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A pie made of coca leaves awaits the Pope when he visits Bolivia


Coca planters will be giving Pope Francis a pie and other goods made out of coca leaves, when he arrives next July for an official visit to Bolivia. The gifts will be delivered during the scheduled meeting of Francis wish social movements’ organization in Santa Cruz, according to the organizers.

 

Coca leaves are part of Bolivia's indigenous population culture and medicine, and as such are recognized by the country's constitution

Leonardo Loza, vice-president of the Cochabamba Tropic Federations, an organization of coca planters, said that a group of them will be handing the Pope a pie, mate (infusion coca tea), and other ‘products’ which are made out of the coca plant which is so closely ingrained in the country’s culture and natural medicine.

“The initiative is to show the Pope how much has been advanced in the industrialization of the coca plant, which will obviously have a great national and international repercussion” indicated Loza.

The gifts presentation will take place in the framework of the meeting with social movements in the city of Santa Cruz in parallel to the Pope’s visit who will be staying in Bolivia from 8 to 10 July, as part of a tour of Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay.

Bolivia together with Colombia and Peru are three of the main world suppliers and producers of coca leaves, which is the main ingredient for elaborating its illegal derivate, cocaine, amply consumed in the Western world.

However coca leaves in Bolivia are closely linked to the country’s indigenous culture and organic medicines, and as such are recognized in Bolivia’s constitution, but a significant part of the leaves production ends up with the drugs industry and cartels.

The Bolivian government has insisted in advancing with the industrialization of the plant with the purpose of exporting derivates, although coca leaves remain in the narcotics list of the UN convention against drugs, which thus bans any kind of exports from coca.

A year ago the coca planters gave UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon a coca leaves pie during his visit to Bolivia when the G77 plus China summit in Santa Cruz. The top diplomat accepted the pie but was never seen eating it.

Pope Francis is expected in Bolivia on 8 July where he arrives from Ecuador. He will spend a few hours in the capital, La Paz and the neighboring city of El Alto (3.500 meters above sea level) before travelling to Santa Cruz, on the plans, where most of his activities will take place.

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#Charleston Shooting Reignites Debate About Confederate Flag


Ace News Services

#AceNewsReport – #CHARLESTON June.19: On Thursday, hours after a white gunman killed nine people in a black church in Charleston, S.C., a Confederate flag continued to fly over the grounds of the state’s Capitol.

The Supreme Court ruled the same day that Texas did not violate the First Amendment by refusing to allow the flag on its license plates. […]

https://thesecularjurist.wordpress.com/2015/06/19/charleston-shooting-reignites-debate-about-confederate-flag/

@AceNewsServices

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Abuse, Latest Post

Growing Number Of Kentucky Children Being Removed From Homes


Image result for heroin abuse

 

Posted: Wed 11:10 AM, Jun 17, 2015

 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – The number of Kentucky children who have been removed from homes because of abuse or neglect has reached nearly unprecedented levels.

The Courier-Journal reports that there are currently 8,208 children who have been removed from their homes and placed in foster or residential care. Five years ago, that number was about 7,000.

Teresa James, commissioner of the agency that oversees child protection in Kentucky, says that statistic is close to an all-time high.

Jefferson County Family Court Chief Judge Paula Sherlock says much of the blame for the trend lies with the public’s growing use of heroin.

Kentucky lawmakers this year passed a broad bill aimed at combating addiction and getting more people into drug treatment.

James says the state uses about 3,500 foster homes, and is seeking more.

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Farming, Latest Post, Marijuana-Cannabis-Hemp

Local farmer leading the way in growing industrial hemp


By Sheldon Compton scompton@civitasmedia.com

HIPPO – Hippo resident Todd Howard had never been employed in his adult life when he was laid off as an engineer for the coal industry in 2010. He had also never farmed a day in his life. All that was about to change.

After Howard lost his job as an engineer, the Hippo resident said a key aspect of his personality was revealed in the best way possible.

“They had to make the decision to lay folks off, and I’ve just never been one to sit around and do nothing,” he said.

Howard lost his job in December and by Feb. 10 he had constructed a green house. Construction on that green house led to a crop of 10,000 tomato plants the first year. By the third year, Howard was overseeing the Floyd County Farmer’s Market and closing in on $50,000 in gross sales. But the time required with the market became difficult to manage.

“The farmer’s market was taking up a lot of my time and last year we decided to to try a sixteen-week program with Community Supported Agriculture,” Howard said.

This move launched Howard’s work as a full-time farmer, and now he is at the forefront of the movement to grow hemp in Kentucky in an effort to see Eastern Kentucky’s economy improved through ready resources not always popular throughout the state and nation.

Shortly after his efforts with the farmer’s market got underway, Howard soon became a board member for a statewide community farm alliance, testifying before senate and house agriculture committees, supporting the hemp bill introduced roughly three years ago.

“After getting to know some of the folks who helped get this legislation passed, I made a few acquaintances in that regard,” he said. “Mike Lewis and I got close.”

Lewis, who is a Kentucky farmer and COO with the organization Freedom Seed and Feed, a company with offices in Lexington, reached out to Howard, along with University of Pikeville’s Eric Mathis, visiting lecturer of applied sustainability at UPike.

The organization is a subsidiary of Mountain High Acquisitions Corporation, a Colorado-based company who advocate the legalization of marijuana and industrial hemp.

“He (Mathis) got in touch with me and asked if I’d be interested in growing some hemp, saying Mike had recommended me,” Howard said. “I’m a person notorious for diving in head-first without realizing sometimes I’m diving into the kiddie pool, but in we got a site located, got seed in the ground. So we have crop in the ground. It’s sprouted, it’s coming up, and it’s growing.”

The site is located along what was once strip mine land at the Pikville-Pike County Regional Airport, a section of land difficult to farm, to say the least, according to Howard.

“Growing on these mine sites is like a crap shoot,” he added. “You don’t know what you’re going to get. To date, no one I know has had any success growing at these places. The land is compacted soil and has huge rocks. It’s nothing like a standard agricultural piece of land you’d normally work with.”

Howard said the general goal is to create smaller cooperative models for growing industrial hemp on a larger scale.

“Obviously Eastern Kentucky has a brand right now and has some potential for this,” Howard said. “It’s sort of the elephant in the room to a player on a larger scale with all of this acreage. Let’s find a use for it.”

Sheldon Compton is a staff writer for the Floyd County Times. He can be reached at 886-8506.

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Justice, Latest Post

Widow sues attorney after husband commits suicide


 

By Adam Beam | AP June 10

PRESTONSBURG, Ky. — The Social Security Administration told Leroy Burchett and some 900 others like him in Kentucky and West Virginia last month that their disability benefits were being cut off because they were tied to an attorney suspected of fraud.

His wife said he then stopped taking his antidepressants and shot and killed himself less than two weeks later, on June 1. Now she’s suing that attorney who represented him, Eric Conn, blaming Conn for her husband’s death.

“If he hadn’t got that letter and hadn’t been losing his medical insurance this never would have happened,” Burchett’s widow, Emma, told The Associated Press, weeping as she recounted her husband’s final days. “He just wasn’t that kind of person. I mean, heck yeah we had problems, everybody has problems. But not like that.”

The wrongful death lawsuit filed Wednesday targets Conn, who represented all 900 of those people whose benefits were temporarily cut off. The agency restored those benefits June 4, at least until the recipients had a chance to plead their case in court. He has been investigated on accusations of fraud before, though he has never been charged with a crime and has denied any wrongdoing.

Conn bills himself as “Mr. Social Security” and estimates he handles roughly 60 percent of disability claims in this part of Appalachia where many depend on government benefits because of the coal industry’s decline and little else in the way of job opportunities. The parking lot of Conn’s office displays small-scale replicas of the Lincoln Memorial and the Statue of Liberty, and billboards urge potential clients to call 232-HURT.

He is the target of a whistle-blower lawsuit in federal court brought by two former Social Security Administration employees. The federal government declined to prosecute Conn in that case, according to his attorney, Kent Wicker. But the letters sent by the Social Security Administration told Burchett and others their benefits were suspended because “there is reason to believe fraud or similar fault” was involved with evidence submitted by Conn and his office.

Conn’s attorneys instead blamed the Social Security Administration for suspending the benefits without a hearing. And they blamed the publicity surrounding the suspension for creating a panic.

“Let me emphasize once again how sorry Mr. Conn is … for the people who have been victimized. But they were victimized by the Social Security Administration and not by Eric Conn,” said Joseph Lambert, one of Conn’s attorneys and a former chief justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court. “One wonders if the publicity and the somewhat overwrought rhetoric may have had something to do with Mr. Burchett’s decision.”

Mark Hinkle, a spokesman for the Social Security Administration, declined to comment about the lawsuit but said “the agency is saddened by Mr. Burchett’s death and his family remains in our thoughts.”

More than 8 percent of residents in Kentucky and West Virginia draw disability checks, among the highest rates in the nation. More than a quarter — 56,000 — of the nearly 194,000 people in Kentucky’s 5th Congressional District are considered disabled workers, according to the Social Security Administration. In Floyd County alone, more than 11 percent of the population receives disability benefits.

Leroy Burchett, was a furniture delivery truck driver when he met Emma, a part-time clerk at a Double Quick convenience store. He wooed her without saying a word, simply stopping in the store frequently and putting a pack of gum on the counter.

They were married for 14 years and had two children together. Emma Burchett, 45, said her 41-year-old husband had worked manual labor since he was old enough to push a lawn mower. He was plagued by chronic pain, culminating in several surgeries to have metal plates installed in his neck and back. He was granted disability about six years ago with Conn’s help.

“It was our main source of income,” Emma Burchett said.

Emma Burchett said she stopped working after she was diagnosed with breast cancer and black lung disease, an ailment caused by exposure to coal dust that mostly affects coal miners. She has never worked in a coal mine but has lived near one for years.

When the letter from the Social Security Administration arrived, Emma Burchett said she panicked, but her husband was even worse off. Afraid that he was losing access to his medication, including two antidepressants, he quit taking them.

“If he was even late taking it, he would get confused in his head,” she said.

She urged him to keep taking them, telling him she would lower his dosage to help his supply last longer until they could get everything straightened out.

But on June 1, Emma Burchett said her husband told her he “couldn’t take it anymore” before shooting himself. The next day, she discovered he hadn’t been taking his medication. The pill bottles were still full.

___

Correspondent Claire Galofaro contributed to this report from Richmond, Ky.

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Can an Appalachian ‘Silicon Holler’ rise in coal’s shadow?


PIKEVILLE, KY, June 8 | By Valerie Volcovici

Portraits of local heroes are stenciled onto the walls of an old Coca-Cola bottling plant in Pikeville, Kentucky: 10 images that seem to be watching over apprentices hunched over keyboards in what has become the office of businessman Charles “Rusty” Justice’s digital startup.

Those pathbreakers include John Goodlett, a NASA engineer who worked on the Mars Viking landers and Catherine Langley, the first Kentucky woman to serve in the U.S. Congress. All hailed from the coal producing counties of eastern Kentucky, now grappling with the industry’s decline.

Justice hopes they will inspire the apprentices, nine of whom are former coal workers, as they re-train at Bit Source, the software and web development company he co-owns.

“Coal miners are high-tech workers – they just get dirty,” says Justice, listing the tech skills that miners used daily: computers, robotics and 3D satellite imaging.

As market forces and federal regulations squeeze east Kentucky’s coal industry, people are searching for new lines of work.

“The middle skill economy is going to really explode in the next few years,” says Jack Conway, the state’s attorney general, a Democrat who is running for governor in November. “The jobs will be in logistics, infrastructure, health services and IT, and I want those jobs here.”

Kentucky hopes to lay the foundation for that kind of economy in August, when construction begins on the fiber backbone of a planned $250 million high-speed Internet network for the whole state, starting in the rural east.

Kentucky ranks 46th among U.S. states in high-speed Internet access, with nearly a quarter of rural areas lacking any access.

It will take at least a decade for high-speed Internet to have a real impact, says Robert LaRose, a professor in telecommunications at Michigan State University.

“Broadband access is only the beginning,” LaRose said. “The workforce has to be retrained, and overall levels of educational attainment need to be raised, including both school children and mid-life career changers.”

‘SILICON HOLLER’

In December, Kentucky signed a deal with Australia’s Macquarie Capital to build out the 3,000-mile (4,800-km) open access network with $50 million in state bonds and federal grants.

“We’re going to build the system and we’re going to make it available,” Governor Steven Beshear said in December. “But it’s up to our businesses, our communities and our educational institutions to take advantage of this opportunity.”

That point was underscored by Richard Lowenberg, a broadband planner who runs the 1st-Mile Institute’s New Mexico Broadband for All initiative.

“Building out needed broadband infrastructure to all alone will not assure improved quality of life as an outcome,” Lowenberg said. “That is dependent on how we use and what we do with our new high-bandwidth networks.”

Republican Congressman Hal Rogers, who has represented eastern Kentucky for 34 years, says broadband will create a “Super I-Way” of information technology jobs, like data management and call centers. He envisions the rise of what he calls “Silicon Holler,” a technology corridor in the small villages clustered between Appalachia’s rolling hills.

There was a hint of that potential this month when customer care and electronic billing company EOS announced plans to invest nearly $4 million in a 20,000 square foot (1,900 square meter) call center in Somerset, promising to create 150 jobs.

Jeff Whitehead, executive director of the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP) in Hazard, a workforce training program serving 23 coalfield counties, says laid-off coal workers are “hungry” for IT and tele-working jobs.

Whitehead said EKCEP received more than 900 applicants when Bit Source asked him to recruit its first 10 trainees last year. EKCEP pays for Bit Source’s 22-week traineeships through its Hiring Our Miners Everyday (HOME) program, which gets $11.3 million from the Labor Department. Around 2,300 laid-off coal workers are enrolled.

The EKCEP is trying to create a local IT culture by working with community colleges to provide online courses that can be completed in months instead of a four-year degree, and intensive coding camps. EKCEP has found opportunities for workers outside the region, such as at Toyota’s manufacturing plant outside of Lexington in Kentucky’s more prosperous Bluegrass region. But many workers would rather remain in Appalachia.

Access to broadband, however, does not always translate into better education, Michigan State’s LaRose warned, and greater exposure outside the local community sometimes makes people “less satisfied with where they live.”

“When that’s all done, will the new knowledge workers stay around and/or is rural Kentucky a place that will attract tele-workers?”

Jack Duff, who manages a tele-works training hub in Hazard that has placed laid-off coal workers in jobs from customer service to billing, thinks it will.

“Our coal industry is going down,” Duff said. “One thing I’ve learned – and I am a old decrepit buzzard – is you’ve got to keep moving forward. Our people have to adapt.” (Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Frances Kerry and Grant McCool)

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Monsanto Ordered To Pay $93 Million For Poisoning Residents!


Political Vel Craft

MICHAEL TAYLOR & BARRY SOETORO MICHAEL TAYLOR & BARRY SOETORO

Earlier this month the State Supreme Court of West Virginia dealt a huge blow to the biotech company Monsanto, ordering it to pay $93 million to the small town of Nitro, West Virginia for poisoning local citizens with Agent Orange chemicals.

Approved last year, the details were only recently worked out a few weeks ago as to how the funds would be dispersed.

As mandated in the settlement:

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Who’s the Driving Force in Nation’s Shift from Gun Control to Gun Rights? Women


pundit from another planet

BANG-woman-gun

Women Are Buying More Guns Than Ever

AWR Hawkins writes: Women have emerged as one of the fastest-growing demographics of new gun buyers and concealed carry permit holders in the country, and in the process, they have become a driving force in the shift in American attitudes from pro-gun control to pro-gun rights.women-with-guns-ryanlatta-flickr

“This growing participation of women in firearm purchases and firearm-related activities has not happened overnight. Rather, it has been steadily increasing over a number of years.”

In January, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that “women [are] buying more guns than ever.” And the result of this surge in women gun buyers has been an expansion of firearms and firearms accessories made to cater to the female market. Many of the accessories are often designed and marketed by fellow women gun owners.

woman-gun-practice

“The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that this is not only providing new markets for the gun industry and expanding the number of concealed carry…

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