Polish government policies risk ′civil war,′ former leader Walesa says | News | DW.COM | 18.12.2015

Lech Walesa said he was beginning to feel “ashamed” of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party’s election win and added to his previous call that the new government uphold democracy’s division of powers among the executive, legislative and judicial branches.Since winning October’s election, the PiS, led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who is neither president nor prime minister, has attempted to install five judges of its own choosing to Poland’s 15-member constitutional court as it prepares to implement controversial societal reforms.The court has the power to veto new legislation.Will end badly, warns WalesaWalesa, who in the 1980s headed the Solidarity movement against then-Soviet rule, told Polish public television late Thursday that while changes were needed in Poland, the way in which PiS was proceeding did not amount to an “open and democratic” reform process.”If they don’t do it like that, I am warning them, it’s going to end in a civil war,” he said.On Wednesday, he had told private Radio Zet that the PiS’s political course would “lead to a lot of misfortune. It will end badly.”Democracy’s three-way division of power and system of checks and balances was “indispensible,” Walesa said.

Source: Polish government policies risk ′civil war,′ former leader Walesa says | News | DW.COM | 18.12.2015

The Rise and Rise of Misty Copeland – The New York Times

Cherry Peace stood, feet firmly planted, at the stage door of the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center in October. She was waiting for Misty Copeland, who had just wrapped up a matinee performance of Paul Taylor’s “Company B” at the American Ballet Theater, to kick off her toe shoes and exit.

There was no sign of Ms. Copeland, but Ms. Peace, 52, a writer who had traveled from Reno, Nev., expressly to see her, stayed rooted to the spot, hoping, if not for an autograph, at least for a glimpse of her idol.“When you get older,” she said, “there are certain things you want to do. Seeing Misty Copeland was on my bucket list.”

Source: The Rise and Rise of Misty Copeland – The New York Times

QUICK HIT: MEET MISS JAMAICA, THE FIRST EVER MISS WORLD PAGEANT CONTESTANT WITH LOCS

Black hair politics can get messy. Not even little Black girls are granted immunity from the scrutiny of classist expectations about the way their hair should look. At school our hair can get us in trouble. And as an adult, our hair can get us fired from our jobs. Even the United States army has a say so in which Black styles are appropriate. Within a system that has standardized whiteness by way of devaluing and erasing Black aesthetics, locs (a shortened and less derogatory form of the word ‘dreadlocks’) are on the “no” list of hairstyles, for the army and beyond. Locs are often branded as unprofessional, dirty, criminal, and unattractive, especially for women.The feminine beauty standards that dominate the pageant world also reflect a bias towards whiteness, especially in regards to hair. So it’s a big deal to know that Dr. Sanneta Myrie, Miss Jamaica, is the first ever competitor to don locs for this 64 year old competition. She says “I lock my hair because I identify with it. I am very much rooted in that Afro-centric nature, where we as Jamaicans are rooted. It’s my expression.” Read more about Miss Jamaica World and her platforms below!

Source: QUICK HIT: MEET MISS JAMAICA, THE FIRST EVER MISS WORLD PAGEANT CONTESTANT WITH LOCS

Humans of New York

Bring Aya to the USA

“We’re process nerds. People don’t realize how important it is for refugee applicants to get every single detail right. One misstep can lead to dire results. We think Aya is in a very vulnerable situation right now, so we’re going to get her appeal filed as quickly as possible. Luckily Betsy and I like to think we are the fastest people in the world at filing these types of appeals. Unfortunately, Aya’s case is not uncommon. These refugee rejections can be based on extremely tangential circumstances. We’ve had clients get turned away because of a crime committed by a distant relative that they’ve never even met. One client’s case was put on indefinite hold because of his connection to a childhood neighbor that he hadn’t spoken to in twenty years. Bureaucratic decisions like these can exclude deserving refugees and leave them at risk of further harm. International Refugee Assistance Project has been very successful with our appeals. The fact that we have one million signatures on Aya’s behalf is really going to help. Once we can elevate the case to a higher profile, it will be reviewed at a higher level with more careful scrutiny. We have so many people watching over this case. And after interviewing Aya about her family history, I’m feeling very good about this. We’ll keep everyone informed every step of the way.”This is Lara ‘The Terminator’* Finkbeiner. Along with Betsy ‘The Hammer’* Fisher, she will be spearheading Aya’s case. Betsy is represented by the intercom because she is working from Minneapolis.*Nicknames assigned by me and may or may not be in common usage.

Source: Humans of New York

What EPA didn’t know about Enlist Duo

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By now you may have heard that in a surprising move last month, EPA effectively pulled Enlist Duo from the market. It had only been a year since EPA approved Dow AgroSciences’ controversial new pesticide product, a combination of glyphosate and 2,4-D designed to accompany the agrichemical giant’s latest genetically modified seeds.

Here at PAN we took a moment to celebrate EPA’s sudden reversal. It’s not often that the agency takes such bold action on pesticides. But we also see that this short-term victory is a crystal clear example of our longstanding critiques of EPA’s process for regulating pesticides.

EPA’s motivation in removing Enlist Duo from the market reveals just how shallow the agency’s process for approving agricultural chemicals really is. Our regulatory system relies almost exclusively on science conducted by profit-motivated companies themselves. In this case, Dow was caught contradicting itself when reporting on its science — painting a different picture for each government agency with which it dealt.

So while I celebrate this setback for Dow, I’m frustrated to see what it took for EPA to actually take action: catching the corporation in a straight up lie.

Hidden research

Last fall, PAN was one of many, many organizations opposing the approval of Dow’s Enlist Duo. We joined farmer groups in pushing both USDA and EPA to look at all the potential consequences of this new, more toxic cousin to RoundUp Ready. Crop damage, increased weed resistance to herbicides and human health impacts were all likely outcomes that EPA and USDA either glossed over or ignored completely when approving Dow’s Enlist crop system.

After losing that battle, PAN joined our partners at Center for Food Safety in a legal petition challenging EPA’s bad process for approving Enlist Duo. It was while preparing a defense for this legal petition that EPA decided to withdraw its support for Dow’s new pesticide.

To explain what happened, first we have to understand synergistic effects: as in, when two chemicals combined have a stronger or different effect than either chemical on its own. One of PAN’s many standing critiques of EPA is that it doesn’t require pesticide corporations to study these synergistic effects before allowing a new product onto the market. In this case, Dow is combining glyphosate with 2,4-D to make a new formulation. But EPA only required Dow to submit research on the two chemicals separately, and specifically cited ‘no synergistic effects’ in its approval document for Enlist Duo.

But here’s the twist: while Dow provided EPA with no evidence that synergistic effects for its Enlist Duo formulation existed, the company submitted an application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office showing concrete evidence of synergistic effects.

EPA’s confusing priorities

EPA has drawn a line in the regulatory sand at intentionally misleading paperwork, but might do nothing about all the other harms caused by Enlist Duo. After reviewing Dow’s patent application, the agency petitioned the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to vacate its own approval of Enlist Duo. While we’re happy to have this dangerous new product temporarily off the shelves, now we’re waiting to see how EPA will respond to Dow’s secret  studies on synergistic effects. If the corporation is to be believed, EPA will have Enlist Duo back on shelves in time for the 2016 growing season.

We know EPA will be examining how synergy between 2,4-D and glyphosate will impact vegetation, presumably of surrounding ecosystem plants. This could mean changing requirements for application like top wind speed and buffer zones, all of which were relatively lenient in EPA’s first registration of the pesticide. What is left unaddressed, of course, is all of our other concerns about Enlist Duo: crop damage, drift, human health impacts, etc, etc.

Most notably, since EPA has registered Enlist Duo, one of its components — glyphosate — has been declared a probable carcinogen by the World Health Organization and the state of California. EPA hasn’t revealed whether this new science on glyphosate will mean any changes to its regulation here in the United States.

In the meantime, Monsanto’s flagship chemical, which they always assured us was ‘safe enough to drink,’ remains the country’s most used herbicide. And it seems EPA may decide to put Enlist Duo back on the market — and sort that cancer thing out later.

Raising the bar

This illuminating example of EPA’s regulatory failures comes during a critical window for reform. The Obama Administration announced this year a process to evaluate our country’s regulatory framework for genetically engineered (GE) crops. We’re pushing hard for stricter controls and fewer loopholes, though the stated objective of this rework is to “prevent unnecessary barriers to future innovation and competitiveness.”

Wait — so we’re going to make it even easier for GE crops and their accompanying pesticides to make it onto the market? Yikes.

We need a real overhaul of the regulatory framework on GE and pesticides. The priority for any farming products should be their benefits to the lives and livelihoods of farm families. Put simply? Corporate profits must take a backseat to small farms and rural health. And as a baseline, no corporation should be entitled to rush a product to market that probably causes cancer.

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North Korean band’s shows cancelled over ‘anti-American lyrics’

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Chinese censors objected to Moranbong band calling US an ‘ambitious wolf’ and glorifying Korean war, says source

A North Korean pop group cancelled its Beijing concerts last week when Chinese authorities objected to “anti-American” lyrics in the show, said a source with ties to both countries.

The Moranbong band was visiting China with the State Merited Chorus and had been due to perform in Beijing on 12 December, but cancelled three hours before the show was to start.

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