LANDMARK Lawsuit claims Monsanto hid cancer danger of weedkiller

LANDMARK LAWSUIT CLAIMS MONSANTO HID CANCER DANGER OF WEEDKILLER FOR DECADES (Source At the age of 46, DeWayne Johnson is not ready to die. But with cancer spread through most of his body, doctors say he probably has just months to live. Now Johnson, a husband and father of three in California, hopes to survive long enough to make Monsanto take the blame for his fate. On 18 June, Johnson will become the first person to take the global seed and chemical company to trial on allegations that it has spent decades hiding the cancer-causing dangers of its popular Roundup herbicide products – and his case has just received a major boost.

Last week Judge Curtis Karnow issued an order clearing the way for jurors to consider not just scientific evidence related to what caused Johnson’s cancer, but allegations that Monsanto suppressed evidence of the risks of its weed killing products. Karnow ruled that the trial will proceed and a jury would be allowed to consider possible punitive damages.

“The internal correspondence noted by Johnson could support a jury finding that Monsanto has long been aware of the risk that its glyphosate-based herbicides are carcinogenic … but has continuously sought to influence the scientific literature to prevent its internal concerns from reaching the public sphere and to bolster its defenses in products liability actions,” Karnow wrote. “Thus there are triable issues of material fact.”

Johnson’s case, filed in San Francisco county superior court in California, is at the forefront of a legal fight against Monsanto. Some 4,000 plaintiffs have sued Monsanto alleging exposure to Roundup caused them, or their loved ones, to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Another case is scheduled for trial in October, in Monsanto’s home town of St Louis, Missouri.


Russian sub test-fires 4 intercontinental missiles in salvo

Russian sub test-fires 4 intercontinental missiles in salvo (Source Associated Press)

A Russian nuclear-powered submarine successfully test-fired four intercontinental ballistic missiles on Tuesday, the navy said. The navy said the submarine, named Yuri Dolgoruky after the medieval prince who founded Moscow, launched the Bulava missiles in a single salvo from a submerged position in the White Sea. The navy said the mock warheads the missiles carried reached their practice targets on the opposite side of Russia — the Kura shooting range on the far eastern Kamchatka Peninsula.

The exercise marked the first simultaneous launch of four Bulava missiles, which can carry multiple nuclear warheads and has a range of up to 9,300 kilometers (about 5,770 miles.) The Bulava has been commissioned by the Russian navy after a long cycle of development. Russian officials said the missile has quicker start than its predecessors, helping it dodge missile defenses.

The Yuri Dolgoruky is one of the three new Borei-class submarines the Russian navy has. Another five such submarines are under construction to gradually replace some of the older Soviet-built ones.

California Bill Could Criminalize the Bible’s view on Homosex

California Bill Could Criminalize the Bible’s View on Homosexuality (Source

California is on track to add reparative therapy to a list of fraudulent business practices. The California State Assembly passed Assembly Bill 2943 on April 19 by a vote of 50 to 18. If this bill becomes law, it will make it illegal to advertise or sell counseling services to people trying to overcome gender confusion or change their same-sex attraction.

It is already illegal in California to sell reparative counseling to a minor. This bill aims to expand the ban to include adults. It becomes law if it passes the Senate and is signed by the governor.

Assemblyman Evan Low, the homosexual lawmaker who introduced the bill to the California state legislature, says reparative therapy is harmful and should be outlawed. But other lawmakers worry that this bill aims to censor free speech and infringe upon religious freedom by muzzling discussion concerning gender confusion.

“AB 2943 would amend the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act—a consumer law that outlaws unfair and deceptive practices—by adding so-called ‘sexual orientation change efforts’ to a list of banned practices,” wrote Monica Burke, a research assistant at the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society. “It would, in effect, ban all practices that the state deems attempting to change one’s sexual orientation—including practices as indirect as the publishing of certain material. This expansive law would impose widespread censorship that could implicate authors, speakers, counselors, colleges and universities, and even religious leaders seeking to address unwanted same-sex attraction or gender identity confusion.”

Assemblyman Low told skeptics that the bill does not impede freedom of speech or religion because it applies only to commercial and financial transactions. Therefore pastors and therapists can still counsel people about how to overcome gender confusion as long as no financial transaction takes place. Christian groups have pointed out that a ban on advertising or selling services that help a person overcome gender confusion and same-sex attraction could be broadly interpreted to ban the sale of certain books—including the Bible. Attorney Anthony Sampson, who advises Assemblyman Low’s office, assured the Associated Press that the vaguely worded bill would not be interpreted to ban books. Instead, it would only apply to “practices” and counseling services. Not everyone believes Sampson.

Some are taking preemptive measures to protect themselves from the effects of this proposed legislation. Summit Ministries, a Colorado-based organization that teaches that homosexuality is a sin, has decided to cancel a summer conference at Biola University in the Los Angeles area.



Pope says God made gay people just as we should be

The pope says God made gay people just as we should be (Source
It is immensely powerful to hear that Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic church, reportedly told Juan Carlos Cruz, a gay man: “God made you like this and loves you like this.” Cruz is a survivor of clerical abuse who spoke privately with the pope a few weeks ago, and has since reported his conversation to Spanish newspapers. His abuser, Fernando Karadima, was found guilty of abuse by the Vatican in 2011. As a practising Catholic, I find it deeply moving to have Pope Francis appear to confirm what many Catholics already know to be true: God made us just as we should be, there are no mistakes. Lesbian, gay, bi and trans people exist in every community, from every ethnic background and in every religion. However, religion can often be the area of life that people find the most difficult to reconcile with their identity. Some people will say that LGBT people can’t exist in faith communities; that faith communities don’t accept same-sex relationships or those whose gender doesn’t match the one that they were assigned at birth. Some believe that LGBT people can and should be “cured”. As a result of these beliefs, LGBT people often need to find a way to God despite their leaders, rather than because of them. But the pope’s reported words are a striking affirmation that LGBT people of faith belong in church and in religious communities.


EU to Switch from US Dollar to Euro on Oil Trades from Iran

EU to Switch from US Dollar to Euro on Oil Trades from Iran (Source Iran, under a renewed threat of U.S. sanctions returning, two months ago decided to switch using the greenback as a currency in its imports and banned all traders from using USD. China was now ready to start testing its new system and that regulators had asked a handful of financial institutions to prepare for pricing China’s crude imports in the yuan. Since the launch in May, the interest in the renminbi-backed oil contracts has steadily increased. Traded daily volumes hit a record 250,000 lots within two weeks and surprisingly the share of yuan contracts in global trading jumped to 12 percent from 8 percent just eight weeks earlier.

Then, an industry news source for the oil and gas industry reported on April 9th that Russia was considering replacing the U.S. dollar in crude oil payments on deals with Turkey and Iran, Energy Minister Alexander Novak said.

According to Novak, “There is a common understanding that we need to move towards the use of national currencies in our settlements. There is a need for this, as well as the wish of the parties. This concerns both Turkey and Iran – we are considering an option of payment in national currencies with them. This requires certain adjustments in the financial, economic and banking sectors.” Two weeks later Novak then announced that Russia had put together an oil-for-goods program with Iran and confirmed that the first shipments had been made.  The deal aims for five years of trading and gets around the USD trade. So far, no reader should be surprised that Russia, Turkey and Iran have decided to ‘ditch the dollar.’ It may be news that China is preparing the way to follow through as well. However, a major turning point in relations between the US and EU is not far from an announcement. After infuriating the European Union over a series of deals like the Paris Climate Accord, TTIP and others, the final straw came when after twelve years of EU negotiators being the linchpin to the Iran nuclear deal, Donald Trump decided the best course of action – is to withdraw from the deal and impose even harsher sanctions.

With the USA giving the green-light under Obama in 2015 to allow Iranian trade, the EU struck lucrative deals worth tens of billions. In 2017, EU trade with Iran increased 45 percent from the previous year with the same growth expected by 2020. By contrast, the USA managed less than one-tenth of the trade available. The USA has dangerously caused an inflationary spike in oil prices, meaning the EU is hit with the double whammy of inflationary pressures and economic growth plans turning into unemployment statistics.

The EU has lost patience and all but declared it is now on an economic collision course with the United States of America.

Some EU banks have declared they are already in a position to provide trading services to European corporations wishing to do trade with Iran.

EU Fights to keep Iran Nuclear Deal Alive After Trump’s Exit

EU Fights to Keep Iran Nuclear Deal Alive After Trump’s Exit (Source Donald Trump didn’t kill the Iran nuclear deal. He just shrank its membership by one. That was the line taken by the European Union immediately after the U.S. president announced his withdrawal from the 2015 accord. Germany, France and the U.K. all said they’ll stick to their commitments. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he wants to see them deliver.

“I don’t trust these three countries either,” Khamenei said on his website. “If you want to have a deal, we need practical guarantees otherwise they will do the same as the U.S. If they can’t give definitive guarantees, it won’t be possible to continue.” But it’s not clear whether the EU, China and Russia will be able to ensure Iran receives the promised economic benefits — including free access to international oil markets and accelerating flows of trade and investment — that persuaded the Islamic Republic’s leaders to sign up to an agreement capping its nuclear program. Before Trump’s announcement Tuesday that he’ll pull the U.S. out of the deal, Western businesses had already been reluctant to take the plunge into a country still subject to multiple curbs imposed by Washington. The exit throws billions of dollars of European investments that had been planned into disarray. President Hassan Rouhani said Iran will push to make the deal work but may step up uranium enrichment again if the efforts of the remaining parties don’t yield tangible results. “The international reach of U.S. sanctions makes the U.S. the economic policeman of the planet, and that is not acceptable,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Wednesday in an interview on France Culture radio. He branded Trump’s decision a “major mistake” and said he’ll lobby Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin this week to grant exemptions for European firms. French President Emmanuel Macron is due to speak to Rouhani later in the day.


Trump declares US leaving ‘horrible’ Iran nuclear accord

Trump declares US leaving ‘horrible’ Iran nuclear accord (Source Associated Press)

President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the landmark nuclear accord with Iran on Tuesday, abruptly restoring harsh sanctions in the most consequential foreign policy action of his presidency. He declared he was making the world safer, but he also deepened his isolation on the world stage and revived doubts about American credibility.

The 2015 agreement, which was negotiated by the Obama administration and included Germany, France and Britain, had lifted most U.S. and international economic sanctions against Iran. In exchange, Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear program, making it impossible to produce a bomb and establishing rigorous inspections.

But Trump, a severe critic of the deal dating back to his presidential campaign, said in a televised address from the White House that it was “defective at its core.”

U.S. allies in Europe had tried to keep him in and lamented his move to abandon it. Iran’s leader ominously warned his country might “start enriching uranium more than before.”

The sanctions seek to punish Iran for its nuclear program by limiting its ability to sell oil or do business overseas, affecting a wide range of Iranian economic sectors and individuals. Major companies in the U.S. and Europe could be hurt, too. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that licenses held by Boeing and its European competitor Airbus to sell billions of dollars in commercial jetliners to Iran will be revoked. Certain exemptions are to be negotiated, but Mnuchin refused to discuss what products might qualify.

He said the sanctions will sharply curtail sales of oil by Iran, which is currently the world’s fifth largest oil producer. Mnuchin said he didn’t expect oil prices to rise sharply, forecasting that other producers will step up production.

Iran’s government must now decide whether to follow the U.S. and withdraw or try to salvage what’s left with the Europeans. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said he was sending his foreign minister to the remaining countries but warned there was only a short time to negotiate with them.


Germany Tightens Ists Grip on Its European Empire

Germany Tightens Its Grip on Its European Empire (Source In the latest long-term budget plan, EU budget commissioner Günter Oettinger (who happens to be German) unveiled a new policy proposal. It would strip member nations of their EU funding if they failed to comply with EU requirements on “rule of law.” In theory.

In practice, it would give Europe’s largest states the ability to blackmail the smaller ones. You can see this in the way Europe is already using its “rule of law” controls. The EU is currently pursuing Poland for violations of the rule of law. If it succeeds, it will be able to strip Poland of its EU voting rights—if all other countries agree. What is Poland’s great transgression against the basic tenant of liberty? The EU accuses the Polish government of tampering with the composition of its judges on its constitutional court. That’s a sham. Spain did almost exactly the same thing and the EU said nothing. The difference is, the EU approves of Spain’s government, but not Poland’s.

Ottingher’s proposals would dramatically expand the EU’s power. If the European Commission deems that a country has violated the rule of law, financial penalties would come into effect. Only a large majority in the European Council could stop those penalties. In the Council, voting rules take into account population. Germany is the most populous nation in Europe. So if it wants sanctions on a country and it gets a few other nations on its side, the rest of the Council could not stop them. We could soon have an EU that tells its member states how to run their own countries. The EU bureaucracy is already fighting democratically elected governments in Poland and Hungary. If it gains the power Oettinger is proposing, it would have even more authority to make member nations do as they are told. This is just the latest in a long-standing trend. Hans Kundnani noted in the Berlin Policy Journal last month that in Germany’s vision for Europe, “more Europe would mean more Germany―as in many of the steps already taken in the last seven years since the euro crisis began.”

Emmanuel Macron receives Charlemagne Prize for European Unity

Emmanuel Macron receives Charlemagne Prize for European unity in Aachen (Source

French President Emmanuel Macron was recognized for his contributions to European cohesion and integration on Thursday, as he received the Charlemagne Prize in the German city of Aachen. In his acceptance speech, Macron praised the European project for maintaining a “miraculous” 70 years of peace on the continent and outlined his vision for the future. The French president called for more unity among member states and warned that the divisions that appeared during the eurozone and migrant crises risked undermining the EU project. Macron insisted that a common eurozone budget was crucial to guaranteeing EU unity. He urged Germany to get over its “fetish” for budget surpluses and work with him on forging deeper economic co-operations.

“We need an ambitious European budget and a eurozone with its own budget allowing for investments and convergence between member states,” he said. “We have to fight for a new and stronger Europe … Now is the time.”


Oklahoma wildfires kill hundreds of cattle blacken pastures

Oklahoma wildfires kill hundreds of cattle, blacken pastures (Source Reuters) Wind-driven wildfires that began in mid-April, fueled by severe drought, have killed hundreds of cattle and destroyed more than 300,000 acres in Oklahoma, authorities said. Oklahoma has been grappling with several wildfires this month, including the Rhea Fire in the western part of the state. Oklahoma’s governor, Mary Fallin, recently issued a state of emergency for 52 counties due to the wildfires that blackened close to 350,000 total acres – an area roughly equal to half the size of Rhode Island.

Oklahoma is the nation’s fifth-largest cattle producing state with more than 5 million head. While cattle losses were devastating for affected ranchers, overall livestock prices should not be affected, said economists and state officials.

Rod Hall, Oklahoma state veterinarian, put preliminary cattle deaths at roughly 1,100 head and expects that number could eventually climb to around 2,000.

“We’ll never know the exact number and people are also still finding dead animals,” Hall said in an interview, adding that recent rains helped contain most of the blazes.

Some cattle died directly from the fires while others were later euthanized due to injuries or smoke inhalation, he said.

Many Oklahoma pastures had not received adequate moisture for more than 200 days. Animals in these areas were caught off-guard when flames were fanned by winds of up to 60 miles per hour. Some of the acres destroyed were much-needed grazing land for cattle, state officials said.

The ranchers’ most immediate need is hay to feed their cattle, said Michael Kelsey, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association. Hay inventories were already low in the wake of last year’s wildfires and an unusually long, cold and dry winter, he said.