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Scoop Feedback: Soldiers, Oil, Swimming & Biotech

In This Edition: The Value Of Our Territorials? - It's Oil - The Government's Continual Abdication Of Responsibility Borders On Criminal Negligence - Re: Sinking Biotech in NZ?

Scoop welcomes reader feedback. Please email your views to editor@scoop.co.nz

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The Value Of Our Territorials?

Sir,

The debacle over allowances paid to territorial soldiers who served in East Timor poses a question. Was this pathetic correspondence released by someone who did not have the authority to do so, or was there a failure in leadership? It would not be normal for such contentious correspondence to be released by anyone less than a head of branch. This would normally be someone at the equivalent rank of Colonel or Brigadier. Even so, all this begs the question: is a territorial soldier's life less valuable than that of a regular?

Hugh Webb

Auckland

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It's Oil

Hi CD,

You invited comment on your ongoing correspondence with the Beeb about oil, so here is my view:

I think the underlying drive for the invasion of Iraq is the prize of the second largest world oil producer.

The American economy needs the boost of cheaper oil, the American Empire, unlike the Roman Empire cannot run on bread alone - it needs oil and lots of it to run the biggest war machine the world has ever seen.

Attached are two articles, one from a couple of years ago showing the how deep Cheney is connected to oil and Iraq through Halliburton Co., and the second, recent one, on the prize ahead, and how the US plan to get their way through pay offs of other UN Security Council members.

http://www.truthout.org/docs_01/02.23D.Cheney.Circumvented.htm
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A18841-2002Sep14.html

I have recently returned from 4 1/2 years in The Gulf so I know a little about the depth of feeling there is there about the US and Oil interests.

One of mine

Cheers,

Bruce Hill

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The Beeb

Dear Sludge,

I think you have been barking up the wrong tree by looking at absolute IEA numbers rather than the disposition of reserves. Is there an impending shortage of oil? Only around the Persian Gulf where the US can get at it by sea. Under the Caspian and further north there is heaps of it. The US has no access to the Caspian. Iran and Russia are its main guardians and they aren't exactly US toadies like the perfumed princes of the Gulf. Nor are they push-overs like Iraq or Afghanistan.

Is the US going out looking for oil so we can all drive our SUVs in 2030?

No. By 2030 civilian motorists will be using hydrogen fuel cells and we really can't run out of hydrogen. That's why Detroit/Stuttgart and the Japanese really are working very seriously on fuel cells now. No, the reason the US needs oil is because the US military needs oil.

The US military complex is essentially like an organism. To grow it needs to exercise. Munitions factories must be kept producing so stockpiles must be expended. Equipment needs to be tested. To feed it needs to conquer its principle supply sources and the military will not be switching to fuel cells by 2050. Air power will need petroleum for the forseeable future and the US's military cannot operate without air superiority.

The US has the worlds largest military complex by far. It is well in excess of what is needed for defence and well in excess of what the US can really afford. But the scary fact is the US Military Complex owns the Republican Party and whenever the Republican Party is in power the organism is unleashed to roam and acquire whatever it wants.

What we are really witnessing is a clash between two rogue states. The only difference is one is very small and weak and the other is very, very large.

Peter King
Wellington

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The Government's Continual Abdication Of Responsibility Borders On Criminal Negligence

Dear Editor,

As summer approaches, thousands of New Zealanders will take to the water to enjoy aquatic activities. Some of these people will be well equipped to enjoy their activities safely – recent media reports would indicate an increasing number will not.

I have read with dismay about the cuts to funding for key agencies like Water Safety New Zealand. New Zealand has one of the worst drowning tolls in the developed world yet agencies charged with providing this life saving education are expected to survive on an annual allocation from an ever decreasing pool of funds made available through the NZ Lottery Grants Board. The idea that something this important is reliant on New Zealanders gambling habits is simply ludicrous.

It amazes me that the Government will not financially recognise the importance of core funding for water safety education and the need for improved learn to swim classes through schools. As professional swimming instructors, we are keen to 'tandem teach' the school students whilst at the same time 'up skill ' the school teachers. However this is at a cost to the schools. The government’s continual abdication of responsibility borders on criminal negligence as they continue to deny, our children these basic life saving skills.

A recent AC Neilsen report into the swimming skills of New Zealand children found less than 20 % of 10 year olds can swim 50m. Water Safety New Zealand agrees that an acceptable distance for 12 year olds is 200m.

I believe we have a generation of non-swimmers producing another generation of non-swimmers. Until the government decides to allocate funding towards swimming through school programmes and beach safety, the cycle will continue and our drowning statistics will continue to grow. The community needs to have a conscience about the drowning statistics and lack of aquatic education for our children.

Sue Mayo

Chairman NZ Swim Teachers

NZ Swim Coaches and Teachers Association

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Re: Sinking Biotech in NZ?

Dear Editor

RE: "Sinking Biotech in NZ?" 26 September 2002 LifeScience Press Release.

Dr Rolleston's remarks regarding sinking the biotechnology strategy are a little disingenuous. Judging from other countries who have embarked on the GE-path, their boat has already sunk. Moreover, if Francis Weevers, their spokesperson, makes remarks such as he made on National Radio recently[1] "That there is no evidence that there are anything like superweeds developing as a result of these events." it shows an ignorance of facts or a completely closed mind.

I also fail to see the point Dr Rolleston's makes, that the Royal Commission strongly recommended we preserve our opportunities to use genetic modification for economic, health and environmental benefit. Since the Commission's findings, it has been demonstrated these are scant indeed. The promises have always been alluring, but to date they are backed mostly by hope, hype, and a lot of noise. Numerous independent studies from the USDA and US universities on GE-Crops have documented their failure to live up to the propaganda. There are failures of one kind or another with all GE-crops, without counting the contamination they have caused.[2,3]

Furthermore, looking back on the medical products of biotechnology, the prestigious medical journal The Lancet commented that there was "very little to show for much investment." The two best-known products of GE - human insulin and interferon - have failed to fulfil expectations, the former causing a wave of hypoglycaemic events when it was introduced and the latter proving of marginal therapeutic value in a wide range of conditions. (And it also took virtually two decades to produce GE-insulin.) Adverse effects from the GE-Hep B vaccine are also now mounting up.

Many North American farms have now been totally ruined by GE[4] and the same may happen here. Furthermore, since the liability issue has been studiously avoided by Government, I doubt they will ever force the polluter to pay. As Dr Rolleston said, "We certainly don't need to make it far too costly." But I am gratified that he notes, "The economic risks involved in biotech projects are already substantial..." They are indeed, a fact that has been instrumental in creating severe economic difficulties. The US, for example, is having to subsidize their agricultural sector to the tune of $190 billion over a decade.

It is high time both Government and the LifeSciences realised the bubble has burst. Throwing more money at GE is foolhardy. Biotech share value has fallen for months now and shows little sign of recovery. More than 1500 staff have been laid off from the genomics sector since the industry peaked. Most companies are still reporting substantial losses. Investment capital has dried to a tenth of what it was in 2000, so as far as economic benefit is concerned, there is no logic here.[5]

The GE bonanza is over. The predicted financial boom has not materialised, nor the promised benefits to agriculture and health. Biotechnology is a risky business. Our decisions on the HSNO Bill will now affect far more than the food we eat, it will determine the kind of country we and our children inhabit.

Sincerely

Dr Robert Anderson

Member Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Genetics

http://www.psrg.org.nz

Refs:

1. Morning Report NZ Radio[Friday 27 September 2002]

2. Complete Failure of Bt. Cotton in India: "How many more farmers will Monsanto sacrifice for creating profits by selling deceit?" http://www.ngin.org.uk

3. "GE-crop taints honey two miles away." The Sunday Times, September 15, 2002 http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-416027,00.

4. CropChoice July 23, 2002 "Heartbreak in the Heartland: The True Costs of Genetically Engineered Crops," http://www.mindfully.org/GE/GE4/Heartbreak-In-The-Heartland21jul02.htm.

5. USDA Report Exposes GM Crop Economics Myth http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/usdagmeconomics.htm

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