U.S. Farm Bill Extension Called Awful By Sustainable Agriculture Advocates

Reported by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC):

On New Year’s Eve, the U.S. Senate passed a simple extension of the 2008 Farm Bill through September 30, 2013, as part of a much bigger legislative package to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.  The House approved the Senate bill late on New Year’s Day and President Obama signed it into law on January 2.

The fiscal cliff deal was the final death knell for the 2012 Farm Bill that the full Senate passed in June and that the House Agriculture Committee passed in July.  The deal was also a very sudden death knell for the reasonable modified farm bill extension measure that NSAC worked diligently to promote over the past several months.

Approval of the simple farm bill extension also means that the new Congress that begins this month will have to start the process of reauthorizing a new, full five-year farm bill from scratch.

More at NSAC post


Oxfam reaction to donor pledges for Syria humanitarian crisis

Welcoming generous donations to the UN humanitarian appeal for Syria, Nigel Timmins, Oxfam’s Deputy Humanitarian Director, who visited Zaatari camp in Jordan today, said:

“We welcome these generous pledges from the international community. The world has stepped forward and says it will help the Syrian people. This is good news. Donors now need to ensure that their pledges quickly become real aid – shelter, food, medicine, clean water and education for children – to meet the needs of families that have suffered so much. There should be no delay – people need support now. We would also encourage donors to prepare for the long-haul. The UN appeal covers just six months and it is likely that people will continue to need support for some time to come.

“People from Syria are facing a colossal crisis and it is growing worse every day. Each day new refugees are coming into Jordan and they desperately need help and support. Many are traumatized and have left with little of what they owned; some just fled with the clothes they were wearing and their children. Many have relatives who are still in Syria.”

Security situation deteriorating rapidly

The UN estimates that 4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria, with over 700,000 refugees now sheltering in neighboring countries. Some 40,000 people have arrived in Jordan so far this January, with 6,400 people turning up in one day last week.

In December, the United Nations had estimated that the numbers of Syrian refugees would reach more than 1.1 million by June. It is now predicting this figure will be reached much earlier because of the rapidly deteriorating security situation.

In Lebanon, Oxfam and its local partners have been distributing blankets and mattresses, as well as heaters and gas oil to help the new arrivals stay warm during the harsh winter. The agency is also providing water and sanitation in Zaatari camp in Jordan.

Related links

Donate to Oxfam’s Syria response

A difficult refuge from Syria conflict for thousands in Lebanon


Italy market watchdog defends role in Monte Paschi scandal – Fox Business

The Guardian
Italy market watchdog defends role in Monte Paschi scandal
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Russia’s migrant workers dream of making long journey home – Irish Times

Russia's migrant workers dream of making long journey home
Irish Times
They toil on construction sites, sell fruit and vegetables, clean offices, shops and cafes. Russia needs migrants to fill shortages in the labour market, says Zhanna Zaionchkovskaya, director of the Migration Laboratory at the Russian Academy of Sciences.


What Makes Your Video Shareable — And Viral – Entrepreneur

What Makes Your Video Shareable — And Viral
In their book, The Viral Video Manifesto, authors Stephen Voltz and Fritz Grobe lay out the core principles of creating a viral video and how to apply them. This edited excerpt explains what makes a video shareable — the key to making it viral — and

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Budget Cuts Set Funding Path to Historic Lows – Center For American Progress

Center For American Progress
Budget Cuts Set Funding Path to Historic Lows
Center For American Progress
It includes veterans' health care services and some nutritional, housing, and child care assistance to low-income families. It even includes the funding for such national treasures as the Smithsonian Institution, our national parks system, and the

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FTUSA Group Assesses 2-Yr Apparel Pilot Program

Fair Trade USA’s Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) for apparel released a report on the recently completed Fair Trade Certified™ apparel pilot program. Launched in 2010, the pilot project was the first global program to certify facilities making clothing and accessories with a consumer label to signal social and environmental sustainability.  It is also the first time that a Fair Trade certification attempted to deliver direct economic benefit at two different levels of the supply chain: cotton farmers and cut-and-sew factory workers. The report was co-written by the MSG and Fair Trade USA.

During the two year pilot period, four factories out of 55 applicants were certified, with four more in process. Cotton farmers in India, Egypt and Nicaragua participated in the program, along with 1,300 factory workers in India, Liberia and Costa Rica.

More at FTUSA press release