5000 Water Bottles Used to Promote Recycling

Plastic water bottles are choking the waterways and killing wildlife in our oceans around the world. Perhaps you’ve heard about the Texas-sized plastic water bottle island floating just off the coast of California? The problem with plastic is that unless it is highly compressed, it never fully disintegrates. A 5000-plastic water bottle art installation in South Africa is helping to promote water bottle recycling in order to allay the problem of toxic plastic trash.

Nearly 100 billion pounds of plastic are produced in the US every year, and the numbers around the world are increasing as countries adopt the ‘consumer’ lifestyle that North America is notorious for. Meanwhile, the government of Ghana recently declared a ‘war on plastics’ and officials throughout South Africa are always looking for ways to eliminate plastic trash.


As Natural Society previously reported, plastic water bottles are full of:

PETE or PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)

HDPE (High Density Polyethylene)

V or PVC (Vinyl)

LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene)

PP (Polypropylene)

Bisphenol – A (BPA)

PS (Polystyrene)

These toxins cause havoc within the endocrine system, making it impossible for your body to regulate hormone production, hyper-activity, reproductive health issues, and a number of other diseases. And these disease exist with the plastic in the ocean, too.

Much of this pollution is actually in the form of small, ‘confetti-sized’ particles. These small pollution particles are being consumed by fish and eventually travel up the food chain – causing potentially serious consequences for the health of wildlife and humans alike.

Help Spread the Word – One Way or Another

The South African artist keeping these toxic products from our waterways while encouraging others to do the same first came up with the idea when he couldn’t afford to purchase oil paints for his art projects. His plastic art now resembles artworks, which were created with the paint he once yearned for. His latest permanent installation in Johannesburg features a 30 meter-high creation made with over 5000 water bottles, called the ‘iThemba Tower.’

The bottles are collected from the local informal waste collectors known in the streets of South Africa as ‘Zama Zamas.’ The project involves local schools, too, contributing to a raised awareness about recycling among kids in upcoming generations.

With plastic waste becoming a global epidemic, creative projects like this which encourage the recycling and reduction of plastic waste are imperative.

Source : Naturalsociety

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This entry was posted in Health.

Should You Drink Red Wine for Dental Health?

People drink wine for a variety of reasons: the taste, the many suspected benefits, or simply to unwind at the end of the day. But research recently published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry may give you another reason to add moderate red wine consumption to your to-do list: improved oral health.

According to the study, red wine is effective at combating bacteria associated with periodontal disease, which can mean gingivitis or the escalated periodontitis – which develops due to inadequate hygiene.

The researchers used a biofilm model of plaque that included five different species of bacteria common in gum and tooth disease. These cultures were placed in red wine—both with alcohol and without, in red wine combined with grape seed extract, in water, and in 12% ethanol for just a couple of minutes.


Out of all the solutions, the red wine (both with and without alcohol), and the wine combined with grape seed extract, performed the best.

“Our results show that red wine, at moderate concentration, inhibits the growth of some pathogenic species in an oral biofilm model,” concluded the study.

The mouth is one of the most chemically complex habitats in the body. Hundreds of different bacteria exist here, all in constant contact with your teeth and gums. Because the teeth don’t shed (like skin), they are vulnerable to these bacterium and the resulting formations of plaque and biofilms.

Bacteria like lactobacilli and streptococci in the mouth produce acids when combined with the fermentation of sugars in the diet. Eventually, these acids demineralize the teeth and lead to gum disease or tooth loss, something Medical News Today reports 60-90 percent of the world’s population is affected by.

Scientists are looking for natural alternatives to the antimicrobial prescriptions that can have unintended side effects, including the possible contribution to drug resistant bacteria.

Though while red wine for dental health is a compelling reason to enjoy another glass, there are indeed other options.

Oil pulling with coconut oil or sesame oil could be an effective, fun, and very interesting method of eliminating potentially harmful bacteria in the mouth while even possibly repairing existing tooth decay and cavities.

As Anthony Gucciardi reported, coconut oil is particularly potent when used in improving oral health, whitening death, repairing carries, and fighting candida albicans, a yeast with long-term effects.

Source : Naturalsociety

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    Looking for an alternative to toothpastes loaded with sulfates and other toxic ingredients such as fluoride? Mainstream science has now fully recognized the ‘miracle’ powers of coconut oil to not only combat tooth decay and drastically improve overall mouth health, but also to specifically crush a yeast known as candida albicans that can lead to…
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This entry was posted in Health.

Monsanto’s Worst Nightmare Coming True: The Rise of GMO Labeling

Activists against GMOs just might take down the biotech giants after all. GMO labeling could soon be a sweet reality.

Last week, Colorado broke a new record by bringing 16,950 signatures to a GMO labeling campaign for fall’s election, more than double the qualifying signatures needed to make sure that GMO labeling is on the ballot. This huge message to Monsanto accompanies a similar campaign in Oregon, all while the biotech industry awaits approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for more Agent Orange chemicals (2,4-D) to be used where glyphosate has failed.


Incredibly, the USDA is ignoring Americans as well as scientists who say that being carpet-bombed with 176 million pounds of toxic pesticides is not only unfathomable, but intolerable. No one wants these carcinogenic, birth-defect-causing toxins created by biotech companies and seed monopolizers anymore.

Finally, Monsanto has to fight GMO labeling fronts simultaneously in two different states. It is the company’s worst nightmare – come true. Surely, Monsanto was hoping people would give up and just back down as they continue to buy out Congress, the FDA, and even Supreme Court judges. But instead, it just fueled grassroots efforts all the more.

It is the best time, if ever, to stand up to Monsanto and Dow Chemical’s toxic products in the marketplace. You can speak out and join the fight. Oregon and California need your help, and so does the rest of the world fighting these GMO-pushers.

Dr. Bronner’s and Dr. Mercola are also getting behind the action with a 3 to 1 promise to match donations to fight Monsanto and GMO in the next week. You can use the link below to contribute.

Triple your impact before time runs out – we need to hear from you today!

Despite Monsanto’s big pockets and constant threats – even threatening to sue the state of Vermont for instating a GMO labeling law, people are standing up. You don’t have to be an ‘expert,’ either. You can be a farmer that has watched your crops fail, or your animals suffer from eating GMO feed. You can be a concerned mom, or a citizen who simply wants to know what is in the food.

We all can gather together to make an urgent and unprecedented move against Monsanto. We’re gaining the much needed momentum we needed.

Already, Monsanto and their corporate front groups are panicking at the idea of having to face down active campaigns in TWO major states. The food movement is shaking their boots at what we have accomplished. Don’t’ give up yet!

Source : Naturalsociety

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    While we can argue that government regulation of GE crops that have already spread to over 79% of the world is a failed prospect for ridding genetically modified organisms from our diets, a whopping 92% of US citizens are asking their government to label GE foods, according to a new poll from Consumer Reports. Despite…
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This entry was posted in Health.

4 of the Most Effective Herbs for Balancing Hormones

It’s no secret that hormones play a critical role in our day-to-day lives. But while a healthy, balanced regimen of sleep, relaxation, diet, and exercise is important in maintaining hormonal health, the intake of specific plants and herbs can make all the difference when treating hormonal imbalances or conditions.

1. Maca root (Lepidium meyenii). Maca root is native to Peru and is known for its powerful, hormone-enhancing benefits. There are a couple ways to consume maca: tablets/capsules or as a powder. It’s best to consult your physician on the dosage, but a low dosage is typically recommended in the beginning. People most often take maca to improve libido, energy levels, mood, and fertility. According to one study, the balancing effects of pre-gelatinized organic maca — edible maca that has been cooked and then dried making it cold water soluble— on sex hormone levels relieved symptoms in perimenopausal women including frequency of hot flushes, night sweating, interrupted sleep pattern, nervousness, depression and heart palpitations.

Although maca does not affect the hormones directly, it has hormone-balancing effects by providing nutrients — calcium, phosphorus, vitamins B1 and B12, and fatty acids — to the body, which are used by the endocrine system. Its qualities help alleviate a range of stressors including fatigue, anxiety, stress, depression, and sleep issues.

2. Chasteberry (Vitex, Agnus Castus). Chasteberry is the fruit of the chaste tree, a tree native to Central Asia and the Mediterranean region. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, chasteberry has been used for thousands of years by women to relieve menstrual problems and to stimulate the production of breast milk. Scientific research is limited on how menstruation and fertility interact with chasteberry, but there has been some work showing that women who take chasteberry experience some reduction in premenstrual symptoms like breast pain or tenderness, edema, constipation, irritability, depressed mood, anger, and headache.

Vitex (chasteberry extract) is also believed to stimulate the release of leutenizing hormone (LH) and inhibit the release of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), giving off a progesterone effect. As this process impacts the pituitary gland, it leads to an increase in progesterone production and helps regulate the menstrual cycle. The fruit is also believed to suppress the release of prolactin from the pituitary gland. Prolactin is a protein secreted from the pituitary gland and helps women produce milk, along with regulating metabolism, the immune system and pancreatic development.

3. Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa). Black cohosh has been used for more than 200 years, mainly by Native Americans. Not only is it known for its healing properties in treating menopausal and premenstrual symptoms, black cohosh has also been used to reduce inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and neuralgia. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that in “a review of scientific studies, researchers concluded that a combination of black cohosh, willow bark, sarsaparilla, guaiacum (Guaiacum officinale) resin, and poplar bark (Populus tremuloides) may help relieve symptoms of osteoarthritis.”

Furthermore, scientific evidence suggests that black cohosh may act like estrogen in some parts of the body: the brain, bone, and possibly to varying degrees, in the vagina. Because black cohosh contains sugar compounds (glycosides), anti-inflammatory properties (isoferulic acids) and estrogenic qualities (according to some studies), it’s believed to help with hormonal regulation.

4. Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens/Sabal serrulata). Saw palmetto has been used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland. While many therapeutic herb treatments center on women’s hormonal health, a number of plants help men as well, with saw palmetto being an important one. Researchers are still unsure exactly how the plant works to help treat BPH. Some evidence suggests the chemicals in the plant may influence testosterone levels, and reduce the amount of an enzyme that leads to the growth of prostate cells. When treating individuals with BPH, saw palmetto is usually combined with nettle extract, a botanical, native to Africa and western Asia.

One clinical trial found that 2,939 men with symptomatic BPH who took saw palmetto extract “reported greater improvement of urinary tract symptoms and urinary flow measures compared to control subjects.” Saw palmetto may also help in managing androgenic alopecia (hair loss or male pattern baldness).

A natural approach to the treatment or relief of hormonal conditions and symptoms can prove beneficial in managing physical health. Given the endocrine system controls how the body functions, our psychological health, and emotional well being, it is useful to know how hormones interact with a range of herbs and plants.

While various herbs and plants promote hormonal health, it’s important to investigate the potential side effects that may accompany them. Herbs can also be used as advocates in the medical treatment of more severe hormonal conditions, but it’s important that they not become a cure-all for serious hormonal issues. Also, it’s beneficial to understand how certain herbs collaborate with others before choosing to treat any hormonal conditions or illnesses.

Source : Alternet

This entry was posted in Health.

7 Ayurvedic Herbs that Destroy Colon & Other Cancers Fast

Numerous Ayurvedic texts speak of ways to treat cancers of the colon and digestive system. Two texts which were written around 700 BC are classic wisdom from the sister science of yoga – the Charakaand Sushruta Samhita. Both are suggested as being an imbalance in one of the doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) which describe general physiological states in people throughout the world. Once the doshas are returned to balance, then cancer and other diseases disappear from the body.

The following 7 herbs are used in Ayurveda to bring balance to the doshas, helping to minimize or completely eradicate colon cancer.


1. Ashwagandha

Due to being an adaptogen, this herb is used for literally hundreds of ailments in Ayurvedic medicine. It ‘intuits’ where your body needs support and provides it. Ashwagandha increases our resistance to stress while increasing energy levels, freeing up the body’s systems to scavenge rouge cells.

According to research conducted on the herb, ashwagandha helps in the slowing down of the growth of the cancer cells and inhibits the growth of tumor cells without harming the good cells.

2. Garlic

Numerous double-blind studies have shown that garlic is a powerful herb for treating cancer. Naturopaths have been using raw garlic, and even garlic juice or soups, to treat cancer for ages. Garlic has even proven to kill brain cancer cells (in addition to colon cancers) without harming healthy cells, and with no side effects. Add some onions and broccoli, and you’ve got a cancer fighting power-house.

It is also a staple of the Ayurvedic herbal medicine cabinet. Check out the health benefits of garlic, here.

3. Green Tea

Green tea isn’t just a social grace, but a healing remedy for colon and other cancers. Not only does it inhibit the formation of cancerous cells, but the catechin polyphenols within can even kill cancerous cells without harming healthy cells. By drinking green tea regularly, you can eradicate colon tumors while they are in their most infant stages.

4. Celandine

A member of the poppy plant family, celandine has been known to treat colon cancer as well. It also boosts the immune system so that cancer and other disease never have a chance to develop. Further, the herb treats diseases like asthma and atherosclerosis.

5. Aloe Vera & Apple Cider Vinegar Fasts

While these two herbal remedies act together primarily as a means to cleanse the colon, thereby eliminating toxins which could accumulate in the digestive tract causing disease, they are also great anti-inflammatory agents.

The benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) cannot be understated. It helps with candida overgrowth (also shown to contribute to many cancers) and lowers blood glucose levels. Aloe Vera juice has been shown to help people who have tried numerous pharmaceutical meds – folfox, xeloda, avastin and other chemotherapies to no avail.

6. Ginger Root

An Ayurvedic staple, ginger is used in many Indian dishes. Inflammation markers that have been earlier proved in clinical research as precursors to colon cancer can be reduced significantly by the consumption of ginger powder or ginger roots. A powerful anti-inflammatory, ginger soothes and heals the digestive tract, and therefore has been suggested as one of the best home remedies for the treatment of colon cancer.

In one study, Suzanna M. Zick, N.D., M.P.H, enrolled 30 patients and randomly assigned them to two grams of ginger root supplements per day or placebo for 28 days. She had astoundingly positive results. Zick commented that:

“We need to apply the same rigor to the sorts of questions about the effect of ginger root that we apply to other clinical trial research. Interest in this is only going to increase as people look for ways to prevent cancer that are nontoxic, and improve their quality of life in a cost-effective way.”

Ginger has also destroyed ovarian and prostate cancer cells in other studies.

7. Turmeric

If you haven’t heard of this herb by now, you’ve likely been living under a rock. The compounds in Turmeric can heal just about anything. Curcumins found in turmeric roots cause colon cancer cells to self-destruct. Astounding results were found when testing turmeric’s ability to destroy cancer cells at the Department of Surgery, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Sure, you can turn to chemotherapy for your colon cancer, which causes your hair to fall out, your insides to feel like they won’t stop being regurgitated, and your energy to be completely devastated. You can also try invasive surgery – all for the bargain basement price of several to twenty thousand dollars.

Or you can start taking these Ayurvedic herbal remedies that have been around for thousands of years and proven through time for mere pennies.

Source : Naturalsociety

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This entry was posted in Health.

Lucky Bamboo – Dracaena sanderiana

The “Lucky Bamboo” really isn’t a bamboo even though it may resemble one – its actually Dracaena sanderiana.

Whatever you want to call this “lucky plant” it has opened up a whole new way for people afraid of or carry the “brown thumb” badge with them, along with adding some green with unusual flair to their interior space.

Numerous questions come in concerning the novelty plant – Lucky Bamboo.

There isn’t much on the net dealing directly with the care of this plant… it can still experience some pest problems but there is more on the web than you may think.

The “Lucky Bamboo” has been marketed and “grown” basically as a hydroponic plant, in a decorative container with rock, marbles, polished stones to keep the plant upright and water in the bottom… no soil.
Lucky Bamboo Plant Care

The best way to describe this one of a kind green interior houseplant care requirements – minimal.

All that’s required is regular cleaning of the leaves (you should do that on all indoor office plants) , change the water weekly, place in areas with lots of light but without direct sunlight.

Every month remove the plant from its pot, wash the plant and roots off thoroughly – and place the “bamboo plant” back in the pot after it has been itself washed and the water replaced.

Dracaena sanderiana is not a large plant like Dracaena Massangeana – the corn plant.

The canes are harvested and cut into much smaller lengths just as many Dracaenas. The tops are waxed off to help stop the entry of fungus or rot.

The plants or canes are then grouped together creating some unique looks. The “Lucky Bamboo” sort of combines the production methods of Dracaena Massangeana and the flexibility of Dracaena Marginata … it’s all in this care guide.

So what can you do specifically or what should you be aware of in caring for your Dracaena sanderiana – “Lucky Bamboo”?
Beware of Fluoride Problems

Right off we know that many Dracaenas can have fluoride problems, and where does most of the fluoride problems come from?

Our water… use good clean pure water, try to stay away from the tap water.

If you’re going to use tap water let it sit out over night to allow the chlorine to evaporate, it won’t remove the fluoride but the chlorine can also damage the plants..

Most of the care recommends changing the water every 3-7 days, so you can see good water is important for these plants to do well.

Next, we know that high salts can burn the leaves of Dracaenas.

Most of our salt build ups come from adding liquid fertilizers to the water. You’ll also find salts in your city water.

Stay away from fertilizing these plants all together.

Again you see the importance of a good clean water source.

From all my growing experience and observations the “Lucky Bamboo” does best in good lighting but not direct sun.

Remember it’s a novelty plant not a 6 foot specimen and doesn’t have the same demands.

How about when the plant grows too much and you want to take a cutting or cut the cane.

Handle it just the way you’re currently growing your “Lucky Bamboo”. Place the new cutting in a small pot with some rock and keep it moist until roots appear.

There are claims that the “Lucky Bamboo” can live for years and I don’t doubt it. Just about any plant can be enjoyed for years with proper care.

Just in case you’re wondering if “Lucky Bamboo” is that much different that the more familiar and commercially grown Dracaenas.

Other than being a different variety and grown or presented in an unusual way… NO. You’ll find Dracaena massangeana marketed in a similar fashion as… “Lucky Tree Logs”.

It’s really no different. Most Dracaenas could be produced this same way. Size is the real issue.

If people were really interested in buying cane of other varieties to give it a “Lucky Bamboo” drop us a line and we’ll see if some growers of traditional cane would be interested in supplying it.

You’re complete Dracaena care here.
Lucky Bamboo – Canes & Arrangement Has Meaning

The number of canes and size the plants in an arrangement is not left to chance.

The number of stairs the plants form bring unique meanings:

Three stairs bring happiness, health and a long life
Five stairs stimulate the 5th elements of life
Six stairs bring health
Eight stairs bring development and prosperity
Ten stairs symbolize perfection and fulfillment
Twenty-one stairs bring a powerful blessing

They make a wonderful gift for a home or office, everyone loves the unusual look, combined with easy care and long lasting display.

Source : Plantcaretoday

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This entry was posted in Health.

A Simple Laser Blast Could Help Grow Your Teeth Back

No more fillings! Scientists have figured out how to regenerate dentin, the material inside our teeth.

And all it takes is a quick blast with a low-powered laser, according to new research by a team of Harvard University-led scientists.

The new study published in Science Translational Medicine shows that a low-power laser can trigger stem cells in your tooth to form dentin.

As Sarah Zhang reports for Gizmodo, currently dentists can only replace damaged dentin with synthetic material, for example, when you get a filling or root canal.

But using this new technique, dentists may soon be able to actually regrow your tooth.


It sounds counterintuitive, seeing as high-power lasers can also destroy your teeth, but for years anecdotal reports have suggested that low-power laser could stimulate skin or hair growth – and now this study has shown the same technique works for teeth.

So how does it happen?

Zhang explains in Gizmodo: A blast of laser induces reactive oxygen species, which are chemically active molecules that then activate a growth factor to stimulate dentin growth.

This is the first procedure that could regrow teeth in your mouth, and has so far been tested on rodent teeth. The work will now continue onto human trials, with the hope that it could one day replace painful dental procedures.

Sure, having a laser pointed into your mouth isn’t that appealing, but it beats a root canal any day.

Source : Getholistichealth

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What Is Oil Pulling – How Is It Done

Many people have heard of “Oil Pulling” and its health benefits as it has been getting lots of press lately. We’ve read negatives comments:

“Snopes says there is no scientific or medical research to back this.”

And positive:

“I am living proof and my dental hygienist will back me up”

“I’ve been oil pulling for 8 months with brilliant results:)”

Note: My doctor told me that he had been doing it for 4 months. When he went to his dentist recently, they asked him why he came… his mouth and teeth were clean and looked great.

But, what is it and how do you do it?

What Is Oil Pulling

Oil pulling is simply holding some oil (usually one tablespoon of coconut oil or seasame) in your mouth and swishing it around for usually 10 to 20 minutes. When done spit it out!

How Is Oil Pulling Done

It’s recommended for oil pulling to be done first thing in the morning – brushing your teeth, drinking or eating anything.

Step 1: – Start by spitting out any saliva in your mouth.

Step 2: – Take one tablespoon of oil (coconut) and hold it in your mouth. You can use any other natural oils i.e. coconut, macadamia, olive, walnut and Udo’s oil.

Step 3: – Tilt your chin upwards and start swishing the oil around through your mouth and teeth. The reason behind lifting your head is to get the oil to reach your back molars.

Step 4: Repeat this for approximately 20 minutes. Make sure you get the oil all round your tongue and teeth. Before you spit out the oil, it should resemble a thin white foam. If the oil is still yellow or clear, this is an indication that you haven’t swished the oil long enough.

Step 5: – Spit out the oil and rinse your mouth thoroughly.

Step 6: – Drink 1 to 2 glasses of warm water.

Note: Change to a different type of oil after some time i.e. a month to renew the potency of oil pulling.


Don’t swallow the oil – it is packed with toxins and bacteria.

Swish slowly and avoid gargling at all costs to ensure you don’t swallow even a drop of the oil.

Source : Plantcaretoday

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    Tags: oil, pulling, mouth
  • 72
    Oil pulling is making headlines as it seems to becoming widely popular, but it's actually an Ayurvedic Indian tradition that's been around for thousands of years. To perform it, you simply swish an oil in your mouth, "pulling" it between your teeth for about 20 minutes. You can use a number of oils for this,…
    Tags: oil, pulling
  • 60
    Coconut oil is an amazing oil. It seems people are just starting to “discover” the benefits of it. The uses have been collected into the 100′s. We’ve seen one for 333 uses. Around our house we keep it pretty simple. We use coconut oil in place of butter just about anywhere. When cooking oil is…
    Tags: oil, pulling
  • 58
    I’ve experienced the somewhat miraculous healing properties of essential oils first hand. When getting over a long bout of an upper respiratory sickness, I bathed in a combination of ylang ylang, white thyme, jatamansi, lavender, marjoram, and sandalwood oils. A few drops of each is all it took. I soaked away sore muscles, and the…
    Tags: oil
  • 52
    Pure virgin olive oil is a very beneficial oil for cooking with moderate heat and using on raw foods and salads, but there have been several cases of fraud discovered in the olive oil industry over the last two decades. Hardly anyone gets prosecuted, although a lot of doctored oil does get destroyed. The bottom…
    Tags: oil
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How Government Blacklists Journalists From Accessing the Truth

As states move to hide details of government deals with Wall Street, and as politicians come up with new arguments to defend secrecy, a study released earlier this month revealed that many government information officers block specific journalists they don’t like from accessing information. The news comes as 47 federal inspectors general sent a letter to lawmakers criticizing “serious limitations on access to records” that they say have “impeded” their oversight work.

The data about public information officers was compiled over the past few years by Kennesaw State University professor Dr. Carolyn Carlson. Her surveys found that 4 in 10 public information officers say “there are specific reporters they will not allow their staff to talk to due to problems with their stories in the past.”

“That horrified us that so many would do that,” Carlson told the Columbia Journalism Review, which reported on her presentation at the July conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

Carlson has conducted surveys of journalists and public information officers since 2012. In her most recent survey of 445 working journalists, four out of five reported that “their interviews must be approved” by government information officers, and “more than half of the reporters said they had actually been prohibited from interviewing [government] employees at least some of the time by public information officers.”

In recent years, there have been signs that the federal government is reducing the flow of public information. Reason Magazine has reported a 114 percent increase in Freedom of Information Act rejections by the Drug Enforcement Agency since President Obama took office. The National Security Agency has also issued blanket rejections of FOIA requests about its metadata program. And the Associated Press reported earlier this year that in 2013, “the government cited national security to withhold information a record 8,496 times — a 57 percent increase over a year earlier and more than double Obama’s first year.”

Those revelations foreshadowed a recent letter from more than half of the government’s inspectors general saying that federal agencies’ move to hide information from them represents a “potentially serious challenge to the authority of every Inspector General and our ability to conduct our work thoroughly, independently, and in a timely manner.”

In that letter, the inspectors general assert that agencies are saying information is “privileged” and therefore must be kept secret. That is one of many increasingly creative rationales that public officials are now citing as reason to keep government information secret.

In Chicago, for example, officials in Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration rejected a request for documents about an opaque $1.7 billion fund that is often used for corporate subsidies, some of which have flowed to the mayor’s political donors. In a letter explaining the rejection, the officials said it would take too much staff time to compile the data and that therefore the request was “unduly burdensome.”

Likewise in Rhode Island, Democratic State Treasurer Gina Raimondo rejected a newspaper request for information about the state’s hedge fund contracts on the grounds that she wanted fund managers to “keep this information confidential to help preserve the productivity of their staff and to minimize attention around their own compensation.”

That denial was one of many similar rejections from states seeking to keep the details of their Wall Street deals secret.

Carlson’s polls from 2014 show that three-quarters of journalists surveyed now agree that “the public is not getting the information it needs because of barriers agencies are imposing on journalists’ reporting practices.”

That’s the whole point of government secrecy, of course — and the ramifications are predictable. In an information vacuum, the public is being systematically divorced from public policy, which is exactly what too many elected officials want.

Source : Alternet

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Ferguson Has Calm Night After Attorney General Visits ‘Fractured’ Community

The US attorney general, Eric Holder, said on Thursday that he found a “fractured” community in Ferguson, and said that he “personally understood” their mistrust of police.

Holder urged patience while federal investigators complete their investigation into the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed teenager shot dead by police in Ferguson on 9 August.

In remarks at a press conference in Washington, Holder said events in Ferguson had “brought to the surface tensions that have been simmering for some time”.

But, following a trip to visit investigators and community leaders on Wednesday, he warned that the independent FBI probe into possible civil rights violations may not conclude for some time. “I think significant progress has been made but it will take some time,” Holder told reporters on Thursday.


“It doesn’t mean that this thing should drag on – we will try to do this as expeditiously as we can – but on the other hand at the end of the day the most important thing is that we get it right and that means that thoroughness and completeness is what we will exercise.”
Attorney general Eric Holder listens during a meeting with Missouri governor Jay Nixon, right, and other elected officials. Photograph: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

However, activists in Ferguson planned a fresh protest to demand the removal of Robert McCulloch, the St Louis County prosecutor, from the case.

A group calling itself the Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Coalition said it would picket McCulloch’s office in nearby Clayton and give details of a petition which it said had collected 70,000 signatures.

Protesters have questioned the impartiality of McCulloch, who has deep family ties to local police, including his father, an officer who died during an encounter with a black man.

Clergy and Missouri state senator Jamilah Nasheed, among others, have pressured governor Jay Nixon to appoint a special prosecutor to handle the case. Nixon has expressed hope that McCulloch will step aside but not ordered him to do so. The prosecutor has defended his impartiality and challenged the governor to remove him or let him do his job.

McCulloch issued a statement on Thursday acknowledging the criticism and reaffirming his integrity and fitness to handle the case. “I appreciate and understand the concerns of those who honestly believe that I cannot or will not be fair to all in the gathering and presentation of the evidence pertaining to the tragic death of Michael Brown.”

The prosecutor said he would continue to “faithfully and fairly” carry out his responsibilities and duties, as he had done for the past two decades.

McCulloch repeated his challenge to Nixon to use his authority as governor, under a state of emergency declared last week, to recuse him from the case, or to lift the uncertainty over his role.

“The governor must settle this issue now. To leave this issue unresolved now leaves the possibility of exercising this power at a later date which will cause a significant and unwarranted delay in the resolution of the investigation.”

After two nights of relative peace, Ferguson showed signs of edging back to normality. Schools remain closed on Thursday but teachers offered free tutoring to students at the local library. A magician from Abra-Kid-Abra, a Missouri group which usually performs in schools and summer camps, entertained some of the younger children.

On Wednesday night, rain, a diminishing crowd of protesters and a decision by the police to keep a relatively low profile led to a largely uneventful evening at the scene of nearly two weeks of demonstrations. Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri state highway patrol said there were six arrests, compared to 47 the previous night, and called it “a very good night”. Johnson also said the visit by Holder let people know their voices had been heard.
A demonstrator protests the shooting death of Michael Brown on Wednesday in Ferguson. Photograph: Joshua Lott/AFP/Getty Images

Meanwhile a police officer, shown on video threatening protesters during Tuesday night’s demonstrations, was suspended. Liuetenant Ray Albers of the St Ann police department was seen waving an assault weapon at protesters and threatening to kill them. He also told them: “fuck yourselves”.

Earlier on Wednesday, police in St Louis released video and audio recordings of the shooting on the previous day of Kajieme Powell, a 25-year-old man described as behaving erratically and carrying a knife when officers arrived on the scene.

One video, taken by a witness with a phone camera, shows officers opening fire repeatedly within 15 seconds of arriving at the scene. Twelve shots are fired in rapid succession.

The video will reinforce concerns raised by witnesses who asked why the police officers did not use Tasers or shoot Powell to wound rather than kill. Sam Dotson, chief of the St Louis metropolitan police, said the officers may not have been able to Taser Powell because of his sweatshirt. In the video the sweatshirt appears to be open.

On Tuesday a witness to the shooting, Doris Davis, said she did not believe the police needed to kill Powell. “I think it was excessive. People said he had a knife but if he had a knife they could have shot him in the foot. Or Tasered him. They didn’t have to kill him,” she told the Guardian.

St Louis metropolitan police undertook to release the recordings of the Powell case quickly, hoping to make the circumstances clear and minimise its potential as a further catalyst for rioting and confrontation between crowds and police.

Dotson, the police chief, said: “I don’t think any of us can deny that the tension not only in St Louis but around the county and the world because of the activities in Ferguson over the last 10 or 12 days certainly has led to us making sure that we got this right and answered as many questions as we could as quickly as we can.”

In his press conference on Thursday, Holder said he found a “real fracture” in the community. But he added: “Out of tragedy comes a great opportunity for reforming that community.”

Source : Alternet

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