Europe poised for total ban on bee-harming pesticides

Europe has stopped using insecticides from all the fields under the draft regulations from the European Commission. The documents indicates that the commission wants to ban world’s widely used insecticides over the high acute risks to bees. The ban could take place this year if approved by a majority of EU member states.

Bees proves beneficial for many food crops but its number have been plummeting for decades due to habitat loss, disease and pesticide use. The insecticides, called neonicotinoids, have been in use for over 20 years and have been linked to serious harm in bees.

A fierce battle has been fought between environmental campaigners and farming and pesticides groups. The latter argue the insecticides are vital for crop protection and that opposition is to them is political.

The EU imposed a temporary ban on the use of the three key neonicotinoids on some crops in 2013. However, the new proposals are for a complete ban on their use in fields, with the only exception being for plants entirely grown in greenhouses. The proposals could be voted on as soon as May and, if approved, would enter force within months.

The 2013 ban went ahead after those nations opposing the measure, including the UK, failed to muster enough votes. However, since then, the UK government seems to have softened its opposition, having rejected repeated requests from British farmers for “emergency” authorisation to use the banned pesticides.

“The amount of scientific evidence on the toxicity of these insecticides is so high that there is no way these chemicals should remain on the market,” said Martin Dermine, at Pesticide Action Network Europe, which obtained the leaked proposals and shared them with the Guardian. “PAN Europe will fight with its partners to obtain support for the proposal from a majority of member states.” A petition to ban neonicotinoids, from Avaaz, has gathered 4.4m signatures.

There is a strong scientific consensus that bees are exposed to neonicotinoid pesticides in fields and suffer serious harm from the doses they receive. There is only a little evidence to date that this harm ultimately leads to falls in overall bee populations, though results from major field trials are expected soon.

However, the European commission (EC) has decided to move towards implementing a complete ban now, based on risk assessments of the pesticides by the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa), published in 2016.

Efsa considered evidence submitted by the pesticide manufacturers but the EC concluded that “high acute risks for bees” had been identified for “most crops” from imidacloprid and clothianidin, both made by Bayer. For thiamethoxam, made by Syngenta, the EC said the company’s evidence was “not sufficient to address the risks”.

Paul de Zylva, at Friends of the Earth, said: “The science is catching up with the pesticide industry – the EU and UK government must call time on neonics. Going neonic-free puts farmers more in control of their land instead of having to defer to advice from pesticide companies.”

However, Sarah Mukherjee, chief executive of the Crop Protection Association, which represents pesticide makers, said: “We are disappointed with this [EC] proposal, which seems more of a political judgement than sound science.”

She said the Efsa assessments were based on what the CPA sees as unworkable guidance that did not have formal approval from EU countries: “The proposal is based on an assessment using the unapproved Bee Guidance document and perfectly illustrates the consequences of using this guidance. Most crop protection products, including those used in organic agriculture, would not pass the criteria.”

Mother suspected of abandoning her toddler in Riverside grocery store is arrested

A 31-year-old woman investigators believe to be the mother of a toddler who was abandoned at a grocery store has been taken into custody Tuesday afternoon, Riverside police said.

The suspect was identified midday Tuesday as Chiengkham Vilaysane. By early evening, she had been taken into custody at a bank in the south end of Riverside, according to Riverside Police Department spokesman Officer Ryan Railsback.

Police released her photo and name in an effort to find her several hours before she was detained. It’s not clear if she’s been arrested.

Railsback referred to the suspect as “Cindy.” She may have had past contact with county child protective services and police at her last known address in Riverside, Railsback said.

“We just want to talk to her to really start figuring out what’s going on, especially to make sure she’s OK as well,” he said.

The Riverside Police Department on Monday released video showing a woman apparently leaving a 2-year-old girl in a Food 4 Less, located at 4250 Van Buren Blvd., on Sunday evening. Investigators received tips about the woman’s identity following news media coverage of the child’s abandonment, Detective Paul Miranda said.

Officers were called to the store when the child was found alone.

The little girl wandered off from her mother and a good Samaritan brought the child back to the woman, who responded, “Oh, just leave her,” according to a police news release.

The woman left after paying for her groceries, leaving the child at the store.

Watching the surveillance video, the child was able to identify the woman as her “mommy,” police said. The girl has been placed into county child protective services custody.

Since investigators have not had contact with Vilaysane, they don’t know if she was suffering from a “breakdown” when she allegedly abandoned the child, Railsback said before she was taken into custody. She could face allegations of felony child endangerment or abandonment.

Facebook posts show Vilaysane with a second child, but police do not know if she indeed has another child or if that child is a relative, Railsback said. It’s not known who the father of the abandoned child is, he added.


2 Teens Arrested After Planning Middle School Mass Shooting


Two male teenagers in central Florida were arrested Thursday after authorities discovered the pair’s plan for a Columbine-style mass shooting at their middle school, police said.

The unidentified students — ages 13 and 14 — were charged with conspiracy to commit murder and placed into the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Sumter County Sheriff’s Department said in a press release.

Law enforcement and school officials were initially tipped off of the pair’s plans on Tuesday, police said. The arrests came after “officials learned of, and intervened in a plot to initiate a mass shooting at their school,” the release said.

On Tuesday, after classes had finished for the day, “school officials and the schools resource officer became aware of rumors circulating between students at the school,” the release explains. “The rumors indicated that a student was planning a mass shooting on Friday January 27th. Witnesses indicated that some students had been warned not to come to school on Friday.”

The following day, the two students told officials that they had indeed discussed a mass shooting at The Villages Charter Middle School in Lady Lake, a town located about an hour northwest of Orlando.

Police said in the release, “The 13-year-old student alleged to be planning the attack was intercepted by authorities as he attempted to arrive for school. At that time, he acknowledged conversations involving the plot and referenced the mass shooting at Columbine High School.”

During the conversation with the 13-year-old, “officials learned of a second student’s potential involvement and quickly located the 14-year-old-male student on campus,” according the release. “The 14-year-old student acknowledged his involvement in conversations with the 13-year-old student again referencing the Columbine shooting. The student informed officials that the two students had planned an attack which included what they would use as a signal to open fire.”

No weapons were found on either of the students or in their bags or lockers, police said.

Then on Thursday, the teens were arrested at their homes during the service of search warrants. The 13-year-old was arrested by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office on a juvenile order at his home in Fruitland Park. The 14-year-old was arrested by the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office at his home in Wildwood. No additional arrests are expected, police said.

Firearms were recovered from both suspects’ homes during the search warrant service.

72-year-old woman beaten, robbed on Upper West Side

On Thursday on the upper west side, a man robbed a 72-year-old woman.  The woman was going through northbound on Broadway when a man grabbed her purse.

When the women resisted, the robber punched her badly several times on her face and grab the purse. The purse contained $250, an iPhone and Credit/bank cards.

The women suffered severe cuts to her mouth and lips. She even suffered bruising to her face. She transported to St. Luke’s hospital, where she got the treatment.

The robber managed to flee eastbound on West 107th Street towards Amsterdam Avenue.

The police is searching the for the robber. The suspect is in his 20s, 5’3″ and 140 lbs. He was wearing a black bubble jacket over a grey hooded sweatshirt and dark pants and sneakers.

EU-Canada trade deal, CETA still delayed by Belgian regional parliament

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement is a proposed free-trade agreement between Canada and the European Union. If enacted, the agreement would eliminate 98% of the tariffs between Canada and the EU. Critics oppose the treaty on the grounds that it will weaken European consumer rights, including those concerning food safety, and that tariffs are already negligible.

Twentieth-century trade deals slashed tariffs. Newer ones between rich countries, such as CETA, focus on cutting other barriers to trade. After seven years of haggling, European negotiators dream of European toys and electrical products being sold straight to Canadians, without having to go through a second round of health and safety checks.

Paul Magnette, the head of government of Wallonia, spoke a day after he received an ultimatum of Friday to allow Belgium’s federal government to endorse the huge trade deal, known as CETA

“We cannot sign by Friday. That is not reasonable,” a combative Magnette told RTBF radio after EU ministers asked he reverse course in time for a discussion on trade by European leaders set for Friday.

All of them, including Belgium’s national government, back it. But Wallonia says CETA is a threat to farmers and welfare standards.

The EU fears that the delay of CETA would be fatal to the deal and send a bad signal to the world that it is difficult to reach trade accords with Europe.

The 28 EU leaders will discuss the draft CETA deal shortly in Brussels

Students of Ontario high school to take voluntary literacy test online

The Education Quality and Accountability Office is conducting a test of its new online assessment program at up to 900 high schools across the province.

The voluntary test in which 190,000 students will attempt the Ontario secondary school Literacy test online for the first time, will serve as a trial of the technical readiness of the EQAO and the schools to support online assessments, and is a “risk-free” way for students to take it ahead of the next scheduled assessment in March 2017.

If students pass the online test, it will count, but if they fail or don’t complete it, they will be considered “first-time eligible” for the test next spring.

There will be two sittings for today’s test, each comprised of two 75-minute sessions, and the program is open to all 72 school boards, as well as First Nations and private schools

The Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) is an arm’s-length crown agency of the Government of Ontario in Canada which oversees the standardized testing.

Hurricane Matthew: Life threatening storm closes in on Haiti

Hurricane Matthew, one of the most powerful tropical Cyclone over the Caribbean Sea, is expected to cause flooding and Landslides when it passes by Jamaica and Haiti.

Matthew had maximum sustained winds of 145 mph early Tuesday, and forecasters said its slowly advancing center would likely pass near or over Haiti’s southwestern tip after dawn. It would continue on for another landfall expected in the lightly populated eastern end of Cuba, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said. Heavy rain and winds have already hit parts of Jamaica, with floodwaters blocking roads in the capital Kingston.

The storm winds had already killed at least three people, caused cruise ships to change course and prompted the governors of Florida and North Carolina to declare states of emergency. Haiti could be more seriously affected when the hurricane passes over the country’s south-west.

Colombian people voted against the Peace deal

A landmark peace deal, which was signed by Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos and Farc leader Timoleon Jimenez last week, rejected by the Colombian public.

With counting completed from 98% of polling stations, the no vote led with 50.23% to 49.76%, a difference of 61,000 votes.

The signing ceremony, the culmination of four years of negotiations in Havana, was attended by world leaders including US Secretary of State John Kerry, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Raul Castro, the President of Cuba.

Santos had been confident of a yes result and said during the campaign that he did not have a plan B and that Colombia would return to war if the no vote won. But the result came as a surprise for many.