR 1.3 billion (almost NOK 10 billion), but that this can be written off against future taxable income.

In 1997, Statoil also recorded an approximately EUR 159 million (NOK 1.2 billion) loss in the Connemara area of ​​Ireland, when it was determined that the field was not commercial. Irish rules are designed so that losses and expenses can be written off against taxes for 25 years after they are incurred. This means that Statoil can also write off the Connemara loss against tax on future profits from Coribb field.

The corresponding limit in Norway is ten years.

Head of Information Bård Glad Pedersen at Statoil does not wish to comment directly on how the favourable tax terms have or have not influenced their decision to continue their operations in Ireland, but writes in an e-mail that:

“It is common that costs and losses can be offset against future income. The tax system in Ireland does not differ significantly from taxation in the other countries in this area. We make investment decisions on a commercial basis, and the framework conditions are included as a factor in these reviews.”

Shell’s statement

Shell, operator of Coribb field, has the following comment:

“All companies in Ireland can write off investment costs against profits, and the partners in Coribb field are no exception. Oil and gas companies must, however, pay 25 per cent tax instead of 12.5 like other companies in the country. Ireland also receives tax revenue from the hundreds of people who are employed in connection with the project,” Shell Ireland press officer Fiona McGuinness writes in an email.

via Irish taxpayers will have to foot multi-billion Statoil bill – Aftenbladet.no.

Hammond, Manning, Assange and Obama’s Sledgehammer Against Dissent


One cyberactivist’s federal case wrapped up this week, and another’s is set to begin. While these two young men, Jeremy Hammond and Bradley Manning, are the two who were charged, it is the growing menace of government and corporate secrecy that should be on trial.

Hammond was facing more than 30 years in prison, charged with hacking into the computers of a private security and intelligence firm called Strategic Forecasting, or Stratfor, when he agreed to a plea agreement of one count of computer hacking. Stratfor traffics in “geopolitical intelligence, economic, political and military forecasting,” according to its website. Yet, after Hammond and others released 5 million emails from Stratfor’s servers to WikiLeaks, it became clear that the firm engages in widespread spying on activists on behalf of corporations. Coca-Cola hired Stratfor to spy on the group PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Dow Chemical hired Stratfor to spy on the activists who were exposing Dow’s role in the cyanide chemical disaster in Bhopal, India, in 1984 that killed an estimated 8,000 and injured thousands more.

Hammond is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 6. His lawyers have asked for time served—15 months, some of which was in solitary confinement. He faces 10 years.

Bradley Manning, meanwhile, will finally have his day in military court at Fort Meade, Md. He faces a slew of charges related to the largest leak of classified information in U.S. history. Manning pled guilty to mishandling the information, and acknowledged uploading hundreds of thousands of documents to the WikiLeaks website. But he denies the most serious charge, still pending, of “aiding the enemy.” Prosecutors are seeking life in prison; however, if Manning is found guilty, the judge could still impose the death penalty.

Bradley Manning and Jeremy Hammond are among the highest profile in a series of cases that the Obama administration has been pursuing against whistle-blowers and journalists. Attorney Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and an attorney for WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, said in front of the courthouse after Hammond’s court appearance, “This is part of the sledgehammer of what the government is doing to people who expose corporate secrets, government secrets, and really the secrets of an empire.”

Manning explained his actions and his motivation in a detailed statement in his pretrial proceedings. He said, “I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information … it could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general.” The first public release by WikiLeaks of the material provided by Manning was the video (titled by WikiLeaks) “Collateral Murder.” The grainy video, taken from an attack helicopter, shows the cold killing of a dozen men on the ground in Baghdad on July 12, 2007. Two of those killed by the U.S. Apache helicopter gunship were employees of the Reuters news agency, cameraman Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his driver, Saeed Chmagh, a father of four.

After their violent, senseless deaths, Reuters sought answers and filed Freedom of Information requests for material relating to the attack, which were denied. Manning saw the video when stationed in Iraq, and researched the background of the attack. He saved the video file. He explained in court, “I planned on providing this to the Reuters office in London to assist them in preventing events such as this in the future.”

Hammond and Manning, facing years in prison, have in common their connection to WikiLeaks and its founder, Assange. Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden about allegations of sexual misconduct—he has not been charged. After losing a fight against extradition in Britain, he was granted political asylum by the government of Ecuador, and has remained in Ecuador’s embassy in London since last June. It was a leaked Stratfor email that referenced a U.S. indictment against Assange, reading: “Not for Pub—We have a sealed indictment on Assange. Pls protect.”

This all happens amidst recent revelations about the Obama administration’s extraordinary invasion of journalists’ privacy and the right to protect sources. The Associated Press revealed that the Justice Department had secretly obtained two months of telephone records of its reporters and editors in an effort to discover the source of a leak about a foiled bomb plot. Fox News’ chief Washington correspondent, James Rosen, may actually be charged in a criminal conspiracy for allegedly receiving classified information from a source about North Korea.

President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have used the Espionage Act six times to prosecute whistle-blowers—more than all previous presidents combined. Obama’s assault on journalism and his relentless war on whistle-blowers are serious threats to fundamental democratic principles on which this nation was founded.

The job of journalists is to hold those in power accountable. Our job is to be the fourth estate, not “for the state.” Let us be.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,000 stations in North America. She is the co-author of “The Silenced Majority,” a New York Times best-seller.

via Amy Goodman: Hammond, Manning, Assange and Obama’s Sledgehammer Against Dissent – Truthdig.

7 unknown facts about the place where Dalai Lama lived


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Potala Palace is a museum, located in Lhasa, which comes under Tibet Autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China.

It served as the residence of Dalai Lama, until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India.

We bring to you some very interesting facts about it.

Read on to find out.

-The highest palace in the world, Potala Palace stands on top of Red Hill, at over an amazing 3,500 meters above sea level.

-Potala Palace consists of White Palace and Red Palace. The Dalai lama lived in the White Palace. The Red Palace consists of temples.

-The Potala Palace was inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994. In 2000 and 2001, Jokhang Temple and Norbulingka were added to the list as extensions to the sites.

-The palace was recently named one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World” by the American television show Good Morning America and the newspaper USA Today.

-Potala Palace was named after Mount Potala, the abode of Chenresig or Avalokitesvara.

-The site was used as a meditation retreat by King Songtsen Gampo, prior to his marriage.

-It was in 637 that King Songtsen Gampo built the first palace there, in order to greet his bride Princess Wen Cheng, of Tang Dynasty of China.

Source:

via 7 unknown facts about the place where Dalai Lama lived – daily.bhaskar.com.

Political accomplishments


The current day accomplishments of Bankers, Business people and politicians is as follows

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Large Corporations Seek U.S.–European ‘Free Trade Agreement’ to Further Global Dominance


The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is the latest plan of conglomerates to strengthen their grip over the planet.

viMay 10, 2013  |

A corporate world order is emerging, and like any parasite, it is slowly killing off its host. Unfortunately, the “host” happens to be the planet, and all life upon and within it. So, while the extinction of the species will be the end result of passively accepting a corporate-driven world, on the other hand, it’s very profitable for those corporations and their shareholders.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is the latest corporate-driven agenda in what is commonly called a “free trade agreement,” but which really amounts to  ‘cosmopolitical corporate consolidation’: large corporations dictating and directing the policies of states – both nationally and internationally – into constructing structures which facilitate regional and global consolidation of financial, economic, and political power into the hands of relatively few large corporations.

Such agreements have little to do with actual ‘trade,’ and everything to do with expanding the rights and powers of large corporations. Corporations have become powerful economic and political entities – competing in size and wealth with the world’s largest national economies – and thus have taken on a distinctly ‘cosmopolitical’ nature. Acting through industry associations, lobby groups, think tanks and foundations, cosmopolitical corporations are engineering large projects aimed at transnational economic and political consolidation of power… into their hands. With the construction of “a European-American free-trade zone” as “an ambitious project,” we are witnessing the advancement of a new and unprecedented global project of transatlantic corporate colonization.

The Atlantic Fortress as “Grand Strategy

In a 2006 article for Der Spiegel, Gabor Steingart suggested that, “to combat the rise of China and Asia,” the “role NATO played in an age of military threat could be played by a trans-Atlantic free-trade zone in today’s age of economic confrontation.” With the possible “addition of Canada,” the US and EU “could stem the dwindling of Western market power by joining forces… [which] would inevitably lead to a convergence of the two economic systems.” In a process that would likely take decades, “a mega-merger of markets” would send a “new message” to the East, to “ serve as a fortress.”

During the worst of the initial financial and economic crisis in January of 2009, Henry Kissinger wrote an article for the New York Times in which he noted that America’s “prescription for a world financial order has generally been unchallenged,” though the crisis had changed this, as “disillusionment” became “widespread.” Nations now wanted to protect themselves from the global markets and thus, become more independent. Kissinger warned against this, proclaiming: “An international order will emerge if a system of compatible priorities comes into being. It will fragment disastrously if the various priorities cannot be reconciled… The alternative to a new international order is chaos.”

Kissinger noted that the economic world was “globalized,” yet the political world was not, and in the midst of “political crises around the world” accelerated by “instantaneous communication,” the political and economic systems had to become “harmonized in only one of two ways: by creating an international political regulatory system with the same reach as that of the economic world; or by shrinking the economic units to a size manageable by existing political structures, which is likely to lead to a new mercantilism, perhaps of regional units.” President Obama’s election victory was an “opportunity” in “shaping a new world order.” But that opportunity had to become “a policy” as manifested through “ a grand strategy.” A central facet to that grand strategy would include the strengthening of the “Atlantic partnership,” which “will depend much more on common policies.”

Some four years later, former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski praised the “enormous promise” in the new transatlantic agreement, “It can shape a new balance between the Pacific and the Atlantic oceanic regions, while at the same time generating in the West a new vitality, more security and greater cohesion.” Not worth mentioning, apparently, was that this was all about “cohesion” of power interests. In the same speech where Brzezinski endorsed “greater cohesion” between the U.S. and the European Union, he criticized the EU for being “ a Europe more of banks than of people, more of commercial convenience than an emotional commitment of the European peoples.”a Large Corporations Seek U.S.–European ‘Free Trade Agreement’ to Further Global Dominance | Alternet.

via Large Corporations Seek U.S.–European ‘Free Trade Agreement’ to Further Global Dominance | Alternet.

Famous Quotes Paired with Clever Illustrations


Famous Quotes Paired with Clever Illustrations

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia-based illustrator Tang Yau Hoong has just released a brand new series where he pairs one of his older illustrations with a famous quote. A few years ago, we discovered Hoong and we quickly became fans after we saw his ability to cleverly incorporate negative space into many of his works. As he told us then, “I enjoy making illusion art because it has the ability to mislead us. We rely on sight in our lives and yet it is so fragile that we could easily be deceived by what we see.”In one of our favorite new prints, Hoong takes one of Steve Jobs‘ famous quotes, “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” and illustrates it by putting two half eaten apples next to each other. Within the negative space, one can subtly make out Steve Jobs’ silhouette.As he tells us, “Most of them are old illustrations that I redrew to match the style I was looking for and the meaning of the corresponding quote. One day, I was browsing through old designs when I thought about giving them new life. Here is the result. Only the illustration of Steve Jobs’ quote is brand new, which triggered the project.”If you enjoyed these posters, make sure to check out Evan Robertson’s underlined book quote illustrations, here and here.







Watchdog Groups Decry Obama Limits on Whistle-Blowers


Open-government advocates said a proposed U.S. rule that could lead to more federal jobs being classified as sensitive may also make it easier to fire federal whistle-blowers.

The Government Accountability Project and the Project on Government Oversight said the draft rule, published in the Federal Register today, was premature as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit weighs whether employees in “sensitive” jobs have the same rights to appeal termination as other federal workers.

The proposed rule from the Director of National Intelligence and the Office of Personnel Management “dramatically expands the use of this label of sensitive to apply to a great number of jobs,” said Angela Canterbury, director of public policy for the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington-based watchdog group.

Workers who don’t have security clearances can now appeal their termination to the Merit Systems Protection Board, an independent federal agency whose chairman is picked by the president.

The Government Accountability Project said the rule could classify public-safety workers, border patrol agents, foreign service officials and other federal workers as holding sensitive positions.

If the court decides that workers in sensitive jobs don’t have the same ability to appeal termination, then it may make it easier for administrations to fire employees who leak information to the press or attempt to expose corruption and mismanagement, Canterbury said.

Fox, AP

“The current regulations are now 20 years old and provide only general guidance,” the Director of National Intelligence and the Office of Personnel Management said in a joint e-mail response to questions today. “The new regulations will clarify the requirements and procedures agencies should follow when designating national security positions, by providing more detail and concrete examples.”

A White House spokesman didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for a comment on the rule.

Earlier this month, U.S. lawmakers criticized the administration of President Barack Obama for subpoenaing phone records of Associated Press reporters after the news service published a story about a foiled terrorist plot that originated in Yemen. The Department of Justice also disclosed earlier this month that it subpoenaed the phone records and e-mails of a Fox News reporter in a leak investigation.

First Amendment groups have also condemned the administration’s indictments of five government workers for leaking information under a World War I-era spy law.

“There couldn’t be a more sweeping roll back on the rule of law for the federal labor force,” Tom Devine, legal director for the Government Accountability Project, said in an interview.

via Watchdog Groups Decry Obama Limits on Whistle-Blowers – Bloomberg.

Small and mighty – why nanoscience is booming in Ireland


NANOSCIENCE IS THE the study of materials on the nanoscale, or one million times smaller than a grain of salt. By studying materials at their most basic and modifying the ‘building blocks’ from which they are made, nanoscience researchers can vastly improve the properties of those materials. Plastics can become extremely thin, but incredibly strong. Metals can become thoroughly flexible and malleable, but hugely conductive and light. That process of change opens up a world of possibilities for manufacturing in technology, medicine, energy, pharmaceuticals, transport, bioengineering and more.

CRANN (the Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructure and Nanodevices) is Ireland’s leading nanoscience institute, funded by Science Foundation Ireland and based at Trinity College Dublin. In the past ten years, our researchers have leveraged State funding to bring in over €50 million of non-Exchequer investment from international and European sources and have filed over 50 patent applications.

Today, CRANN celebrates its 10th anniversary.

This research is crucial to the economy

It was in 2003 that the then Government decided to prioritise nanoscience research, and established CRANN, as part of Science Foundation Ireland’s CSET (Centre for Science Engineering and Technology) programme. Since then, the Centre has grown from having just six researchers to employing over 300 and from working with 4 companies to over 100 companies, in Ireland and internationally. If Government is looking for an example of an ambitious policy decision that is now paying dividends for the Irish economy, they do not need to look any further than CRANN.

Ranked sixth in the world for nanoscience research and eighth for materials science research, Ireland is now recognised as a leading nanoscience nation. With over 90 per cent of the world’s medical multinationals and 70 per cent of the world’s technology multinationals having a base in Ireland, our national research credentials are extremely attractive, and crucial to the economy.

It is estimated that nanoscience is linked to €15 billion, or 10 per cent, of Ireland’s annual exports and supports 250,000 jobs nationwide. The Government has targeted 20,000 more manufacturing jobs in Ireland by 2016 and undoubtedly, Ireland’s leading nanoscience research can help to create those jobs.

As part of CRANN’s 10-year celebrations, the team created the world’s smallest birthday cake – measure 2,000 times smaller than the full stop at the end of this sentence.

Ireland is now experiencing a ‘brain – gain’

Irish researchers are awarded the highest number of European Research Council Starting grants for nanoscience research in the European Union. Following the Euroscience Open Forum in 2012, Dublin has again been chosen to host the EuroNanoForum, Europe’s largest nanoscience event in June this year, an event which will attract 12,000 delegates. In addition, Ireland is now experiencing a ‘brain – gain’, attracting researchers from abroad, to complement our indigenous research base.

Ireland’s nanoscience credentials are strong and they are growing.

At CRANN, we are working with over 100 companies in Ireland and internationally, using our research expertise to help those companies develop novel products and solutions. For example, over the past decade, we have partnered with Intel, working on innovative methods to constantly improve their technologies. We work with Sab Miller, a brewing and beverage company, helping them to improve their packaging to extend the life-span of their products. These partnerships deliver significant mutual benefit for both CRANN and for our partners and will continue to do so for the next decade and beyond.

Smaller, better, faster, stronger

Nanoscience is changing the face of manufacturing, leading to smaller, smarter, more durable and more efficient products and it is a strong linkage between academia and business that is driving that progress. It is nanoscience that is allowing smart devices to become smaller and smaller, yet to store more information. It is nanoscience that is leading to smaller, more sophisticated medical devices like heart stents, with greater lifespans.

Nanoscience is leading to lighter, yet stronger aeroplanes that consume less fuel. It is leading to technological developments like computers with advanced memory and facial recognition, laptops and smart-phones that can be rolled up like newspapers, bathroom mirrors and windows that can become television screens. It could lead to sensors that detect diseases from a person’s breath, or to coatings for ships and tankers that cannot rust.

These are advances that are happening now and they are happening worldwide. By investing in nanoscience; our health, our environment and our communications will be vastly improved.

Nanoscience is the future

Europe has recognised this. This year, the European Commission has invested €1 billion in the Graphene Flagship Project, identifying graphene, one layer of graphite found in pencil lead, as a ‘product of the future’. Ireland has a leading role in that project. The Irish Government has recognised this too, protecting science investment, even in difficult economic times. Science Foundation Ireland must be commended for its commitment and vision, in recognising that protecting scientific funding can also protect and grow the Irish economy.

Ten years ago, the global market for nano-enabled materials was €420 million. In 2015, it will be $2.5 trillion. Nanoscience is the future. Ireland is very much part of it.

I look forward to another ten years of success.

Professor John Boland is Director of CRANN, Ireland’s leading nanoscience institute based at Trinity College Dublin.

via Column: Small and mighty – why nanoscience is booming in Ireland.

The Video that Bradley Manning says Pushed Him to Upload to Wikileaks


Bio

Josh Stieber enlisted in the army after graduating high school. He was deployed to Baghdad from Feb 07- Apr 08 with the military company shown on the ground in the Collater Murder video. Upon his return from Iraq, Josh was granted conscientious objector status.

Transcript

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Hi. I’m Paul Jay in Washington. A few weeks ago, some video of a shooting that took place in 2007 in Iraq�Apache helicopter shooting a group of men on the ground. And here’s some of that footage. I’m sure most people have seen it already.

VIDEO, WIKILEAKS TRANSCRIPT: 01:09 Yeah roger. I just estimate there’s probably about twenty of them.

01:13 There’s one, yeah.

01:15 Oh yeah.

01:18 I don’t know if that’s a…

01:19 Hey Bushmaster element [ground forces control], copy on the one-six.

01:21 That’s a weapon.

01:22 Yeah.

01:23 Hotel Two-Six; Crazy Horse One-Eight [second Apache helicopter].

01:41 Yup. He’s got a weapon too.

01:43 Hotel Two-Six; Crazy Horse One-Eight. Have five to six individuals with AK47s [automatic rifles]. Request permission to engage [shoot].

02:43 You’re clear.

02:44 All right, firing.

02:47 Let me know when you’ve got them.

02:49 Lets shoot.

02:50 Light ’em all up.

02:52 Come on, fire!

02:57 Keep shoot’n, keep shoot�n.

02:59 keep shoot�n.

03:02 keep shoot�n.

03:05 Hotel Bushmaster Two-Six, Bushmaster Two-Six, we need to move, time now!

JAY: Now joining us to explain what we’re seeing and why this took place is Josh Stieber. He joined the armed forces in 2006, was in Iraq in 2007, and after 14 months applied for conscientious objector status, which he finally got. And here he is. Thanks for joining us, Josh.

JOSH STIEBER: Sure. Thanks for having me.

JAY: So you grew up in Maryland.

STIEBER: Right. Not too far from here.

JAY: And so before we get into your story, just tell us�let’s go back and look at some of the footage. And first of all, as�we’re going to start playing the footage now. So, as we’re seeing it, tell us, first of all, how atypical is this? Or is this happening all the time, this kind of instance?

STIEBER: Incidents similar to this, I would say, are not altogether infrequent. I’m not as familiar with incidents with helicopters, because I was in an infantry unit, but that common mindset to shoot first and ask questions later is one that stems back as far as the very first days of training, and, yeah, that mindset and the things built on top of that throughout training have these results in combat.

JAY: Now, you’re in the company that was on the ground that day. You weren’t there yourself that day. But when the guys came home that day, was there something remarkable for them that they talked about it? Or was it kind of just another day out in Baghdad?

STIEBER: It was treated with a little more, you know, maybe, emotion than usual that�yeah, they came back and were talking about what had happened and that there was�what they said was an attack against them, and just, I guess, the number of people that were killed was maybe a little larger than usual. So a little bit more, but, you know, not something extremely irregular.

JAY: Was there any sense that the guys in the Apache helicopters had done anything wrong? Or this was par for the course?

STIEBER: The people in the video, you know, as you can see, weren’t actually on the scene as they saw what happened from the helicopter. So you just kind of trust what you’re told. If someone tells you, you know, this is what I saw and this is what I did, then you kind of take them at face value, ’cause there’s really no way to prove or to examine otherwise. So perspective from the helicopter, without this video or without other eyewitnesses, really couldn’t be verified.

JAY: Now, it’s hard to tell from the video whether there were actually weapons in the guys’ hands or not. Apparently they found some later. I mean, when you watch the video, can you see weapons in the hands of some of the guys on the�people on the ground?

STIEBER: I can see things that look like weapons enough that, based on the training that I went through, I know I would have been commanded to fire if I was in a position where I observed that. And then, also, in the 40 minute Wikileaks version of the video, the full video, the soldiers actually�you can hear them coming on the radio, saying they found weapons on the scene.

JAY: So let’s go back to you. I don’t know whether this incident or incidents like this helped to form who you were or who you became, but start from the beginning. Why did you join? And you told me off-camera you joined knowing�hoping to be sent to Iraq. Why?

STIEBER: I grew up very religiously and very patriotic, in a selective sense that, you know, I only wanted to hear things that I wanted to hear and only things that I thought would make my country look better and make my beliefs look better, and I wasn’t very interested in understanding other perspectives. And the vision I had of my country was that, you know, we were going all throughout the world doing, you know, all this great stuff and helping people in need. And, you know, after 9/11 I was obviously affected by that and wanted to protect the people that I cared about, and, from everyone I trusted, was told that the military would be a good way to do that, and then was also told, you know, there’s this country Iraq that’s getting oppressed by this horrible dictator who’s also a threat to us, and if we can get rid of him, not only will we be keeping ourselves safe, but we’ll also be helping this other country in the process.

JAY: How interwoven were your beliefs in America and what America stands for and your religious beliefs?

STIEBER: They were pretty closely intertwined. I went to a religious high school. And one example is, in a government class that I was in at this religious high school, we read a book called The Faith of George W. Bush. And people like that were held up as, you know, these�these are people that are fighting for God’s will here on Earth. So religion was very interwoven with a sense of nationalism.

JAY: But by 2006, when you join, it’s already really clear that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, that Bush and Cheney had essentially lied to start a war. Like, that was�by 2006 that’s fairly acknowledged. Had that penetrated in to you, to your school?

STIEBER: There, and just the�kind of the people I was listening to. And, again, I wasn’t making any kind of effort to really challenge my thinking. People were saying, you know, whoever it is, the media or other countries are out to make us look bad, and, you know, we did the right thing, and we’re doing the right thing. And I might have had a few doubts in my mind, but even I comforted the doubts by saying, you know, even if the reasons that we’re there weren’t completely justified, we’re there and we’re still in this position, since we’re there, that we can’t just pull out, and we need to help these people.

JAY: So even if there were no weapons and even if the argument for weapons wasn’t legitimate, it’s still good versus evil, and they’re evil and we’re good, and we’ve got to fight it?

STIEBER: Yeah. I bought into that lingo a lot.

JAY: So you go to Iraq. You join, you go through boot camp, and you’re sent to Iraq, and you’re still more or less the same mindset. Tell us a little bit about boot camp and the kind of training that takes place to prepare you for war. I mean, your religious training is supposed to be about love thy neighbor, and then you’re sent to war. So how do they get you ready for that?

STIEBER: Yeah, I guess that’s where I started to see, maybe, some of these contradictions, just by the kinds of things that we did on a regular basis in basic training, whether it was the cadences that we sang as we were marching around, some that even joked about killing women and children.

JAY: Like what?

STIEBER: One that stands out in my mind is�it goes, “I went down to the market where all the women shop/I pulled out my machete and I begin to chop/I went down to the park where all the children play/I pulled out my machine gun and I begin to spray.”

JAY: That’s as you’re marching.

STIEBER: Right.

JAY: So this is, like, an authorized chant, you could say.

STIEBER: Yeah. I mean, the training, they focus on the physical aspect, or, you know, they say that’s the challenging part, but then they slip all these psychological things in along with it.

JAY: Well, that’s got to be shocking for you to hear that the first time.

STIEBER: Yeah. And so I started writing home to religious leaders at my church, saying what I’m being asked to do doesn’t really line up with, you know, all these religious beliefs I had. And I would get letters back with explanations that I needed to have more faith in God, or this is just how the military works.

JAY: They would write back and defend a chant like that, that it’s okay to go down where the kids are playing and start to spray? They would defend that?

STIEBER: They would either defend it or say that ends justify the means or say, you know, maybe you personally don’t say chants like that and just march silently, but you still go along with the whole system. And so I adopted that mindset that even if there were particular things that troubled me, which there definitely were, then you can calm that discomfort by saying, well, you know, even if I’m uncomfortable with these certain practices, in the long run we’re still getting rid of the bad guys, and we’re still keeping our country safe, and we’re still spreading freedom and democracy around the world, so you shouldn’t focus on the smaller things.

JAY: So at this point, to what extent do you start to question your faith? ‘Cause it’s all about faith, and faith is about not questioning. So once you start to question, it leads you to places you haven’t been before. So does that�and does it begin in boot camp?

STIEBER: Yeah, I would say that it definitely did. And kind of the more I saw the things that seemed like they were in contradiction, I would kind of have less and less faith in my faith and just start doing things less�that�I guess that idealism or that religious motivation started to fall away, and it became more about doing things to either fit in with the crowd or to take on this nationalism that, yeah, we’re still a good country, you know, even if I don’t like these particular things, and we’re still spreading freedom and democracy around the world.

JAY: Now, I’ve been told by�I have never been in the military, but I’ve been told to get people ready to kill it’s quite an intense psychological process. Humans actually, apparently, don’t like killing each other. How did that�what was that for you, and what was the impact on you?

STIEBER: I would say it’s very calculated. It starts with bayonet training, even though bayonets haven’t been used in any war since, I believe, the Korean War. But, you know, they first start out by getting you used to stabbing a dummy with a bayonet, yelling “kill, kill, kill” as you do it. And if you can get comfortable with that, then it’s slightly more comfortable to shoot at a target from further away. And just the nature of the training, as the military’s gone on, as I’ve gone back and studied it, that has changed. Before, targets just used to be circles, and now the targets look like actual people. They just get you just to thinking in those dehumanizing terms that this is a target, and people that look like this are targets, rather than this is what a human looks like.

JAY: And to what extent was the actual politics of Iraq talked about, or what to make of Iraqis, what to think about Arabs? To be able to go and kill people, do they have to dehumanize all the people you’re about to meet?

STIEBER: The common mindset that I would say was coming towards Iraqis were, one, just kind of, you know, how they were referred to. They were always referred to “Hajis”, you know, similar to “Gooks” in Vietnam or other phrases and other words. So there was that mindset, combined with this mindset, that if you don’t do everything you’re trained to do and if you’re not being the best soldier that you can be, then these Iraqis, you know, at some point or another, are going to attack you, or, you know, if you’re in a combat situation and you’re not doing everything that you were taught, then you’re exposing yourself and your friends to being open to attack. So that was very much fear mongering, from that point of view.

JAY: Well, in the next segment of our interview, let’s talk about you as you get to Iraq and how that helps to shape you. Please join us for the next segment of our interview with Josh Stieber on The Real News Network.

END OF TRANSCRIPT

DISCLAIMER:

Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete acc

 

Monsanto – the Most Hated Corporation On Earth?


March-Against-Monsanto-South-Africa

What does it take to be the most hated corporation on earth? How many global corporations have had an entire day of global protest declared to draw attention to their nastiness? Well, the worlds leading producer of genetically modified seed, Monsanto, has just managed this feat, with millions having participated in over 450 actions across 52 countries on the 25th of May. It is worth examining how and why Monsanto has become so uniformly hated around the planet.

It is difficult to assume the bottom slot amongst a panoply of corporate villains that pollute and destroy the environment, exploit the poor, corrupt governments, lie about their products, sue their customers and do their best to avoid taxation by every legal and other means possible.

Monsanto regularly takes the honours as the most abhorred corporation, in amongst some noxious competitors. In 2012 Monsanto won the “Greenwash Award” for misinforming the public about its environmental credentials. It won the worst company of 2011 award. In 2009 it won the Angry Mermaid Award during the run-up to the failed Copenhagen climate change talks for misleadingly claiming its GM crops reduced CO2 emissions.

This long list of negative awards should be incredibly damaging to the company. However the investor community embraces rogue corporations and Monsanto’s shareholders have been richly rewarded for its bad behaviour. Were Monsanto an individual and not a corporation it would certainly have been sentenced to jail, probably indefinitely, for repeatedly breaking laws around the world. Yet corporations manage to evade responsibility for the sort of behaviour you or I cannot.

None of this is new. In 2002 Monsanto was found guilty of not only contaminating the town and surrounds of Anniston, Alabama with carcinogenic polychlorinated bi-phenyls (PCBs), but of covering up this pollution for decades. Beside being ordered to pay a paltry $800 000 settlement, it was found guilty of the crime of “outrage.” Outrage is legally defined as conduct “so outrageous in character and extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency so as to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in civilized society.” It really is difficult to beat that.

Monsanto not only opposed the Anniston case, it attempted to avoid prosecution through its sale of its chemical business to Solutia, insisting it was the problem of the new owner. It took exactly the same tack with its pollution of its ‘home town’ of Sauget, which originally was incorporated under the name of Monsanto in 1926.

In the US Monsanto is linked to nearly 100 superfund sites, two in Sauget alone, where its historical pollution is being remediated, mainly through taxpayer funds. It has managed to avoid similar responsibility in the UK as well. The infamous Vietnam War defoliant, Agent Orange, manufactured by Monsanto and others, was routinely contaminated with PCBs.

When Rachel Carson wrote her carefully researched book “Silent Spring,” outlining the dangers of agricultural chemicals and heralding the a emergence of the environmental movement, she was aggressively targeted by Monsanto, responsible for production of chemicals like DDT that she questioned. Monsanto parodied Carson’s book while viciously attempting to undermine her reputation and vilifying her as a “hysterical woman.” Tactics have changed very little with opponents of GM crops denigrated as luddites or unscientific.

Today Monsanto is better known for its GM crops than its chemicals. It is the world’s single biggest producer of genetically modified (GM) crops, responsible for around 95% of global GM plantings. The most widely grown GM crop, GM soy, is specifically engineered for resistance to Monsanto’s herbicide “Roundup”. The chemicals in Roundup have been linked to Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, cancer and gut disease, as well as having serious documented impacts on amphibians, fish, soil biota and other ecological processes. Needless to say herbicide resistant crops have sharply increased the use of chemicals. As weeds develop resistance more potent chemicals are needed and further GM crops are being introduced to resist these chemicals in turn.

The pursuit of GM crops has led Monsanto to morph from a chemical corporation into the worlds largest seed company. Through purchase of seed companies around the world it has acquired an unimaginable wealth seed germplasm. Yet it has sharply reduced the number of seed varieties sold by its subsidiaries, instead concentrating on its core business of pushing GM crops.

Monsanto is fully aware of its inherent unpopularity, which continues despite its every attempt to reform its reputation through extensive public relations campaigns. Its strategy to sidestep this is to form and fund groups and alliances that promote its interests. Organisations like BIO, the US biotechnology association, as well as Africa- and Europa-Bio, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications and Crop Life each support Monsanto’s interests as supposedly independent voices. Additionally, Monsanto spends millions of dollars directly lobbying governments around the world.

Monsanto then negates these massive PR campaigns by its aggressive legal prosecution of farmers it alleges are re-using its seed containing its patented GM genes. While there are constant high profile cases in the USA, Monsanto insists it will not prosecute African farmers for saving or possessing seed contaminated by their genes. In South America Monsanto has gone directly to the governments of Argentina, Brazil and other nations in order to try to leverage royalties on farmer saved GM seed.

Monsanto has also ensured its continued domination of the chemical herbicide industry by contractually linking the sale of Roundup to herbicide resistant “Roundup Ready” and “Yieldguard” soy, maize and cottonseed. Pushing this technology into developing markets has exposed farmers to increased debt through the purchase of seed and chemicals. When crops fail, as they repeatedly have, farmers lose their land or, as happens in India, choose to take their lives to escape debt bondage.

The model of industrial agriculture Monsanto promotes exacerbates problems of chemical pollution, water extraction and indebtedness, while also aggravating social upheaval. Small farmers whose lands and crops are contaminated not only by chemicals, but by patented GM crops are forced into burgeoning urban slums where they are trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty.

Monsanto has shifted focus toward developing nations in Africa and Asia, after saturating the Americas and rejection from within the EU. It dominates the GM seed market in South Africa, Brazil and India. There is nothing intrinsically beneficial about Monsanto’s business model, as much as it is supported and promoted within the dominant capital market.

These are just some of the reasons why millions of people protest against Monsanto’s destructive proposals to create profit through the privatisation of our food. That this model perversely masquerades as something beneficial, purporting to offer a hope of feeding a burgeoning planet is even more grotesque. The deeper one looks, the more outrageous is the behaviour of this rogue corporation.

In reality Monsanto epitomises so much that is wrong with the world and how corporations conduct themselves. Were it a living person it would be languishing in jail. The time has come to consider instituting a global criminal court for corporations, where their charters are withdrawn and they are put out of business. That is probably wishful thinking in a world where too big to fail has become a corporate mantra embraced by the very governments these psychopathic corporations support and maintain in power. In the meantime it is up to us, the 99%, to direct our ire toward curbing the misbehaviour of this particular corporate misanthrope.

via allAfrica.com: South Africa: Monsanto – the Most Hated Corporation On Earth? (Page 1 of 3).

The Ugliest Open Secret Of German Politics: Pedophiles In The Green Party’s Past


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Daniel Cohn-Bendit on the cover of his 1975 book “The Great Bazaar.” Shocking experts are resurfacing now. 

BERLIN – In the next few days, Germany’s Green Party leaders are expected to assign a mandate to an academic a very particular research project: reconstruct to what extent, during the 1980s, pedophilia was propagated by their own party.

But whoever is entrusted with the task, what’s already clear is that he or she has to investigate how many Green Party resolutions aimed at “decriminalizing” sexual activity between adults and minors there were and when these were rescinded.

Even more important are two issues relating to collective psychology. First: Why is the party only dealing with this issue now? Already, several years ago, the center-left Die Tageszeitung, or “taz” as it is known, a daily newspaper founded in 1978, which like the early Greens was associated with tolerance for pedophilia, had published a series of self-critical articles about its failure to take a tougher stance on advocates of child abuse.

But the Green Party appears not to have been moved either by the articles in a newspaper much read by its members or by the very loud public conversation unleashed by revelations of child abuse in the Catholic Church to take a closer look at its own abuse issues.

Apparently it required the recent hoopla over European Green politician Daniel Cohn-Bendit winning the 2013 Theodor Heuss Prize for “exemplary democratic disposition,” for the party to take a closer look at his stance, and that of other Greens, on the subject.

Cohn-Bendit has been accused of pedophilia over comments in his 1975 book The Great Bazaar, where he wrote about his time as a kindergarten teacher, saying “It happened several times, that a few children would open the fly of my pants and begin to stroke me. That represented a problem.” He has since come out and said that the book was not based on true events, but was rather an “obnoxious provocation.”

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Daniel Cohn-Bendit in 2012 – Photo: Stephan Röhl

Secondly: Why – despite ample opportunity – did no Green party member in the 1980s ever bring charges against suspected child abusers? Green Parliament Member Marieluise Beck, who was active in the party during the 1980s, told Die Welt about the presence during party conferences of members of the Indianerkommune (Indian Commune) – a “children’s rights” initiative that supported pedophilic relationships.

One would have thought that reasonable people would have caught on to the idea that the men who showed up to rally support for their cause were having sex with some of the children and youths they brought with them. One important party member, Michael Vesper – today the Director General of the German Olympic Sports Confederation, and a founding member of the Greens back in 1979 – says he has come believe that was a mistake.

“We should have taken a close look at what was going on with those children, some of whom were only six or seven years old,” Vesper told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper.

But it seems that none of the party functionaries were the least bit interested in the legalities of the situation. There are no known cases of anyone alerting children’s services or bringing charges. This is a major issue that needs to be cleared.

What is somewhat clearer now, is what party leaders see as the fundamental task of the investigative report – what exactly happened during these party conferences and what were the resolutions between 1980 and the party’s definitive repudiation of pedophiles in 1987?

What is this summertime “honey pot”?

Also to be addressed is the “honey pot” comparison made by Joschka Fischer, an Alliance’90/Green politician who served as German Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor from 1998-2005. In Pepe Danquart’s documentary film Joschka und Herr Fischer, showing this week on German TV, Fischer says of the early Greens that they were like “the honey pot you put out in a meadow in the summertime” to attract as much fauna as possible.

And among the fauna back then in alternative circles was the Indianerkommune, adult/child housing collective, particularly the Nuremberg branch, which hoped that – by storming the podium, kids in tow, during Green Party conferences – the subject of the supposed repression of free sexuality would become part of the political agenda. Which indeed it did become however briefly at a regional meeting of Greens in the state of Nordrhein Westfalen in 1985, resulting in a resolution calling for sexual contact between adults and children not to be punishable by law.

True, the resolution was immediately rescinded – however, that it could even have been possible at all shows how open many Green Party members were to the political demands of pedophiles.

Another indication of this was the Party’s own Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Schwule, Päderasten und Transsexuelle – a Working Group on Homosexuals, Pedophiles, and Transsexuals, known as BAG SchwuP, which supported legalizing sex between children and adults. It was only when this group was dissolved in 1987 that pedophiles lost whatever influence they had in the party.

The Greens were closely involved in discussions on punishment for sexual crimes, and they were right in the sense that there was undoubtedly material open to question in Paragraph 182 on the abuse of kids of 14 and 15. The problem was their take on it.

GrŸndungsparteitag der GrŸnen

German Green Party 1980 Congress – Globalgreens

Paragraph 182 of the then applicable version of the law stated that any adult man over 21 who had intercourse with “a girl under 16 years of age” (i.e. 14 or 15) could be punished with up to a year in prison “unless the perpetrator married the girl he seduced.” However, charges could only be brought by the girl’s parents or legal guardian – not by the girl herself.

Instead of calling for the paragraph to be amended – which it was in 1994 – in 1985 the Green Party faction in the Federal Parliament called for Paragraph 182 to be removed without replacement from the legal code. If that had been done, what it would have meant was that there was no law to protect 14 and 15-year-olds from sexual activity with those over 21. Many Greens were against the idea of protecting kids of 14 and 15 from sex with adults.

The draft for the legislation to abolish Paragraph 182 was unanimously approved by the party’s parliamentarians – which doesn’t mean that even a significant minority of them would have given approval to a law that OK’d sex with children under 14.

All this was turned to advantage by pedophiles and was used as a door opener. The party’s chief whip in the Federal Parliament, Volker Beck, admitted as much when he told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper that “pedophiles could also contribute their views,” and were for the abolishment of Paragraph 176 which dealt with punishing those having sexual relations with children.

Volker Beck continues to deny that he entertained any ideas for resolutions along those lines.

That a text he wrote recommending liberalization appears in a 1988 collection of essays called Der pädosexuelle Komplex (“The Pedo-Sexual Complex”) is according to Beck due to the fact “the publisher included the essay in the book against my will.”

via The Ugliest Open Secret Of German Politics: Pedophiles In The Green Party’s Past – All News Is Global |.

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