Pam Rotella's Vegetarian FUN page -- News on health, nutrition, the environment, politics, and more!
Fun link of the month:   The TOP of the Xcel Energy Bird Cam page has links to several bird cams. Although it's early in the season, at least one nest is already active.
News from the Week of 12th to 18th of May 2013
More Americans Committing Suicide than During the Great Depression (17 May 2013) [InfoWars.com]
Suicide rates are tied to the economy.
The Boston Globe reported in 2011:
"A new report issued today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that the overall suicide rate rises and falls with the state of the economy -- dating all the way back to the Great Depression.
"The report, published in the American Journal of Public Health, found that suicide rates increased in times of economic crisis: the Great Depression (1929-1933), the end of the New Deal (1937-1938), the Oil Crisis (1973-1975), and the Double-Dip Recession (1980-1982). Those rates tended to fall during strong economic times -- with fast growth and low unemployment -- like right after World War II and during the 1990s."
Australian dancer contradicts testimony, says Michael Jackson sexually abused him (17 May 2013)
An Australian choreographer alleged Thursday that Michael Jackson sexually abused him for seven years as a child, a claim the late singer's estate described as "outrageous and sad."
Wade Robson -- who testified at Jackson's infamous 2005 molestation trial that the star never touched him -- told a TV interviewer that the self-styled King of Pop was a "pedophile and a child sexual abuser."
"He sexually abused me from 7 years old until 14 .. . He performed sexual acts on me and forced me to perform sexual acts on him," the 30-year-old former dancer told NBC's the Today show.
The allegations surfaced last week, when it was reported that Robson had filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles on May 1 claiming "childhood sexual abuse" by Jackson, who died in 2009 aged 50.
U.S. Military Grants Itself the Authority to Deploy Troops in American Cities Without Presidential or Local Approval (17 May 2013) [Rense.com]
In a move that makes clear the direction that our country is increasingly heading towards, the Department of Defense has published an update to a US code that outlines military power during civil unrest.
The code, ""Defense Support of Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies," was slightly altered during a May 13th update which now allows the military to unilaterally declare martial law without presidential approval.
Multiple sections of the code outline plans and policies for a martial law scenario and should be considered a must read for any American worried about their freedoms in what has become a hostile American police state.
The rule seems to actually contradict itself, in one part claiming that the military can only be used during extreme circumstances with Presidential approval and then, in an updated part of the code, declaring that the military can put troops on the streets without approval from the president or local law enforcement.
Robbers Shove Homeowner In Closet, Where He Kept His Guns (17 May 2013) [InfoWars.com]
In yet another pro-Second Amendment story that the national media dare not touch, a homeowner in Sharpstown, Houston was assaulted by three robbers who broke into his house and shut him in a closet -- unaware that the closet was where he kept his guns.
With the homeowner thinking the three men had left, he exited the closet armed and proceeded to walk downstairs, before confronting one of the burglars and exchanging shots.
The homeowner was unharmed but the wounded robber stumbled outside and collapsed onto the floor, where he was watched by Neighbor Craig Gaddis who had heard the gunfire. The other two men fled the scene.
Neighbors said that the area had been plagued by a spate of recent robberies. The wounded suspect was hospitalized and the homeowner faces no charges for defending his property.
"Guess what? The owner had a gun," Gaddis told local ABC 13 news. "He did exactly what he was supposed to do -- with the gun, that's what they're made for -- protect his home."
Argentina ex-military leader Jorge Rafael Videla dies (17 May 2013)
Argentina's ex-military leader Jorge Rafael Videla has died aged 87 while serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity, local media report.
He is said to have died of natural causes in prison.
The general was jailed in 2010 for the deaths of 31 dissidents during the 1976-83 military dictatorship, of which he was overall leader until 1981.
Up to 30,000 people were tortured and killed during this period, in a campaign known as the "Dirty War".
Gen Videla had been sentenced to life in prison for torture, murder and other crimes in 1985, but was pardoned in 1990 under an amnesty given by the president at the time, Carlos Menem.
In April 2010, the Supreme Court upheld a 2007 federal court move to overturn his pardon.
Jorge Rafaél Videla dies in jail aged 87 (17 May 2013)
The former Argentinian dictator Jorge Rafaél Videla was a prominent member of the group of uniformed tyrants who in the 1970s seized power in Latin America and turned "disappear" into a transitive verb. If he never achieved the worldwide notoriety of his contemporary Augusto Pinochet, in Chile, it was not for want of trying. He has died aged 87 while in prison.
"As many people as is necessary will die in Argentina," Videla told the region's army commanders, gathered in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1975, "to protect the hemisphere from the international communist conspiracy." He was true to his word. Months later, on 24 March 1976, the armed forces overthrew the inept and chaotic government of María Estela Martínez ("Isabelita"), the widow of Juan Domingo Perón.
They installed a ferocious military regime. During the next six years, it murdered up to 30,000 people in the name of "national reorganisation" and western, Christian civilisation.
For Videla, who as army commander was chosen to head the junta, the decision to "disappear" the victims was purely pragmatic. "Argentinian society would not have tolerated firing squads," he told a journalist many years later. "Yesterday two in Buenos Aires, today six in Córdoba, tomorrow four in Rosario ... There was no other way. We all agreed on that."
Deadly blasts hit mosques in Pakistan (17 May 2013)
Police say bombings in two mosques in northwest Pakistan have killed at least 12 people.
Sources tell Al Jazeera that 50 have been wounded and many are in critical condition.
Both of the Sunni Muslim mosques were badly damaged, and the roof of one of them collapsed, said tribal police officer Badshah Rehman. The mosques were located in Baz Darrah village in the Malakand district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Al Jazeera's Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from Islamabad, said the blasts happened shortly after Friday prayers.
He said the area has had a very heavy military presence since the Pakistan Swat Valley offensive in 2009.
'Kai the hitchhiker' charged with homicide in bludgeoning death of lawyer (17 May 2013)
Galfy's body was found Monday after he didn't show up for work at his law firm. An autopsy determined that he died from blunt-force trauma, Romankow said.
A spokesman for the prosecutor's office said there was a host of evidence that led police to McGillvary, including video of him with the victim at a New Jersey train station.
Investigators believe the two men met recently in New York City, but it was unclear how they linked up.
The day after the killing, McGillvary met up with "fans" in southern New Jersey and told them he was on his way to Philadelphia, the prosecutor's office said.
Frackers get their own clothing line (17 May 2013)
Clothing retailers don't have it easy. It's very hard to keep up with what's in style. And what's in style now? Fracking! Which means flame-retardant clothing for when shit gets out of hand.
Last year in the United States, sales of flame-retardant clothing rose from $1.5 billion to $1.6 billion. By 2017, sales for protective clothing are expected to reach $2.3 billion. To this end, companies like Carhartt and Cabela's are sending people out into the field to check out what's new in the world of flame-retardant clothes. They're looking to make stuff that's hard to set on fire, but also, well, cute. Which is to say that although the motivation is safety, workers also want clothing that they can perhaps wear outside of the job site. So manufacturers are looking to make clothing that does the job but is lighter and cooler than the usual flame-retardant clothing.
The reason for this fashion trend? An abundance of fires, not just at fracking sites but at drilling sites and refineries. It's a hazardous world, and you can't just wear a T-shirt and jeans to work at a place where there's stuff that catches on fire. I suppose you could move the country towards a less mortally dangerous fuel source, but I dunno, that sounds hard.
PAM COMMENTARY: I remember when flame-retardant pajamas were promoted as something that every child should wear to bed each and every night, just in case their house caught fire. It seemed like a good idea, but then the flame-retardant chemicals were found to be carcinogenic.
Harvard researchers, (hopefully) on the road to useful discoveries, instead make tiny chemical flowers (17 May 2013)
A team of scientists at Harvard have discovered how to make crazy, beautiful, very tightly controlled shapes that are so tiny they're invisible to the naked eye. Just by making simple changes in the environment in which salt and silicon crystals grow, they've made gardens of flower-like structures. Wim Noorduin, a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University, grew a variety of these "flowers," recently featured in the journal Science.
The process starts with a solution of salt and and silicon. By altering the acidity, alkalinity, and temperature of the solution, Noorduin discovered he could make his structures grow outward or inward. In other words, he could control the way the petals on his flowers are furled or unfurled. The thickness of the flowers' petals is determined by how much carbon dioxide is introduced to the compounds. Combining various steps allowed him tighter control to manipulate the shape. He once created an entire field of these flowers on a penny, picturesquely planted along the base of the Lincoln Memorial. Noorduin, who is Dutch, also grew a tulip, because Dutch people are obsessed with tulips, even microscopic ones.
To be clear, Harvard's main goal here was not to make teeny tiny beautiful flowers. That was just something that sort of happened as the researchers went about the very serious business of making "industrial applications." The reason the flowers are significant is they demonstrate how precisely scientists can control shapes, even at this scale. But I bet a lot of people will just settle for the flowers.
WADE ROBSON: MICHAEL FORCED ME TO HAVE SEX And to Keep Quiet About It (16 May 2013)
Wade Robson says the only reason he's now changing his story ... accusing Michael Jackson of sexually abusing him for 7 years is because Michael engaged in a campaign of manipulation to keep him silent, especially during MJ's 2005 child molestation trial.
Robson went on NBC Today and said, Michael "performed sexual acts on me and forced me to perform sexual acts on him" from the age of 7 ... until Robson was 14.
Robson claimed he testified in 2005 that Michael did NOT sexually abuse him because Michael told him what they were doing was "an expression of love" ... and added, "if you ever tell anyone what we're doing both of our lives and our careers will be over."
TMZ broke the story ... Robson filed a creditor's claim against Michael Jackson's estate last week, insisting MJ sexually abused him during his childhood for years, but according to sources he didn't take action until he saw a therapist following a nervous breakdown.
Robson referenced the breakdown on Today, saying ... "For the first time in my life I began to realize that my completely numb and unexplored feelings in relation to what Michael did to me might be a problem and maybe I need to speak to someone about it."
Interestingly, Robson denied repressing memories of the alleged abuse ... instead saying he was merely "psychologically and emotionally completely unable and unwilling to understand that it was sexual abuse."
Google 'Knows When You're Home' (16 May 2013) [InfoWars.com]
Google has devised yet another ingenious way of convincing people to hand over their real-time location data, by offering location specific "reminders" as part of its Google Now feature.
During the company's Google I/O conference for developers in San Francisco yesterday, it was announced that Google Now, the voice-recognizing search product, will soon be available on desktop computers and will network seamlessly with mobile devices.
Google Now enables users to perform Internet searches by speaking to their computers, but it also allows Google to provide both time and location specific reminders that function via GPS technology.
"For example, you can, from your desktop at work, tell Google Now: "Remind me to take out the garbage when I get home," and when it senses through your smartphone that you are back at home, Google Now will send you a reminder," reports Business Insider.
Habitat for Humanity homes among those lost to Texas tornado cluster (16 May 2013)
GRANBURY, Texas -- Habitat for Humanity spent years in a North Texas subdivision, helping build many of the 110 homes in the low-income area. But its work was largely undone during an outbreak of 13 tornadoes Wednesday night that killed six people and injured dozens.
On Thursday, authorities combed through debris in Granbury, while residents awaited the chance to see what was left of their homes. Witnesses described the two badly hit neighborhoods as unrecognizable, with homes ripped from foundations and others merely rubble.
Granbury, about 40 miles southwest of Fort Worth, bore the brunt of the damage. The National Weather Service's preliminary estimate was that tornado had wind speeds between 166 mph and 200 mph. Other tornadoes spawned from the violent spring storm damaged nearby Cleburne and Millsap.
"I tell you, it has just broken my heart," said Habitat for Humanity volunteer Elsie Tallant, who helped serve lunch every weekend to those building the homes in a Granbury neighborhood and those poised to become homeowners.
Invasive ladybirds wage 'biological war' on natives (16 May 2013)
The Asian ladybird was originally brought in to control aphids in greenhouses.
But it has escaped and is increasing uncontrollably across Europe, wiping out native species.
The alien is winning, say scientists, because its body fluid contains a parasite toxic to other insects.
The research is published in the Journal, Science.
Analysis: West Fertilizer report details sequence of a catastrophe (16 May 2013)
It could have been an old golf cart stored there, or a problem with the warehouse's electrical wiring, or arson. The evidence, investigators from the Texas State Fire Marshal's Office and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Thursday, is insufficient to prove any of them.
Still, they reconstructed most of what happened and laid it out in public for the first time:
The seed room was on the building's north end, blown to oblivion along with most of the rest of the company's assets. The crater, 93 feet across and 10 feet deep, marks its location.
Parked inside the seed room was "a rickety old golf cart," West Mayor Tommy Muska said, having seen workers driving it many times. It was battery-operated, recharged by plugging it into an outlet.
Nearby, in the same building, were wooden bins that held about 50 tons of ammonium-nitrate fertilizer, piles of a solid chemical formed into tiny spheres -- think of the look of DippinDots ice cream. Outside, a rail car held an additional 100 tons of fertilizer.
Canadian government doubles advertising spend on tar sands (16 May 2013)
The Canadian government has nearly doubled its advertising spending to promote the Alberta tar sands in an aggressive new lobbying push ahead of Thursday's visit to New York by the prime minister, Stephen Harper.
The Harper government has increased its advertising spending on the Alberta tar sands to $16.5m from $9m a year ago.
The Canadian Press news agency, which first reported on the increase in advertising spending by the Department of Natural Resources, said the television advertising was just one part of a broad promotion for tar sands.
It said the Canadian government was planning another big advertising buy in America aimed at winning White House approval for the Keystone XL pipeline project and promoting exports of crude oil from the Alberta tar sands.
Those high-profile ad buys included sponsoring Politico's Playbook, an influential site that is well-read by administration officials. The Canadian government has also been despatching a series of officials to US and European cities.
Swine flu found in elephant seals off California (16 May 2013)
DAVIS, Calif. (AP) -- Researchers have detected swine flu in elephant seals off the Central California coast, saying it was the first time a human pandemic strain has been found in marine mammals.
However, none of the animals showed clinical signs of the illness.
A University of California, Davis study found the seals contracted the H1N1 virus in 2010, as the pandemic caused by the virus was winding down in humans, the Contra Costa Times (http://bit.ly/16keoIU ) reported Wednesday.
The influenza virus commonly crosses species barriers, and it wasn't the first time a marine mammal has been found to carry a human strain, UC Davis professor Tracey Goldstein told the newspaper. However, until now researchers had never found a human pandemic strain in marine mammals, Goldstein said.
Researchers still aren't sure exactly how the seals contracted the virus but said it's unlikely it came from direct contact with people. The researchers raised the possibility that seabirds may have passed on the virus.
Heady Colo. farmers plowing ahead with hemp farming (16 May 2013)
What do you do when the federal government won't let you plant a sustainable, super-useful crop on your own land? Well, if you're Ryan Loflin, you do it anyway.
As of this week, Loflin has planted America's first real crop of industrial hemp in more than a half-century.
The 40-year-old farmer from Springfield, Colo., has been scheming for months. "I believe this is really going to revitalize and strengthen farm communities," Loflin told the Denver Post in April. Now he's leased 60 acres of his father's alfalfa farm to plant and tend the hundreds of hemp starters he's already been grooming.
Hemp, for those who aren't familiar, is a variety of cannabis that -- sorry kids! -- won't get you high. Strong, nutritious, and super sustainable to grow, hemp is used for everything from rope to cereal. It requires few herbicides, and has even been called carbon negative by some boosters. And while it's illegal to grow it in the U.S., it's not illegal to sell. Right now imported hemp -- the only legal kind -- accounts for about $500 million in annual U.S. sales, according to the Hemp Industries Association.
US military leaders vow to tackle sexual assault issue as Congress pledges action (16 May 2013)
US military leaders are "ashamed" of their failure to get to grips with the problem of sexual assault in the armed services, Barack Obama said on Thursday.
The president pledged to "leave no stone unturned" in the effort to combat sexual assault in the military, which he said undermined the armed services.
Obama also said he has asked defence secretary Chuck Hagel and joint chiefs of staff chairman Martin Dempsey to lead a process to root out the problem.
"They care about this and they are angry about it," Obama said at the White House, after he summoned the nation's top defence leaders for a meeting to discuss the problem. "I heard directly from all of them that they are ashamed by some of what's happened."
The meeting follows a recent string of misconduct cases and a Pentagon report showing that as many as 26,000 military members may have been sexually assaulted last year.
Federal judge lifts LAPD consent decree (16 May 2013)
The federal judge who oversaw a dramatic, forced transformation of the Los Angeles Police Department has freed the department from the final vestiges of federal oversight.
In a brief, three-line order Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Gary Feess formally lifted the binding agreement the U.S. Department of Justice imposed on the LAPD in 2001, which spelled out dozens of major reforms the police agency had to implement and frequent audits it was required to undergo by a monitor who reported to Feess.
The dismissal of the so-called consent decree, which arose largely out of the Rampart corruption scandal and addressed basic problems of accountability that stretched back decades, delivered a largely symbolic, but nonetheless important milestone for the LAPD as it continues to disassociate itself from a past marked by abuses and turmoil. Following revelations in 1999 that officers assigned to the LAPD's Rampart Division were implicated in serious misconduct, including physical abuse of suspects, evidence tampering and perjury, public trust in the police plummeted and federal officials responded to calls from a growing chorus of critics for intervention.
Though many in the department bitterly disliked the idea of federal oversight, Department of Justice officials threatened to sue the city for complete control of the LAPD if department and city officials resisted the idea of the consent decree.
Cambodia shoe factory collapse kills workers (16 May 2013)
Cambodian clothing industry workers have been killed in the partial collapse of the shoe factory where they worked, adding to the loss of life in the Asian industry of making garments for the west.
A concrete ceiling fell in at the Wing Star Shoes plant in Kampong Speu province, west of the capital, Phnom Penh, authorities said. Police officer Khem Pannara said heavy equipment stored above may have caused the collapse.
Authorities told the Associated Press that two bodies had been pulled from the wreckage and at least seven people were injured, while a union official speaking to the Reuters news agency put the death toll at six or more. There were estimates of up to 50 people trapped in the wreckage.
"We were working normally and suddenly several pieces of brick and iron started falling on us," said an injured 25-year-old Kong Thary, recounting the scene from a nearby clinic.
ECSU police omitted sex-assault claims from reports (16 May 2013)
As many as 11 sexual assaults were reported to campus police at Elizabeth City State University from before 2008 to 2011, according to city police, but they were not disclosed in annual campus crime reports as required by the federal government, a review shows.
The assaults were among more than 120 crimes reported that city police have discovered were not investigated by the school, leading to the resignation of the campus police chief. He already was on leave pending a state investigation into allegations of witness intimidation and obstruction of justice by campus police in a sexual assault case this year.
Not making campus crime complaints public under what's known as the Clery Act could lead to fines of $35,000 per offense and the loss of federal financial-aid funds.
The Clery Act requires colleges and universities that receive federal funding to report crimes to the Department of Education and make the reports available to the public. It is intended to provide students and their families with information about safety on campuses so that they can make informed decisions.
Man Attacked by Bear in Marinette County (16 May 2013)
A call came into the Sheriff's Department about 1:25 p.m. Wednesday from Marie Ninnemann who said a bear had bitten her husband and it was circling the home and wouldn't leave.
Ninnemann told the deputy he heard his dog barking and saw a bear going after the dog. He was able to call the dog back to the cabin, but when Ninnemann tried to run inside, the bear took him to the ground and started biting and clawing his back.
Ninnemann was able to get up and made it to the corner of the cabin when the bear caught him and attacked him again.
Marie Ninnemann grabbed a gun and some shells, but she didn't know how to load the weapon, so she hit the bear over the head, according to the deputy's report. The bear let go and Gerre was able to use the gun to keep the bear away while they made their way into the cabin.
"The Other IRS Scandal": David Cay Johnston on Dark Money Political Groups Seeking Tax Exemption (16 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: While the IRS targeting of tea-party groups has made headlines for days, far less attention has been paid to the roots of the crisis. After the 2010 landmark Supreme Court decision Citizens United, there was a spike in new political organizations seeking tax-exempt status under tax code Section 501(c)(4). Groups such as Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS have claimed to be social welfare organizations while spending tens of millions of dollars on political operations. The number of 501(c)(4) applications rose to 3,400 in 2012, more than double the level in 2010.
To talk more about the IRS, we're joined by David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who writes about taxes issues, former New York Times reporter, author of several books, including the most recent, The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use "Plain English" to Rob You Blind . His latest article is entitled "The Other IRS Scandal." It appears on the Columbia Journalism Review website.
Welcome to Democracy Now! from Rochester, David Cay Johnston. First talk about the resignation of the head of the IRS and the scandal, and then we'll go on to the second part of the scandal, as you see it.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Well, Miller didn't resign; he was fired. The president said that Jack Lew, the treasury secretary, asked for his resignation. What's a little strange about this is that Miller had nothing to do with this, as best we know. He's the acting commissioner. The misconduct--and it's absolutely misconduct; it's no different than stopping young men on the street based on the color of their skin, as we know is going on a lot in New York City--took place under the watch of Douglas Shulman, who was an appointee of President George W. Bush, which shows how complicated this story is.
Corolla wild horse recovers after rescue from riptide (16 May 2013)
A blind and aging stallion is recovering after a rip current swept him seaward and lifeguards carried out the coastal community's first wild-horse rescue.
On May 2, two stallions battled for supremacy over a harem of mares, a common occurrence among the wild horses on the Currituck Outer Banks. Already blind in one eye, the older stallion injured his other eye during the fight, said Karen McCalpin, director of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.
He ran into the ocean and was caught in a riptide that carried him away from the beach and more than a mile down the shore.
The stallion reached a sandbar where he was able to stand. Directed over the phone by herd manager Wesley Stallings, lifeguards used rescue buoys to push the horse from behind and gradually guide him to land, McCalpin said.
Lawyer: Ohio kidnap suspect will plead not guilty (15 May 2013)
CLEVELAND (AP) -- The man accused of keeping three women in captivity for about a decade will plead not guilty but it's uncertain if he can receive a fair trial anywhere, a member of his defense team said Wednesday.
Craig Weintraub, a former prosecutor representing Ariel Castro, 52, on rape and kidnapping charges, said in an interview that the location of a trial is "always an issue when you have a case that has such fantastic notoriety."
Castro's defense team, including Weintraub colleague Jaye Schlachet, must decide at some point whether to ask to have any trial moved out of Cleveland, Weintraub said.
"Then that begs the question: 'Well, where can he get a fair trial based on the circumstances?' This is such a sensationalistic type case which has received international coverage."
How Angelina Jolie was duped by cancer doctors into self mutilation for breast cancer she never had (15 May 2013)
The very idea that breast cancer is a "percent risk" is a complete lie. In reality, everyone has cancer micro-tumors in their bodies, including myself. Cancer is not a disease you just "get" like being randomly struck by lightning. It's something you must "manage" or "prevent" day by day, meal by meal, through a lifestyle choice that involves vitamin D supplementation, nutrition, superfoods, vegetable juices and avoidance of cancer-causing chemicals and radiation.
So when a doctor says you have a "chance" of getting cancer, what he's implying is that you have no control over cancer, and that's an outright lie. Cancer quackery, in other words.
Even Jolie with her BRCA1 gene that's linked to breast cancer can quite easily follow a dietary and lifestyle plan that suppresses BRCA1 gene expression. It's not rocket science. It's not even difficult. It can be done with simple foods that cost a few dollars a day. Those foods include raw citrus, resveratrol (red grapes or red wine), raw cruciferous vegetables, omega-3 oils and much more. Those same foods also help prevent heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's and other chronic diseases.
Indole-3-carbinol (I3C), by the way, a natural chemical found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage, offers powerful prevention against BRCA1 gene expression. But you don't hear cancer doctors telling women to "eat more cabbage" because that doesn't make the cancer industry any money. You can buy I3C as a potent nutritional supplement from a variety of sources. It's literally cancer prevention in a capsule.
So the whole "chance" argument is pure quackery. There is no chance involved in whether you get cancer. It's all cause and effect. You are either living a pro-cancer lifestyle and therefore growing cancer, or you're living an anti-cancer lifestyle and keeping cancer in check so that it never becomes a problem. Cause and effect is what results in either the growth of cancer tumors or the prevention of cancer tumors. There is no "luck" involved.
One-third of honeybee colonies in US died last winter: The food collapse approaches (15 May 2013)
(NaturalNews) The Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) recently published preliminary data from its annual review of bee colony declines in the U.S., and the findings from this report are mind-boggling. According to the latest survey results, an astounding 31.3 percent, or roughly one-third, of all managed bee colonies in the U.S. were wiped out during the most recent 2012/2013 winter season, a rate that represents a 42 percent increase compared to the number of colonies lost during the previous 2011/2012 winter season.
According to BIP, which works in collaboration with both the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. beekeepers on average lost more than 45 percent of their colonies during the 2012/2013 winter season, a 78.2 percent jump in losses over the previous season. And overall, more than 70 percent of respondents, most of whom were backyard beekeepers, experienced losses beyond the 15 percent "acceptable" threshold, illustrating a monumental problem not only for bee survival but also for the American food supply.
Since 2006, total bee colony losses have hovered around 30 percent, sometimes a little higher and sometimes a little lower. And the situation was believed by some to be improving when the overall percentage of colony losses declined sharply during the 2011/2012 winter season by almost 10 percent. But now that the death toll has jumped once again beyond the 30 percent mark, many are worried that this year-after-year compounded increase will very soon make it impossible for grow enough food.
"We're getting closer and closer to the point where we don't have enough bees in this country to meet pollination demands," says Dennis vanEngelstorp, an entomologist at the University of Maryland who led the survey. "If we want to grow fruits and nuts and berries, this is important. One in every three bites [of food consumed in the U.S.] is directly or indirectly pollinated by bees."
Billion-year-old water found in Ontario could reveal clues about ancient life (15 May 2013)
Two and a half kilometres below northeastern Ontario, within the volcanic rock of the Canadian Shield, a primordial waterway has sat undisturbed for more than one billion years. But now a team of Canadian and British scientists have tapped this ancient liquid hoping to discover clues about the origins of life on our planet -- and beyond.
In a paper published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, researchers say water they have found in a copper and zinc mine near Timmins, Ont., has been isolated for one to 2.64 billion years, far longer than anything previously discovered. And the water contains high levels of methane and hydrogen, possible indicators of life.
"These are the oldest waters that have ever been identified," Barbara Sherwood Lollar, a geoscientist at the University of Toronto and one of the study's authors, told The Canadian Press. "We don't know yet if there's life in this, but what we've been able to show is it is habitable, meaning (having the) potential to support life because of the energy that's there."
The team painstakingly extracted the water through cracks in sulphide deposits, ensuring that it was never contaminated by contacting the air in the rest of the mine. And by examining the levels of certain isotopes of noble gases -- elements that rarely interact with their surroundings -- they determined the water hadn't been exposed to the atmosphere for at least a billion years.
Allan Nairn: After Ríos Montt Verdict, Time for U.S. to Account for Its Role in Guatemalan Genocide (15 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: As we wrap up, investigative journalist Allan Nairn, the compensation end of the trial, what you feel needs to be done now? You have covered this throughout these decades.
ALLAN NAIRN: Well, all of the crimes that Rigoberta Menchú just described were crimes not just of General Ríos Montt, but also of the U.S. government. The U.S. prosecutors in Washington should immediately convene a grand jury with two missions: first, coming to the aid of the Guatemalan attorney general, who has just been ordered by the court to investigate all others involved in Ríos Montt's crimes, by releasing all classified U.S. documents about what happened during the slaughter, which U.S. personnel were involved, providing to the Guatemalan attorney general a list of all Guatemalan army officials and security force officials who were on the payroll of the American CIA, and then proceeding to issue indictments against U.S. officials who acted in the role of accessory or accomplice to the crimes for which Ríos Montt has already been convicted.
AMY GOODMAN: And those people, you believe, would include?
ALLAN NAIRN: The top officials of the Reagan administration who made the policy--President Reagan is deceased, but his top aides, including Elliott Abrams and many others, are still alive; the U.S. CIA personnel on the ground who worked within the G2, the military intelligence unit that coordinated the assassinations and disappearances; the U.S. military attachés who worked with the Guatemalan generals to develop this sweep-and-massacre strategy in the mountains. There would be hundreds of U.S. officials who were complicit in this and should be subpoenaed, called before a grand jury and subjected to indictment. And the U.S. should be ready to extradite them to Guatemala to face punishment, if the Guatemalan authorities are able to proceed with this. And General Pérez Molina is one who should be included. And Pérez Molina, himself, was among--
AMY GOODMAN: The president.
ALLAN NAIRN: Yes--is among those who was on the CIA payroll.
Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchú Hails Genocide Conviction of Ex-Guatemalan Dictator Ríos Montt (15 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
RIGOBERTA MENCHÚ: [translated] I don't want to be controversial, but I do see that under Ronald Reagan and Bush's administration there was a fantasy created of a third World War. And this fantasy really damaged the mentality of the military in Guatemala and Guatemalan fascists, and they still believe that communism exists. I don't know what they're referring to, but the truth is that here in Guatemala, women were raped, girls were raped, they strangled children, they assassinated and wiped out entire indigenous peoples, just because they thought they were so-called subversives and communists. So humanity really has to look into what occurred.
AMY GOODMAN: We're going to break and then come back to our discussion with Rigoberta Menchú, Nobel Peace laureate. She has just flown from attending the trial in Guatemala City to Mexico City, where we're speaking to her, and we'll be joined by investigative journalist Allan Nairn. This is Democracy Now! We'll be back in a minute.
AMY GOODMAN: Our guest in Mexico City is the Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchú. It was her lawsuit that helped to lead to the conviction--first trial, then conviction and 80-year sentence of the former U.S.-backed dictator of Guatemala, Efraín Ríos Montt. He began his sentence on Friday night, after the sentence was read. Rigoberta Menchú, can you describe what happened to your own father?
RIGOBERTA MENCHÚ: [translated] Yes. Yes, well, as you know, the conviction of Ríos Montt has awakened the suffering that we carry, and we're going to always feel that suffering as victims. In the case of my own family, my brother Patrocinio was burnt to death in the Ixil region. We never found his remains. We have looked for them. He may be on a farm that's called the San Francisco Ranch, and he's probably just in one of the mass graves.
A fascinating map of the world's most and least racially tolerant countries (15 May 2013)
When two Swedish economists set out to examine whether economic freedom made people any more or less racist, they knew how they would gauge economic freedom, but they needed to find a way to measure a country's level of racial tolerance. So they turned to something called the World Values Survey, which has been measuring global attitudes and opinions for decades.
Among the dozens of questions that World Values asks, the Swedish economists found one that, they believe, could be a pretty good indicator of tolerance for other races. The survey asked respondents in more than 80 different countries to identify kinds of people they would not want as neighbors. Some respondents, picking from a list, chose "people of a different race." The more frequently that people in a given country say they don't want neighbors from other races, the economists reasoned, the less racially tolerant you could call that society. (The study concluded that economic freedom had no correlation with racial tolerance, but it does appear to correlate with tolerance toward homosexuals.)
Unfortunately, the Swedish economists did not include all of the World Values Survey data in their final research paper. So I went back to the source, compiled the original data and mapped it out on the infographic above. In the bluer countries, fewer people said they would not want neighbors of a different race; in red countries, more people did.
If we treat this data as indicative of racial tolerance, then we might conclude that people in the bluer countries are the least likely to express racist attitudes, while the people in red countries are the most likely.
Here's a map of the best and worst countries to be a mother (8 May 2013)
A new report by Save the Children, a London-based NGO, gauges and ranks the conditions for mothers in almost every country in the world. Their annual report, just out, shows that Nordic countries are the best places to be mothers. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are the worst.
The Mother's Index, based on a wide range of data gathered from the United Nations and other sources, are mapped out above. Bluer countries are best for mothers, red countries are worst and purple are somewhere in the middle.
The report measures conditions for mothers using five different metrics: risk of maternal death, infant mortality rate, the number of years an average child will spend in school, gross national income per capita and participation of women in government. Those last two variables are built on the inferences, fleshed out in the report, that mothers with more money will be more likely to secure food and medical care, and that countries where women participate in governance are more likely to pass laws promoting womens' health and well-being.
Here are a few interesting details from the report.
(1) In India, 309,300 babies die every year within 24 hours of birth
Chris Hedges: Monitoring of AP Phones a "Terrifying" Step in State Assault on Press Freedom (15 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Your response to this revelation about the--about what happened with AP and the U.S. government?
CHRIS HEDGES: Well, it's part of a pattern. That's what's so frightening. And it's a pattern that we've seen, with the use of the Espionage Act, to essentially silence whistleblowers within the government--Kiriakou, Drake and others, although Kiriakou went to jail on--pled out on another charge--the FISA Amendment Act, which allows for warrantless wiretapping, the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows for the stripping of American citizens of due process and indefinite detention. And it is one more assault in a long series of assault against freedom of information and freedom of the press. And I would also, of course, throw in the persecution of Julian Assange at WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning as part of that process.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Chris Hedges, you wrote in the recent article that was published, your article "Death of Truth" in Truthdig and Nation magazine--you also write about the significance of the Espionage Act and how often it's been invoked, and you say that it eviscerates the possibility of an independent press. So could you talk about the Espionage Act and how it also is somehow related to this AP story?
CHRIS HEDGES: Well, it's been used six times by the Obama administration. It was written in 1917 and was--is our Foreign Secrets Act. It is never meant--it was not designed to shut down whistleblowers, first used against Daniel Ellsberg in the Pentagon Papers. So, three times from 1917 until Obama takes office in 2009, six times. And if you talk to investigative journalists in this country, who must investigate the inner workings of government, no one will talk, even on background. People are terrified. And this is, of course--the seizure of two months of records, of AP records, is not really about going after AP; it's about going after that person or those people who leaked this story and shutting them down. And this canard that it endangered American life is--you know, there's no evidence for this. He's not--yeah.
North Pole wanders, thanks to climate change (15 May 2013)
As if the swelling number of kids in the world isn't enough to keep him busy, Santa Claus is being forced to shift his home eight inches every year to keep up with climate change.
Assuming I'm getting this fable right, the jolly old dude who rose from the dead and ascended to the North Pole to construct a toy-building redoubt and a reindeer-based delivery system could consider himself one of the many refugees of the changing climate.
That's according, more or less, to the findings of a new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, which used satellite gravity measurements from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment to monitor the recent meanderings of the precise location of the North Pole.
The North and South Poles are always shifting, influenced in part by the ceaseless redistribution of mass all around the Earth. And all that melting ice and all those rising seas had enough of an effect to swing the poleward shift in a new direction in 2005. The pole is now moving in the direction of Greenland by seven milliarcseconds per year -- an angular measurement that lead author Jianli Chen says equates to movement of a little more than eight inches every year.
Utilities vs. rooftop solar: What the fight is about (15 May 2013)
The conflict between electric utilities and distributed energy -- mainly rooftop solar panels -- is heating up. It's heating up so much that people are writing about electric utility regulation, the most tedious, inscrutable subject this side of corporate tax law. The popular scrutiny is long overdue. So buckle up. We're getting into it.
I wrote about the fight a while back -- "solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities " -- but it's worth taking a closer look at what's under dispute. Some bits are unavoidably wonky and technical, but it's important to understand exactly what's happening. This is a pivotal issue, a trial run for many such struggles to come.
There's a short-term problem and a long-term problem. The former is about how electricity rates are structured, specifically how utilities compensate (or don't) customers who generate power with rooftop solar PV panels. The latter is about developing an entirely new business model for utilities, one that aligns their financial interests with the spread of distributed energy. The danger is that fighting over the former could delay solving the latter.
Today, let's dig into the fight at hand. It's about utility rates, specifically "net metering," yet another nerdy green term no one understands. I will endeavor to make clear what it is and why the fight over it is so damn interesting and exciting. Exciting, I tell you! Wake up!
World's fish have been moving to cooler waters for decades, study finds (15 May 2013)
Fish and other sea life have been moving toward Earth's poles in search of cooler waters, part of a worldwide, decades-long migration documented for the first time by a study released Wednesday.
The research, published in the journal Nature, provides more evidence of a rapidly warming planet and has broad repercussions for fish harvests around the globe.
University of British Columbia researchers found that significant numbers of 968 species of fish and invertebrates they examined moved to escape the warming waters of their original habitats.Previous studies had documented the same phenomenon in specific parts of the world's oceans. But the new study is the first to assess the migration worldwide and to look back as far as 1970, according to its authors.
The research is more confirmation that "global change is real and has been real for a long time," said Boris Worm, a professor of marine biology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who was not part of the study. "It's not something in the distant future. It is well underway."
Charge for keeping chickens in Va. Beach dropped (15 May 2013)
A General District judge on Tuesday dismissed a misdemeanor charge against a Virginia Beach woman for keeping chickens in her backyard.
Attorney Gary Byler, who represents Tracy Gugal-Okroy, said the judge ruled that testimony submitted was not sufficient to convict her.
Last year, Gugal-Okroy told The Pilot she bought a dozen chicks from a Suffolk farm in 2011 and began raising them in her Aragona Village backyard. She had 22 chickens last year.
A city zoning inspector in 2012 issued Gugal-Okroy a violation, which she appealed and the city's zoning board upheld.
Having poultry in areas that aren't rural is illegal in Virginia Beach. Gugal-Okroy has been trying to persuade the City Council to change the rule.
Dr. Paul Farmer on Rwanda's Health Leap, Haiti's Struggles & How Communities Can Repair the World (14 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Our guest is Dr. Paul Farmer. He's been working in Haiti and around the world for decades. Twenty-five years ago, Dr. Farmer helped found the charity Partners in Health, which provides care to those living in poverty in central Haiti as well as other places around the world. And he's written a new book called To Repair the World: Paul Farmer Speaks to the Next Generation. Dr. Paul Farmer is the department chair of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women's Hospital, where many of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings were brought. Can you talk about the significance of that? And then we'll talk about Haiti.
DR. PAUL FARMER: Well, I think, in my view, they're related topics, and not just because I work at both the Brigham and in Haiti. First of all, there's a reason that everyone who made it to a hospital, like the Brigham, survived. You have in a place like that an incredible set of options to help people who are seriously injured or seriously ill. You have redundant systems, in the sense that--if you have, as happens with an earthquake or a bombing, everybody shows up at once, you need redundant systems, meaning you need backup teams and backup teams. So you can't have, like we have all over the Third World, the power suddenly goes out. You know, the generator dies. You know, that's never going happen at a place like the Brigham. There is so much capacity there that it's no wonder--in my experience, it's no wonder that people did really well, the patients did really well, once they got there.
And it's a reminder. You know, every time something like this happens in our country, in our affluent country, we get a chance to think how much humans need safety nets. And that's what we're trying to build in Rwanda and Haiti. And if you don't have--you know, if you have only a community health system and no hospitals, and someone is injured, then that--the person who's injured is out of luck. Or that could be a minor injury, you know, a minor injury that could be fatal because there's no hospital. If you only have the hospitals and no community-based care, you don't do well with chronic disease management. And so, what we've been trying to do in Haiti, Partners in Health and the Ministry of Health and many partners, has been to rebuild some of the destroyed capacity for hospital care and teaching in the rural area, decentralizing from Port-au-Prince and the quake zone, and we've done that.
Turmeric compounds improve heart health as much as exercise (14 May 2013)
(NaturalNews) A chemical that naturally occurs in turmeric root appears to improve heart health as much as moderate aerobic exercise, according to a trio of studies conducted by researchers from the University of Tsukuba in Japan.
Turmeric root has been an important component of traditional Asian medicinal systems for hundreds of years. In recent decades, scientific studies have confirmed the potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties of the trio of turmeric chemicals known as "curcuminoids," which give the root its distinctive yellow-orange color. Although only one of these chemicals is properly known as "curcumin," the name is commonly used to refer to all of them collectively.
The three new studies all compared the effects of exercise and curcumin on heart health and postmenopausal women over an eight-week period. All the studies were randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled. Curcumin was delivered by means of colloidal nanoparticles.
Can turmeric prevent heart disease?
In the first study, researchers assigned 32 women to either take a curcumin supplement, engage in moderate aerobic exercise training, or undergo no intervention at all. The researchers measured participants' vascular endothelial function - the responsiveness of the layer of cells that line the blood vessels, a key indicator of overall cardiovascular health - both at the beginning and end of the study. They found that while there was no improvement in the control group, endothelial function significantly increased in both the exercise and curcumin groups. Most surprisingly, the improvement in the two experimental groups was identical.
1.3 million wrongly treated after false positives from mammograms (14 May 2013)
(NaturalNews) The Susan G. Komen for breast cancer awareness reports on their site that breast cancer will strike more than 1.3 million women annually over the next 20 years. They are proud to report that 70 percent of women 40 and older receive regular mammograms now. What they aren't telling the public is that their pharmaceutical and radiation-funding "awareness" project is giving millions of women false diagnoses by the very mammogram technology they promote. As a matter of fact, the New England Journal of Medicine has identified approximately 1.3 million cases of misdiagnosed breast cancer, concluding that mammograms are leading millions of women astray, making them believe they have cancer when they really don't.
This means that the highly entrusted mammograms are manifesting millions of fake cancers, sending millions of unsuspecting women through further unneeded tests, procedures, medications, and radiation.
Where's the breast cancer awareness money going?
Instead of "ending breast cancer forever", as the Susan G. Komen cause claims, they are actually funding perpetual mammogram testing and subsequent medication and radiation that is only feeding the medical industry and the cancer itself. The Komen Race for the Cure alone has raised $2 billion. Where is this money going? It's definitely not going to find a cure, but rather fooling millions of women into believing they have cancer, when they really don't.
It's all very much a corporate scam. The Susan G. Komen awareness is really a company, with a long list of high paid employees, marketers and executives, who do nothing but promote a color and a title. Thirty-nine-point-one percent of their $390 million worth of assets goes toward public health education, which obviously doesn't point anyone toward proper nutrition utilization, but instead teaches women to get their routine screening and swallow their pill. The money they raise practically goes straight into buying the very mammogram testing machines that are perpetuating the problem. According to the cause, the single most effective screening tool to fight breast cancer is in fact, the holy mammogram The rest of their money goes right into fundraising and radio ads that promote their deceptive process.
Breast cancer reality check
Most mammograms detect cancer at 'stage zero.' This non-invasive cancer, left untreated, does not progress, does not cause further harm, and does not become invasive. It regresses without medication, without radiation. Sadly though, millions of women are being put through the system, unintentionally lied to, even as evidence suggests that all these stage zero breast cancer detections are misleading. The whole screening system is just bloating statistics of breast cancer in the US and ramming new patients through the system.
The Komen cause proudly reveals that the largest group of cancer survivors in the US is breast cancers survivors (3 million). This fact is only true because most breast cancer survivors "survived" cancer that was non-invasive or was regressive in the first place. In fact, according to the journal Lancet Oncology, a cohort study verified that even most "invasive" cancers appear to regress with time if left untreated.
Eric Holder says he recused himself from leak probe that obtained AP phone records (14 May 2013)
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Tuesday that he recused himself from involvement in a Justice Department leak investigation that secretly acquired telephone records of Associated Press journalists.
But in response to questions at a news conference, he defended the department's conduct in probing what he described as one of the damaging leaks he has seen.
In a letter to Holder and his deputy Tuesday, a media coalition rejected what it called "an overreaching dragnet for newsgathering materials," demanded that the Justice Department destroy the phone records and called on Congress to pass a federal shield law. The Washington Post joined more than 50 other news organizations in endorsing the letter.
Holder said he testified in June 2012 that he was interviewed by the FBI in connection with the probe into a leak of classified information to the AP. "To avoid any potential appearance of a conflict of interest," he said, "I recused myself from this matter."
Are Creepy Dudes Now Using Drone Technology For Their Nefarious Ends? (14 May 2013)
Why is it that so many technological innovations are immediately pounced upon by creepy dudes whose only thought is, "How can I use this to abuse and punish women for their continuing insistence that they are full human beings instead of walking sex toys that I should be able to use how I like?" Most news coverage regarding drones is about the debate over their use as weapons, so you might not know that drones--which are basically just flying robots--are sold commercially and can be used for all sorts of stuff. Mostly as toys, frankly, but that's okay. That's mostly what smart phones are used for, and that's a good thing, since fun is good.
Except, of course, the Creeps of America have decided to use them to spy on women in their homes. In Seattle, a woman reported to the media a confrontation with a man who kept flying a drone around her house, one that had a camera.
"This afternoon, a stranger set an aerial drone into flight over my yard and beside my house near Miller Playfield. I initially mistook its noisy buzzing for a weed-whacker on this warm spring day. After several minutes, I looked out my third-story window to see a drone hovering a few feet away. My husband went to talk to the man on the sidewalk outside our home who was operating the drone with a remote control, to ask him to not fly his drone near our home. The man insisted that it is legal for him to fly an aerial drone over our yard and adjacent to our windows. He noted that the drone has a camera, which transmits images he viewed through a set of glasses. He purported to be doing "research". We are extremely concerned, as he could very easily be a criminal who plans to break into our house or a peeping-tom."
Now, there's a lot of possibilities here, but the proliferation of men in parking lots and public transportation trying to get "creep shots" suggests that on the list of likely possibilities, that this guy is trying to win Reddit by getting the creepiest shot ranks high. Unfortunately, as Rebecca Rosen reports at The Atlantic, this is a legal gray area--this is a consistent problem when it comes to men forcing unwilling women into amateur porn--meaning that remedies outside of just legal prosecution of these [a**holes] might have to be considered.
Wildfire risk runs high, but budget cuts mean fewer firefighters (13 May 2013)
WASHINGTON -- The drought that caused record wildfires in California and other Western states last year is expected to persist through the summer, but fewer firefighters will battle this year's blazes in other regions because of federal budget cuts, top federal officials said Monday.
The U.S. Forest Service will hire 500 fewer firefighters this year, the result of "line by line" budget reductions required by Congress, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a conference call with reporters. The reduced staffing also means 50 fewer fire engines will be available, Vilsack said.
Vilsack and Interior Secretary Sally Jewel said much of the West would face severe fire danger this summer.
"We will no doubt be seeing some fires of significant size," Vilsack said.
The Interior Department is also expected to cut its firefighting forces.
The Forest Service hires firefighters in spring and retains them through fall, Tom Harbour, the Forest Service's national director of fire and aviation management, said in an interview Monday. Last year, when 9.3 million acres burned in the United States, the Forest Service hired 10,500 firefighters. The Interior Department fielded another 2,500.
2,300-year-old Mayan pyramid bulldozed by Belize construction crew (14 May 2013)
Officials in Belize say a construction company has destroyed one of the country's largest Mayan pyramids.
Head of the Belizean Institute of Archaeology Jaime Awe said the Noh Mul temple was levelled by a road-building company seeking gravel for road filler.
The Mayan temple dates back to pre-Columbian times and is estimated to be 2,300 year old. Only a small core of the pyramid was left standing.
Police said they were investigating the incident.
Archaeologists said this was not the first incident of its kind.
Senators to debate immigration bill amendment on foreign students (14 May 2013)
A Senate panel took up amendments to a comprehensive immigration bill Tuesday and was expected to consider a proposal aimed at tightening the monitoring of foreign students in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings.
The measure, offered by Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), would require the Department of Homeland Security to transfer all student visa information to border control agents at ports of entry. Aides on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is overseeing the amendment process, said the proposal was inspired by reports that alleged accomplices of the accused Boston bombers were living in the country on expired student visas.
In opening the committee's session Tuesday, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), the panel's chairman, said a key consideration for him in the immigration bill was that "the pathway to citizenship" for illegal immigrants in the United States "not be a false promise." He called on senators to reject efforts to set up procedures that he said would be "nothing but obstacles to that goal."
Before considering Grassley's amendment, the committee took up changes related to border security. On a voice vote, the panel approved an amendment offered by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that would limit the use of drones along the border with Mexico to three miles of the border in the San Diego and El Centro sectors.
Angelina Jolie has double mastectomy to elude breast cancer (14 May 2013)
(Reuters) - Hollywood star Angelina Jolie has had a double mastectomy to reduce her chances of getting breast cancer and says she hopes her story will inspire other women fighting the life-threatening disease.
Jolie wrote in the New York Times on Tuesday the operation has made it easier for her to reassure her six children that she would not die young from cancer, like her own mother did at 56.
"We often speak of 'Mommy's mommy', and I find myself trying to explain the illness that took her away from us. They have asked if the same could happen to me," wrote Jolie, 37.
"I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a 'faulty' gene."
The Oscar-winning actress said her doctors had estimated she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer.
PAM COMMENTARY: My Aunt Sharon was "inspired" to get a double mastectomy by her doctor, but she died anyway, of cancer. That's despite having only a small lump in one breast, with no medical reason for the more radical operation. The double mastectomy was a lot of pain and expense that she didn't need, and it may have negatively impacted her chances of survival.
Cancer has more to do with exposure to environmental carcinogens, unhealthy diet and lifestyle choices, and poor treatment options from the US medical system.
Under sweeping subpoenas, Justice Department obtained AP phone records in leak investigation (13 May 2013)
In a sweeping and unusual move, the Justice Department secretly obtained two months' worth of telephone records of journalists working for the Associated Press as part of a year-long investigation into the disclosure of classified information about a failed al-Qaeda plot last year.
The AP's president said Monday that federal authorities obtained cellular, office and home telephone records of individual reporters and an editor; AP general office numbers in Washington, New York and Hartford, Conn.; and the main number for AP reporters covering Congress. He called the Justice Department's actions a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into newsgathering activities.
The aggressive investigation into the possible disclosure of classified information to the AP is part of a pattern in which the Obama administration has pursued current and former government officials suspected of releasing secret material. Six officials have been prosecuted, more than under all previous administrations combined.
In a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., the AP's president and chief executive, Gary B. Pruitt, said that the Justice Department sought information beyond what could be justified by any specific probe and demanded that the government return the phone records and destroy all copies.
PAM COMMENTARY: No doubt a blatant violation of the First and Fourth Amendments, and puzzling, considering the number of VIOLENT crimes that are still unsolved and need more attention.
Fashion chains sign accord to help finance safety in Bangladesh factories (13 May 2013)
Some of the world's biggest fashion chains, including H&M, Zara, C&A, Tesco and Primark, have signed up to a legally binding agreement to help finance fire safety and building improvements in the factories they use in Bangladesh.
The move came on Monday, as the Bangladeshi government agreed to allow the country's four million garment workers to form trade unions without permission from factory owners, a major concession to campaigners lobbying for widespread reforms to the industry following the collapse of the Rana Plaza building last month that killed more than 1,100 people.
On Sunday, the government also announced a plan to raise the minimum wage for garment workers, who are paid some of the lowest wages in the world to sew clothing bound for global retailers. Those working at the eight-storey Rana Plaza, which housed five garment factories when it collapsed on 24 April, were paid as little as £25 ($38) a month.
"I believe labour should be justly appraised. We want to save the industry but at the same time we want to uplift the standard of living of our workers. We do not want slave labour," Abdul Latif Siddiqui, minister for textiles, told the Guardian.
Mother's Day second-line shooting suspect is named, sought (13 May 2013)
One suspect in the Mother's Day second-line shooting that injured 19 people, including two 10-year-olds, has been identified by the New Orleans Police Department.
Akein Scott, 19, is being sought by the NOPD in connection with the shocking shooting that has shaken the New Orleans community.
NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas said Monday night that police have searched two Frenchmen Street locations -- both blocks away from the shooting site -- plus building in the 3600 block of North Roman Street for Scott.
"Akein Scott needs to do the right thing, and turn himself in," Serpas said. "What happened yesterday was an atrocity, and we want to make sure that everyone who took part in that violence faces consequences of the criminal justice system."
Supreme Court hands a big win to Monsanto on GMO seeds (13 May 2013)
In a blow to opponents of GMOs and Monsanto, the Supreme Court today ruled unanimously that an Indiana soybean farmer violated the company's patent by saving its trademark Roundup Ready seeds.
Every time a farmer buys seeds from Monsanto, she or he must sign a contract agreeing not to save seeds from the crop. Monsanto's many vociferous critics condemn this practice for the way it traps farmers in a costly cycle of dependence on the company's products. The farmer in this case, Vernon Bowman, signed such an agreement when he originally bought Monsanto's Roundup Ready soybeans. But he found a clever way to get around the restrictions. Tom Laskawy explains:
"For years, Bowman would grow a first crop of Monsanto seed, which he would purchase legally, and then would buy some commodity seed from his local grain elevator for his second crop. While aware he could not save seeds from the first crop he grew, Bowman would later plant the commodity seeds, spray the plants with Roundup, and was then able to identify which were resistant to the herbicide when they didn't die. Bowman saved those seeds and saved money, since he had bought the commodity seeds for his second crop at a steep discount without paying Monsanto or signing its licensing agreement."
Pennsylvania's ag-gag law could protect frackers (13 May 2013)
Film a fracker, go to jail?
It could become illegal to document many of the fracking operations in Pennsylvania under an ag-gag bill being considered in the state House.
Ag-gag laws have been introduced or passed in more than a dozen states, aiming to prevent animal-welfare activists from documenting systemic abuses at corporate farms and slaughterhouses. They do this in a variety of ways, mostly by making it illegal to film such abuse; by requiring any such footage be handed over immediately to law enforcement officials (thereby hobbling activists' ability to document patterns of abuse, rather than one-off instances); and/or by requiring job applicants to reveal any activist affiliations.
But experts warn that Pennsylvania House Bill 683 would go further by also protecting frackers from unwanted scrutiny when they operate on farmland. A fracking spree is underway in the state, which sits atop the natural-gas-rich Marcellus Shale deposit, and much of the fracking is conducted on agricultural lands.
Exclusive: Allan Nairn Exposes Role of U.S. and New Guatemalan President in Indigenous Massacres (13 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about how this campaign, this slaughter, was carried out and how it links to, well, the current government in Guatemala today.
ALLAN NAIRN: The army swept through the northwest highlands. And according to soldiers who I interviewed at the time, as they were carrying out the sweeps, they would go into villages, surround them, pull people out of their homes, line them up, execute them. A forensic witness testified in the trial that 80 percent of the remains they've recovered had gunshot wounds to the head. Witnesses have--witnesses and survivors have described Ríos Montt's troops beheading people. One talked about an old woman who was beheaded, and then they kicked her head around the floor. They ripped the hearts out of children as their bodies were still warm, and they piled them on a table for their parents to see.
The soldiers I interviewed would describe their interrogation techniques, which they had been taught at the army general staff. And they said they would ask people, "Who in the town are the guerrillas?" And if the people would respond, "We don't know," then they would strangle them to death. These sweeps were intense. The soldiers said that often they would kill about a third of a town's population. Another third they would capture and resettle in army camps. And the rest would flee into the mountains. There, in the mountains, the military would pursue them using U.S.-supplied helicopters, U.S.- and Israeli-supplied planes. They would drop U.S. 50-kilogram bombs on them, and they would machine-gun them from U.S. Huey and Bell helicopters, using U.S.-supplied heavy-caliber machine guns.
Aurora cinema shooting: Judge approves 'truth serum' interrogation (13 May 2013) [InfoWars.com]
James Holmes, the student accused of the 'Batman' movie massacre in a Colorado cinema, could be given a truth serum as part of a narcoanalytic interview to determine whether he is insane, as a judge enters a not guilty plea on his behalf.
James Holmes, 25, a former neuroscience PhD student, is accused of killing 12 people and injuring 70 others during a shooting rampage during a 'Batman' movie premiere at a cinema in Aurora, Colorado, last July.
Holmes faces a total of 166 different counts relating to the shootings.
His defense team had initially said he was not ready to enter a plea, so the judge entered a not guilty plea on is behalf. Judge William Blair Sylvester said Holmes could change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity later, if he chooses to.
His defense lawyers had indicated that he may plead not guilty by reason of insanity. If he does enter an insanity plea, the judge has ruled that he may have to undergo an interview under the influence of drugs --dubbed a 'truth serum' -- in order to evaluate his mental state.
Airplane Handgun Smuggle Bid Is Foiled By Feds (13 May 2013)
MAY 13--A man who apparently thought that a pistol wrapped in aluminum foil would be undetectable to airport X-ray machines is facing a federal criminal charge for allegedly trying to smuggle the loaded weapon on a flight from San Francisco to Europe.
Kerry Lee Bobo, 53, was planning to fly last Thursday afternoon to Amsterdam when Transportation Safety Administration screeners "noticed what appeared to be a handgun" in a checked suitcase, according to a U.S. District Court complaint.
When federal agents opened Bobo's luggage they found a loaded Sig Sauer .45-caliber handgun "wrapped in aluminum foil" and a taser. They then boarded Bobo's KLM flight and escorted the Atwater, California resident from the aircraft.
During questioning, Bobo said that he was continuing on to Nairobi from Amsterdam and had packed the gun "to protect himself from animals while in Kenya." Bobo, who was traveling alone, claimed that he had encased the weapon in aluminum foil to "thwart airport baggage personnel from stealing it."
Lipstick found to contain alarmingly high levels of aluminum, cadmium and lead (12 May 2013)
(NaturalNews) A popular cosmetic product since time immemorial, lipstick has long been used by women in many diverse cultures to accentuate their femininity and emanate their own unique expressions of elegance and style to the outside world. But a new study released by the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) School of Public Health raises fresh concerns about the safety of using conventional lipstick products, as many of them were found to contain dangerously high levels of aluminum, cadmium, lead and other toxins.
UCB researchers tested 32 common lipstick and lip gloss products widely sold in stores today and found that many of them are loaded with cadmium, chromium, aluminum and at least five other metals. Published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives, the findings revealed that women who use such products even at modest levels could be greatly increasing their risk of developing a host of potential health conditions, including gastrointestinal upset, nerve damage, and cancer.
"Lipstick and lip gloss are of special concern because when they are not being blotted on tissue or left as kiss marks, they are ingested or absorbed, bit by bit, by the individual wearing them," explains a UCB press release about the study. "Using acceptable daily intakes derived from this study, average use of some lipsticks and lip glosses would result in excessive exposure to chromium, a carcinogen linked to stomach ulcers."
Most conventional beauty products contain a multitude of toxins at varying levels
Of the 32 products tested, researchers found that 24 of them, or 75 percent, also contained lead, which is known to cause brain, cellular, and DNA damage. Since no level of lead exposure is considered safe for young children, this discovery is particularly concerning as many younger girls use lipstick with their friends when they play dress up and other childhood games.
Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says "drones are here to stay," weighs in on Benghazi, North Korea, 2016 (12 May 2013)
Even after his retirement, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta -- back home in Monterey County and his Panetta Institute for Public Policy -- is never far from the issues in the headlines.
We sat down with Panetta recently in his offices at California State University, Monterey Bay, to talk about life outside the fast lane, and his views on some of the issues -- including drones, Benghazi and the 2016 election.
You can read our full profile of Panetta -- former head of the CIA, nine-term Congressman, head of the Office of Management and Budget and Office of Civil Rights -- in our interview published Sunday in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Here's Panetta, in his own words, on some key issues:
On North Korea: "This is a rogue regime that has been unstable, unpredictable and uncertain for almost sixty years -- not just with Kim but with his father and his grandfather. This new leader, we really don't know what exactly motivates him and what's making him do what he's doing. We've been through this cycle of provocation ... but there's no question that the level of provocation has been much more bellicose in these last few months. That means that he's taken steps that we haven't seen in the past -- closing the industrial areas, even threatened missile launches.
Drones move one step closer to unmanned pizza delivery (12 May 2013)
CAMP BASTION, AFGHANISTAN--The small group of U.S. marines at a remote base in northern Helmand province was running low on ammunition after days of fierce fighting.
The road in to the base near the village of Shurakay was too dangerous for a resupply convoy, and there were so many Taliban fighters that a helicopter crew trying to fly in would have been at serious risk.
Still, the marines soon heard the soft thwack of rotor blades. As they looked up that January day, a glimpse of aviation's future flew into view.
An unmanned K-MAX helicopter eased into a hover and gently descended until a pallet of ammunition dangling beneath it touched the ground. The cargo hook released itself and the helicopter rose again, turned and flew off.
News from the Week of 5th to 11th of May 2013
Dangers found in lack of safety oversight for Medicare drug benefit (11 May 2013)
Ten years ago, a sharply divided Congress decided to pour billions of dollars into subsidizing the purchase of drugs by elderly and disabled Americans.
The initiative, the biggest expansion of Medicare since its creation in 1965, proved wildly popular. It now serves more than 35 million people, delivering critical medicines to patients who might otherwise be unable to afford them. Its price tag is far lower than expected.
But an investigation by ProPublica has found the program, in its drive to get drugs into patients' hands, has failed to properly monitor safety. An analysis of four years of Medicare prescription records shows that some doctors and other health professionals across the country prescribe large quantities of drugs that are potentially harmful, disorienting or addictive for their patients. Federal officials have done little to detect or deter these hazardous prescribing patterns.
Searches through hundreds of millions of records turned up physicians such as the Miami psychiatrist who has given hundreds of elderly dementia patients the same antipsychotic, despite the government's most serious "black box" warning that it increases the risk of death. He believes he has no other options.
Charles Ramsey, who rescued Cleveland women held captive, enjoys fame in the District (11 May 2013)
Charles Ramsey, the Cleveland dishwasher who heard a scream, kicked in a door and rescued three women from horrific captivity, stepped out of a white Rolls-Royce on U Street NW Friday night and seconds later was on Alex Soto's Facebook page.
"You're kidding me," shouted Soto, who was strolling in front of Ben's Chili Bowl with his girlfriend when Ramsey miraculously emerged from the gleaming Rolls. "You're, like, a lifesaver. I've been watching this on the news all the time and here you are! This is Facebook material!"
Soto got the shot of his friend posing with a smiling hero and bid him farewell with a heartfelt, "Keep America safe!" Ramsey could barely take two steps before he was spun around to pose with a D.C. cop on a Segway.
It was day five of Ramsey's moment, and he had already morphed from hero to celebrity. Here he was in Washington, flown in, along with his instant entourage of three young brothers -- his neighbors and friends -- and their tough-guy uncle, by boxing promoter and radio talk host Rock Newman, for a 14-hour visit that started with two bites of a chili half-smoke at Ben's and continued with a private tour of the presidential yacht, the Sequoia; dinner at a bordello-red burlesque place; a visit to a club; a couple of hours of shut-eye at a hotel at National Harbor; and an appearance on Newman's Saturday morning radio show.
Ohio prompts fears of other cases (11 May 2013)
The annals of criminal history are writ large with ordinary streets that hide dark secrets, but even so the peculiar horror believed to have been perpetrated by Ariel Castro on Seymour Avenue in the rust-belt city of Cleveland stands out.
He is accused of kidnapping three girls, keeping them captive for years in his suburban home and using them as sex slaves. The staggering joy at the rescue last week of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight was tempered by the revelations of what they had endured in a busy, working-class Ohio neighbourhood. No one suspected a thing.
Castro, 52, was a school-bus driver; grilled ribs with his neighbours and was a friendly soul who played in a band. "He was a very good bass player, and I'd say a happy person," said Miguel Quinones, who managed the band Grupo Fuego with whom Castro played. "There was never anything that would let you imagine anything like this."
Yet his alleged crimes are far from unique, either in America or elsewhere. There was the case of religious fanatic Brian David Mitchell who kidnapped young Mormon girl Elizabeth Smart in Salt Lake City and kept her as a "wife" for nine months. Or Phillip Garrido who kidnapped Jaycee Dugard in California in 1991 when she was 11 and kept her for almost 20 years. Or Michael Devlin who abducted the young boy Shawn Hornbeck in 2002 in Missouri and kept him prisoner for five years. Further afield, Josef Fritzl kept his daughter, Elisabeth, a prisoner and sex slave in a dungeon in his Austrian home for 24 years -- all while her mother lived upstairs apparently oblivious. And Wolfgang Priklopil, also from Austria, kept Natascha Kampusch in a cellar for eight years.
Minnesota firms go wild for oil equipment (11 May 2013)
In this Land of 10,000 Lakes, manufacturers that have spent a decade buying water treatment firms are now aggressively adding oil to the mix.
Companies ranging from Pentair and Ecolab to Graco and 3M are making big bets on the energy sector by acquiring specialty equipment makers or introducing new products that protect pipelines or thin, separate, store or decontaminate oil, gas and frac sand.
Ecolab just bought Champion Technologies, an oil and gas chemicals firm, while Graco rolled out a new line of industrial sprayers that insulate oil rigs with fire-resistant foam. Pentair recently doubled its size by merging with Swiss-based Tyco Flow Controls, which plays a significant role in oil and gas refineries.
"We like the long-term growth outlook for the energy industry," said Chuck Rescorla, vice president of manufacturing, distribution and information systems for Minneapolis-based Graco. "We like the fact that it's a global industry and not tied to just one regional area. ... We are looking to do more in it in the future."
Va. woman has no regrets over role in burial (11 May 2013)
Tsarnaev, 26, was quietly buried Thursday at a small Islamic cemetery in rural Caroline County. His body had remained at a Worcester, Mass., funeral parlor since he was killed April 19 in a gunfight with police, days after the bombings that killed three and injured more than 260 in downtown Boston. Cemeteries in Massachusetts and several other states refused to accept the remains. With costs to protect the funeral home mounting, Worcester police appealed for help finding a place to bury Tsarnaev.
Mullen said she was at a Starbucks when she heard a radio news report about the difficulty finding a burial spot for Tsarnaev.
"My first thought was Jesus said love your enemies," she said.
Then she had an epiphany.
"I thought someone ought to do something about this -- and I am someone," Mullen said.
So Mullen, a mental health counselor in private practice and a graduate of United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, sent emails to various faith organizations to see what could be done. She heard back from Islamic Funeral Services of Virginia, which arranged for a funeral plot at the Al-Barzakh cemetery. "It was an interfaith effort," she said.
Low-income U.S. students getting less college aid than better off ones: study (10 May 2013)
(Reuters) - Low-income students are increasingly bypassed when colleges offer applicants financial aid, as schools compete for wealthier students who can afford rising tuition and fees, according to a public policy institute's analysis of U.S. Department of Education data.
The study by The New America Foundation said that colleges, in their quest to advance their U.S. News & World Report rankings, are directing more financial aid to high-achieving applicants in a bid to elevate the profile of their student population.
"A lot of them (colleges) go for the same students from the rich suburban schools," said Stephen Burd, the foundation's education policy analyst who studied the data.
The U.S. News rankings of colleges and universities have become a popular gauge of the quality of an undergraduate and graduate institution's education and the prestige of its degrees.
As part of their strategy to compete for the best students, colleges use merit-based aid, which does not take into account financial need. Under this strategy, institutions may, for instance, give four $5,000 awards to lure four wealthy students rather than award $20,000 to one needy student, the organization said.
Fashion isn't frivolous -- it's a matter of life and death (10 May 2013)
That's all important, but it wasn't until I tried to write about the recent collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory building in Bangladesh that I made the connection as to why this stuff matters so much to me. By last count, more than 1,000 people have died in Rana Plaza, making it the most deadly accident the garment industry has ever seen.
One-thousand. For comparison, the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist fire, which spurred safety and labor laws across the U.S., killed 146. Last November, 117 people died in the Tazreen Factory fire in Bangladesh. And while they were still pulling bodies out of Rana Plaza's rubble, another Bangladesh factory went up in flames on Thursday, killing eight.
It's easy to disconnect yourself from tragedies on the other side of the world. But the untold stories behind those body counts aren't pretty. "Deaths in modern garment factories tend to be different from plane crashes or many other catastrophic traumas in the slow-motion extravagance of their pain," writes Sarah Stillman in The New Yorker. "For minutes, or even hours, workers' lungs fill up with smoke. For days, even a week, workers struggle to survive under rubble until someone digs them out."
Former sweatshop worker and human rights advocate Kalpona Akter tells Stillman the story of a mother of one of the victims of the Tazreen Factory fire. Her 24-year-old son had time to call her during the fire, to describe all the ways he was trying to escape. He had time to tell her that his lungs were filling with smoke, and that he was tying a shirt around his waist so she could identify his body. He had time to apologize for dying.
Are the FBI and IRS Secretly Reading Your Email Without a Warrant? (10 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: This comes as reports have emerged that the Obama administration is considering approving an overhaul of government surveillance of the Internet. The New York Times reported the new rules would make it easier to wiretap users of web services such as instant messaging.
Well, to talk more about this, we're joined by Ben Wizner, an attorney at the ACLU and director of the Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project.
We welcome you back to Democracy Now! What did you find out?
BEN WIZNER: I suppose we didn't find out anything that was all that shocking. A 1986 law called the Electronic Communications Privacy Act actually allows law enforcement to read emails that are stored for more than 180 days without a warrant. Now, of course, that law was enacted before there was a World Wide Web, before there was cloud storage of email, when in order to store an email that long you had to download it to your own computer. So it's an incredibly out-of-date law.
Now in 2010, a federal court said that it was unconstitutional for the FBI to obtain and read those emails without a warrant, which strikes us as absolutely correct. So we wanted to know: Is the FBI actually following this federal court decision? It's a federal court decision that covers four states, but it seems to state the law absolutely correctly. And so we filed FOIA requests with lots of government agencies. And what we learned is that some seem to be following this decision, and others don't. The FBI gave us a 2012 operations guideline that doesn't even mention that case and that says unequivocally that it can obtain stored email communications without a warrant, simply with a subpoena.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev buried in Virginia cemetery, says suspect's uncle (10 May 2013)
Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev has been buried in a cemetery in Virginia, infuriating some members of the area's Islamic community who say they weren't consulted and flooring at least one neighbor who said she didn't even know she lived near a burial ground.
The secret interment this week at a small Islamic cemetery ended a frustrating search for a community willing to take the body, which had been kept at a funeral parlor in Worcester, Massachusetts, as cemeteries in Massachusetts and several other states refused to accept the remains.
Tsarnaev was killed April 19 in a getaway attempt after a gun battle with police. His younger brother, Dzhokhar, was captured later and remains in custody.
Their uncle, Ruslan Tsarni of Maryland, took responsibility for the body after Tamerlan's wife, Katherine Russell, said she wanted it released to her in-laws. He said his nephew was buried in a cemetery in Doswell with the help of a faith coalition.
"The body's buried," he said. "That's it."
Brooklyn police bust rooftop grow operation ... of heirloom tomatoes (10 May 2013)
If you can tell the difference between these two plants, it's not certain you'd be a good building superintendent -- but you are at least highly qualified for the part of the job that involves not calling one of the busiest police forces in the world to come over and bust some poor hipster who just wants to make a home-crafted marinara (sure, he or she probably smokes pot, too -- but not from plants they grow on the roof, like some idiot).
Anyway, the investigation is now closed, but the sad part is that the super is now locking the roof -- which means the tomato plant project is over. That's just stupid, because good tomatoes are a lot harder to get than good pot.
$1.9 billion wind project coming to Iowa (10 May 2013)
America's wind energy boom is about to deliver the biggest economic investment in Iowa's history -- and blow a whole lot of cheap, clean electricity into the appliances and lightbulbs of the state's residents.
Warren Buffett's MidAmerican Energy Co. announced it would spend $1.9 billion building new wind turbines in the state, increasing the amount of wind energy generated in Iowa to about 6,000 megawatts, up from 5,000 megawatts today, according to a report in the Des Moines Register. The state aims to have 10,000 megawatts of wind operating by 2020. From the article:
"The company said the project would 'be built at no net cost to the company's customers.' The added wind generation is expected to cut consumer rates by $3.3 million in 2015 and grows to $10 million annually by 2017, the company said. 'This is real money back in the pockets of Iowans,' [Lt. Gov. Kim] Reynolds [R] said. ...
"[Gov. Terry] Branstad [R] and [Midamerican CEO] William Fehrman said green energy has been critical to attracting companies like Facebook, the social networking giant that last month announced it would build a $300 million data center in Altoona. State leaders expect Facebook to push its investment to nearly $1 billion over six years."
Companies won't face charges in condor deaths (10 May 2013)
Federal wildlife officials took the unprecedented step Friday of telling private companies that they will not be prosecuted for inadvertently harassing or even killing endangered California condors.
In a decision swiftly condemned by conservationists and wildlife advocates, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said operators of Terra-Gen Power's wind farm in the Tehachapi Mountains will not be prosecuted if their turbines accidentally kill a condor during the expected 30-year life span of the project.
California condors were brought back from the brink of extinction a quarter-century ago and still cling precariously to survival. Federal law prohibits the harassment or killing of endangered species for any reason.
Fish and Wildlife also made an exception for the 270,000-acre Tejon Ranch Co., saying that the government will not prosecute if construction of the company's controversial 5,553-acre development of luxury homes, hotels and golf courses violates the harassment ban in the endangered species law. The exception will last for 50 years. The project is expected to consume 8% of the critical condor habitat in the Tehachapis, about 60 miles north of Los Angeles.
PAM COMMENTARY: California Condors are one of the most endangered birds in the world.
Feds demand 3D printed gun blueprints removed from Internet (10 May 2013)
The State Department has ordered ultra-libertarian group Defense Distributed to remove the files that provide instructions for building a 3D printed gun, until it has examined them for legality, says a report from BetaBeat.
A red banner appeared atop the group's website Thursday noting that the US government now controls the files.
Defense Distributed, the brainchild of 25-year old University of Texas law student Cody Wilson, has made a name in the past year by pushing the limits of what a 3-D printer can create: an assault rifle. Wired listed Wilson as one of the most dangerous people in the world in 2012 and earlier this week Forbes broke that the group had successfully built a gun printed entirely (except the firing pin) on a 3D printer.
While 3D printing -- adding layers of material from an inkjet-like nozzel to make an object -- has made great advancements in the past few years, many still believed such a feat would take Wilson far longer to accomplish.
Science will destroy humanity, says team of scientists (10 May 2013)
(NaturalNews) One of the primary goals of science is to advance knowledge and understanding to improve the human condition, but all too often this noble field of study has devolved into a profit-seeking quest for power, at the expense of mankind.
Indeed, the science of technology is perhaps the worst culprit, a team of mathematicians, philosophers and scientists at Oxford University's Future of Humanity Institute is warning.
The team, in a forthcoming paper titled, Existential Risk Prevention as Global Priority, says humankind's over-reliance on technology could lead to its demise, and that human beings are facing a risk to our own existence.
What's more, the team says humankind's demise is not far off; it could come as soon as the next century.
With Father and Sister Imprisoned, Exiled Bahraini Activist Maryam Alkhawaja Condemns Ongoing Abuses (10 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Our next guest, Maryam Alkhawaja, is a leading Bahraini human rights activist. Her family has been highly critical of the U.S.-backed monarchy. They have paid a heavy price. Maryam's father is the well-known human rights attorney Abdulhadi Alkhawaja. He's serving a life sentence in prison in Bahrain. He's already spent two years in jail. And Maryam's sister, Zainab, who we have often interviewed on Democracy Now!, is also in prison now. A close family friend of the Alkhawajas, Nabeel Rajab, is also in jail. Rajab had been the head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. Our guest, Maryam Alkhawaja, is now the group's acting president.
Maryam, welcome to Democracy Now! But you don't live in Bahrain.
MARYAM ALKHAWAJA: No, I don't. I'm in self-imposed exile in Copenhagen currently, for safety reasons.
AMY GOODMAN: What would happen if you went back?
MARYAM ALKHAWAJA: Well, I did go back a few months ago, in January, for a very short trip, but I went on my Danish passport, and I chose the right timing to try and make sure that they wouldn't arrest me. But that's not necessarily going to be the case if I decide to go back again. So I'm being very careful about the timing that I choose to go back, so as not to end up in prison like my colleagues and family.
Prosecutor to seek aggravated murder charges against Ariel Castro, citing what he said were terminated pregnancies among captive women (9 May 2013)
CLEVELAND, Ohio - The man accused of kidnapping and imprisoning Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight in his home could face the death penalty, says Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty.
McGinty said Thursday that he will pursue charges against Ariel Castro "for each act of aggravated murder he committed by terminating pregnancies" during the women's decade of captivity.
Castro, 52, also could face charges of attempted murder, rape, sexual assault and felonious assault, McGinty said, adding that he will seek to charge Castro for each day the women were held captive and for each time they were raped.
"This child kidnapper operated a torture chamber and private prison in the heart of our city," McGinty said at a news conference in a park across from the downtown Justice Center, where Castro was being held.
Behind the Cleveland Kidnappings, A Culture of "Toxic Masculinity" & Gender-Based Violence (9 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Jaclyn Friedman, your response when you hear of the role of the police department previously in this case, or the law enforcement in--with Ariel Castro having severely beaten his former wife, never--never being brought to justice for that case?
JACLYN FRIEDMAN: Well, it doesn't surprise me at all, right? There's a continuum of violence. And it's easy to put all the attention on this one case, and sometimes I think it's counterproductive, right? When we start paying attention to the fact that a man breaks his wife or his ex-wife's nose and there's all kinds of media and police attention to that, we'll be getting somewhere.
I think it's really notable that both Ariel Castro and Charles Ramsey, the man who intervened to free these women, both have histories of domestic violence. And--but Charles Ramsey got domestic violence intervention after a charge, right? And so, he actually did the right thing: He intervened. In a situation that we're taught to see as private, as not my business, he stepped in, and he intervened. But I think the fact that they both have it in their history shows exactly how common gender-based violence is and how we really don't treat it like a big deal at all, and that we can do all the bystander intervention training in the world, right--and in fact numerous of these neighbors seem to have tried to intervene at different points--if we don't have structures that remove impunity for this violence, it's not going to get anywhere, if the police don't take these allegations seriously, if they look the other way, if they act with less force than they would if, say, he was--Ariel Castro was alleged to be dealing drugs, right? Can you imagine the SWAT team that would have descended on his house if they thought he was a drug dealer?
Did Police Negligence & Suspect Ariel Castro's Unpunished Domestic Abuse Prolong Victims' Captivity? (9 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But, Eric, first go back to this issue of the two brothers, because all three of their disheveled pictures were broadcast around the world, and now suddenly the police said that--and neither of the other two brothers lived in the particular house. So do you have any indication why the police arrested them, as well, initially?
ERIC SANDY: The one word that sort of came out from the police department was "chaos." Just in the chaos of Monday evening's events, they managed to take Pedro and Onil into custody, as well. You're right: They lived a few blocks away; they did not live at 2207 Seymour Avenue. And according to questioning at this point, they had no idea what was going on at their brother Ariel's home. Again, they are appearing in court on unrelated misdemeanor charges stemming from outstanding warrants, but they apparently have no connection to this kidnapping case.
AMY GOODMAN: Eric Sandy, you wrote the piece "The Long History of Ariel Castro, Cleveland Kidnapper and Monster." What is known about this suspect, about the former bus driver?
ERIC SANDY: Right. Well, he was a former bus driver. He was most recently fired from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District last November for making an illegal U-turn. But going back a few years reveals a bit of a fractured family history and at least one run-in with police in 2004 as a bus driver. He left a child on a bus and left the bus for several hours. The county's Department of Child and Family Services showed up at his home. This is 2207 Seymour. This is 2004, and at least two women were being held at the home at that time, allegedly. And they knocked on the door, and there was no answer, and that was that. He was suspended, stemming from that incident, but that was really the one interaction with any semblance of--with law enforcement.
More privately, he--at one point, him and his wife separated. And they have a very contentious relationship. She actually died recently. And she lived with another man, Fernando Colon, her husband, and Ariel Castro's children lived with them. Basically, throughout the past 10 years, no one was really allowed in 2207 Seymour. Ariel made sure of that. Again, his children lived with their mother and their stepfather. And at one point, Fernando Colon, their stepfather, was a suspect in the disappearance of at least Gina DeJesus, and quite possibly the other two women, as well. He was cleared following a polygraph test and questioning. And according to our sources and according to Fernando, he pointed to Ariel Castro as a suspect. Now, the FBI has admitted that Fernando was a suspect in the kidnappings, but they have said that he did not point to Ariel Castro. And regardless, there was no follow-up into Ariel Castro as a suspect at that time. There were also many accusations of domestic violence against Ariel Castro from his ex-wife.
Facebook page promoting violence against female Marines reappears, mocking Congress (9 May 2013)
A Facebook page that glorified violence against women in the military was shut down after Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) publicly called it to the attention of the secretary of defense and the commandant of the Marine Corps.
In a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Commandant of the Marine Corps James Amos and Principal Deputy Inspector General Lynne Halbrooks on Wednesday, Speier accused the page -- which called itself "F'N Wook" -- of denigrating women by promoting a "culture of misogyny and sexual harassment."
Included with the the letters were graphic photographs. One showed a woman with a black eye and and caption that read, "She burned the bacon only once." One photo was captioned, "This is my rape face." Another photo of a women with a gun and had the title, "I can 'bang' even when I'm not on my back."
And a photo of three female Marines had the caption, "Lesbian... still goes down on gunny for promotion."
Military could learn from cops in sexual assault cases (9 May 2013)
If you need more evidence that much of the U.S. military treats sexual assault like one big frat house joke, look no further than what allegedly happened outside a Crystal City bar in the early morning hours of Cinco de Mayo.
That's where the 41-year-old lieutenant colonel in charge of the Air Force's sexual-assault-prevention program allegedly groped a woman's breasts and butt in a parking lot.
The Arlington County police report said he was drunk. And if you've been wondering why he had cuts on his face in the police mug shot, a witness told me that the woman pulled out a cellphone and started hitting him with it.
Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski was "removed from his position immediately" when the Air Force learned of his arrest, an Air Force spokeswoman said. But then something revealing happened. The military tried to take the case away from Arlington authorities.
Defense Department officials asked the Arlington commonwealth's attorney, Theo Stamos, to just turn it over to them. Don't bother with your little county court stuff. Why don't you just let us handle our boy over here at the Pentagon?
California town of Sebastopol will require solar panels on all new homes (9 May 2013)
Vineyards won't be the only things flourishing when the sun shines on the fertile city of Sebastopol, Calif., in Sonoma wine country. The liberal stronghold of fewer than 8,000 residents this week became California's second city to require that new homes be outfitted with panels to produce solar energy.
A vote by the City Council on Tuesday evening came less than two months after a similar program was approved in Lancaster, Calif., a conservative desert city with 150,000 residents nearly 400 miles away.
From the Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
"Sebastopol's ordinance would require new residential and commercial buildings -- as well as major additions and remodelings -- to include a photovoltaic energy-generation system.
"The system would have to provide 2 watts of power per square foot of insulated building area or offset 75 percent of the building's annual electric load."
Speedy gang stole $45M worldwide through ATMs after hacking into prepaid debit cards, feds say (9 May 2013)
NEW YORK -- A worldwide gang of criminals stole a total of $45 million in a matter of hours by hacking their way into a database of prepaid debit cards and then draining cash machines around the globe, federal prosecutors said Thursday -- and outmoded U.S. card technology may be partly to blame.
Seven people are under arrest in the U.S. in connection with the case, which prosecutors said involved thousands of thefts from ATMs using bogus magnetic swipe cards carrying information from Middle Eastern banks. The fraudsters moved with astounding speed to loot financial institutions around the world, working in cells including one in New York, Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said.
She called it "a massive 21st-century bank heist" carried out by brazen thieves.
One of the suspects was caught on surveillance cameras, his backpack increasingly loaded down with cash, authorities said. Others took photos of themselves with giant wads of bills as they made their way up and down Manhattan.
Bangladesh 1,000 Deaths Recall Disasters From Triangle to Bhopal (9 May 2013)
The death toll from the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh swelled to more than 1,000 workers, cementing its place among a grisly lineup of the world's worst industrial disasters and reinforcing calls that the tragedy lead to lasting change.
The casualties in Bangladesh are greater than in the infamous Triangle Waist Co. fire in New York or the Texas City, Texas, ship explosion that ranks as the deadliest in the U.S., and move the collapse into a virtual tie with the worst such catastrophe in Europe.
Whether the Rana Plaza disaster leads to new rules may depend on companies and governments in the U.S. and Europe because Bangladesh itself lacks a strong union presence, said Harley Shaiken, labor professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
"What took place in the factory in Bangladesh was unspeakably horrific," said Shaiken, who focuses in part on labor history. "The horror was so extreme that I think it will galvanize the possibility of change. It doesn't mean it will happen, but we can point to historic moments where tragedies of this scale led to change."
Air Pollution Raises Risk of Diabetes Precursor in Kids (9 May 2013)
Exposure to air pollution raises the risk of resistance to insulin, a typical warning sign of diabetes, according to a study of almost 400 German children.
Insulin resistance climbed by 17 percent for every 10.6 micrograms per cubic meter increase in ambient nitrogen dioxide and by 19 percent for every 6 micrograms per cubic meter increase in particulate matter in the study of 10-year-olds. The findings were published today in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.
The study adds to previous research that showed a link between traffic-related air pollution and the development of diabetes in adults. Those studies have shown that exposure to fine pollution particles that invade the breathing system and get into the heart and blood vessels increases inflammation, which may be linked to insulin resistance, said Joachim Heinrich of the German Research Center for Environmental Health, one of the study authors.
"Given the ubiquitous nature of air pollution and the high incidence of insulin resistance in the general population, the associations examined here may have potentially important public health effects," Heinrich said in the published paper.
Cassava was supposed to help us survive climate change, and now it's dying (9 May 2013)
Climate change is fixing to make potatoes and wheat and rice plants less productive, but we were supposed to be able to count on cassava. If you're not familiar, cassava is that tree-branch-looking thing that usually gets grouped near the hot peppers, tomatillos, and other ingredients you might need for "Mexican night" in higher-end grocery stores. This one:
It can double for potatoes as a staple crop, and it's less sensitive to heat changes. But now, even this alt-tuber is being snatched away from us. The Associated Press reports that cassava crops are dying:
"Scientists say a disease destroying entire crops of cassava has spread out of East Africa into the heart of the continent, is attacking plants as far south as Angola and threatens to move west into Nigeria, the world's biggest producer of the potatolike root. ... Africa, which suffers debilitating food shortages, is losing 50 million tons a year of cassava to the cassava brown streak disease, said Claude Fauquet, a scientist and co-founder of the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century."
This isn't just a problem for people in the climate-changed future. Millions of people in Africa depend on cassava right now. But it's also an indicator of troubled times ahead for other continents. The fewer climate-change ready crops we've got, the more likely we are to end up eating twice-baked bananas.
Blockbuster documentary '$tatin Nation' reveals the great cholesterol cover-up (9 May 2013)
(NaturalNews) An amazing new film that questions the false medical narrative on statin drugs has just been launched on the Natural News video delivery platform. Called "$tatin Nation," the film features a dozen interviews with top medical doctors, authors and even patients who are now standing up and publicly questioning the medical myths we've all been taught about cholesterol and statin drugs.
Promising to expose the "Great cholesterol cover-up," $tatin Nation is a must-see film for anyone currently taking statin drugs or considering taking them.
Cholesterol drugs are based on the intentional misreprentation of medical evidence
$tatin Nation is the first film to publicly question the Big Pharma narrative on statin drugs. It explores these three shocking facts that are now emerging in the medical literature:
1) People with high cholesterol tend to live longer
2) People with heart disease tend to have low levels of cholesterol
PAM COMMENTARY: Again, I don't agree with everything I post. I do think that statin drugs are over-prescribed.
However, this article isn't specific enough to differentiate "bad" cholesterol (LDL) vs. "good" cholesterol (HDL). There's also a question of whether high LDL is a cause of disease, or yet another symptom of something else that causes disease, like an unhealthy diet.
Either way, for many years researchers have questioned whether the artificial lowering of cholesterol with drugs decreases negative health effects at all. Then there's the additional issue of whether healthier alternatives work better than statins.
Obesity Surgery in India Spurs J&J Stomach-Staple Sales (9 May 2013)
In India, where one-in-six people are undernourished, an unlikely business is booming: obesity surgery.
As economic growth averaging more than 7 percent a year helped shrink the number of chronically hungry, the population of overweight and obese Indians has climbed. In cities such as New Delhi and Mumbai, adult women are more likely to be too fat than too thin, studies show. The result is an epidemic of life-shortening diseases such as hypertension and diabetes, which is estimated to afflict 63 million Indians.
To counter the trend, about 400 surgeons operating in 250 hospitals are offering stomach-shrinking procedures. That's made India one of the fastest-growing centers in the $1.2 billion global market for bariatric devices. Covidien Plc (COV), which competes with Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) in supplying titanium stomach staples, predicts obesity operations in India will double to 10,000 this year, with as many as 2 million Indians as suitable candidates.
"These companies are doing very well -- well beyond their targets in India," said Ramen Goel, a surgeon at Nova Specialty Surgery, a private hospital in Mumbai, who was one of the first to offer the treatment in India in 2000. "Diabetes is now surgically controllable. Not everybody can exercise to make themselves healthy, it's just not possible."
Biotech firm with Madison operations is purchased by Japanese drug company (9 May 2013)
Takeda America Holdings, part of the Japanese drug giant Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., said Tuesday it will buy Inviragen, a Fort Collins, Colo., vaccine development firm with operations in Madison and in Singapore.
Takeda will pay $35 million at the outset, with future payments of up to $215 million based on progress reaching commercial milestones.
Inviragen is working on vaccines against infectious diseases worldwide. The company's leading product, currently in clinical trials, is a vaccine to protect against dengue, which the World Health Organization calls "the most important mosquito-borne viral disease in the world." Also in the pipeline is a possible vaccine for hand, foot and mouth disease.
Madison operations, at 6502 Odana Road, focus on vaccine testing, in collaboration with the UW-Madison. Ten of Inviragen's 50 employees are in Madison.
Ancient Arctic was warm, wet, and green. What that says about the future. (9 May 2013)
Working with a continuous record of Arctic climate reaching back 3.6 million years, researchers have documented a period when the region was significantly warmer and wetter than it is today and when the atmosphere's inventory of carbon dioxide was comparable to today's levels.
The period the team has analyzed covers the first 1.4 million years of the record, when the region's climate shifted from warm and wet to conditions that signaled the start of ice ages.
This period is of interest in part because the warmth persisted despite periodic shifts in Earth's orbit that reduced the intensity of sunlight reaching the region.
Temperatures were high enough -- about 14 degrees warmer than today in the warmest month of the summer -- to suggest that the climate system is more sensitive to small changes in greenhouse-gas concentrations than the sensitivity estimates included in some climate models.
If that's the case, as other paleoclimate studies have indicated, the models may be underestimating the amount of warming likely to result from increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations, the scientists say.
83-year-old nun gets 20 year sentence for 'symbolic' nuclear facility break-in (9 May 2013)
An 83-year-old nun who broke into a Tennessee depleted uranium storage facility in 2012 and splashed human blood on several surfaces, exposing a massive security hole at the nation's only facility used to store radioactive conventional munitions, was convicted Wednesday and sentenced to a term of up to 20 years in prison.
The only regret Sister Megan Rice shared with members of her jury on Wednesday was that she wished 70 years hadn't passed before she took direct action, according to the BBC. She and two other peace activists, 64-year-old Michael Walli and 56-year-old Greg Boertje-Obed, were convicted of "invasion of a nuclear facility" in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, even though investigators admitted they did not get close to any actual nuclear material.
The three activists are part of a group called "Transform Now Plowshares," a reference to the book of Isaiah, which says, "They shall beat their swords into plowshares. They shall learn war no more." All three face individual sentences of up to 20 years, along with a litany of fines.
As they invaded the Y-12 National Security Complex at Oak Ridge, a perimeter fence was cut, several surfaces were spray-painted, banners were hung and activists read from the Bible. They also spread human blood on several surfaces, saying its use was symbolic, meant to remind people "of the horrific spilling of blood by nuclear weapons."
Student unrest made for an exceptional year in Montreal policing (9 May 2013)
MONTREAL - Crime was down in most categories in Montreal last year -- from burglaries to auto theft to sexual assault.
The Montreal Police Service made its annual report public on Thursday, revealing that the total number of crimes and misdemeanours declined by five per cent in 2012.
Police Chief Marc Parent noted, however, that student unrest made the year exceptional.
"Although demonstrations related to the student cause were organized throughout Quebec, Montreal quickly became the hub of popular discontent, he explains in the report. "We had to ensure the safety of citizens, motorists and police officers during the 700 or so demonstrations that occurred in our territory."
The report noted no "Canadian or even American city has ever experienced so many daily demonstrations, and as intensely, over such a short period."
Enjoi skateboard firm pulls anti-women ads after thousands sign petition (9 May 2013)
A skateboard company has withdrawn advertisements which appeared to promote domestic violence and rape after a female skateboarder led a backlash against the images.
Enjoi, which makes skateboards, clothes and accessories and sponsors a professional team, pulled the offending images from its website on Thursday after an online campaign mobilised protest.
One of the ads was in the form of a T-shirt titled "The ex-girlfriend", which depicted a woman with tears and an arm in a sling saying: "He really does love his skateboard more than me." A different poster showed a male skateboarder with his finger over the mouth of a female mannequin head, as if hushing her, and the slogan: "Where no means yes."
A photograph of the T-shirt remained on Enjoi's Facebook page on Thursday but it appeared to be no longer on sale.
The company initially stood firm, insisting the images were harmless fun, but backtracked after 1,800 people signed the petition this week and after the organiser, Ginae Klasek, threatened to lead a march on its Los Angeles distributor, Dwindle.
Pentagon Study Finds 26,000 Military Sexual Assaults Last Year, Over 70 Sex Crimes Per Day (8 May 2013)
AMY GOODMAN: How many convictions are we talking about?
ANURADHA BHAGWATI: We've just gotten the report, and so we're working through a couple thousand pages right now, so...
NERMEEN SHAIKH: What do you think accounts for the rise, almost 40 percent, you said? Is it because more were reported or more occurred, or a combination?
ANURADHA BHAGWATI: I think, honestly, it has to do with this groundswell of support from the outside, from outside of the military, from congressional leadership over the last year or two, the groundswell of media attention on this issue. The military can't hide this issue anymore, and therefore victims inside the military feel a little bit safer that there's a community out there that is going to support them and that finally believes them. I mean, this has been happening for decades. But finally there's a sense that, "OK, I'm not alone. People believe me. They say I'm a liar, but I'm not. People believe me out there."
AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to Tuesday's Senate hearing, particularly the comments of U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh. He dismissed senators who suggested sexual assault cases should be handled by trained prosecutors rather than by commanders, who have overturned verdicts in the past.
Cleveland Hero Was A Repeat Domestic Abuser (8 May 2013)
MAY 8--The Cleveland man credited with helping free female captives from a house of horrors is a convicted felon whose rap sheet includes three separate domestic violence convictions that resulted in prison terms, court records show.
Charles Ramsey, whose 911 call and subsequent TV interviews have made him a microcelebrity, was once a repeat spousal abuser whose marriage ended in divorce following a 2003 felony conviction for battering his wife.
Ramsey, 43, has said that when he heard captive Amanda Berry screaming and trying to escape from neighbor Ariel Castro's home on Monday, "I figured it's a domestic violence dispute." Ramsey has also reportedly said that he went to help Berry because he "was raised to help women in distress."
Ramsey's first domestic violence charge came in February 1997. He entered a no contest plea a year later and was found guilty of the count by a Cleveland Municipal Court judge. While waiting to be sentenced, Ramsey was again arrested for domestic violence.
PAM COMMENTARY: He can't be all bad -- he did the right thing when the women next door needed help.
Peru bans GMOs: Will America take the hint and follow suit before it's too late? (8 May 2013)
(NaturalNews) The only other country in the Americas besides Ecuador to completely ban genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) from being cultivated within its borders, the South American nation of Peru has taken charge to help protect not only its own citizens but also the people of the countries to whom it exports food crops from the horrors of biotechnology. As reported by CSMonitor.com, Peru has successfully implemented a 10-year moratorium on GMOs while extensive, long-term safety tests are conducted.
Accomplishing what practically no other country in North, Central, or South America has yet had the willingness or boldness to even attempt, Peru has essentially told the biotechnology industry to take its untested "Frankencrops" and shove them where the sun does not shine. Not only are GMOs dangerous for the environment and humans, agree many local experts and farmers, but they also threaten to decimate the rich biodiversity that has sustained the many civilizations of Peru for millennia.
"They're a big monoculture, which is why people usually end up using GMOs," says Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino about the detriments of factory farming, as quoted by CSMonitor.com. Schiaffino owns two restaurants in Lima that serve clean, native foods, including many unique varieties found only in the Amazon rainforest. "[W]hen you have monocultures, the crops end up getting diseases, and you have to look for these extreme ways to fix them."
So to prevent the complete loss of a farming tradition that has long incorporated the diverse cultivation of a plethora of native and indigenous crops, Peruvians have decided to simply disallow the raping and pillaging of their rich soils with toxic GMOs. And in the process, this embargo will help perpetuate the native biodiversity practices that have sustained Peruvians since the days when the Incan Empire reigned supreme.
'The policy of the present Israeli government is likely to lead to disaster': Stephen Hawking pulls out of conference hosted by Shimon Peres, backs academic boycott of Israel (Updated) (8 May 2013) [WhatReallyHappened.com]
The pro-Israel website CiF Watch has published this statement from Tim Holt, Acting Director of Communications at Cambridge, confirming Hawking's decision was out of support for the academic boycott:
"We have now received confirmation from Professor Hawking's office that a letter was sent on Friday to the Israeli President's office regarding his decision not to attend the Presidential Conference, based on advice from Palestinian academics that he should respect the boycott.
"We had understood previously that his decision was based purely on health grounds having been advised by doctors not to fly."
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign has published a part of the letter Hawking sent to conference organizers:
"I have received a number of emails from Palestinian academics. They are unanimous that I should respect the boycott. In view of this, I must withdraw from the conference. Had I attended I would have stated my opinion that the policy of the present Israeli government is likely to lead to disaster."
Mother who narrowly escaped death after contracting deadly virus spread through rodent feces on trip to Yosemite park sues for $3.5m (8 May 2013) [WhatReallyHappened.com]
A wife and mother who faced death after her visit to Yosemite National Park is now suing the park for $3.25 million.
Cathy Carrillo, a Southern California woman, is speaking out about the terrifying experience she went through after contracting the hantavirus at the park last June, the AP reports.
"I couldn't walk at all, I couldn't move my arms or anything," Carrillo said in the ABC video . She said nearly a year after becoming ill, she's still struggling with her speech, her lung capacity is reduced, and her energy level is nothing like it was before. Carrillo also said her medical bills total close to a million dollars.
"The doctors at the hospital said I was a miracle because they didn't know if I was going to pull through," she said.
Last summer, the virus killed three Yosemite visitors and sickened seven others. In 2011, half of the hantavirus patients in the U.S. died from the disease, although human cases of the virus remain extremely rare, ABC reports.
People contract the disease by inhaling the virus contained in mice feces and urine, and investigators determined deer mice were living in the double-wall tents at Yosemite, the Los Angeles Times reports. The park has since replaced the tents with single-wall tents, set 18,000 mouse traps and printed hantavirus warnings in the park newspaper and in reservation confirmation letters.
Jamestown Colonists Resorted to Cannibalism (8 May 2013)
Archaeologists have discovered the first physical evidence of cannibalism by desperate English colonists driven by hunger during the Starving Time of 1609-1610 at Jamestown, Virginia (map)--the first permanent English settlement in the New World.
The announcement was made by a team of researchers from the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Historic Jamestowne, and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation at a press conference May 1 in Washington, D.C.
There are five historical accounts written by or about Jamestown colonists that reference cannibalism, but this is the first time it's been proven, said William Kelso, director of archeology at Historic Jamestowne.
"This is a very rare find," said James Horn, vice president of research for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. "It is the only artifactual evidence of cannibalism by Europeans at any European colony--Spanish, French, English, or Dutch--throughout the colonial period from about 1500 to 1800."
Portions of the butchered skull and shinbone of a 14-year-old girl from England, dubbed "Jane" by researchers, were unearthed by Jamestown archaeologists last year. They found the remains about 2.5 feet (0.8 meters) down in a 17th century trash deposit in the cellar of a building built in 1608 inside the James Fort site.
How Canada is winning the race in recruiting skilled immigrants while the U.S. lags behind (7 May 2013)
The recruiter sent Thomas an e-mail loaded with video links describing the company, the owner's charity projects and the city of Prince George, dubbed the "Northern Capital" of British Columbia. "My wife and I were excited," Thomas, 45, said. "Auto mechanics don't get approached by recruiters, so it was sort of nice being catered to."
The dealership, specializing in heavy-duty trucks, paid for him to visit the area. He was hired last March under a skilled worker program and in a month had a work permit. With a contract paying up to $100,000 a year and government-provided health care, a job in Canada was like "I scratched a lottery ticket," he said.
Canadian governments, at both the national and provincial levels, are courting skilled workers such as plumbers, pipefitters, electricians and others from the U.S. and elsewhere. In addition to the program under which Thomas was hired, a category for specific trades began in January to address labour shortages while easing the path to residency, the federal government said. That program is forecast to admit up to 3,000 applicants in its first year.
"It is a global competition and Canada's design will lead to success perhaps at the expense of other countries like the U.S.," said Richard Kurland, a Vancouver-based immigration lawyer and policy analyst for large companies. "Canada creates a separate fast track to lure quickly desired occupations." In 2012, Canada granted more than 38,000 skilled workers permanent residency under already existing programs.
Breaking News: Mississippi Supreme Court Issues Stay of Execution of Willie Jerome Manning (7 May 2013)
The Mississippi Supreme Court has blocked the execution of Willie Jerome Manning just hours before he was scheduled to die. The court voted 8-to-1, with Justice Michael Randolph objecting. The case attracted national attention after the FBI admitted that its original analysis of the evidence in Manning's case contained errors. Just last week, the Mississippi Supreme Court refused to allow new DNA testing that could prove Manning's innocence.
Manning was convicted of murdering Jon Steckler and Tiffany Miller, two white college students, in 1992. The Justice Department sent a letter saying one analyst's testimony at trial "exceeded the limits of the science and was, therefore, invalid." Manning's attorneys argue that no physical evidence ties him to the murders and that testing hair samples and other evidence could identify a different killer.
The Innocence Project hailed today's court ruling. In a statement, the group said, "Hopefully, Manning, who has spent 20 years on death row maintaining his innocence in the deaths of Jon Steckler and Tiffany Miller, will now have the opportunity to do DNA testing that could prove his innocence. This past week, the FBI notified the state that there were flaws in both the hair and ballistics evidence that was used to convict Manning."
Earlier today, Democracy Now! discussed the case with Vanessa Potkin, senior staff attorney at the Innocence Project.
Obama delivers blunt message on sexual assaults in military (7 May 2013)
The estimated number of military personnel victimized by sexual assault and related crimes has surged by about 35 percent over the past two years, the Pentagon reported Tuesday, as the White House and lawmakers expressed anger with the military's handling of the problem.
The sobering statistics, along with several recent sexual-abuse scandals in the armed services, prompted President Obama to bluntly warn the Defense Department that he expected its leaders to take tougher action against sex offenders and redouble their efforts to prevent such crimes.
"The bottom line is, I have no tolerance for this," Obama told reporters. "If we find out somebody's engaging in this stuff, they've got to be held accountable, prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged -- period."
Members of Congress likewise signaled a loss of patience, introducing a flurry of bills in recent days that would revise military law to bolster the prosecution of sexual-assault cases and give more legal support to victims.
Senators also grilled Air Force leaders about the weekend arrest of the Air Force's chief for sexual-assault prevention on charges that he groped and attacked a woman in Northern Virginia. Some lawmakers called it an example of a cultural problem within the military that commanders have been unable to change.
FDA, FBI raid natural cancer treatment clinic in Tulsa without due cause; force patients to leave without medicine needed for survival (7 May 2013)
(NaturalNews) A medical clinic in America's heartland that utilizes natural rather than toxic methods to treat cancer patients is under attack by the American police state oligarchy, according to new reports. As publicized by Tulsa, Okla.-based NewsOn6.com, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently sent agents to the Camelot Cancer Care center in Tulsa to conduct an unprovoked raid, upon which these agents temporarily shut down the clinic and stole medicine that had already been purchased by patients for treatment.
Camelot Cancer Care describes itself as an alternative cancer care clinic that harnesses the power of Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO), vitamin C, vitamin B12, vitamin D3, glutathione, methylglyoxal, and various other vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes in the treatment of patients with cancer. All of the clinic's treatment methods are non-toxic - and even though it is not stated on the center's website, these natural treatment methods far outperform the conventional model of loading cancer patients up with chemotherapy chemicals and toxic radiation for supposed "treatment."
Even though the FDA and FBI have thus far refused to give a legitimate explanation as to why they raided Camelot around 11 a.m. on April 23, 2013, without due cause, NewsOn6.com says an insider source revealed to the station that the clinic's alleged use of a substance known as vitamin B17, or Laetrile, was what prompted the federal government to flex its authoritarian muscles by terrorizing the clinic.
As explained in a 2011 blog posting on Camelot's website, vitamin B17 (Laetrile) is a natural molecule that contains the simple sugar glucose, hydrogen cyanide, and benzaldehyde. When cancer cells intake Laetrile and try to metabolize it, the cyanide and benzaldehyde kill it naturally without causing side effects. And the best part about Laetrile is that it is completely non-toxic to healthy cells, which means it is in a therapeutic class of its own.
PAM COMMENTARY: Again, just because I post an article excerpt here doesn't mean that I agree with it. In the 1970s, mainstream medicine tried to work Laetrile into cancer treatment, but some of those patients died anyway. Eventually conventional medicine dropped it as a treatment, although I haven't researched whether mainstream medicine's chemo drugs have a better or worse survival rate than Laetrile. I also haven't researched whether Laetrile combined with other cancer-fighting substances works any better than Laetrile alone.
I have a page on the combination of alternative cancer treatments that I trusted with my own life, although I can't say how well it might work for other people in similar circumstances. It does combine some of the most powerful options from alternative medicine, though.
I don't think all alternative cancer treatments are created equal. I also think it's a good idea for everyone to research my method along with other options, and decide for themselves.
Evidence suggests that up to 90 percent of landmark cancer research may be false (7 May 2013)
(NaturalNews) The vast majority of the published scientific literature on cancer and cancer research is inherently flawed and non-reproducible, reveals a new review published online in the journal Nature. Researchers C. Glenn Begley and Lee Ellis found that a mere 11 percent of 53 papers on cancer published in reputable, peer-reviewed journals was solid, while the other 89 percent could not be reproduced, implying that it may be false or at the very least misleading.
Preclinical studies are the basis upon which the scientific community at large determines how best to develop treatments for disease, including potential new approaches to treating cancer. But such studies, though sure to contain some minor flaws from time to time, appear to be missing the boat in major ways on a regular basis. And the end result of this intrinsic failure is a cancer treatment system that is not only outdated but potentially completely misguided.
"The scientific community assumes that the claims in a preclinical study can be taken at face value - that although there might be some errors in detail, the main message of the paper can be relied on and the data will, for the most part, stand the test of time," wrote the authors about their findings. "Unfortunately, this is not always the case."
Based on a review of 53 published papers on cancer, Begley and Ellis discovered that only six of them could be reproduced and confirmed in a clinical setting. And the worst part was that the 53 papers were considered to be "landmark," which means they are generally recognized as having had a significant impact on cancer research due to presenting some new cancer treatment approach or novel therapy for targeting cancer cells.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson: 3 women who escaped captivity face long road home (7 May 2013)
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- When Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson received a text message from a city official Monday evening, notifying him that three longtime missing women had been found, his single word response summed up the astonishment of an entire community.
"Alive?" he inquired.
In an interview Tuesday, Jackson recounted the moment he heard the news that Amanda Berry, 27, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32, had been rescued from at least a decade of captivity in a Seymour Avenue home.
Jackson said he first experienced a wave of relief and gratitude -- quickly followed by the solemn understanding of the challenges the women will face, assimilating back into society and reclaiming a normal life.
"A person cannot survive a horrible situation like that without the proper time to heal, stabilize and readjust," Jackson said. "They will have a new life. But, in some respects, that could be traumatic too. So what can we, as a city, do to help them in that transition? Give them room."
Cleveland missing women hero: Neighbor Charles Ramsey kicks in door to help woman escape 10-year captivity (7 May 2013)
While eating McDonald's in Cleveland on Monday night, this ordinary citizen did what police failed to do for 10 years.
He stumbled upon Amanda Berry after hearing her cries, and helped her escape from a house on Seymour Avenue after she had been held captive for nearly 10 years.
Two other women also escaped once police arrived.
On Tuesday afternoon, McDonald's applauded Ramsey with this tweet: "We salute the courage of Ohio kidnap victims & respect their privacy. Way to go Charles Ramsey- we'll be in touch."
Authorities tried earlier visit to house where Ohio women found (7 May 2013)
(Reuters) - Three Cleveland women, found alive after vanishing for about a decade in their own neighborhood, were freed from a house that authorities tried to visit several years ago, police said on Tuesday.
Three brothers, one of them a school bus driver who owns the house in Cleveland, Ohio where three women and a child were found on Monday, are under arrest, police said at a news conference.
Police identified them as Ariel Castro, 52, Pedro Castro, 54, and Onil Castro, 50.
Amid jubilation over the discovery, authorities and residents quickly questioned whether the women had been held inside the house for years without anyone noticing. All three young women vanished separately - in 2002, 2003 and 2004 - within a few blocks of the house where they were found.
Grow your own glow-in-the-dark rose (7 May 2013)
One day in the future, instead of creating machines to work for us, we'll tinker with living creatures until they do exactly what we want. This is already happening on a small scale; scientists are using synthetic biology techniques to program algae that produce biofuels more efficiently. And now, they're dreaming of the day when we can use glowing trees instead of streetlights.
Wild, right? If you're into the idea of using genetics to turn nature to human service, you can get in on the ground floor by funding the researchers who fantasize about glowing trees. They've already made smaller plants that glow, and for $40, you can get some of the seeds. For a little more, they'll grow the thing for you. They've raised more than $245,000 so far, and if they get to $400,000 they won't just grow boring old Arabidopsis plants, but also glowing roses.
FastCoExist has more about the technical workings of this research, but here's the part we're interested in -- the measures that these researchers are taking to ensure that they don't accidentally make all the plants in the world glow:
"Arabidopsis was chosen for a number of reasons: it's not native to the U.S., so there is little risk of cross-pollination; it doesn't survive well in the wild (again, reducing risk of cross-pollination), it self-pollinates, and up until recently, it was thought to have the shortest genome of any plant. That means the protocols for Arabidopsis plant transformation work are well-established. Roses (the stretch goal plant) have also been studied extensively, and they carry little risk of cross-pollination, according to Evans."
The Formosan clouded leopard has been declared extinct (7 May 2013)
The Formosan clouded leopard, a subspecies of clouded leopard native to Taiwan, has probably been extinct for decades. But in the weird red-tape world of species extinction, it doesn't count until scientists make it official. After 13 years of searching with no leopards in evidence, though, researchers are having to reluctantly conclude that this Taiwanese subspecies is no more.
There are still clouded leopards in the world -- the main species is considered vulnerable, but there are around 10,000 in the wild and a couple hundred in zoos. Of course, it never pays to underestimate humanity's ability to wipe out beautiful creatures, even the ones we haven't gotten around to yet. But for now, at least, we have pictures like this one, to ease the blow of having to say goodbye to yet another type of animal.
Coal companies have gotten good at wrangling their way out of federal fines (7 May 2013)
Back in high school, I had a great strategy for dealing with parking tickets I couldn't afford to pay: I went down to city hall and challenged them -- sometimes with a legitimate excuse, sometimes not ("The two-hour sign was obscured by a flowering cherry tree!"). I had figured out that bureaucrats cared less about the reliability of my sob story than they did about getting on with their day, so often they'd just roll their eyes, reduce the fine, and shoo me out the door.
Turns out the same tactic works for coal companies facing fines for safety infractions. A Cleveland Plain Dealer investigation found that when federal regulators fine mine operators for violating safety standards, those companies "are fighting significant fines as a matter of course and getting them reduced, if not dropped," which means "clogging up the appeals process and wearing down a system that lacks resources to match the challenge." You know, just like a privileged teenager exploiting an overburdened traffic court -- except with hundreds of thousands of dollars, not to mention miners' lives, at stake.
The Plain Dealer reports:
"Reviewing [Mine Safety and Health Administration] data dating to 2007, the Plain Dealer examined the agency's practice of levying large fines and the Ohio mines' practice of challenging the fines. The newspaper found repeated success for mine owners. Just counting four years in which nearly every case is now resolved -- 2007 through 2010 -- the government wanted $1.59 million from Murray Energy for citations at its two Ohio underground mines. Murray wound up paying $1.05 million, saving more than $531,000, according to an analysis of the federal data. It did so by seeking negotiations and, if that failed, filing appeals. ..."
NHS hospitals robbed dead people organs (7 May 2013) [Rense.com]
Several British hospitals have been exposed as involved in a body organs' scandal in which NHS hospitals have kept hundreds of dead people's body parts without relatives' permission for up to 20 years.
The stolen organs include brains and other vital parts of the dead bodies, an investigation by The Sun revealed.
Guy's and St Thomas' Hospitals in London are now contacting relatives of the deceased from across Britain telling them that they can take back the organs that could repeat the gruesome 1990's scandal in Bristol and Liverpool that led to second funerals.
The scandal is especially embarrassing for the government because the organs had been unlawfully removed from the bodies under police or coroners' authorization to be stored for tests at forensic medicine department of King's College, London.
"Over the Line": U.S. Agents Shooting Dead Innocent Mexicans Across the Border With Impunity (7 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Tell us more about José, but also put this in this bigger context of the number of Mexicans who have been killed as U.S. border guards shoot across the border.
JOHN CARLOS FREY: This is a strange and recent phenomenon. We actually have U.S. federal agents who are firing their weapons into a sovereign country. And in the past couple of years, they've actually killed six people. They've actually shot 10 times into Mexico, wounding a couple of others, and in some cases we don't even know what happened. So, we're talking about Mexico, our neighbor, our friend to the south, basically receiving arms, bullets from federal agents.
And the insidious part of all of this is that the U.S. public knows nothing about this. Elements about the cases, the histories, the details of these incidents are kept from the public. We don't know the agents' names. We don't know why. We don't know anything about the incidents. So I traveled up and down the border talking to as many people as I could for the report.
AMY GOODMAN: Tell us some of the stories you learned.
JOHN CARLOS FREY: There's one instance in a park where a husband and wife were celebrating the birthday of their two daughters. The husband got shot and killed, shot in the heart.
Congressman Fred Upton: Palisades nuclear plant must stay offline until leaking tank is permanently fixed (7 May 2013)
COVERT TOWNSHIP, MI -- U.S Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, called Tuesday for the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant to remain offline until a leak in its tank that apparently led to diluted radioactive water being released into Lake Michigan is permanently repaired.
"This situation is not acceptable and demands full accountability," said Upton, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, in a statement. "I have been in contact with both the NRC and Entergy and am demanding a permanent solution."
Upton said that he plans to visit Palisades with one of the five members of Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the "very near future."
"When it comes to nuclear energy, safety must always come first, and without that assurance by the NRC, the facility needs to stay offline," said Upton.
On Monday, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission reported that 79 gallons of diluted radioactive water drained into Lake Michigan Saturday after the rate of a leak in a tank at Palisades accelerated. The event did not represent a health or safety risk to the public, both Palisades and the NRC said. Palisades was shut down on Sunday to identify the leak and make repairs.
Michael Pollan on How Reclaiming Cooking Can Save Our Food System, Make Us Healthy & Grow Democracy (6 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: I want to read a quote from your book, Cooked. We're talking to Michael Pollan, well-known food writer, thinker, really challenging food policy in this country. Michael, you write, "Today, the typical American spends a mere twenty-seven minutes a day of food preparation, and another four minutes cleaning up. That's less than half the time spent cooking and cleaning up in 1965." You also note that market research shows more than half of the evening meals an American eats are "cooked at home," but that number may be misleading.
MICHAEL POLLAN: Yeah, well, how do they define "cooking"? It's pretty loose. Basically, cooking, in the marketers' terms, is just any food that has more than one element, that's assembled. So, for example, if you took some prewashed bagged lettuce and put a little bit of dressing on it, you're cooking. Or if you took some cold cuts and put them on bread, you're--and made a sandwich, you're cooking. You know, my definition of cooking would be a little more strenuous than that, a little more rigorous--not that I think you always need to cook from scratch. I use, you know, canned tomatoes all the time and canned chickpeas and frozen spinach. And there is a kind of first-order processed food that I think is a real boon to us. These are these one- or two-ingredient processed foods. I think they're wonderful. You know, I don't want to have to mill my own flour if I want to bake. But there's another kind of processing that's become much more common in the last decade or two, and that is what's often referred to as hyper- or ultra-processed food. These are processed foods that are meant to be entire meal replacements. They're called home meal replacements. And this is where we get into trouble, because corporations don't cook the way humans do. They really don't. All you--and to know that, all you have to do is read the ingredient labels. Those home meal replacements are full of ingredients that no normal human ever has in their pantry. Polysorbate 80, do you have that in your pantry? I don't think so. Soy lecithin? Carboxylated--I forget the other two words. I mean, all these--
AMY GOODMAN: No, because the exterminator came and [inaudible].
MICHAEL POLLAN: So, the--so, they cook differently. They also use lots--as you said, lots of salt, fat and sugar to disguise the fact that they're using the cheapest possible raw ingredients--and to press our buttons.
US air force sexual assault prevention unit chief charged with sexual battery (6 May 2013)
An officer who led the US air force's sexual assault prevention and response unit has been charged with groping a woman in a northern Virginia parking lot, authorities said on Monday.
Arlington county police said Lt Col Jeffrey Krusinski faces a misdemeanour charge of sexual battery following an alleged assault at about 12.30am on Sunday in the Crystal City area of the county.
A police report says the 41-year-old Krusinski was drunk and grabbed a woman's breast and buttocks. Police say the woman fought him off and called for help.
Air force spokeswoman Natasha Waggoner said Krusinski was removed from his post in the sexual assault unit after the air force learned of his arrest. He had started in the job in February.
A Brief History of Advertising (6 May 2013) [Rense.com]
Since so much of this business centers around advertising, I thought this was a nice piece to post on the History of Advertising.
One nuke plant in Wisconsin will shutter, another in California might not be switched back on (6 May 2013)
Americans worried by the threat of a nuclear meltdown could soon have two fewer reasons to fret.
A nuclear power plant in Wisconsin will be powered down on Tuesday and the owner of a trouble-plagued plant in California is considering shutting it down for good.
From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
"Kewaunee [Power Station] owner Dominion Resources Inc. has announced it will shut the plant on May 7, a move that is expected to result in the loss of hundreds of jobs.
"The reactor is closing because the Wisconsin utilities that had purchased its electricity declined to continue buying it, citing the low price of natural gas. Dominion put the power plant up for sale in 2011, but no buyer emerged."
PAM COMMENTARY: Wisconsin has productive wind farms, too.
Radioactive water was released into Lake Michigan before Palisades nuclear plant shutdown Sunday (6 May 2013) [InfoWars.com]
COVERT TOWNSHIP, MI -- Before Sunday's shutdown of Palisades Nuclear Power Plant, about 79 gallons of diluted radioactive water were released into Lake Michigan, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Monday, May 6.
But by the time the water reached the lake, the level of radioactivity had been diluted to the point where it did not represent a health or safety risk, a spokeswoman for the NRC said.
"There was no danger to the public. It did occur. It is not anything to be alarmed about," said the NRC's Viktoria Mitlyng. Palisades does planned releases of diluted radioactive water into the lake at regular intervals, she said.
Over the weekend, the water, which leaked from a 300,000-gallon storage tank, went down a drain and into a basin, where what Mitlyng characterized as "an extreme dilution factor" occurred.
New rosy estimates fuel optimism at North Dakota oil boom (5 May 2013)
WILLISTON, N.D. -- Two days after a rosy government report doubled the estimate of how much oil is tucked beneath North Dakota, four men hop out of their vehicles into the soft dusk light atop a rock-strewn hill north of town.
They point at the barren, rolling landscape dotted with cattle, an oil well and a pond as a half-mile-long train of oil tank cars silently snakes past in the distance.
One is a former hedge fund manager who flew in from Connecticut. Another is a real estate investor who drove his pickup from Spokane, Wash. There's a local civil engineer and a homebuilder who moved out here when business dried up on Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
They're planning to buy the 70 acres of farmland for a 56-home subdivision on one-acre lots, envisioning a bedroom community as the area's oil boom reality of man camps and crowded RV parks morphs into something more permanent. "This new estimate tells people looking to invest here that, hey, there is enough oil to drill here for 20 years instead of five," Williston Mayor Ward Koeser said. "Now there's scientific proof that we have twice as much oil as they said five years ago, and that gives us a little more stability, reliability and credibility."
Nature's Toll Road (5 May 2013)
Highway 12 down North Carolina's Outer Banks isn't much to look at: 110 miles of asphalt with sand or buildings pressed up against it.
On hot summer days, it can seem invisible, covered by an endless column of vehicles carrying vacationers to beach houses. But on chilly, wind-tossed days, sometimes it really does disappear, broken and drowned by water from the ocean and from Pamlico Sound.
In the 65 years since it was first paved, N.C. 12 has become indispensable to the 4,300 residents of Hatteras Island, whose economy is built on tourism.
But the road also hurts the island, blocking the natural transport of sand from front to back and causing it to shrink.
Israel carries out second air strike in Syria (5 May 2013)
Israel has carried out a second air strike on Syria, hitting targets in and close to Damascus in what briefings by unnamed western intelligence sources reportedly claimed was an attempt to stop a shipment of advanced, Iranian-made missiles heading to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Syria's state news agency, Sana, reported explosions at the Jamraya military and scientific research centre near Damascus, saying: "Initial reports point to these explosions being a result of Israeli missiles." The agency spoke of an unspecified number of casualties.
While Israel made no comment, Lebanon's al-Mayadeen TV reported several apparent strikes, including one on a military position in a village west of Damascus, about six miles from the Lebanese border.
Hezbollah's al-Manar TV said the Jamraya facility was not hit and that it was an army supply centre which had been targeted. The station quoted Syrian security officials as saying three sites, including military barracks, arms depots and air defence infrastructure, were targeted. Amateur video footage said to have been shot early on Sunday in the Damascus area showed fire lighting up the night sky.
News from the Week of 28th of April to 4th of May 2013
Author Michael Pollan: 'If you're letting a corporation cook it, the odds are you're not getting healthy food' (By PBS Newshour) (4 May 2013)
JEFFREY BROWN: If I can have access to so much even good healthy food without having to prepare it myself, never mind all the junk food that's there, why bother cooking?
MICHAEL POLLAN: Well, it's a question for a lot of people, and a lot of people are conflicted about it.
It is something you can outsource very easily and fairly cheaply. But I would quibble with you that you can get healthy food outsourced. In general, you know, the most important question about your diet is who is cooking it. If you're letting a corporation cook it, the odds are you're not getting healthy food. They just don't cook very well.
They use lots of salt, fat and sugar. They buy the cheapest possible raw ingredients, and then they have to dress it all up with lots of additives, because the food was cooked so long ago and so far away. So one of the -- and they cook differently than you do, in that they make -- they specialize in those labor-intensive foods made with cheap raw ingredients.
The French fry is a classic example. Right? They can make French fries so efficiently that you can have them twice a day, no problem. And a lot of Americans do. Try making French fries at home. It's a lot of work and it's a big mess. And you won't do it more than once a month, which is probably about how often you should eat French fries.
Guantanamo camp burns through $900,000 a year per inmate (4 May 2013)
(Reuters) - It's been dubbed the most expensive prison on Earth and President Barack Obama cited the cost this week as one of many reasons to shut down the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, which burns through some $900,000 per prisoner annually.
The Pentagon estimates it spends about $150 million each year to operate the prison and military court system at the U.S. Naval Base in Cuba, which was set up 11 years ago to house foreign terrorism suspects. With 166 inmates currently in custody, that amounts to an annual cost of $903,614 per prisoner.
By comparison, super-maximum security prisons in the United States spend about $60,000 to $70,000 at most to house their inmates, analysts say. And the average cost across all federal prisons is about $30,000, they say.
The high cost was just one reason Obama cited when he returned this week to an unfulfilled promise to close the prison and said he would try again. Obama also said that the prison, set up under his Republican predecessor George W. Bush and long the target of criticism by rights groups and foreign governments, is a stain on the reputation of the United States.
Jodi Arias: How sex and murder created a tabloid trial and killer ratings (4 May 2013)
PHOENIX--Do you know who Jodi Arias is? No? Then you don't watch HLN. Or CNN. Or ABC News, Dateline, 48 Hours or Inside Edition.
You don't read People.com, or the National Enquirer or the Huffington Post. You don't follow the #JodiArias hashtag.
In short, you have a life.
Jodi Arias is the new Casey Anthony. And who begat Casey Anthony? Well, O.J. Simpson, of course, the granddaddy of them all.
Unlike Simpson, Jodi Arias's story doesn't begin with fortune or celebrity. She wasn't a millionaire sporting icon or a Hollywood starlet -- just a young woman who killed her ex-boyfriend.
Texas fertilizer plant that exploded carried only $1 million in liability coverage (4 May 2013)
McALLEN, Texas -- The Texas fertilizer plant that exploded last month, killing 14 people, injuring more than 200 others and causing tens of millions of dollars in damage to the surrounding area had only $1 million in liability coverage, lawyers said Saturday.
Tyler lawyer Randy C. Roberts said he and other attorneys who have filed lawsuits against West Fertilizer's owners were told Thursday that the plant carried only $1 million in liability insurance. Brook Laskey, an attorney hired by the plant's insurer to represent West Fertilizer Co., confirmed the amount Saturday in an email to The Associated Press, after the Dallas Morning News first reported it.
"The bottom line is, this lack of insurance coverage is just consistent with the overall lack of responsibility we've seen from the fertilizer plant, starting from the fact that from day one they have yet to acknowledge responsibility," Roberts said.
Roberts said he expects the plant's owner to ask a judge to divide the $1 million in insurance money among the plaintiffs, several of whom he represents, and then file for bankruptcy.
He said he wasn't surprised that the plant was carrying such a small policy.
"It's rare for Texas to require insurance for any kind of hazardous activity," he said. "We have very little oversight of hazardous activities and even less regulation."
Decades-old stroke damage reversible with oxygen therapy, say researchers (VIDEO) (4 May 2013)
Up to 20 years after suffering a stroke, patients in Israel are reporting remarkable improvements in brain function with calibrated oxygen treatments inside hyperbaric chambers. While treating stroke patients with hyperbaric oxygen is nothing new, the fact that it can be effective after so many years is an exciting new development according to specialists at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center. Jim Drury went to see the therapy demonstrated.
PAM COMMENTARY: This video, with sound and a preceding commercial, starts without the reader taking any action.
Solid job gains in April ease fears about economy (4 May 2013)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. economy showed last month why it remains the envy of industrialized nations: In the face of tax increases and federal spending cuts, employers added a solid 165,000 jobs in April -- and far more in February and March than anyone thought.
The hiring in April drove down the unemployment rate to a four-year low of 7.5 percent and sent a reassuring sign that the U.S. job market is improving.
The economy is benefiting from a resurgent housing market, rising consumer confidence and the Federal Reserve's stimulus actions, which have helped lower borrowing costs and lift the stock market.
The stock market soared after the Labor Department issued the April jobs report Friday. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 142 points, or nearly 1 percent, to a record a record 14,973. It briefly broke 15,000 for the first time.
Coming after a poor March jobs report and some recent data showing economic weakness, the April figures helped ease fears that U.S. hiring might be slumping for a fourth straight year.
Fracking ourselves to death in Pennsylvania (4 May 2013)
More than 70 years ago, a chemical attack was launched against Washington state and Nevada. It poisoned people, animals, everything that grew, breathed air, and drank water. The Marshall Islands were also struck. This formerly pristine Pacific atoll was branded "the most contaminated place in the world." As their cancers developed, the victims of atomic testing and nuclear weapons development got a name: downwinders. What marked their tragedy was the darkness in which they were kept about what was being done to them. Proof of harm fell to them, not to the U.S. government agencies responsible [PDF].
Now, a new generation of downwinders is getting sick as an emerging industry pushes the next wonder technology -- in this case, high-volume hydraulic fracturing. Whether they live in Texas, Colorado, or Pennsylvania, their symptoms are the same: rashes, nosebleeds, severe headaches, difficulty breathing, joint pain, intestinal illnesses, memory loss, and more. "In my opinion," says Yuri Gorby of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, "what we see unfolding is a serious health crisis, one that is just beginning."
The process of "fracking" starts by drilling a mile or more vertically, then outward laterally into 500-million-year-old shale formations, the remains of oceans that once flowed over parts of North America. Millions of gallons of chemical and sand-laced water are then propelled into the ground at high pressures, fracturing the shale and forcing the methane it contains out. With the release of that gas come thousands of gallons of contaminated water. This "flowback" fluid contains the original fracking chemicals, plus heavy metals and radioactive material that also lay safely buried in the shale.
The industry that uses this technology calls its product "natural gas," but there's nothing natural about upending half a billion years of safe storage of methane and everything that surrounds it. It is, in fact, an act of ecological violence around which alien infrastructures -- compressor stations that compact the gas for pipeline transport, ponds of contaminated flowback, flare stacks that burn off gas impurities, diesel trucks in quantity, thousands of miles of pipelines, and more -- have metastasized across rural America, pumping carcinogens and toxins into water, air, and soil.
Guantanamo detainee says prison 'shakedown' sparked hunger strike (4 May 2013)
WASHINGTON -- Obaidullah, an Afghan villager captured with diagrams of improvised bombs, has marked nearly 11 years as a detainee at the U.S. naval base on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Three months ago, outraged by what he called another prison "shakedown," he joined a hunger strike there, and now is locked in solitary confinement with at least 100 fellow detainees.
"I have seen men who are on the verge of death being taken away to be force-fed," Obaidullah said in a federal court affidavit declassified Friday. "I have also seen some men coughing up blood, being hospitalized, losing consciousness, becoming weak and fatigued."
His observations are the most extensive yet by a detainee about conditions at the military prison and what prompted the hunger strike. He and others tell of a Feb. 6 search when guards confiscated toiletries, family pictures and copies of the Koran. For the detainees, the trigger was "U.S. soldiers rifling through the pages of many Korans and handling them roughly."
Boston bombing inquiries prompt new look at student visas (3 May 2013)
The federal government will tighten oversight to help ensure that foreign students seeking to enter the United States have valid student visas -- the latest step to increase security after the Boston Marathon bombings.
The heightened scrutiny by U.S. Customs and Border Protection is effective immediately, sources with knowledge of the issue said Friday. Officials would not discuss what they called operational details. But the move is designed to give border agents better and faster access to computerized databases that track the status of student visas.
The measures come amid continuing investigation into the April 15 bombings that killed three and injured more than 260, and on the day that the body of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the suspected bombers, was sent to a private funeral home in preparation for Muslim rites.
Tsarnaev died after a gun battle during the fierce manhunt that forced a lockdown of the Boston metropolitan area. His younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is facing federal charges of using a weapon of mass destruction. Three of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's friends are facing federal charges on allegations of trying to hide evidence after the explosions.
One of the friends, Azamat Tazhayakov, 19, was allowed to reenter the U.S. on a student visa even though he was no longer attending the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev also studied.
Most women back over-the-counter birth control pill (3 May 2013)
(Reuters Health) - Close to two-thirds of women favor making contraceptive pills available over the counter, according to a new nationally-representative survey.
In addition, about 30 percent of women using either no birth control or a less effective method - such as condoms - said they would likely take the Pill if it was sold without a prescription, researchers found.
"Of course it's a hypothetical question, and it remains to be seen how this would play out in reality," said Dr. Daniel Grossman, from the University of California, San Francisco and the nonprofit Ibis Reproductive Health, who led the new study.
But the finding "gives us some indication that making the Pill over the counter could help improve use of more effective contraception and help women use the method they'd like to use," Grossman told Reuters Health.
China arrests 900 in fake meat scandal (3 May 2013)
Police in China have arrested 904 people for "meat-related offences" over the past three months, including a gang that made more than £1m by passing off fox, mink and rat meat as mutton, the country's public security ministry has announced.
Since January, authorities have seized 20,000 tonnes of illegal products and solved 382 cases of meat-related crime -- primarily the sale of toxic, diseased and counterfeit meat.
One suspect, named Wei, earned more than £1m over the past four years by purchasing fox, mink and rat meat, treating it with gelatin, carmine (a colour produced from ground beetles) and nitrate, then selling it as mutton at farmers' markets in Jiangsu province and Shanghai. Authorities raided Wei's organisation in February, arresting 63 suspects and seizing 10 tonnes of meat and additives.
Suspects in the Baotou city produced fake beef and lamb jerky from duck meat and sold it to markets in 15 provinces. Levels of E coli in the counterfeit product "seriously exceeded standards", the ministry said.
Justice Dept. admits flaws in forensic testimony in Mississippi death-row case (3 May 2013)
Federal officials found Manning's case as part of a broad review of the FBI's handling of scientific evidence in thousands of violent crimes in the 1980s and 1990s.
The Justice Department announced last summer an effort to correct past errors in forensic hair examinations before 2000 -- at least 21,000 cases -- to determine whether agents exaggerated the significance of purported hair "matches" in lab reports or trial testimony.
The reviews were prompted by a series of articles in The Washington Post that found that the Justice Department ignored warnings about widespread problems in cases that relied on hair identification.
Manning's case presents a difficult first test of the Justice Department review. Last week, the Mississippi Supreme Court denied a request by Manning's lawyers to reexamine a rape kit, fingernail scrapings, hairs and fingerprint evidence in the case, ruling narrowly that even if Manning's DNA was absent, that would not be enough to overturn his 1994 conviction.
Toronto clinic gives blind animals the gift of sight (3 May 2013)
If Godzilla had a pillow fight, it would have looked like the inside of the Toronto home of Cyd and David Fraser.
That's their analogy.
"If it was puffy and soft, it was taped to the walls and furniture,'' says Cyd Fraser, explaining that this was the only way they could keep their house safe for their dog, Halo, who had suddenly gone blind just a little over a year ago.
They had adopted the female poodle-cross from a shelter in Niagara Falls about three years ago. She could be between 5 and 7 years old.
Last May she suddenly developed pancreatitis (cause unknown), then her condition lapsed into diabetes and before the month was over, Halo had developed cataracts on her eyes and was blind.
Texas fertilizer plant targeted by thieves in past (3 May 2013)
WEST, Texas (AP) -- Burglars occasionally sneaked into and around a Texas fertilizer plant in the years before a massive, deadly explosion -- sometimes looking for a chemical fertilizer stored at the plant that can be used to make methamphetamine, according to local sheriff's records.
Sheriff's deputies were called more than 10 times to West Fertilizer in the 11 years before an April 17 blast that killed 14 people, injured 200 and leveled part of the tiny town of West, according to McLennan County sheriff's office files released through an open-records request. Multiple calls involved suspicion that anhydrous ammonia was being stolen.
The records portray a plant with no outer fence that was a sporadic target of intruders. Law enforcement was occasionally called because someone had noticed the smell of gas outside or signs of an intruder.
Anhydrous ammonia is a fertilizer that is a frequent target of burglars trying to manufacture methamphetamine. In the right conditions it can be flammable or explosive, though that is nearly impossible outdoors. However, a leak of the gas could create a potentially fatal toxic chemical cloud. The plant also had an unspecified amount of ammonium nitrate, a chemical that has been used in explosives, like in the Oklahoma City bombing.
Assata Shakur in Her Own Words: Rare Recording of Activist Named to FBI Most Wanted Terrorists List (3 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
ASSATA SHAKUR: My name is Assata Shakur, and I was born and raised in the United States. I am a descendant of Africans who were kidnapped and brought to the Americas as slaves. I spent my early childhood in the racist segregated South. I later moved to the northern part of the country, where I realized that Black people were equally victimized by racism and oppression.
I grew up and became a political activist, participating in student struggles, the anti-war movement, and, most of all, in the movement for the liberation of African Americans in the United States. I later joined the Black Panther Party, an organization that was targeted by the COINTELPRO program, a program that was set up by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to eliminate all political opposition to the U.S. government's policies, to destroy the Black Liberation Movement in the United States, to discredit activists and to eliminate potential leaders.
Under the COINTELPRO program, many political activists were harassed, imprisoned, murdered or otherwise neutralized. As a result of being targeted by COINTELPRO, I, like many other young people, was faced with the threat of prison, underground, exile or death. The FBI, with the help of local police agencies, systematically fed false accusations and fake news articles to the press accusing me and other activists of crimes we did not commit. Although in my case the charges were eventually dropped or I was eventually acquitted, the national and local police agencies created a situation where, based on their false accusations against me, any police officer could shoot me on sight. It was not until the Freedom of Information Act was passed in the mid-'70s that we began to see the scope of the United States government's persecution of political activists.
At this point, I think that it is important to make one thing very clear. I have advocated and I still advocate revolutionary changes in the structure and in the principles that govern the United States. I advocate self-determination for my people and for all oppressed inside the United States. I advocate an end to capitalist exploitation, the abolition of racist policies, the eradication of sexism, and the elimination of political repression. If that is a crime, then I am totally guilty.
3D Printed Gun is Now a Reality (3 May 2013) [InfoWars.com]
"So consider this, a CAD file containing the information for a 3D printable weapon system. If that file was seeded by 30 people, let's say, as long as there's a free Internet, that file is available to anyone at any time, all over the world. A gun can be anywhere. Any bullet is now a weapon," group spokesman Cody Wilson stated in a Youtube video at the time.
Fast-forward to May 2013 and the idea has very nearly come to full fruition.
Defense Distributed has announced it is in its final stages of testing a gun completely made out of 3D printed parts, titled the "Liberator," a salute to the single-shot pistol the FP-45 Liberator from the World War II era.
"All sixteen pieces of the Liberator prototype were printed in ABS plastic with a Dimension SST printer from 3D printing company Stratasys, with the exception of a single nail that's used as a firing pin. The gun is designed to fire standard handgun rounds, using interchangeable barrels for different calibers of ammunition," writes Forbes Magazine's Andy Greenberg.
Harvard scientists successfully make fly-like robots that can hover, fly around (3 May 2013)
US scientists have devised tiny winged robots inspired by flies that could one day help pollinate crops or aid the search for survivors at collapse sites -- once they get off the leash, that is.
The prototypes by researchers at Harvard University weigh 80 milligrams and have managed short controlled flights by flapping their mechanical wings while still tethered to a tiny power cable, the journal Science said this week.
The coin-sized robots sport two thin wings that flap 120 times per second.
Flight tests have shown they can make basic maneuvers, including hovering in place for about 20 seconds before crashing.
Suicides soar among US middle-aged people (2 May 2013)
The suicide rate among middle-aged Americans rose 28% in a decade, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has found.
Among adults 35-64, white people and American Indians saw the sharpest increases from 1999 to 2010.
The CDC did not investigate causes behind the trend, but noted many suicide prevention programmes were geared towards youths and the elderly.
The report found no significant change among other age groups.
Cancer drug Avastin linked to two cases of flesh-eating disease (2 May 2013)
The cancer-treatment drug Avastin has been linked to the rare but life-threatening infection necrotizing fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating disease, according to Health Canada, which issued a public warning Thursday.
In Canada, two patients on Avastin developed flesh-eating disease, one of whom died. The cases came to light when the drug's manufacturer, Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd, did a safety review.
The company identified 52 serious cases of necrotizing fasciitis worldwide between November 1997 and September 2012. (The Canadian cases surfaced after 2005, when the drug was approved for use here.) Of the total, there were 17 fatalities, including the one death in Canada.
The risk of someone on Avastin developing the disease "is rare," said company spokeswoman Nancy Zorzi, noting it occurs in less than 0.1 per cent of the cases.
Terror database too big to flag Boston suspect, critics say (2 May 2013)
WASHINGTON -- When a Russian intelligence service told the CIA that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had become an Islamic radical looking to join underground groups, the agency put his name in the government's catch-all database for terrorism suspects.
The Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment list, known as TIDE, was the government's attempt after the Sept. 11 attacks to consolidate a hodgepodge of watch lists, and ensure that every law enforcement agency would be alerted when it came into contact with a possible terrorist.
But TIDE has ballooned to 875,000 records, and critics say it is so all-encompassing that its value has been diminished. The database includes the names of young children of suspected terrorists and of people who have been cleared of suspected links to terrorism, officials say. A single credible tip raising "reasonable suspicion" is enough to add someone to the list.
TIDE is not a watch list -- it is a highly classified intelligence database, a master list that feeds information at various secrecy levels to agencies that maintain their own watch lists.
Punishing Vieques: Puerto Rico Struggles With Contamination 10 Years After Activists Expel U.S. Navy (2 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Congressman Joe Serrano, what about the cleanup? You have been lobbying fiercely in Congress to get the money, but Robert Rabin is saying some of that money is being wasted and is not really doing the job.
REP. JOSÉ SERRANO: Well, absolutely. Robert has a key word here that I was going to use, and he used it first, which is "punishment." I really saw, I believe, the first couple of years after that May 1st 10 years ago, that there was a resentment, and by members of Congress, sort of "How dare you defeat the military? How dare you push us out?" and in the administration. And so it was very hard to get dollars. In fact, we didn't cry over it, but I think the closing of Roosevelt Roads was also sort of a punishment. "Oh, yeah? Well, you want that closed? Well, we're going to close this one that has jobs and so on involved with it." And so, this--
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Both Roosevelt Roads and Fort Buchanan, right?
REP. JOSÉ SERRANO: Exactly. So there's been that sense: "How dare you do it?" Then there is the fact that in this country, and perhaps throughout the world, 10 years becomes a long time, and people forget that there's a loss of memory of what happened there. My understanding, yesterday I learned that less than 5 percent of the munitions have been removed. So we continue to push in the Appropriations Committee, where I sit. We continue to push the administration. But there is a new emphasis now. I'm seeing a new mobilization, similar to what I saw 10 years ago or 15 years ago, to say, "OK, now the cleanup has to really take a serious role here."
California fires at a glance (2 May 2013)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A look at fires burning around California on Thursday:
--A blaze of more than 10 square miles that began along U.S. 101 in Ventura County was uncontained. It prompted the evacuation of neighborhoods in Camarillo and Thousand Oaks, along with the 5,000-student campus of California State University, Channel Islands. A store of highly toxic pesticides was burning on a farm near the university, prompting air quality warnings. Embers scattered along ridges and into neighborhoods abutting the brush lands and smoke streamed for miles. More than 500 firefighters were called in, aided by water- and fire retardant-dropping aircraft.
--A 12-acre grass fire in Riverside County was fully contained after destroying two homes and damaging two others in the Jurupa Valley area. Ten vehicles and a boat also burned. An elementary school and a gas station were evacuated. Fire officials believe it was started by a discarded cigarette.
--A 41/2-square-mile Riverside County fire that began Wednesday north of Banning was 40 percent contained after destroying one home. Nearly 700 firefighters and aircraft worked the fire in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains. Most of the area was being mopped up but active flames remained in some areas. Two firefighters received minor injuries.
CA.gov's current fire information (2 May 2013)
This is the complete list of 2013 major incidents that have been posted to this site. You can see the location of Major Incidents on the Google Statewide Fire Map.
Map: Southern California fires (2 May 2013)
A brush fire that started near the 101 Freeway in Camarillo is still burning, fire officials said. A fire near Banning has burned 3,000 acres of vegetation and is 40% contained. Another small fire burned four residential structures in Jurupa Valley in Riverside County. A grass fire in San Bernardino threatened a mobile home park.
Atlantic coastal waters are the hottest since measurements began (2 May 2013)
Would you like some broiled flounder with your serving of climate apocalypse?
Well, you're going to have to broil it yourself, because record-breaking temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean are driving the fish away from fast-heating waters toward more hospitable depths and latitudes.
The Atlantic Ocean's surface temperatures from Maine to North Carolina broke records last year, reaching an average of 57.2°F, nearly three degrees warmer than the average of the past 30 years.
That's according to new data published by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which says the jump in average temperature from 2011 to 2012 was the largest recorded one-year spike in the marine region, which is known as the Northeast Shelf Ecosystem. Last year's average temperature was also the highest recorded there since measurements began 150 years ago.
Petro-Can stations running dry across Prairies as refinery repaired (2 May 2013)
CALGARY -- Some Petro-Canada stations are running out of gasoline because of repairs taking place at a refinery in Edmonton.
Gasoline-producing units at the Edmonton refinery were supposed to keep running during a period of planned maintenance work, which began about a month ago.
But during routine inspections, Petro-Canada discovered that repairs needed to be done and the gasoline units were taken out of service temporarily.
"So as a result, we have had to stop providing gasoline to some of our stations in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan," said Nicole Fisher a spokeswoman for Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU), the oil giant that owns the Petro-Canada stations and refineries.
Clean technology investors shift focus to drilling (2 May 2013)
NEW YORK (AP) -- A decade ago, large investors in so-called clean technology had a straightforward goal: finance companies that would help eliminate the world's dependence on oil, natural gas and coal.
But as profits from wind, solar, biofuels and other alternatives consistently fell short of expectations -- and as the fossil fuel business boomed -- things got complicated. Venture capitalists and other investment funds started stretching the definition of clean technology almost beyond recognition in an effort to make money while clinging to their environmental ideals.
Today, clean technology investment funds are not trying to replace the fossil fuel industry, they're trying to help it by financing companies that can make mining and drilling less dirty. The people running these funds acknowledge the apparent hypocrisy, but defend a more liberal definition of clean technology.
"Oil and gas will be with us for a long time. If we can clean that up we will do the world a great service," says Wal van Lierop, CEO of Chrysalix, a Vancouver, Canada-based venture capital firm founded in 2001.
Guantanamo hunger strike renews debates over indefinite detention (2 May 2013)
Twice a day at the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, guards take a group of detainees from their cells, one at a time, to a camp clinic or a private room on their block.
The detainees are offered a hot meal or a liquid nutritional supplement and, if they refuse, they are strapped into a chair. A nurse then passes a tube through their noses and down into their stomachs; for one to two hours, they are fed a drip of Ensure while a Navy corpsman watches.
Those who have experienced force-feeding have described it as painful. But, as the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are well aware, fasting and then enduring the procedure can also bring political advantage.
From British-run prisons in Ireland to detention facilities in Israel, the hunger strike has long been a political weapon wielded by the imprisoned or the powerless. With their protest, the 100 men refusing food at Guantanamo Bay -- 23 of whom are being fed via nasogastric tube -- have pushed the largely forgotten issue of their indefinite detention back on to Washington's agenda.
AP Exclusive: Calif. spends big on anti-psychotics (1 May 2013)
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Under federal court oversight, California's prison mental health system has been spending far more on anti-psychotic drugs than other states with large prison systems, raising questions about whether patients are receiving proper treatment.
Figures compiled by The Associated Press show that California has been spending a far greater percentage on anti-psychotic medication for inmates than other states with large prison systems. While the amount has been decreasing in recent years, anti-psychotics still account for nearly $1 of every $5 spent on pharmaceuticals purchased for the state prison system.
Questions about the spending have been raised by the state budget analyst and by the court-appointed authority in charge of buying prison pharmaceuticals, who concluded that California's inmate mental health professionals appear to overmedicate their patients. Even a former top prison mental health administrator acknowledged that fear of lawsuits often drove the decisions about inmates' treatment.
Nearly 20 percent of the $144.5 million California spent on all prison pharmaceuticals last year went for anti-psychotic drugs, according to the AP's figures, which were obtained through requests under the state Public Records Act.
Is U.S. manufacturing making a comeback -- or is it just hype? (1 May 2013)
It's hardly news when a U.S. firm moves its manufacturing operations abroad to China. But what about when a Chinese company sets up a factory in the United States?
That actually happened in January, when Lenovo, a Beijing-based computer maker, opened a new manufacturing line in Whitsett, N.C., to handle assembly of PCs, tablets, workstations and servers.
The rationale? The company is expanding into the U.S. market and needs the flexibility to assemble units for speedy delivery across the country, says Jay Parker, Lenovo's president for North America.
But also -- and this was crucial -- the math added up. While it's still cheaper to build things in China, those famously low Chinese wages have risen in recent years. "We reached the point where we could offset a portion of those labor costs by saving on logistics," Parker says.
Thousands rally against European austerity on May Day (1 May 2013)
(Reuters) - Workers hit by lower living standards and record high unemployment staged May Day protests across Europe on Wednesday, hoping to persuade euro zone governments of the case for easing austerity measures and boosting growth.
Thousands of protesters marched in Madrid, snaking up the Gran Via central shopping street, waving flags and carrying placards reading "austerity ruins and kills" and "reforms are robbery".
"The future of Spain looks terrible, we're going backwards with this government," said former civil servant Alicia Candelas, 54, who has been without a job for two years.
The Spanish economy has shrunk for seven consecutive quarters, and unemployment stands at a record 27 percent.
There had "never been a May 1 with more reason to take to the streets", said Candido Mendez, head of UGT, one of two main unions that called on workers and the unemployed to join more than 80 demonstrations across the country.
GM withdraws 'offensive' Chevrolet Trax ad (1 May 2013)
Carmaker General Motors (GM) says it is withdrawing a TV commercial for its Chevrolet Trax four-wheel drive after its soundtrack was deemed "offensive".
The ad features vocals from a 1938 recording which refers to China as "the land of Fu Manchu" where people say "ching ching, chop suey".
It had been running on Canadian TV since early April and was also posted on Chevrolet's European website.
The lyrics have now been removed from the advert, which has been reissued.
Ricin found during investigation into poison letters sent to Obama (1 May 2013)
Ricin was found in the former martial arts studio of the man suspected of sending poison letters to Barack Obama and other officials, prosecutors have said.
The affidavit, made public on Tuesday, says an FBI surveillance team saw James Everett Dutschke remove several items from the studio in Mississippi on 22 April and dump them in a rubbish bin down the street. The items included a dust mask that later tested positive for ricin, it said.
Traces of ricin also were found in the studio, and Dutschke used the internet to buy castor beans, from which the poison is derived, the court document added.
Dutschke, 41, was arrested on Saturday as part of the investigation into poison-tainted letters sent to Obama, Senator Roger Wicker and Judge Sadie Holland in Mississippi. Dutschke faces up to life in prison if convicted.
EXCLUSIVE: Saudi Arabia 'warned the United States IN WRITING about Boston Bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2012' (1 May 2013)
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sent a written warning about accused Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2012, long before pressure-cooker blasts killed three and injured hundreds, according to a senior Saudi government official with direct knowledge of the document.
The Saudi warning, the official told MailOnline, was separate from the multiple red flags raised by Russian intelligence in 2011, and was based on human intelligence developed independently in Yemen.
Citing security concerns, the Saudi government also denied an entry visa to the elder Tsarnaev brother in December 2011, when he hoped to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, the source said. Tsarnaev's plans to visit Saudi Arabia have not been previously disclosed.
The Saudis' warning to the U.S. government was also shared with the British government. 'It was very specific' and warned that 'something was going to happen in a major U.S. city,' the Saudi official said during an extensive interview.
It 'did name Tamerlan specifically,' he added. The 'government-to-government' letter, which he said was sent to the Department of Homeland Security at the highest level, did not name Boston or suggest a date for his planned attack.
Study: More North Carolina workers die on the job than reported (30 April 2013)
Far more workers die on the job in North Carolina than the state reports, according to a new study by workplace safety advocates.
While the N.C. Department of Labor reported that just 35 workers were killed on the job in 2012, the report by the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health estimates that the true number is more than three times higher.
That's chiefly because the state doesn't count deaths due to vehicle accidents and workplace violence, or fatalities among the self-employed.
The report, titled "North Carolina Workers Dying for a Job," also concludes that penalties are too low to deter unsafe working conditions and that "even repeat offenders get off easy."
Action Alert: Demand that Similac take GMOs out of its infant formulas (30 April 2013)
(NaturalNews) Recognizing the fact that Americans are becoming increasingly uneasy about the unlabeled presence of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) throughout the food supply, the shareholders of a major U.S.-based pharmaceutical and nutritional products company are now considering their prompt removal. As promoted by the corporate accountability group As You Sow, a new resolution soon to be voted on by the shareholders of Abbott Laboratories, maker of Similac baby formula, would eliminate GMOs from all the company's products if passed - and you have the opportunity to help make this effort a reality.
For years, Abbott has been selling Similac baby formula products laced with GM corn, soy, and other derivatives that independent studies have repeatedly shown to be risky health-wise. The 2012 publishing of the Gilles-Eric Seralini study, for instance, revealed that both GM corn and the chemicals commonly applied to this commodity crop are dangerous, having caused cancerous tumors to develop in more than 70 percent of laboratory rats fed a steady diet of it. Other studies have exposed similar outcomes for GM soy and other transgenic crops.
And yet ingredients made from these "Frankencrops" continue to be used in American food products, including in baby formulas like the kind produced by Abbott under its Similac brand. This is simply unacceptable, as it puts the long-term health of millions of babies at risk, which is why As You Sow decided to approach the company's shareholders and urge them to take action. Because there have been few long-term studies on the safety of GMOs, and none that have proven their safety, As You Sow is urging Abbott's shareholders to have them removed immediately, or at least have them properly labeled.
"Removing GMOs from nutritional products like infant formula can only benefit Abbott," says Andrew Behar, CEO of As You Sow. "As new and credible scientific concerns are raised, consumers are demanding to be given a choice in what foods they eat and feed their families. Abbott has an opportunity to lead the industry in being proactive on this important issue."
20 Signs That The Next Great Economic Depression Has Already Started In Europe (30 April 2013) [InfoWars.com]
The following are 20 signs that the next Great Depression has already started in Europe...
#1 The unemployment rate in France has surged to 10.6 percent, and the number of jobless claims in that country recently set a new all-time record.
#2 Unemployment in the eurozone as a whole is sitting at an all-time record of 12 percent.
#3 Two years ago, Portugal's unemployment rate was about 12 percent. Today, it is about 17 percent.
#4 The unemployment rate in Spain has set a new all-time record of 27 percent. Even during the Great Depression of the 1930s the United States never had unemployment that high.
#5 The unemployment rate among those under the age of 25 in Spain is an astounding 57.2 percent.
PAM COMMENTARY: I'm not sure whether this could cause a future depression elsewhere, or if it's a result of the recession here in the United States.
San Onofre insider says NRC should not allow nuclear restart (30 April 2013) [WhatReallyHappened.com]
Japanese manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) built replacement generators for the aging nuclear plant in 2010 and 2011.
"There were many, many changes," said Dr. Joe Hopenfeld, a former employee of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). He described himself as pro-nuclear.
Hopenfeld spent his entire professional life working with steam generators and nuclear power. Though he lives in Maryland, he is familiar with San Onofre, which is run by Southern California Edison (SCE).
The new generators were designed to provide low cost power for decades. Instead, they shut it down in just eleven months because of a radiation leak.
"The manufacturer didn't have experience in this size unit," said Hopenfeld. "I have reviewed thousands of pages of assessment and reports that Edison has submitted."
He says the 2011 radiation leak that shuttered the plant revealed a potentially catastrophic problem with the tubes that carry scalding water.
Kimberly Rivera, Pregnant Mom of 4, Sentenced to Military Prison for Refusing to Serve in Iraq (30 April 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Mario, how old are your kids, and what are their names?
MARIO RIVERA: Christian is 11, Rebecca is eight, Katie is five, and Gabriel is two.
AMY GOODMAN: James, James Branum, you're her attorney. When she was in Iraq, she turned to a chaplain to say she could not do this, that she could not, when she looked at Iraqi children, she said, open fire?
JAMES BRANUM: Yes, she talked to the chaplain, expressed her concerns. She said that she didn't think she should--could pull the trigger, if asked to. And this is a critical issue, because she was a gate guard at FOB Loyalty in Baghdad. Her job was a critical--critical thing, as far as security coming on and off the base. And so, she felt that she morally could not do what she was asked to do; at the same time, she realized that she would put other soldiers in danger if she didn't pull the trigger when the time came. She talked to a chaplain about it. The chaplain largely pushed her aside, did not give her the counsel that she really needed. And so, when she came home on leave, she took other steps. And it's unfortunate that she did not get the legal advice and information she needed to seek status as a conscientious objector.
GOVERNMENT DISAPPEARS VACCINE TOXICITY IN ADHD DRUG DIVERSION (30 April 2013) [WhatReallyHappened.com]
On March 31, 2013, the New York Times performed the magician's "slight of hand" routine disappearing mercury toxicity's impact on children's brains citing "nearly one in five high school age boys in the United States and 11 percent of school-age children over all have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder."
The "propaganda, issued by the pharmaceutical cartel," is under protest by Dr. Leonard Horowitz, a Harvard-trained expert in media persuasion and emerging diseases. The report "diverts attention from the horrific damage to children's brains caused by vaccination ingredients, especially heavy metals."
The data, claimed to source from "the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," appears to have been "fed" to "spin doctors" at the NY Times to "protect drug makers from the most murderous assault against children in human history," said Dr. Horowitz.
The alleged findings are supposedly part of "a C.D.C. study of children's health issues, taken from February 2011 to June 2012," according to The Times.
Is the Afterlife What We Think It Is? A Challenge from Near-Death Studies (29 April 2013) [Rense.com]
Arthur E. Yensen died in 1932, at least as near as we can tell he did, from severe injuries in an automobile accident. The vividness of what happened next remained fresh in his memory, not only after he revived, but throughout what later became a long and productive life. As Yensen put it: "Gradually the earth scene faded away, and through it loomed a bright, new, beautiful world -- beautiful beyond imagination! For half a minute I could see both worlds at once. Finally, when the earth was all gone, I stood in a glory that could only be heaven.
"In the background were two beautiful, round-topped mountains, similar to Fujiyama in Japan," Yensen continued. "The tops were snowcapped, and the slopes were adorned with foliage of indescribable beauty. The mountains appeared to be about fifteen miles away, yet I could see individual flowers growing on their slopes. I estimated my vision to be about one hundred times better than on earth. To the left was a shimmering lake containing a different kind of water -- clear, golden, radiant, and alluring. It seemed to be alive. The whole landscape was carpeted with grass so vivid, clear, and green, that it defies description. To the right was a grove of large luxuriant trees, composed of the same clear material that seemed to make up everything."
Yensen described the people there as young-looking and lively, yet possessing a weightless grace in their movements. Their bodies were somewhat translucent, so was the grass and trees; their clothing minimal. One man told him: "Everything over here is pure. The elements don't mix or break down as they do on earth. Everything is kept in place by an all-pervading Master Vibration, which prevents aging. That's why things don't get dirty, or wear out, and why everything looks so bright and new." Yensen learned how heaven could be eternal from this man (Atwater, 1994, 53-55).
Muriel E. Kelly, weakened by rheumatic fever and a serious heart murmur, became very ill and passed into another world. "I found myself standing on a cobble-stone road with people around me dressed in bright robes -- red, blue, pink. Everything was so bright and sunny. Birds were singing. Baby angels were smiling and flying around. I saw all different sizes of angels. The music was hauntingly beautiful."
Beware the rise of the government scientists turned lobbyists (29 April 2013) [Rense.com]
What happens to people when they become government science advisers? Are their children taken hostage? Is a dossier of compromising photographs kept, ready to send to the Sun if they step out of line?
I ask because, in too many cases, they soon begin to sound less like scientists than industrial lobbyists. The mad cow crisis 20 years ago was exacerbated by the failure of government scientists to present the evidence accurately. The chief medical officer wrongly claimed that there was "no risk associated with eating British beef". The chief veterinary officer wrongly dismissed the research suggesting that BSE could jump from one species to another.
The current chief scientist at the UK's environment department, Ian Boyd, is so desperate to justify the impending badger cull -- which defies the recommendations of the £49m study the department funded -- that he now claims that eliminating badgers "may actually be positive to biodiversity", on the grounds that badgers sometimes eat baby birds. That badgers are a component of our biodiversity, and play an important role in regulating the populations of other species, appears to have eluded him.
But the worst example in the past 10 years was the concatenation of gibberish published by the British government's new chief scientist on Friday. In the Financial Times, Sir Mark Walport denounced the proposal for a temporary European ban on the pesticides blamed for killing bees and other pollinators. He claimed that "the consequences of such a moratorium could be harmful to the continent's crop production, farming communities and consumers". This also happens to be the position of the UK government, to which he is supposed to provide disinterested advice.
Valley Fever Prison Outbreak Sweeps Through California Prisons (29 April 2013) [WhatReallyHappened.com]
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The federal official who controls medical care in California prisons on Monday ordered thousands of high-risk inmates out of two Central Valley prisons in response to dozens of deaths due to Valley fever, which is caused by an airborne fungus.
Medical receiver J. Clark Kelso ordered the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to exclude black, Filipino and other medically risky inmates from Avenal and Pleasant Valley state prisons because those groups are more susceptible to the fungal infection, which originates in the region's soil.
Aside from the racial minorities, high-risk inmates include those who are sick, infected with HIV, are undergoing chemotherapy or otherwise have a depressed immune system. In addition to the deaths, the fungus has hospitalized hundreds of inmates.
The order will affect about 40 percent of the more than 8,200 inmates at the two prisons, said Joyce Hayhoe, a spokeswoman for the receiver's office.
MY LAST POST : Final thoughts on Zionism's success and Arab failure (29 April 2013) [WhatReallyHappened.com]
One of the most influential of Zionism's follow-up propaganda lies asserted that Israel was given its birth certificate and thus its legitimacy by the United Nations Partition Resolution of 29 November 1947. As I document in detail in my book and have indicated over the years in more than a few articles and presentations of public platforms of all kinds, that is propaganda nonsense.
In the first place the UN without the consent of the majority of the people of Palestine did not have the right to decide to partition Palestine or assign any part of its territory to a minority of alien immigrants in order for them to establish a state of their own.
Despite that, by the narrowest of margins, and only after a rigged vote (rigged by Zionist pressure amounting to blackmail on the leaders and governments of some member states), the UN General Assembly did pass a resolution to partition Palestine and create two states, one Arab, one Jewish, with Jerusalem not part of either. But the General Assembly resolution was only a proposal -- meaning that it could have no effect, would not become policy, unless approved by the Security Council.
The truth is that the General Assembly's partition proposal never went to the Security Council for consideration. Why not? Because the US knew that, if approved, it could only be implemented by force; and President Truman was not prepared to use force to partition Palestine.
FDA to Investigate Safety of Added Caffeine (30 April 2013)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Monday that it will reexamine the safety of caffeine added to foods.
The decision was prompted by the release of a new caffeinated gum called Alert, manufactured by Wrigley, which hit markets Monday.
The last time FDA looked at caffeine as a food additive was in the 1950s when the agency set a limit on the amount of the substance that could be added to colas. Caffeine is on the agency's list of ingredients that are "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) when it comprises .02 percent of a cola beverage, but has not been regulated in other contexts.
"Today, the market has changed," said FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine in a statement posted on the agency's website Monday. "Children and adolescents may be exposed to caffeine beyond those foods in which caffeine is naturally found and beyond anything FDA envisioned when it made the determination regarding caffeine in cola."
FBI looking into relationship between Virginia Governor's family and donor's gifts (30 April 2013)
McDonnell previously has said that he and his wife have known Williams for about five years, that they consider him a personal friend and that the first family's efforts on behalf of Virginia-based Star Scientific are typical of what any governor would do to promote the state's businesses and products.
But the FBI interviews represent a potential escalation of the growing controversy about McDonnell and his wife's relationship with Williams, which has consumed the state capital in recent weeks.
Williams and Star Scientific have given McDonnell and his political action committee more than $120,000 in publicly disclosed campaign donations and gifts, while the McDonnell family has received other benefits, such as a vacation at Williams's lake house in western Virginia.
The McDonnells have taken actions to promote Star Scientific, including allowing the company to hold a 2011 luncheon marking the launch of Anatabloc at the governor's mansion.
Fired LAPD officers seek reviews of their cases in wake of Dorner rampage (29 April 2013)
More than three dozen fired Los Angeles police department officers are seeking reviews of their cases after another former officer, Christopher Dorner, took revenge on the LAPD's disciplinary process by going on a murderous rampage.
Forty former officers have filed review requests since Dorner killed four people in February and prompted the department to reconsider cases of former officers with dismissal grievances.
The requests have put the department's disciplinary procedures under scrutiny. Many officers feel that there are genuine problems of institutional racism and capriciousness in the force.
The 40 former officers, who have not been named, have had their requests tallied by their union, the Protective League, Gary Ingemunson, a lawyer for the union, said in a column in its monthly magazine.
"I personally received two calls from terminated officers who abhor what Dorner did but both independently stated that Dorner's description of the discipline system resonated with them. Each said they knew exactly what he was talking about."
Country Musician Willie Nelson Turns 80: "One Person Carrying a Message Can Change the World" (29 April 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: And for the people you sing for, which is people in this country and all over the world--you're one of the most famous musicians in the world today--your sense of their feeling about our country, about your country, about the United States of America?
WILLIE NELSON: Well, I've traveled around over the years; over the last several years, I've traveled around a lot, and I got a lot of different feedback from people around. And we're not as loved as we think we are around the world. That's for sure. I think most people realize that our problems are our government, not me and you individually, except that we can--must have some sort of responsibility, because they're in there and they were elected, so we have to defend ourselves on those lines. But a lot of people realize that, you know, now that they're in there, what are you going to do about it? So I say get them out.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Your message, if you had to give to young people today, from the experience that you've had as a musician and as a social activist in terms of what the potential that they have to do something about where our country is headed?
WILLIE NELSON: Well, somebody one time said you can--you know, one person can't change the world, but one person carrying a message can change the world. And that's what I think is going on now. I think a lot of young people are realizing that their voice is ready to be heard. They are really important, and they feel that importance, and they know that they have to do something. You know, when you see something wrong, you sit around, and you can say, "Well, I'm either going to do something," or "I'm going to do nothing." You have to make the decision. A lot of the kids out there are saying, "Wait a minute, we can do something."
GMO multi-toxin crops continue to backfire as more insects become resistant to crop chemicals (29 April 2013)
(NaturalNews) Promises made by the biotechnology industry about the alleged robustness of its genetically modified (GM) crops are proving to be false, as research out of the University of Arizona (UA) uncovers a growing resistance by pests to even the most advanced crop chemical technologies in use today. Published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the new study explains how multi-toxin GM crops are quickly losing their ability to fend off pests, which could lead to a complete GMO failure in the very near future if alternate interventions are not enacted.
The study evaluated specific GM crops like corn and cotton that have been infused with a genetic mutation involving the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), as well as several other toxins that grow inside the plant to target pests. This so-called "pyramid" strategy, which involves using multiple GM toxins to target the same pests, is said to have been designed for the purpose of thwarting pesticide and insecticide resistance by targeting pests with two or three different toxins all at once rather than just one at time.
But according to the UA report, insects and other pests are outsmarting this approach. After evaluating a series of laboratory experiments they conducted, as well as various computer simulations and other published data on the subject, the team learned that multi-toxin GM crops do not necessarily kill pests redundantly -- that is, if a pest is resistant to one toxic GM trait, it does not necessarily respond automatically to the other toxic GM traits. In fact, the pest response to multi-toxin GMOs is so complex and unpredictable that it is already shaping up to be a complete failure.
"[T]he team's analysis of published data from eight species of pests reveals that some degree of cross-resistance between Cry1 and Cry2 toxins occurred in nineteen of twenty-one experiments," explains Homeland Security News Wire about the study's findings. Cry1 and Cry2 are two types of GM toxins used in conjunction with each other in some multi-toxin GM crops. "Contradicting the concept of redundant killing, cross-resistance resistance means that selection with one toxin increases resistance to the other toxin."
Hospitals see wave of products to fight superbugs; penalties loom if patients catch infections (29 April 2013)
NEW YORK - They sweep. They swab. They sterilize. And still the germs persist.
In U.S. hospitals, an estimated 1 in 20 patients pick up infections they didn't have when they arrived, some caused by dangerous `superbugs' that are hard to treat.
The rise of these superbugs, along with increased pressure from the government and insurers, is driving hospitals to try all sorts of new approaches to stop their spread:
Machines that resemble "Star Wars" robots and emit ultraviolet light or hydrogen peroxide vapors. Germ-resistant copper bed rails, call buttons and IV poles. Antimicrobial linens, curtains and wall paint.
Elephant meat now on the menu as poaching grows (29 April 2013)
There were up to 5 million elephants in Africa 70 years ago. Today, just several hundred thousand are left and in the past year, an estimated 32,000 elephants were killed for their ivory.
There is more bad news. World Wildlife Fund and World Conservation Society say that pachyderms are being slaughtered in huge numbers in the Central African Republic.
The two agencies say they have received "alarming reports from their field operations" that elephants are being slaughtered in the violence-ridden country as a new government scrambles to take control of the situation.
CAR has been plagued with violence for decades but things came to a head in March when rebels seized control and the president Francois Bozize fled the capital, Bangui.
Keystone XL oil would be processed in sick East Texas community (29 April 2013)
For many, the battle over the Keystone XL pipeline is about national energy strategy and global climate change.
For residents of the Manchester neighborhood in Houston, it's also about what will be processed and spewed into the air in their backyards.
Activist Doug Fahlbusch recently brought some attention to the community when he held up a sign at a Valero-sponsored golf tournament that said, "TAR SANDS SPILL. ANSWER MANCHESTER." That protest got him carried away from the links by security guards and arrested.
What did Fahlbusch mean? Why are he and his colleagues at Tar Sands Blockade so concerned about Manchester?
Louisiana Senate kills a bill that tried to rein in dispersants (29 April 2013)
Oil companies can keep on spraying toxic oil dispersants willy-nilly over toxic oil spills in Louisiana waters.
An effort to encourage -- not to require, just to encourage -- oil companies to use nontoxic alternatives to dispersants when cleaning up their spills was killed amid oil industry opposition in the Louisiana state Senate.
When BP sprayed dispersants over oil slicks from its 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill, the company sickened residents and cleanup workers and added another layer of environmental catastrophe to the cataclysm in the Gulf. Yet dispersants like Corexit -- which push spilled oil down from the water's surface and into the water column, where fish and dolphins and other wildlife live -- remain perfectly legal in the U.S. And they are being used here and elsewhere around the world by oil companies exhibiting utter indifference to human suffering and environmental damage.
Better fuel economy matters to more US consumers, survey finds (29 April 2013)
America's transition is well under way to higher mileage standards and to vehicles that sip rather than slurp gasoline, with manufacturers and consumers both supporting the shift, according to new research by the Consumer Federation of America.
Just six months ago, the federal government finished a plan to boost fuel economy standards of new cars to an average of 54.5 miles per gallon (m.p.g.) by 2025, up from 35 m.p.g. in 2017. Those mileage increases were authorized under the Energy Independence and Security Act passed by Congress in 2007.
Unknown, however, was how quickly automakers would shift production to go after those targets -- and whether consumers would accept higher vehicle prices up front in exchange for lower gasoline costs over the lifespans of their vehicles. In a first cut at answering those questions, the CFA polled consumers and analyzed fuel efficiency of new vehicles, including plug-in vehicles.
It found a shift in consumer sentiment and manufacturer output, including the following:
• A large majority of Americans support the higher fuel-economy standards approved by Congress and amplified by the Obama administration. Today's consumers say they expect the next vehicle they buy to get many more miles to the gallon than their current vehicles, the CFA survey found.
Why the wealthy-poor gap keeps on growing in the U.S. (29 April 2013)
The American dream continues to be a struggle divided along racial lines.
The wealth-inequality gap is growing, shows a new study, released Monday by the Washington, D.C. based-Urban Institute, a non-profit think tank.
Middle-income African and Latin Americans have seen little progress in their economic status compared to their white American counterparts, the institute found after studying the U.S. Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances from 1983 to 2010.
In fact, white families averaged six times the wealth of black and Hispanic households, or, $632,000 (U.S.) versus $98,000 and $110,00 respectively, research showed.
A Desperate Situation at Guantánamo: Over 130 Prisoners on Hunger Strike, Dozens Being Force-Fed (29 April 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Carlos Warner, you spoke to one of your clients at Guantánamo on Friday. Who did you speak to, and what did he say?
CARLOS WARNER: Fayiz al-Kandry, he--I've been--this is the third conversation I've had with him since the strike began. I visited him in person twice, and then on Friday I got a phone call. And things have gone downhill. He started to be force-fed, according to him, last Monday. And I got a notice about this last Wednesday from the government that he's being force-fed. And he told me that they're force-feeding him with what's called a size 10 tube, a bigger tube than is required. He said that this makes it difficult for him to breathe, and it induces vomiting. And he has asked them to give them--give him a smaller tube, and the military refuses to do so. Why they would not do these things, we have no idea.
But he underscored to me, because they--the military has clamped down, made it harder for the information to come out, since this began. But he wanted me to emphasize that this is a peaceful protest, that any detainee that's striking out in anger is wrong, that this is a peaceful hunger strike to protest, first of all, the military's tactics, but most importantly also the indefinite detention. And he wanted to make that clear, that this is not a violent protest, that he wants the hunger strike to end. But so long as it goes on, he intends for it to be peaceful.
Study: There may not be a shortage of American STEM graduates after all (29 April 2013)
If there's one thing that everyone can agree on in Washington, it's that the country has a woeful shortage of workers trained in science, technology, engineering and math -- what's referred to as STEM.
President Obama has said that improving STEM education is one of his top priorities. Chief executives regularly come through Washington complaining that they can't find qualified American workers for openings at their firms that require a science background. And armed with this argument in the debate over immigration policy, lobbyists are pushing hard for more temporary work visas, known as H-1Bs, which they say are needed to make up for the lack of Americans with STEM skills.
But not everyone agrees. A study released Wednesday by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute reinforces what a number of researchers have come to believe: that the STEM worker shortage is a myth.
The EPI study found that the United States has "more than a sufficient supply of workers available to work in STEM occupations." Basic dynamics of supply and demand would dictate that if there were a domestic labor shortage, wages should have risen. Instead, researchers found, they've been flat, with many Americans holding STEM degrees unable to enter the field and a sharply higher share of foreign workers taking jobs in the information technology industry. (IT jobs make up 59 percent of the STEM workforce, according to the study.)
PAM COMMENTARY: I've said the same thing here, because it's been obvious to all of us working in technical fields. It's not that employers can't find technical workers -- it's that they don't want to pay for a well-educated professional.
Bee deaths: EU may ban neonicotinoid pesticides (29 April 2013)
The European Commission will restrict the use of pesticides linked to bee deaths by researchers, despite a split among EU states on the issue.
There is great concern across Europe about the collapse of bee populations.
Neonicotinoid chemicals in pesticides are believed to harm bees and the European Commission says they should be restricted to crops not attractive to bees and other pollinators.
But many farmers and crop experts argue that there is insufficient data.
New Suspect in Ricin Case to Appear in Court (28 April 2013)
A martial-arts instructor and former political candidate is scheduled to appear before a federal judge Monday after he was arrested this weekend on charges that he mailed ricin-laced letters to government officials, including President Barack Obama.
J. Everett Dutschke, 41 years old, of Tupelo, Miss., was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents early Saturday, four days after another Mississippi man initially charged with sending the letters, Paul Kevin Curtis, was released. Evidence and testimony in federal court following Mr. Curtis's arrest led investigators to focus instead on Mr. Dutschke. The two men had quarreled for years, according to court testimony.
FBI agents last week searched Mr. Dutschke's home and martial-arts studio. Investigators also searched places recently visited by Mr. Dutschke, who also performed as a rock musician and earlier unsuccessfully ran for political office.
His attorney, Lori Nail Basham, didn't return calls or emails for comment Saturday or Sunday. She said earlier last week that Mr. Dutschke was cooperating fully.
In a first, black voter turnout rate passes whites (28 April 2013)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- America's blacks voted at a higher rate than other minority groups in 2012 and by most measures surpassed the white turnout for the first time, reflecting a deeply polarized presidential election in which blacks strongly supported Barack Obama while many whites stayed home.
Had people voted last November at the same rates they did in 2004, when black turnout was below its current historic levels, Republican Mitt Romney would have won narrowly, according to an analysis conducted for The Associated Press.
Census data and exit polling show that whites and blacks will remain the two largest racial groups of eligible voters for the next decade. Last year's heavy black turnout came despite concerns about the effect of new voter-identification laws on minority voting, outweighed by the desire to re-elect the first black president.
William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, analyzed the 2012 elections for the AP using census data on eligible voters and turnout, along with November's exit polling. He estimated total votes for Obama and Romney under a scenario where 2012 turnout rates for all racial groups matched those in 2004. Overall, 2012 voter turnout was roughly 58 percent, down from 62 percent in 2008 and 60 percent in 2004.
New 3D ultrasound software improves focus on fetus (28 April 2013)
The picture is getting clearer for expectant parents and baby doctors, thanks to recent 3D imaging ultrasound technology.
"The technology and the quality of ultrasound has been improving. But since 2000, it's been improving exponentially," said Dr. Greg Davies, professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Queen's University and chair of the division of maternal fetal medicine at Kingston General Hospital.
"We're getting better at identifying abnormalities and patients are getting more information before a baby is born," he said.
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada recommends all expectant mothers have ultrasound scanning at between 18 to 22 weeks of pregnancy.
Millions of users abandoning Facebook as newer services pop up (28 April 2013)
Facebook has lost millions of users per month in its biggest markets, independent data suggests, as alternative social networks attract the attention of those looking for fresh online playgrounds.
As Facebook prepares to update investors on its performance in the first three months of the year, with analysts forecasting revenues up 36% on last year, studies suggest that its expansion in the US, UK and other major European countries has peaked.
In the last month, the world's largest social network has lost 6m US visitors, a 4% fall, according to analysis firm SocialBakers. In the UK, 1.4m fewer users checked in last month, a fall of 4.5%. The declines are sustained. In the last six months, Facebook has lost nearly 9m monthly visitors in the US and 2m in the UK.
Users are also switching off in Canada, Spain, France, Germany and Japan, where Facebook has some of its biggest followings. A spokeswoman for Facebook declined to comment.
"The problem is that, in the US and UK, most people who want to sign up for Facebook have already done it," said new media specialist Ian Maude at Enders Analysis. "There is a boredom factor where people like to try something new. Is Facebook going to go the way of Myspace? The risk is relatively small, but that is not to say it isn't there."
iTunes turns 10: How Apple music store killed old music industry (28 April 2013)
When Tower Records, a hallowed music store chain with a 46-year history, shuttered its doors at the end of 2006, The Nation called it "the day the music died."
Some cried murder, blaming iTunes and the digital music revolution it fueled. An era of musical discovery -- rifling through stacks of records or CDs while chatting up a staff that ate, drank and breathed music -- had ended. Who'd want to carry a clunky Discman when the sleek little iPod was around? "Even Bob Dylan was shilling for iTunes in a television ad," wrote the article's author, Max Fraser.
Apple launched iTunes just a few years before, on April 28, 2003, and quickly reigned supreme. The iconic commercials -- dancing silhouettes against brightly-colored backgrounds -- were impossible to ignore. "A thousand songs, in your pocket," the voiceover in some crowed. All your music with you, wherever you go.
Once you had an iPod, the iTunes Store had you. Who wanted to purchase an overpriced CD, go home, pop it into a computer, rip the tunes and then sync them to a gadget?
Fired lesbian teacher fights to get job at Catholic high school back (28 April 2013)
A diocese in Ohio is under siege -- receiving numerous threatening calls as well as heated online criticism -- and a veteran teacher is out of a job because of publicly revealing a lesbian relationship in violation of the Catholic school's morality code.
But the firing has raised a fervent debate over tolerance both online and in the Columbus, Ohio, community where the incident took place.
Physical education teacher Carla Hale, 57, was fired in March after her name appeared in her mother's obituary, which also noted Hale's longtime lesbian partner.
Hale was summoned to a meeting with school administrators after she returned from her mother's funeral.
PAM COMMENTARY: That's pretty extreme -- digging through obituaries for a reason to fire people.
Bangladesh collapsed building's owner arrested (28 April 2013)
The owner of the Bangladesh factory building that collapsed, killing more than 370 people, has been arrested while attempting to flee to India, police said.
Mohammed Sohel Rana, a leader of the ruling Awami League's youth front, was arrested on Sunday by the elite Rapid Action Battalion in the Bangladesh border town of Benapole, Dhaka district police chief Habibur Rahman told Reuters.
Police had put border authorities on alert and arrested his wife in an attempt to bring him out of hiding.
Speaking near the site of the wreckage of Rana Plaza, which housed several factories making low-cost garments for Western retailers, junior minister for local government Jahangir Kabir Nanak told reporters that Rana would be brought to Dhaka by helicopter. Rescue workers cheered and clapped at the news.
Russia caught bomb suspect on wiretap (28 April 2013)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Russian authorities secretly recorded a telephone conversation in 2011 in which one of the Boston bombing suspects vaguely discussed jihad with his mother, officials said Saturday, days after the U.S. government finally received details about the call.
In another conversation, the mother of now-dead bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was recorded talking to someone in southern Russia who is under FBI investigation in an unrelated case, officials said.
The conversations are significant because, had they been revealed earlier, they might have been enough evidence for the FBI to initiate a more thorough investigation of the Tsarnaev family.
As it was, Russian authorities told the FBI only that they had concerns that Tamerlan and his mother were religious extremists. With no additional information, the FBI conducted a limited inquiry and closed the case in June 2011.
News from the Week of 21st to 27th of April 2013
Mississippi man suspected in ricin case has been arrested, FBI says (27 April 2013)
The FBI believes it has the right man this time in the tangled case of the ricin-laced letters mailed to President Obama and two other public officials. In the early-morning darkness Saturday, four days after authorities dropped charges against an Elvis impersonator in Mississippi, FBI agents arrested a man the impersonator had been feuding with -- a former radio announcer and onetime candidate for the state legislature who recently was charged with child molestation.
James Everett Dutschke, 41, was taken into custody about 12:50 a.m. Saturday at his home in Tupelo, Miss., the FBI said. He could face life in prison on federal charges of "knowingly developing, producing, stockpiling, transferring, acquiring, retaining and possessing a biological agent, toxin and delivery system, for use as a weapon," according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Oxford, Miss.
Dutschke proclaimed his innocence last week, saying he had cooperated with investigators and insisting he had no idea how to manufacture ricin, a toxin derived from the castor bean plant that can kill quickly if inhaled. Lori Nail Basham, Dutschke's attorney, declined to comment Saturday on her client's arrest.
Dutschke had been the target of the investigation since the release from jail last week of Paul Kevin Curtis, 45, of Corinth, Miss. Curtis is the Elvis impersonator whom federal investigators initially charged with sending the poison letters to Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland.
Join the Perpetual Patient Program (27 April 2013)
The slippery slope
Now let's keep track. You started with being stressed, over-tired, eating poorly and the resulting effects on your digestion. Your physician prescribed one of those ever-popular "acid-blockers", (Rx #1). By impairing the production of stomach acid necessary for the ionization and absorption of essential minerals, including iron, the anemia you had previously corrected, returned. The iron supplement your physician prescribed was unfortunately a poorly absorbed inorganic form, such as iron sulfate, (Rx #2), which gave you constipation.
While the stool softener helped your bowels, you remain tired and prone to brain fog as your iron stores remained low. After years of silent mineral-malabsorption from these two drugs, your tissue stores of magnesium became depleted, resulting in muscle spasms, irregularities in heart rate, increased fatigue, irritability, easily-aroused anger and other signs of low magnesium. The cardiologist prescribed a calcium-channel blocker, (Rx #4), to deal with the cardiac symptoms and a statin drug, (Rx #5), to reduce your body's production of cholesterol. You were not told to take Co-enzyme Q10 to offset the inevitable negative impact of the statin drug on mitochondrial function.
Your fatigue, moodiness and irritability continued. You received a prescription to help your sleep, (Rx #6), and a bisphosphonate drug, (Rx #7) to "help your osteoporosis" which resulted from the severe demineralization. Your physician didn't check your magnesium level properly, so you were then prescribed an SSRI to treat "your depression", (Rx #8). After years of relying on fast foods laced with aspartame, MSG and other excitotoxins, the signs of dementia eventually began to appear. At this stage "aggressive treatment" was recommended and two drugs were prescribed to help offset the cognitive decline, (Rx #9 and #10). What a way to begin your retirement.
Gut bugs are implicated in heart attacks and stroke (27 April 2013)
(Reuters) - Thousands of heart attack victims every year have none of the notorious risk factors before their crisis - not high cholesterol, not unhealthy triglycerides. Now the search for the mystery culprits has turned up some surprising suspects: the trillions of bacteria and other microbes living in the human gut.
In a study released on Wednesday, scientists discovered that some of the bugs turn lecithin - a nutrient in egg yolks, liver, beef, pork and wheat germ - into an artery-clogging compound called TMAO. They also found that blood levels of TMAO predict heart attack, stroke or death, and do so "independent of other risk factors," said Dr Stanley Hazen, chairman of cellular and molecular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute, who led the study.
That suggests a TMAO test could enter the arsenal of blood tests that signal possible cardiovascular problems ahead. "TMAO might identify people who are at risk (for heart attacks and strokes) despite having no other risk factors," Hazen said.
The discovery also suggests a new approach to preventing these cardiovascular events: altering gut bacteria so they churn out less TMAO.
Part of landing gear from 9/11 plane is found wedged between luxury condos and Ground Zero Islamic center - 11 years after attacks (27 April 2013) [InfoWars.com]
Police have found a sizable piece of one of the engines from a plane that crashed into the World Trade Center, more than 11 years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The piece of landing gear was found wedged between two buildings just blocks from Ground Zero- in between the buildings at 51 Park Place and 50 Murray Street in downtown Manhattan.
The location is particularly noteworthy because 51 Park Place is the site of the Islamic Cultural Center that stirred up controversy and months of protests two years ago when the site developers wanted to turn it into a mosque.
Just before 7pm Friday, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly arrived on the scene and was escorted inside the rundown building, where he put on a crime scene suit and was led to the site of the unexpected discovery.
Big brains, no fur, sinuses ... are these clues to our ancestors' lives as 'aquatic apes'? (27 April 2013)
It is one of the most unusual evolutionary ideas ever proposed: humans are amphibious apes who lost their fur, started to walk upright and developed big brains because they took to living the good life by the water's edge.
This is the aquatic ape theory and although treated with derision by some academics over the past 50 years, it is still backed by a small, but committed group of scientists. Next week they will hold a major London conference when several speakers, including David Attenborough, will voice support for the theory.
The theory was first proposed in 1960 by British biologist Sir Alister Hardy, who believed apes descended from the trees to live, not on the savannah as is usually supposed, but in flooded creeks, river banks and sea shores, some of Earth's richest sources of food. To keep their heads above water, they evolved an upright stance, freeing their hands to make tools to crack open shellfish. Then they lost their body hair and instead developed a thick layer of subcutaneous fat to keep warm in the water.
Scientists have since added other human attributes of claimed aquatic origin -- a recent addition being the sinus, said Rhys Evans, an expert on head and neck physiology at the Royal Marsden hospital, London.
PAM COMMENTARY: The theory at the end about Omega-3 fatty acids isn't the whole story. Humans don't need much DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), the animal form of Omega-3 fatty acids. We make our own DHA from the plant form of Omega-3s, Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA). We and all animals, including fish, get our ALA from greens, seeds, and nuts.
American tourist faces death penalty in North Korea (27 April 2013)
North Korea has announced that an American tourist is to be tried on charges of plotting to overthrow the government, a crime that carries a possible death penalty.
The case against Korean-American Kenneth Bae, who has been imprisoned in North Korea since early November, could further stoke tensions between Pyongyang and Washington.
Responding to the development, the US State Department said the welfare of US citizens overseas remained a "critical priority" and that it was working with the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang - which looks after American interests in North Korea - in regards to the case.
Bae, 44, was arrested in Rason, a special economic zone in North Korea's far north-eastern region bordering China and Russia, according to official state media.
FBI's longtime director faces criticism of bureau again (27 April 2013)
This month, the FBI has faced fresh assaults over its failure to spot the potential danger from Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a suspect in the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings, after Russia asked the bureau to investigate him two years ago. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in a police shootout and his brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, has been charged in the bombings that killed three people and injured more than 200.
Two senior Republican lawmakers complained Tamerlan Tsarnaev was yet another in a series of cases in which a person investigated by the agency had later taken part in attacks.
Soon after the Boston bombings, the FBI accused an Elvis impersonator of sending letters containing ricin to Obama and other officials, only to quickly drop the charges for a lack of evidence.
Mueller and his leadership team have briefed members of Congress about the cases, but further inquiries are likely.
"I think he is ready to go home. He has had 12 years," said Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee. He praised Mueller, who was first nominated to the job by a Republican president, George W. Bush.
"He has had some major issues to confront, including 9/11, then Russian and China threats, cyber threats," he said.
Did FBI Focus on Controversial Stings Distract from Pursuit of Tsarnaev Before Boston Attacks? (26 April 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Trevor, we've seen this over and over again, and you've looked at it, the tendency of the FBI to use undercover informants who actually become instigators or co-conspirators in a plot to snag folks who otherwise would not be able to commit these crimes.
TREVOR AARONSON: That's right. You know, since 9/11, there have been more than 175 defendants who have been caught in terrorism sting operations. And this is due to a very aggressive policy that has its roots in the current FBI mission of preventing the next attack at whatever cost. And so, what the FBI is looking for are men who they believe, you know, will become the terrorists of tomorrow. They want to catch today that terrorist of tomorrow. And so they look for people who are espousing radical beliefs, who say they want to commit some sort of act of violence, and then they set up, through undercover agents and informants posing as al-Qaeda operatives, these elaborate sting operations in which they provide everything that the target of the sting operation would need. You know, it can be the transportation. That can be the guns and the weapons. In some cases, that can be even the idea for the terrorist attack. And then they put it all together, let the person move forward in the plot, and when they push the button that would detonate the bomb, they then arrest them and announce to the public another terror plot foiled.
But if you look closely at these cases, it's very clear that the men caught in these cases never could have committed their crimes were it not for the FBI providing the means and the opportunity. You know, these are men who are far more aspirational than operational, in the FBI's parlance, and yet the FBI then arrests them and charges them, with the full extent of the law, as if they were terrorists. And, you know, the question I raised in my book, which came out in January before the Boston bombing, is: What are we missing as a result of pursuing these men, who are really of questionable importance, who are really of questionable danger? And I think what the Boston bombing shows is that as we're--as the FBI has been pursuing these men in sting operations whose danger is very questionable, perhaps we're missing the real dangerous guys, such as Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his brother Dzhokhar.
San Francisco and 10 other cities move toward dumping stocks in fossil-fuel companies (26 April 2013)
Oil companies might be awfully profitable right now, but political leaders in San Francisco and 10 other U.S. cities want to dump their investments in them anyway.
San Francisco's Board of Supervisors voted this week to urge the city's investment fund managers to sell off more than $583 million worth of shares in Chevron, ExxonMobil, and some 200 other fossil-fuel companies. This makes San Francisco the biggest city to join the divestment campaign being pushed by 350.org, which began with a focus on colleges and universities. Seattle was the first city to join the campaign; its mayor got on board late last year. Divestment might still be months or years off, if it happens at all, but civic leaders calling for action is a critical first step.
Other cities where leaders have taken moves toward dumping their dirty stocks: Boulder, Colo.; Eugene, Ore.; Ithaca, N.Y.; Madison and Bayfield, Wis.; Sante Fe, N.M.; State College, Pa.; and Berkeley and Richmond, Calif., both in the San Francisco Bay area. Activists in 100 more cities have started circulating petitions calling on their leaders to divest, 350.org says.
Richmond is an interesting example: It's home to a nearly 3,000-acre Chevron oil refinery, so its residents know firsthand about the evils of the oil industry. Not only does the refinery sicken its neighbors -- with an extreme example coming last year when a huge explosion blackened the air and sent 15,000 people to the hospital -- but Chevron is suing Contra Costa County, claiming it was overcharged tens of millions of dollars in property taxes. (And this is a company that made $26 billion in profits last year.)
Mark Zuckerberg's New Political Group Spending Big On Ads Supporting Keystone XL And Oil Drilling (26 April 2013)
Mark Zuckerberg's new political group, which bills itself as a bipartisan entity dedicated to passing immigration reform, has spent considerable resources on ads advocating a host of anti-environmental causes -- including driling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and constructing the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
The umbrella group, co-founded by Facebook's Zuckerberg, NationBuilder's co-founder Joe Green, LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman, Dropbox's Drew Houston, and others in the tech industry, is called FWD.US. Its initial priority is the passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill, including enhanced border security, more visas for workers with special skills, and a pathway to citizenship for those living in the U.S. without legal status. Other long-term priorities for the group include education reform and expanded scientific research.
Watch the ad: [see original article for link]
FWD.US is bankrolling two subsidiary organizations to purchase TV ads to advance the overarching agenda -- one run by veteran Republican political operatives and one led by Democratic strategists. The GOP-lead group, called Americans For A Conservative Direction, has created an ad in support of Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) which praises him for supporting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and expanded drilling elsewhere. The ad, which does not mention immigration policy, also attacks Obamacare, "wasteful stimulus spending," and "seedy Chicago-style politics." Politico reports the group plans a seven-figure buy with this and other ads.
The other group, called Council for American Job Growth and purportedly intended to appeal to liberals, lauds Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) for "working to open ANWR to drilling." The ad also does not mention immigration reform but does highlight Begich's support of a balanced budget amendment.
PAM COMMENTARY: Drilling in ANWR would cause caribou herds that Native people in Alaska and Canada depend upon to decline, permanently. And his "immigration reform" is the same old argument from technology companies for cheap foreign labor.
I don't use Facebook, mostly because it exposes detailed information on peoples' personal lives to stalkers and predators. They've also had problems with their security settings -- something I'd expect from a company that does everything on the cheap.
Solar panels can protect you from terrorism (26 April 2013)
Holy crime-fighting photovoltaic generation, Solar Panelman!
America's top energy regulator says the solar panels that are proliferating on rooftops all over the country could protect against power outages triggered by terrorists.
"The U.S. power grid is vulnerable to terrorist attacks, and the growing use of rooftop solar panels will provide protection against lengthy blackouts, the chairman of the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said."
Smithfield shareholder pushes to break up company (26 April 2013)
One of Smithfield Foods Inc.'s largest shareholders escalated its attack on the pork company Thursday, complaining of "underperformance on every level." It slammed overpaid executives, inexperienced board members and sluggish strategies, and said it would take its case to fellow shareholders later this year.
Smithfield's president and CEO, C. Larry Pope, challenged the shareholder's review, saying in a statement that it was "inherently flawed" and that Smithfield "has a strong track record of taking aggressive action to enhance value for all shareholders."
The shareholder, Continental Grain Co. of New York, last month released a sharply critical analysis of Smithfield, the largest Fortune 500 company based in Hampton Roads. It said Smithfield should spin off its money-losing hog farms and some international holdings and concentrate on its profitable packaged-meats business.
In a filing Thursday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Continental Grain enlarged on its critique in unusually fiery language. One page heading read: "Value has Been Destroyed on Current Management's Watch."
Congress finds it hard to let Federal Helium Program run out of gas (26 April 2013)
President Ronald Reagan tried to get rid of it. So did President Bill Clinton. This October, their wish is finally set to come true.
The Federal Helium Program -- left over from the age of zeppelins and an infamous symbol of Washington's inability to cut what it no longer needs -- will be terminated.
Unless it isn't.
On Friday, in fact, the House voted 394 to 1 to keep it alive.
"The Trials of Muhammad Ali": Boxing Champ's Refusal to Serve in Vietnam Was the Fight of His Life (26 April 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Let's go to another clip from this film you chose to produce, The Trials of Muhammad Ali. This is later in the movie, after Ali has refused to fight in Vietnam. We hear from Ali's former wife, Khalilah Ali; Ali himself; and Captain Sam, who helped bring Muhammad Ali into the Nation of Islam; as well as Ali's brother, Rahman Ali.
KHALILAH ALI: Somebody would come out of nowhere and say, "You draft-dodging nigger, go home!" Well, he didn't like that at all. I said, "We have to do this for a living, man. Don't worry about what people say about you. You've got to keep going." And then he talked back at me and says, "You're not out there getting embarrassed. I'm out there getting embarrassed. What would you do if somebody did that to you?"
MUHAMMAD ALI: I'm not going to help nobody get something our Negroes don't have. If I'm going to die, I'll die now right here fighting you. You're my enemy. My enemy is the white people, not the Viet Cong or Chinese or Japanese. You're my opposer when I want freedom. You're my opposer when I want justice. You're my opposer when I want equality. You won't even stand up for me in America for my religious beliefs, and you want me to go somewhere and fight, but you won't even stand up for me here at home.
KHALILAH ALI: The exiled years were the worst years of me and Ali's life.
Japan tsunami boat found in California to be reunited with home city (26 April 2013)
A small, battered and barnacle-encrusted boat that recently washed ashore in California has been traced to a Japanese city that was devastated by the March 2011 tsunami.
The 20ft panga washed ashore at Crescent on 7 April, prompting an investigation which sourced it to Takata high school in Rikuzentakata, a city in Iwate prefecture, a coastal area still reeling from the earthquake and giant waves of two years ago. The news had made Rikuzentakata "giddy" with delight and it wished to reclaim the boat, said a spokesperson for the city.
The National National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration confirmed the origin of the boat on Thursday after conferring with the Japanese consulate in San Francisco. "As of 4 April, NOAA has received approximately 1,691 official debris reports, of which we have been able to confirm that 27 items are definite tsunami debris as of today. The skiff is the first confirmed item for California," NOAA spokeswoman Keeley Belva said in an email.
The 26 other confirmed tsunami debris have been found in Alaska, British Columbia, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington.
Dozens feared dead in Russian psychiatric hospital fire (26 April 2013)
Andrei Vorobyov, interim governor of the Moscow region, said a nurse had led two patients to safety. He said 36 others were believed to have been in the hospital when the fire broke out, but another local official said 38 were feared dead.
"Those who were in there said it happened in a flash. The nurse opened the door to the room and there was smoke, and even when she saw the fire she could not get to the fire extinguisher. It all happened very quickly," he told Russia 24 television.
He said some windows had been barred to meet regulations while others had not, so the investigators would be able to determine whether they had prevented people from escaping.
"Obviously, all the patients were sleeping and they were sick people ... so they would have needed help to get out," he said, adding that the nearest fire station was a 40-minute drive away.
President Vladimir Putin called for an explanation of the "tragedy" and told emergency services to do all they could to help.
Obama's Bush Library Speech Leaves Iraq And More Unspoken (25 April 2013)
So there Obama was Thursday, forced by the demands of the occasion to utter words both respectful to his predecessor yet true to his many past criticisms of same. Not the easiest task, but that's what speechwriters are for.
Obama confronted the difficulty by suggesting that, like all presidents, Bush made missteps. The president didn't get specific.
Obama included the mention of "mistakes" in a section of his speech in which he expressed sympathy with Bush:
"The first thing I found in that desk the day I took office was a letter from George, and one that demonstrated his compassion and generosity. For he knew that I would come to learn what he had learned -- that being president, above all, is a humbling job. There are moments where you make mistakes. There are times where you wish you could turn back the clock. And what I know is true about President Bush, and I hope my successor will say about me, is that we love this country and we do our best."
PAM COMMENTARY: I suppose it's hard to come up with something polite to say to America's version of Adolf Hitler. How about, "Thanks for making me into a hero, just for not being you!"
Bill Clinton Calls Out (With a Smile) George W. Bush for Rewriting History (25 April 2013)
Leave it to former president Bill Clinton to point out that the Bush Library is the latest attempt by an ex-president to rewrite history. Clinton began his speech by calling the library, "latest grandest example of the eternal struggle of former Presidents to rewrite history."
Former President Clinton's speech maintained his friendly tone, and highlighted the personal friendship between himself and Bush, but his not so subtle dig at rewriting history was something that everyone has been thinking.
Clinton lavished plenty of praise on former President Bush for his commitment to aid for Africa as president, but the Democratic icon largely kept away from the policies of the Bush years that he disagreed with so vehemently. It must drive former President Clinton up the wall that Bush came into office and wrecked the budget surplus that he left behind. Former President Clinton was also a vocal critic of the Bush tax cuts while campaigning for President Obama last year.
What Bill Clinton said wasn't devastating, but it was a knowing nod to the dog and pony show that has been the Bush Library dedication. His remarks about rewriting history were a bit of wink and a nod. It was his gentle way of letting the audience know that he is in on the joke, and understands that this whole thing in terms of politics, is a load of bull.
Chris Hayes explains how Dick Cheney's son-in-law was responsible for Texas plant explosion by blocking chemical plant regulation (25 April 2013)
MSNBC host Chris Hayes on Thursday night explained the key role Dick Cheney's son-in-law played in keeping chemical plants free of regulations.
Concerns were raised in 2002 that chemical plants in populated areas -- like the one that recently exploded in West, Texas -- were vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
The heads of Department of Homeland Security and Environmental Protection Agency had planned to regulate the security of chemical sites, but Dick Cheney's son-in-law Philip Perry stepped in and informed them they lacked the authority to do so without congressional legislation.
At the time, Perry was serving as the general counsel of the Office of Management and Budget at the White House.
"Basically, the Bush administration from above pulled support for that bill because the chemical industry does not want to be regulated by the EPA," Hayes said.
"Fast forward to 2007, and Philip Perry -- again, Dick Cheney's son-in-law -- is at the Department of Homeland Security as general counsel. What he managed to do in an appropriations rider is slip in industry friendly language into the bill that moves the task of regulating chemical plants from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Department of Homeland Security. But DHS is given none of the tools it would need to do that."
Falsely Identified 'Boston Bomber' Found Dead In River (25 April 2013) [InfoWars.com]
One of the individuals identified by 4chan users as a possible Boston bombing accomplice has been found dead in the Providence River.
"Police in Providence pulled a man's body from the Providence River on Tuesday, and authorities said it is "very possible" that it is Sunil Tripathi, 22, a former Brown University student who has been missing since mid-March," reports the Boston Globe.
Tripathi's possible connection to the Boston bombing was first raised by users of the 4chan website when it was pointed out that his image bore a similarity to one of the suspects first named by the FBI who later turned out to be Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev.
Users of the Reddit website later apologized to Tripathi's family for making the erroneous connection, with one moderator writing, "We cannot begin to know what you're going through and for that we are truly sorry."
Damage From Large Fire Closes JFK Library Indefinitely (25 April 2013) [Rense.com]
The John F. Kennedy (JFK) Library across the street from UMass Boston is closed until further notice due to a fire that broke out on April 15.
Firefighters from Dorchester, South Boston, Roxbury, and Jamaica Plain responded to the large fire, which was called in around 3 p.m. Freshman Nolan O'Brien saw the fire and said he saw "very, very dark smoke." He added that "the wind kinda blew it, and [the fire] looked larger than it really was."
O'Brien lives in Squantum, a part of Quincy where residents can see the library across the harbor. Just before 3 p.m., O'Brien said he saw smoke rising from the area. O'Brien recalled, "I was outside with my mother and my younger cousin, and we just were out in the yard. All of a sudden, we looked across the bay, and a huge plume of smoke was rising from JFK Library that was not there 30 seconds before... It was very instantaneous."
During firefighting operations, police officials from the Massachusetts State Police, MBTA Transit Police, and Boston Police Department arrived on the scene in order to investigate whether the fire might have had some relation to the Boston Marathon bombings.
Police were not the only ones who thought that there may have been a link. O'Brien said that he "ran inside and turned on the news, and at that same time the breaking news had just come on about the marathon bombing." After seeing the newsflash, his first thought was, "They may have been connected."
Bomb squad technicians and canine units examined the area, but did not come up with any evidence of a bomb or suspicious device.
HIV vaccine study halted by US government over unsuccessful shots (25 April 2013)
The US government halted a large HIV vaccine study on Thursday, saying the experimental shots were not successful in preventing infection.
Nor did the shots reduce the amount of the Aids virus in the blood when people who had been vaccinated later became infected, the National Institutes of Health said.
"It's disappointing," said Dr Anthony Fauci, head of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. But he said there was "important information" gained from the study that will help determine what to try next.
The study had enrolled 2,504 volunteers, mostly gay men, in 19 cities since 2009. Half received dummy shots, and half received a two-part experimental vaccine developed by the NIH. All were provided free condoms and given extensive counseling about the risks of HIV.
Over 200 Killed in Bangladesh Factory Collapse After Workers Forced to Ignore Building's Dangers (25 April 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Kalpona Akter, some of the press reports say that there had been a--there was a bank in the first floor of the building, as well as some other commercial establishments, that after the crack was discovered Tuesday did close down, but meanwhile the factory--the factories above the first floor stayed open? Is that accurate?
KALPONA AKTER: Yes, it was accurate. Like, the bank did move their staff, so there wasn't any staff from the bank. And in the other stories, there was shops; those was closed. But the workers themselves, they were forced to go. And I had a chance to see a video of the building owner, who was saying, "Oh, it doesn't matter. There is a crack only. And engineers, they came, and they said workers can work," which is a lie, which is lie. This building was totally damaged, and it wasn't ready to work--I mean, ready to have a factory even.
AMY GOODMAN: And how large was this crack, that so many people noticed it?
KALPONA AKTER: It was large. The crack was like from fifth floor to, yeah, above to the downstairs, so it was a big crack.
New bird flu show signs of direct jump to humans (25 April 2013)
There's evidence the new H7N9 bird flu virus is transmitted from chickens at poultry markets in China to humans, a small study suggests.
In Thursday's online issue of the medical journal The Lancet, researchers gave some of the first detailed information about how H7N9 affects people.
Scientists compared throat and lower respiratory swabs from four people who caught the virus to swabs from 86 birds at live markets in eastern China. They also examined the genetic sequence of the virus.
"Cross species poultry-to-person transmission of this new ... H7N9 virus is associated with severe pneumonia and multiorgan dysfunction in human beings," Dr. Yu Chen of Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, and co-authors concluded.
Off-duty Navy sailor blocks Dubai rape attempt with leg stranglehold (25 April 2013)
A female off-duty U.S. Navy sailor who was attacked by a bus driver in Dubai wrestled her would-be rapist into submission with a leg strangle hold, according to court testimony on Tuesday reported by The National.
The woman, whose identity was not disclosed, was on 24-hour shore leave on Jan. 19 and was attempting to hail a cab when a bus pulled up beside her. After boarding, the sailor became suspicious of the route the driver took.
"I noticed he did not take the main road and when I asked him he told me not to worry," she said during court proceedings.
The driver pulled over 10 minuts [sic] later and tried to kiss her. When she refused her advances, he threatened her with a knife. The sailor then knocked the knife out of his hand and wrestled him to the ground using a leg stranglehold. She later reported the incident to her commander.
Police said the driver, identified only as 21-year-old KS from Pakistan, was drunk when he was arrested and claims not to remember what happened. He was charged with "attempted rape, threatening to kill, assault and consuming alcohol illegally," but he has only pleaded guilty to the alcohol charge.
Joe Fresh customers vow boycott after Bangladesh factory collapse (25 April 2013)
Joe Fresh customers horrified by scenes of carnage and destruction after a deadly garment factory collapse in Bangladesh warned they would boycott the Toronto fashion label until there was proof of change.
The building in an industrial suburb of Dhaka collapsed Wednesday, killing at least 238 people, many of them poorly paid workers who were forced to keep producing clothes even after police ordered an evacuation due to deep, visible cracks in the walls.
Loblaw confirmed Wednesday that suppliers for its Joe Fresh clothing line made garments in the eight-storey building, which housed multiple factories.
"I may look good in your clothes, but I no longer feel good," customer Karine LeBlanc posted on the Joe Fresh Facebook page.
Bush's legacy keeps getting worse (25 April 2013)
In retrospect, George W. Bush's legacy doesn't look as bad as it did when he left office. It looks worse.
I join the nation in congratulating Bush on the opening of his presidential library in Dallas. Like many people, I find it much easier to honor, respect and even like the man -- now that he's no longer in the White House.
But anyone tempted to get sentimental should remember the actual record of the man who called himself The Decider. Begin with the indelible stain that one of his worst decisions left on our country's honor: torture.
Hiding behind the euphemism "enhanced interrogation techniques," Bush made torture official U.S. policy. Just about every objective observer has agreed with this stark conclusion. The most recent assessment came this month in a 576-page report from a task force of the bipartisan Constitution Project, which stated that "it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture."
Child Hunger Is Exploding In Greece -- And 14 Signs That It Is Starting To Happen In America Too (25 April 2013) [InfoWars.com]
The world is heading into a horrific economic nightmare, and an inordinate amount of the suffering is going to fall on innocent children. If you want to get an idea of what America is going to look like in the not too distant future, just check out what is happening in Greece. At this point, Greece is experiencing a full-blown economic depression. As I have written about previously, the unemployment rate in Greece has now risen to 27 percent, which is much higher than the peak unemployment rate that the U.S. economy experienced during the Great Depression of the 1930s. And as you will read about below, child hunger is absolutely exploding in Greece right now. Some families are literally trying to survive on pasta and ketchup. But don't think for a moment that it can't happen here. Sadly, the truth is that child hunger is already rising very rapidly in our poverty-stricken cities. Never before have we had so many Americans unable to take care of themselves. Food stamp enrollment and child homelessness have soared to brand new all-time records, and there are actually thousands of Americans that are so poor that they live in tunnels underneath our cities. But for millions of other Americans, the suffering is not quite so dramatic. Instead, they just watch their hopes and their dreams slowly slip away as they struggle to find a way to make it from month to month. There are millions of parents that lead lives that are filled with constant stress and anxiety as they try to figure out how to provide the basics for their children. How do you tell a child that you can't give them any dinner even though you have been trying as hard as you can? What many families go through on a regular basis is absolutely heartbreaking. Unfortunately, more poor families slip through the cracks with each passing day, and these are supposedly times in which we are experiencing an "economic recovery". So what are things going to look like when the next major economic downturn strikes?
A recent New York Times article detailed the horrifying child hunger that we are witnessing in Greece right now. At some schools there are reports of children actually begging for food from their classmates...
"As an elementary school principal, Leonidas Nikas is used to seeing children play, laugh and dream about the future. But recently he has seen something altogether different, something he thought was impossible in Greece: children picking through school trash cans for food; needy youngsters asking playmates for leftovers; and an 11-year-old boy, Pantelis Petrakis, bent over with hunger pains.
"'He had eaten almost nothing at home,' Mr. Nikas said, sitting in his cramped school office near the port of Piraeus, a working-class suburb of Athens, as the sound of a jump rope skittered across the playground. He confronted Pantelis's parents, who were ashamed and embarrassed but admitted that they had not been able to find work for months. Their savings were gone, and they were living on rations of pasta and ketchup."
NASA measures effects of jet engine biofuel (25 April 2013)
HAMPTON, Va. (AP) -- NASA researchers say a series of test flights in California has shown a commercial jet could safely fly with a blend of jet fuel made from camelina plant oil while producing fewer emissions.
Scientists at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton released the preliminary results of their research on Thursday.
Among other things, they said there was no noticeable difference in the engine performance of a DC-8 airplane flying as high as 39,000 feet on the biofuel mix. The researchers also said that under certain conditions the biofuel mix produced 30 percent fewer emissions.
Researchers used a specially outfitted airplane to analyze the DC-8's contrails, coming as close as 300 feet to the aircraft while in flight. The flights occurred near Edwards Air Force Base between February and April.
Massive, uncontained leak at Fukushima is pouring over 710 billion becquerels of radioactive materials into atmosphere (24 April 2013)
(NaturalNews) The tsunami-caused nuclear accident at the Fukushima power station in Japan is the disaster that never ends, as new reports indicate that a wealth of new radioactive materials have been spewed into the atmosphere.
According to Singapore-based news outlet AsiaOne, the Tokyo Electric Power Co., which owns the multi-nuclear reactor power station at Fukushima, announced April 6 that some 120 tons of water that had been contaminated with radioactive substances had leaked from an underground storage facility at the No. 1 atomic power plant site.
Running out of storage room?
TEPCO officials announced the leak late in the day April 5, a Friday, "but said measures to address the problem had not been taken for two days because the cause had not been identified," AsiaOne reported. The company "assumed the water was still leaking."
According to company officials TEPCO estimates that the leaked water contains about 710 billion becquerels of radioactive substances, making it the largest leak of radioactive materials ever at the plant. Discovery of the leak led the company to transfer about 13,000 tons of polluted, radioactive water in the questionable storage area to a neighboring underground storage unit.
Diabetes warning over soft drinks (24 April 2013)
Drinking one or more cans of sugary soft drinks a day is linked to an increased risk of diabetes in later life, a study suggests.
A can a day raises the relative risk of Type-2 diabetes by about a fifth, compared with one can a month or under, say European scientists.
The report in the journal Diabetologia mirrors previous US findings.
A diabetes charity recommends limiting sugary foods and drinks as they are calorific and can cause weight gain.
Federal bill would require labeling of genetically modified food (24 April 2013)
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) on Wednesday introduced legislation that would require labeling for all genetically engineered foods.
The Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act (PDF) would require any food that contains genetically engineered ingredients be labeled accordingly by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. If approved by Congress and signed into law, the United States would join more than 60 countries that require food labels to disclose genetically engineered ingredients.
"Americans have the right to know what is in the food they eat so they can make the best choices for their families," Boxer said. "This legislation is supported by a broad coalition of consumer groups, businesses, farmers, fishermen and parents who all agree that consumers deserve more -- not less -- information about the food they buy."
Experts generally regard genetically engineered foods as safe to eat, but debate has raged over the long-term health and environmental consequences of tinkering with the genetic composition of food. Scientists have sought to increase the yield or nutritious value of crops by introducing genes from different organisms. Agricultural giant Monsanto has used genetic engineering to produce "Roundup Ready" crops, which are resistant to the company's herbicides.
Smithfield focuses on pork sales to China as Virginia opens trade office there (24 April 2013)
Virginia opened a Shanghai office Tuesday to promote the export of agricultural and forestry products from the commonwealth.
An announcement from Gov. Bob McDonnell's office says the northern China office reflects an effort to build on past marketing efforts in the world's most populous country, already a major buyer of Virginia products. The office will be run by Annie Kang, president of Shanghai Rui Nian Investment Management Co.
Kang has worked in a similar capacity with the Virginia Port Authority in Shanghai before, and she is currently listed as part of state-formed port operator Virginia International Terminals' international sales team.
In a press release, McDonnell said total agricultural exports for Virginia are $2.61 billion, with China responsible for more than 20 percent of that business. That, he said, shows tremendous progress.
EPA settles with Wis. utilities on coal plant air pollution (22 April 2013)
Wisconsin utilities are spending $1.2 billion to clean up aging coal-fired power plants and shutting down older plants under a settlement announced Monday with federal environmental regulators.
Under the settlement, filed in federal court in Madison on Earth Day, the utilities will be assessed a civil penalty of $2.45 million for alleged violations of air pollution laws over the years.
Wisconsin Power & Light Co. and the other utilities also agreed to pay $8.5 million to fund a series of environmental projects over the next five years. The projects include a $5 million investment in solar power and a $2 million investment to boost power production at wind and hydroelectric projects in Wisconsin.
But the big-ticket item in the settlement is the nearly $1.2 billion the utilities are spending to keep the largest of the coal plants operating by adding more modern pollution controls.
Troubled slaughter: Big Ag fights to keep out prying eyes (24 April 2013)
There's a Paul McCartney quote popular with veg-heads: "If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian." It may not be quite as simple as all that, but he's definitely got a point.
For a little over 10 years, groups such as Mercy for Animals, the Humane Society of the United States, and Compassion Over Killing have conducted undercover investigations into abuses and rules violations on factory farms, and publicized what they've documented to lobby for change.
It's worked: Individual campaigns have resulted in business closures, criminal charges, and even broader changes in social behavior. That has got Big Animal Ag scared.
So it has done what Big Ag does best: crafted legislation and lobbied for it. State farm-protection laws, or "ag-gags," as The New York Times' Mark Bittman lovingly called them, come in many different forms, mixing various combinations of restrictions on undercover filming and activist access to farms and slaughterhouses. Some of the laws give a nod to the value of whistleblowers but require that damning footage be handed over to law enforcement within a day or two, immediately blowing the cover of investigations that would typically last from two to six weeks.
George W. Bush Tells Jeb to 'Run,' Says Jeb vs. Hillary Would Make 'Fantastic Photo' (24 April 2013) [InfoWars.com]
[...] "He'd be a marvelous candidate if he chooses to do so. He doesn't need my counsel 'cause he knows what it is, which is 'run,' " the elder Bush brother said about Jeb's possible candidacy, in an interview that first aired Wednesday on "World News with Diane Sawyer." "But whether he does or not, it's a very personal decision."
The former president even allowed himself to picture the potential 2016 matchup: Jeb Bush vs. Hillary Rodham Clinton. It would be a family rematch of the 1992 election, when George H.W. Bush lost to Bill Clinton.
"It'll be a fantastic photo here. It would certainly eclipse the museum and the center," Bush said on the eve of the formal opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University, just outside Dallas. "I'm interested in politics. I'm, you know, I'm fascinated by all the gossip and stuff that goes on. But the field won't be become clear 'til after the midterms."
PAM COMMENTARY: More bad advice from George W. Bush. Jeb's guaranteed to lose, thanks to his brother and father leaving a legacy of mass murder and economic ruin.
Three injured in fuel barge explosion in Mobile River near Austal (live updates, videos) (25 April 2013)
Update at 2:30 a.m. A seventh explosion rocked the Mobile River at roughly 2 a.m. A Coast Guard official told AL.com the safety zone is still in place. The official also re-iterated it is gasoline - not LNG - that keeps the fire burning. Firefighters are still standing by as the fire burns through the night.
MOBILE, Alabama -- Three people were hurt in a fuel barge explosion on the east side of Mobile River on Wednesday night, Mobile Fire-Rescue reported.
The fuel barges were at Oil Recovery Co. of Alabama's Marine Gas Free Facility at 200 Dunlap Drive on the Mobile River's east bank.
The barges were partially emptied, according to Steve Huffman, spokesperson for Mobile Fire-Rescue.
Fuel barges explode, catch fire in Ala.; 3 injured (25 April 2013)
MOBILE, Ala. (AP) -- Multiple explosions aboard two fuel barges near Mobile, Ala., led to a major fire Wednesday night that left three people critically injured with burns and created a situation so unstable that fire and rescue officials decided to let the fire burn into the night.
Firefighters from Mobile and U.S. Coast Guard officials responded after 8:30 p.m. CDT to a pair of explosions involving the gas barges in an area of the Mobile River east of downtown, authorities said.
As they were responding, a third explosion occurred at about 9:30 p.m., Mobile Fire and Rescue spokesman Steve Huffman wrote in an email to The Associated Press. Three more explosions followed over the next few hours.
The Coast Guard said early Thursday that a one-nautical-mile safety zone had been established around one barge, which it said was "at the dock for cleaning."
Authorities said three people were transported to University of South Alabama Medical Center after suffering burn-related injuries. Huffman identified them as workers with Oil Recovery Co. The three were in critical condition early Thursday, according to hospital nursing administrator Danny Whatley.
Fire officials said they planned to let the barges burn overnight.
Many trapped in Bangladesh building rubble as toll climbs to 187 (25 April 2013)
(Reuters) - Survivors from a building that collapsed in Bangladesh killing at least 187 mainly women workers described hearing a deafening crack before the complex housing factories supplying Western clothes retailers crashed down in a matter of seconds.
Many more were feared trapped in the rubble after the disaster, which comes five months after a factory fire killed 112 people and could further hurt Bangladesh's reputation as a source of low-cost goods for European and North American firms.
Local residents helped pull survivors from the twisted wreckage of the eight-storey Rana Plaza building in Savar, 30 km (20 miles) outside the capital Dhaka, which collapsed on Wednesday. More than 1,000 people were injured.
Relatives identified their dead among rows of corpses.
"An unspecified number of victims are still trapped," said Mizanur Rahman, a rescue worker with the fire brigade, as he clambered over the wreckage. "We can't be certain of getting them all out alive. We are losing a bit of hope."
2013 New Orleans Jazz Fest will be old and new, local and national (25 April 2013)
The 44th annual New Orleans Jazz Fest, which opens on Friday, April 26, follows the similar, successful blueprint of recent festivals. That blueprint seeks to strike an agreeable balance between old and new, local and national.
Categorically speaking, this year's headliners match up neatly with 2012's. Both years boasted mass-appeal baby boomer bands as the closing Acura Stage acts on the two Saturday nights. In 2012, it was The Eagles and Tom Petty. This year, it's Billy Joel and Fleetwood Mac.
Once again, a younger-skewing rock band is in the penultimate Acura Stage slot on the final Sunday. In place of last year's Foo Fighters are this year's Black Keys.
At Congo Square, alternate new school R&B (last year: Cee-Lo Green, Ne-Yo, Janelle Monae; this year, Jill Scott, Kem) and old-school (Frankie Beverly & Maze, both '12 and '13). Also include a major Latin artist (last year, Paulina Rubio; this year, Juan Luis Guerra y 440).
Spilled tar sands oil could be creeping toward the Arkansas River (24 April 2013)
On his brief journey, Young undoubtedly saw crews without respirators working in an area locals call the Cove. They are hard to miss. The Cove -- along with nearby Lake Conway, a popular fishing and boating spot -- has become a point of contention in Mayflower.
ExxonMobil has insisted that it stopped the oil from seeping from the Cove into Lake Conway. But Mayflower residents and environmental activists say they smell something fishy, and it's not in the lake. It is a scheme by ExxonMobil to make everything look copacetic, when in fact it is not. Considering what we now know about how BP handled the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, that wouldn't be surprising.
And one oil spill specialist isn't taking ExxonMobil's word. He says there's crude in the lake, and he has the tests to prove it.
Scott Smith, CEO of the company Opflex Solutions, dropped a bombshell this week when he told a group of Mayflower residents that water samples tested by an independent lab show chemicals such as barium and methylene chloride -- often found in tar sands oil -- in Lake Conway.
Many locals fish in Lake Conway and eat what they catch. Both barium and methylene chloride have been shown to cause health problems including cancer.
Norfolk hospital criticized for stopping water births (24 April 2013)
Errica Swartwood first heard the news on a Facebook page frequented by fans of natural childbirth:
Water births at the Midwifery Center at DePaul were being discontinued.
The news traveled quickly. The idea of sitting in a tub of warm water to help ease labor pain and childbirth is one reason mothers-to-be seek out the Midwifery Center - the only facility like it in the region.
The center is staffed by certified nurse midwives who help women deliver their babies with as little medical intervention as possible. For some women who don't want to use medications such as anesthetic shots, the birthing tub can help them relax through the pain of childbirth.
WHO says new bird strain is "one of most lethal" flu viruses (24 April 2013)
(Reuters) - A new bird flu strain that has killed 22 people in China is "one of the most lethal" of its kind and transmits more easily to humans than another strain that has killed hundreds since 2003, a World Health Organization (WHO) expert said on Wednesday.
The H7N9 flu has infected 108 people in China since it was first detected in March, according to the Geneva-based WHO.
Although it is not clear exactly how people are being infected, experts say they see no evidence so far of the most worrisome scenario - sustained transmission between people.
An international team of scientists led by the WHO and the Chinese government conducted a five-day investigation in China, but said they were no closer to determining whether the virus might become transmissible between people.
Massive Malaysia monkey cull spurs concerns (24 April 2013)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - On the hilly eastern fringes of Kuala Lumpur, where the suburbs meet the jungle, people run, bike and play golf. Others simply come to watch the ever-present monkeys.
That's why many Malaysians were shocked to discover that the country's wildlife department viewed the long-tailed macaque as a pest - and killed 97,119 last year across the country.
"I come here because I want my daughter to know about the monkeys," said local businessman Zul Kamarulzaman, cradling his one-year-old girl in his arms and protecting her from the rain.
"I think the word pest is quite inappropriate. They shouldn't be killing them," Zul said.
Why the American public isn't mad as hell about the failure of the gun bill (in numbers) (24 April 2013)
The Senate's defeat of a package of popular proposals aimed at curbing gun violence last week seemed certain to foment public outrage at out-of-touch politicians who don't listen to their constituents.
Not so much, according to a new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll. Yes, a plurality (47 percent) describe themselves as either "angry" or "disappointed" about the failure of the gun legislation but 39 percent call themselves "relieved" or "happy" about what happened. That's a far cry from the 90-ish percent support that expanding background checks -- the centerpiece of the proposed legislation -- enjoyed.
And, among those who said they were "very closely" keeping tabs on the vote, the split was even closer; 48 percent said they were angry/disappointed while 47 percent were relieved or happy. (That piece of data is indicative of the passion gap on the issue between those supporting gun rights and those pushing for more restrictions.)
Viewed broadly, the new Post-Pew poll numbers suggest that, in the end, the Senate vote last week wound up functioning in the minds of most Americans as a sort of stand-in for how they feel about gun rights more generally as opposed to the specifics (background checks in particular) of the legislation.
Australia originally settled by 1,000-3,000 people 50,000 years ago: study (24 April 2013)
Australia was first settled by between 1,000 and 3,000 humans around 50,000 years ago, but the population crashed during the Ice Age before recovering to a peak of some 1.2 million people around five centuries ago, a study said on Wednesday.
Estimating the early population of Australia is a source of debate in anthropology, partly because it touches on how European colonisation affected the country's indigenous people.
In an paper published by Britain's Royal Society, Alan Williams of the Australian National University in Canberra took a fresh look at investigations into ancient settlements where charcoal and other sources have been carbon-dated.
Using this data as a telltale of population change, Williams believes the first inhabitants of Australia arrived around 50,000 years ago and comprised a "founding group" of between 1,000 and 3,000 people.
Charges dropped against Elvis impersonator accused of sending poison letters to Obama after lawyer claims he was framed by former friend (23 April 2013)
Charges have been dropped against a Mississippi man charged with sending ricin-laced poison letters to President Barack Obama, a U.S. senator and a state judge after his lawyer argued that he has been framed by a former friend.
'I've never heard of ricin or whatever. I thought they said rice. I told them I don't eat rice,' Kevin Curtis said at a press conference today, describing the moment he was questioned by federal authorities.
Defense lawyer Christi McCoy said whoever framed her client was able to lead the FBI to his door simply by including Curtis' catch-phrase 'I'm KC and I approve this message' and a few other clues in the threatening notes that were mailed to Washington.
McCoy suggested in court on Monday that federal authorities should instead investigate J. Everett Dutschke, an accused child molester who unsuccessfully ran for a Mississippi state House seat against the son of one of the ricin targets.
McCoy said Dutschke recently had a falling out with Curtis after an argument over email. Dutschke and Curtis' brother are former business partners.
On Tuesday local police and federal agents searched Dutschke home and asked him to take a lie detector test. Dutschke has denied any involvement in the threats and has not been accused of wrongdoing by authorities.
Boston bombing suspect cites U.S. wars as motivation, officials say (23 April 2013)
The 19-year-old suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings has told interrogators that the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan motivated him and his brother to carry out the attack, according to U.S. officials familiar with the interviews.
From his hospital bed, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has acknowledged his role in planting the explosives near the marathon finish line on April 15, the officials said. The first successful large-scale bombing in the post-Sept. 11, 2001, era, the Boston attack killed three people and wounded more than 250 others.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing investigation, said Dzhokhar and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed by police as the two attempted to avoid capture, do not appear to have been directed by a foreign terrorist organization.
Rather, the officials said, the evidence so far suggests they were "self-radicalized" through Internet sites and U.S. actions in the Muslim world. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has specifically cited the U.S. war in Iraq, which ended in December 2011 with the removal of the last American forces, and the war in Afghanistan, where President Obama plans to end combat operations by the end of 2014.
PAM COMMENTARY: Yet another reason that Bush/Cheney should have been impeached and booted from office.
Jeremy Scahill: The Secret Story Behind Obama's Assassination of Two Americans in Yemen (23 April 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
JEREMY SCAHILL: There's this a whole other part of this story, which is that Awlaki, at his mosque in San Diego, two of the 9/11 hijackers had been--had attended services at his mosque, and a third one had also attended services with one of the other guys at his mosque in Virginia. And the FBI--he was already on their radar, but they brought Awlaki in a number of times for questioning, and they basically cleared him and said that he had--you know, had nothing to do with those guys except knowing them peripherally in his mosque. But that's been the source of a lot of--of intense scrutiny in the aftermath of the attack and everything that happened with Awlaki, because some people believe that he was directly attached to the 9/11 attacks, which I think is a preposterous--I mean, it's nonsensical to think that these guys would have keyed in Anwar Awlaki to the 9/11 attacks at a time when he was viewed as a very moderate guy. He endorsed George Bush for president in the 2000 election. In fact, Bush had a lot of support in the Arab-American community, because many people felt that he would be better than Al Gore on the issue of Palestine. And so, you know--but Awlaki had had this contact with these 9/11 hijackers. He also had been busted twice on solicitation of prostitute charges, and then those were resolved through community service and probation. But--
AMY GOODMAN: And were they real?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, we don't know. Awlaki says that they weren't, that it was a--that it was a setup. You know, I've--
AMY GOODMAN: To try to flip him?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, so what happened is that he gets busted, I think the first time in '96 in San Diego on a solicitation charge, and then he's pulled in. And he claimed--Awlaki claimed that the FBI tried to get him to start informing on people in his mosque and keeping an eye on them and telling them who was coming in and out of his mosque, and, you know, claimed that he told them to get lost. There was actually an interesting sort of development with this whole story, in that Awlaki had repeated interactions with the FBI. And I talked to a former senior FBI agent who had worked the Awlaki case, and said he believed that the bureau was trying to flip him or that they maybe had in fact gotten Awlaki to start doing some informing.
And so, when Awlaki then, years later, leaves the United States, he's looking--you know, in terms of his public persona, he's looking at the impending invasion of Iraq, he's looking at Guantánamo starting to grab headlines around the world and the images that we saw coming out of that, people being dressed in orange jumpers with hoods on their head, and, you know, eventually then the Abu Ghraib photos. But he also had this private battle that he was waging with the FBI. They were really putting pressure on him to become a full-blown informant.
New York City moves to outlaw cigarette sales to smokers under 21 (23 April 2013)
New York City took the first step on Monday in outlawing sales of cigarettes to anyone under age 21, in an effort to reduce smoking among the age group in which most smokers take up the habit.
The bill, which was introduced by the city council and has the backing of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, would make New York City, which already has the highest cigarette taxes in the nation, the first big city or state to set the smoking age at 21. Currently, individuals must be 18 to buy cigarettes.
Eight in 10 adult smokers in the city started smoking regularly when they were below the age of 21, and most smokers who are under age 18 obtain cigarettes from individuals who are just a few years older than them, city officials said.
While an increase in cigarette taxes contributed to a 15-point drop among youth smokers from 1999 to 2007, the number of high-school-aged smokers has held steady at about 8.5 percent over the last six years.
Controlling the Corolla horse numbers, 1 dart at a time (23 April 2013)
Wesley Stallings, the herd manager for Corolla Wild Horse Fund, kept a bead on the herd, looking for a chance at a clean shot at one of the black stallion's possible partners -- a red mare nicknamed Terra Ceia. As the herd slowed to a walk, Stallings stuck an air pistol out of the window of his SUV, pulled the trigger and sent the dart on target into her right rear hip.
"Last week, we didn't miss a single horse," he said.
It's not open season on horses in the Outer Banks. But it's always mating season.
Stallings' job is to prevent the herd from growing, and he uses a contraceptive dart to do his bidding. He started his hunt a week ago for 53 mares. So far, he has darted 17.
Use your personal smartphone for work email? Your company might take it (23 April 2013)
If you use your personal smartphone or tablet to read work email, your company may have to seize the device some day, and you may not get it back for months.
Employees armed with a battery of smartphones and other gadgets they own are casually connecting to work email and other employer servers. It's a less-than-ideal security arrangement that technology pros call BYOD -- bring your own device.
Now, lawyers are warning there's an unforeseen consequence of BYOD. If a company is involved in litigation -- civil or criminal -- personal cellphones that were used for work email or other company activity are liable to be confiscated and examined for evidence during discovery or investigation.
It's a possibility even technology pros rarely consider, said Michael R. Overly, a technology law expert in Los Angeles.
Light drinking during pregnancy affects IQ in children (22 April 2013)
(NaturalNews) For several decades, consuming alcohol during pregnancy was considered a no-no. Many neurological studies on young children whose mothers were heavy drinkers helped derive a set of developmental and behavioral impairments known as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).
Mothers who are borderline alcoholic or worse often give birth to FAS children, who are impaired with learning disabilities, decision making disabilities, growth and sociability impairments, and sometimes with an IQ that falls into the retarded range.
Not a politically correct term, but one that was used in a 1999 Wayne University (Detroit) meta-study analysis of several other studies on FAS and alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND).
ARND is the lesser of two evils, a shadow of FAS symptoms, but often marked by attention or impulsive behavior, even Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ARND was observationally discovered among children whose mothers drank moderately, usually one or two drinks daily for a few days each week.
Earth Day Exclusive: Tim DeChristopher Speaks Out After 21 Months in Prison for Disrupting Oil Bid (22 April 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Start with the day. Tell us what you did, and then take us through that period of incarceration.
TIM DECHRISTOPHER: Well, that day in 2008, I showed up at the auction and walked in and decided to do whatever I could to stand in the way of it and thought that might be, you know, making a speech or disrupting it somehow. But when I walked in, they asked me if I wanted to be a bidder. And so, I said, "Yes," and saw right away that there was an opportunity to have a serious impact on it. And so I took that opportunity and started bidding, started outbidding all the oil companies. And that caused enough of a delay then that it drew a lot of attention to the auction and to the laws that the government wasn't following in holding that auction. So it was ultimately overturned by the new Obama administration. And then, a few months later, I was indicted on a couple of felony charges. And that led to a very long legal process and also my new role as an activist, traveling around the country and kind of developing a new skill set for myself. And--
AMY GOODMAN: Tim, a quick question: Since you were able to pay for the land, not that you had those finances yourself, but in raising money, why weren't you able just to buy the land?
TIM DECHRISTOPHER: The Bureau of Land Management just decided not to accept my payment when I offered it to them a couple weeks after the auction. They said that I wasn't a normal bidder, so they simply didn't accept it. And that's also something that I wasn't able to tell the jury during the trial.
Earth Day 2013: What's in danger is Earth Day, not just Earth (22 April 2013)
Maybe not, but if we've read the tree rings correctly, it may be dying. Which is why 2013 is the year we don't need to save the Earth -- we need to save Earth Day.
Consider this: A new Huffington Post/YouGov poll finds Americans are less concerned about the environment now than when Earth Day began. A lot less.
In 1971, the year after Earth Day was founded, 63 percent of Americans said it was "very important" to work to restore and enhance the national environment, according to an Opinion Research Corp. poll for President Richard Nixon. This year, only 39 percent of respondents said it was very important, according to a 2013 HuffPost/YouGov poll.
Other categories show similar disinterestedness. In 1971, 25 percent said working to restore the environment is "fairly important," and 8 percent said it was "not too important." In 2013, 41 percent said it was fairly important, and 16 percent said it was not too important.
Who can help stop river killers? Guided homeowners (22 April 2013)
Environmentalists trying to restore the Elizabeth River and its scenic offshoot, the Lafayette River, have known for years that without help from homeowners, they are dead.
They've known that pollutants washing off countless lawns, gardens, roofs, concrete driveways and streets are enough to stymie the gains made by riverfront businesses and industries. Something had to be done to lighten the footprint of these private properties.
What the Elizabeth River Project came up with is a free consulting service, in which landscape professionals schooled in green design and organic solutions visit homes and advise owners on ways to be more environmentally sensitive and pollute less.
The advocacy group even found grant money to help pay for some of the improvements -- money that has helped dozens of landowners plant shoreline grasses, buy rain barrels to conserve water and install organic lawns that require no chemicals.
Don't take the cinnamon challenge: Doctors warn teens after surge in calls to poison centers (22 April 2013)
CHICAGO -- Don't take the cinnamon challenge. That's the advice from doctors in a new report about a dangerous prank depicted in popular YouTube videos but which has led to hospitalizations and a surge in calls to U.S. poison centers.
The fad involves daring someone to swallow a spoonful of ground cinnamon in 60 seconds without water. But the spice is caustic, and trying to gulp it down can cause choking, throat irritation, breathing trouble and even collapsed lungs, the report said.
Published online Monday in Pediatrics, the report said at least 30 teens nationwide needed medical attention after taking the challenge last year.
The number of poison control center calls about teens doing the prank "has increased dramatically," from 51 in 2011 to 222 last year, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
"People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are at greater risk of having this result in shortness of breath and trouble breathing," according to an alert posted on the association's website.
Woolly mammoth, dodo and Neanderthal man: Scientists debate ethics of reviving extinct species (22 April 2013)
Woolly mammoths stomp through the Siberian tundra as the giant moa strides the forest floor of New Zealand and Tasmania's dog-like "tigers" stalk their prey under the cover of night.
This is not a snapshot of times past, nor next year's sequel to Steven Spielberg's "Jurassic Park."
Instead, it is a scenario that some biogeneticists see as plausible in our own lifetimes: the resurrection of species driven to extinction, sometimes thousands of years ago.
Next Thursday will be 60 years since Francis Crick and James Watson published their paper unveiling the structure of DNA, the double-helix genetic code for life.
Today, some experts believe that by harnessing this breakthrough knowledge, the first extinct species could be revived within years.
They could be cloned from genetic material teased from preserved tissues, with the reprogrammed egg implanted in a cousin species.
Ahead of reform, medical care slowdown hits companies (22 April 2013)
(Reuters) - As the clock ticks down to the start of a U.S. healthcare overhaul, companies from device makers to hospital chains have been surprised to see Americans make even fewer trips to the doctor's office.
Use of non-emergency medical services has been weak for several years in the wake of a deep recession, high joblessness and the steadily rising cost of care.
Those trends now may be exacerbated in the months before President Barack Obama's healthcare law takes full effect in 2014, analysts said. Part of the reason is that employers are shifting more of the insurance benefits they offer to so-called high-deductible plans, requiring employees to pay more for their medical care upfront, to buffer new costs they face under "Obamacare".
This is all starting to show in some weak and disappointing earnings reports for the first quarter.
Criminal complaint - United States vs. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (22 April 2013)
The Justice Department said Tsarnaev was charged in a criminal complaint unsealed Monday in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
PAM COMMENTARY: This is the actual Criminal Complaint document, for those who want to read it.
All Boston Marathon bombing patients likely to live, doctors say (22 April 2013)
Remarkably, all of the more than 180 people injured in the Boston Marathon blasts one week ago who made it to a hospital alive now seem likely to survive, doctors say.
That includes several people who arrived with legs attached by just a little skin, a 3-year-old boy with a head wound and bleeding on the brain, and a little girl riddled with nails. Even a transit system police officer whose heart had stopped and was close to bleeding to death after a shootout with the suspects now appears headed for recovery.
"All I feel is joy," said Dr. George Velmahos, chief of trauma surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, referring to his hospital's 31 blast patients. "Whoever came in alive, stayed alive."
Hospitals quick to implement lessons from Boston
Doctors describe horrors, chaos after Boston Marathon bombings
Three people did die in the blasts, but at the scene, before hospitals even had a chance to try to save them. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer who police say was fatally shot Thursday by the suspects was pronounced dead when he arrived at Massachusetts General.
A tale of two Earth Day heroes: Tim DeChristopher and Sandra Steingraber (21 April 2013)
Earth Day, oddly, has never been a huge deal for me. I'm just a little too young to really remember its remarkable debut in 1970, when one American in 10 went out in the streets to demand action on clean air and water. That unprecedented activism laid the groundwork for the swift passage of legislation, and the almost-as-swift rehabilitation of lakes and rivers. But in the years after, many Earth Day celebrations drifted in a slightly more corporate direction; there wasn't anything wrong with them, but they didn't seem to be helping arrest environmentalism's slide into relative impotence.
This year, however, the holiday really resonates, because there are two heroes reminding us of the sacrifices they've made to move the fight forward, and the way the rest of us need to step up our game.
One is Tim DeChristopher, who will be out of federal custody today after serving 18 months for an inspired act of civil disobedience. He participated in an auction for federal leases to drill for gas and oil even though he ... wasn't a rich oilman. The federal government was unamused--instead of charging him as an activist who'd pulled off a creative stunt, they treated him as a financial criminal whose intent had been to defraud. (This was the same Department of Justice that didn't manage to find anyone to prosecute for bringing down our financial system with their greed.) And so he's given up a year and a half of his life.
I got to visit Tim when he was in federal prison in the California desert, and then again when he was in a halfway house in Salt Lake City. I know he's going to be fine -- I know he's going to be more than fine, since he is already signed up to start at Harvard Divinity School come fall. I also know his story is going to inspire many to join in with Peaceful Uprising, the group he helped found. A documentary about his fight, Bidder 70, is showing all over the country on Monday night. Find a local screening (and watch a trailer for the movie below).
NYT: FBI Hatches Terror Plots (21 April 2013) [InfoWars.com]
In an April 2012 New York Times article titled, "Terrorist Plots, Hatched by the F.B.I.," it is revealed that many of the high-profile terror attacks foiled by the FBI, were in fact fabricated from start to finish by the FBI itself. The article states:
"The United States has been narrowly saved from lethal terrorist plots in recent years -- or so it has seemed. A would-be suicide bomber was intercepted on his way to the Capitol; a scheme to bomb synagogues and shoot Stinger missiles at military aircraft was developed by men in Newburgh, N.Y.; and a fanciful idea to fly explosive-laden model planes into the Pentagon and the Capitol was hatched in Massachusetts.
"But all these dramas were facilitated by the F.B.I., whose undercover agents and informers posed as terrorists offering a dummy missile, fake C-4 explosives, a disarmed suicide vest and rudimentary training. Suspects naïvely played their parts until they were arrested."
The report would also reveal that a fabricated, then foiled attack in Portland in 2010, even included a van and an inert bomb parked next to a real crowd of thousands during the city's annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony:
"When an Oregon college student, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, thought of using a car bomb to attack a festive Christmas-tree lighting ceremony in Portland, the F.B.I. provided a van loaded with six 55-gallon drums of 'inert material,' harmless blasting caps, a detonator cord and a gallon of diesel fuel to make the van smell flammable. An undercover F.B.I. agent even did the driving, with Mr. Mohamud in the passenger seat. To trigger the bomb the student punched a number into a cellphone and got no boom, only a bust."
Trying to buy a single-family home? Good luck beating Wall St. on deals. (21 April 2013)
MIAMI -- Big investors are pouring unprecedented amounts of money into real estate hard hit by the housing crash, bringing those moribund markets back to life but raising the prospect of another Wall Street-fueled bubble that won't be sustainable.
Drawn by the prospect of double-figure profit margins on rents and the resale of homes whose prices plummeted in the crash, hedge funds, Wall Street investors and other institutions are crowding out individual home buyers.
If the chain of easy credit and dangerous leverage that started on Wall Street fanned the housing bubble and eventual crash, some analysts find it disturbing that major investors are the ones snapping up the bargains -- and eventual big profits -- left in its wake.
"There is the possibility that Wall Street and the banks and the affluent 1 percent stand to gain the most from this," said Jack McCabe, a real estate consultant based in Deerfield Beach, Fla. "Meanwhile, lower-income Americans will lose their opportunity for the American Dream of building wealth through owning a home."
Florida man saves child by punching alligator into submission (21 April 2013)
A Florida man saved his six-year-old son on Friday by punching an alligator into submission after the beast clamped onto the child's right arm.
The boy's father, still reeling from the harrowing ordeal, told reporters he thinks it's a "miracle" that not only does little Joey Welch still have his arm, it's almost completely unharmed.
The child fell off a pier into shallow waters as his father, Joseph Welch, was preparing to take him canoeing in Boynton Beach. Without warning, a large gator latched onto Joey's right arm.
"So I ran in to the water, it was about waist deep," Welch told WSVN-TV. "I had my son like this here, because I didn't want to play tug-of-war with the alligator and get his arm ripped off. So while I'm doing that I started punching the alligator on top of the head as hard as I could."
Another man who witnessed the struggle rushed over and began kicking the creature in the belly as Welch wrested his son free, stunningly without even any punctures on the arm.
UK's only female giant panda Tian Tian is artificially inseminated at Edinburgh zoo (21 April 2013)
Britain's only female giant panda has been artificially inseminated at Edinburgh Zoo.
Despite male Yang Guang showing "consistently encouraging behaviour," Tian Tian was showing signs that were not "conducive to mating," according to the zoo's panda experts.
Natural mating was not attempted.
There are only 1,600 of the animals - the rarest bears on earth - left in the wild. They are currently on the World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) endangered list, mostly because of habitat loss.
According to the WWF, the Chinese government has established more than 50 panda reserves, but only around 61% of the country's panda population is protected by these reserves.
An ancient mating dance offers ranchers, grassland birds a lifeline (21 April 2013)
BURWELL, Neb. -- Under an indigo pre-dawn sky, as a frigid wind whipped across the plains, a half-dozen brown-and-white birds emerged from tufts of dry grass. They emitted a low cooing sound, akin to the hooting of an owl.
Then the greater prairie chickens started their show, scurrying around to mark their territory. When one encroached on another's turf, the defending animal charged, forcing the interloper to leap in the air with a flurry of feathers. As the birds became more animated, the orange air sacs on each side of their necks swelled, allowing them to make a louder coo known as "booming."
The entire display had a single intended beneficiary -- a female greater prairie chicken that selects the dominant male for mating -- that never bothered to appear. It might have been too cold for her. But the birds still had an audience: tourists sitting silently in a pair of parked yellow school buses with their windows cracked open. These humans may represent the prairie chickens' best chance for survival.
The northern Great Plains -- 180 million acres stretching across five states and two Canadian provinces -- is one of the last three large swaths of grasslands in the world, along with two in Mongolia and Patagonia. Prairie chickens have roamed the Plains for millennia, but this region is under pressure from competing financial incentives to grow corn and soybeans or pursue wind energy and shale-oil extraction.
News from the Week of 14th to 20th of April 2013
Fracking drives potentially explosive demand for potentially explosive ammonia factories (20 April 2013)
The U.S. could soon be home to a lot more ammonia factories -- not a comforting thought after a deadly explosion at an ammonia fertilizer plant in Texas on Wednesday evening. You can blame the fracking boom.
Ammonia is used to produce fertilizer, industrial explosives (like those used in mining), plastics, and other products. It's becoming cheaper to produce in the U.S. because one of its main feedstocks is natural gas, and natural gas, in case you haven't heard, is being fracked here at a breakneck pace and sold for bargain-basement prices.
Australian company Incitec Pivot this week announced [PDF] that it will be building a hulking new $850 million ammonia facility in Waggaman, La., just outside New Orleans. Construction could begin within six weeks, with the plant expected to come online in 2016. The announcement is being characterized by Australia's media as a blow for the manufacturing sector Down Under, but Incitec Pivot can't resist the siren song of cheap American natural gas.
From Australia's The Age:
[Incitec Pivot] "Chief executive James Fazzino said the boom in shale had enabled a 'step change' in US gas prices.
"'[The plant] takes our North American business and any future expansions back to US gas economics,' he said. 'This is vital to this project because 80 per cent of the cost of making ammonia is gas.'"
In small Texas towns, people live close to fertilizer plants with limited safety regulation (20 April 2013)
There were no sprinklers. No firewalls. No water deluge systems. Safety inspections were rare at the fertilizer company in West, Texas, that exploded and killed at least 14 people this week.
This is not unusual.
Small fertilizer plants nationwide fall under the purview of several government agencies, each with a specific concern and none required to coordinate with others on what they have found.
The small distributors -- there are as many of 1,150 in Texas alone -- are part of a regulatory system that focuses on large installations and industries, though many of the small plants contain enough agricultural chemicals to fuel a major explosion.
Volunteer firefighting force decimated in Texas fertilizer plant explosion (20 April 2013)
Early reports that at least 11 firefighters, mainly volunteers, are unaccounted for and believed killed in the massive fire and explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, Wednesday night are refocusing attention on the role of volunteer fire departments in the US, especially in rural areas.
So far, 12 people are confirmed dead and more than 200 injured, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. Many of those killed and found in the vicinity of the explosion are believed to be first responders, according to the Dallas Morning News.
For a small town, such a loss can be devastating. "Basically, the West VFD is without two-thirds of their members at this point," reported the State Firemen's & Fire Marshals' Association of Texas on its website on Friday. Of the 29 firefighters on the town's roster, five have died and 11 others are hospitalized with injuries, it reported.
Very small towns depend on all-volunteer departments and, it turns out, so does the country as a whole. Forty percent of the US population is now protected by volunteer firefighters -- saving taxpayers an estimated $130 billion annually.
More Potential Human Remains Identified In WTC Sifting (20 April 2013)
More potential human remains are identified as the effort to sift through September 11th debris continues.
The medical examiner's office says evidence of a possible victim of the attacks was recovered on Friday.
The evidence came after five possible remains were recovered Wednesday.
Nearly 16,000 cubic feet of material collected from the World Trade Center since 2010 is being sifted at Fresh Kills on Staten Island.
Chemo scandal: Health Canada cracks down on drug suppliers operating without oversight (20 April 2013)
Drug suppliers operating without oversight will face a crackdown on three fronts led by Health Canada, which has introduced measures to make provincial health authorities more accountable for patient safety.
The province said it will have new laws in place by mid-May to ensure hospitals buy medications only from "accredited, licensed or otherwise approved suppliers."
And the Ontario College of Pharmacists told the Star it will hold an emergency meeting to draft legislation to better police the drug supply chain.
Taken together, the changes will plug an oversight gap first revealed when a Star investigation found Marchese Hospital Solutions, the Mississauga company that provided 1,205 Canadian cancer patients with diluted chemotherapy cocktails, was operating without federal or provincial inspections.
PAM COMMENTARY: As I said the last time The Star reported on diluting cancer drugs, they need to also report on the survival rates of those who had the full strength drugs vs. those who were given the diluted drugs. What if those receiving the diluted drugs fared better? So far nobody has proven that any harm was done to those patients receiving lower doses. For all we know, they may have BENEFITED from receiving the diluted drugs.
In Wisconsin, politics continue to hold back wind development (20 April 2013)
In 2012, a year that saw a nationwide surge in wind farm installations as developers rushed to beat expiring tax credits, Wisconsin added only 18 megawatts of capacity.
By comparison, Michigan and Ohio, with much lower wind potential, had already installed 138 MW and 308 MW in just the first three quarters.
Compared to other Midwestern states, Wisconsin ranks at the bottom in both wind projects under construction and in queue, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
Challenges to wind energy have come from nearly every level of government.
Shortly after taking office in 2011, Gov. Scott Walker proposed a plan supported by the state's Realtors Association that would upend the new standards. That effort, and other bills to weaken or repeal the new rules, have failed to gain broader support in the state legislature.
New on the state's legislative docket this spring are a bill that would allow local governments to adopt more stringent restrictions on wind farms than current state law allows, and another that would clear the way for legal action against wind facilities.
Oil-by-train may not be substitute for Keystone pipeline (20 April 2013)
(Reuters) - The prospects for bringing large amounts of Canadian heavy crude oil into the United States by train is a contentious issue as the U.S. government weighs whether to allow the controversial Keystone XL pipeline to go ahead.
An assumption that oil would move by rail without Keystone was a key part of a U.S. State Department report in March that found development of Canada's oil sands region will proceed at roughly the same rate, with or without the pipeline.
That finding undercut warnings from environmentalists that the pipeline would lead to a spike in greenhouse gas emissions.
Proponents for the roughly 1,200 mile pipeline, delivering the oil in Canada's Alberta province to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast, say moving huge volumes of crude by rail would be dirtier and more prone to mishap than a pipeline and the market would adopt rail if the project were halted. The State Department report endorses that view.
PAM COMMENTARY: As I've said before on this site, the date I display next to each news link isn't necessarily the date posted on the article. Rarely, news sites post an article days before the date they put on the article; other times, I didn't see the article posted on their site until the next day or even days after the article's supposed date.
One thing I noticed during the Boston Marathon bombing manhunt was that reporting on other news stories seemed to be thin. Then, after the second suspect was caught and news wound down on the story, new articles appeared with earlier dates on them. Perhaps the stories had been ready to go, but some were withheld until after the big Boston bombers story stopped taking so much space. And so several articles from today may have dates that don't match the date on the articles. I try to match my dates to when the articles were actually posted, when I have that information.
Boeing 787 Dreamliner cleared to fly by US aviation authorities (20 April 2013)
Boeing's 787 Dreamliner is set to fly again, after the US authorities gave the go-ahead Friday to a redesign of the plane's troubled lithium-ion battery system.
The Dreamliner fleet was grounded in January, after incidents of fire and smoke in the batteries of two planes. The global grounding came as just 50 of the planes had been delivered and was the longest of a commercial model in the jet age.
The company has been working on a solution with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). FAA administrator Michael Huerta said: "A team of FAA certification specialists observed rigorous tests we required Boeing to perform and devoted weeks to reviewing detailed analysis of the design changes to reach this decision."
"The FAA set a high bar for our team and our solution," said Boeing's chairman and chief executive, Jim McNerney. "We appreciate the diligence, expertise and professionalism of the FAA's technical team and the leadership of FAA administrator Michael Huerta and secretary of transportation Ray LaHood throughout this process. Our shared commitment with global regulators and our customers to safe, efficient and reliable airplanes has helped make air travel the safest form of transportation in the world today."
Images Of Caputred Boston Suspect Number Two (20 April 2013) [InfoWars.com]
The following image of the suspect being apprehended has emerged.
A glimpse of 19-year-old bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is visible through an ambulance window as the Boston Marathon bombing suspect is transported to the hospital.
PAM COMMENTARY: WARNING: One of the videos on this page, with sound, starts to play without the reader taking any action.
Boston suspect captured alive after dramatic finish to day-long manhunt (20 April 2013)
The 22-hour manhunt for the surviving Boston bombing suspect reached a dramatic and surprising conclusion on Friday night when 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured alive after being surrounded by heavily armed police in a suburban backyard.
Tsarnaev was found hiding in a boat in the yard of a home in Watertown, Massachusetts, the small town near Boston where his elder brother Tamerlan was fatally shot by police after a chase that began the prevous evening. The pair had been identified as suspects in Monday's double bomb attack on the Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured more than 170.
For about two hours on Friday night, Tsarnaev was surrounded by Swat teams and hundreds of other officers, surviving a barrage of gunfire and flash grenades. At 8.41pm ET, it was finally announced over the police radio: "Suspect in custody".
Tsarnaev had been injured in a shootout with police on Thursday and had suffered significant blood loss. Police said he was in a serious condition in hospital on Friday night.
Survey shows significant drop in blue crabs in bay (20 April 2013)
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- The number of blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay has dropped steeply, according to an annual survey released Friday, and Maryland officials said they will work with the crabbing industry to reduce bushel limits by about 10 percent for female crabs this year.
On a positive note, the number of spawning-age females increased by 52 percent after troubling numbers last year. The 2013 winter dredge survey, which samples about 1,500 sites across the bay, found the total number of blue crabs fell from 765 million to 300 million. The number of juvenile crabs fell from 581 million to 111 million.
"The bottom-line message is that the population overall - the number of crabs that are in Chesapeake Bay upon which the 2013 fisheries will work - is quite a bit lower than it was," said Lynn Fegley, deputy director of fisheries at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
The results are particularly disappointing, because last year's survey noted the highest crab reproduction in the 24 years of the survey. Usually with a population increase like that, the harvest would be expected to increase.
"We didn't see that, and what seems to have happened this year is that not only did we get low reproduction, but we seem to have had an elevated mortality event on the record juvenile class of last year," Fegley said.
O.C. chef agrees to stop serving foie gras after PETA threat (19 April 2013)
One of two restaurant owners threatened with legal action by animal rights activists has decided to stop serving foie gras.
Broadway by Amar Santana in Laguna Beach will no longer dish up fattened duck liver as a complementary side to a $55 glass of wine.
"We're calling it quits," Ahmed Labbate, Amar Santana's partner and director of operations at Broadway, said Friday. "I wish I had the money to fight PETA, but we don't. We're a small restaurant and we don't have the means."
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had sent each chef a letter in early April threatening legal action if the restaurants didn't stop serving foie gras.
Enemy of Habeas Corpus Lindsey Graham says Reading Miranda Rights to bombing suspect 'a bad idea' (19 April 2013)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called for denying the living suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings his Miranda Rights via Twitter on Friday.
"If captured, I hope Administration will at least consider holding the Boston suspect as enemy combatant for intelligence gathering purposes," Graham wrote, before before continuing, "If the #Boston suspect has ties to overseas terror organizations he could be treasure trove of information."
He then wrote, "The last thing we may want to do is read Boston suspect Miranda Rights telling him to 'remain silent.'"
As the Supreme Court ruled in 1966, failure by authorities to inform a criminal suspect of their right to remain silent, to consult an attorney and that their statements are admissible in a court of law are a violation of the suspect's Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights. The Fifth Amendment protects a suspect's rights against self-incrimination and the Sixth Amendment guarantees right to legal counsel and a speedy trial.
The living suspect, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was being pursued by authorities as of Friday night. He is a naturalized U.S. citizen as of Sept. 11, 2012.
Bomb suspects' NJ sister 'heartbroken,' skeptical (19 April 2013)
WEST NEW YORK, N.J. (AP) -- The FBI on Friday removed a computer from the New Jersey home of a sister of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects. Police said she was cooperating with the investigation and was "heartbroken, surprised and upset," though she told reporters she wasn't sure the accusations against her brothers were true.
The woman, identified by local police as Ailina Tsarnaeva, told federal agents she had not been in contact with her brothers for years, according to Police Director Michael Indri.
"The main concern was to confirm that there was no contact made one way or the other, and I'm confident that the FBI has confirmed that," he said.
The woman's three-story brick building, across the Hudson River from New York City, was cordoned off as federal agents searched the home and left with a computer and other electronics.
Secret weapon? How thermal imaging helped catch bomb suspect (19 April 2013)
Thermal-imaging devices have been used to seek out pot-growing operations, map Martian geology -- and now, to watch the second suspect in this week's Boston Marathon bombings as he was holed up in his last hiding place.
Authorities said a helicopter equipped with a thermal imager spotted the heat signature of a person inside a tarp-covered boat, sitting in a backyard in Watertown, Mass. Police used the sensor after an area resident reported seeing a trail of blood leading to the boat -- and catching a glimpse of a blood-covered body inside. The thermal readings confirmed that there was indeed someone under the tarp, and that the person was still alive.
"Our helicopter had actually detected the subject in the boat," Col. Timothy Alben of the Massachusetts State Police told reporters. "We have what's called a FLIR -- a forward-looking infrared device -- on that helicopter. It picked up the heat signature of the individual, even though he was underneath what appeared to be the 'shrink wrap' or cover on the boat itself. There was movement from that point on. The helicopter was able to direct the tactical teams over to that area."
After monitoring the body in the boat for more than an hour, police moved in and took the wounded bombing suspect, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, into custody.
Guatemala judge suspends Rios Montt genocide trial (19 April 2013)
A judge in Guatemala has ordered the suspension of the genocide trial of the former US-backed dictator Efrain Rios Montt, angering prosecutors who vowed that proceedings would continue as planned.
Judge Carol Patricia Flores was recently reinstated to the case after being recused from it in February 2012. She ruled that all actions taken in the case since she was asked to step down were null, in effect sending the trial back to square one.
"I am not doing this because I want to, but because it has been ordered by the constitutional court and the supreme court," said Flores, while relatives of the victims wept and shouted that she was "a sold-out judge".
The comment was a reference to last week's decision by the constitutional court to declare her competent to carry out the pre-trial process.
Ruslan Tsarni, uncle of Boston Marathon bombing suspects, denounces them (19 April 2013)
A reporter asked him how his nephews could have done such a thing. "Being losers," was the only thing Tsarni could come up with. "Hatred for those who were able to settle themselves. These are the only reasons I can imagine of. Anything else, anything else to do with religion, with Islam, it's a fraud, it's a fake.
"Dzhokhar, if you're alive, turn yourself in and ask for forgiveness from the victims, from the injured and from those who left, ask forgiveness from these people," Ruslan Tsarni said. "He put a shame on our family, [the] Tsarni family. He put a shame on the entire Chechen ethnicity. Because everyone now, they play with the word, Chechen, so they put that shame on the entire ethnicity."
Ruslan Tsarni spoke for nine minutes. He wore a blue polo shirt, jeans and flip-flop sandals -- evidence, it seemed, of how normally his day had begun.
As he spoke, reporters kept trying to edge closer, making sure their equipment was getting it all. This wasn't a quick "No comment" or a closed door. It wasn't reporters going door-to-door to talk about the person they were seeking. This was an uncle, right in front of everyone, not mincing his words.
30 is the new 45: Today's adults getting diseases 15 years faster than their grandparents (18 April 2013)
(NaturalNews) As vaccines pump the population full of mercury and thimerosal, as genetically modified crops alter human DNA, as bisphenol-A in plastics and can linings alter the hormonal structure of the human body, as pesticides pollute the land and water, more people are experiencing disease sooner in the United States. According to new findings, people today are being diagnosed with disease 33 percent faster than their grandparents. Age 30 has become the new 45 in reference to on-setting disease. The abundance of disease being diagnosed at an early age only means the modern era of pharmaceutical drugs and chemicals is not working and is tearing down the quality of life for countless people, perpetuating the root of the problem.
What does this trend suggest?
If this generation continues to pretend that everything's okay, teaching their kin that the current path is working, then the next generation will grow dependent upon symptom-suppressing drugs and welcoming diseases as early as age 20. For a thriving, clear-minded generation to rise up, the root problems need to be addressed and actions need to be taken.
Time for small organic farming practices
Small organic farming practices are the future. Practices like cutting out pesticides and eliminating hormones and steroids in meat production are essential to future vitality. Corporate genetically modified seed must be discarded as well, for it alters the DNA of humans. The human body desires food that is unmodified, real, and raw. At this critical juncture, organic farming must rise up and be the future.
Time for transparency
There is a definite need for transparency in food and drink products. So many products claim to be natural but are still loaded with toxic additives. For example, natural toothpaste brands may not contain fluoride but they usually contain toxic sodium lauryl sulfate.
Pictures of empty Boston are kind of a punch in the gut (19 April 2013)
Boston is on lockdown today, which is terrifying to hear but even more terrifying to see. Business Insider has collected some photos from Twitter, taken by people who ought to go back inside. Seeing a major city as a ghost town is incredibly sobering.
Boston on lockdown as police home in on bombings suspect (19 April 2013)
Almost a million residents of Boston and surrounding towns were ordered to stay in their homes on Friday as the hunt for one of the suspects in the marathon bombing continued.
The suspects were identified as brothers, reportedly of Chechen origin. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, remains on the loose. Law enforcement officials said he was the suspect wearing the white hat in images released by the FBI on Thursday of the bombing suspects. His elder brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in the early hours of Friday after a car chase and shootout with police.
Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick warned people to remain indoors "with their doors locked" until further notice, after a night of high drama during which a campus police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was shot dead.
"We're asking people to shelter in place: in other words, to stay indoors, with their doors locked, and not to open the door for anyone other than a properly identified law enforcement officer," Patrick said.
Judge permanently blocks North Dakota ban on medication for abortions (19 April 2013)
A North Dakota District Court judge has permanently blocked a state ban on the use of medications for first trimester abortions. According to the RH Reality Check blog, Judge Wickham Corwin announced Thursday that he will be issuing a ruling to block a two-year-old ban on medication abortions on grounds that the ban in unconstitutional.
In 2011, the North Dakota state legislature passed House Bill 1297, which made it illegal for doctors to prescribe medications with the intent of ending a pregnancy, a common practice in so-called medication abortions, a non-surgical alternative for women wishing to end a pregnancy in the first trimester.
The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) challenged the law in July of 2011, on behalf of the state's sole women's clinic that offers abortion services, the Red River Women's Clinic. CRR argued that the law denied women access to a safe and effective medical treatment that is widely accepted in the medical community.
The challenge put a hold on enforcement of the law pending the outcome of the current trial, which ended Thursday.
Pakistani police arrest former president Musharraf (19 April 2013)
(Reuters) - Pakistani police arrested former president Pervez Musharraf on Friday to face allegations he overstepped his powers while in office, marking a dramatic break with a political culture in which military rulers have remained untouchable.
The one-time army chief had hoped to rekindle a degree of influence by standing in a general election in May, but has instead become ensnared in a showdown with judges who fought bruising battles with him while he was still in office.
A magistrate had raised the stakes earlier on Friday when he ordered Musharraf be placed under house arrest for two days before he is due to appear in court on allegations of illegally detaining judges during a crackdown on the judiciary in 2007.
Musharraf is accused of violating the constitution by placing judges under house arrest after he sacked the chief justice and imposed emergency rule.
DNA test reveals surprising origin of Texas man's record-breaking fish (19 April 2013)
A record-breaking 12-and-a-half-pound bass recently caught in a Nacogdoches lake is one of the many offspring of a another record-setter caught several years ago in a Laredo lake, roughly 450 miles apart.
In December 2004, Jerry Campos was fishing for bass on Falcon Lake in Laredo and he caught a 14-pound largemouth bass, later named the ShareLunker 370. Nine years later, Allen Lane Kruse of Nacogdoches set a water-body and catch-and-release record for Lake Naconiche when he caught the 12.54 pound bass.
DNA testing showed that the recent catch is the son of ShareLunker 370, which spawned at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. Campos had entered his fish into a "ShareLunker" program, which allows catchers to share their prize fish with others. Fingerlings from the program that spawned have stocked into more than 60 reservoirs across Texas.
If Campos had not submitted his catch, the Nacogdoches fish would not have existed for Kruse to catch.
FBI Orders You Not To Look At This! (19 April 2013) [InfoWars.com]
Why does the FBI say we should only look at photos they give us? And now the patsy is dead.
PAM COMMENTARY: Even if the current story on the Boston bombers turns out to be correct, and the police didn't have prior knowledge to warn the public, the concern that the bombing will be used to erode Fourth Amendment rights is a valid one.
Photo surfaces of 'The Craft' mobile communications van at Boston marathon (19 April 2013) [InfoWars.com]
A detailed, hi-res photo of more "The Craft" operatives and what appears to be their mobile communications van has just surfaced. "The Craft" is a group of private military operatives who have been revealed through a fast-growing number of photos published by Natural News and Info Wars.
The mainstream media is engaged in a total blackout and refuses to run any photos of "The Craft" operatives. This story is quickly becoming the biggest media cover-up in history.
Natural News was the first to identify the brand of the radiation detector being held in the hand of one "Craft" operatives. Now, we appear to be the first to run this photo of what looks to be an extremely high-end mobile communications van with seven more "Craft" operatives.
The van clearly has a foldable satellite dish as well as what is possibly a microwave communications dome. The vehicle is a Chevy Escalade that has been outfitted with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of roof racks and communications equipment.
Note: We can't be 100% certain this vehicle belongs to The Craft team, but it fits their M.O. While all the other emergency vehicles on the scene are clearly marked, this vehicle is unmarked. The proximity of The Craft members to the van is also an indication that this vehicle may be a "rally point."
Police State Lockdown in Boston (19 April 2013) [InfoWars.com]
Officials in Boston have imposed what is being described as a "total lockdown" as police search for a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings.
ABC News reports:
Across the area, as police cars screamed down streets and helicopters hovered ahead, authorities urged the public to stay inside, their doors locked to anyone but a law-enforcement officer.
"There is a massive manhunt under way," Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said. "We are asking people to shelter in place."
The lockdown initially affected more than 300,000 people in Cambridge, Watertown, Newton, Brighton, Allston and Belmont, but by 8 a.m., the entire city of Boston was paralyzed, officials said.
Boston Marathon bombings: Watertown residents tweet their terror (19 April 2013)
As police underwent a manhunt for the second suspect in the Boston Marathon explosions, residents were urged to stay inside and not open their doors. Terrified, they tweeted updates about their neighbourhoods.
NPR reports a third man arrested in Boston bombing plot (19 April 2013)
The dramatic series of events began to unfold late Thursday, with a robberty at a convenience store in Cambridge, Mass., and the shooting death of a police officer on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Minutes later, officials say, an SUV was carjacked in Cambridge.
That SUV was driven to Watertown. There, authorities say, the suspects threw explosives at police and exchanged gunfire. One of the two -- known as "black hat" for the cap he was seen wearing at the marathon -- was critically injured and later died. The other, "white hat," fled the area and was being sought.
We're following the story and updating as news comes in.
Update at 7:30 a.m. ET. Arrest Of Third Person:
A third man, who authorities believe was an accomplice of the bombing suspects, has been arrested according to NPR's Dina Temple-Raston. He may be the man, seen in videos earlier Friday, who police ordered to strip naked and was then put in the back of a patrol car.
One Boston Marathon suspect killed; second suspect, his brother, on loose after firefight (19 April 2013)
With a bomb strapped to his chest, one of the Boston Marathon suspects was killed early Friday after he and his accomplice robbed a 7-Eleven, shot a police officer to death, carjacked an SUV and hurled explosives out the window in an extraordinary firefight with law enforcement, authorities told NBC News.
The second suspect -- the one in the white hat in photos released by the FBI -- was on the loose, and police ordered people in the Boston suburbs to stay inside and businesses not to open. Boston shut down its buses and subway system for the hunt.
The suspects are Chechen brothers with the last name Tsarnaev, law enforcement officials told NBC News. The suspect at large, Dzhokar Tsarnaev, is 19 and has a Massachusetts driver's license, they said. Law enforcement officials told NBC News that both men are legal permanent residents of the United States, had been here about a year and had military experience.
The chaotic sequence of events started six hours after the FBI triggered a nationwide manhunt by releasing photos of the suspects, believed responsible for detonating two bombs at the marathon finish line Monday, killing three people and injuring 176.
FBI releases video of two 'dangerous' suspects in Boston bombing (18 April 2013)
The FBI has released video and photos of two "armed and extremely dangerous" suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing and appealed for the public's help in identifying them.
"Somebody out there knows these individuals as friends, neighbors, co-workers or family members," Boston FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard DesLauriers said at a Thursday evening briefing.
"Though it may be difficult, the nation is counting on those with information to come forward and provide it to us.
"We consider them to be armed and extremely dangerous," DesLauriers added. "No one should approach them...If you see these men, contact law enforcement."
FBI asks for help in identifying Boston bombing suspects (18 April 2013) [InfoWars.com]
To Provide Tips in the Investigation
If you have visual images, video, and/or details regarding the explosions along the Boston Marathon route and elsewhere, submit them on https://bostonmarathontips.fbi.gov. No piece of information or detail is too small.
You can also call 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324), prompt #3, with information.
PAM COMMENTARY: InfoWars.com linked to this FBI page with photos of who the FBI considers to be the main suspects.
Eight beavers have been found skinned in the Don Valley. Who is the Don's rogue trapper? (18 April 2013)
Tom Saask has been walking the hills of the Don Valley for 50 years, since the retiree was a teen, but recently he's found something new.
Skinned beavers -- peeled from their pelts and left only metres off a walking path.
At first there was just two. But in the month since his initial find, he's found six more, including four on Wednesday.
Now Saask wants to know -- who is Don Valley's rogue trapper? "This (trapper) seems to think he needs the skins more than the beavers do," said Saask, 65.
No OSHA Inspections at Texas Plant in 5 Years: Are We Doing Enough to Protect Workplace Safety? (18 April 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Of course, OSHA stands for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. I wanted to read you a quote of Rick Perry, Texas governor, an interview he did just April 9th with Newsmax. He said, "The men and women in Texas know something now after a decade-plus of our governorship and our policies being implemented by a Republican House, Senate, lieutenant governor and speaker. We've kept our tax burden as light as we could and still delivered the services that the people of Texas desire, and we have a regulatory climate that is fair and predictable. I cannot tell you how important is predictability and stability in the regulatory climate." Your response, Mike Elk?
MIKE ELK: Yeah. The one issue that people that hate regulation go after the most is workplace safety. There was a study released by the GAO last spring in 2012 showing that OSHA takes twice as long as the EPA to issue rules and five times as long as the SEC to issue new rules. In fact, during the Obama administration, the Obama administration has not initiated and completed a single new workplace safety rule in its four-and-a-half years of being in office. I mean, this is incredible. So, OSHA is a top enemy, and workplace safety rules, of deregulatory people. For instance, last year the Obama administration proposed a rule that would have limited--would have put rules in place to protect children working on farms. Children that work on farms die at six times the rate of children working in other industries. The Obama administration, under pressure leading up to the election, withdrew that rule and said that they would never submit that rule again during the term of the Obama administration. That's an unprecedented thing. So, obviously, workplace safety is one of the things the anti-regulatory people go after the most.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what about Texas in terms of workplace safety compared to other states?
MIKE ELK: Yeah. Texas, as statistics shows, has the highest rate of workplace deaths of any state in the country. And a big part of that can be contributed to the fact that it's one of the most non-union states in the country. Quite frankly, no worker is going to speak up and call OSHA. OSHA has such a severe limited budget that they typically don't go and inspect a workplace unless they get a phone call from a worker saying there's a big problem. And when you're scared of losing your job, you're not going to do that. So, places that tend to have less unions tend to have much higher rates of workplace accidents. And as, you know, the West, Texas, accident showed, workplace accidents just don't hurt workers, they hurt the surrounding community, as well.
After Obama Shuns Probe, Bipartisan Panel Finds "Indisputable" Evidence U.S. Tortured Under Bush (17 April 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
LAURA PITTER: Yeah, the report is very significant for the fact that this was a bipartisan commission that included individuals both on the Republican and Democratic side with high levels of extensive national security experience. And they intended to look at the record objectively, without any preconceived notions. And they ultimately came to the conclusion that the U.S. engaged in torture, and they found that the evidence was indisputable. And they found this without reservation. So it's very significant, because, as you know, many of the former Bush administration officials who were in charge of authorizing the abuse and other senior-level intelligence officials who were involved in implementing the abuse have denied that what the U.S. did in its name to hundreds of detainees in U.S. custody was torture. So, really, this commission should put those denials to rest. It clearly was--it was torture, and this commission found so.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Laura Pitter, can you explain a little how the task force was put together? They were apparently 11 members, and they represented quite a wide range from within the Bush administration--is that correct?--and subsequent administrations.
AMY GOODMAN: And who chose them?
LAURA PITTER: Well, The Constitution Project was in charge of putting the panel together, and they tried to get people--you know, very senior-level people who had national security experience, both former congresspeople in the judiciary, medical experts, from both sides of the political spectrum. And the objective was, because it was clear that Congress was unwilling to look into a commission of inquiry, to analyze what had happened historically post-9/11. There was an initiative, a legislation for a commission of inquiry, sort of like a truth commission, that was not accepted in Congress, and then Obama clearly said that it was more important for him to look forward than to look back. They felt like it was important to all Americans that they analyze what the U.S. did post-9/11 to the detainees in custody, given the widespread level of abuse and the authorization at the most senior levels. They felt like it was an important part to preserve U.S., you know, moral credibility in the world. And so, that's how the commission started.
Desperate search for survivors after Texas fertilizer plant blast as powerful as an earthquake 'kills 15' and turns town into a warzone (17 April 2013)
As many as 15 people are feared dead including up to five volunteer firefighters after a giant explosion at a fertilizer plant inflicted massive devastation on the town of West, Texas last night, leaving hundreds with horrific injuries.
The blast, which was felt 50 miles away and registered as a magnitude 2.1 earthquake, destroyed as many as 75 homes and buildings, leveled an apartment complex, forced a nursing home to evacuate its residents and blanketed the area in a cloud of toxic fumes.
The three to five missing volunteer firefighters were attending a blaze at the plant at about 7.50pm local time when it suddenly exploded into a fireball - thought to be caused by dangerous anhydrous ammonia igniting in the heat of the fire.
As many as 179 people have been treated for injuries in hospitals, but Sergeant W. Patrick Swanton from Waco's police department warned that he expects the total number of deaths and injuries to rise when daylight breaks and emergency teams are able to conduct a proper search.
The explosion at West Fertilizer Co. shook the ground in the small community of 2,800 people located about 20 miles north of Waco, and around 1,300 residents have now been evacuated.
Rehtaeh Parsons' family being 'harassed' by supporters of alleged rapists (17 April 2013)
Rehtaeh Parsons' mother on Wednesday slammed those who put up posters in support of four alleged rapists, saying it "felt like someone kicked me in the stomach."
"They're not learning any lessons," Leah Parsons told Global News. "They're doing the exact same thing as when Rehtaeh was alive. They're continuing with the hate."
Rehtaeh, 17, died earlier this month in a Canadian hospital after attempting to hang herself. She was allegedly the victim of a sexual assault and faced harassment from her peers, who labeled her a slut. A picture of the incident was widely shared at her school.
The incident sparked international outrage, leading police to re-open the case. Hundreds of people attended Rehtaeh's funeral on Monday.
But on Wednesday the residents of Halifax awoke to find multi-colored posters supporting the four boy who allegedly raped Rehtaeh stapled to telephone poles. The posters were even put up on the street the Parson's lived on.
PAM COMMENTARY: Support for rapists doesn't last long -- usually only as long as it takes for them to re-offend.
Mississippi mail suspect described body-parts conspiracy (17 April 2013)
"As far as him being anti-government, I'm not going to say that, but he had some issues with some stuff that happened with his cleaning business," the cousin said.
Multiple online posts on various websites under the name Kevin Curtis refer to the conspiracy he claimed to uncover when working at a local hospital from 1998 to 2000.
The author wrote the conspiracy that began when he "discovered a refrigerator full of dismembered body parts & organs wrapped in plastic in the morgue of the largest non-metropolitan healthcare organization in the United States of America."
Curtis wrote that he was trying to "expose various parties within the government, FBI, police departments" for what he believed was "a conspiracy to ruin my reputation in the community as well as an ongoing effort to break down the foundation I worked more than 20 years to build in the country music scene."
PAM COMMENTARY: I'd like an explanation of what he saw -- the body parts in the refrigerator, and which hospital was involved. There may have been a logical explanation, like organs needing lab work from autopsies, or some destined for donation. Then again, occasionally funeral homes and other businesses have been caught trafficking body parts without consent of the decedents' families. Maybe he felt he'd lose his job if he reported it at the time, but there were options available to him, for example an anonymous tip to police.
Arrest made in ricin case; mailings are an eerie echo of 2001 anthrax attacks (17 April 2013)
Fire crews arrive at the unmarked postal building by the Beltway every few days, donning protective rubber suits and carrying away suspicious letters addressed to members of Congress. At a similarly secret building in the District, agents set aside letters once or twice a week to the president containing powder or other cause for concern. For years -- ever since the anthrax attacks of 2001 -- nearly every one has proved harmless.
But alarms sounded in both buildings this week, and the threats appeared real: A grainy substance tested positive for the lethal toxin ricin in letters addressed to President Obama and a quiet senator from Mississippi.
By Wednesday night, authorities had arrested Paul Kevin Curtis of Corinth, Miss., as a suspect in the ricin mailings, the FBI said in a statement. Curtis also sent a third letter to a Mississippi justice official, the FBI said. He is well known to law enforcement as a frequent letter-writer to lawmakers, two officials said.
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), in a statement late Wednesday, thanked law enforcement officials "for their professionalism and decisive action in keeping our family and staff safe from harm."
Palestinian museum showcases prisoner misery (17 April 2013)
Abu Dis, West Bank - Several mammoth slabs of concrete and a metal gate - a miniature replica of the Israeli separation wall - greet visitors to the Abu Jihad Museum for Prisoners Affairs.
Step inside and you're immediately met with metal bars and pictures of Palestinian detainees in tents waving across coils of barbed wire, and a map outlining all Israeli prisons and detention and interrogation centres where Palestinians are held and questioned.
The museum, based in the West Bank city of Abu Dis, just 6kms from Jerusalem, tells the story of Palestinian prisoners from the British Mandate era to modern day Israel. Today, there are some 4,700 Palestinians - including 169 held without charge under the "administrative detention" clause, according to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem.
"Jesus was the first Palestinian prisoner," says Fahd Abu El-Haj, the museum's director, as he starts his tour outside in the museum's garden, pointing to steps made of stone taken from the Old City of Jerusalem, which he says resembles the Via Dolorosa, the path that Jesus took on the way to his crucifixion.
None of the world's top industries would be profitable if they paid for the natural capital they use (17 April 2013)
The notion of "externalities" has become familiar in environmental circles. It refers to costs imposed by businesses that are not paid for by those businesses. For instance, industrial processes can put pollutants in the air that increase public health costs, but the public, not the polluting businesses, picks up the tab. In this way, businesses privatize profits and publicize costs.
While the notion is incredibly useful, especially in folding ecological concerns into economics, I've always had my reservations about it. Environmentalists these days love speaking in the language of economics -- it makes them sound Serious -- but I worry that wrapping this notion in a bloodless technical term tends to have a narcotizing effect. It brings to mind incrementalism: boost a few taxes here, tighten a regulation there, and the industrial juggernaut can keep right on chugging. However, if we take the idea seriously, not just as an accounting phenomenon but as a deep description of current human practices, its implications are positively revolutionary.
To see what I mean, check out a recent report [PDF] done by environmental consultancy Trucost on behalf of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) program sponsored by United Nations Environmental Program. TEEB asked Trucost to tally up the total "unpriced natural capital" consumed by the world's top industrial sectors. ("Natural capital" refers to ecological materials and services like, say, clean water or a stable atmosphere; "unpriced" means that businesses don't pay to consume them.)
It's a huge task; obviously, doing it required a specific methodology that built in a series of assumptions. (Plenty of details in the report.) But it serves as an important signpost pointing the way to the truth about externalities.
Bighorn herd reintroduced to Sierra Nevada area (17 April 2013)
The newly formed group of Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep barreled up rugged Olancha Peak last month, the 10 females and four males becoming the first new herd of the endangered animals reintroduced in California in 25 years.
Once abundant throughout the region's alpine areas, the state's population of Sierra Nevada bighorn had dwindled to two herds by the 1970s. Their numbers have been devastated by disease spread by contact with domestic sheep and goats and unregulated commercial hunting.
The new herd is a success story for the distinct population of Sierra Nevada sheep, which were listed as endangered in 2000. Since 2007, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has been working to recover the animals by reestablishing herds in areas identified as containing suitable habitat -- rugged, steep mountain slopes ranging from 5,000 feet to 14,000 feet in elevation.
The reintroduction program is designed to disperse the animals across a wide area to give them the best chance to thrive.
The 'living fossil' coelacanth fish left behind by evolution (17 April 2013)
A deep-sea fish which became known as a "living fossil" has not changed in appearance since before the time of the dinosaurs with the help of an extraordinary genome that is barely evolving, a study has found.
The coelacanth, which lives in deep-sea caves off the coast of Africa, was once known only from its fossils and so was thought to have gone extinct at least 70 million years ago until a recently-dead specimen was discovered by South African fishermen in 1938.
It is one of the few species to have hardly changed in tens of millions of years and now scientists believe this physical stability is mirrored in the coelacanth's genome -- the 3 billion "letters" of its DNA code.
"We found that the genes overall are evolving significantly slower than in every other fish and land vertebrate that we looked at. This is the first time that we've had a big enough gene set to really see that," said Jessica Alföldi, a research scientist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Massachusetts.
US torture of prisoners is 'indisputable', independent report finds (16 April 2013)
An independent examination of the US rendition programme after 9/11 has concluded that it is "indisputable" that America tortured prisoners, and that the country's highest officials were responsible.
A 580-page report published on Tuesday by the Constitution Project, a non-partisan Washington-based thinktank, concludes that the programme was unjustified and counterproductive, damaging to the country's reputation, and has placed US military personnel at risk of mistreatment if they are themselves taken prisoner.
In findings similar to those of a report published two months ago by the New York NGO Open Society Justice Initiative, the study concludes that the US rendition programme enjoyed widespread international co-operation, with the UK, Canada, Italy, Germany and Sweden identified as prominent supporters alongside Egypt, Syria, Morocco and Jordan.
The authors also conclude that the UK-Libyan rendition operations that resulted in the abduction of two dissidents who were taken to Tripoli along with their families in 2004 were intended not to combat international terrorism, but to "gain favour" with the Gaddafi regime.
Did InfoWars get pictures of Boston Bombing suspects before the mainstream media? (17 April 2013) [InfoWars.com]
Remains of one of the backpacks are also photographed yards from where one of the bombs exploded. The FBI states that at least one of the pressure cooker devices used in the bombing was housed in a backpack.
Some of these men may have merely been victims, but the image of the two men standing together wearing the same clothes and carrying heavy backpacks and wearing credentials suggests they may have been involved in a drill or in the actual attack. One of individuals, a white man whose backpack was found at the scene of the bombing, looks badly dressed and disheveled.
The Associated Press is now reporting that authorities have identified a suspect wearing a "black jacket on a cell phone, wearing a gray hoodie and a white baseball cap backwards placing a black bag at the second bomb site outside of the Forum restaurant on Boylston Street and then leaving the area before that explosion," a description which closely but not specifically could be applied to more than one different man identified in the photos below.
As eyewitness Ali Stevenson reported, marathon runners were told before the bombing that a "drill" was taking place involving bomb sniffing dogs and spotters of roofs and to remain calm, although police later denied that any exercise had taken place.
GOP abandons Mark Sanford; ex-wife says sons 'upset' over encounter with former mistress (17 April 2013)
Following revelations that his ex-wife accused him of trespassing on her property earlier this year, former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford (R) has lost the support of his national party.
The news comes as controversy continues to swirl around Sanford and his personal life -- a process that began with his well-publicized 2009 affair but was inflamed, the Washington Post has learned, when one of the Sanfords' sons met Mark Sanford's former mistress for the first time the night he won the GOP nomination.
The National Republican Congressional Committee on Wednesday took the unusual step of telegraphing that it will not spend money on his special election campaign.
"Mark Sanford has proven he knows what it takes to win elections. At this time, the NRCC will not be engaged in this special election," the NRCC said in a statement, which was first reported by Politico.
Cleveland Clinic begins recruitment for new Abu Dhabi hospital (16 April 2013)
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Top Cleveland Clinic executives along with former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen described an adventure Monday evening that held the audience's attention.
The Clinic is looking for about 2,500 employees to work in a sleek, modern hospital unlike any other in the world.
Patients will walk into a glass atrium that is about three football fields in length and find private rooms that are large enough to accommodate families. They could live in glass towers, play on sandy beaches, meet amazing people, and enjoy some of the world's finest culture all while working in a 360-bed hospital built on a island.
This life-changing opportunity, the standing-room only audience of about 600 was told, is waiting in oil-rich Abu Dhabi.
"It's an amazing place," said Cohen, who is now chairman and chief executive of consulting firm The Cohen Group. "They are starting from almost ground zero and creating a new world for themselves."
PAM COMMENTARY: Sometime in 2007 or 2008, I encountered former Secretary Cohen at the train station in DC, and we got into a staring contest. I shot him a dirty look because... Well, because he's former Defense Secretary Cohen. He has lots of atrocities in his past, the worst being his outspoken support for sanctions against Iraq in the 90s that killed around 1.5 million people, about half of them children.
Of course, I didn't TELL him any of this -- but do mass murderers really need an explanation of the public's low opinion of them?
But Cohen wasn't going to accept my disapproval without issuing a silent threat, because hey, he's such a nice guy. He insisted on staring back at me until I finally felt like I had to look away because I didn't want to get into a fist fight with the suits he had with him.
Maybe this time he really does want to "help" an Arabian hospital. But... somehow it's just hard to believe that William Cohen wants to be a nice guy.
Fox removes 'Family Guy' episode from websites (16 April 2013)
NEW YORK (AP) -- Fox has pulled from websites a recent episode of "Family Guy" that depicts mass deaths at the Boston Marathon, and has no immediate plans to air it again.
Fox spokeswoman Gaude Paez said Tuesday the episode has been removed from Fox.com and Hulu.com.
In the episode, which originally aired March 17, protagonist Peter Griffin is asked by sports announcer Bob Costas about his performance at the marathon. A flashback shows Peter mowing down runners with his car.
"I'll tell ya, Bob, I just got in my car and drove it," Griffin says. "And when there was a guy in my way, I killed him."
Later, Peter befriends a terrorist who, unbeknownst to him, is plotting to blow up a bridge. When Peter dials a cellphone the friend has given him, explosions and screams are heard. On some websites, an edited clip has been circulating that fuses the two scenes, making it seem -- incorrectly -- as if the explosion was at the marathon. Some commenters have implied that the show "predicted" the bombings.
YouTube Censors Family Guy Clip Which May Have Inspired Boston Marathon Attack (16 April 2013) [InfoWars.com]
UPDATE: YouTube has now censored a commentary video which merely pointed out that a recently broadcast episode of Family Guy contained scenes eerily similar to those that unfolded during the Boston Marathon attack. YouTube deleted the video claiming it contained, "spam," "scams" or "commercially deceptive content," when it contained none of these things. YouTube has also placed a strike against the host channel and threatened to delete it.
In addition, it is now being claimed that the whole issue is an "abhorrent hoax" merely because the two scenes from the same episode were spliced together. The fact that the episode depicted people being killed at the Boston Marathon, in addition to a separate clip which depicted two explosions, is not a hoax.
Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane created a cartoon which made fun of terrorist bombings and depicted mutilated Boston Marathon runners, yet he is labeling people who merely talk about the episode as "abhorrent".
Tivo and others are now removing the episode from their systems, which is strange given that the episode is supposedly a "hoax" and doesn't exist, according to the media.
This underscores the fact that if they will censor a cartoon in the aftermath of a terrorist attack, they will censor anything -- including your right to merely talk about it.
Cops Say Marathon Bombers Amateurs (16 April 2013) [Rense.com]
The date of the April 15 attack corresponds with Israeli Independence Day, Tax Day, and Patriots Day. Most political analysts suspect right wingers or Muslims. The bombers are believed to be amateurs.
No one has taken responsibility for the bombing. The Pakistani Taliban and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood have denied any role. A home in Revere, Massachusetts was raided by the FBI but no further information has been made available. Police are searching for an unknown person who was filmed standing on a rooftop watching the pandemonium below without emotional reaction.
What we do know about the explosions that killed three and injured 170, is that they were caused by two small homemade pipe bombs filled with BB pellets or ball bearings and nails, which were hidden inside two trash cans. Surgeons at Massachusetts General Hospital removed 20 to 40 pieces of shrapnel from some of the wounded. Terror experts said devices like the ones used in Boston could be made for $100 with instructions found on YouTube. This style of homemade pipe bomb is typical of teenagers who are experimenting with explosives for laughs.
One of the more disturbing aspects about the bombing is that it could have been inspired by a recent episode of Family Guy, which aired on March 17, 2013. In this prime time TV cartoon, the main character Peter is shown driving his car through the finish line at the Boston Marathon. Peter is shown smiling in his blood-drenched car, raising a clenched fist as he crosses the finish line past many dead bodies. Peter then becomes interested in converting to Islam, as a result of a new friend, Mahmoud, who gives him a cell phone. Wearing Islamic clothing, Peter dials the phone and an explosion is heard outside. He dials the phone a second time and another explosion is heard, and people screaming. The first explosion followed by quiet (most people did not know what happened) and the second explosion a few seconds later followed by screaming, as depicted in the cartoon episode, corresponds eerily with the real event.
State and local officials told CNN's John King that there was no known credible threat prior to the explosions, though there are reports of heightened security and bomb squads present even before the race. University of Mobile's Cross Country Coach, who was near the finish line of the Boston Marathon when a series of explosions went off, told local news he thought it was odd there were bomb sniffing dogs at the start and finish lines. Stevenson said he saw law enforcement spotters on the roofs at the start of the race. He's been in plenty of marathons in Chicago, D.C., Chicago, London and other major metropolitan areas but has never seen that level of security before. "They kept making announcements to the participants do not worry, it's just a training exercise," Coach Ali Stevenson told Local 15.
Eyewitness: Authorities "Must Have Known" About Bombing (16 April 2013) [InfoWars.com]
When Bidondi again attempted to ask police about why people were being told to remain calm before the bombs exploded, there was no response.
"They kept making announcements saying to the participants 'do not worry, this is just a training exercise'" said Stevenson, who is the University of Mobile's Cross Country Coach.
"Evidently, I don't believe they were just having a training exercise, they must have known," Stevenson told Local15 News. "They must have had some sort of threat or suspicion called in," adding that spotters were stationed on roofs of buildings and that bomb sniffing dogs were going up and down the finish line.
Stevenson said the level of security he witnessed was unlike anything he had experienced as a marathon runner before in major cities such as Chicago, Washington D.C., and London.
Photographic evidence confirms Stevenson's claim that there were spotters on the roof before the bombs exploded.
Boston Marathon bombs had simple but harmful design, early clues indicate (16 April 2013)
The bombs that tore through a crowd of spectators at the Boston Marathon could have cost as little as $100 to build and were made of the most ordinary ingredients -- so ordinary, in fact, that investigators could face a gargantuan challenge in attempting to use bomb forensics to find the culprit.
Investigators revealed Tuesday that fragments recovered at the blast scene suggest a simple design: a common pressure cooker of the kind found at most discount stores, packed with an explosive and armed with a simple detonator. A final ingredient -- a few handfuls of BBs, nails and pellets -- helped ensure widespread casualties when the two devices exploded Monday near the race's finish line, law enforcement officials said.
The devices' design was immediately recognized by counterterrorism experts as a type touted by al-Qaeda for use by its operatives around the world. Similar devices have been used by terrorists in mass-casualty bombings in numerous countries, from the Middle East to South Asia to North Africa.
Yet the bomb's simplicity and garden-variety ingredients complicate the task of determining whether the maker was an international terrorist, a homegrown extremist or a local citizen with a grudge, investigators and experts say.
Marathon runners, dazed and angry, return for belongings (16 April 2013)
"We were almost there when a volunteer stopped us, and told us they were closing the race," said Meghan Cole, a 25-year-old from Gloucester who was running her first marathon.
"I didn't believe it. I thought it was a joke.''
Runners described the chaos that followed, the frantic search for families, the happy reunions. The sad news over three deaths. All expressed dismay at the bombings and said prayers for those who suffered.
Francesco Iacovelli, 45, of Rome, said he had finished the race in just over three hours and was getting medical help for severe cramps when he heard the explosions.
"It sounded like thunderstorms," he said.
Justices struggle in weighing American Indian adoption case (16 April 2013)
(Reuters) - Supreme Court justices appeared conflicted on Tuesday as they debated the delicate question of whether an American Indian father could take custody of his child from a couple who legally adopted her.
The nine-member court has to determine whether the Indian Child Welfare Act, a law passed in 1978 to prevent Indian families from being torn apart by government welfare agencies, allows Dusten Brown custody of his child, even though he had at one point said he would give up his parental rights.
Several justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts, who has two adopted children, appeared sympathetic to the South Carolina couple who adopted the girl, Veronica, who is now three.
But at least two members of the court, Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Sonia Sotomayor, indicated some support for Brown and others appeared unsure how to proceed. Justice Clarence Thomas, who took custody of a grandnephew in 1997, did not speak during the argument.
Brown, a member of the Cherokee Nation, a federally recognized American Indian tribe, and a soldier at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, invoked the federal law when the child's mother, Christina Maldonado, gave Veronica up for adoption.
'Pulling nails out of a little girl's flesh is just awful': Surgeons reveal horror of Boston bombings (16 April 2013)
Doctors said the amputations had been part of a frantic bid to stop patients bleeding to death.
"When these kids came in... they were just so badly hurt, just covered with singed hair and in so much pain, it was just gut-wrenching," said David Mooney, the director of the trauma program at the Boston Children's Hospital.
He added: "Pulling nails out of a little girl's flesh is just awful."
George Velmahos, chief of trauma surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, told reporters that he had been forced to complete the "ugly job that the bomb did".
The hospital had amputated four limbs, Dr Velmahos said, while two other patients remain "at risk".
Peace Activist Carlos Arredondo Hailed as Hero for Aid to Boston Marathon Bombing Victims (16 April 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
CARLOS ARREDONDO: I was across the street from where the bombs explode with Mélida. And what I saw in the beginning was a big fire coming out across the street from where we are at the time. And then the loud noise occur, and then the big smoke. And people running. And a second explosion just right after that.
My reaction was to just jump the fence, where the--to the street and cross to jump the second fence and landing in this area where was pretty much the serious injuries. You know, everybody was on the ground. There was broken limbs, people with no limbs, people totally passed out, so many injuries today. I never see in my life like this. You know, it was a very, very horrible moment in that particular moment there. People was running. And a lot of people was really doing a great job in handling the best we could at the time.
AARON MATÉ: And, Carlos, you're being cited in the media as a hero for what you did for the victims. Tell us how you reacted to the bombing.
CARLOS ARREDONDO: Well, it took really few minutes to understand that this was a IED explosion. And my first reaction, being a volunteer for the Red Cross, and my first reaction was to just go, you know, and do my duty. So many people was doing the same thing--police officers, National Guards, people from the stands, veterans. You know, everybody just got together into the side. You know, we didn't know if it was a third bomb waiting for anybody there, you know, but everybody removed the fence by their hands and pushed everything around. And in a matter of time, everybody was wheeled out to the next 150 yards, you know, emergency area, which was piled with emergency medical service and units. That was a lot of help.
Amid shock at Marathon, a rush to help strangers (16 April 2013)
The runners had been bounding in, beaming with relief. On both sides of Boylston Street, hundreds of spectators still had packed the area, many cheering with hoarse voices for the late finishers surging in, scores of them every minute. An elderly volunteer greeting runners kept repeating this mantra: "You're all winners."
When the first boom shattered the bliss and the haze of white smoke washed over the finish line, I could see in the eyes of the woman what had happened. She wasn't breathing. She wasn't moving. Her eyes appeared lifeless as she lay beside the metal barriers on the sidewalk, where dozens of people were sprawled on the concrete, their limbs mangled, blood and broken glass everywhere.
I had been in a crouch shooting video of runners taking their final steps of the race, maybe 10 feet from the blast. I saw runners in front of me fall, at least one of whom appeared wounded. Those beside me at the center of the finish line -- Marathon volunteers, security, fellow journalists -- fell back as the ground trembled.
Someone beside me said he saw a red flash. Others close by told me they felt the spray of what they thought were shards of shrapnel. My ears were ringing from the blast, my eyes stinging from the smoke.
Boston Marathon explosions: Police search apartment in Boston suburb; appeal for spectators' video, images (16 April 2013)
As many as two unexploded bombs were found near the end of the 26.2-mile course as part of what appeared to be a well-co-ordinated attack, but they were safely disarmed, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because of the continuing investigation.
WBZ-TV reported late Monday that law enforcement officers were searching an apartment in the Boston suburb of Revere. Massachusetts State Police confirmed that a search warrant related to the investigation into the explosions was served Monday night in Revere, but provided no further details.
Some investigators were seen leaving the Revere house early Tuesday carrying brown paper bags, plastic trash bags and a duffel bag.
Police said three people were killed. Martin Richard, 8, was among the dead, according to a person who talked to a friend of the family and spoke on condition of anonymity. The person said the boy's mother and sister were also injured as they waited for his father to finish the race.
Hospitals reported at least 144 people injured, at least 17 of them critically. At least eight children were being treated at hospitals.
Tim Davey of Richmond, Va., was with his wife, Lisa, and children near a medical tent that had been set up to care for fatigued runners when the injured began arriving. "They just started bringing people in with no limbs," he said.
Boston Marathon explosions latest: FBI raids flat in city's suburbs as bombs are revealed to be packed with ball bearings (16 April 2013)
The overnight death toll after the Boston marathon bombing had risen to three this morning as federal and local investigators swarmed the city to try to hunt down those responsible for a pair of explosions that also caused injuries to at least 140 other people, at least 17 of whom remain in a critical condition.
Various security agencies have raided a flat in a Boston suburb. Officers from the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement searched the fifth floor flat in Revere, five miles from the site of the blast. They were then seen leaving the property with a brown paper bag, according to the Associated Press.
Two unexploded devices recovered near the attack will be analysed today, including one reportedly found around the corner from the first blasts. A third device was reportedly destroyed in a controlled explosion.
As news emerged that one of the dead was an eight-year-old child, doctors from area hospitals began to report that many of those admitted had suffered from shrapnel injuries. The devices had been packed with ball bearings, according to reports from Reuters and other agencies, to cause maximum injuries. Hospitals also confirmed that numerous patients suffered lower limb injuries including some who had undergone amputations.
Climate scientists struggle to explain warming slowdown (16 April 2013)
(Reuters) - Scientists are struggling to explain a slowdown in climate change that has exposed gaps in their understanding and defies a rise in global greenhouse gas emissions.
Often focused on century-long trends, most climate models failed to predict that the temperature rise would slow, starting around 2000. Scientists are now intent on figuring out the causes and determining whether the respite will be brief or a more lasting phenomenon.
Getting this right is essential for the short and long-term planning of governments and businesses ranging from energy to construction, from agriculture to insurance. Many scientists say they expect a revival of warming in coming years.
Theories for the pause include that deep oceans have taken up more heat with the result that the surface is cooler than expected, that industrial pollution in Asia or clouds are blocking the sun, or that greenhouse gases trap less heat than previously believed.
Chevron ignored a decade of warnings before Richmond refinery explosion (16 April 2013)
An August fire and explosion at a refinery in Richmond, Calif. -- which sickened 15,000 residents of the San Francisco Bay area -- was the result of Chevron not giving a sh*t about safety.
That's the paraphrased conclusion of an investigation into the accident by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board. While releasing an interim report Monday, the board said a regulatory overhaul was needed to protect the public from such accidents.
From the Contra Costa Times:
"At a news conference in Emeryville, officials from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board portrayed a refinery that took a Band-Aid approach to plant maintenance -- pipes were often clamped as they aged rather than being replaced, and the section of pipe that ruptured had deteriorated to less than half the thickness of a dime. ..."
Nonpartisan review concludes Bush knowingly ordered torture (16 April 2013)
A nonpartisan group led by a former top Bush administration official concluded a two-year review on Tuesday that finds the former president and his top advisers knowingly ordered interrogation techniques that U.S. officials have previously referred to as torture.
"After conducting our own two-year investigation, weighing the credibility of all sources and studying the current public record, we have come to the regrettable, but unavoidable, conclusion that the United States did indeed engage in conduct that is clearly torture," former Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR), who served as undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security during the Bush administration, said in an advisory.
The 577-page review, put together by the advocacy group The Constitution Project, includes interviews with dozens of people who have first-hand knowledge of the discussions about interrogation techniques and their implementation. Although Bush administration loyalists said at the time that "enhanced interrogation tactics" like stress positions, waterboarding, mock executions, sensory deprivation and prolonged diapering were not torture, this report aims to specifically and finally emphasize that these activities meet the clinical definition of "torture."
"As long as the debate continues, so too does the possibility that the United States could again engage in torture," the report says, according to The New York Times, which received an advance copy.
Dick Cheney to attend Lady Thatcher funeral (16 April 2013)
Dick Cheney, former US vice-president and driving force behind the country's invasion of Iraq, is to attend the Thatcher funeral, No 10 has confirmed.
Other high-profile US guests include Henry Kissinger, the former US secretary of state and the maverick rightwinger Ross Perot. Barack Obama announced on this week that former US secretaries of state George Shultz and James Baker III would lead a US presidential delegation to the ceremony. Louise Susman, the recently departed US ambassador in London, would also attend.
Michelle Bachmann, the ultra-conservative former presidential candidate, will attend with two other Republicans from Congress.
Downing Street indicated on Tuesday that Cheney was attending in a personal capacity, not as an official US representative. Nonetheless, his presence is likely to enrage many. As George W Bush's number two between 2001-2009, Cheney was one of the chief architects of the war in Iraq.
Since leaving office, Cheney has refused to apologise for taking the US to war and has been a relentless critic of Obama's alleged security policy failings. He has defended the use of enhanced interrogation techniques against prisoners.
After Boston explosions, people rush to Twitter for breaking news (15 April 2013)
SAN FRANCISCO -- In an age of near instant communication, Twitter again became the world's town square as traffic to the service spiked minutes after the deadly Boston Marathon explosions.
People rushed to Twitter for real-time information on fatalities and injuries. It was the first to air the news of the explosions at the finish line (10 minutes ahead of cable news) and to break the news of multiple explosions and mass casualties as users posted firsthand accounts and photographs.
Foursquare founder and Chief Executive Dennis Crowley, who was running the marathon to raise money for Camp Interactive, a program to expose underprivileged youth to technology, turned to Twitter to let friends and family know he was OK. (He also used it to ask journalists to "leave us alone right now.")
Twitter, which lets users tap out 140-character status updates, has transformed how breaking news events are recorded and covered whether in on-the-ground reports such as a Pakistani man live tweeting the deadly raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad) or in on-the-plane reports from the Hudson River plane crash.
Tax Day: While Millions Rush to Meet Deadline, Resisters Continue Longstanding Refusal to Fund War (15 April 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
ED HEDEMANN: Well, I stopped after I refused induction in the military. This is in 1969. The government tried to draft me to go to war in Vietnam; I refused to go. A year later, I thought, well, it's not good enough for me not to go and yet pay for others to go into the military, so I stopped paying the following year taxes to the IRS that eventually would help the government's war in Vietnam and subsequent wars.
AMY GOODMAN: So, what happened to you? What does it mean? How did to figure out--what exactly do you do on Tax Day?
ED HEDEMANN: Well, I refuse to pay 100 percent of my federal taxes, my federal income taxes. I pay Social Security, Medicare, state and local taxes, but none of the federal income taxes. But actually, in fact, I do pay them, just not to the IRS. I take the entire amount of money and reroute it to other organizations helping to build a better world rather than helping to kill people.
AMY GOODMAN: And what has the federal government responded?
ED HEDEMANN: Routinely I get letters, threatening letters from the IRS. They look for bank accounts. They look for property that I might own to seize. They look for salaries that I might have. I go out of my way to be uncollectible. I don't have readily accessible bank accounts. I don't have a salary. I'm self-employed. I have had salaries in the past. And I really don't own any significant property. Now, the IRS has gone as far as to take me into federal district court. They did that in 1999 to get me to reveal sources of my assets, because the IRS has been unable to find anything significant to collect. I refused to give this information, and that was the end of it.
Sex Worker Says She's Made 'Close To $1 Million' Servicing Young, Rich Guys From Silicon Valley (15 April 2013)
Tech companies in the Bay area such as Facebook and LinkedIn have gone public and made their early employees wealthy.
Increasingly, the young, rich employees are spending their fortunes on prostitution.
CNNMoney's Laurie Segall interviewed sex workers in the Bay area, as well as local authorities. All of them said prostitution was on the rise and technology is powering it. It has increased the list of clients, and it's making the prostitution business more efficient.
One sex worker says she uses Square, Jack Dorsey's mobile credit card swiper, to charge clients before visits. "As far as Square knows, it's a consulting business," the woman told Segall.
Dead sea lions washing on shore in California appear to have died from radiation poisoning (15 April 2013)
The extremely high readings recorded at different times indicated that cesium 137 was rising, and at that time in 2011, more radioactive material was continuing to leak into the ocean.
That article registered concern over the high amounts of radioactive material, but claimed at that time the ocean was diluting the radiation levels low enough to prevent humans from being harmed directly.
Of course, California sea lions are a long way off from the Japan coast, but different currents and eddies could spread a continuing accumulation of radioactive contamination farther out into the ocean from Japan.
Even tuna caught off the California coast have been found with higher than normal traces of cesium 137 from the Fukushima disaster in May of 2012.
An unpublicized cause of death for seal pups is domoic acid, produced by toxic algae bloom. It causes seizure and death in California sea lions. Domoic acid is a neurotoxin produced by a few specific types of harmful algae blooms among the phytoplankton on the ocean's surface.
Antarctic ice melting at record rate, study shows (15 April 2013)
Lead researcher Dr Nerilie Abram, from the Australian National University and British Antarctic Survey (BAS), said: "We found that the coolest conditions on the Antarctic peninsula and the lowest amount of summer melt occurred around 600 years ago.
"At that time temperatures were around 1.6C lower than those recorded in the late 20th century and the amount of annual snowfall that melted and refroze was about 0.5%.
"Today, we see almost 10 times as much (5%) of the annual snowfall melting each year.
"Summer melting at the ice core site today is now at a level that is higher than at any other time over the last 1,000 years. And while temperatures at this site increased gradually in phases over many hundreds of years, most of the intensification of melting has happened since the mid-20th century."
Preparing to install the world's largest underwater observatory (15 April 2013)
The basement lab near the University of Washington campus is, literally, buzzing. High-voltage machines produce energy that will soon run through cables snaking along the seafloor. A dozen engineers hunch over electronics, making alterations or running checks. In one corner, a nitride-coated titanium shaft has been sitting in a bucket of saltwater for four months to test the coating for corrosion. A glass-walled cleanroom prevents contaminants from interfering with seals on housings designed to keep out seawater pressing in at 4,200 pounds per square inch.
This is crunch time for University of Washington preparations to build the world's largest underwater observatory. The National Science Foundation in 2009 launched the $239 million effort led by John Delaney, UW professor of oceanography, to create a cabled observatory that will bring power and Internet to the ocean floor. This new concept will use remote-controlled instruments and high-bandwidth video to create an enduring, real-time presence in the deep ocean.
Researchers in the UW's Applied Physics Laboratory were tasked by Delaney to build and test the equipment that will make up the observatory. Much of that equipment will be installed this summer. This is the biggest project the 70-year-old marine engineering institute has ever undertaken, said project lead Gary Harkins, a principal engineer with the lab.
"This concept of a real-time observatory will change what we do as ocean engineers, what we will learn how to do, and what ocean scientists can do with these systems now and in the future," Harkins said.
Dead dolphins and shrimp with no eyes found after BP clean-up (14 April 2013)
Hundreds of beached dolphin carcasses, shrimp with no eyes, contaminated fish, ancient corals caked in oil and some seriously unwell people are among the legacies that scientists are still uncovering in the wake of BP's Deepwater Horizon spill.
This week it will be three years since the first of 4.9 billion barrels of crude oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico, in what is now considered the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. As the scale of the ecological disaster unfolds, BP is appearing daily in a New Orleans federal court to battle over the extent of compensation it owes to the region.
Infant dolphins were found dead at six times average rates in January and February of 2013. More than 650 dolphins have been found beached in the oil spill area since the disaster began, which is more than four times the historical average. Sea turtles were also affected, with more than 1,700 found stranded between May 2010 and November 2012 -- the last date for which information is available. On average, the number stranded annually in the region is 240.
Contact with oil may also have reduced the number of juvenile bluefin tuna produced in 2010 by 20 per cent, with a potential reduction in future populations of about 4 per cent. Contamination of smaller fish also means that toxic chemicals could make their way up the food chain after scientists found the spill had affected the cellular function of killifish, a common bait fish at the base of the food chain.
Guantánamo Bay's last UK detainee: 'people are dying here' in hunger strike (14 April 2013)
A British hunger striker inside Guantánamo Bay has laid bare the deteriorating conditions of inmates, expressing fears that he and others will soon die as a result of what he described as "systematic torture".
Shaker Aamer, the last UK resident still held at the camp, claims he is subjected to harsh treatment from guards and denied water, despite being in a weakened state due to severe weight loss, according to a written declaration filed by his lawyer.
He also alleges that the US base will soon be dealing with its first fatalities as a result of the current action: "I might die this time," he is quoted by his lawyer as saying, adding: "I cannot give you numbers and names, but people are dying here."
The testimony, seen by the Guardian, will form part of evidence presented at a hearing Monday into complaints from the remaining inmates at the notorious detention camp. Over the weekend, clashes broke out as guards attempted to break the hunger strike, which is thought to have begun on 6 February.
Drought: Why the Dust Bowl may be coming back (14 April 2013)
Drought conditions in more than half of the United States have slipped into a pattern that is uncomfortably similar to the most severe droughts in recent history, including the 1930s Dust Bowl, climatologists say.
The 2013 drought season is off to a worse start than in 2012 or 2011. It's a good indicator, based on historical records, that the entire year will be drier than last year, even if spring and summer rainfall and temperatures remain the same, says scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
If rainfall decreases and temperatures rise, as climatologists are predicting will happen this year, the drought could be even more severe.
The federal researchers also say there is less than a 20 per cent chance the drought will end in the next six months.
"There were certainly pockets of drought as we went into spring last year, but overall, the situation was much better than it is now," said Tom Karl, a climatologist and director of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center.
Florida battles slimy invasion by giant snails (14 April 2013)
(Reuters) - South Florida is fighting a growing infestation of one of the world's most destructive invasive species: the giant African land snail, which can grow as big as a rat and gnaw through stucco and plaster.
More than 1,000 of the mollusks are being caught each week in Miami-Dade and 117,000 in total since the first snail was spotted by a homeowner in September 2011, said Denise Feiber, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Residents will soon likely begin encountering them more often, crunching them underfoot as the snails emerge from underground hibernation at the start of the state's rainy season in just seven weeks, Feiber said.
The snails attack "over 500 known species of plants ... pretty much anything that's in their path and green," Feiber said.
Alaska House passes oil tax overhaul (14 April 2013)
The House version of the bill includes a 35 percent base tax rate and $5 allowance per taxable barrel of oil produced. That credit would apply to what would be considered new oil and production that also would qualify for a 20 percent tax break known as a gross revenue exclusion. Certain units comprised exclusively of leases with higher royalty rates, and those not getting royalty relief from the state, could qualify for a 30 percent tax break.
Under the bill, administration officials have said they expect the vast majority of Alaska's legacy fields would be subject to a 35 percent base rate and a per-barrel allowance on a sliding scale, higher at lower prices, zero at higher prices, around $160.
A consultant to the administration has said the plan would make Alaska "far more" competitive for investment dollars. According to that consultant, Barry Pulliam, the effective tax rate on the net value for oil that doesn't get a gross revenue exclusion would be about 25 percent at $100 oil and about 30 percent at $120 oil. The effective tax rate for higher royalty oil that gets a 30 percent gross revenue exclusion would be about 11 percent at $100 oil and 14 percent at $120 oil.
"Race to the bottom if you want," Gara told colleagues on the House floor Saturday night. "I hope you won't."
News from the Week of 7th to 13th of April 2013
Solar grows up -- now what? (13 April 2013)
Almost a decade ago, I was part of a group that lost a standby rate case with a Massachusetts utility, when the utility convinced the commission to approve a rate that would incentivize solar at the expense of combined heat and power (CHP). The package fractured the green coalition we'd assembled and the utility got to greenwash its terrible new rate. Yes, I'm still bitter.
When the dust settled, I told friends on the solar side of our group that they shouldn't celebrate too hard. The message wasn't that utilities liked solar, but that they liked technologies that didn't eat into their sales. (At the time, there was 80 gigawatts of CHP deployed nationwide; solar capacity was basically zero.)
With the release this Edison Electric Institute (EEI) report, it appears solar's time may have come. The gist of the report (nicely summarized here and here) is that distributed energy resources generally, and solar specifically, are eating into utility profit margins and potentially compromising their ability to attract capital. Utilities should take action to stop it. Specifically, note these passages:
[Utilities should encourage] "an immediate focus on revising state and federal policies that do not align the interests of customers and investors, particularly revising utility tariff structures in order to eliminate cross subsidies (by non-DER participants) and utility investor cost-recovery uncertainties."
High-tech solutions not the answer to ER wait times, experts say (13 April 2013)
When Edmonton resident Lyn Morrison's 80-year-old mother, Deloris, complained of sharp stomach pains last June, Morrison checked the app for the quickest wait time.
The University of Alberta Hospital, where the family usually went, showed a wait time of two and a half hours. So, instead, Morrison took her mother to Grey Nuns Community Hospital, which had a posted wait of only 18 minutes.
"I thought this was good, because she's in a lot of pain, and we needed to see somebody right away," Morrison told the CBC's the fifth estate. "At the time, I was thinking, she'll get help right away, within that time is what I thought would happen."
Instead, her mother waited three hours to be seen, and, Morrison claims, bled to death internally from an aneurism while waiting several more hours to be admitted.
Americans who ditch overpriced prescriptions save time, money, and health (13 April 2013)
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the United States out-of-pocket drug consumption exceeds $45 billion annually. The agency also reports that one of every five Americans ask their doctor for a less expensive prescription.
The horrible reality is: the 11 major drug companies in the world come up with an annual $85 billion profit. This industry is obviously monopolizing on people's illness, and they're not even sharing any of the billion-dollar profit by lowering the prices!
Either way, the combination of severe side effects and high costs is detracting people from the pharmaceutical philosophy altogether. Many people are now seeking alternative answers as well.
If prescriptions are too expensive, why not try prescribing your own medicine?
As Americans look for more frugal answers to their health, the truth may be just under their nose. As awareness spreads, many are learning how to make their own medicine. Real medicine might not be in the doctor's hands anymore. Many medical doctors are beginning to encourage their patients to seek nutritional answers. Many doctors confess that they wouldn't consume the very drugs they prescribe to people. Maybe prescriptions are really just bogus disease management tools designed to keep people coming back to an overly priced, overrated juggernaut.
Teachers blast Louisiana evaluation system, say state doesn't support them (13 April 2013)
Teachers attending a Saturday town hall meeting in New Orleans hosted by NBC's Education Nation blasted new state evaluation procedures for teachers and Louisiana's adoption of national education standards, saying the state Department of Education isn't giving teachers enough support.
The standards, called the Common Core, are being phased in for English and math. The state also plans to adopt new national science standards that were unveiled this week. In 2015, a new system of standardized tests will replace Louisiana's LEAP and end-of-course exams.
The Compass evaluation system is under way now. Under it, classroom observations account for 50 percent of a teacher's grade, with the rest coming from students' scores on standardized tests. Teachers who get low marks will be the first to be laid off if their districts have to cut back.
With all these changes taking place at once, "It's a very overwhelming year for teachers," said panelist April Giddens of Natchitoches, who was named Louisiana's 2012 teacher of the year.
Victoria Brittain: "Shadow Lives: The Forgotten Women of the War on Terror" (12 April 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: What are these shadow lives? Describe who you have spent the last decade with.
VICTORIA BRITTAIN: Well, some of the women that I've written about are the wives of Guantánamo prisoners. One, in particular, who is like chapter one of the book, is one of my closest friends, and I kind of lived alongside her and her children through a very long period when her husband was in Guantánamo, and she had absolutely no information about why he was there, when he might come back, no contact with him whatsoever.
And a second woman, who I know very well, her husband is still in Guantánamo after 11 years. And he's one of the 86 people who were cleared in that task force report that President Obama ordered very early on by very senior intelligence and military people. And those 86 people, which of course included a lot of Yemenis, but it also included this British resident, Shaker Aamer, who--having been cleared as innocent, everybody expected him to be released. The British government has also asked for him. But President Obama has not managed to release him.
Mark Steel: You can't just shut us up now that Margaret Thatcher's dead;
If someone robs your house, you don't say: "I disagreed with the burglar's policy, of tying me to a chair. But I did admire his convictions." (11 April 2013)
Maybe a more modern way of broadcasting the news would have been for Davina McCall to announce it, saying: "She's gone, but let's have a look at some of her best bits." Then we could see her denouncing Nelson Mandela as a terrorist and befriending General Pinochet.
Instead it began as expected, with the Hurds, Howes and Archers phoning in their "remarkables" and "historics", and we were reminded how she brought down the Berlin Wall and rescued Britain, then an article in The Times claimed she was responsible for ending apartheid, and it seemed by today we'd be hearing she stopped Gibraltar being invaded by Daleks and made our goldfish feel proud to be British and took 8 for 35 against Australia to win the Ashes.
"Even those who disagreed with her, respected her as a conviction politician", it was said many times, as if everyone would participate in the mourning. But soon it was impossible to pretend there was a respectful consensus, not because of the odd party in the street, but from a widespread and considered contempt. In many areas it must have been confusing for Jehovah's Witnesses, as every time they knocked on a door and asked, "Have you heard the good news", they'd be told "Yes mate, I have, do you want to come in for a beer?"
Before long came the complaints, such as Tony Blair saying: "Even if you disagree with someone very strongly, at the moment of their passing you should show some respect." Presumably then, when Bin Laden was killed, Blair's statement was: "Although I didn't agree with Osama's policies, he was a conviction terrorist, a colourful character whose short films were not only fun but educational as well. He will be sadly missed."
Sun Unleashes Most Powerful Solar Flare of Year (12 April 2013)
The most powerful solar flare of the year erupted from the sun Thursday, sparking a temporary radio blackout on Earth, NASA officials say.
The solar flare occurred at 3:16 a.m. EDT and registered as a M6.5-class sun storm, a relatively mid-level flare on the scale of solar tempests. It coincided with an eruption of super-hot solar plasma known as a coronal mass ejection.
"This is the strongest flare seen so far in 2013," NASA spokeswoman Karen Fox explained in a statement. "Increased numbers of flares are quite common at the moment, since the sun's normal 11-year cycle is ramping up toward solar maximum, which is expected in late 2013."
NASA's sun-watching Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded a stunning video of the strongest solar flare of 2013, showing it extreme detail. The spacecraft is one of several space-based observatories keeping track of the sun's solar weather events.
Music activates brain region associated with reward (11 April 2013)
Scientists know that music can give intense pleasure by delivering chemical rewards in the brain that are equal to the joy of good food or even sex, but now they think they may have identified the part of the brain where this pleasure starts.
Researchers scanned the brains of subjects while they listened to new songs and asked how much they would spend on buying the tracks. They found that the most popular songs -- those which people were prepared to pay more for -- were also the ones that elicited the strongest response in the nucleus accumbens, a structure in the centre of the brain that is involved in reward processing.
"This area is important because it's involved in forming expectations and these are expectations that could be rewarding," said Valorie Salimpoor of McGill University in Montreal, Canada. "What makes music so emotionally powerful is the creation of expectation. Activity in the nucleus accumbens normally would indicate that expectations are being met or surpassed."
In the experiment, which is published in Science, she and her colleagues scanned the brains of 20 people who used an iTunes-like interface to listen to 30-second clips of songs they had never heard before but were in a genre they generally liked. "Instead of just asking them if they liked the music or not, we gave them a chance to buy the music because that gives us a real understanding of what they really like and want," she said. "Immediately after they hear each clip, they make a decision. They could spend zero dollars, 99c, $1.29 or $2."
California adds BPA plastics chemical to warnings list (12 April 2013)
California's environmental science agency has added the controversial plastics-softening chemical, bisphenol A, to its official list of chemicals known to cause birth defects.
The decision was announced late Thursday by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. The agency based its finding on a report by "an authoritative body," the National Toxicology Program, that the compound commonly known as BPA "causes reproductive toxicity...at high doses."
The listing, authorized under a 1986 law, Proposition 65, requires that manufacturers of goods containing BPA, such as water bottles, provide warnings or reformulate their products.
Environmentalists immediately praised the agency's decision. The plastics industry criticized it and vowed to pursue a lawsuit against the administration of Gov. Jerry Brown.
Oceans are absorbing excess heat, for now (12 April 2013)
Pity the oceans. Not only do we dump oil and plastics and all kinds of nasty chemicals and garbage into them. Turns out we're dumping heat into them too.
Studies of ocean temperatures are revealing that a lot of the excess heat we're creating by pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is ending up in the oceans.
That's helping to keep the atmosphere cooler than scientists had previously projected; the rise in surface temperatures slowed during the first decade of this century. (The effects of aerosols spat out by volcanoes and other phenomena are also thought to have helped keep temperatures on the surface of Earth lower than expected.) That may seem a good thing from the perspective of terrestrial creatures like us. But the oceans won't suck up all that heat forever.
A new paper published in Nature Climate Change by scientists from Spain and France identified where much of the missing heat had ended up:
"Most of this excess energy was absorbed in the top 700 [meters] of the ocean at the onset of the warming pause, 65% of it in the tropical Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Our results hence point at the key role of the ocean heat uptake in the recent warming slowdown."
Palm oil health craze may push animals to extinction while destroying the environment (12 April 2013)
(NaturalNews) Red palm oil has burst onto the health scene as a miracle food, helping to heal everything from cardiovascular disease to Alzheimer's to cancer. However, as it becomes more popular worldwide, a dark secret has come to light. Due to its lucrative value, rainforests in Malaysia and Indonesia are destroyed and replaced with African oil palm tree plantations -- seriously endangering the habitat of many rare birds, orangutan, pygmy elephants and clouded leopards. As this deforestation progresses at lightening speed, a hefty carbon footprint is created as well.
Exceptional healing benefit
Long popular in Asian countries, palm oil has become the healthy replacement for trans fat-containing oils around the world. And now, extra-virgin varieties (otherwise known as red palm oil) have risen to superfood status. Research has shown the oil can help boost immunity, support healthy liver and lung function, aid in fat loss, improve sugar metabolism and strengthen the bones and teeth. High in beta-carotene, vitamin E and K along with CoQ10, red palm oil has an impressive nutritional profile.
But before you rush out to buy your own miracle in a jar, here is something to consider: The devastating repercussions of production.
Hunger for palm oil creates grave outcomes
Indonesia entered into the global economy during the late 1980s and is now one of the two largest palm oil producers in the world. As a result of deforestation to clear land for plantations, "at least half of the world's wild orangutans have disappeared in the last 20 years; biologically viable populations of orangutans have been radically reduced in size and number; and 80 percent of the orangutan habitat has either been depopulated or totally destroyed," said Dr. Birute Mary Galdikas, the world's foremost authority on the orangutan. She believes the animals could be extinct within 10 years.
Five myths about taxes (12 April 2013)
"I paid my income tax today!" So went one of Irving Berlin's lesser-known patriotic jingles. "I never felt so proud before/To be right there with the millions more/Who paid their income tax today!" Few share Berlin's enthusiasm, as grumbling about taxes reaches a crescendo on April 15. Let's topple some tall tales about taxes before writing checks to -- or getting refunds from -- the dreaded Internal Revenue Service.
1. The income tax is a big-government Democratic scheme.
The first income tax in the United States was enacted under the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln. Before the Civil War, Republicans were the party of big government, supporting high tariffs, infrastructure spending and centralized bank regulations.
Once the war began, Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase feared that mounting deficits would spur inflation. Banks, which were funding the war, demanded action to ensure U.S. solvency, and tariffs, the country's main source of revenue, had reached a peak. "Chase has no money, and he tells me he can raise no more," Lincoln complained in 1862.
Initially 3 percent on incomes above $600 and 5 percent on incomes above $10,000, the income tax was intended to assuage class resentment of industrialists getting rich by supplying the Union. The tax was repealed after the Civil War, reenacted in 1894, declared unconstitutional in 1895, then reinstated with Theodore Roosevelt's support. Republican William Howard Taft backed the ratification process that led to the Sixteenth Amendment, adopted in 1913. Democrat Woodrow Wilson signed the tax into law that year -- and Democrats have been more inclined than Republicans to raise rates since.
Pew: 5% of Americans Love Doing Their Taxes (11 April 2013) [InfoWars.com]
And an additional 29% "like" it. Why do people enjoy doing their taxes? Well, they get a "refund." That is, they get back some of their money that the government has been holding interest-free while you work to pay them more. And what if you hold "too much" of your own money and then write the feds a check at the end of the year to cover the short fall? In that case, you probably have to pay them penalties. You see how it works.
We can thank the Great "Libertarian" Milton Friedman for helping the federal government develop tax withholding, an ingenious government scam which helps the feds maximize revenues and hold excess funds interest-free for a time, all the while convincing some people that they're actually getting some kind of gift from the feds.
All shine and no substance: the reality of gold (12 April 2013)
Let's be blunt: Gold has had nothing to do with safety over most of the past decade. During its 650-per-cent rise since 1999, whatever virtues it held as a hedge against economic calamity or inflation were pushed aside by speculative fervour.
Twelve-year bull markets can do that, instilling the belief that what goes up will keep going up and reward investors with big returns -- much like U.S. real estate or Canadian income trusts did years ago.
To be fair, the original arguments in favour of gold were largely based on its defensive characteristics.
According to its fans, gold would hold its value if inflation took hold as a result of the aggressive stimulus policies of central banks. And if the bottom dropped out of the global economy, gold would keep a roof over your head.
PAM COMMENTARY: At least gold was worth something during the crash, while "investment" or "retirement" accounts based on managed stocks hit zero.
Republicans pledge to change tone, not positions (12 April 2013)
With an eye on the White House in 2016, Republicans spent this week in Hollywood mapping a path to a resurgence -- determining how to streamline the primary process and close their deficit with Democrats among key voter blocs such as single women and Latinos.
But members of the Republican National Committee largely tiptoed around the greater challenge facing their party: The GOP's stance on issues such as marriage, reproductive rights and President Obama's healthcare plan are diametrically at odds with some of the very voters the party is trying to win over. And many members at the four-day gathering rejected any suggestion that Republican positions in 2012 alienated voters in those key groups -- insisting that the party lost because of a weak presidential candidate and that all that is needed is a change in tone.
Though the party's recently released "autopsy" report prescribed changes to the primaries -- sparking a lively debate this week about the party rules -- it largely sidestepped questions about how far, if at all, the party will bend on issues. One answer came at the RNC's general session on Friday, as members approved by voice vote a resolution defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. It urged the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold Proposition 8, which forbids gay marriage in California, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act; the court recently heard arguments on both measures and is expected to rule by June.
There was some recognition among delegates that a more serious discussion lay ahead. During a fight over party rules Wednesday, North Carolina Committeewoman Ada Fisher urged fellow members to note the lack of diversity in the room: "Look around you; there ain't but three of us that are black in the RNC."
Bob McDonnell should come clean on lavish gifts (12 April 2013)
IT'S A FAIR GUESS that companies based in Virginia launch thousands of new products each year. Precious few of them get to mark the event with a luncheon hosted by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) at the Executive Mansion in Richmond or are treated to a personal plug by his wife.
A notable exception is Star Scientific Inc., based in the Richmond suburbs, whose chief executive, Jonnie R. Williams Sr., has lavished tens of thousands of dollars in cash and gifts on Mr. McDonnell and his political action committee since before he became governor.
Under Virginia's financial disclosure laws, politicians such as Mr. McDonnell may accept cash and gifts in virtually any amount; they must simply disclose any donation of more than $50. The idea is that full transparency will act as a brake on largess that looks too much like outright bribery. But in the case of Mr. McDonnell and his benefactor Mr. Williams, even those extravagantly permissive laws proved too onerous.
As The Post's Rosalind S. Helderman reported , Mr. McDonnell failed to report a $15,000 gift from Mr. Williams that covered most of a catering bill for food and flowers at his daughter Cailin's wedding nearly two years ago. He also issued a misleading statement about the nature of the gift.
John Hinckley Jr. behaving normally, Secret Service says (12 April 2013)
The Secret Service transcripts show the detail in which Hinckley is observed. During random observations, agents noted whether he bought dry or canned cat food, described a McDonald's order and noted details on his clothing color and cleanliness.
The accompanying mental evaluations are similarly detailed, and note the kinds of transgressions for which Hinckley has been disciplined.
"He reported viewing and enjoying two movies when in fact he did not view the movies at all," one report states. "He was assigned treatment consequences for his actions."
The consequences included reduced visit days and fewer unaccompanied hours. He has also been punished for perusing books related to presidential assassinations.
"Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead" tops British iTunes chart after Thatcher's death (12 April 2013)
LONDON (AP) -- The BBC is in a bind after opponents of Margaret Thatcher pushed the song "Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead" to the top of the British charts in a posthumous protest over her divisive policies.
The online campaign to drive the "Wizard of Oz" song to the No. 1 spot on the U.K. singles chart was launched by Thatcher critics shortly after the former prime minister died Monday of a stroke at age 87.
As of Friday, the song was No. 1 on British iTunes.
Still, many people say the campaign -- which aims to see the song played this weekend on the BBC's Official Chart Show -- is in bad taste. Some have called on the BBC to promise it won't broadcast the song.
In mining ruins left by Thatcher, new economy struggles (12 April 2013)
(Reuters) - In an old-fashioned social club near what was once one of Britain's richest coal seams, former miners played cards and toasted the death of their hated old foe, Margaret Thatcher.
The past looks down solemnly from the walls: a framed list of the names of men who died underground hangs near a flag of the shuttered colliery that once employed 6,000.
Thatcher, the most polarizing prime minister in modern British history, is nowhere more thoroughly despised than here, in northern England's coal belt, where her crackdown against striking miners is blamed for wiping out an entire industry that had sustained a community for generations.
"She should have lived another 180 years and suffered every day of them, like she made the country suffer," said Gary Smith, who worked at the coal mine in the Yorkshire village of Grimethorpe for over 20 years.
Redford versus Redford on Keystone pipeline (12 April 2013)
WASHINGTON -- Alison Redford and actor Robert Redford may be distant relatives, but the Alberta premier doesn't think either her namesake or other Hollywood celebrities are contributing to society by opposing the oilsands and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
"It's fine for people who aren't really impacted by this stuff to talk about why it shouldn't happen, but these aren't the people that are out talking to the thousand guys that want jobs -- or to returning veterans who want to be able to work on pipeline construction or get trained in new technologies," she said in an interview.
"Celebrities being celebrities will never change, but at the end of the day, it is important for us to speak for the people whose lives are actually affected by these decisions."
The premier said she believes she and the anti-pipeline Redford -- the star of Hollywood movies such as The Sting and All the President's Men -- are descendants of four brothers who came to North America from Wales.
PAM COMMENTARY: ... says the Alberta Premier, as tarsands oil flows through the streets of Arkansas ...
Feds tell Norfolk it can continue removing eagle nests (12 April 2013)
The city can continue to remove eagle nests at the Norfolk Botanical Garden as long as they are removed before the birds successfully build a new home.
The U.S. Department of the Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service has told the city it can continue to take down the nests. The city sought the agency's opinion after an environmental attorney accused it of violating permits.
The Eagle On Alliance, an advocacy group formed after the city removed the nests in October, hired the attorney. The group argued that Norfolk violated its federal permit when it removed too many nests. The city likely will continue the work into next year and amend its permit to allow for the removal of two more nests, should the eagles succeed in rebuilding, according to an email sent to the service.
The email noted that it would be increasingly difficult to spot the nests once the foliage fully returns. The email also describes the state of each nest, describing one as "half-built."
Norfolk International Airport is adjacent to the garden, and a Wildlife Hazard Assessment said bald eagles represent an "extremely high" hazard level.
Berries, pomegranates shown to have highest anti-cancer activity of any fruits (11 April 2013)
(NaturalNews) Numerous studies have confirmed that berries are the best foods to maximize your intake of disease-fighting antioxidants, and have also identified the other fruits and vegetables with the highest antioxidant content.
Antioxidants are increasingly implicated as the chemicals behind many of the health-promoting benefits of fruits and vegetables. They act in part by cleansing the body of free radicals, which can cause cell and DNA damage that leads to the effects of aging and to many chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
Just one cup per day
One major study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2004, analyzed the antioxidant levels of more than a hundred separate foods including fruits, vegetables, breads, cereals, nuts and spices.
The researchers found that berries were by far the most cost-effective way of consuming antioxidants. Among all the fruits analyzed, cranberries, blueberries and blackberries topped the list for antioxidant content. Just a single cup a day of berries was found to provide the recommended daily intake of antioxidants for disease-fighting purposes.
French study suggests younger women should stop wearing bras (11 April 2013)
A new French study suggests some women should throw their bras in the trash.
Professor Jean-Denis Rouillon, a sports medicine specialist from Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Besancon in Besancon, France, published a study on Wednesday that shows that wearing bras may not prevent women's breasts from sagging, and may in fact increase it.
"Our first results confirm the hypothesis that the bra is a false need," Rouillon told France Info. "Medically, physiologically, anatomically, the breast does not benefit from being deprived of gravity. Instead, it languishes with a bra."
The 15-year study involved 330 volunteers between the ages 18 and 35. Researchers measured their breasts using a slide ruler and a caliper and recorded any changes throughout the study period.
Moose that strolled through Grocery store dies in relocation effort (11 April 2013)
SMITHERS, B.C. - A moose that took a stroll through a grocery store in Smithers, B.C., has since died.
Shoppers at the Safeway were surprised when the moose walked in the front door Wednesday and took a walk through the produce and flower section.
Internet video shows a clerk coaxing the moose out of the store with an apple.
The moose had been hanging around town and the Safeway parking lot for about a week.
Operator of escalator where man died had safety violations, says L&I (11 April 2013)
A man was strangled in an accident last weekend on a downtown Seattle escalator with several safety-code violations, and the state Department of Labor & Industries is investigating.
Maurecio Bell, 42, of Renton, was found unconscious and unresponsive about 5:30 a.m. Sunday at the bottom of a King County Metro escalator at University Street Station near Third Avenue and University Street, according to the Seattle Police Department.
The King County Medical Examiner's Office said that after Bell apparently fell down on the moving escalator, his clothing became entangled in the escalator's mechanism, choking him to death.
Video of the incident confirms that's what happened, according to police. They say the King County Metro footage shows Bell, who was later found with a bottle of brandy in his back pocket, staggering and then leaning against the escalator wall at 5:19 a.m.
Hot idea to keep African farmers planting harvests 100,000th participant (11 April 2013)
An innovative insurance policy that helps protect East African farmers against failed rains or pest-swarms that would eat their crops now has its 100,000th policyholder -- growing remarkably from fewer than 200 participants four years ago.
The Kilimo Salama project, as it is known, installs weather-monitoring stations in heavily-farmed areas in Kenya and Rwanda. Those stations, fitted with cellphone SIM-cards, automatically send weather data to central computers at the project headquarters.
Using special software designed by agronomists, the computers compare the data against historic averages, and then calculate the risk of a poor rainy season and of crops withering.
If such an outcome seems likely, farmers who paid small premiums to insure against a poor harvest will then automatically receive compensation, sent to cellphone-based bank accounts.
Guantanamo dogged by new controversy after mishandling of e-mails (11 April 2013)
The military justice system at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which has been dogged by charges of secret monitoring of proceedings and defense communications, became embroiled in a fresh controversy Thursday when it was revealed that hundreds of thousands of defense e-mails were turned over to the prosecution.
The breach prompted Col. Karen Mayberry, the chief military defense counsel, to order all attorneys for Guantanamo detainees to stop using Defense Department computer networks to transmit privileged or confidential information until the security of such communications is assured.
Army Col. James Pohl, the chief judge at Guantanamo, also ordered a two-month delay in pre-trial proceedings in the military-commission case against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is accused of organizing the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen. Defense attorneys in the trial of Khalid Sheik Mohammed , the professed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and four co-defendants filed an emergency motion -- via a handwritten note -- seeking a similar pause in proceedings.
Pretrial hearings in both cases were set to resume this month.
"Is there any security for defense attorney information?" said James Connell, attorney for Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, one of the Sept. 11 defendants. "This new disclosure is simply the latest in a series of revelations of courtroom monitoring, hidden surveillance devices and legal-bin searches."
The Way of the Knife: NYT's Mark Mazzetti on the CIA's Post-9/11 Move from Spying to Assassinations (10 April 2013)
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And what are some of the things that you find out, that you reveal in the book, about what the CIA is doing now after 9/11 that it was not previously doing?
MARK MAZZETTI: One of the things that I try to track in the book is this sort of history of the CIA and carrying out lethal operations. And there was a big fight right before September 11th about whether the CIA should be back into the killing business, over the Predator and whether they should kill Osama bin Laden and then--and be in Afghanistan. And it's kind of interesting. There was a whole generation of CIA officers who came out of--who got into the CIA in the '70s after the Church investigations, where--which revealed all of the early assassination attempts by the CIA to kill Castro and others. And this generation had now come into prominence in the CIA, and there was this morality play about whether they should be using the Predator to--
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I mean, just to explain, Senator Frank Church said end the assassinations, right?
MARK MAZZETTI: That's right, and the CIA did for several decades basically sort of give up its lethal authorities, or they were taken from them. President Ford signed a ban on assassinations of political leaders. So, pre-9/11, you had a CIA that was--you know, it had been cut back dramatically during the budget cuts of the '90s, but they also really were--and many were concerned about whether it should be back into the killing business. So, obviously, 9/11 happened, and some of those concerns were swept aside. And what we've seen over time is the CIA has really very much been involved in these targeted killings in Pakistan and Yemen and elsewhere, and in some ways has become better at it, more efficient at it, than parts of the military.
Margaret Thatcher compared to Hitler by 'death party' organiser Romany Blythe (11 April 2013)
A drama teacher who was one of the online organisers of street parties to 'celebrate' Margaret Thatcher's death has defended her actions by saying 'they danced in the streets when Hitler died too.'
Speaking to the Brighton Argus, Romany Blythe, 45, said: "People say you shouldn't speak ill of the dead -- but it depends who the dead person is.
"In normal circumstances celebrating someone's death would be reprehensible. But we are generation X, upset people that left school to find hopelessness and despair.
"She was a despot. They danced in the streets when Hitler died too."
Ms Blythe, who is a drama teacher with Theatre of Inspirations, set up a Facebook page following the former Prime Minister's death encouraging followers to "celebrate our liberty and freedom from tyranny on the day that Maggie stands down, once and for all".
PAM COMMENTARY: That's the nice thing about elections -- these days, tyrants are usually removed from power long before they die.
Why aren't people buying new PCs? Because they don't have to. (11 April 2013)
Everyone knew the market for personal computers was bad, but few realized it was this bad.
On Wednesday, market research firms IDC and Gartner released reports on PC sales for the first quarter of 2013. Though the companies' respective numbers don't match -- and in some categories diverge completely -- they both paint a bleak picture.
IDC said global shipments of PCs fell 13.9 percent in the first three months of 2013, while Gartner pegged the figure at 11.2 percent.
How bad is the situation? IDC says it's the worst drop in almost a decade. Gartner says it's the worst since the first quarter of 2001.
Gartner sees some joy in corporate sales, where businesses are continuing to buy new hardware as part of ongoing refresh cycle. The consumer market is where the weakness lies.
Both research firms say sales of smaller, more mobile devices are a big part of the downturn. When consumers have a choice, increasingly they choose to buy tablets and smartphones instead of desktops and notebook PCs. Both IDC and Gartner say the sales of hybrid PCs -- laptops that can convert to tablets -- have been minimal.
Chinese Professor: 70-80% Chance of War With North Korea (11 April 2013) [InfoWars.com]
As the reclusive state prepares another imminent missile launch, a professor with the Chinese Communist Party has warned that there is a 70-80% chance of war with North Korea.
"There is a 70 to 80 per cent chance that a war will happen because North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may want to use this opportunity to force a reunification of the Korean Peninsula," Zhang Liangui, a professor of international strategic research at the Communist Party's Central Party School, told the South China Morning Post.
"The longer we delay fixing it, the more difficult the situation will become," he added. "China needs to seriously consider how to tackle the problem."
Liangui's comments arrive in the aftermath of speculation that China is becoming increasingly exacerbated with its belligerent ally and is looking to shift away from the Hermit kingdom. In February, a deputy editor of a newspaper affiliated with the Central Party School was suspended for writing a Financial Times piece in which he urged China to abandon North Korea.
Video: Baby elephant rescued from well in India (11 April 2013)
A baby elephant in India has been lifted out of a well after it fell down it and got trapped. After initial rescue attempts failed, a crane was used to break the side of the well and hoist the elephant out.
The calf was attended to by vets who said that it had been injured during the ordeal but would make a full recovery.
PAM COMMENTARY: Indians' respect for animals has always been admirable.
Hermit caught after 27 years in Maine woods (11 April 2013)
A man who lived as a hermit for decades in a makeshift camp in the woods and may be responsible for more than 1,000 burglaries for food and other supplies has been caught by a determined game warden who was fed up with the thefts.
Christopher Knight, 47, was arrested when he tripped a surveillance sensor while allegedly stealing food from a camp for people with special needs in a small town in the far north-eastern state of Maine.
Authorities on Tuesday found the campsite where they believe Knight, known as the North Pond Hermit in local lore, lived for up to 27 years. Knight's living quarters included a tent covered by tarps suspended between trees, a bed, propane cooking stoves and a battery-run radio, which he used to keep up with the news and listen to talk radio and a rock station, authorities said.
Some residents say they have been aware of the hermit for years, often in connection with break-ins. During questioning after his arrest Knight said that the last verbal contact he had with another person was during the 1990s, state trooper Diane Vance said. "He passed somebody on a trail and just exchanged a common greeting of hello and that was the only conversation or human contact he's had since he went into the woods in 1986."
Japan carmakers recall 3.4 million vehicles for Takata airbag flaw (11 April 2013)
(Reuters) - Four Japanese automakers including Toyota Motor Corp, and Nissan Motor Co are recalling 3.4 million vehicles sold around the world because airbags supplied by Takata Corp are at risk of catching fire or injuring passengers.
The move announced on Thursday is the largest recall ever for airbags made by Takata, the world's second largest supplier of airbags and seatbelts. Shares of Takata tumbled almost 10 percent in Tokyo trading.
The recall is the largest since Toyota pulled back more than 7 million vehicles in October. The scale of the recent safety actions underscore the risk of huge global supply chain problems as automakers increasingly rely on a handful of suppliers for common or similar parts to cut costs, analysts have said.
The recall covers some of the top-selling Japanese cars, including Toyota's Camry and Corolla, and rivals like the Nissan Maxima and Honda Civic. All of the vehicles in question were manufactured in or after 2000.
Objects from JFK assassination go on display in DC (11 April 2013)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Some never-before-seen artifacts from the minutes and hours following President John F. Kennedy's assassination are going on display in Washington.
The Newseum, a museum devoted to journalism and the First Amendment, is marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination with a yearlong commemoration including two new exhibitions and a new film about Kennedy.
One exhibit, entitled "Three Shots Were Fired," follows the events and news coverage that unfolded after Kennedy was shot in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. It opens to the public Friday, along with an extensive exhibition of photographs by Kennedy's personal photographer, entitled "Creating Camelot."
For the first time, the museum is showing items from assassin Lee Harvey Oswald at the time of his arrest. The display includes Oswald's clothing, a jacket that police believe he discarded, his wallet and a blanket used to hide his rifle in a friend's garage. The objects are on loan from the National Archives.
More than 100 rarely seen objects will be on display, including the 8 mm movie camera used by Abraham Zapruder, who was the only eyewitness to capture the entire assassination on film.
Israeli Journalist Amira Hass Sparks Furor at Home for Defending Palestinian Right to Resist (10 April 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about what this article said. You wrote it for Haaretz?
AMIRA HASS: That's right. It was published last week. And I think it's not the first time that I write that Palestinians have the right to resist, like any other group which is suffering the oppression or repression. And I wrote several things. Maybe the main thing was that the Israeli occupation is the source of violence. I mean, this is violence. The Israeli policies are institutionalized violence. Even when there is no physical force used, it is always violent.
And then I was posing the question, how come that Palestinians schools do not teach kids to resist, forms of resistance? And I also wrote--I also said something about the restrictions that there are on forms of resistance, like, I said, of course, a distinction between an armed person and a civilian, or a child and a person with uniform. I made this distinction, but I didn't think it--I mean, it's not that we have always to defend and to explain why this resistance has to be so or so or so. The main thing to concentrate on is the violence of the ruler and the domination.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Amira Hass, as you point out, you've made the same points in other articles you've written.
AMIRA HASS: Yes.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: But the criticism of this piece, in particular, was quite widespread. And I want to turn to one of the critics of your article. This is Adva Bitton, the mother of three-year-old Adele. Adele, the three-year-old, was critically injured in a stone-throwing incident last month. And the mother wrote in the Hebrew daily Ma'ariv, quote, "I agree with you that everyone deserves their freedom. Arab and Jew alike. I agree with you that we all ought to aspire to liberty, but there isn't a person on earth who will achieve freedom and liberty by means of an instrument of death. There's no reason on earth that Adele, my three-year-old daughter, should have to lie in the intensive care unit now, connected to tubes and fighting for her life, and there is no reason, Amira, for you to encourage that." Can you--
PAM COMMENTARY: Actually, "freedom and liberty" wasn't very common until after the war known as the American Revolution, and the series of revolutions and civil wars that followed.
Using aging, retrofitted pipelines to ship oil -- what could go wrong? (10 April 2013)
Until the Pegasus pipeline ruptured on March 29, leaking an estimated 147,000 to 210,000 gallons of heavy crude oil into the town of Mayflower, Ark., few Arkansans knew it was even there.
In fact, thousands of miles of pipelines snake through the heart of the United States. Proponents insist that pipelines are the safest way to transport oil -- safer than trucks or trains or tankers. Yet, in recent years, the Yellowstone River spill in Montana, the Kalamazoo River spill in Marshall, Mich., and now the Mayflower spill have alerted Americans to the dirty dangers that lurk underneath the country.
There are 175,000 miles of onshore and offshore "Hazardous Liquid" pipelines pumping petroleum and its byproducts across the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which oversees all pipelines. From 1990 to 2011, more than 110 million gallons of mostly crude oil and petroleum products spilled from these pipelines, many of which now carry chemicals that are much different than those for which they were designed.
Most of these spills go unreported by the press, but activists hope that the sight of black crude oozing through a subdivision of $200,000 brick homes in Mayflower, a town of 2,200 about 25 miles north of Little Rock, will spark the public's ire, driving change on both the local and national levels.
Biotech lies exposed: Genetically-modified corn contains practically no nutrients but is loaded with chemical poisons (10 April 2013)
Concerning energy content, as measured in terms of ERGS, non-GMO corn was found in tests to give off 3,400 times more energy per gram, per second compared to GMO corn, an astounding variance. And as far as its overall percentage of organic matter is concerned, non-GMO corn was determined to have nearly twice as much of this vital component compared to GMO corn.
Non-GMO corn contains substantially more potassium, magnesium, calcium, sulfur and manganese
The field comparison also evaluated individual nutrient deviations, which revealed some shocking facts. Potassium, which is necessary for energy production and proper cellular function, is barely even present in GMO corn, having clocked in at 0.7 parts per million (ppm). In non-GMO corn, however, potassium levels were more than 13 times higher, testing at 9.2 ppm.
The disparity was even worse for magnesium, which tested at a mere 0.2 ppm in GMO corn. In non-GMO corn, however, magnesium levels were found to be 46 times higher than in non-GMO corn. Similar variances were observed for calcium, sulfur and manganese as well, with the contents of each being 12.4, 14, and seven times higher, respectively.
On the other hand, non-GMO corn was found to be free of chlorides, formaldehyde, glyphosate, and other harmful chemicals, while in GMO corn they were identified in dangerously high levels. According to an analysis of the report by MomsAcrossAmerica.com, GMO corn contains about 19 times more glyphosate than is permitted as a maximum in drinking water by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and 130 times more glyphosate than has been found in tests to cause organ damage in animals.
Solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities (10 April 2013)
Solar power and other distributed renewable energy technologies could lay waste to U.S. power utilities and burn the utility business model, which has remained virtually unchanged for a century, to the ground.
That is not wild-eyed hippie talk. It is the assessment of the utilities themselves.
Back in January, the Edison Electric Institute -- the (typically stodgy and backward-looking) trade group of U.S. investor-owned utilities -- released a report [PDF] that, as far as I can tell, went almost entirely without notice in the press. That's a shame. It is one of the most prescient and brutally frank things I've ever read about the power sector. It is a rare thing to hear an industry tell the tale of its own incipient obsolescence.
I've been thinking about how to convey to you, normal people with healthy social lives and no time to ponder the byzantine nature of the power industry, just what a big deal the coming changes are. They are nothing short of revolutionary ... but rather difficult to explain without jargon.
PAM COMMENTARY: A lot of the wind farms and solar farms are owned by existing power companies, and so it's not as though the trend has left them out in the cold. In fact, it's their own fault if they don't invest in it before all the best locations are taken.
Undercover Activist Details Secret Filming of Animal Abuse & Why "Ag-Gag" Laws May Force Him to Stop (9 April 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
PETE: Sure. Thank you for having me.
What I do is go undercover to work for an extended period of time, maybe two weeks, maybe longer, maybe six weeks or so, at farms, ranches and slaughterhouses. And the main thing that I do is focus on any and all criminal activity that exists at a facility. So, an undercover investigator's job is to show everything that occurs, whether it's legal or illegal. There's a lot of standard practices that may look cruel, but they're legal. And that is up to a campaigns department and lobbyists and the public to decide if they want to change that.
For an investigator, the main objective is to document all illegal activity and get that information to the authorities. And every single facility, whether it is a corporate facility or a family farm, whether it has a couple hundred animals or whether it has a million chickens on it, every one that I've worked at has been breaking the law. And because we keep finding illegal activity, and because we're getting more cooperation from law enforcement now, I believe that has fueled some of these ag-gag laws in an attempt to try to stop us.
AARON MATÉ: And Pete, how do you go about doing it? Obviously, here we're calling you Pete, not your real name. Do you give your real name when you're applying for these jobs?
PETE: Yes, I do. I give--you know, because I have to fill out a W-2, and so I'm obligated to put my real name. You know, these investigations are done legally, so we don't use fake IDs. You know, we don't use fake names. And the most critical point is that when we're hired, we do everything how they tell us to do it, so, you know, we try to fit in. We generally--you know, an investigator's--part of the job is to always make sure that if you're doing a good job, you get them to note that and let you know you are in fact doing your job: They can't blame any problems on you.
China pollution may hold silver lining for California (10 April 2013)
BEIJING -- As Gov. Jerry Brown tours some of China's economic hubs this week, he is breathing the kind of heavy, soiled air that blanketed Los Angeles decades ago.
The soot and smog that are byproducts of this country's industrial progress are choking its people and threatening its economy. Chinese leaders are talking openly about the need to clean up the air, and to learn how from California.
So Brown and a large delegation of business and political leaders have come to lend a hand, as well as to leverage China's need into business deals.
Brown made his agenda clear not long after he arrived in Beijing, a city so gridlocked in traffic that parts of his schedule are being upended to account for the time he spends trapped in it.
Victims step forward to help bust St. Paul sex-trafficking ring (10 April 2013)
For two years a St. Paul family allegedly posted hundreds of online ads selling sex with several women, some as young as 15, who were coerced, threatened and assaulted into a life authorities described as "modern day human slavery."
The family preyed on young vulnerable girls -- girls diagnosed as bipolar or mentally challenged. The suspects' checkered pasts (one was required to register as a sex offender for five years) placed them on police radar for years, but it wasn't until recently that the scope of their alleged sex trafficking ring was exposed and dismantled by a joint effort of St. Paul police, the Ramsey County attorney's office and the Women's Foundation of Minnesota.
But the takedown of the Washington family rested on the shoulders of 10 women and girls who stepped forward, authorities said at a news conference Wednesday morning.
"I want to thank these courageous young women and girls who shared their stories with investigators," said Ramsey County Attorney John Choi. "It saddens me for the victims that it took so long for us to get to this point."
Dinosaur embryos yield organic material in 'mind boggling' discovery by Canadian-led team (10 April 2013)
With the discovery of some of the oldest known fossilized dinosaur embryos, a Canadian-led research team has also found evidence of what may be preserved collagen -- organic remains of an animal that lived in the early Jurassic, 190 million years ago.
Jurassic embryos do not a Jurassic Park make. For lead author Robert Reisz, a paleontologist at the University of Toronto Mississauga, the discovery is quite a bit better.
"People have focused on the great possibilities of DNA, which is much more delicate," says Reisz. While DNA degrades quickly as bones become fossils, collagen lasts longer and has become a cutting-edge research tool for probing molecular links between species.
Preserved collagen was how another Canadian research team recently showed that a 3.5-million-year-old fossil found in the high Arctic belonged to an animal in the camel family.
"The Kissinger Cables": Three Years After "Collateral Murder," WikiLeaks Explores U.S. Diplomacy (8 April 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
KRISTINN HRAFNSSON: Well, what we have is created a database which is easily searchable, and people can access them--the general public, as well as journalists and academics--without any problems. It has shown the credibility that we have in handling huge databases. This is what we've been working on for quite some time now. This is a part of our commitment to make accessible historical documents that are hard to find for the general public.
One element of all this is to keep in mind that there has been a trend in the last decade and a half to reverse previously declassified policy. A policy set out, for example, by Clinton in the mid-'90s was, a few years later under Bush, reversed. It was revealed in 2006, for example, that over 55,000 documents that were previously available had been reclassified by the demand of the CIA and other agencies. And it is known that this program continued at least until 2009. So, it is very worrying when the government actually starts taking back into behind the veil of secrecy what was previously available. It doesn't really increase the trust in government. So, now at least you have all these documents available, and they will be available in the future.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, talk about--you're an investigative journalist--what you found most significant about these documents, the content of the documents. You know, in the United States, when talking about either Bradley Manning or Julian Assange or WikiLeaks, it's always about the process or what they did, but rarely, unlike other countries which have, you know, front-page news, like, for example, in India right now, Rajiv Gandhi, what the documents show about him acting as a middleman for a Swedish military company. Talk about these revelations in the documents, Kristinn.
KRISTINN HRAFNSSON: Well, the revelations are coming out as we speak and will come out in the next few days. We did cooperate with 18 media organizations around the world in analyzing these documents, and they found terrific stories. I hesitate to steal their headlines before they publish it. It will come out in the next hours and days. There are documents there that shed light on the U.S. relation regarding--with regard to dictatorships in Latin America. I just talked yesterday with a Brazilian journalist who had been diving into this, and it is extremely important what is revealed there. Keep in mind that just recently the Brazilians decided to come to terms with their period of dictatorship after President Dilma set up a truth commission. So, there's a lot of things from this period that has not been reconciled with and come to terms with, and these documents are really helping this effort in these countries.
Bradley Manning trial: Bin Laden raid member to testify in 'light disguise' (10 April 2013)
The judge presiding over the court martial of Bradley Manning, the US soldier who has admitted leaking a trove of state secrets to WikiLeaks, has begun to outline some of the exceptional security arrangements that will be in place during his high-profile trial.
The most unusual stipulations apply to a member of the team that raided al-Qaida's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan in 2011 and killed Osama bin Laden. The squad member will testify that he removed digital material from the compound that was later found to have contained WikiLeaks documents apparently requested personally by Bin Laden.
Colonel Denise Lind, the judge hearing the Manning case at Fort Meade in Maryland, ruled that the individual known as "John Doe" will be allowed to testify in closed session at the trial, due to begin on 3 June. His evidence will be given at an undisclosed alternate location in the course of which he will be allowed to dress in civilian clothes and "light disguise".
Manning's defence team will not be allowed to stray in their cross-examination of the individual from a narrowly defined and pre-agreed list of questions relating directly to the charges that he faces. Specifically, the defence lawyers will not be allowed to quiz him about his training or preparation for the Abbottabad raid, or anything about how the Bin Laden killing was carried out.
However, the defence will be granted such access to the witness that they will be able to detect his "body language, eye movements and demeanour", Lind said. The defence has also been handed in discovery documents by the prosecution indicating the likely questions that John Doe will be asked by the government and his probable answers.
Air show at Oceana canceled due to budget cuts (10 April 2013)
The annual airshow at Oceana Naval Air Station has been canceled as a result of federal budget cuts, the Navy announced Tuesday.
The cancellation came less than an hour after Naval Air Forces announced that the Navy's famed Blue Angels aerial demonstration squadron would not fly the rest of its 2013 schedule, a result of across-the-board cuts demanded by sequestration.
The Navy must cut its budget by $4 billion this fiscal year; grounding the Blue Angels will save about $20 million.
"This is one of many steps the Navy is taking to ensure resources are in place to support forces operating forward now and those training to relieve them," the Navy said in an official statement.
Oceana's September show includes several other performances, but the Blue Angels display is always the biggest draw, said Kelley Stirling, a spokeswoman for the base. Without the squadron of F/A-18 Hornets, the show is not financially viable, she said.
Refineries sprout in North Dakota, bucking the trend (10 April 2013)
Despite producing thousands of barrels of oil each day, North Dakota relies on refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast and elsewhere for much of its diesel. Dalrymple and others are counting on the MDU/Calumet project attracting a new wave of investors eager to construct Bakken refineries.
"Diesel fuel is something that's highly valued around North Dakota," Dalrymple, a Republican, said in an interview after the groundbreaking. "Refineries will allow us to use our Bakken crude right here at home."
When it comes to the economics and politics of building a refinery, North Dakota is an unusual case.
The state has one of the lowest population densities in the United States and has little of the political, environmental or community opposition that's helped scuttle all other refinery projects since Jimmy Carter was president.
Most rape victims in conflict zones are children: report (10 April 2013)
LONDON- Most victims of sexual violence in conflict zones are children who are suffering rape and abuse at an appalling rate, said campaigners who described the attacks as the "hidden horrors of war."
In the worst-affected countries, such as Liberia and Sierra Leone, children made up more than 70 per cent of victims, said a report by charity Save the Children published on Wednesday.
The study contained harrowing stories of children being killed after being raped and of others who were abducted and abused by armed forces and groups. It also said children as young as 2 were being attacked by opportunistic predators including teachers, religious leaders and peacekeepers.
Many survivors were cast out from society after the attacks.
Cuba returns two U.S. children who were abducted in Tampa; Hakken parents face charges (10 April 2013)
A saga that began when a troubled Tampa couple kidnapped their two young sons and sailed with them to the Marina Hemingway west of Havana has come to an end, with the parents booked into a Tampa-area jail on Wednesday morning.
Joshua Michael Hakken and his wife, Sharyn, were being held at the jail early Wednesday on charges including kidnapping, child neglect and interference with custody, according to a website for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
On Tuesday, Cuba sent back the Hakken family to the United States. The case had threatened to revive memories of Elián González, the 5-year-old boy-rafter at the center of a heart-rending tug-of-war between his relatives in Miami and Cuba in 2000.
All four family members were aboard the U.S. plane, which arrived early Wednesday in Tampa.
New documents raise more questions about financing of McDonnell's daughter's wedding (9 April 2013)
Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell has said his daughter and her husband paid for their own wedding. So a $15,000 check from a major campaign donor to pay for the food at the affair was a gift to the bride and groom and not to him and therefore did not have to be publicly disclosed under the law, the governor says.
But documents obtained by The Washington Post show that McDonnell signed the catering contract, making him financially responsible for the 2011 event. The governor made handwritten notes to the caterer in the margins. In addition, the governor paid nearly $8,000 in deposits for the catering.
When the combination of the governor's deposit and the gift from the donor resulted in an overpayment to the caterer, the refund check of more than $3,500 went to McDonnell's wife and not to his daughter, her husband or the donor.
The new documents suggest that the governor was more involved with the financing of the wedding than he has acknowledged.
The question of who was responsible for paying the catering bill is a key one because Virginia law requires that elected officials publicly report gifts of more than $50. But the law does not require the disclosure of gifts to the official's family members.
McDonnell has cited the statute in explaining why he did not disclose the payment in annual forms he has filed with the state.
Tennessee politician arrested for habit of masturbating out car window at 90 mph (9 April 2013)
Another woman, Kelly Street said, "After the waving, it turned into a lot of beeping, him grabbing his chest area, and asking me going 'please, please' (clasping hands together) with his hands, may I... show me yours."
"He was taking his hand, wetting his mouth, and masturbating," said Deborah Sturgill. "I was scared that I was gonna wreck, he was gonna cause me to wreck."
"At over 90 miles per hour, he had his penis out [the window]," said Sturgill "He was masturbating... and that's when it got really, really bad. I wouldn't look over any more, and I wrote his tag number down on my hand, which I believe he noticed, and he exited very quickly."
Detective Terry Christian of the Kingsport, Tennessee Police Department said that her department has received dozens of complaints over the years about Blakely from women ages 16 to 65, but it was Rice's quick thinking in writing down his tag number that enabled authorities to track him down.
Dateline TV producer tests her own urine for BPA and chemicals after changing daily habits, finds shocking results (9 April 2013)
(NaturalNews) A recent investigative report by NBC Dateline producer Andrea Canning has revealed some shocking new details about the pervasive nature of chemicals in both everyday consumer products and the general food supply. As relayed by ElephantJournal.com, using conventional cleaning and sanitary products and eating standard food items significantly increases levels of bisphenol-A (BPA), phthalates, and triclosan, not to mention hundreds or even thousands of other chemical additives, inside the body.
As little as five years ago, most Americans were likely unaware of the existence of BPA, phthalates, or triclosan, let alone have any understanding of their pervasive use, even though these three chemicals are widely used in hand soaps, canned foods, cash register receipts, plastic containers, and many other products we are exposed to on a daily basis. But awareness is growing, especially as elevated levels of these "deadly three" have been detected in at least 90 percent of the population.
This fact came as a surprise to Canning, who decided to test her own urine, as well as the urine of her daughters, as part of a segment on chemical exposure and persistence. Canning began her investigation by taking baseline urine samples that reflected her everyday eating and living habits. She then cut out all the things that admittedly or may potentially contain the "deadly three," and took new samples. Following this, Canning went back to her original lifestyle and took another set of samples.
Upon analysis, it was determined that, from the start, Canning and her family had high levels of BPA, phthalates, and triclosan in their bodies. According to ElephantJournal.com, Canning's six-month-old baby had levels of triclosan 10 times higher than the national average, while her toddler had triclosan levels 100 times higher. Canning also observed that when she went off the chemical-containing products, her levels of all three chemicals dropped dramatically, only to return to high levels once she began using her former chemical-containing products.
"We see where bisphenol over and over again in mouse and rats causes anxiety, and what I'm talking about are things like ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)," says Dr. Emilie Rissman, a widely-published professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics at the University of Virginia. Research conducted by Dr. Rissman and others has linked hormone disruptors like BPA to causing a range of health problems such as childhood obesity, autism, and infertility.
Super-strong 'wonder material' is made with just algae, water, and sunlight (9 April 2013)
Nanocellulose could, in theory, be the miracle material that solves humanity's every problem. It's derived from cellulose, the stuff that's found in plants, but its extra-tiny nano-scale fibers give it superpowers, like incredible strength. Here are just a few of the things you could make with it:
• a boat that can carry 1,000 pounds of cargo
• bulletproof glass
• wound dressings
• electronic wallpaper
Scientists have been trying for decades to figure out how to make nanocellulose efficiently. And now, one team of scientists has announced that they've genetically engineered algae to produce it. That means that all that's required is sunlight, water, and a whole bunch of algae.
This team had been working for years with a bacterium -- the same one used in kombucha -- that was able to manufacture nanocellulose out of wood pulp. But that was a resource-intensive process, involving large vats of bacteria that needed large amounts of food. Recently, though, they started working with algae, which can produce its own nourishment through photosynthesis. They took genes from the first type of bacterium, threw it into the algae, and -- voila! -- it produced nanocellulose. The Verge explains:
"By genetically engineering vinegar bacterium into blue-green algae, Brown's lab has effectively created organic factories capable of making nanocellulose on a potentially industrial scale. ..."
Tell Congress: Don't Expand the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act: Fix It! (9 April 2013)
The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is the law under which Aaron Swartz and other innovators and activists have been threatened with decades in prison. The CFAA is so broad that law enforcement says it criminalizes all sorts of mundane Internet use: Potentially even breaking a website's fine print terms of service agreement. Don't set up a Myspace page for your cat. Don't fudge your height on a dating site. Don't share your Facebook password with anybody: You could be committing a federal crime. (Read more here.)
It's the vagueness and over breadth of this law that allows prosecutors to go after people like Aaron Swartz, who tragically committed suicide earlier this year. The government threatened to jail him for decades for downloading academic articles from the website JSTOR.
Since Aaron's death, activists have cried out for reform of the CFAA. But members of the House Judiciary Committee are actually floating a proposal to expand and strengthen it -- that could come up for a vote as soon as April 10th! (Read more here.)
PAM COMMENTARY: This link was circulated by the group Demand Progress. The site allows you to electronically sign a petition -- probably putting your e-mail address onto someone's e-mail list, but it's a quick way of contacting political representatives.
For the price of the Iraq War, the U.S. could have gotten halfway to a renewable power system (8 April 2013)
Discussions of how to respond to climate change often involve Very Large Numbers -- the needed investments to transition to a fully renewable energy system are in the hundreds of billions. The brain sort of shuts down when it encounters numbers like that. They are too big to fathom. The one thing that does seem true about them is that nobody's ever going to spend that kind of money on anything. Right? It seems hopeless.
So I always enjoy it when someone comes along to provide some perspective, a comparison that can give us context and help us see the numbers afresh. Today, wind analyst Paul Gipe asks, how much renewable energy could we have gotten from what we spent on the Iraq War?
The total cost of the Iraq War, including future costs to care for veterans, is $2.2 trillion. If we include the interest we have to pay on the debt we used to finance the war, that figure rises to $3.9 trillion by 2053. (See Gipe's article for sources and details.)
So what could that get us? Gipe gets deep into the weeds on renewables cost and yields, but here's the top-line conclusion:
"If we had invested the $2.2 trillion in wind and solar, the US would be generating 21% of its electricity with renewable energy. If we had invested the $3.9 trillion that the war in Iraq will ultimately cost, we would generate nearly 40% of our electricity with new renewables. Combined with the 10% of supply from existing hydroelectricity, the US could have surpassed 50% of total renewables in supply."
Sun's Magnetic 'Heartbeat' Revealed (8 April 2013)
A magnetic "solar heartbeat" beats deep in the sun's interior, generating energy that leads to solar flares and sunspots, according to new research.
A new supercomputer simulation, described in the April 4 edition of the journal Science, probes the sun's periodic magnetic field reversals. Every 40 years, according to the model, the sun's zonal magnetic field bands switch their orientation, or polarity.
That cycle is about four times longer than the 11-year sunspot cycle that governs the level of solar activity. Being able to model such a regular, long-term process is remarkable, the scientists said.
The new research, led by the University of Montreal's Paul Charbonneau, describes work from both his research group and other, independent coalitions simulating the sun's interior.
Construction - and hiring - rebounding in San Francisco (6 April 2013)
After three years of unemployment and scrounging odd jobs, Valdemar Chiprez was hired in October as a carpenter on two apartment complexes going up at Folsom and Fifth streets, among dozens of new buildings under construction in San Francisco.
Now he bunks with his brother in East Palo Alto and sees his wife and four children in Stockton only on weekends, but it's worth it to return to full-time work with benefits and the chance to earn overtime.
"My wife tells me, 'I miss you,' " he said, standing outside the massive South of Market construction sites swarming with dozens of orange-vest-clad workers - many of them also long-distance commuters from the hard-hit Central Valley. "But it's good to catch up on the bills."
After a long, grueling downturn that devastated the construction industry - with 2.2 million construction workers nationally and about 380,000 statewide losing their jobs - the industry is finally recovering in California and the Bay Area. Nationwide, sustained growth in residential construction jobs was the brightest spot in Friday's otherwise-disappointing Bureau of Labor Statistics report on March employment.
WikiLeaks publishes 1.7m US diplomatic records (8 April 2013)
WikiLeaks has published more than 1.7m US records covering diplomatic or intelligence reports on every country in the world.
The data, which has not been leaked, comprises diplomatic records from the beginning of 1973 to the end of 1976, covering a variety of diplomatic traffic including cables, intelligence reports and congressional correspondence.
Julian Assange said WikiLeaks had been working for the past year to analyse and assess a vast amount of data held at the US national archives before releasing it in a searchable form.
WikiLeaks has called the collection the Public Library of US Diplomacy (PlusD), describing it as the world's largest searchable collection of US confidential, or formerly confidential, diplomatic communications.
Assange told Press Association the information showed the vast range and scope of US diplomatic and intelligence activity around the world.
Icelandic Lawmaker Birgitta Jónsdóttir on Challenging Gov't Secrecy from Twitter to Bradley Manning (8 April 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: You're an Icelandic member of Parliament. Have you spoken to any of your counterparts here in the United States, members of Congress?
BIRGITTA JÓNSDÓTTIR: I haven't yet, but I plan to come back in June. So, if there is anybody watching this show and wants to speak to me, I would be very grateful if we could speak together about Bradley Manning and the significance of his work.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about how you have been targeted by the U.S. government?
BIRGITTA JÓNSDÓTTIR: Yes. It's actually--like, most people don't understand how serious it is, because--like somebody asked me, "Have you been followed since you came to the States or in Iceland?" And yes, I am followed all the time. But it's not with the people in the offline world; it is online. And it is much easier to follow people there--everything they do and everybody they meet and at what time.
So, what happened in January 2011, I get an email from Twitter saying that they had taken a subpoena to court and unsealed it. And in it, it said that the Department of Justice wanted all my personal messages and IP numbers and so forth, without my knowledge, within three days. And I was fortunate enough to be represented by EFF and ACLU to try to--
New Orleans ordered to pay firefighters $17.5 million to cover pension obligations (8 April 2013)
A Civil District Court judge has ordered the financially hard-pressed city to immediately pay New Orleans firefighters $17.5 million to cover the city's 2012 obligations to the firefighters' pension fund. Judge Robin Giarrusso issued the order March 28, but it only became public Monday.
The city and firefighters have been battling in the courts for decades over how much the city owes in pension obligations and pay, with the firefighters generally emerging victorious.
Giarrusso's order comes as Mayor Mitch Landrieu already has said the city cannot afford to pay millions of dollars to carry out pending consent decrees mandating improvements to the New Orleans Police Department and the city jail.
Firefighters union head Nick Felton said he hopes the city will meet with his group and "work something out."
Tracking workers' every move can boost productivity -- and stress (8 April 2013)
Phil Richards used to like his job driving a forklift in a produce and meat warehouse. He took pride in steering a case of beef with precision.
Now, he says, he has to speed through the warehouse to meet quotas, tracked by bosses each step of the way. Through a headset, a voice tells him what to do and how much time he has to do it.
It makes the Unified Grocers warehouse in Santa Fe Springs operate smoothly with fewer employees, but it also makes Richards' work stressful.
"We're just like human machines," said Richards, 52. "But with machines, they don't care whether you feel good, or if you're having a bad day."
Technology has eliminated many onerous work tasks, but it's now one of the factors contributing to a harsher work environment.
PAM COMMENTARY: Sounds like a good way to alienate the talent pool, maybe drive them to work for the competition.
Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013): Tariq Ali on Late British PM's Legacy from Austerity to Apartheid (8 April 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Tariq, can you talk about the legacy of Thatcherism for the working class in Britain?
TARIQ ALI: Well, basically, she took on the workers' movement, which had become very strong. Trade unions were very powerful in this country, and they were effectively challenging capital by demanding a share of the take, and being quite successful. The miners' union, one of the most respected unions in the country, challenged her. She organized the state, the use of the police, use of the secret services, to defeat them. And she did it, and she referred to union militancy as "the enemy within." She was very hot on enemies, either abroad or at home. And that phrase, "the enemy within," has been used subsequently against dissidents of other sorts by her successors.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about her foreign policy, from the Falklands War--and we only have a minute--to her support of the apartheid regime, calling Nelson Mandela a terrorist?
TARIQ ALI: Well, she did call Nelson Mandela a terrorist, but one should remember that the Western governments as a whole were not at all friendly to the ANC, sustained and maintained apartheid, with a few exceptions in Scandinavia, throughout it. And Thatcher was upfront about it. Her foreign policy was deeply conservative and reactionary, and that foreign policy has not changed since she was forced out on Europe. Europe is still a big, big divisive issue in the country and within the Conservative Party as a whole.
And so, on every level, Amy, domestic level, international level, Thatcherism continues. One shouldn't imagine that it's over. And I hate to say this, but the fact that we haven't come up, or no one has--neither the center-left or anyone else has managed to come up with an alternative to the Wall Street crash of 2008, does indicate that there was some truth in her statement that there is no alternative, at least as far as the mainstream is concerned.
Britain remembers its 'Iron Lady' (8 April 2013)
In death as in life, no figure seems to polarize Britain more. Ned Donovan, a 19-year-old university student and resident of the upscale Chelsea neighborhood, went by Mrs. Thatcher's cream-colored Georgian townhouse in London's Chester Square on Monday to lay a massive bouquet of lilies, joining a stream of people leaving notes and mementos outside her home. "I wasn't alive for her premiership, but . . . if it weren't for her, Britain would be a very different place today. I thought I should do my best to honor her."
Yet, a few moments later, Mez Tyson-Brown, 23, a London electrician, plunked a pint of milk at her doorstep in what he called a statement against her assault on social welfare in the 1970s and 1980s -- including her bid to eliminate free milk in schools -- which forever changed the lives of the British underclasses.
"As a child, she took my milk away," he said. "I'm not a big a fan of hers. She tore apart the unions. She messed up social housing. She basically tore apart this country."
As her health declined in recent years, Mrs. Thatcher largely faded from public life. Occasionally she was spotted walking, with aid, up the stairs of the Ritz Hotel -- to calls from bystanders with smartphone cameras of, "Maggie, Maggie! This way!" Thatcher, in fact, suffered her fatal stroke at the Ritz, the lavish London landmark and her long-beloved haunt. A hotel employee said she had recently been staying in a room there under the watchful eye of her caregivers.
PAM COMMENTARY: I don't know who was crazier -- Thatcher or Reagan.
The truth behind medical emergencies at 40,000 feet (8 April 2013)
The FAA, she writes, requires flight crews to be trained to coordinate responses to medical emergencies, to use first aid kits, to be familiar with the contents of the emergency medical kit, to use an automated external defibrillator, and to perform CPR.
"But flight crews also rely heavily on the assistance of health care providers aboard the aircraft. Studies by the airlines and ground-based medical support services have found that a health care provider is available and responds in upwards of 80 percent of in-flight medical events," Gounder writes in her piece.
But she points out many health care providers find themselves attending to issues they don't see in their medical practices.
If asked, many health care providers will volunteer to help, especially if no one else is available, and this can lead to problems, she says.
Pharmaceuticals, other non-traditional chemicals, found in southern California drinking water, scientist says (8 April 2013)
A wide mix of modern chemicals, including popular prescription drugs, chemical constituents of plastics, and ingredients of sunscreen, were found in both raw water and treated drinking water at five water treatment plants in southern California, according a research paper presented in New Orleans Monday during national meeting of the American Chemical Society.
The emerging study of pharmaceuticals and other non-traditional chemical compounds and their discovery in drinking water and wastewater that enters rivers and streams was the focus of a series of scientific papers presented at the conference
The California sampling found measureable amounts of butylated hydroxyanisole, or BHA, a chemical used to preserve food; phthalates, a family of chemicals found in plastics; the common pain reliever ibuprofen; triclosan, an antibacterial compound commonly used in dishwashing liquids; and several chemicals used in sunscreens.
Gregory Loraine, a research scientist with Dynaflow Inc., said the minute amounts of the chemicals measured in the raw and treated water were highest from August through September, the driest months of the years. Los Angeles and San Diego average only about 10 inches of water a year, while the valleys average between 15 and 20 inches of rain a year.
Korean nuke conflict may make Chernobyl look like 'fairytale' -- Putin (8 April 2013) [Rense.com]
If a nuclear conflict erupts on the Korean Peninsula, Chernobyl would look like a "kids' fairytale," Russia's president said. Tensions have been escalating rapidly, with last week seeing conflicting reports about North Korean nuclear activity.
Speaking at the annual industrial fair in Hannover, Vladimir Putin compared the possible nuclear brawl between Seoul and Pyongyang with the worst nuclear disaster in history - the explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
According to Putin, the consequences of the nuclear conflict on the Korean Peninsula would far exceed the industrial disaster in Chernobyl.
The situation on the peninsula remains highly destabilized. On Monday, South Korea said a new nuclear test by the North was 'not imminent'. However, the statement came shortly after Seoul had accused Pyongyang of gearing up for its fourth nuclear test.
"Artificial leaf" promises to provide electricity for small electronic devices around the world. (8 April 2013)
An "artificial leaf," a device using catalyst compounds attached to silicon to inexpensively and efficiently turn water into bubbles of hydrogen and oxygen, was described to attendees of the American Chemical Society national conference in New Orleans Monday night.
The new energy production method was described by Daniel Nocera, a Harvard University chemist and leader of a team of scientists who created it. The hydrogen from the first, small versions of the device can be used to produce electricity in fuel cells small enough to recharge cell phones or other small electrical devices.
About 100 gallons of drinking water can produce about 100 watts of electricity 24 hours a day, making the devices a potential alternative for areas in the world far from electricity or other sources of power.
In a news conference before his talk, Nocera explained that the most recent improvements in the catalysts used in the leaf allow it to use untreated water. The new materials seem to heal themselves when damaged by contaminants in the water, he said.
College student invents device capable of charging batteries with radio waves, wifi signals (8 April 2013)
(NaturalNews) Building upon a concept originally hatched by the famous Serbian inventor and engineer Nikola Tesla, a German university student has come up with a novel way to harvest stray radio waves and wifi signals and turn them into usable energy. As reported by Activist Post, Dennis Siegel's prototypical device is already capable of charging a small battery in as little as one day, and has the potential to power a whole lot more, a whole lot faster, with the right modifications.
The second-place winner in a technology competition at the University of the Arts Bremen, Hochschulpreis in Germany, Siegel's device takes advantage of the various stray electromagnetic fields that constantly surround us. Radio waves, mobile phone signals, wireless router frequencies, and even stray energy emitted from overhead power lines can all be harvested by the device and reused as battery power in the many electrical devices we all rely on today.
"We are surrounded by electromagnetic fields which we are producing for information transfer or as a byproduct," explains Siegel on his blog about the device. "Many of those fields are very capacitive and can be harvested with coils and high frequency diodes. Accordingly, I built special harvesting devices that are able to tap into several electromagnetic fields to exploit them."
Siegel's device is small, about the size of mobile phone, and is equipped with a simple light-emitting diode (LED) indicator that detects the presence of usable energy waves. And there are currently two types of harvester available, one that picks up lower frequencies below 100 Hz, which can be obtained from general mains, and another that pick frequencies both lower and higher frequencies, including those originating from radio broadcasts, mobile phones, Bluetooth devices, and WLAN.
"Depending on the strength of the electromagnetic field it is possible to charge a small battery within one day," adds Siegel. "The system is meant to be an option for granting access to already existing but unheeded energy sources. By exploring these sources it can create a new awareness of the invisible electromagnetic spaces while giving them a spatial dimension."
Here's what it look like if we connected every subway from Canada to Mexico (8 April 2013)
What would it look like if we all put aside our differences, beefed up our infrastructure, and connected North America's existing subway lines into a pan-continental Voltron subway -- a Voltrain, if you will -- running from Far Rockaway to Redondo Beach and from Mexico to Montreal? Randall Munroe of XKCD has a map, plus some secret innovations (look for the Puerto Rico submarine shuttle).
What's striking about this, besides how pathetic Baltimore is (hi, Baltimore, I love you), is the fact that there would be no coverage west of Chicago until you hit California. Not a single city in the Mountain time zone, and only one in Central, has a subway fitting Munroe's definition ("a network containing high capacity grade-separated passenger rail transit lines which run frequently, serve an urban core, and are underground or elevated for at least part of their downtown route"). If you go by landmass percentages, an all-North-America subway made by connecting existing subways would do just as crappy a job covering everyone as Baltimore's sad excuse for rail.
Fat and cholesterol aren't only heart dangers of red meat (7 April 2013)
The fat and cholesterol found in steak may not be the only components bad for the heart, according to researchers who have found another substance in red meat that can clog the arteries.
The substance is called carnitine, and as bacteria in the gut breaks it down, it turns into a compound known to harden arteries, according to a study published Sunday in Nature Medicine.
What's more, people who eat a lot of meat allow more of the bacteria that convert carnitine to the harmful compound to grow, increasing its effect.
Previous research has shown that high levels of meat-eating are linked to cardiovascular risk, partly because of the saturated fats and cholesterol in meat. However, the higher levels of these ingredients aren't enough to explain the difference in heart disease between meat eaters and vegans or vegetarians. The study, which takes into account the differences in the stomach's inhabitants, may begin to explain the difference.
Blue Crabs, supersized by carbon pollution, may upset Chesapeake's balance (7 April 2013)
It is the dawn of the super crab.
Crabs are bulking up on carbon pollution that pours out of power plants, factories and vehicles and settles in the oceans, turning the tough crustaceans into even more fearsome predators.
That presents a major problem for the Chesapeake Bay, where crabs eat oysters. In a life-isn't-fair twist, the same carbon that crabs absorb to grow bigger stymies the development of oysters.
"Higher levels of carbon in the ocean are causing oysters to grow slower, and their predators -- such as blue crabs -- to grow faster," Justin Baker Ries, a marine geologist at the University of North Carolina's Aquarium Research Center, said in an recent interview.
Over the next 75 to 100 years, ocean acidification could supersize blue crabs, which may then eat more oysters and other organisms and possibly throw the food chain of the nation's largest estuary out of whack.
Activists claim Arkansas oil spill diverted into wetland (7 April 2013)
Activists with the group Tar Sands Blockade published new videos on Sunday showing oil from the Arkansas pipeline rupture purportedly diverted from a residential neighborhood into a wetland area to keep it out sight and, most importantly, out of the media.
While it's not clear if the oil was intentionally moved into the wetland, the company says it is cleaning pavement with power washing devices, which could cause some of the oil to be pushed off neighborhood streets and into other areas.
Activists also interviewed a local resident who claimed the oil has continued "flowing" into Lake Conway since the spill happened.
A letter sent by ExxonMobil to residents of Mayflower on March 31 claims the oil did not reach Lake Conway.
"I don't have allergies," a man who lives on Lake Conway told tar sands activists. "But now my sinuses are bothering me. My throat's bothering me. My eyes water constantly. But they [Exxon] act like nothing's wrong. They don't have to live here, we do. And we're not moving just because of them."
The activists noted that they were turned away from the area several times before by police and Exxon spill cleanup workers, but they returned on Saturday just before sundown and managed to sneak in to capture footage of the oiled wetlands. In two separate videos, nearby residents say they've been made sick my the spill, which has tremendously affected their air quality.
ExxonMobil spills chemicals in Louisiana while cleaning spilled oil in Arkansas (5 April 2013)
Even as ExxonMobil was mopping up after its disgusting tar-sands oil spill in Arkansas on Wednesday, it spilled an unknown amount of unknown chemicals -- possibly hydrogen sulfide and cancer-causing benzene -- during an accident at a riverfront refinery in Louisiana.
The Chalmette refinery chemical spill might have gone unnoticed, except that it stank out the city of New Orleans and several nearby parishes, leading to state and federal investigations (we told you about that mysterious odor yesterday). Frankly, ExxonMobil's track record here sucks: The same refinery spilled 360 barrels of crude oil in January.
From The Times-Picayune:
"ExxonMobil first reported releasing 100 pounds of hydrogen sulfide and 10 pounds of benzene, a volatile organic carbon compound known to cause cancer, because those amounts are the minimum required for reporting, [Coast Guard Petty Officer Jason] Screws said. But the company has since said it is unsure exactly what chemicals were involved or how much may have been released, he said."
Calls to ban dangerous chemicals (7 April 2013)
With animal tests revealing impacts as diverse as cancers, damaged immune systems and lowered fertility, scientists believe that these substances could be hazardous to human health. Kevin Brigden, a scientist for Greenpeace, said: "The critical thing about phthalates is they're not locked into the material. They leach out, and because of that you find household dust which contains phthalates."
L'Oréal, Johnson & Johnson and The Body Shop all confirmed that they used OMC in their sunscreens. In a statement, The Body Shop said it used the chemical only in a "limited number of products", and had "prohibited the use of phthalates in all of its cosmetics in 2007". Johnson & Johnson said it had "stopped using phthalates and triclosan in new consumer products and our goal is to phase out of them in our existing products by 2015"; L'Oréal said all of its products are "rigorously tested for safety... including possible endocrine disruption".
Colgate-Palmolive said it used triclosan in its Colgate Total toothpaste because "it is clinically proven to reduce plaque and gum disease", and because scientific bodies had declared "its use in a maximum concentration of 0.3 per cent is safe for consumers". Studies on animals suggest it could affect hormonal balance and the immune system.
Unilever said it had phased out DEP, and that ingredients such as triclosan and cinnamate would be labelled on the pack. Reckitt Benckiser, which produces cleaning products such as Dettol and Vanish, would not confirm that its products were free from the five chemicals, but said they were on a "guideline of ingredients not to be used". P&G said that triclosan, DEP and OMC "are legally allowed for safe use in cosmetic products under very strict European cosmetic legislation". Kimberly-Clark said it did not use any of these chemicals in its products.
Questions raised about Greek bank merger (7 April 2013)
ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- A statement by the Bank of Greece has raised speculation that an expected merger between the National Bank of Greece (NBG), the country's largest, and EFG Eurobank may not happen.
The bank statement refers to the recapitalization of Greek banks, saying that it will be over by the end of April.
It says Greece's "four systemic banks" will proceed with their recapitalizations and that they will all call shareholder meetings to approve the move. The statement suggests the banks will act separately.
A finance ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity Sunday because he was not authorized to brief the media, says both NBG and Eurobank have told the Bank of Greece they cannot raise their part of the capital separately.
Rick Warren's son's suicide - What is mental health? (7 April 2013)
(NaturalNews) Suicide. Just the word conjures a dark place that some know all too well, while some can never fathom. Most have glimpsed a place like this, as a part of natural emotion cycles, and been able to let it go and, after a time, re-embrace life.
What do you die from when you die from suicide?
What the psychiatric field terms "depression" can be seen in many ways and called by many names. Predominantly in modern medicine, it is seen as a neural imbalance to be dealt with through brain chemistry.
One growing alternative view coined by Richard Louv is that what one is actually experiencing is part of what is aptly named, Nature Deficit Disorder.
Still another view is that the experience of deep depression is not a disorder, but rather, in our world of problems, is a gift for knowing the depths of the human spirit. It is a heightened talent for empathizing with human suffering, as sages throughout time have been capable. The gift of sensitivity and horror, when properly groomed and channeled, is an important qualification for being a canary in the coalmine of humanity screaming, "Something is wrong here."
'They stole our dreams': blogger reveals cost of reporting Mexico's drug wars (3 April 2013)
For three years it has chronicled Mexico's drug war with graphic images and shocking stories that few others dare show, drawing millions of readers, acclaim, denunciations -- and speculation about its author's identity.
Blog del Narco, an internet sensation dubbed a "front-row seat" to Mexico's agony over drugs, has become a must-read for authorities, drug gangs and ordinary people because it lays bare, day after day, the horrific violence censored by the mainstream media.
The anonymous author has been a source of mystery, with Mexico wondering who he is and his motivation for such risky reporting.
Now in their first major interview since launching the blog, the author has spoken to the Guardian and the Texas Observer -- and has revealed that she is, in fact, a young woman.
Tony Blair and Iraq: The damning evidence (7 April 2013)
During a closed session with former MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove, redacted evidence claims Mr Blair "had understood that Libya posed a bigger threat than Iraq, and understood the risk, therefore, of focusing on WMD in relation to Iraq". It refers to a meeting held by Mr Blair at Chequers days before the visit to Mr Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, but is unclear whether the claims were made by Sir Richard or another individual. What is clear is that in 2002, British intelligence "discovered that Libya has an active nuclear weapons programme", according to Sir Richard.
By contrast, Iraq had no nuclear weapons and any actual WMD would be "very, very small" and would fit on to the "back of a petrol lorry", according to one senior MI6 officer. They admitted the danger from WMD was "all in the cranium of just a few scientists, who we never did meet and we have been unable to meet ever since".
Yet the weekend at Crawford in April 2002 marked Mr Blair's conversion to Mr Bush's way of thinking. The former US president was determined to deal with Saddam Hussein. On Friday 5 April, Mr Blair and Mr Bush spent the evening alone, without their advisers. By the end of the weekend Mr Blair appeared to be a changed man, where previously he had said "we don't do regime change", according to Admiral Lord Boyce, former Chief of the Defence Staff.
The findings will inform a highly critical attack on Mr Blair when the Chilcot Inquiry publishes its report later this year. "Chilcot has the full story and it's a very complex one," a former senior MI6 officer, who would not be named, told The IoS.
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