Archive for September 23rd, 2012

Michael Wreszin, a biographer of radical 20th-century American intellectuals who were prominent antiwar activists, among them the social critic Dwight Macdonald, died on Aug. 12 in Manhattan. He was 85. 

Mr. Wreszin, a history professor at Queens College and an antiwar activist himself, was a student of the American left and the many ideological movements competing for dominance of it between the 1920s and 1960s, including socialism, communism, libertarianism and anarchism.

His subjects were cosmopolitan, humanist thinkers who saw a growing militarism in American political culture but whose scrupulous habits of mind could make them misfits in the ideological camps they joined.

In his preface to “A Rebel in Defense of Tradition,” his 1994 biography of Macdonald, Mr. Wreszin described the sliver of ideological ground occupied by one generation of such radical outliers.

“I wanted to study and inform my students about radicals who opposed Stalinist Communism,” he wrote, “but who were also critics of the liberal cold warriors and of much of American foreign policy, as well as capitalist consumer culture.”

All his subjects were of the same type: fiercely independent, sometimes contrarian, lonely freethinkers. The subject of his first book, “Oswald Garrison Villard: Pacifist at War” (1965), was publisher and editor of The Nation magazine from 1900 to 1932.


Click image to purchase A Rebel in Defense of Tradition: The Life and Politics of Dwight Macdonald at the NR Store!


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About 300 Christians, Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims peacefully rallied in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, Saturday to protest the American film that denigrates Islam’s Prophet Mohammed..

“There will be no peace in the world until we respect each other’s religion,” Sikh leader Deedar Singh said.

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Ottawa to open joint U.K.-Canadian diplomatic missions abroad

British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will sign an agreement to open joint U.K.-Canadian diplomatic missions abroad in Ottawa on Monday, CBC News has learned.

“As the Prime Minister [David Cameron] said when addressing the Canadian parliament last year: ‘We are two nations, but under one Queen and united by one set of values,'” Hague said in a written statement to CBC News.

“We have stood shoulder to shoulder from the great wars of the last century to fighting terrorists in Afghanistan and supporting Arab Spring Nations like Libya and Syria. We are first cousins.”

“It is natural that we look to link up our embassies with Canada’s in places where that suits both countries. It will give us a bigger reach abroad for our businesses and people for less cost,” Hague said.

The Conservatives, in the last budget, said they would restructure Canadian government offices, foreign properties and missions abroad “to provide better value for money and results for Canadians.”


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Combination image of two pictures featuring rats with tumors after they were fed a diet of genetically modified (GM) maize produced by US chemical giant Monsanto.

French scientists have revealed that rats fed on GMO corn sold by American firm Monsanto, suffered tumors and other complications including kidney and liver damage. When testing the firm’s top brand weed killer the rats showed similar symptoms.

The French government has asked its health and safety agency to assess the study and had also sent it to the European Union’s food safety agency, Reuters reports.

“Based on the conclusion…, the government will ask the European authorities to take all necessary measures to protect human and animal health, measures that could go as far as an emergency suspension of imports of NK603 maize in the European Union,” the French health, environment and farm ministries said in a joint statement.

Researchers from the University of Caen found that rats fed on a diet containing NK603 – a seed variety made tolerant to amounts of Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller – or given water mixed with the product, at levels permitted in the United States – died earlier than those on a standard diet.

The research conducted by Gilles-Eric Seralini and his colleagues, said the rats suffered mammary tumors, as well as severe liver and kidney damage. The study was published in the journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology and presented at a news conference in London.

Fifty percent of male and 70 percent of female rats died prematurely, compared with only 30 percent and 20 percent in the control group, said the researchers.

Monsanto spokesman, Thomas Helscher, said the company would review the study thoroughly but stated that other scientific studies had proved the biotech crops’ safety.

Some scientists however criticized the French researchers’ statistical methods and the use of a particular type of rat, saying the albino Sprague-Dawley strain of animal had a tendency to develop cancers.

But despite skepticism, the study draws attention to controversy surrounding genetically modified crops and the US biotech giant Monsanto.

Michael Antoniou, a molecular biologist at King’s College London – who acted as an adviser to Seralini’s team – told reporters that the study stresses the “need to test all GMO crops in two-year lifelong studies”.

“I feel this data is strong enough to withdraw the marketing approval for this variety of GMO maize temporarily, until this study is followed up and repeated with larger number of animals to get the full statistical power that we want,” he said as quoted by Reuters.

Last Friday France said it will uphold a ban on genetically modified crops produced by the Monsanto. The move came as President Francois Hollande pushed his plan to put the environment back at the top of the international agenda.

In the wake of the publication, Jose Bove, vice-chairman of the European Parliament’s commission for agriculture, called for an immediate suspension of all EU cultivation and import authorizations of genetically modified crops.

“This study finally shows we are right and that it is urgent to quickly review all GMO evaluation processes,” he said following the announcement of the research.

While being widely used in the United States, GMO crops have been less popular among European consumers, due to concerns about its impact on people’s health and the environment.

In California, opponents of genetically engineered food are fighting to have it removed from the food supply. They are also pushing to pass Proposition 37, a law that would legally require genetically modified foods to be labeled as such. Monsanto stands opposed to such a proposal and has donated over $4.2 million to lobby against it.

Agriculturalists across America have previously tried to take the biotech giant to court over charges stemming from their lab-made corn GMOs. Over 2,000 farmers have petitioned the US government to more thoroughly investigate the impact that genetically modified corn crop from Monsanto will have on the country.

As RT reported before, Monsanto wants to plant a corn variant across America’s Midwest that will be resistant to a powerful pesticide produced with 2,4-D, the same compound crucial to the make-up of the notorious Vietnam War-era killer Agent Orange. If approved, the new corn will be able to thrive as farmers douse their fields in the chemical, killing off unwanted weeds in the process, while at the same time subjecting Americans to a pesticide linked to cancer risks.


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Bolivia’s armed forces have been given a new job not usually awarded to the military.

President Evo Morales has ordered them to add protecting the Amazon’s pink dolphin to their list of duties. Morales signed a new law protecting the animals, the country’s only freshwater mammal, BBC News reports.

The legislation forbids catching them and declares the dolphin a national treasure, BBC News said. Its official name is Inia boliviensis, a subspecies of the pink river dolphins found elsewhere in South America, which is Inia geoffrensis.

The odd-looking dolphins are known for their chubby cheeks, the WDCS said. They tend to swim upside-down, perhaps because the cheeks obstruct their vision. They swim slowly and travel in pairs or alone, except in the dry season, when they cluster into groups of 10 or 15.

The army’s might can only go so far in protecting the species, as the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) points out. The main threat against them besides overfishing is environmental: contamination from mercury used in mining gold, and habitat destruction via erosion in the Amazon, the WDCS said on its website.

“We congratulate President Morales on taking these steps,” said WDCS lead river dolphin conservationist Alison Wood in a statement. “He is right to be proud of Bolivia’s very own precious river dolphin and be concerned about its future.”

Wood went on to say that the dolphins face other threats as well, and urged the Bolivian government to tackle issues such as dam construction in northern Bolivia.

Here’s more from the WDCS on Inia boliviensis and Inia geoffrensis


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Security force members ‘may have colluded in Derry killing’

The families of two Londonderry men murdered by the UDA in 1976 have said questions remain to be answered.

The Historical Enquiries Team looked into the murders of John Toland and Jim Loughrey.

It found members of the security forces may have colluded in the killing of Mr Toland.

Sons of both men have said they want to know why the suspected commander of the UDA in Derry at the time was never questioned about the murders.

The men, who were both Catholic, were murdered eight days apart.

“It all leads back to the UDA commander in Derry at the time,” Mr Loughrey’s son John said.

“We have questions about who this person was working for and where is that person – he mysteriously disappeared when statements were made about these murders in 1986.

“There were 30 arrests of loyalists in Derry at this time yet the man who was commander of the UDA in Derry at the time was never arrested or questioned about these murders.”


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Warriors for gay rights: The Conservatives have become unlikely LGBT supporters

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird stood before the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations this month and outlined his aggressive agenda to “stand up to the violent mobs that seek to criminalize homosexuality.”

“Draconian punishment and unspeakable violence are inflicted on people simply for whom they love and for who they are,” he said.

That same day, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney touted Canada as a haven for gay refugees from Iran. Working with Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees, Mr. Kenney’s office had fast-tracked 100 gay Iranians into Canada, saving them from possible execution.

A mere seven years ago, the Tories were famously the opponents of same sex marriage. Now, the Harper Conservatives freely push gay rights abroad and even host an annual gathering of gay Tories. While they remain the favourite punching bag for Canadian LGBT activists, have the Harper Tories become unlikely warriors for gay rights?

“I can no longer shock people in the conservative movement when I tell them I’m gay – but I can shock gay people when I tell them I’m Conservative,” said Fred Litwin, and former vice-president of the Ottawa Centre Conservatives.

In June, Mr. Litwin was one of the organizers of the Fabulous Blue Tent Party, a gathering of approximately 800 gay Conservatives at Ottawa’s Westin Hotel that went until 3 a.m.


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