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"The United States Senate decided again Thursday that it simply does not want to let states tell people whether or not they are eating genetically modified food.

The Senate voted overwhelmingly -- 71 to 27 -- against an amendment to the sweeping farm bill, squashing a measure that would not have required labeling of genetically modified organisms, but merely would have let states decide if they wanted to require such labeling.

"The concept we're talking about today is a fairly commonsense and non-radical idea," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the sponsor of the amendment, said shortly before the vote. "All over the world, in the European Union, in many other countries around the world, dozens and dozens of countries, people are able to look at the food that they are buying and determine through labeling whether or not that product contains genetically modified organisms."

Sanders has noted that more than 3,000 ingredients are required to be labeled, but genetically modified ingredients are not part of that list. His state and Connecticut have passed laws to require such labeling, but Sanders said local leaders fear that large biotech corporations such as Monsanto could sue the states on the grounds that they are preempting federal authority. He said his bill would make clear that states can do what they want on the issue.

But Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the chair of the Agriculture Committee, argued that the measure "is not germane to the farm bill" in the first place. She also said the labels run counter to science and the public interest in healthy food.

"This particular amendment would interfere with the FDA's science-based process to determine what food labeling is necessary for consumers," Stabenow said.

"It's also important to note that around the world now we are seeing genetically modified crops that have the ability to resist crop diseases and improve nutritional content and survive drought conditions in many developing countries," she added. "We see wonderful work being done by foundations like the Gates Foundation and others, that are using new techniques to be able to feed hungry people," she said, although it was not clear how labeling would affect such efforts.

Sanders' office pointed out that 64 countries around the world require GMO labeling."
this GMO craze has to stop.

It's already been proven to be quite dangerous in various studies.

The seeds also spread to organic crops.
Crazy shit. Proves beyond doubt that the gubment don't give a fuck about people.
^ Never has, never will, in most cases anyway.
Aye but it SHOULD not be that way and that's what saddens me.
Agreed. Human evolution has a long way to go before we reach our potential. Right now as a whole, we are opperating no better than the intelligent animals that we are. Our potential is so much greater.
Fertile Plains Turn to Dust


"Forty-nine years ago, Ashley Yost’s grandfather sank a well deep into a half-mile square of rich Kansas farmland. He struck an artery of water so prodigious that he could pump 1,600 gallons to the surface every minute.

Last year, Mr. Yost was coaxing just 300 gallons from the earth, and pumping up sand in order to do it. By harvest time, the grit had robbed him of $20,000 worth of pumps and any hope of returning to the bumper harvests of years past.

The land, known as Section 35, sits atop the High Plains Aquifer, a waterlogged jumble of sand, clay and gravel that begins beneath Wyoming and South Dakota and stretches clear to the Texas Panhandle. The aquifer’s northern reaches still hold enough water in many places to last hundreds of years. But as one heads south, it is increasingly tapped out, drained by ever more intensive farming and, lately, by drought.

Vast stretches of Texas farmland lying over the aquifer no longer support irrigation. In west-central Kansas, up to a fifth of the irrigated farmland along a 100-mile swath of the aquifer has already gone dry. In many other places, there no longer is enough water to supply farmers’ peak needs during Kansas’ scorching summers.

And when the groundwater runs out, it is gone for good. Refilling the aquifer would require hundreds, if not thousands, of years of rains."
Stockholm rioting continues for fifth night

Police in Stockholm are to seek reinforcements after youths set cars ablaze and threw stones at police for a fifth night running, officials said.

About 30 cars were set on fire in poorer districts in north-western and south-western parts of the Swedish capital on Thursday night, with rioters causing widespread damage to property, including schools. However, a police spokesman said the overnight violence was less intense than in previous nights.

Despite Sweden's reputation for equality, the rioting has exposed a faultline between a well-off majority and a minority, often young people with immigrant backgrounds, who cannot find work, lack education and feel marginalised.


Analysis: Markets face rough summer ride as Fed pullback feared

(Reuters) - For the past few months, the Federal Reserve has been squarely in the financial markets' corner, thanks to its massive dollops of monetary stimulus. But signs that the central bank is discussing reducing that support by purchasing fewer bonds mean that trading is likely to get bumpier in coming months.

The Fed's evolving stance was made apparent by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke's remarks to Congress Wednesday, where he laid out the conditions that might cause the Fed to reduce its $85 billion a month buying of Treasuries and mortgage-backed bonds.

U.S. stock and bond markets were whipsawed - the S&P 500 rose dramatically On Wednesday, only to fall sharply in its largest one-day point swing since early November, and bond yields rose above 2 percent to a 10-week high. On Thursday, both markets stabilized.

Volatility has been low over the past few months. The 50-day moving average of the CBOE volatility index, Wall Street's favorite fear gauge, hit a six-year low last week. In the past two days it rose as much as 13 percent, but it remains at historically low levels. That may change, depending on future remarks and moves by the Fed.

"As you start hearing about the Fed tapering off asset purchases I wouldn't be surprised if that spooks investors and you begin to see volatility pick up," said Joseph Tanious, global market strategist at JPMorgan Funds.

Fed officials say they will need more signs of sustained improvement in the economy and the labor market before reducing the bond buying that has lowered borrowing costs, underpinned a rebound in housing, and helped to boost stocks to record levels.


Attorney General Holder approved warrant to search Fox News reporter's emails

A law enforcement official says US Attorney General Eric Holder personally approved the warrant that gave the Justice Department access to Fox News reporter James Rosen’s private e-mails.

President Barack Obama on Thursday said that Holder would review Justice Department guidelines on dealing with journalism investigations. The government has been accused of violating journalists’ constitutional rights by secretly obtaining Associated Press phone records and Rosen’s personal e-mails to find the sources of information leaks.

“I am troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable,” Obama said during his speech on counter-terrorism policy on Thursday. “Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs.”

But while the president announced that Holder would look into the Justice Department’s policies regarding the matter, a law enforcement official told NBC News that Holder was personally responsible for signing off on the 44-page warrant that gave the department access to Rosen’s e-mail account.

This warrant called Rosen a “co-conspirator” in a leak investigation from June 2009, which revealed North Korea’s intention to conduct a nuclear test despite US sanctions. The warrant also allowed the Justice Department to track Rosen’s movements in and out of the State Department and all communications with his source, security adviser Stephen Jin-woo Kim.


French special forces intervene in Niger amid Al-Qaeda attacks

French special forces assisted Nigerien troops in an operation at an army base in Niger to flush out Al-Qaeda-linked militants suspected of a string of deadly attacks Thursday in the West African country.

At least 21 people were killed and dozens more wounded in coordinated car bombings and assaults on a uranium mine run by French company Areva in the town of Arlit, and at a military base in the city of Agadez in northern Niger.

"As I speak, the situation has been brought under control in particular in Agadez, where our special forces have intervened to support Nigerien forces at the request of President [Mahamadou] Issoufou," French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told BFM television.

Niger’s Defense Minister, Karidjo Mahamadou, told AP that two terrorists had been killed and two hostages – believed to be cadets at the military camp – were released as a result of the offensive, which took place at dawn on Friday.


Obamacare Loophole Provides Incentive For Employers To Hire Illegal Aliens Over US Citizens

A loophole in President Obama’s healthcare plan makes it very attractive for US employers to hire illegal immigrants on the Pathway to Citizenship instead of hiring legal US citizens. And if it’s not fixed before the bill passes, millions of jobs across America will be filled by illegal aliens.

According to the immigration reform bill, any illegal immigrant who’s been in the U.S. since on or before December 31, 2011, may apply for provisional status. Assuming he meets all of the legal requirements along the way, within 13 years he may be granted lawful permanent resident status.

During that 13-year time frame the immigrant must be employed by a U.S. employer and must be able to provide proof of employment.

Under Obamacare, employers with more than 50 employees are required to either provide healthcare benefits or pay a $3,000 fine every time one of their workers has to subscribe to Obamacare’s insurance exchange subsidies.

However – and here’s the catch – during that 13-year interim period, the immigrant is not eligible for any federal benefits, which includes Obamacare. So the employer doesn’t have to provide healthcare benefits because the illegal immigrant couldn’t apply for Obamacare subsidies if he wanted to.

How does this affect the average American? Obviously, employers will save money when they hire an illegal because they won’t have to provide health insurance. Scarier still, they can actually afford to offer higher wages to illegals so they can hire them in place of legal American citizens.


Yemen's main oil export pipeline sabotaged, crude flow halted

Yemen’s Defense Ministry said in a statement on Friday that the pipeline in Serwah was exploded by “subversive elements.”

The key pipeline, which carries oil to an export terminal on the Red Sea shore, had been pumping around 125,000 barrels per day (bpd), Reuters quoted an industry source as saying.

Oil revenues make up more than 70 percent of Yemen’s state budget. Oil and gas products also account for over 90 percent of Yemen's exports.

Insurgents and tribesmen have repeatedly attacked oil and gas pipelines in Yemen over the past two years in a bid to win concessions from the central government, causing fuel shortages and slashing export earnings in the impoverished country.

In December 2012, at least 17 people were killed after the Yemeni Army launched an offensive against tribesmen suspected of sabotaging the pipeline.

Official figures show lost production due to pipeline attacks in the east cost the Yemeni government more than USD one billion in 2012, while oil exports fell by 4.5 percent.


China Bluntly Tells North Korea to Enter Nuclear Talks

BEIJING — The Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, bluntly told a North Korean envoy Friday that his country should return to diplomatic talks designed to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons, according to a state-run Chinese news agency.

“The denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and lasting peace on the peninsula is what the people want and also the trend of the times,” Mr. Xi said in a meeting at the Great Hall of the People with Vice Marshal Choe Ryong-hae, a personal envoy of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, the China News Service reported.

Vice Marshal Choe, who has been in Beijing for three days on a mission to repair the prickly relationship between North Korea and China, handed Mr. Xi a letter from Mr. Kim. The contents were not disclosed.

In telling the North it should return to the negotiating table, Mr. Xi appeared to strike a stern tone, saying, “The Chinese position is very clear: no matter how the situation changes, relevant parties should all adhere to the goal of denuclearization of the peninsula, persist in safeguarding its peace and stability, and stick to solving problems through dialogue and consultation.”

The Chinese leader called for resuming the so-called six-party talks, the diplomatic effort among six countries including China and the United States that collapsed in 2008 when North Korea walked out.


Pope calls for global, ethical finance reform, end to cult of money

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis called for global financial reform that respects human dignity, helps the poor, promotes the common good and allows states to regulate markets.

"Money has to serve, not to rule," he said in his strongest remarks yet as pope concerning the world's economic and financial crises.

A major reason behind the increase in social and economic woes worldwide "is in our relationship with money and our acceptance of its power over ourselves and our society," he told a group of diplomats May 16.

"We have created new idols" where the "golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal."

thanks CD
Boy Scouts vote to allow gay members


The Boy Scouts of America voted Thursday to allow gay youth to participate in scouting. The historic vote, with 61% in favor, signals another shift in American public opinion about homosexuality but still leaves the organization with many future hurdles.

"It brings the Boy Scouts back into the American mainstream," said Beth Gazley, a professor at Indiana University in Bloomington who studies non-profits.

The vote overturns a 22-year-old ban on openly gay scouts. It was based on a line from the 1911 Boy Scouts of America oath: "On my honor I will do my best….to keep myself physically strong, mentally alert and morally straight."

Since 1991 the Scouts have barred openly gay individuals from participating in Scouting because it was decided that being gay was incompatible with being "morally straight."

The proposal was voted upon by more than 1,400 voting members of the organization's national council at its annual meeting in Grapevine, Texas, near the Scouts' national headquarters in suburban Dallas. It will become effective Jan. 1, 2014.

Delegates were asked to vote on whether openly gay boys and teens should be allowed to participate in scouting. The Scouts plan to continue their ban on gay adult Scout leaders. More than 2,000 Boy Scout leaders and officials are attending the meeting, which concludes Friday.

"The Boy Scouts of America will not sacrifice its mission, or the youth served by the movement, by allowing the organization to be consumed by a single, divisive, and unresolved societal issue," the scouts said in a statement released when the vote results were announced.

"While people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in Scouting. Going forward, our Scouting family will continue to focus on reaching and serving youth in order to help them grow into good, strong citizens."

Gay Scouts, Scout leaders and their supporters were ecstatic. They were holding what they called an Equal Scouting Summit across the street from the meeting. It was sponsored by two pro-gay Scout groups, Scouts for Equality and the Inclusive Scouting Network.

"Honestly, today I thought it was going to be the last day that I was going to be a Boy Scout. But the Boy Scouts delegates proved me wrong," said Pascal Tessier, a 16-year-old Scout from Kensington, Md. He thanked his family for being so supportive of him, especially his 20-year-old brother, Lucien, an Eagle Scout, who started an on-line petition to get the scouts to make the change.

"Like my brother before me, I now have a chance to earn my Eagle award—something that's taken most of my life to achieve. Finally, Scouts are no longer forced to choose between upholding the Scout Oath and being open and honest about who they really are as a person," Tessier said.

Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute in Washington, D.C., said the shift "would utterly change Scouting and dramatically reduce their ranks. The Catholic and Mormon groups would simply have to walk away."

That's not necessarily true, however. In a statement posted on its website in April, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stated that it appreciated the "positive things contained in this current proposal [to allow gay Scouts] that will help build and strengthen the moral character and leadership skills of youth as we work together in the future."

About 70% of all Scout troops are run by faith-based organizations, according to the Boy Scouts of America. About 37% are Mormon, 10% Methodist and 8% Catholic.

Robert Volk, a law professor at Boston University who studies civil rights law, isn't too worried about troops losing sponsors. "It's a chicken and egg thing. Their policy has given them the sponsors they have because those are the groups that believe in conservative ideals."

While scouting might lose some conservative members, the rest of America "is going to come back," said Gazley. "In the short term it will be messy, in the long term it's going to work for them."

The issue of gay Scouts has long been contentious. In 2000 the Supreme Court ruled that the Scouts could legally bar homosexuals from being troop leaders. The case centered on a gay Scout leader in New Jersey, James Dale, who was dismissed in 1990.

A similar case involving a gay Scout, Tim Curran, made it to the California Supreme. Curran a took a male date to his senior prom. The Mount Diablo Boy Scout Council then barred him from scouting activities and he sued. The California court ruled for the Scouts in 1998.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released May 9 found that 63% of Americans support allowing gay Scouts to join and 56% believe openly gay adults should be allowed to serve as Scout leaders. Public opinion is changing rapidly. In 2012 a USA Today/Gallup poll found only 42% of Americans said they believed openly gay adults should be Scout leaders.
they should let girls into the boy scouts as well.

that will probably be the next thing.

hey it's all a social construct folks!
(05-26-2013 03:21 AM)EVILYOSHIDA Wrote: [ -> ]they should let girls into the boy scouts as well.

that will probably be the next thing.

hey it's all a social construct folks!

Lol this is already happening.

Gloria Allred filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the Boy Scouts long ago because they refused to admit girls.

Fuck these people up the a** with a rusty barber pole. Lmao the west is doomed.

Sent from my Samsuck Clone S3 using Crapatalk
(05-26-2013 04:51 AM)Hellfire Awaits Wrote: [ -> ]
(05-26-2013 03:21 AM)EVILYOSHIDA Wrote: [ -> ]they should let girls into the boy scouts as well.

that will probably be the next thing.

hey it's all a social construct folks!

Lol this is already happening.

Gloria Allred filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the Boy Scouts long ago because they refused to admit girls.

Fuck these people up the a** with a rusty barber pole. Lmao the west is doomed.

Sent from my Samsuck Clone S3 using Crapatalk

the scary thing is that if this stuff doesn't get controlled at the root.. it will spread to all countries.

everyone will be affected.

"Australia will boost the value of agriculture and food-related exports 45 percent by 2025 to meet demand from China, the government said in a plan released today.

“The rise of Asia is transforming the world,” Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig said. “By 2050 world food consumption is expected to be 75 percent higher than in 2007, and almost half of this increased demand will come from China alone. Australia will never be able to put food on every table in Asia, but an expanding Asian middle class offers an important opportunity for Australia’s food industry.”

Australia exports A$30.5 billion ($29.4 billion) of food per year and produces enough to feed the nation of 23 million people twice over, according to the National Food Plan released by Ludwig in Brisbane today. Fifteen percent of the nation’s workforce is involved in food production, which is the biggest employer in rural and regional Australia, he said.

Australia in November signed into law a plan to boost the amount of water returned to the Murray-Darling Basin and ensure sustainable food production. The system, which extends from southern Queensland to South Australia, covers 14 percent of Australia’s land and produces more than one-third of the nation’s food including wheat and dairy.

He said the plan is backed by initiatives including: A$28.5 million for an Asian Food Markets Research Fund; strengthening Asian trade ties by investing A$5.6 million to give agriculture a “stronger, government endorsed voice” in key markets; A$2 million to develop Australia’s own recognized food brand; a Productivity Commission review to identify priority areas for reforming food supply chain regulations; and the establishment of an Australian Council on Food.

“Our food supply chain has a strong foundation, with high levels of food security and hardworking producers,” Ludwig said. “Like others around the world, there are challenges including climate change, population growth, diet-related health issues, and competition for resources. There are also enormous opportunities, including the rise of Asia.”

Australia is the third-largest beef shipper and was the biggest wheat exporter after the U.S. last season."


"A new Pew Research report on emerging economies finds that almost a quarter of Americans have trouble affording food. “This reported level of deprivation is closer to that in Indonesia or Greece rather than Britain or Canada,” the report says.

According to numbers from the USDA, the moderate costs to healthfully feed a family of four a week costs $191, including meals and snacks, up 38% from 10 years ago. Food inflation was about 5% last year after a drought led to an increase in corn, wheat, and soybean prices, which in turned raised the price of chicken, pork, and beef. With continued unpredictability in weather affecting crops and higher demand from a growing population, it’s likely that food prices will only continue to rise.

But the US has the worst income inequality among developed economies; 15% of the population uses food stamps. As economist Joseph Stiglitz has argued, the income inequality in the US is not only holding back a recovery but also setting up the nation for future economic instability.

The technorati is busy brewing up a single-source omnifood, the FAO has been urging people for years to eat insects, and NASA wants astronauts to eat 3D-printed food. But here on earth, an estimated 40% of the food produced in the US is wasted."
1. From Alaska to Florida: Americans take to streets against Monsanto and GMOs

Hundreds of thousands across the US joined the worldwide rally against biotech giant Monsanto and genetically engineered crops. It comes shortly after the Senate turned down a bill that would allow states to require the labeling of GM foods.

Organizers of the major rally that swept through dozens of nations around the globe on Saturday, urge a repeal of the so-called Monsanto Protection Act, and call for a boycott of Monsanto products.

Participants in the March Against Monsanto were also demanding the right to know what they’re paying for and what their children eat. The protesters called for labeling of GM foods, which they say could pose a danger to human health, and demand further scientific research of such products.


2. The Fed's Real Worry - A Pick Up In Deflation

In several of my recent missives I have made several references to the wave of deflationary pressures that are currently encircling the globe.

"The unintended consequence of such actions, as we are witnessing in the U.S. currently, is the ongoing battle with deflationary pressures. The lower interest rates goes the less economic return that can be generated. An ultra-low interest rate environment, contrary to mainstream thought, has a negative impact on making productive investments and risk begins to outweigh the potential return."

"A wave of 'disinflation' is currently engulfing the globe as the Eurozone economy slips back into recession, China is slowing down and the U.S. is grinding into much slower rates of growth. Even Japan, despite their best efforts through a massive QE program, cannot seem to break the back of the deflationary pressures on their economy. This is a problem that has yet to be recognized by the financial markets.

The recent inflation reports (both the Producer and Consumer Price Indexes) show deflationary forces at work. Wages continue to wane, economic production is stalling and price pressures are falling. More importantly, there are downward pressures on the most economically sensitive commodities such as oil, copper and lumber all indicating weaker levels of economic output. The battle against deflationary economic pressures has been what the Federal Reserve has been forced to fight since the financial crisis."

The last paragraph above is particularly important. The biggest fear of the Federal Reserve has been the deflationary pressures that have continued to depress the domestic economy. Despite the trillions of dollars of interventions by the Federal Reserve the only real accomplishment has been keeping the economy from slipping back into an outright recession.


3. Rand Paul: Senate Is Arming Al-Qaeda and Rushing to War in Syria

“This is an important moment. You will be funding, today, the allies of al Qaeda.”

That was the declaration Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.; pictured) made on May 21 during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Paul’s comments were directed at his colleagues, nearly all of whom voted to send arms to Syrian rebels.

Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) co-sponsored the bill that authorizes “critical support to the Syrian opposition through provision of military assistance, training, and additional humanitarian support.” The bill sailed through the committee, passing with bipartisan support by a vote of 15-3.

Senator Paul offered two amendments to the bill — officially styled the Syria Transition Support Act — one that would have forbidden the transfer of weapons to the rebel forces fighting to oust the government of current Syrian president Bashar al-Asad, and another that would have prevented the use of U.S. military armed forces in Syria.

Both of Paul’s amendments were rejected by the committee. Apart from supplying lethal and non-lethal weaponry to Syrian opposition forces, the Menendez-Corker bill contains several other regime-toppling provisions, all of which are boastfully reported by Mendendez on his website. They include:

• “Creation of a $250 million transition fund each year through FY2015 drawn from funds otherwise appropriated for regional transition support”;

• “Sanctions on arms and oil sales to Assad: Targeting any person that the President of the United States determines has knowingly participated in or facilitated a transaction related to the sale or transfer of military equipment, arms, petroleum, or petroleum products to the Assad regime.”; and

• “Amendment to the Syria Accountability Act: To allow for sanctions removal once a transitional government is in place and certain terrorism and WMD criteria have been met.”


4. Hezbollah leader vows to win Syrian war

The Hezbollah movement will remain involved in the Syrian conflict till the very end and will achieve victory against the United States and Israel, the party leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah stated.

“I have always promised you a victory and now I pledge to you a new one in Syria,” Nasrallah said on Saturday, on the 13th anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon.

Syria is a crucial ally for Hezbollah and the “backbone” of the resistance, the party leader said as cited by Naharnet. “If Syria falls in the hands of the Takfiris and the US, the resistance will become under a siege and Israel will enter Lebanon.”

“If Syria falls, the Palestinian cause will be lost,” he added.


5. World Bank Insider Blows Whistle on Corruption, Federal Reserve

A former insider at the World Bank, ex-Senior Counsel Karen Hudes, says the global financial system is dominated by a small group of corrupt, power-hungry figures centered around the privately owned U.S. Federal Reserve. The network has seized control of the media to cover up its crimes, too, she explained. In an interview with The New American, Hudes said that when she tried to blow the whistle on multiple problems at the World Bank, she was fired for her efforts. Now, along with a network of fellow whistleblowers, Hudes is determined to expose and end the corruption. And she is confident of success.

Citing an explosive 2011 Swiss study published in the PLOS ONE journal on the “network of global corporate control,” Hudes pointed out that a small group of entities — mostly financial institutions and especially central banks — exert a massive amount of influence over the international economy from behind the scenes. “What is really going on is that the world’s resources are being dominated by this group,” she explained, adding that the “corrupt power grabbers” have managed to dominate the media as well. “They’re being allowed to do it.”

According to the peer-reviewed paper, which presented the first global investigation of ownership architecture in the international economy, transnational corporations form a “giant bow-tie structure.” A large portion of control, meanwhile, “flows to a small tightly-knit core of financial institutions.” The researchers described the core as an “economic ‘super-entity’” that raises important issues for policymakers and researchers. Of course, the implications are enormous for citizens as well.


6. Vatican punishes French priest for being a Freemason

A Roman Catholic parish priest at an elite French ski resort has been stripped of his Church functions for refusing to renounce Freemasonry. Father Pascal Vesin was ordered by his bishop to cease his work in the Alpine resort of Megeve, the parish said. Bishop Yves Boivineau had warned Fr Vesin about his "active membership" of the Grand Orient de France lodge.

Freemasonry has been condemned as anti-Christian and anti-clerical by various popes through history. Bishop Boivineau ordered the priest to cease his functions "at Rome's request", the parish said. In March, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - effectively the Church's watchdog - asked for the priest's departure.

Three members of the diocese of Annecy then met him but Fr Vesin said he would not leave the lodge. A statement from the diocese quoted by Le Figaro newspaper stressed that the penalty imposed on the Freemason priest was not final and could yet be lifted because "mercy goes hand in hand with truth".

Fr Vesin has been parish priest of Sainte-Anne d'Arly Montjoie in Megeve since 2004, according to another French newspaper, Le Messager. In an interview in January, he set out liberal views of the Church's role. He said he favoured allowing some priests to marry and said he had refused to endorse a demonstration against same-sex marriage in Paris.


7. No new conditions raised by Taiwan: Philippine gov't spokesman

MANILA, May 26 (Xinhua) -- Philippine deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte denied on Sunday that Taiwan had set new conditions for the investigation into the death of a Taiwan fisherman by Philippine Coast Guards.

She said in a radio interview that she talked to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on the matter on Saturday night. And de Lima told her there are no new conditions, however, certain details still need to be firmed up.Valte quoted de Lima as saying that an arrangement had been set and both the Philippines and Taiwanese sides are just firming up certain details about the visit.

"At this point, we cannot yet disclose the agreed arrangement," she said, adding that no deadline had been set for the investigations so as not to sacrifice the quality of the probe.

Earlier, Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) Chairman Amadeo Perez said the Taiwanese had raised new terms before it could allow the National Bureau of Investigations (NBI) team to visit Taiwan but refused to discuss it.

Taiwan earlier asked for the Philippine Coast Guard video on the shooting. An elderly Taiwan fisherman died at sea after the Philippine Coast Guards fired with machine guns at the engine room of his fishing vessel on May 9.


8. Banks’ Lobbyists Help in Drafting Financial Bills

WASHINGTON — Bank lobbyists are not leaving it to lawmakers to draft legislation that softens financial regulations. Instead, the lobbyists are helping to write it themselves.

One bill that sailed through the House Financial Services Committee this month — over the objections of the Treasury Department — was essentially Citigroup’s, according to e-mails reviewed by The New York Times. The bill would exempt broad swathes of trades from new regulation.

In a sign of Wall Street’s resurgent influence in Washington, Citigroup’s recommendations were reflected in more than 70 lines of the House committee’s 85-line bill. Two crucial paragraphs, prepared by Citigroup in conjunction with other Wall Street banks, were copied nearly word for word. (Lawmakers changed two words to make them plural.)

The lobbying campaign shows how, three years after Congress passed the most comprehensive overhaul of regulation since the Depression, Wall Street is finding Washington a friendlier place. The cordial relations now include a growing number of Democrats in both the House and the Senate, whose support the banks need if they want to roll back parts of the 2010 financial overhaul, known as Dodd-Frank.

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