Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pick the rule we're going to break

While following the current sets of rules and the limitations they set on us, making a difference, achieving the good that we want, is impossible. Many times the prevalent rules trap us in a bind where neither this nor that can work. As long as we obey the rules, we cannot save ourselves from our impending doom.

Renewable energy will never be cheaper than subsidized, cost-externalized grid power.
The poor have no reason to buy costlier renewable power, and they also have no choice but to be at the whims of grid power with full day powercuts.
The rich in urban areas can not be allowed to convert to renewable, otherwise there will be no one to cross-subsidize grid electricity for rural areas.
Those social sector organisations will never see beyond their specific causes, will never work together.
The poor have no hope other than complying with the systems that thrive by exploiting them.
No one else is going to vote for the good guys; no point in me supporting them.
The pollution being done is irreversible.
There is no way to have both prosperity and good environment.
Education cannot be done without enslaving the student.
People need to be controlled; they cannot survive by themselves.
Men are inherently abusers of women and little children.
Women will always be their own gender's worst enemies.
A romantic relationship with someone you work with will never work out.
Religion can only divide and destroy.
Atheists don't have any morals.
Only the ruthless can survive.
There is no choice but to sacrifice the environment and the natives for the sake of growth.
We cannot afford getting off fossil fuel dependence.
Organic farming is not financially viable.
Continuously degrading land leaves us with no choice but to keep pumping in more and more fertilizers.
There is no choice but to stuff all our babies with vaccines even if we know they cause problems. They simply don't stand a chance against natural diseases unless they are vaccinated against every possible one.
Shutting down industries doing immense harm to the land, water and air or to the general public will cause too much unemployment, and all those people will never, ever, ever find other, better avenues for making a living.
If we provide the basic necessities for living to everyone, everyone will become a lazy slob, no one will do any proper work anymore, and everything will collapse.
People who don't even have the basic necessities of living cannot be expected to think about big picture like conserving the environment, etc.
People who have the basics taken care of, must work for more and more money to guarantee future security. They have no time for things like conservation.

These are some of the rules and assumptions that dominate our current civilization.

Therefore, the task ahead of us, for those who do want things to get better, is deciding which rule, which assumption of the status quo, we're going to break.

Fighting elections without major funding from vested interests.
Voting for the guys who spent least in campaigning and whom you know have your best interests at heart.
Conducting an event on zero money, or gift economy /pay as you can.
Getting an all powerful management to reverse a bad decision they had sworn they'd stick to.
Growing food where it's believed impossible to grow any.
Working together with people you had no hope of getting along with.
Forgiving a wrong or injustice for achieving a greater cause.
Making another human being the center of your universe.
Letting go of your rightful profit so you can enable something wonderful to happen.
Initiating an enterprise that doesn't fit in any category.
Doing a tv show focusing on serious social issues and not following any entertainment / attention grabbing strategies.
Choosing the more expensive option because you found a value in it that goes beyond its functionalities.
Letting the other person have the last word even if you're sure they are wrongc.
Paying for the next person in line.
Giving the other person your seat because you'll feel more relaxed seeing him/her relax.
Doing something that's guaranteed to fail for the simple reason that its the right thing to do.
Letting healthy food, an active, engaged life and a happy non-oppressive upbringing be the vaccine for your child.
Giving amnesty to those who were part of the corrupt system and had to play by its rules so far rather than going after them; giving everyone a fresh start.

In doing any of these and so many more, we break the unwritten rules of the status quo. Doing so, we empower ourselves and others to break free of the fate spelled out for us by that status quo.

Throughout history, change has always happened, no matter how strong, how vicious the status quo. And it has always happened by breaking the existing rules. So it's not as onerous a task as doing something that's physically impossible; it's mostly just doing something that a lot of people want to but think they can't. Many possible things are forbidden by the rules; we only have to break that do one of them.

When once a rule of the status quo is broken, the halo surrounding it is shattered. Even if things revert back to where they were, the next time around the breaking will happen faster, easier and more widespread. So, put on your long-term glasses; and lets go ahead and break a few of these stupid rules!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Interesting links for August 2014

I'm trying to aggregate things together then post.
Links to interesting pages, videos etc I came across in August 2014:

A vision of food for all
Kauai girl drafts bill calling for community food forests

Where and how to get free labor, what to expect from volunteers, and why it's totally worth it.

Bolivia declares Israel a terrorist state

Eminent scientists have written to @narendramodi cautioning against GM field trials. http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/scientists-oppose-experiments-on-gm-crops-569386

The First Man-Made Biological Leaf Turns Light and Water Into Oxygen

Schoolgirl becomes a 'water ambassador' : Delhi 12th std girl sets up water purifiers for communities that lack access to clean drinking water.

 Restaurant in Toronto, Canada  staffed by deaf waiters, started by Anjan Manikumar
 Elon  Musk, Tesla Motors open-source all their patents, to spur the electric vehicle industry and assure that anyone using their technology will not get sued or have to pay any royalties.
 Dominated by Tiger Moms, cram schools and highly authoritarian teachers, South Korean education produces ranks of overachieving students who pay a stiff price in health and happiness. The entire program amounts to child abuse. It should be reformed and restructured without delay. 
There is a very systematic effort to discourage farming by promoting the idea that small-scale farming is not viable and Ekta Parishad has always taken the opposite stance. We have maintained that giving land to the landless is the only way for a long term sustainable solution for landless families to come out of poverty, achieve food security and feed the nation. The added benefit is that this is the way to counter climate change as well. This UN Report confirms what we have been saying for a long time." - Ravi Badri
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) volunteers are set to lend their helping hand in making Bangalore free from garbage. As part of this initiative, the AAP volunteers are launching - Freedom from Garbage - an initiative to segregate waste at source Read: http://goo.gl/uO1hoN

http://althealthworks.com/1309/a-million-pounds-on-three-acres-urban-farmer-proves-that-small-scale-farming-can-feed-the-world/ A Million Pounds on Three Acres: Urban Farmer Proves That Small Scale Farming Can Feed the World

एक स्कूल जो आत्मनिर्भर बनना सिखाता है

 Chris Hedges
Elites Will Make Gazans of Us All

On using piped gas:
the blasts killed at least 25 people and revised the number of injured to 267. Four firefighters who rushed to the scene after residents smelled gas were among those killed in the blasts.

This week, scientists made a disturbing discovery in the Arctic Ocean: They saw "vast methane plumes escaping from the seafloor,"

Internet literacy

Green game-changers

GM BT-Corn no longer resistant to pests:

More Proof The Music Industry Is Fake
Software "Autotune" increasingly used to alter artists' vocals to match music

Net metering:
Delhi's 1st solar tariff this month - Aug 9, 2014

THE OTHER ILLITERACY -- The Indian road to unsustainability - Ramachandra Guha, 9 Aug 2014, telegraphindia
Excerpt: "The study estimated that in the year 2009, the cost of environmental degradation in India was about Rs 3.75 trillion, equivalent to 5.7 per cent of the gross domestic product. In other words, if the air had not been so polluted, if the forests had not been so rapidly felled, if the soil had not become so toxic or saline owing to over-use of chemicals, if water sources had remained uncontaminated and so on - in that case, India would have added more than five percentage points to its annual growth rate. "

Quick guide to the swiss elections:

Ecotopia emerging: sustainable forests and healthy livelihoods go hand in hand

A remarkable piece on a remarkable man Debal Deb whose mission is to protect India's stunning diversity of rice, shared here because of the intricate links between biodiversity, food security, farmers and water. "The communitarian ethos defining Deb's work contrasts sharply with agricultural policymaking, where the voices of the small farmer-the largest group of Indians-are often impossible to detect."
He particularly sought out areas that were remote, un-irrigated, and had marginal farmers who could not afford chemical inputs and seeds from the market. "The places Indian elites like to call 'backward', such as tribal areas, were those with the greatest chances of having retained these varieties over time," says Deb. "When I would find such a variety, I would ask the farmer's family for a handful, explain why I wanted it, thank them for preserving a vital part of our heritage, and urge them to not give up cultivating it.
Deb counters the official argument that indigenous varieties result in inferior yields: "I have several varieties which outperform the so-called high-yielding varieties." High yields do not ensure food security, he reminds, pointing out that India is home to record stockpiles of rice and wheat, as well as a quarter of the world's undernourished. Over lunch-greens, vegetables, dal and rice combining eight different varieties from the farm-Deb asks if we can evaluate our heirlooms in money. "Imagine a unique painting, a sari...an ornament which has been in your family for 200 years-would you sell it off to make money?" he asks. "That's how these indigenous rice varieties are-they are our culture."

Hamas is practically Israel's agent, empowered, enriched and installed by Israel to weaken Hezbollah and hijack the original Palestinian movement for self-determination. Replaced a legitimate civilian struggle with a violent militant group pretending to be fighting for their cause. Hamas co-operated with Israel fully in this conflict... dutifully violating cease-fires and launching completely useless and pointless rockets every time, as if on cue, so that IDF's next murderous bombing run and indiscriminate killing round can be justified. If it wasn't for Hamas behaving so contrarily and irresponsibly, Israel wouldn't have been able to get away with the Nazi-level atrocities they've committed.

Jeffrey Smith Challenge to Neil deGrasse Tyson Short - The Institute for Responsible Technology

"people don't destroy evidence that proves their innocence. They only destroy evidence that proves their guilt."

"The government of India we inherited with our independence has not changed its character or spots even after the transfer of power from the British. It remains a foreign institution, an exotic implant. It has no connection with our political or justice traditions, our cultural history. Thus, while it is required to enforce a constitutional mode of development, it continues by way of habit to implement the older colonial form of development whose interests have always been contrary to the country's interests."

How is it possible that more than 170 health workers have been infected?
" We are just assured that Ebola "is not airborne" and that getting infected "requires close contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person".  If this is true, then how have more than 170 health workers caught the disease?  These workers are dressed head to toe in suits that are specifically designed to prevent the spread of the virus.  So how is this happening?  I could understand a handful of "mistakes" by health workers, but this is unlike anything that we have ever seen in the history of infectious diseases.  These health workers take extraordinary precautions to keep from getting the virus.  If it is spreading so easily to them, what chance is the general population going to have?"

A different, longer-term take on the ISIS engulfing Iraq

The coexistence of several different nationalities within a larger state where different peoples, cultures and worldviews exist and are recognized.
A plurinational state is formed by political and administrative decentralization, wherein the administrative system is culturally heterogeneous and allows the participation of all the social sectors and groups. The elements of a plurinational state include being plural, redistributive, antibureaucratic, and a democracy that defends solidarity. It also has the following additional characteristics: decentralization, autonomy, sustainability, equality, and diversity.

Himachal Pradesh makes restrictions for farmers and milk sellers : they all now need a food license to be allowed to sell their food.

PM Modi being dictatorial

Drastic changes in police behaviour in one day in a US town where people were protesting against fatal shooting of an innocent black teenager.
First night they were all in riot gear and military equipment and attacked peaceful protesters with tear gas and rubber bullets, tensions really escalated.
Then, the highway patrol was put in charge. Next day, all armour masks etc off, the same police freely mingled with the protesters and joined them peacefully. Massive change in the whole town atmosphere in just one day.
EDIT : This seems to be a cover-up / hasty conclusion story. The bad cops were back after that and things have been really spiralling out of control there.

The statistics and numbers behind the current grim reality of farming being a dying profession, being deliberately made non-viable through economic policies, and the bias against farming as a profession.

International web conference of homeschoolers / unschoolers. Several recordings of sessions available online.

"Collecting data on human learning based on children's behavior in school is like collecting data on killer whales based on their behavior at Sea World."
Where have You been forming your opinions on how children learn and grow? There's a growing need to go back and question the basic assumptions educators have that can bias their initial data and observations, which ultimately push their conclusions away from reality.

A wonderful graphic putting it all together. It's frightening how many of these are causally neglected nowadays when I hear people voicing their opinions about one of the other issue.

Suing Facebook over privact violations : Crow-sourcing co-litigants

Gary Harrington, a 64 year-old from Eagle Point, Oregon was sentenced to 30 days in jail, for doing rainwater harvesting on his private property, and not taking permits which he had been previously advised were not necessary. Also ordered to destroy and drain out his ponds.

Environmental leader Marina Silva might become candidate for Brazilian leadership. She was environment minister until she resigned in 2008 over policy disagreements with Lula, who she criticized for pursuing "material growth at any cost," at the expense of the poor and the environment.

I had lost track of what all was going on in Egypt.. this is a very cruel thing indeed to have come after the historic Tahrir Square revolution. Such a ruthless massacre (over 1000 peaceful protesters slaughtered with disproportionate and overwhelming military force!) to have happened in 2013, and nearly no mention of it in the media since! The description reminded me of India's Jalianwalabag massacre. Also, this fitted in a piece of the puzzle about the Gaza genocide.. I had been wondering how come the Egyptians aren't doing anything. This sequence of events comes as a warning to all peaceful revolutions : the military and police forces need to be reigned in. They cannot be trusted, not even if they're pretending to be all benevolent and in support of the people. My prayers for the victims of Rab'a.

In response to a "don't let your children be farmers"

Infographic on time spent doing housework, men and women, in various countries of the world

A bhutta seller on Bangalore's roads created a folding overhead fan, with blades made out of plastic plates, to provide constant air to the coals he roasts his corns on.

Meghalaya's living bridges

Disturbing truths behind Oral Polio Vaccines in India, pushed by Bill Gates, endorsed by Amitabh Bacchan and other bolywood stars:

National Lawyers Guild, other Legal Organizations urge International Criminal Court to Investigate War Crimes by Israeli, U.S. Leaders in Gaza

Line-X, a spray-on polymer that we coat on an object, solidifies into a protective layer that absorbs and elastically spreads impact energy. It claims to render objects unbreakable.

The main aim of the military industrial complex is to make war happen

The military industrial complex that's calling the shots behind US military actions..

Does not want this side to win or that side to win, in any war.

What is wants is that war should happen. Doesn't matter which side "wins". They need to make war happen.

And so, with that aim in focus,

It now makes perfect business sense..

To fund and empower any and all factions that want to do armed conflict.

They don't need to be making just one side well-defended and armed to the teeth.

Through various different fronts, they can arm even the other sides

And promote and bring to the fore such leaderships among any oppressed peoples

Who will favour violent ways of rebelling against their oppressers rather than non-violent ways.

Their objective is to make war happen.

For that, every side must be militarized.

So now think, if we need to beat such a force, whose main aim is to make war happen,

How would one go about it?

How to control the world's population

All scientific data (unless you call Malthusian quackademics science ) show that the most effective population control is:
a) education
b) social justice, eradication of poverty
c) social security and functional local communities
d) peace and food security
Look at any country with a well established middle class, free and good education, job-security, social security, food-security and peace, and you will see that birth rates are considerably lower than in countries which lack those characteristics, to the extend that birth rates are actually negative. – We have no need for Hitleresque, nor for Malthusian insanity.

Note: By education, I'm sure the person referred to the actual empowerment of human beings with knowledge, skills, wisdom and humanitarian attitudes. Not the forced factory schooling system that does the opposite, and creates a population so bereft of wisdom or imagination that they turn to Hiterlesqu or Malthusian insanity as the way to solve problems.

Disturbing truths behind Oral Polio Vaccines in India

Disturbing truths behind Oral Polio Vaccines in India, pushed by Bill Gates, endorsed by Amitabh Bacchan and other bolywood stars:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

ISIS actually wants the world to bomb them

If we could make a handy checklist of what all a militant organisation must do to get themselves bombed to smithereens,

Then ISIS seems to be systematically and sincerely checking every item on that list.

  1. Totally unreal publicized ambitions of conquering and occupying and establishing their version of publicly-declared oppressive rule anywhere and everywhere - check
  2. Using symbols and colours that directly give a message that "look, we are seriously evil people" - check
  3. Extreme versions of Sharia imposed - check
  4. Female mutilations - check
  5. Kidnapping, sex slaving and gangraping of several women - check
  6. Conscripting children as child soldiers - check
  7. Not allowing fleeing populations to even get emergency food and shelter delivered by non-involved charitable organisations - check
  8. Persecution of fringe tribes / sects - check
  9. Mass killings of whole communities - check
  10. Shooting people who aren't even fighting back - check
  11. And most recently : Beheading an American on web video - check

They're practically broadcasting to the whole world a message : "Look! We're so horrible! We're a real threat to all of humanity! Please, come and bomb us to smithereens!"
An apt hindi line is : "Aa bayl, mujhe maar!" (Dear Ox, come and hit me)

No armed group in its right mind would EVER be so God Damned over the top. And these guys are supposedly banned by their religion from ever getting drunk or high!

Any real armed group trying to take over any region always does it under the pretense of justice, rights, freedom, liberation... something that would make it all look justified, instead of chasing the common person away in the opposite direction.
C'mon, even Hitler did whatever he did under the garb of nobility and just cause!

True, they're attracting a lot of crazies from all over the place, and those crazies are the ones having a free run committing so many atrocities with full monetary backing. But there's a logical limit to that number. Those crazies are then being their pawns in this game.. and will be the first to desert and run off as soon as soon as they sense the tides turning against them.

This whole ISIS thing is giving me total Deja-Vu of the Iron Man 3 movie. Yes, it was mostly badly done; but the idea of an extremist Islamic militant group (Mandarin) that is actually a fabrication by the sides who will profit most from any major military actions against that group...
Conveying that message on the big screen was worthy, and really opened many things up.

Iron Man 3:

In the movie, it turns out that this leader is just an actor, and the entire organisation was actually being fabricated and directed by a corporation who happen to be the arms suppliers who will benefit most from military action against this group. For getting that military action sanctioned, they need to do successively worse things, fully publicized, that horrify the general public into giving the public approval. These messages have been emerging from the creative world more and more as increasing numbers 'get' the game at hand : The conflict and strifes of our world are being caused by people who arm both sides, pit them against each other, and benefit from the war, from the scarcity of natural resources, and then the reconstruction.


Time for a little common sense audit. Why the **** would you use a BLACK colour? And dress up all your men in black? This is hardly going to camouflage into the light-brown deserts of the middle-east! Those men are all fair-skinned on top. Just contrast it with the uniforms of the Iraqi / Syrian military. No boss, the ISIS isn't a group that fights and moves only in the dead of the night.

These guys could get picked off by snipers and choppers / planes from miles away! This kind of attire is the very last one any real military commander would order his men to wear. Plus, do you have any idea how hot and sunny it is in that region right now?

And then the logistical impossibility to take out such a cavalcade through vast open FLAT territory, lights beaming, in the one region of the world that's literally the ILAAKAA of American / NATO military aircraft and drones. We know of how overzealous they are when it comes to bombing weddings and funerals on unconfirmed tip-offs in countries like Yemen and Pakistan where they have no sanction whatsoever to do so. Why would you turn your militant force into such easy targets for a highly trigger-happy air force?

The only condition under which such a procession would happen is :: Under the complete assurance and guarantee from up top that they will NOT get bombed from the air or from the places they are going to.

That is, if the ISIS was actually doing this under the orders of, or in full compliance with, Uncle Sam.

Plus.. a militant group that's truly a rag-tag one, if it had truly emerged from the hinterlands of Syria and Iraq, wouldn't have such a standardised state-of-the-art supply of vehicles, weapons, clothes and shoes. Even their shoes are all the same, goddamit. These guys have practically MNC level centralized funding and logistics, no expense spared.

ISIS is a fabrication (albeit a real and deadly one) of the warmongers all right.. following the "Look-we're-horrible-please-bomb-us" checklist religiously. My only logical conclusion from this sequence of events is that they're being used to marinate Iraq and Syria so that Uncle Sam can move in for the feast.. so that a renewed US presence in the region, and from there, invasion of Syria (long put off thanks to Putin's deft diplomatic one-upmanship) and Iran can be done.

The US-dominated global economy is teetering on collapse since the bankster bailout. It's a war economy. It needs war to keep going. And so where there was no real opponent, they've created one, with features literally custom-designed to match whatever was needed of an "enemy".

Related reading:

Red Herrings in the news

One news story is a decoy to cover up the other much bigger one. We're constantly being bombarded with these red herrings by our mainstream media today. It's not very easy to lie outright, so the next best thing is to distract people, waste their limited time in attention lavished on less consequential news, so the bigger more consequential ones get side tracked.

A thumb rule we can use is : which event/happening is institutional, centralized, top-down, large-scale-effects with major money involved; and which event/happening is sporadic, self-limiting, decentralized, non-deliberate and doesn't involve major money? 

Case of California ice bucket challenge craze: 
In this case, those teenagers etc cannot physically deprive California of its water resources single-handedly; and it's obvious they aren't following the directions of any central command; and neither are they making a ton of money.
But this news falsely attributes California's water shortage crisis to these people, while blissfully ignoring the companies sucking out water from the acquifers to bottle and sell it, reaping in big profits.. the golf courses and other luxury consumers of millions of liters of water. Those guys wasting millions of times more water than the ice bucket crazies don't get any of the attention

Case of Smriti Irani's qualifications saga:
Again, a lot of time spent in a thoroughly inconsequential matter. It is a waste of time to either attack or defend here. Yet it's made out to be some major issue.

While at the same time, severe structural issues in the higher education scene across the nation are conveniently ignored. And, the OTHER MINISTERS at the Centre who have gotten appointed, including those with criminal charges against them, get conveniently side tracked. Smriti is the fall guy.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Two excuses of pro-schooling advocates

When pro-schooling (meaning, "quick, let's put each and every child out there into school, compulsorily!!" ) advocates submit their reasons about why unschooling / homeschooling isn't good for everyone, two of the typical reasons I have heard quoted most often are:

1. Peers, socializing
2. Working parents aren't at home

(This is after we have settled the core topic of whether kids learn and grow best in freedom, self-directed learning or under factory schooling and externally imposed learning.. with the conclusion being on the former)

Let's take number one, peers. It's worth noting that peers and socializing with other human beings is NOT the primary motive of modern day schools. They happen as a side thing, for the simple fact that everybody has been put into school so that's where all the kids are. And in the case of peers, the schools do as much as they can to reduce and control socializing of kids with their peers. Kids of the same age as you aren't peers, aren't social company. But that's what you're given by the school. Take it or endure it (and oh boy did I have to endure it! I got along so much better with older and younger kids). A child's true social peer group spans multiple age groups : from babies to senior citizens. Schools provide just a thin slice of that; and broken away from the rest, it's just not the same.

In fact, I'm sure that if they were given the opportunity, most pro-schoolers would see to it that their students have no peers at all so that they pay complete attention to studies. Go to any classroom. Teachers hate peer groups. They do their best to make them sit separately. They advise parents to not let the child interact with so and so friends whose marks are low. Parents take that advice and prevent their kids from visiting, playing with the friends they've naturally made; rather, they push their kids to go befriend that class topper, maybe their kid will catch the intelligence from them as if it's a bloody communicable disease or lice or something. (hmm.. I'm imagining what would happen if parents of pubescent kids started believing that academic brilliance could be sexually transmitted!) There are schools now that force the kids to quietly eat without talking to anyone even in lunch break! That's right, at some places kids are not even allowed to spring out of their seats and run like mad as soon as the lunch bell rings. Can you imagine that??

The problem of not having enough peers attributed to unschooling by the advocates of schooling... has been inflicted on unschoolers by widespread schooling. It's because the rest of the kids are locked up in prisons all day that unschooling kids don't get the peer and social group that they deserve. What's your solution to that : even more schooling?
It's like saying that since the bottling company is sucking up most of the drinking water from the local acquifer, we should all buy more and more bottled water from that same company... as if that will solve the problem. It won't : it'll only exacerbate it. The solution is to stop the bottling company from monopolizing the community's water supply. Not forcing the people still holding out to cave in. The solution in the peers issue, is to stop the schools from monopolizing the time of the kids. Why is schooling occupying nearly the full waking hours of kids now? School hours are getting longer with extra classes added in. And then, tuition classes till night time.

It is unfair to call students being forced to study for so many hours as having peers and socializing. Those aren't peers.. they're prison-mates. Naturally socializing here is highly polluted by bullying, materialism, jealousy etc : those aren't the behaviours of normal human beings when they're free to decide where and with whom they want to be. I was SO angry when after having to endure over a decade of these behaviours through school, after coming out in the open world I found out that people, even my former tormentors, simply don't behave that way in real life. Then why the ***** were we put through all those SICK forms of socializing in my formative years??

Number two : working parents aren't at home:
This because governments haven't stood up to the industries, they've let them have a free run of the place. Wages are so low compared to the costs of living, employment is so difficult, working hours are so long. My dad had a workday that was SO short he'd be back long before sunset and would take a nice afternoon-to-evening nap. And his salary took care of the whole family's expenses! Nowadays it's impossible to find any job like that. Either you're fully unemployed, or you're a slave of the employer with all your waking hours being his property. There's no respectable in-between nowadays. Schooling or not, parents today are having their parenting time usurped by employment compulsions. Can't blame unschoolers for that : it's a societal problem which cannot be fixed by sending even their children to school... sending the children to school is a stop-gap measure; it doesn't solve this problem. These requirements of the workplace then transmit to schools and schools lock up the children longer and longer to match up.
It's like saying let's keep all our kids locked up at home because there's too much child sexual abuse happening nowadays. That's NOT a solution; that won't solve any problem. To oppose unschooling by saying this reason is a cop-out.

Anyways, let us assume that yes, schools are the only avenue for kids to engage with peers, and that the issue of parents not having enough time to be with their kids is too big an issue to be handled here. Then if the pro-school advocates are really so concerned for the unschooling kids, why can't we give them an invitation to come to a school in the area, just for socializing with peers and for being at a place in absence of their parents.. without the compulsory education part? Let them hang around there and don't force them to attend any classes or do any classwork / homework. They can interact with the other kids during breaks, free periods, coming and going times. They can sit around the library or play in the playground during class times. They could even just come in the class for one or two subjects that they want to attend.. at the back benches, just listening in, with an assurance to not disturb the class. That will satisfactorily solve the two problems given.. right? Why can't we have an arrangement like that?

And this is where the reality comes out. No school, no educator, at least in the mainstream, would allow such an easily doable arrangement to happen. Because doing so, will make their students / prisoners yearn for the same thing  : A school where I can come and be with my friends; where I can be while my parents are away; but where I don't have compulsory education being shoved down my throat, where I am not imprisoned to a chair all day, where I am not forced to read and memorize or work on these knowledge books but rather where they are ready and waiting for me when I want to read them. This option, dangling right in front of their eyes, will be so tempting for the remaining imprisoned kids, that schooling as usual will fall apart in no time.
And so, it cannot be allowed by the pro-schoolers. It's a package deal, boss : "We'll give your kid our excuse for a peer group (only one age ka kids) that she so desires, but in exchange we'll take everything else away from her. We'll enslave her to our compulsory factory schooling model. Can't have one without the other!"

So, parents of current and prospecting unschoolers/homeschoolers, please don't buy these two excuses that pro-schoolers keep repeatedly quoting. Yes, those issues are there. But the solution is not to send your kids back into the factory; it's to get more kids to break out of it so you can get the critical mass needed to get together and fulfill those needs.

On mutually shared hatreds

An observation, an duh a personal one, based on meeting various people over the past half year:

Everyone who has a deep-seated hatred for Muslims, also hates AAP and Arvind Kejriwal.
And the reasons they quote for their hatred of both come across as equally half-baked.

By hate, I mean, like, really hate, as in the "I would rather hand over my country to criminals and murderers and rapists and corrupts and fanatics and crony capitalists than give an iota of support to this bloody Kejriwal and his good for nothing AAP" kinds.

So the same deep-seated and ill-informed hatred : the one where no amount of logical reasoning can work... seems to have been xerox copied.. it was for Muslims and now it's for Kejriwal too.

Oh, and in addition to that, everyone I've met who has an upper-caste / lower-caste attitude, who doesn't think of Dalits and the like as equal human beings, also hates AAP and Arvind Kejriwal fervently.

Also, on a third level, I've seen that everyone who thinks of lower castes as sub-human, also hates Muslims. Figures right? In your own religion if you can't stand some flavours, there's very little chance then of being cool with other religions!

And then, everyone who seriously hates Gandhi, particularly blames him for Pakistan going away and for not sharing the debt with the newly created country, blames him for the Partition riots and a whole load of things.. hates AAP too. Not so much as the above, but yeah.

The level of modern education of the person, only seems to make them more and more hateful of who they were already hating. You'll get to meet people working at top managerial levels in corporates, holding high academic posts, who are proud of their qualifications and show them as proof that they are not subject to any irrational hatreds. And then they hate AAP or Muslims or Dalits or Gandhi or Pakistanis or all or some combination. And they use their high-end academic backgrounds as proof that see, since I am certified to not be an irrational person, hence what I believe must be true.

Among a few Modi supporters, I get a strong feeling that if Arvind Kejriwal had never existed on this planet, then they would not have been supporting Modi so strongly. Maybe they would be more questioning, less loyalistic, less blindly accepting and chorusing.

Does this apply conversely too? Had Modi never existed, would many AAP supporters support them so strongly? I think that holds true for many. This needs some introspection.

This comes in parallel to the general observation about religions that if it weren't for the perceived threat of other religions, some people would not have been identifying themselves so strongly, so fervently with their own religion. A Hindu might have been more open-minded, more questioning of the less noble aspects of his own fraternity if he wasn't so busy hating Muslims.

For that matter, that even applies to nationalism. If Pakistan had never existed, a lot of Indians might have been a little bit more questioning of the glaring human rights and environmental violations of India's own successive governing regimes. But hey, Pakistan is the enemy so let's all blindly support whatever our guys are doing.

Overall, I would say, hatred, especially the kind where you stop treating the targets of your hatred as human beings, has a blinding effect. It disables you from seeing the glaring flaws of the people, institutions and governments you're supporting just because they're against the ones you hate. The physical effect of hate : the near-closing of the eyelids : seems to have an accompanying similar effect on the brain as well : you will simply not notice the other guys when they screw you over because your mind's eye is focusing only on what you hate and neglecting everything else that might really harm you.

Coming back to the starting topic, please note that the converse is not true. Everyone who hates AAP and Arvind Kejriwal, doesn't necessarily hate Muslims, Dalits or Gandhi or Pakistanis. There are genuine failings and drawbacks of AAP of course.

But if there's ever a conference of AAP-haters and these guys meet their peers, they will find themselves in some seriously scary company.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Looking for a needle in a haystack

Q: What's the best way to look for a needle in a haystack?

A: Use a magnet.

When you know that something is seriously wrong with you

When your disagreement with someone's beliefs or opinions, 

Over a matter that doesn't affect your immediate life-or-death chances but affects theirs, 

Leads you to be OK or not concerned with their ruthless murder,

Then something is seriously wrong with you.

"Please come in large numbers"

Something that communications co-ordinators of social movements need to learn about communicating with volunteers:

"Please come in large numbers"

How the hell am I supposed to come in large numbers? Kage bunshin no jutsu?? (see here)

We need to change the wording so we can communicate with individual people as if they mattered, qualitatively rather than quantitatively.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Frogs in the Pond

The frogs in the pond were without a leader. The laws of nature were clear, and all one had to do was to be mindful and follow them. But the frogs felt the need for an external leader and the Gods sent a log. The frogs were happy. But their happiness was short lived. The log leader was immovable, silent and soon the little frogs were jumping on it and playing hide and seek around it. This leader was too quiet, he never said anything and the naughty frogs made merry. So again the frogs prayed for a strong leader, and this time they were given a crocodile. The frogs were delighted, a leader for our times! this is what we need, a strong leader. The frogs saw his gleaming teeth, his lashing tail, his powerful muscles, and his shiny scales ... aah a leader they could respect at last.

A brilliant take on our times.

What time of day is better for teaching kids?

But every Inuit parent knows you tell stories in the evening, when the child's mind is relaxed and expansive, and before sleep which carries words and images deep into the soul. Science is rediscovering that memories are consolidated at night, despite the previous generation's "data" which "proved" that children learn best in the morning. Children often listen better at night, they ask deeper questions at night, they imagine more vividly at night. In the brightness of day the mind turns outward to the world, a child often wants to be moving and active and socially interacting, and the things you are told in the morning may ping off all this buzzing activity like a moth pings off a moving fan. The things you are told at night are carried inward, they enter your dreams, they effortlessly become part of you.

Cognitive Imperialism

This is like the mother essay that just keeps on giivng! Here's another excerpt from
The title truly fits the essay in many ways.. it's leading me up a thousand different rivers of inferences!

Marie Battiste, a Mi'kmaw education professor at the University of Saskatchewan, has a very clear term for the tendency of one powerful group to claim the authority to define its own cognitive traits and preferences as normal and desirable and all other ways of thinking, learning, and understanding the world as deficits and disabilities: she calls it"cognitive imperialism." It's the cognitive equivalent of racism. It leads naturally, of course, to a kind of cognitive Manifest Destiny that assumes that one way of thinking, of learning, of being in the world is destined to overwhelm and replace all others.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Link between dyslexia and holistic, contextual vs analytical thinking

Dyslexia isn't something that you have, says Dr. Ross Cooper, a dyslexia researcher who is dyslexic himself (he embraces the term the way gay folks have embraced the word "queer.") It's something that you are. And it's something, he emphasizes, that has value as part of the spectrum of human diversity. Cooper hypothesizes that the common feature of many "specific learning disabilities" is a preference for processing information visually and holistically rather than verbally and analytically. Rather than narrowly focusing on things in a linear sequential way, the child with this tendency absorbs visual input and meaning and context in a "big picture" way (blurry colors lighting up in the right hemisphere of the brain), a process which may slow down decoding but which also deepens and enriches it, leading to lateral thinking, intuition, imagination and creativity. These children's brains are organizing themselves differently, and it should go without saying that their developmental arc may therefore be different. When we interfere in the process of this organization, when we stigmatize it and test it and remediate it prematurely -– when we try to teach dyslexics to think like other children by aggressively drilling them in phonics –– Cooper says we are robbing these children of the opportunity to build organically on their many strengths rather than being treated as something broken that needs fixing. 

Interestingly, children from traditional indigenous cultures often process information holistically and contextually rather than analytically as well. If you ask people from urban non-native cultures to divide a list of plants and animals into groups, they will tend do it taxonomically, separating them into the categories of mammals, birds, fish, plants. If you ask a Native person, they may do it ecologically, with a turtle, willow, heron, and beaver all in the same group because they all live in a wetland.  The test may register this as a "wrong" answer, because schools tend to emphasize taxonomic, analytic thinking. But the second answer reflects a form of holistic systems thinking that rural Native children may be fluent in at a younger age than their urban, non-native peers. 

story from Arvind Kejriwal's early days

A note by Manish Sisodiya-
अधिकारी बनाने के बाद जब
उसकी पहली पोस्टिंग हुई तो उसके जन्म
दिन पर लोग बड़े बड़े तोहफे लेकर आए.
अभी तक उसने अपना जन्म दिन
नहीं मनाया था लेकिन मना करने पर
भी कई लोग जोर देकर तोहफे देकर चले गए ।
उसे पता था कि ये तोहफे उसे
नहीं बल्कि उसकी कुर्सी को दिए जा रहे
थे, जन्म दिन के बहाने भ्रष्टाचार सामने
खड़ा था ।
जबरन मिले तोहफों को उसने खोला और
अपनी हमसफ़र के साथ दिल्ली के फुटपाथ
पर उनकी सेल लगाकर बैठ गया.
(तब उसे शायद ही कोई पहचानता होगा)
सारे तोहफे एक शाम में ही बेच दिए गए,
बिक्री से मिले पैसों को उसने एक
चेरिटी संस्था को दान कर दिया.....
यह नौजवान आज भ्रष्टाचार के खिलाफ
हो रही जंग में सेनापति बनकर देश के
लाखों नौजवानों को प्रेरणा दे रहा है !
अरविन्द ने जब यह घटना सुनाई तो समझ में
आया कि
"काजल की कोठरी में से भी बिना दाग
बाहर निकलने का मनोबल
ही किसी को अरविंद केजरीवाल
बनाता है"

हैप्पी बर्थ डे सर..!

Comment on a news article that's blatantly lying about GM

My comment on it:

This article has put in blatant opinions and lies disguised as facts. Please sack this writer.. he has completely lied in this article (if not, please publish the sources and their employers) Since the introduction of BT cotton, over 2 lakh farmers have committed suicide directly because the BT cotton has disastrously failed to stay pest-resistant beyond the intial few years.. which was the one thing it was supposed to do. Now they have to pay for high-royalty seeds from Monsanto as well as increasing pesticide costs. The growing pile of dead bodies isn't lying.
The statement "GM technologies can control pests and reduce insecticide usage, help farmers in managing weeds and also save crops from drought, flood, heat, cold, disease or viruses." --- where's the evidence? Last I checked, all those CLAIMS by the GM companies have been proven wrong by long term studies (the companies only conducted 90 day trials whereas Seralini etc were 2 year trials). A UN report recently has categorically refuted this claim and instead asserted that it is small scale multi-cropping organic farming that is drought-resistant, pest-resistant, higher yielding etc. Honest studies where these are compared side by side under identical conditions are all showing these same conclusions. 
The author glaringly also skips mentioning all the countries and states around the globe that have BANNED these same field trials because of the evidence of harmfulness on the one hand and the absence of any real evidence of advantages on the other.
Even the global decline in bee populations has been attributed to the pesticides, herbicides like Roundup being sold by these same GM companies that have to be bought together with their GM seeds. That's causing another wave of bans on the pesticides / herbicides being sold by these companies.
It is the profiteering GM companies like Monsanto that are being anti-science.. peddling their failed technology to third world countries because they're being systematically kicked out of developed nations. Their scientists which the author is quoting here without bothering to mention name or organisation, will of course peddle their case since they are paid to do so. Can the author find any serious scientific backing for GM that has NOT been funded by the GM companies?
My apologies for not being able to put in any links to all these studies right now. But just do a google search on any of them and you'll find them immediately. Thanks. And please fire this author... this article is full of fraudulent claims disguised as sun-rises-in-the-east kind of facts.

Another comment there:

And just another little piece of info : it is important to explain to the reader what "Field trial" in farming really means. It is not the same as field trials in medicine. A field trial in GM farming means that you're growing GM plants out in the open, from where their pollen is going to fly freely into other fields near and far. There is absolutely no way of stopping this. A medical analogy of such a field trial would be to spray an experimental virus or bacteria into the air over a populated area. After this trial, several other fields near and far will also produce seeds having the GM strain. If it is UNSAFE (which is what we're testing in the first place), we will have INFECTED all the surrounding regions during the field trial. So, a field trial for GM food is simply anti-logical : there's no "trial" here. You're permanently introducing untested, unreliable DNA into the population. Also not mentioned here is that this is how Monstanto's GM cotton species TOOK OVER India's traditional cotton... it was grown without permission in "field trials" when there wasn't much awareness about it among citizens or govt, and in some years the DNA spread to several other cotton fields and its spread became unstoppable.
So permitting a "Field Trial" of GM wheat, rice, brinjal etc will effectively bring the untested GM strains to wheat, rice, brinjal etc all over the country, and there is no way of checking this spread. THAT's why there was a moratorium put on this. Field trial = forced introduction of GM into the food chain.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Hamas and Israel leaderships are in cahoots

Hamas and Israel's (extremely right-wing and militarist!) leaderships are also very much in cahoots. Hamas is dutifully violating every ceasefire with pointless rockets shot blindly that no general with even the basic intelligence would consider a good idea. The only logical explanation is that they're doing it under someone's orders, someone who does NOT have the Palestinians' best interests at heart. The purpose is to then give Israel the "self-defense" excuse they need to bombard Gaza, the largest concentration camp in the world where they're not ALLOWING the civilians to evacuate. (Yes, do you really think Israel is defending itself by not allowing civilians to evacuate?)

Israel is the OCCUPIER here, in full contravention of 50+ years of UN resolutions. (but no executive action can be taken by the UN since the US has vetoed them every single time.. check the historical data on UN vetos) Please stop forgetting that. You can't be occupying another country and then when they try to chase you out claim the self-defense excuse. It's like a rapist murdering his victim when she tries to fight him off and then saying he did it in self defense. That might sound extreme but hey, what Israel is doing to Palestinians right now is far, far worse than rape.

Organic Food is Nutritionally Far Superior to Non-Organic Produce

Organic Food is Nutritionally Far Superior to Non-Organic Produce
A ground-breaking meta-analysis of 343 studies led by Newcastle University, U.K., has found that organic food delivers significantly more benefits compared to non-organic food.
Among these are that organic food contains up to 69% more of key antioxidants and significantly lower concentrations of cadmium (50%), nitrates (30%), nitrites (87%) and pesticides. The frequency of occurrence of pesticide residues in conventionally grown crops was four times higher than in organic produce. This increased to seven times in the case of fruit.
Antioxidants are linked to reduced risk of various diseases including cancer. Conversely, high nitrate and nitrite concentrations in food are considered as potential risk factors for illnesses such as stomach cancer.
The researchers stress the urgent need for further studies specially designed to identify and quantify the health impacts of switching to organic food. The abstract of the study and a briefing note on it are reproduced below as Items 1 and 2.

Item 1
Higher antioxidant concentrations, and less cadmium and pesticide residues, in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis
Baranski M et al. (2014) British Journal of Nutrition 06/2014; DOI: 10.1017/S0007114514001366
Demand for organic foods is partially driven by consumer perceptions that they are more nutritious. However, scientific opinion is divided on whether there are significant nutritional differences between organic and non-organic foods, and two recent reviews concluded that there are no differences. Here we report results of meta-analyses based on 343 peer-reviewed publications that indicate statistically significant, meaningful differences in composition between organic and non-organic crops/crop based foods. Most importantly, concentrations of a range of antioxidants such as polyphenolics were found to be substantially higher in organic crops/crop based foods, with levels of phenolic acids, flavanones, stilbenes, flavones, flavonols and anthocyanines being an estimated 19 (95% CI 5, 33), 69 (95% CI 13, 125), 28 (95% CI 12, 44), 26 (95% CI 3, 48), 50 (95% CI 28, 72) and 51 (95% CI 17, 86) % higher respectively. Many of these compounds have been previously linked to reduced risk of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases and certain cancers in dietary intervention and epidemiological studies. Additionally the frequency of occurrence of pesticide residues was 4 times higher in conventional crops, which also contained significantly higher concentrations of the toxic metal cadmium (Cd). Significant differences were also detected for some other (e.g. minerals and vitamins) compounds. There is evidence that higher antioxidant and lower Cd concentrations are linked to specific agronomic practices (e.g. non-use of mineral N and P fertilisers respectively) prescribed in organic farming systems. Overall it is concluded that on average, across regions and production seasons, organic crops have more antioxidants and less Cd and pesticide residues than the non-organic comparators.
Corresponding author: Prof. Carlo Leifert, phone +44 1661 830 222, fax +44 1661 831 006, email  carlo.leifert [at] newcastle.ac.uk

Item 2
Newcastle University, School of Agriculture Food and Rural Development (AFRD)
About the Study
A new scientific paper published in the British Journal of Nutrition shows that there are significant composition differences between organic and conventional crops (primarily vegetables, fruit and cereals) that are relevant in terms of nutritional quality.
It is the most up-to-date analysis of the nutrient content in organic compared to conventionally produced foods, synthesising the results of many more studies than previous analyses. The findings are the result of a groundbreaking new systematic literature review and meta-analysis by an international team of scientists led by experts at Newcastle University.
The most striking differences revealed in the study are: higher concentrations of antioxidants, lower levels of cadmium, nitrate and nitrite, and less frequent presence of pesticide residues in organic crops compared with non-organic.
In presenting robust evidence of substantial differences and significant nutritional benefits from organic food, this study contrasts markedly with some previous studies, in particular with the findings of a 2009 UK Food Standards Agency (FSA)-commissioned study (Dangour et al. Am. J. Clin Nutr. 90, 680-685).
The new analysis of organic crops is based on 343 peer-reviewed publications solely focusing on organic crops, fruit and vegetables, whereas the FSA-commissioned study based its conclusions on just 46 publications covering crops, meat and dairy. The Newcastle University study specifically sought to identify and quantify compositional differences between organic and conventional crops (primarily cereals, vegetables and fruit) and crop-based products (e.g. seed oils, wine and baby food) based on a systematic review of all the available literature and data.
With over 50% of the publications included in the new analysis published since 2006 (and therefore not available to the FSA-commissioned researchers, and other earlier studies), this review is a landmark in the advancement of our knowledge of the subject.
While people should not eat less fruit or vegetables, this study demonstrates that choosing food produced according to organic standards can lead to increased intake of antioxidants without increased calorie intake. With greater nutrient and antioxidant density, every mouthful of fruit and vegetables produced organically can count for more. This constitutes an important addition to the information currently available to consumers.
The authors of this study welcome the continued public and scientific debate on this important subject. The entire database generated and used for this analysis is freely available on the Newcastle University website (http://research.ncl.ac.uk/nefg/QOF) for the benefit of other experts and interested members of the public.
The Main Findings
Organic crops/crop-based foods – on average, across regions and production seasons – have substantially more potentially health-promoting antioxidants, phenolics and (poly)phenolics and less potentially harmful cadmium, nitrite and pesticide residues than non-organic comparators.
The analysis indicates that the quality of food is strongly influenced by the way it is produced, and that organic farming methods lead to increased levels of nutritionally desirable compounds and reduced concentrations of undesirable ones. In particular, there is increasing evidence that higher levels of manufactured chemical fertilisers, most notably the nitrogen and phosphate-based fertilisers that are prohibited or heavily restricted by organic farming standards, lead to substantially lower concentrations of antioxidants in conventional crops.
Organic farming prohibits the use of synthetic chemical pesticides, and promotes the use of balanced crop nutrition, crop rotation and mechanical, biological and cultural methods for weed, pest and disease control. This explained the very low incidence of pesticide contamination in organic compared to conventional crops found in the study and demonstrated that organic food consumption is an efficient way to reduce dietary pesticide exposure.
More Antioxidants/(Poly)phenolics
Organic crops and crop-based food products were found to have significantly higher concentrations of antioxidants (including phenolic acids, flavanones, stilbenes, flavones, flavonols and anthocyanines)compared with their conventionally produced counterparts.  The mean percentage difference for most antioxidant compounds was between plus 18% and 69%. Smaller, but still statistically significant, composition differences were also detected for a number of carotenoids and vitamins.
A switch to eating organic fruit, vegetable and cereals (and food made from them) would lead to a 20–40% (and for some compounds up to a 60%) increase in crop-based antioxidant/(poly)phenolic consumption without any increase in calories. This is important as there is strong scientific evidence of the health benefits of increased consumption of (poly)phenolics and other plant secondary metabolites with antioxidant activity, most notably protection against chronic diseases, including cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases and some cancers.
Less Toxic Metals and Nitrogen
Substantially lower concentrations of a range of toxic heavy metals were detected in organic crops, particularly cadmium (on average 48% lower). Cadmium is one of only three toxic metal contaminants (along with lead and mercury) for which the European Commission has set maximum permitted contamination levels in food. Since it is known to accumulate in the body (especially the liver and kidneys), any reduction in cadmium consumption is positive.
Nitrogen concentrations were also found to be significantly lower in organic crops.  Concentrations of total nitrogen were 10%, nitrate 30% and nitrite 87% lower in organic compared with conventional crops.
The higher nitrate and nitrite concentrations in conventional crops are believed to be linked to the use of mineral nitrogen fertiliser, which is strictly banned under organic farming standards.
The significantly higher nitrite concentrations in conventional crops can be considered nutritionally undesirable, as they have been described as potential risk factors for stomach cancer and other conditions.
Less Pesticide Residues
This study found that the frequency of occurrence of detectable pesticide is four times higher in conventional (46 (+/-4)%) than organic (11(+/-2)%) crops.
Conventionally grown fruit had by far the highest frequency of pesticide residues (75(+/-5%), about seven times higher than in organic fruit. In conventional vegetables and crop-based processed foods the frequency of pesticide residues was three to four times higher than in organic. All organic crop types were found to have similarly low contamination rates.
The understanding that they contain lower levels of pesticides is already a key factor motivating some consumers to choose organic foods, making this further information useful for consumer choice.
While further studies are needed to clarify the health benefits of reducing pesticide exposure, any reduction can be considered desirable, especially since we know that a significant proportion of conventional crop samples regulated by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) contain pesticide residues above permitted levels. For example, in recent EFSA surveys pesticide residues above the Maximum Residue Levels (MRL) were found in 6.2% of spinach, 3.8% of oats, 3.4% of peach, 3% of orange, 2.9% of strawberry and lettuce, 2.8% of table grape and 2.7% of apple samples. 
The fact that pesticides are found twice as frequently in conventional fruit than in conventional vegetables is also significant and may point to greater use of persistent chemicals and/or pesticides being applied closer to harvest time in fruit crops.
Need for Further, and More Reliable, Scientific Studies
This study identified serious deficiencies in a large proportion of previously published studies. These include a lack of standardised measurements and reporting, and evidence of duplicative or selective reporting of data collected in experiments.
The statistical methods used in the Newcastle University study were an advance over previous research syntheses that did not balance out the contribution of larger studies versus smaller ones. As well as having less evidence and not accounting for the amount of information, earlier syntheses used less reliable methodologies and inclusion criteria, and some included results from the same experiment multiple times.
The authors of the Newcastle University study also concluded that further research is needed to understand the variation between studies and that it is vital that future comparative food composition studies use standardised protocols.
This study identified significant differences, believed to be nutritionally beneficial, in the composition of organic compared with non-organic crops. However, it also highlights the need for more research to build our knowledge of the corresponding human health benefits of these differences.
The findings of this study clearly demonstrate the urgent need to carry out well-controlled human dietary intervention and cohort studies specifically designed to identify and quantify the health impacts of switching to organic food.
About the funding of this study
The authors are grateful for funding from the European Community financial participation under the Sixth Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration Activities for the Integrated Project QUALITYLOWINPUTFOOD, FP6-FOOD-CT-2003- 506358.
The study also received financial and technical support from the SheepdroveTrust, which supports independent R&D underpinning the development of organic and sustainable farming and food systems. Financial support by the Trust was without conditions and the Trust had no influence on the design and management of the research project and the preparation of publications from the project.
To read the full paper, as published in the British Journal of Nutrition, go to: http://research.ncl.ac.uk/nefg/QOF. This includes further information and annexes, and summary information in English, German, French, Italian, Greek, Polish, Czech and Finnish.
Higher antioxidant concentrations, and less cadmium and pesticide residues, in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analysis.  Leifert, C. et al. (2014) British Journal of Nutrition July 2014
The full dataset of this study is being made publicly available at http://research.ncl.ac.uk/nefg/QOF
For more information please contact:
Lead author Professor Carlo Leifert 
Tel:  01661-830222/830444
e-mail: Teresa Jordon teresa.jordon [at] newcastle.ac.uk
Copyright Third World Network - www.twnnews.net All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My opinion on Delhi elections (and the inordinate delay thereof)

No institution, not the LG or the EC or the courts, should be allowed to delay a constitutional obligation, like the people's right to form their government, for so long. Their duty is to fix the schedule. They are NOT supposed to misuse this duty to prevent the elections from happening at all. Let's declare a date by which elections must happen, and let's have the people of Delhi conduct their own elections, with full 24/7 live streaming and video recording of all ballot boxes from first vote to last count, if the powers that be fail to live up to their obligations.

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