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Poverty Rate In U.S. Saw Record Increase In 2009: 1 In 7 Americans Are Poor

Why is it that Americans are discovering that the U.S. now has the largest increase in poverty in more than a half a century under the administration of a U.S. president that may be one of the most sympathetic to the needs of the middle class and the poor of all presidents during this period? One answer might be that it reflects a long tail of a previous president due to the engagement of elective wars with poor outcomes and disastrous tax and social policies. This will most likely be at the heart of the political rhetoric of the Democratic party during the the 2010 mid-term and 2012 presidential election. However, there may be a deeper truth, which our national leadership and the American public is missing, or is unwilling to speak about. American society has deep structural problems from long-standing policies and socio-poliical behaviors stemming back to the early 1980s and before, that have aggregated into disastrous unsustainable, yet well entrenched, societal patterns. The key question is "When will the sociopolitical climate be ripe for political leadership to emerge that can speak honestly with the American public about the federal debt?

Scientists Find Thick Layer Of Oil On Seafloor

As suspected by many scientists and residents along the Gulf Coast, the dispersants used by BP and natural processes have driven the oil from Deepwater Horizon to the bottom. Given the large amounts of petrochemicals covering the bottom of a huge area in the Gulf of Mexico, there is serious concern that the food chain is significantly disrupted in this area. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129782098

UN: 3.5 Million Pakistani Children at Risk for Waterborne Diseases

The United Nations says 3.5 million children in Pakistan are at risk from waterborne diseases, warning of a "second wave of death" from the country's devastating floods. U.N. humanitarian spokesman Maurizio Giuliano said Monday as many as six million people face the risk of contracting diarrhea and dysentery if donors do not provide more aid. Sluggish response The U.N. has launched an appeal for $460 million, but charities say the response has been sluggish, with only about 27 percent of the goal being met so far. Hundreds of angry flood victims blocked a highway outside Sukkur in southern Sindh province Monday, demanding government assistance. The protesters held up traffic as they called for food and shelter. Three weeks of monsoon rains have triggered Pakistan's worst flooding, with an estimated 1,600 people killed and 20 million affected in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh provinces. More flooding likely On Monday, authorities said a new wave of flooding was likely along the Indus River in Punjab and Sindh. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon traveled to Pakistan on Sunday and said the flooding was the worst natural disaster he has ever seen. He urged international donors to speed up aid. Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg on Monday called the international response to the disaster lamentable.

Spill raises concerns of health effects

By Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY Lawsuits are already being prepared alleging harm to people who are living near or working to clean up the Deepwater Horizon oil spill off the coast of Louisiana. The law firm Smith Stag in New Orleans says it has assembled a group of lawyers in the Gulf states to process such claims. Stuart Smith, a partner in the firm, says he has been in touch with people in Alaska who say they were hurt during the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 by chemicals in the oil and dispersants used to keep it from reaching shore "which are also toxic." He says he's concerned about the potential health effects on the thousands of out-of-work fishermen, shrimpers and oystermen who will be taking part in the cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico. So what are the human health risks from a disaster such as this? For more information: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2010-05-05-oil-health_N.htm?csp=obinsite

Toxicologists warn that waters that look clear of oil can be deceiving

By Dan Vergano, USA TODAY Out of sight, out of mind? As surface oil plumes fade from view in the Gulf of Mexico, courtesy of the capped Macondo well, it would be wrong to think that the oil still isn't there, forensic toxicologists warn. "We're finding less and less oil as we move forward," disaster response chief Thad Allen said last week, noting that skimmer boats were having trouble finding slicks. The retired Coast Guard admiral also pointed out that 40% of the leaked oil — more than 90 million gallons of crude by U.S. Geologic Survey scientist estimates — is unaccounted for. For more information: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/environment/2010-08-02-2Amarshes_N.htm

Alan Greenspan: Extending Bush Tax Cuts Without Paying For Them Could Be 'Disastrous'

Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan said that the push by congressional Republicans to extend the Bush tax cuts without offsetting the costs elsewhere could end up being "disastrous" for the economy. In an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," Greenspan expressed his disagreement with the conservative argument that tax cuts essentially pay for themselves by generating revenue and productivity among recipients. "They do not," said Greenspan. For more information: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/01/alan-greenspan-extending_n_666549.html

David Stockman: Four Deformations of the Apocalypse

In a rare OpEd in the New York Times, David Stockman, former Republican Office of Management and Budget Director under the Reagan Administration, lambasts the Republican party for its irresponsible stand on maintaining the Bush tax cuts during a time of ballooning Federal deficit. -- An important read. By DAVID STOCKMAN Published: July 31, 2010 IF there were such a thing as Chapter 11 for politicians, the Republican push to extend the unaffordable Bush tax cuts would amount to a bankruptcy filing. The nation’s public debt — if honestly reckoned to include municipal bonds and the $7 trillion of new deficits baked into the cake through 2015 — will soon reach $18 trillion. That’s a Greece-scale 120 percent of gross domestic product, and fairly screams out for austerity and sacrifice. It is therefore unseemly for the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, to insist that the nation’s wealthiest taxpayers be spared even a three-percentage-point rate increase. More fundamentally, Mr. McConnell’s stand puts the lie to the Republican pretense that its new monetarist and supply-side doctrines are rooted in its traditional financial philosophy. Republicans used to believe that prosperity depended upon the regular balancing of accounts — in government, in international trade, on the ledgers of central banks and in the financial affairs of private households and businesses, too.

Gulf Oil Spill: BP Says Time For 'Scaleback' Of Cleanup Efforts

The title of this article would seem to indicate that BP, now having capped the Deepwater Horizon well that has spilled millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico with devastating impacts on the Gulf's ecosystem, believes that its responsibilities to correct the damage done is now coming to a conclusion. The reality of the situation may be far more complex. If BP is allowed to walk away from this catastrophe ignoring impacts on wildlife, the foodchain, human health, livelihoods, the social ecology of Gulf coast communities, and the economy of the region, what does that portent for future abuses by the petrochemical industry in the Gulf of Mexico? With James Lee Witt (former FEMA Administrator) entering the picture, perhaps there is some inkling of hope. How far will a James Lee Witt go to address the One Health dimensions of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill's impacts on the Gulf region? That remains to be seen... "BILOXI, Miss. — BP's incoming CEO said Friday that it's time for a "scaleback" of the massive effort to clean up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, but stressed the commitment to make things right is the same as ever. Tens of thousands of people – many of them idled fishermen – have been involved in the cleanup, but more than two weeks after the leak was stopped there is relatively little oil on the surface, leaving less work for oil skimmers to do.

Gulf of Mexico Has Long Been Dumping Site

This article states that the social ecology of the Gulf region has evolved into accepting environmental abuse and a passive resignation that the petrochemical industry in the Gulf Region is intertwined with its political and economic systems. The Deepwater Horizon oil/natural gas spill crisis, as perhaps the United States worst environmental catastrophe, according to this article is only one act of many over a 50 year period that has caused the Gulf of Mexico to become an accepted dumping group for environmental pollutants. If so, what will bring the Gulf back to a having a healthy environment and a resilient and sustainable social ecology? The following excerpt from this New York Times article provides the reader with a sense of the resignation, apathy, and lack of education within the Gulf coast citizenry of what they can do to be a part of bringing the Gulf back from the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe. By CAMPBELL ROBERTSON Published: July 29, 2010 "...The gulf has changed, Mr. Pitre said: “I think it’s too far gone to salvage.” The BP oil spill has sent millions of barrels gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, focusing international attention on America’s third coast and prompting questions about whether it will ever fully recover from the spill.

Science alone not enough to boost world farm output

(Reuters) - Feeding a fast-growing global population in the face of climate change and stagnant funding for food aid and farm research will require a fundamental revamp of agriculture, agricultural experts said. GREEN BUSINESS | COP15 But unlike the "Green Revolution" that dramatically hiked agricultural output in Latin America and Asia from the 1950s, a new agricultural restructuring will need to focus as much on new seed varieties as on good governance, women's empowerment and things like curbing commodities speculation, they added. "We cannot address world food security risks effectively only through a science and technology agenda," Joachim von Braun, former director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), told a conference Sunday. "We need to get appropriate market regulations to prevent excessive speculation," he added on the opening day of the conference held in southern France to discuss a roadmap to reform agricultural research to meet development goals. Speculation in food markets contributes to fuelling price swings that can undercut the ability of farmers to plan, often leading them to over or under-produce.

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