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 19th to 25th of May 2013
No quick fix for downed bridge on holiday weekend (25 May 2013)
MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) -- Washington state officials are scrambling to find a temporary fix for a bridge that collapsed on an important interstate highway and, incredibly, left just three motorists with injuries. Whatever the solution, it won't come in time to help with Memorial Day's highway hoards.
Transportation experts are also working to find out whether the spectacular disintegration of the heavily used span over the Skagit River, 60 miles north of Seattle, was a fluke or a sign of a bigger problem.
A trucker was hauling a load of drilling equipment Thursday evening when his load bumped against the steel framework over an Interstate 5 bridge. He looked in his rearview mirror and saw the span collapse into the water behind him.
Two vehicles fell into the chilly river. The three people in those vehicles were not seriously hurt.
Jefferson's prized Natural Bridge is for sale (25 May 2013)
Is Thomas Jefferson rolling over in his grave at the news that one of his former prized possessions, the Natural Bridge of Virginia, is up for sale?
Hardly. The third U.S. president saw the picturesque rock formation in the cradle of the Shenandoah Valley as a national treasure that private owners - and not the government - could look after just fine.
Unlike other historic places and landmarks, the Natural Bridge has been in private hands ever since Jefferson became its first landlord in 1774, when he bought the property from King George III for 20 shillings - or the equivalent of less than $3.
The current owners, led by Washington businessman Angelo Puglisi, are looking for someone equally committed to preserving the famed limestone arch as a public relic and tourist draw and not as some site for new condos and a shopping mall.
The owners have hired Woltz & Associates, a realty firm based in Roanoke, to market and sell the bridge, as well as a neighboring 150-room hotel, the Natural Bridge Caverns and about 1,600 acres of adjoining forest and rolling landscape.
Woltz is promising a global campaign, but also is not shy about saying the property would be fitting for federal or state officials to acquire and turn into a public park.
Female lawmakers leading push to crack down on military sex crimes (24 May 2013)
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), a former county prosecutor, drilled into the Air Force chief of staff, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, at a May 7 hearing, two days after the Air Force's top sexual-assault prevention officer was arrested on charges of drunkenly groping a woman in a Northern Virginia parking lot.
"I know you had a bad weekend, General Welsh, and I understand that this is painful for you. But I need to ask a couple of questions," McCaskill said as she interrogated him about the arrested officer's work history.
"Yes, sir," Welsh replied reflexively, before recognizing his faux pas. "Pardon me. Yes, senator, I have."
It didn't get any easier for Welsh later in the hearing when he was challenged by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) about the military procedures for prosecuting sexual-assault cases.
I-5 bridge collapse: Canadian trucker hauling large load hit Washington bridge (24 May 2013)
MOUNT VERNON, WASH.--U.S. officials were searching the country for a possible temporary replacement for a bridge that collapsed along a crucial route between Seattle and Canada, but Washington Gov. Jay Inslee cautioned Friday that major disruptions will last for weeks, if not months.
A truck hauling an oversized load of drilling equipment hit an overhead bridge girder Thursday night, sending a section of Interstate 5 into the river below. The Canadian driver watched helplessly as the structure collapsed in his rearview mirror.
Two other vehicles plunged into the Skagit River, but all three occupants escaped with only minor injuries.
Cynthia Scott, the wife of truck driver William Scott, said Friday from the couple's home near Spruce Grove, Alta., that her husband saw the bridge collapse.
Judge rules against 'America's toughest sheriff' in racial profiling lawsuit (24 May 2013)
(Reuters) - Arizona lawman Joe Arpaio violated the constitutional rights of Latino drivers in his crackdown on illegal immigration, a federal judge found on Friday, and ordered him to stop using race as a factor in law enforcement decisions.
The ruling against the Maricopa County sheriff came in response to a class-action lawsuit brought by Hispanic drivers that tested whether police can target illegal immigrants without racially profiling U.S. citizens and legal residents of Hispanic origin.
U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow ruled that the sheriff's policies violated the drivers' constitutional rights and ordered Arpaio's office to cease using race or ancestry as a grounds to stop, detain or hold occupants of vehicles - some of them in crime sweeps dubbed "saturation patrols."
"The great weight of the evidence is that all types of saturation patrols at issue in this case incorporated race as a consideration into their operations," Snow said in a written ruling.
Medea Benjamin v. President Obama: CodePink Founder Disrupts Speech, Criticizing Drone, Gitmo Policy (24 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: During his address, Obama also discussed his administration's efforts to close down the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay and was interrupted multiple times by CodePink's Medea Benjamin, ultimately stopping to address her directly. This is their complete exchange.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: When I ran for president the first time, John McCain supported closing Gitmo. This was a bipartisan issue. No person has ever escaped one of our supermax or military prisons here in the United States, ever. Our courts have convicted hundreds of people for terrorism or terrorism-related offenses, including some folks who are more dangerous than most Gitmo detainees. They're in our prisons. And given my administration's relentless pursuit of al-Qaeda's leadership, there is no justification, beyond politics, for Congress to prevent us from closing a facility that should have never been opened.
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Excuse me, President Obama, you are commander-in-chief--
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Today--so--so, let me finish, ma'am. So, today--so today, once again--
MEDEA BENJAMIN: There are 102 people on a hunger strike--
Fracking accident leaks benzene into Colorado stream (24 May 2013)
Once again, Colorado's fracking boom has residents wondering if there's something in the water -- carcinogenic benzene, in this case. A plant for fracked natural gas processor Williams Energy, near Parachute, Colo., spilled an estimated 241 barrels of mixed natural gas liquid into the ground, some of which eventually washed as benzene into Parachute Creek.
More than two months after the spill was discovered, neighbors of the plant are wondering why the energy company is being put in charge of the cleanup -- and why the state has failed to issue any fines.
Benzene levels in Parachute Creek rose above a safe-to-drink 5 parts per billion following the spill, which was caused by a faulty pressure gauge on a four-inch pipeline.
The safety limit for benzene in Coloradoan drinking water sources is 5 parts per billion. But the state doesn't define the creek as a source of drinking water, and the limit for such water bodies is 5,300 parts per billion. Less than two miles downstream from the Williams Energy plant, headgates that control the flow of water from Parachute Creek into an irrigation reservoir have been closed since the spill was discovered.
Scientists uncover a secret to cockroaches' adaptability (24 May 2013)
In the war against pests, the lowly cockroach makes for a fearsome adversary. It can go weeks without water, survive decapitation for a time -- and, like any proper super-villain, can send humans screaming from a room.
Now researchers have discovered how some roaches have eluded humans' once-infallible traps: They have evolved so that glucose-sweetened bait tastes bitter.
The discovery, published in Friday's edition of the journal Science, solves a 20-year mystery and sheds light on the cockroach's powerful ability to adapt.
"These roaches are unbelievable," said Walter Leal, a chemical ecologist at UC Davis who was not involved in the study. "There's an arms race here."
PAM COMMENTARY: Warning: The Google video ads to the side can start playing, with sound, without the reader taking any action.
I-5 Bridge collapses in Washington state over Skagit River (24 May 2013)
The collapse of a freeway bridge into the Skagit River derailed a key part of the Northwest's transportation system, but amazingly failed to claim any lives.
Three people suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the dramatic collapse of the Interstate 5 bridge, which occurred around 7 p.m. Thursday. Traffic was snarled on the freeway and nearby roads, and will likely remain so; investigators and one of the survivors say an oversized truck may have been to blame.
A car, a truck and a travel trailer fell into the water in the collapse. All three people who went into the Skagit were rescued safely.
Speaking with KOMO/4, survivor Dan Sligh said he and his wife were following a tractor-trailer south when it struck the bridge. He, his wife and another motorist were able to free themselves and have since been treated at area hospitals.
Bill would widen military whistleblower protections (24 May 2013)
Noting that almost 1 of every 3 members of the military who reported a sexual assault last year also said they faced retaliation, Sen. Mark Warner is introducing a bill today to provide stronger whistleblower protection for victims and others who report assaults.
The protection - similar to what is available to other federal government employees - would also cover sailors, Marines, airmen or soldiers who report nonsexual misdeeds or serious problems.
While recent reports by the Pentagon of a rise in sexual assaults have raised alarms in Congress, Warner said, he's also concerned about repercussions faced by others in the service, including two aviators at Hampton's Joint Base Langley who last year went public with concerns about the F-22 Raptor fighter jet. One of the pilots, who warned that the jet was dangerous because of a faulty oxygen system, has said he faced retaliation for talking about their worries.
"What we're trying to do here is create a culture in the military where, if you see something wrong - whether it's a sexual harassment or you're flying an F-22 that you don't feel is working - you can bring forward that information without fear of retaliation," Warner said Thursday.
The Virginia Democrat's measure is one of several bills being pushed by members of Congress since the Pentagon released the results of an annual survey earlier this month. The report estimated that 26,000 members of the military were sexually assaulted last year but that only 3,374 cases were reported to authorities.
Obama seeks end to perpetual U.S. 'war on terror' (24 May 2013)
(Reuters) - Twelve years after the "war on terror" began, President Barack Obama wants to pull the United States back from some of the most controversial aspects of its global fight against Islamist militants.
In a major policy speech on Thursday, Obama narrowed the scope of the targeted-killing drone campaign against al Qaeda and its allies and took steps toward closing the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba.
He acknowledged the past use of "torture" in U.S. interrogations; expressed remorse over civilian casualties from drone strikes; and said that the Guantanamo detention facility "has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law."
After launching costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States is tiring of conflict. While combating terrorism is still a high priority for the White House, polls show by large margins that Americans' main concerns are the economy and domestic concerns such as healthcare.
Stockholm riots throw spotlight on Swedish inequality (24 May 2013)
It's hard to discern a pattern in the violence that has wracked the Swedish capital Stockholm for five nights.
Rioting in the city's suburbs has raised the national debate about immigration, unemployment and social inequality.
The cars attacked in the violence are not high-end - not the BMWs and Porsches you might expect to see torched by class warriors - but the vans which ordinary people need to go about their business.
Schools, a station and a library have been attacked as well as a bank and a police station.
In the areas affected, local people said the motive of the youths making trouble was anger over joblessness.
Disease threatens Florida's orange groves (24 May 2013)
The multi-billion-dollar citrus industry in the US is under serious threat from a disease.
Citrus greening, for which there is no known cure, is spreading across the US and wiping out orange groves in huge numbers.
Millions of dollars are being poured into research but it is leaving scientists baffled and farmers worried that their entire industry could be crippled by the disease.
Al Jazeera visited one of the largest producers of the fruit in Florida, from where Andy Gallacher reports.
New study reveals how glyphosate in Monsanto's Roundup inhibits natural detoxification in human cells (24 May 2013)
(NaturalNews) The modern age of industrial agriculture and manufacturing has dumped heavy metals, carninogens, plastics, and pesticides into the environment at alarming rates. These toxins are showing up in most human tissue cells today. One distinct chemical may be trapping these toxins in human cells, limiting the human body's ability to detoxify its own cells. In a new peer reviewed study, this sinister chemical, glyphosate, has been proven to inhibit the human cell's ability to detoxify altogether. Glyphosate, found in Monsanto's Roundup, is being deemed by publishers of the new study "one of the most dangerous chemicals" being unleashed into the environment today.
Download the PDF of the study here: http://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/15/4/1416
How glyphosate destroys human cells
Glyphosate, most commonly found in conventional sugar, corn, soy and wheat products, throws off the cytochrome P450 gene pathway, inhibiting enzyme production in the body. CYP enzymes play a crucial role in detoxifying xenobiotics, which include drugs, carcinogens, and pesticides. By inhibiting this natural detoxification process, glyphosate systematically enhances the damaging effects of other environmental toxins that get in the body. This, in turn, disrupts homeostasis, increases inflammation, and leads to a slow deconstruction of the cellular system. Toxins build up in the gut over time and break down through the intestinal walls, infiltrating blood, and ultimately passing through the brain/blood barrier, damaging neurological function.
Important CYP enzymes that are affected include aromatase, the enzyme that converts androgen into estrogen, 21-Hydroxylase, which creates stress hormone cortisol, and aldosterone, which regulates blood pressure.
Star investigation: Drugged horses slipping through 'inadequate' food system (24 May 2013)
What was seen at auction confirms the findings of an international audit obtained by the Star: that Canada's ability to trace prohibited drugs in food-bound horses "is inadequate" to protect consumers. Some common horse medications, like "bute" and nitrofurazone, are linked to causing bone-marrow disease and cancer in people if eaten in meat.
Canada's equine information document is the first step in protecting the public from drug-tainted meat. The document is a type of animal passport that relies on voluntary ownership disclosure of information such as a horse's physical description, its primary use -- racehorse, for example -- and drug history.
About $90 million in horsemeat from more than 80,000 animals is exported from Canada annually. Each horse to be slaughtered is to have a passport stating it is free of drugs that would be dangerous to humans if consumed. Horsemeat is a common dish eaten in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Japan and Quebec, and is even available at select restaurants in Toronto.
Concerns over public exposure to tainted meat has intensified in recent years as thousands of racehorses -- raised on powerful drugs to boost performance -- enter the slaughter pipeline, most of them coming from the United States into Canada since the closure of U.S. slaughterhouse facilities in 2007.
West Point video allegations add to Pentagon plague of sexual misconduct cases (23 May 2013)
An Army sergeant who served as a staff adviser for cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point has been accused of secretly videotaping female students as they showered, the latest in a string of sexual-assault or harassment cases plaguing the Department of Defense.
The Army's Criminal Investigation Division is contacting about a dozen women who may have been filmed while in the bathroom or shower, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The soldier, identified as Sgt. First Class Michael McClendon, faces multiple charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, including indecent acts, dereliction in the performance of duty, cruelty, and maltreatment, according to Army spokesman George Wright.
Sgt. McClendon, a veteran of two tours of Iraq, was transferred to Ft. Drum, N.Y., before charges were filed on May 14. According to The New York Times, he served as a tactical commissioned officer at West Point since 2009, where school personnel documents described his position as "responsible for the health, welfare, and discipline" for a company of roughly 125 cadets.
Killing Americans: Jeremy Scahill on Obama Admin's Admission 4 U.S. Citizens Died in Drone Strikes (23 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah, well, I actually think, Amy, that it raises more questions than it answers. You know, Eric Holder, for the first time, admitted that the United States--well, he didn't say "assassinated," I call it assassination--assassinated one of its own citizens, Anwar al-Awlaki. And, of course, he was born in the state of New Mexico and had been a prominent imam in the United States after 9/11 in Virginia and had condemned the 9/11 attacks. And he was a guy who really was radicalized by U.S. policy and ended up going back to his ancestral homeland of Yemen and started preaching against the United States. And beginning in mid-2009, the Obama administration had made a decision that it was going to try to take him out. And eventually, after numerous attempts to kill him with a drone strike, the Americans succeeded in killing him on September 30th, 2011.
And so, in Eric Holder's letter, he talks about how Anwar Awlaki was actively involved in imminent plots against the United States, that he had directed the so-called underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up a U.S. airplane over the city of Detroit on Christmas Day 2009. And what's interesting is that all of these allegations are made by Eric Holder, but no actual evidence has ever been presented against Awlaki to indicate that he played the role that Eric Holder is asserting. His trial was basically just litigated through leaks in the press. He was never indicted on any of these charges. And Holder, in fact, in his letter, says that we have all of this evidence, but it's too dangerous to be made public. And so, there's really a continuation of posthumous trial of Anwar Awlaki through leaks and now through this letter from Eric Holder.
On the issue of the other Americans that were killed, you know, Jude Mohammad was a suspect who had been indicted, and his family was contesting those charges. And we don't know the circumstances over how he was killed. Samir Khan, who was a Pakistani American from North Carolina, was killed alongside Anwar Awlaki. My understanding is that there was a grand jury convened, and they'd failed to return an indictment against him, so he was actually someone where they looked at trying to charge him with a crime and failed to get an indictment against him. His family, in fact, was told by the FBI before his death that there were no criminal charges pending against him. So he was another American killed. And perhaps the most disturbing is the killing of Abdulrahman Awlaki's, Anwar Awlaki's 16-year-old son, who was killed two weeks after his father while he was sitting having dinner with his teenage cousins.
And in the letter, Eric Holder says that besides Anwar al-Awlaki, the other three Americans were--and he used an interesting phrase--"not specifically targeted." You know, what does that phrase mean? It's almost like an Orwellian statement, "not specifically targeted." Well, it could mean that these individuals were killed in the signature strikes that you mentioned, which is a sort of form of precrime, where the U.S. determines that any military-aged males in a targeted area are in fact terrorists, and their deaths will be registered as having killed terrorists or militants. So, it's possible that the other Americans that were killed were killed were killed in these so-called signature strikes.
But in the case of this 16-year-old boy, it's almost impossible to believe that it's a coincidence that two weeks after his father is killed, he just happens to be killed in a U.S. drone strike. And there were leaks at the time from U.S. officials telling journalists that, oh, he actually was 21 years old, he was at an al-Qaeda meeting. But they've never been able to identify who they killed in that strike. And the Obama administration has never publicly taken on the fact that they killed one of their own citizens who was a teenage boy. There are no answers to that question. So, I think that there has to be a far more intense scrutiny of the statements of the attorney general and also what we understand the president is going to say later.
George Zimmerman lawyers release Trayvon Martin's cellphone data to discredit killed teen (23 May 2013)
But the release of more than 20 pages of records from the phone, together with the photographs and several videos, are a clear indication of the defence strategy for the trial scheduled to begin on 10 June, with Zimmerman, 29, denying murder on the grounds of self-defence and facing at least 25 years in jail if he is convicted.
In the text messages released on Thursday, Martin tells a friend that his mother had kicked him out of her house because he had been suspended for skipping school, and told him that he needed to move in with his father.In others, he talks about using marijuana. "Oh, u smoke?" a friend asked him. Martin replied: "Yea do u??"
A third topic of conversation is organised fighting. One message to a friend refers to an apparent contest with another youth late in 2011, with Martin writing: "he got mo hits cause in da 1st round he had me on da ground an I couldn't do ntn."
O'Mara has insisted it was Martin who attacked Zimmerman, breaking his nose and smashing his head on a concrete pavement during a fight before his client managed to free his gun and fire off a single, fatal shot to the teenager's torso.
The transcripts of the text messages released on Thursday are blacked out in many places, making it unclear who Martin was talking to in his various discussions. But several are to the so-called Witness 8, a girlfriend who has also claimed she was on the phone to him as he walked through the Retreat at Twin Lakes community and encountered Zimmerman on February 26 last year. "U gotta gun?" he asked her.
Mexican Priest Alejandro Solalinde on Central, South American Migrants' Perilous Journey to U.S. (23 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Father Solalinde, there have been numerous threats against your own life. What kind of personal danger have you had to confront in advocating for migrants in Mexico?
FATHER ALEJANDRO SOLALINDE: [translated] So, mainly, delinquent organized crime and, in that, also public officials and police officials are part of that. And in that, as well, is the crime of the cartels in the region. And inside of that, there's two things that are really important: the people, 10,000 people who have been disappeared, and kidnappings.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And how are most of these kidnappings resolved? Do the families back in Central America end up paying moneys to the kidnappers to free their relatives?
FATHER ALEJANDRO SOLALINDE: [translated] So, most of the people that pass here are poor people, and the criminals ask the families in the United States to pay money, and so then the people get lended that money. And once they come to the U.S., they now have to pay that money over a time period of a year or so while they work.
IRS official Lois Lerner placed on leave amid scandal (23 May 2013)
The Internal Revenue Service official responsible for the office that targeted certain organizations seeking tax-exempt status was placed on paid administrative leave Thursday, making her the second senior official to be disciplined in the wake of the scandal.
Lois G. Lerner is the director of the IRS tax-exempt organizations division and was the first agency official to publicly acknowledge that employees inappropriately targeted certain conservative-leaning organizations.
The IRS did not immediately return requests for comment Thursday evening. Lerner's attorney, William W. Taylor, also did not return requests for comment.
Lerner's removal comes after acting commissioner Steven T. Miller resigned last week at the request of President Obama. In his place, Obama installed Danny Werfel, a former White House budget official, who will oversee the agency until Sept. 30.
PAM COMMENTARY: Yet another distraction by the Republican party to evade working on the economy. Or to provide cover for the fact that they lack the skills and know-how to fix the economy.
Google to add the Galapagos to StreetView (23 May 2013)
Few have explored the remote volcanic islands of the Galapagos archipelago, the landscape inhabited by the world's largest tortoises and other creatures that inspired Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.
Soon it will take only the click of a mouse or finger swipe on a tablet to explore some of the Galapagos Islands' most remote areas, surrounding waters and unique creatures.
Google sent hikers to the Galapagos with Street View gear called "trekkers," 42-pound (19-kilogram) computer backpacks with ball-like cameras mounted on a tower.
Each orb has 15 cameras inside it that have captured panoramic views of some inaccessible places on the Galapagos. Crews from The Catlin Seaview Survey worked with Google to capture 360-degree views of selected underwater areas too.
If this health plan is 'socialism,' we need more of it (23 May 2013)
So this is what socialism looks like: Private companies competing for people's business in an open marketplace.
Californians got their first glimpse Thursday of what insurers plan to charge for coverage to be offered next year to about 5 million state residents who don't receive health insurance from employers.
In southern Los Angeles County, for example, Health Net is charging $242 a month for one of its plans. Blue Shield is charging $287 and Kaiser Permanente $325 for the same coverage.
For the first time, consumers are in a position to make an informed decision about health insurance. They can opt for the lowest-priced plan or they can factor in other considerations, such as personal convenience.
Chemical creep: Farmers return to pesticides as GMO corn loses bug resistance (23 May 2013)
Monsanto's Bt corn was supposed to reduce pesticide use. The Environmental Protection Agency said as much when the corn, which is genetically modified to resist the crop-ravaging rootworm, debuted in 2003. Sure enough, as more farmers sowed their fields with Bt corn, fewer of them needed to spray pesticides to protect their crops. The share of U.S. corn acreage treated with insecticides fell from 25 percent in 2005 to 9 percent in 2010.
But now, Bt corn has become, basically, too successful: Rootworms are starting to develop immunity to this prevalent crop, driving farmers to return to insecticide use. The Wall Street Journal reports:
"Syngenta, one of the world's largest pesticide makers, reported that sales of its major soil insecticide for corn, which is applied at planting time, more than doubled in 2012. Chief Financial Officer John Ramsay attributed the growth to "increased grower awareness" of rootworm resistance in the U.S. Insecticide sales in the first quarter climbed 5% to $480 million."
The frustrating part is that rootworms' resistance to the Bt corn gene was entirely predictable -- so predictable that some companies seized it as a financial opportunity:
"American Vanguard bought a series of insecticide companies and technologies during the past decade, betting that insecticide demand would return as Bt corn started losing its effectiveness. In the past couple of years, that wager has paid off."
PAM COMMENTARY: As everyone expected, Monsanto has ruined the effectiveness of BT for everyone by overuse. BT was a poison based on bacteria, and used by organic farmers as needed. Monsanto modified corn to include the poison in every bite of its BT corn.
This bud's for you: Marijuana identified as a buffer against loneliness, study suggests (23 May 2013)
If Cheech and Chong never seemed lonely, a groundbreaking new study suggests it wasn't simply because they had each other.
For the first time, researchers have uncovered compelling evidence that marijuana not only reduces physical pain but acts as a buffer against emotional pain as well. The study draws on a sample of nearly 6,800 people of diverse ages and backgrounds, and uses multiple experimental designs, both short and long-term.
Weed was consistently found to lessen the negative emotional consequences of exclusion -- an effect likely related to the similar ways in which the brain recognizes physical and emotional pain. The researchers suggest this hidden benefit explains some of the drug's popularity, with users warding off the blues one toke at a time.
"Marijuana use does appear to be shielding people from some of the negative consequences normally associated with loneliness," said Timothy Deckman, lead author of the Social Psychological & Personality Science paper. "But it's also important to note that when people's need to belong is being met, marijuana use doesn't have positive mental consequences."
Water fluoridation DEFEATED in Portland; citizens overwhelmingly reject dumping toxic fluoride chemicals into the water supply (23 May 2013)
(NaturalNews) Voters in Portland, Oregon solidly defeated a city-wide water fluoridation measure yesterday, with 60% of the voters saying "NO!" to the practice of adding toxic fluoride chemicals to the water.
The result is a huge victory for www.CleanWaterPortland.org and all the men, women and children of Portland who can now rest easier, knowing their tap water is not intentionally poisoned with cancer-causing chemicals derived from industrial waste and mislabeled "fluoride."
The defeat of the measure absolutely infuriated fluoride-pushing doctors and dentists, many of whom resorted to using outrageous lies and dirty tricks during the entire campaign. These lies include whoppers like, "Drinking fluoride has never harmed anyone" and "this is naturally-occurring fluoride, therefore it's safe."
Fluoride advocates reject real science
Nowhere is there a more obscene departure from real science than in the "scientific" community of fluoride pushers. These people very well know that all sorts of "naturally-occurring" elements in the table of elements are extremely toxic to the human body. Mercury is toxic, yet it occurs naturally. Arsenic is highly toxic, yet it occurs naturally as well. I dare any of these fluoride pushers to chug a glass containing lead or cadmium.
Gut punch: Monsanto could be destroying your microbiome (23 May 2013)
First the bad news: The "safest" herbicide in the history of science may be harming us in ways we're just beginning to understand. And now for the really bad news: Because too much is never enough, the Environmental Protection Agency just raised the allowable limits for how much of that chemical can remain on the food we eat, and the crops we feed to animals -- many of which end up on our plates as well. If you haven't guessed its identity yet, it's Monsanto's Roundup, a powerful weed killer.
The EPA and Monsanto are apparently hoping that no one notices the recent rule change -- or, if we do notice, that we respond with a collective shrug. But that, my friends, would be a mistake. While Roundup may truly be the "safest" pesticide ever invented, that isn't quite the same as "safe." It just may be that Roundup represents a hitherto unrecognized threat to our health -- not because of what it does to our bodies, but because of what it does to our "internal ecology," a.k.a. our "microbiome."
As Michael Pollan deftly cataloged in his must-read cover story in the most recent New York Times magazine, scientists are just beginning to explore the inner reaches of our bodies to understand how our microbiome affects our health. Nonetheless, there are some growing signs that Roundup might be the last thing you want in there.
Monsanto would, of course, disagree. The common claim is that Roundup's active ingredient, glyphosate, is less toxic than aspirin. How can one of the most effective broad-spectrum herbicides in the history of humankind be less toxic than aspirin?
I'm glad you asked. For two reasons. First, because glyphosate isn't well absorbed by our digestive tract: 98 percent of it passes right through us. And second, because its "mode of action" involves a biochemical process that is specific to plants. (For the budding chemists among you, it disrupts the metabolic process known as "the shikimate pathway," which humans do not have.)
PAM COMMENTARY: As usual, I don't agree with everything I post here. Glyphosate in Roundup is a form of organophosphate, the type of pesticide implicated in Mad Cow Disease (BSE), Scrapie, Chronic Wasting Disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Mainstream media mocks Alex Jones for his knowledge of HAARP (23 May 2013)
"At every tragedy, the Infowars-Alex Jones world thinks they see conspiracy," said Maddow. "Monday's devastating, record-breaking tornado in Moore, Oklahoma killed two dozen people, flattened a community. Devastating, right? Now, I am not kidding, the same conspiracy theory folks are peddling the idea the tornado was a conspiracy."
She then played audio of Jones saying, "Tornadoes are way down. Of course, they lie that they're way up to get carbon taxes, but I don't know if this was a weather weapon or not. They can, with the right weather conditions, they can create and steer groups of tornadoes."
Jones speculated that if witnesses "50 miles out" from the storm saw "aircraft in and around the clouds spraying and doing things," then clearly, the government was behind the tornado.
"But who knows if they did?" he conclude. "That's the thing."
"Who knows?" Maddow mocked. "Who knows if the U.S. government uses a secret, made-up 'weather weapon' that only exists in the mind of -- yeah, that's the thing, right?"
PAM COMMENTARY: HAARP is old news, but the mainstream media can't pass up an opportunity to bash Alex Jones for mentioning "conspiracy theories" (or conspiracy facts) on air.
"Angels Don't Play This HAARP" is a well-known book about the project, and to follow are a few links on HAARP:
Michigan state Senate says Ontario nuclear waste site 'raises serious concerns' (23 May 2013)
"We based it on international best practice, we based it on scientific data," Kelly said. "The (site) isn't located on the shore of Lake Huron; it's about a kilometre inland."
"We believe it's responsible for the safe management of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste."
He noted that the public comment period on the proposal has already been extended 10 months from the original deadline.
The proposed site's proximity to the lake caught the attention of the Michigan senators.
The resolution, which carried without dissent on a voice vote, notes that Michigan rules prohibit low-level nuclear waste from being stored within 10 miles (16 kilometres) of the lakes and rivers in the Great Lakes system bordering Michigan.
Einstein + W: Universal Theory Solved? (23 May 2013)
There are a lot of open questions in modern physics.
Most of the universe is missing, for example. The atoms we know about account for less than 5% of the mass of the observable universe - the rest is dark matter (around 25% of the mass of the universe) and dark energy (a whopping 70%). No one knows what either of these things actually is.
At the subatomic scale, we know there are three families of fundamental particles - called "generations" - and each one contains two quarks, a neutrino and a negatively charged particle (the lightest being the electron). But why are there three generations in the first place?
And the big one: why do the two pillars of 20th century physics, quantum mechanics and Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, not agree with each other?
Ecuadoran satellite collides with Russian space junk (23 May 2013)
A small Ecuadoran satellite collided in orbit with the remains of a Russian rocket, but it is too soon to know how much damage it might have sustained, Quito's space agency said Thursday.
Ecuador's space agency EXA had warned on Wednesday that a space fender-bender was likely between its "Pegaso" (Pegasus) nanosatellite and the remains of the Soviet rocket S14 launched into space nearly three decades ago.
The agency's director Ronnie Nader said in a Twitter message sent after the crash that US space officials had confirmed Pegaso had suffered only a glancing blow from the Russian space debris.
"It was a not a direct hit," tweeted Nader, Ecuador's first and only astronaut. "Pegasus remains in orbit."
He added that despite the collision -- which occurred at around 0538 GMT some 1,500 kilometers above the east coast of Madagascar -- the satellite seemed to be holding its course.
Mozambique: Mining Disrupts Livelihoods (23 May 2013)
Maputo -- Many of the 1,429 households resettled to make way for Vale and Rio Tinto's international coal mining operations in Tete province, Mozambique have faced serious disruptions in their access to food, water, and work, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The Mozambican government's speed in approving mining licenses and inviting billions of dollars in investment has outstripped the creation of adequate safeguards to protect directly affected populations.
The 122-page report, "'What is a House without Food?' Mozambique's Coal Mining Boom and Resettlements," examines how serious shortcomings in government policy and mining companies' implementation uprooted largely self-sufficient farming communities and resettled them to arid land far from rivers and markets. These communities have experienced periods of food insecurity or, when available, dependence on short-term food assistance financed by Vale and Rio Tinto.
"These multi-billion-dollar investments are supposed to drive development in one of the poorest countries in the world, yet they have actually made life harder for many people," said Nisha Varia, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. "Mozambique's government should work with Vale and Rio Tinto to make sure the resettled farmers have productive land by the next farming season and appropriate and timely compensation for shortcomings in the resettlement process."
Tete province has an estimated 23 billion tons of mostly untapped coal reserves and is at the early stages of an enormous natural resource boom. According to 2012 government data, approved mining concessions and exploration licenses cover approximately 3.4 million hectares, or 34 percent of Tete province's area. Coal mining accounts for roughly one-third of these.
African tribes losing ground to conservation (23 May 2013)
Nairobi, Kenya - Trouble is brewing in northern Tanzania, where the government has recently designated a wildlife protection zone that threatens to displace tens of thousands of Maasai tribespeople, who live and graze cattle across the grasslands.
In a rush to protect elephants, rhinos and other endangered animals from gun-toting poachers, governments are fencing off swathes of territory that have been inhabited and used by small ethnic groups for generations.
Samwel Nangiria, who represents several Maasai groups, said his people have repeatedly lost out in the name of animal welfare and insisted it will not happen again.
"If they enforce this eviction, blood will be shed," he told Al Jazeera.
Human rights groups warn the Maasai are not alone. Hunter-gatherers, nomadic cattle-herders and other distinct African tribes routinely face eviction and violence when their ancestral lands are selected for conservation.
East Africa: In a First for East Africa, Scientists Find Evidence That Onchocerciasis (River Blindness) May Be Eliminated After 14 Years of Long-Term Mass Drug Treatment (20 May 2013)
New research provides the first evidence in East Africa that long-term community-based drug treatment alone can interrupt transmission of onchocerciasis, a parasitic disease commonly known as river blindness. The study finds that after eight years (beginning in 1998) of treating residents annually with the anti-worming medicine ivermectin, followed by six years of semi-annual treatment with the drug, there is no evidence of the disease or its transmission in or around the Nile River town of Abu Hamed in Northern Sudan.
"This is the first report of elimination in a major isolated area and a big step toward eliminating river blindness in East Africa," said lead author Tarig Higazi, PhD, of Ohio University's Zanesville campus and Tropical Diseases Institute. "While previous studies have demonstrated that long-term annual or semiannual mass treatment with ivermectin have eliminated the disease in the Americas and West African nations of Mali and Senegal, these data show that we are further shrinking its reach by interrupting transmission and eliminating the disease in the northernmost endemic area of the world."
Higazi and his colleagues at The Carter Center and the Sudan Ministry of Health found during their assessment in 2011 that there were no signs of skin disease in 536 Abu Hamed residents, no evidence of parasite DNA in the more than 17,500 black flies collected, and no evidence of disease exposure in more than 6,700 school children who are considered sentinels for disease infection. The assessment met the World Health Organization (WHO) criteria for declaring disease transmission interrupted. Mass treatment was halted in 2012, and the WHO is expected to declare river blindness eliminated in 2015 in this area, once three years of post-treatment surveillance are completed.
According to the WHO, more than 18 million people worldwide are infected with onchocerciasis, with nearly 99 percent of those cases in Africa.
PAM COMMENTARY: Has anyone tried the Clark zapper on that?
Report: Delayed GI Bill benefits cause hardships (23 May 2013)
Delays in processing applications are creating financial hardships for veterans seeking higher-education benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, according to a government report.
In fiscal 2012, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs took an average of 31 days to process new applications for GI Bill benefits, eight days longer than the agency's performance target, investigators from the Government Accountability Office found.
Processing times during the fall of 2012 were sometimes even longer, reaching up to 45 days, the GAO found.
As a result, veterans have endured threats of eviction or having utilities turned off, and many have taken on large personal debt, including credit card debt and bank loans, to make up the shortfall, the GAO said.
Senator: Assaults let military culture continue (23 May 2013)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A senator says repeated sexual assaults in the military allow a culture to continue.
Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand (KEHR'-sten JIHL'-uh-brand) of New York addressed the latest case at West Point. An Army sergeant is charged with secretly taking pictures and video of at least a dozen women at West Point.
Gillibrand tells NBC "Today" that when sexual assault happens repeatedly, with no accountability, quote, "it allows the culture to continue."
Gillibrand is on the Senate Armed Services Committee. She says sexual assault should be reported outside the chain of command, directly to a military prosecutor, and victims need to know justice is possible.
Canadian police chief joins push for DNA samples from suspects (23 May 2013)
Currently, only courts can order convicted offenders to offer DNA samples. The information gets stored in a national databank and aids police investigators matching evidence to old cases or new evidence samples as they are tested.
But police say they have concerns about how long the process takes, because warrants need to be issued to collect samples.
"We've got to streamline the system," said Calgary police Chief Rick Hanson.
"When we arrest people, we take fingerprints and photographs at the time of arrest. If it's a serious offence, we know that DNA samples will be ordered in court by a judge. It just makes sense to do it at the time of arrest rather than try to chase a person down after the court order has been given," he said Wednesday.
"It's not working very well at all. If you want to make the system efficient, make it efficient. It's something we have to get down. We have to make it happen."
Top five essential oils for stress relief and how to properly use them (23 May 2013)
(NaturalNews) When used properly, the power of essential oils lies in their ability to deliver the beneficial healing properties of certain plants in a direct and highly concentrated form. Recognized long ago for their therapeutic properties, ancient Egyptians made essential oils by first soaking the flowers, leaves, twigs or bark in oil and then using linen as a filter to isolate the oil.
The healing applications of essential oils are many, from antibacterial defense to pain relief and emotional therapy, depending on the type of oil. From a scientific perspective, oils are effective because 50 million smell receptors inside the nasal cavity connect to the brain's Limbic System - an area responsible for emotions, memory and sexual arousal. From a human perspective, they simply smell nice and make us feel better.
Whether improving mood or overall health, a winning strategy begins with stress reduction. And for the physical body that interprets stress as pain, these five essential oils know just where it hurts:
Easily the most popular of all essential oils, lavender is known as the "universal oil." With its calming, earthy, lightly sweet and freshly floral scent, it is widely beloved for its relaxing and balancing effects on both the physical and emotional bodies. It may also be used as a pain reliever for muscles and joints, or as an antiseptic on minor cuts, burns, bug bites and stings.
Other than Honorable: Army Strips Benefits of Wounded Veterans by Kicking Them Out for Misconduct (22 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
NERMEEN SHAIKH: So let's go back to Jerrald Jensen, here describing his encounters in Fort Carson's Warrior Transition with sergeants who had never deployed before and who treated the wounded harshly.
JERRALD JENSEN: And the extra duty I was assigned was pulling weeds, picking up cigarette butts, scrubbing toilets, mopping floors, sweeping floors, scrubbing stairs and, you know, cleaning the barracks, things like this. And when I told them, you know, this is violating my profile, it's making me worse, it's making my injuries hurt worse--I was having to take more pain medication I was being prescribed by the doctors--I was told to man up. I was told that this wasn't--they had taken great lengths to determine whether or not my profile said that I could do these things or not, and that they had come to the terms that my profile wasn't being violated by doing these things. And I asked them, I said, "Well, OK, to pull a weed, what do you have to do? Bend over to pick it up, pull it? Because it says 'no bending' in my profile. And I can't squat either, because it says 'no squatting.' And I can't crawl on my hands and knees to do it, because it says 'no crawling.'" And they said, "No, you can do it. Man up. Just do it."
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Dave Philipps, that was Jerrald Jensen. Can you tell us what happened to him, where he is now, and also how you came across this story initially?
DAVID PHILIPPS: Well, Jerrald Jensen's unit recommended him for an other than honorable discharge. What that would mean is that even though he has serious medical issues, he would lose all benefits from the VA. Now, he could technically apply and appeal to the VA to try and get those benefits back, but that process can take years and oftentimes is not successful. So, really, they were sort of cutting him off and casting him out.
He is obviously a fighter, a person who is going to get knocked down and get back up again. And so, he decided that he was going to do everything he could to keep that from happening. And what it took was going to generals far above anyone at Fort Carson and saying, "Look what they're doing to me, after what I did for the country. You have to stop this." And finally, at the last minute, they did, and they medically retired him. But, you know, there's a lot of people whose wounds aren't as obvious or who aren't able to stand up for themselves, where that doesn't happen. They're just cast out.
Study: Fukushima Radiation Has Already Killed 14,000 Americans (22 May 2013) [InfoWars.com]
Already 14,000 U.S. Deaths From Fukushima?
International Journal of Health Services alleges that 14,000 people have already died in the United States due to Fukushima.
Specifically, the authors of the study claim:
"An estimated 14,000 excess deaths in the United States are linked to the radioactive fallout from the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan, according to a major new article in the December 2011 edition of the International Journal of Health Services. This is the first peer-reviewed study published in a medical journal documenting the health hazards of Fukushima.[The authors] note that their estimate of 14,000 excess U.S. deaths in the 14 weeks after the Fukushima meltdowns is comparable to the 16,500 excess deaths in the 17 weeks after the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986. The rise in reported deaths after Fukushima was largest among U.S. infants under age one. The 2010-2011 increase for infant deaths in the spring was 1.8 percent, compared to a decrease of 8.37 percent in the preceding 14 weeks."
'Upset' emissions: Flares in the air, worry on the ground (22 May 2013)
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Shirley Bowman noticed the smell after 8 a.m. on June 14, 2012, her 61st birthday. In Baton Rouge, where the petrochemical industry dominates the landscape, foul odors resembling burnt rubber or propane are perennial. But this odor, caustic and potent, seemed especially foul -- "like some sort of chemical," she recalls.
Bowman found her daughter crying over a migraine. Her neighbors experienced headaches, dizziness, nausea. One family reported a toddler son coughing up phlegm; another, an elderly father collapsing on the floor. She soon suspected the cause: A leak of "steam-cracked" naphtha, a liquid mixture of volatile petrochemicals, occurring at the ExxonMobil Baton Rouge petrochemical complex a half mile away.
Four hours earlier, Exxon operators detected an odor in the East area tank field, and discovered a "bleeder" valve on Tank 801 dripping naphtha into a sewer. The leaky valve dumped 411 barrels into the underground system, company records filed with the state show. The liquid traveled a mile before pouring into a separator pit, vaporizing along the way, and releasing tens of thousands of pounds of benzene and other toxic chemicals into the air.
What happened that day in Baton Rouge is one thread of a larger story about the often toxic, sometimes hidden releases emanating from oil refineries, chemical plants and other industrial facilities along the chemical corridor of Louisiana and Texas. Those unplanned emissions -- known in regulatory parlance as "upsets" -- are occurring more often than industry admits or government knows, according to more than 50 interviews with regulators, activists, plant representatives, workers and residents, and an analysis of tens of thousands of records by the Center for Public Integrity.
For many communities, these upsets have evolved into an invisible menace: They disrupt lives, yet offenders are rarely punished. In Texas, where activists have clamored for relief, state officials say enforcement efforts helped reduce incidents by 6 percent in the most recent year of reporting; Louisiana officials cite a 41 percent decrease since 2008.
Are your children swimming in feces? If you're taking them to public pools, the answer is yes (22 May 2013)
(NaturalNews) Summer is coming. The weather is finally starting to warm up after a long, cold, gray winter. As temperatures rise, kids and parents will begin to look for ways to stay cool, and one of the most favorite pastimes is taking a dip in the local public pool.
There's only one problem: According to new research, that local pool - while it might appear to be crystal clear-blue - is very likely full of feces.
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta have found genetic material from E. coli bacteria in 58 percent of public pools they tested during the summer of 2012, according to LiveScience.
That means that "swimmers frequently introduced fecal materials into pools," which makes it likely that germs are being spread to other swimmers, the researchers wrote in their investigative report. E. coli bacteria are most often found in the human gut and in feces.
Whey Too Much: Greek Yogurt's Dark Side (22 May 2013)
Twice a day, seven days a week, a tractor trailer carrying 8,000 gallons of watery, cloudy slop rolls past the bucolic countryside, finally arriving at Neil Rejman's dairy farm in upstate New York. The trucks are coming from the Chobani plant two hours east of Rejman's Sunnyside Farms, and they're hauling a distinctive byproduct of the Greek yogurt making process--acid whey.
For every three or four ounces of milk, Chobani and other companies can produce only one ounce of creamy Greek yogurt. The rest becomes acid whey. It's a thin, runny waste product that can't simply be dumped. Not only would that be illegal, but whey decomposition is toxic to the natural environment, robbing oxygen from streams and rivers. That could turn a waterway into what one expert calls a "dead sea," destroying aquatic life over potentially large areas. Spills of cheese whey, a cousin of Greek yogurt whey, have killed tens of thousands of fish around the country in recent years.
The scale of the problem--or opportunity, depending on who you ask--is daunting. The $2 billion Greek yogurt market has become one of the biggest success stories in food over the past few years and total yogurt production in New York nearly tripled between 2007 and 2013. New plants continue to open all over the country. The Northeast alone, led by New York, produced more than 150 million gallons of acid whey last year, according to one estimate.
And as the nation's hunger grows for strained yogurt, which produces more byproduct than traditional varieties, the issue of its acid runoff becomes more pressing. Greek yogurt companies, food scientists, and state government officials are scrambling not just to figure out uses for whey, but how to make a profit off of it.
This solar panel printer can make 33 feet of solar cells per minute (22 May 2013)
Whatever oil and gas true believers want to think, the world is doing this solar power thing. It's getting cheaper and cheaper to make solar panels, and the panels are getting more and more effective. For example: A team in Australia just built a gigantic printer that spits out solar cells at a rate, Gizmodo reports, of about 33 feet every minute.
It's not even particularly complicated technology, according to the researchers. Gizmodo writes:
"[The printer system] utilizes only existing printer technology to embed polymer solar cells (also known as organic or plastic solar cells) in thin sheets of plastic or steel at a rate of ten meters per minute. "We're using the same techniques that you would use if you were screen printing an image on to a T-Shirt," project coordinator and University of Melbourne researcher Dr David Jones said in a press release."
This particular type of cell isn't the most efficient, but it's the type that lends itself to uses where you need a little flexibility -- solar windows, bags, or tents, for instances. And now it's also the easiest type to make. You could probably even print a solar-powered T-shirt that said "Eat it, oil."
Young hungry bears lead to warnings in Banff National Park (22 May 2013)
There's a couple of young bears causing concern in Banff National Park.
On Wednesday afternoon, Parks Canada put out an information bulletin to ask people to use special caution while using the area around the Lake Louise campground.
Bear No. 128, an orphaned three-year old male grizzly, is hanging around the area.
On the weekend, there was another warning issued about a black bear frequenting the Cave and Basin area. It has been spotted several times in the past two weeks.
Parks staff have tried to haze it, but it climbs a tree every time it's approached by people.
Fema uses 'Waffle House index' to take stock of Oklahoma tornado disaster (22 May 2013)
When the main US federal emergency agency arrives at the scene of a disaster-hit area, one of the first places it turns to is the local Waffle House -- and not just for its officials to grab a quick bite.
Craig Fugate, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, came up with the idea of the "Waffle House index" as an informal way of measuring the impact of a disaster. The chain, which has a large number of branches in tornado-prone areas, has a robust emergency management plan.
The index has three levels. If the local Waffle House is up and running, serving a full menu, a disaster is classed as green. If it is running with an emergency generator and serving only a limited menu, it is a yellow. If it is closed, badly damaged or totally destroyed, as during hurricane Katrina, it is a red.
There is only one Waffle House in Moore, the suburb worst hit by the tornadoes. The restaurant, located at 316 SW 19th Street and which normally offers a southern-tinged menu that includes grits, hash browns, and sausage and egg biscuits as well as hamburgers, was closed on Tuesday.
But the Moore tornado was classed as a yellow on the Waffle House index because managers were hoping to get it up and running soon. "It is a yellow because we are hoping to get a generator," said Kelly Thrasher, a spokeswoman for the Atlanta-based restaurant chain. "Once we have the generator, we will be able to serve a limited menu, maybe a full one."
U.S. acknowledges killing of four U.S. citizens in counterterrorism operations (22 May 2013)
The Obama administration acknowledged Wednesday that it has killed four Americans in overseas counterterrorism operations since 2009, the first time it has publicly taken responsibility for the deaths.
Although the acknowledgment, contained in a letter from Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to Congress, does not say how the four were killed, three are known to have died in CIA drone strikes in Yemen in 2011: Anwar al-Awlaki, his 16-year-old son and Samir Khan.
The fourth -- Jude Kennan Mohammad, a Florida native indicted in North Carolina in 2009 -- was killed in Pakistan, where the CIA has operated a drone campaign against terrorism suspects for nearly a decade. His death was previously unreported.
Holder's letter came the day before President Obama is due to deliver a major speech designed to fulfill a promise in his State of the Union address in January to make elements of his controversial counterterrorism policies more transparent and accountable to Congress and the American public.
Man with ties to Boston bombing suspect shot during FBI questioning (22 May 2013)
A man with ties to the Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was shot and killed by an FBI agent while being questioned in Florida, law enforcement officials said on Wednesday.
The man who was shot, Ibragim Todashev, 27, allegedly attacked an agent with a knife during questioning. He was not suspected of having played any role in the bombing that killed three people and injured scores more in April, but he did confess to being involved in a brutal Boston-area slaying two years ago, investigators said.
Law enforcement officials said Todashev was being questioned as part of the FBI's effort to find and talk to anyone who had any contact with Tsarnaev, the older bombing suspect.
Todashev, they say, had spent some time in the Boston area, where he was a mixed martial arts fighter, and knew Tsarnaev there. Investigators say he confessed to the agent in Florida that he played a role in a triple murder in 2011 in which three men were murdered in an apartment in Waltham, Mass.
Feds lift hold on Montana reservation pipeline project (22 May 2013)
HELENA -- Federal officials this week lifted their temporary hold on funding for a $361 million water pipeline for a Native American reservation in northern Montana after Chippewa Cree tribal officials demonstrated they were addressing conflicts and accounting problems.
The Bureau of Reclamation notified tribal leaders in March there would be no additional funding for the 50-mile pipeline project until the tribe showed action had been taken. The federal agency found problems that included missing money, a conflict of interest by the tribal leader heading the project and inaccurate accounting of project funds.
Since then, a federal corruption investigation into the pipeline project has resulted in six indictments, including that of Chippewa Cree Construction Corp. CEO Tony Belcourt, who headed the pipeline project and owns a company that was awarded a $633,000 contract for the project.
Belcourt and five others are accused of diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal stimulus aid meant for the water pipeline project.
Editor of The Progressive Calls for Eric Holder to Resign over Spying on Press, Occupy Protesters (22 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
MATTHEW ROTHSCHILD: Hey, Amy. Thanks for having me on.
Yeah, I mean, these documents from the Center for Media and Democracy and DBA Press show that law enforcement and Homeland Security have equated protesters, left-wing protesters, as terrorists. They have diverted enormous amounts of resources from counterterrorism efforts to spy on these local protesters, and then they've collaborated with the private sector, some of the very institutions--banks--that these protesters were aiming at. And as you read in that statement from the Phoenix Police Department, the effort was to mitigate these protests. I mean, why is law enforcement, why is Homeland Security, in the business of mitigating protests?
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, I want to go to a response that we received from the Phoenix Police Department when we reached them for comment. And they said that they were not treating Occupy protesters as potential terrorists. They said, "[W]e are an all hazards incident management team, we have gathered information at all types of events [such as] Superbowl, World Series, SB 1070 protest etc." So can you say how it is that their monitoring of Occupy protesters differed qualitatively from the other events that the Phoenix Police Department named?
MATTHEW ROTHSCHILD: Sure. Well, they're using resources from the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center, the Arizona fusion center, and they're using Homeland Defense personnel in the Phoenix Police Department to track Occupy activists. So, it's a little disingenuous of them to say they're not treating these protesters as terrorists when they're using their own anti-terrorist personnel to spend a lot of time simply tracking these activists. One of the police officers who was on the Homeland Defense Bureau of the Phoenix Police Department said she was primarily spending her time tracking Occupy activists on social media.
Federal chemical safety agency complains state and ATF are hampering investigation of Texas fertilizer explosion (21 May 2013)
WASHINGTON -- The federal safety agency probing the fertilizer blast in West is complaining to Congress that turf fights with other investigators could make it impossible to find out what really happened.
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board, in a letter released Tuesday, accused the Texas state fire marshal and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives of hampering its work by blocking access to key witnesses for three weeks after the massive blast -- "an unprecedented and harmful delay."
Board chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso wrote that the "incident site was massively and irreversibly altered under the direction of ATF personnel, who used cranes, bulldozers and other excavation apparatus in an ultimately unsuccessful quest to find a single ignition source for the original fire."
Frustration with the fire marshal and ATF suffuses Moure-Eraso's letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. She chairs the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee, which plans hearings on the April 17 explosion that left 15 people dead and more than 200 injured, and flattened much of West, a town north of Waco.
Vertical 'Pinkhouses:' The Future Of Urban Farming? (21 May 2013)
The idea of vertical farming is all the rage right now. Architects and engineers have come up with spectacular concepts for lofty buildings that could function as urban food centers of the future.
In Sweden, for example, they're planning a 177-foot skyscraper to farm leafy greens at the edge of each floor. But so far, most vertical gardens that are up and running actually look more like large greenhouses than city towers. And many horticulturists don't think sky-high farms in cities are practical.
"The idea of taking a skyscraper and turning it into a vertical farming complex is absolutely ridiculous from an energy perspective," says horticulturist Cary Mitchell of Purdue University, who's been working on ways to grow plants in space for more than 20 years.
The future of vertical farming, Mitchell thinks, lies not in city skyscrapers, but rather in large warehouses located in the suburbs, where real estate and electricity are cheaper.
And oh, yeah, instead of being traditional greenhouses lit by fluorescent lamps, he says these plant factories will probably be "pinkhouses," glowing magenta from the mix of blue and red LEDs.
'The Rendition Project' sheds new light on U.S. government's global kidnap and secret detention program (22 May 2013)
A groundbreaking research project has mapped the US government's global kidnap and secret detention programme, shedding unprecedented light on one of the most controversial secret operations of recent years.
The interactive online project -- by two British universities and a legal charity -- has uncovered new details of the way in which the so-called extraordinary rendition programme operated for years in the wake of the September 11 attacks, and the techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to avoid detection in the face of growing public concern.
The Rendition Project website is intended to serve as a research tool that not only collates all the publicly available data about the programme, but can continue to be updated as further information comes to light.
Data already collated shows the full extent of the UK's logistical support for the programme: aircraft associated with rendition operations landed at British airports more than 1,600 times.
Canada's government is spending millions to get you to like the Keystone pipeline (22 May 2013)
Canada obviously has a huge stake in the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline. If President Obama fails to approve it -- a decision he recently put off yet again -- the Canadian oil industry will have a tough time getting its abundant tar-sands crude to seaside ports. Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently came to the U.S. to make the case for the pipeline in person, as did Canada's ministers of foreign affairs and natural resources and the premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
And now our neighbor to the north is focusing its powers of persuasion directly on the American people. The country just launched a taxpayer-funded, multimillion-dollar marketing campaign extolling the virtues of tar-sands oil to U.S. citizens. From The Vancouver Observer:
"To support the government position and its travelling ministers, Ottawa has launched a $16 million marketing campaign that includes a new website and newspaper advertisements in the US to promote Keystone KL. The thrust of the campaign is the promotion of Canada as a reliable supplier of oil and a 'world environmental leader' in the field of oil and gas development.
"The millions of dollars being spent on marketing efforts and road trips is unsettling to many in the scientific and environment community."
Sweden's capital hit by worst riots in years (22 May 2013)
The riots appear to have been sparked by the police killing of a 69-year-old man wielding a machete in the suburb of Husby this month, which prompted accusations of police brutality.
"Everyone must pitch in to restore calm - parents, adults," Reinfeldt told reporters on Tuesday.
After decades of practicing the "Swedish model" of generous welfare benefits, Sweden has been reducing the role of the state since the 1990s, spurring the fastest growth in inequality of any advanced OECD economy.
While average living standards are still among the highest in Europe, governments have failed to substantially reduce long-term youth unemployment and poverty, which have affected immigrant communities worst.
The left-leaning tabloid Aftonbladet said the riots represented a "gigantic failure" of government policies, which had underpinned the rise of ghettos in the suburbs.
"The Unimaginable Has Happened": Massive Tornado Kills Dozens, Flattens Suburb of Oklahoma City (21 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain what you saw yesterday? What time was it in the afternoon?
BEVERLY ALLAM: Well, this was around 2:30 p.m., and I had just left Moore. We had lunch there and had stopped at a tag agency right there and realized that the air quality, you know, was getting worse. And, you know, you could actually feel pressure changes, and you can see the dark clouds starting to come up. And, of course, the rain starts sprinkling. And then, this thing come up so fast, and no one could imagine that it would grow into what it did so quickly, that it just kept growing and growing and growing. And it just all happened so fast. And it's just--the air just starts turning and twisting, and that's just it, simply. You just have to get out of the way.
AMY GOODMAN: What kind of warning was there yesterday afternoon, Beverly?
BEVERLY ALLAM: Oh, we have great warning systems, and we have to give a lot of credit to all of our local stations. Of course, all the sirens blew for a long time, several--several different instances in all of our--all the communities around Norman and Moore, south Oklahoma City. All the sirens were going off, because you never know exactly which way these things will turn. So, we do have early warning, and it gave people a lot, a lot of time to really take their precautions needed.
Bradley Manning prosecutors seek to prove WikiLeaks suspect 'aided enemy' (21 May 2013)
Prosecutors in the case against the WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning have decided to drop one of 22 counts against him, but are pressing ahead with the most serious accusation, that he "aided the enemy".
Military lawyers told Manning's final pre-trial hearing that they would no longer seek to prove the US soldier was guilty of leaking a single state department cable, known as "Reykjavik-13". The cable, which relates to the Icelandic financial crisis, was the first of a massive stash of diplomatic cables leaked by Manning to be published by WikiLeaks, on 18 February 2010.
Manning has been in military custody since May 2010, when he was arrested at a US military base in Iraq, where he was working as an intelligence analyst. He has pleaded guilty to a lesser offence relating to the leak of Reykjavik-13 and liable to a maximum of two years. The US government had sought to press further statutory charges on him that would have added up to an additional eight years on his sentence, but has now dropped the count.
It is not clear why government lawyers opted to remove the Reykjavik-13 count, though in the wider picture the move is of limited significance. If Manning is found guilty of "aiding the enemy" -- in effect, assisting Osama bin Laden by making public information that could injure the US -- he faces a possible life sentence with no chance of parole.
Should Manning be found not guilty to having aided the enemy, he still faces a further 20 counts carrying an overall maximum sentence of more than 150 years. At a minimum, the soldier has already pleaded guilty to lesser charges, of prejudicing the good order and discipline of the military by leaking information, which carry a maximum sentence of 20 years.
Pentagon faces another sex scandal (21 May 2013)
WASHINGTON -- The Army suspended the commander of its main basic training camp Tuesday for alleged adultery, the latest in a string of military officers accused of sexual misconduct.
Brig. Gen. Bryan T. Roberts, a 29-year Army veteran, was suspended from his post at Ft. Jackson, S.C., while the military investigates allegations of "adultery and a physical altercation," officials said.
"We don't have any evidence of any sexual assault. The allegations we have indicate a breach of order and discipline," said Col. Christian Kubik, a spokesman for the Army's Training and Doctrine Command at Ft. Eustis, Va.
Roberts, who is married with three children, previously led units in Iraq and in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Adultery is a crime under military law and, if proven, could end his Army career.
Ft. Jackson, a vast facility outside Columbia, S.C., is boot camp for half of the recruits who enter the Army each year -- about 36,000 soldiers -- including 60% of female recruits.
Why Austerity Kills: From Greece to U.S., Crippling Economic Policies Causing Global Health Crisis (21 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
DAVID STUCKLER: We've been studying how recessions affect people's health over the past decade, looking at the Great Depression through the East Asian financial crisis, right through to the present Great Recession. And what we found is that recessions hurt. Unemployment, job loss, foreclosure, unpayable debt are risks to health. But what ultimately matters is how politicians respond. And when they make large cuts to social supports, social protections, they can turn recessions into severe epidemics.
AMY GOODMAN: So, explain. Give us examples in countries. I mean, this horrific story I just described of this triple suicide, the couple and then her brother. Talk about what people--what happens when policies go one way or the other.
DAVID STUCKLER: Greece is in the middle of a public health disaster, as you mentioned. To meet budget deficit reduction targets set by the so-called troika--the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and European Commission--Greece has cut its health sector by more than 40 percent. At a time when homelessness is escalating and austerity has further driven up youth unemployment, we've seen HIV infections jump, concentrated in injection drug users. The malaria outbreak was linked to the cut in mosquito-spraying prevention programs, creating an outbreak that's much more costly to control than the short-term money saved by reducing the budget. Healthcare access has declined substantially. The majority of people who have lost access are pensioners who have contributed to the system their entire lives. And these are just a few of the many health effects seen in Greece, mirrored in Spain, Italy and, to some extent, the U.K. and the U.S.
AMY GOODMAN: We were just talking before the show about one of the suicides in Spain that became very well known. I wanted to turn to a clip. At the time, we were talking to a former Democracy Now! producer, María Carrión, about this case that occurred in Spain. The woman, David, was named?
DAVID STUCKLER: Amaia Egaña. It was a case of Spain's eviction suicides. Spain has a system where when people's homes are foreclosed, even if they default on their home, they're still liable to pay back the debt. So people are plunged into poverty and arrears at the same time, without support. We've seen this trigger large rises in suicides. Spain, Italy and Greece are at the high end of increases in economic suicides.
WHO subdued over Middle Eastern nations' handling of coronavirus (21 May 2013)
GENEVA--Ten years ago, SARS was spreading around the globe and the World Health Organization was publicly criticizing China for its secrecy around the outbreak.
Today, SARS has virtually disappeared but two worrying new viruses have emerged. This week at the World Health Assembly in Geneva, WHO praised China for its "extraordinary" response to a recent bird flu outbreak. But meanwhile, uncertainty surrounds another government's handling of a new SARS-related coronavirus, this one in the Middle East.
On Tuesday, the Chinese delegation to the World Health Assembly organized a side event to discuss H7N9, a deadly new bird flu that first emerged in March and has now infected 131 people, 36 of them fatally.
In her introductory remarks, Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, said global public health has "benefited greatly" from the information China has shared on H7N9. One day earlier, she had thanked China during a speech before the assembly's 194 member states and she reiterated her gratitude toward China for "collecting and communicating such a wealth of data so quickly and for collaborating with the WHO very closely."
List of dangerous antidepressants that cause sudden death is rapidly expanding (21 May 2013)
(NaturalNews) The list of antidepressants that can cause sudden death is growing exponentially, with citalopram - under the brand names Celexa and Cipramil - the latest such drug to be added, according to a new study.
The research, published recently in the British Medical Journal, revealed that the drug tends to cause a lengthening of the Q-T interval, a part of the cycle of heart beat measured by an electrocardiogram, or what is more commonly known as an EKG or ECG. Indeed, a number of drugs are known for creating this phenomenon, the most notable among them being methadone, which has been documented as causing sudden death in some patients, especially when dosages are increased too rapidly.
"There are no symptoms indicating a risk. A perfectly normal person will literally drop dead," writes Heidi Stevenson at GaiaHealth.com.
A silent killer
The heartbeat is regulated by a series of electrical pulses, and key points of the pattern printed on an EKG are labeled P, Q, R, S, T. If the time between the Q and T waves is lengthened, it is referred to as "Q-T elongation," or a prolonged Q-T segment; the only way to know if it is occurring; however, is with an EKG.
Amazon wins key cloud security clearance from government (21 May 2013)
(Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc has been given a security clearance by the U.S. government that will make it easier for federal agencies to use its cloud computing services.
Amazon Web Services, known as AWS, was certified to operate as a cloud service provider for three years under the government's new FedRAMP program. The accreditation covers all AWS data centers in the United States, the company said on Tuesday.
"This will cut the cost and time for agencies to deploy our systems," said Teresa Carlson, vice president of Worldwide Public Sector at AWS. "It cuts costs for AWS too."
Amazon, the world's largest online retailer, has moved aggressively into the business of renting remote computing, storage and other IT services in recent years through AWS.
Moore tornado: At least 20 children among the dead; 2 dozen more still missing (20 May 2013)
MOORE -- At least 51 people were killed, including 20 children, and rescue workers frantically searched the rubble of a collapsed elementary school for two dozen more students who were still missing after a mile-wide tornado flattened an Oklahoma City suburb.
The storm cut a swath of devastation 20 miles long across the suburb of Moore, with cars littered like toys, firefighters and police swarming over chunks of buildings and the town's Plaza Towers Elementary School reduced to a pile of rubble.
The death toll was likely to climb, said Amy Elliott, chief administrative officer for the state Medical Examiner's Office in Oklahoma City.
More than 75 students were in the Plaza school when the tornado struck, and as many as 30 may have been rescued, KFOR-TV reported.
The search took a grim turn just before 7 p.m. local time, when authorities at the scene told reporters that there didn't appear to be any more survivors, KFOR reported. As night fell, darkness hampered the search effort.
Irish potato famine pathogen identified (20 May 2013)
Scientists have used plant samples collected in the mid-19th Century to identify the pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine.
A plant pest that causes potato blight spread to Ireland in 1845 triggering a famine that killed one million people.
DNA extracted from museum specimens shows the strain that changed history is different from modern day epidemics, and is probably now extinct.
Other strains continue to attack potato and tomato crops around the world.
The fungus-like infection causes annual losses of enough potatoes to feed hundreds of millions of people a year.
Geoengineering: Can We Save the Planet by Messing with Nature? (20 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: So, why did you decide to write this book?
CLIVE HAMILTON: Well, I wrote a previous book called Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth About Climate Change, which, as the title suggests, went into detail why it is that here we are in the beginning of the 20th century, where there's an overwhelming consensus of scientific evidence saying we're in really deep trouble, and yet we're not doing anything about it, or our actions are trivial. And so, it seems to me that as long as that goes on, as long as the scientists continue to ring the alarm bell ever more loudly, and as long as governments around the world fail to respond to those warnings--in other words, if plan A isn't working, then people are going to resort to plan B, and that is geoengineering. And that's why there's been this boom in interest, both from scientists and from other people, in these schemes to essentially take control of the climate system of planet Earth.
AMY GOODMAN: The Heartland Institute describes geoengineering as, quote, "much less expensive than seeking to stem temperature rise solely through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions." The Cato Institute argues that, quote, "geo-engineering is more [cost]-effective than emissions controls altogether." And the Hudson Institute says geoengineering, quote, "could obviate the majority of the need for carbon cuts and enable us to avoid lifestyle changes." Why are all these groups proponents of geoengineering?
CLIVE HAMILTON: Well, one thing united about all of those groups is that they have a right-wing political vision. And so, what they like about geoengineering--bear in mind, incidentally, that the Heartland Institute, and another is--in this camp is the American Enterprise Institute, have spent many years repudiating climate science, attacking climate scientists and resisting all measures to reduce America's greenhouse gas emissions. And yet here they are endorsing geoengineering, so a response to a problem they say does not exist. And the reason is that, in some cases, if the medicine is palatable, then the patient is more likely to admit that there is a disease or an illness. And in this case, the technological intervention in the climate system is acceptable to a certain kind of conservative thinking, because it, in a way, refuses to vindicate the warnings of environmentalists that there's something profoundly wrong in our economic and political system, because geoengineering comes along and says, "Well, look, the system can solve the problem."
Mango, the new diabetes and cancer buster (20 May 2013)
(NaturalNews) The most popular fresh fruit in the world, mangoes are a whole lot more than just a delicious, refreshing treat produced by nature. As evidenced by copious scientific research, mangoes are also a powerful medicinal food, as they contain nutrients that can help clear up skin, promote eye health, stave off diabetes, and even prevent the formation and spread of cancer.
Research recently presented at a meeting of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), for instance, revealed that eating mangoes every day can help moderate and even lower blood sugar levels, despite their natural sugar content. This is good news for people with type 2 diabetes who may benefit from consuming mangoes regularly as part of a low-sugar diet.
For their study, researchers tested the effects of mangoes on a group of obese animals, some of whom were given 10 grams of freeze-dried mango every day for 12 weeks. At the end of three months, the blood sugar levels of those animals that consumed mango were compared to those that did not consume mango. Based on the data, mango consumption was found to result in a significant decline in blood sugar levels.
"Although the mechanism by which mango exerts its effects warrants further investigation, we do know that mangoes contain a complex mixture of polyphenolic compounds," says Dr. Edralin Lucas, Ph.D., author of the study.
Similar research out of Australia found back in 2006 that eating mango can also help decrease inflammation and resulting high cholesterol, as well as block the formation of various health conditions included under the banner of metabolic syndrome. In essence, mangoes actually work better than cholesterol drugs at naturally balancing and optimizing cellular function throughout the body.
PAM COMMENTARY: Fruits and vegetables in general promote good health and help fight cancer.
Genetically modified democracy: Monsanto moves to obliterate states' rights to label GMOs (20 May 2013)
(NaturalNews) Reliable sources in Washington D.C. have informed the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) that Monsanto has begun secretly lobbying its Congressional allies to attach one or more "Monsanto Riders" or amendments to the 2013 Farm Bill that would preempt or prohibit states from requiring labels on genetically engineered (GE) foods.
In response to this blatant violation of states' rights to legislate, and consumers' right to know, the OCA and a nationwide alliance have launched a petition http://salsa3.salsalabs.com to put every member of Congress on notice: If you support any Farm Bill amendment that would nullify states' rights to label genetically modified organisms (GMOs), we'll vote - or throw - you out of office.
On Wednesday, May 15, an amendment to the House version of the Farm Bill, inserted under the guise of protecting interstate commerce, passed out of the House Agricultural Committee. If the King Amendment makes it into the final Farm Bill, it would take away states' rights to pass laws governing the production or manufacture of any agricultural product, including food and animals raised for food, that is involved in interstate commerce. The amendment was proposed by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), largely in response to a California law stating that by 2015, California will allow only eggs to be sold from hens housed in cages specified by California. But policy analysts emphasize that the amendment, broadly and ambiguously written, could be used to prohibit or preempt any state GMO labeling or food safety law.
Will the King Amendment survive the Senate? No one can be sure, say analysts. However few doubt that Monsanto will give up. We can expect that more amendments and riders will be introduced into the Farm Bill--even if the King Amendment fails - over the next month in an attempt to stop the wave of state GMO labeling laws and initiatives moving forward in states like Washington, Vermont, Maine, Connecticut and others.
Best switcheroo ever: Scientists could extract gold with cornstarch instead of cyanide (20 May 2013)
Gold mining today is far from the charming, if soggy, practice of standing in a river and trying to sift out gold nuggets. Today, miners sift out gold from a river of cyanide, basically: They mine rock with tiny concentrations of gold in it, crush it up, and use cyanide to pull the gold molecules out. This is terrible for the environment, as you might imagine. Mother Jones pulled these statistics together a few years ago:
"Mining gold to create a single 1/3-ounce 18-karat ring produces at least 20 tons of waste and 13 pounds of toxic emissions.
"Those emissions contain 5.5 pounds of lead, 3 pounds of arsenic, almost 2 ounces of mercury, and 1 ounce of cyanide."
But now scientists think they've come up with a way of extracting gold using a compound much more benign than cyanide. Instead, they think they can use cornstarch.
During a bit of esoteric chemistry research, a group of scientists who were trying to make cubes out of molecules of gold and starch found that instead they kept making needles. Each needle was made of thousands of nanowires, Popular Science reports, and each nanowire had a string of gold atoms inside.
Two members of FBI's elite counterterrorism unit die in fall from helicopter off Virginia coast (20 May 2013)
Two members of the FBI's elite counterterrorism unit died Friday while practicing how to quickly drop from a helicopter to a ship using a rope, the FBI announced Monday in a statement.
The statement gave few details regarding the deaths of Special Agents Christopher Lorek and Stephen Shaw, other than to say the helicopter encountered unspecified difficulties and the agents fell a "significant distance."
A law enforcement source told The Pilot the incident happened about 12 nautical miles off the coast of Virginia Beach. The official blamed bad weather for the incident and said the agents -- members of the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team, based in Quantico -- fell into the water. The official said he believed the agents died as a result of the impact rather than drowning.
Glenn McBride, a spokesman for the state medical examiner's office, said it could be months before his staff can release a final cause and manner of death for the two agents. He said they must wait for the results of routine toxicology tests.
Obama DOJ formally accuses journalist in leak case of committing crimes (20 May 2013)
It is now well known that the Obama justice department has prosecuted more government leakers under the 1917 Espionage Act than all prior administrations combined - in fact, double the number of all such prior prosecutions. But as last week's controversy over the DOJ's pursuit of the phone records of AP reporters illustrated, this obsessive fixation in defense of secrecy also targets, and severely damages, journalists specifically and the newsgathering process in general.
New revelations emerged yesterday in the Washington Post that are perhaps the most extreme yet when it comes to the DOJ's attacks on press freedoms. It involves the prosecution of State Department adviser Stephen Kim, a naturalized citizen from South Korea who was indicted in 2009 for allegedly telling Fox News' chief Washington correspondent, James Rosen, that US intelligence believed North Korea would respond to additional UN sanctions with more nuclear tests - something Rosen then reported. Kim did not obtain unauthorized access to classified information, nor steal documents, nor sell secrets, nor pass them to an enemy of the US. Instead, the DOJ alleges that he merely communicated this innocuous information to a journalist - something done every day in Washington - and, for that, this arms expert and long-time government employee faces more than a decade in prison for "espionage".
The focus of the Post's report yesterday is that the DOJ's surveillance of Rosen, the reporter, extended far beyond even what they did to AP reporters. The FBI tracked Rosen's movements in and out of the State Department, traced the timing of his calls, and - most amazingly - obtained a search warrant to read two days worth of his emails, as well as all of his emails with Kim. In this case, said the Post, "investigators did more than obtain telephone records of a working journalist suspected of receiving the secret material." It added that "court documents in the Kim case reveal how deeply investigators explored the private communications of a working journalist".
But what makes this revelation particularly disturbing is that the DOJ, in order to get this search warrant, insisted that not only Kim, but also Rosen - the journalist - committed serious crimes. The DOJ specifically argued that by encouraging his source to disclose classified information - something investigative journalists do every day - Rosen himself broke the law. Describing an affidavit from FBI agent Reginald Reyes filed by the DOJ, the Post reports [emphasis added]:
"Reyes wrote that there was evidence Rosen had broken the law, 'at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator'. That fact distinguishes his case from the probe of the AP, in which the news organization is not the likely target. Using italics for emphasis, Reyes explained how Rosen allegedly used a 'covert communications plan' and quoted from an e-mail exchange between Rosen and Kim that seems to describe a secret system for passing along information. . . . However, it remains an open question whether it's ever illegal, given the First Amendment's protection of press freedom, for a reporter to solicit information. No reporter, including Rosen, has been prosecuted for doing so."
Karl Rove: Prosecute 'people who break their oath' by leaking secrets (20 May 2013)
Fox News on Monday asked former Bush White House senior adviser Karl Rove, who participated in leaking the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame in 2003, to comment on the Obama administration's decision to investigate Fox News reporter James Rosen as a co-conspirator in leaking CIA documents.
The Washington Post reported on Monday that the FBI had accused Rosen of illegally soliciting information about North Korea from government adviser Stephen Jin-Woo Kim in 2009. The FBI allegedly searched Rosen's emails and tracked him as he used a key card to enter and exit the State Department.
In a statement, Fox News executive VP of news Michael Clemente called the investigation "downright chilling" and "promised to unequivocally defend" Rosen.
Rove told Fox News host Megyn Kelly on Monday that "every American has sympathy for the release of confidential secret information of the government" but that the news about Rosen was "deeply troubling."
Chinese hackers who breached Google gained access to sensitive data, U.S. officials say (20 May 2013)
Chinese hackers who breached Google's servers several years ago gained access to a sensitive database with years' worth of information about U.S. surveillance targets, according to current and former government officials.
The breach appears to have been aimed at unearthing the identities of Chinese intelligence operatives in the United States who may have been under surveillance by American law enforcement agencies.
It's unclear how much the hackers were able to discover. But former U.S. officials familiar with the breach said the Chinese stood to gain valuable intelligence. The database included information about court orders authorizing surveillance -- orders that could have signaled active espionage investigations into Chinese agents who maintained e-mail accounts through Google's Gmail service.
"Knowing that you were subjects of an investigation allows them to take steps to destroy information, get people out of the country," said one former official, who, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a highly sensitive matter. The official said the Chinese could also have sought to deceive U.S. intelligence officials by conveying false or misleading information.
X marks the spot: The find that could rewrite Australian history (20 May 2013)
According to the records, Australia was first discovered by Dutch explorers in the early 17th century. So how did 1,000-year-old copper coins from a former African sultanate end up on a remote Australian beach?
An Australian anthropologist, Ian McIntosh, is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, which began when five coins were found buried in sand by a soldier patrolling the Wessel Islands off the continent's north coast in 1944, two years after Darwin was bombed by the Japanese.
Maurie Isenberg, who was manning a radar station on the uninhabited but strategically important islands, stored the coins in a tin, and on coming across them again in 1979, sent them to a museum.
They were identified as originating in the former sultanate of Kilwa, near present-day Tanzania, and dated to as far back as the 900s.
So far, so mysterious, for according to the history books the first outsider to set foot on Australian soil was a Dutchman, Willem Janszoon, who landed in present-day north Queensland in 1606 -- more than 160 years before Captain James Cook arrived and claimed the continent for the British throne.
Senators accuse Apple of 'highly questionable' billion-dollar tax avoidance scheme (20 May 2013)
Apple uses a "highly questionable" web of offshore entities to avoid paying billions in US income taxes, a Senate committee alleged on Monday.
The complex arrangement includes three subsidiaries, based ostensibly in Ireland, which appear not to be designated as tax resident anywhere, the committee said. A source on the committee called them "iCompanies -- I for imaginary, invisible".
The commitee said that the arrangement, described by one senator as "the epitome" of tax-avoidance schemes, allowed Apple to pay only very small amounts of tax on much of its overseas profits, thanks to the Irish companies that exist "nowhere" for tax purposes.
Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, will answer the accusations at a hearing convened by the bipartisan permanent subcommittee on investigation in Washington on Tuesday. Apple vehemently denied the charges ahead of the meeting.
A rare peek into a Justice Department leak probe (19 May 2013)
When the Justice Department began investigating possible leaks of classified information about North Korea in 2009, investigators did more than obtain telephone records of a working journalist suspected of receiving the secret material.
They used security badge access records to track the reporter's comings and goings from the State Department, according to a newly obtained court affidavit. They traced the timing of his calls with a State Department security adviser suspected of sharing the classified report. They obtained a search warrant for the reporter's personal e-mails.
The case of Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, the government adviser, and James Rosen, the chief Washington correspondent for Fox News, bears striking similarities to a sweeping leaks investigation disclosed last week in which federal investigators obtained records over two months of more than 20 telephone lines assigned to the Associated Press.
At a time when President Obama's administration is under renewed scrutiny for an unprecedented number of leak investigations, the Kim case provides a rare glimpse into the inner workings of one such probe.
Court documents in the Kim case reveal how deeply investigators explored the private communications of a working journalist -- and raise the question of how often journalists have been investigated as closely as Rosen was in 2010. The case also raises new concerns among critics of government secrecy about the possible stifling effect of these investigations on a critical element of press freedom: the exchange of information between reporters and their sources.
Training push fails to halt military sexual assault crisis (19 May 2013)
(Reuters) - Under pressure to fight sexual assault, the U.S. armed forces in recent years rolled out education programs about proper sexual conduct through methods like role playing and video games.
The increase in education has nevertheless failed to prevent what the nation's top general called last week "a crisis" after the Pentagon reported a 37 percent jump in the estimated number of sexual assault cases in 2012.
Moreover, the military suffered deep embarrassment when personnel who worked on preventing sexual assaults were themselves accused of sex crimes this month.
On Friday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel gave top brass a week to come up with a plan for discussing the problem with all troops and ensuring proper training and credentials for those who deal with new recruits and sexual assault victims.
Education campaigns teach service members basics like how to make sure the other party is a willing participant in intimate contact, or how to step in as a bystander if an alcohol-fueled situation looks like it could lead to inappropriate conduct.
The Army is in the fifth year of its "I Am Strong" sexual assault prevention campaign, under which all new soldiers are drilled on a set of 10 "sex rules."
After Arab Spring, Egypt's Sinai Peninsula A "Strange and dangerous place" (19 May 2013)
RAFAH, EGYPT--He counted his scars at the desert's edge.
Scabbed electrical burns, purple splotches etched by chains, a map of blisters raised by candle wax dripped across his back. His captors threatened to bury his body beneath the sand and stars. They had buried others, he knew. They held him down and called his family in Eritrea.
"Thirty-three thousand dollars for your boy's freedom."
"That amount," said his father, a cattle herder, "is bigger than our dreams."
Frezzghi Geremedhin left his East African village 15 months ago, an army deserter believing a better future as a driver or a labourer awaited him in Sudan. He was kidnapped there, smuggled into Egypt, ferried across the Suez Canal, handed over to Bedouin tribesman and chained to another African.
Anthrax drug brings $334 million to Pentagon advisor's biotech firm (19 May 2013)
Over the last decade, former Navy Secretary Richard J. Danzig, a prominent lawyer, presidential advisor and biowarfare consultant to the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security, has urged the government to counter what he called a major threat to national security.
Terrorists, he warned, could easily engineer a devastating killer germ: a form of anthrax resistant to common antibiotics.
U.S. intelligence agencies have never established that any nation or terrorist group has made such a weapon, and biodefense scientists say doing so would be very difficult. Nevertheless, Danzig has energetically promoted the threat -- and prodded the government to stockpile a new type of drug to defend against it.
Danzig did this while serving as a director of a biotech startup that won $334 million in federal contracts to supply just such a drug, a Los Angeles Times investigation found.
By his own account, Danzig encouraged Human Genome Sciences Inc. to develop the compound, and from 2001 through 2012 he collected more than $1 million in director's fees and other compensation from the company, records show.
The drug, raxibacumab, or raxi, was the first product the company was able to sell, and the U.S. government remains the only customer, at a cost to date of about $5,100 per dose.
America's first climate refugees: How climate change eats the Alaskan coast (19 May 2013)
The slow-moving disaster being visited on the village of Newtok is a familiar one in Alaska. People are losing the ground beneath their feet, because of erosion.
Climate change has accelerated the normal process of erosion along Alaska's rivers and coasts -- especially near the shores of the Bering and Arctic seas.
Warmer temperatures melt the permafrost, or frozen sub-surface layers which helped bind together the soil. Heavier rains produce more floods, and swollen rivers which wash away the soil. Waves break higher, because of sea-level rise, clawing at beaches.
Meanwhile, the sea ice that provided a barrier against intense storms has thinned and retreated, exposing coastal areas to tsunami-sized waves and 100 mph winds that are not uncommon in storms coming off the Bering Sea.
Senior Pakistani politician shot dead (19 May 2013)
Gunmen in Pakistan have killed a senior member of Imran Khan's Movement for Justice (PTI) party outside her home in Karachi.
Zahra Shahid, 60, was shot twice in the head, outside her home in Karachi by two men on motorcycle, police said on Saturday.
No one has claimed responsibility for the killing, but on his Twitter feed, Khan said he holds the rival MQM (Mutthaida Qaumi Movement) party responsible, a claim the MQM has denied.
Khan also blamed the British government, saying he had warne U.K. officials that MQM leader Altaf Hussain had made threats against his party workers.
Why sign up for a one-way Mars trip? Three applicants explain the appeal (19 May 2013)
A one-way trip to Mars sounds like something you'd wish on your worst enemy -- so why would more than 78,000 people from around the world pay up to $75 for a chance to die on another planet?
"I can say I have an ulterior motive," said David Brin, who has written more than a dozen science-fiction novels -- including "The Postman," which was turned into a Kevin Costner movie in 1997. "I'd get a lot of writing done, and it might be memorable."
As a master of hard science fiction, the 62-year-old Brin knows better than most applicants what the first Red Planet settlers would face if they're sent off in 2022, as the Dutch-based Mars One venture has proposed.
The settlers would have to be sealed up in habitats, protected from harsh radiation, supplied with machine-made air and water, and nourished by whatever food can be grown on a cold, barren planet. They'd have to keep their sanity, millions of miles away from their families and Mission Control. Worst of all, they'd have to face the fact that there's no guarantee of ever going back.
Will this scheme actually work? "I give it a low probability of happening," Brin said, "and I don't consider it to be the most responsible thing I've ever seen."
PAM COMMENTARY: Lost colony of Roanoke, part II.
News from the Week of 12th to 18th of May 2013
10 years later: How the Mad Cow crisis changed an industry and a province (with videos) (18 May 2013)
The Sundre-area rancher has always been one to look to the future and not to the past. Under his management, Red Deer River Ranches -- a 118-year-old cattle ranch in the foothills of the Rockies -- has made major changes, transitioning from a traditional cow-calf operation to an all-natural ranch that sells beef directly to consumers. He has also diversified by creating a guest ranch on the property. Each year, 800 visitors come seeking peace and quiet and the authentic Western lifestyle.
On a glorious May day, with the sun sparkling on the Red Deer River and a gentle breeze stirring the grasses, Bradley finds it easy to be hopeful about his future on the ranch. But there have been darker days, for him and his thousands of counterparts around the province. Ten years ago come Monday, a discovery was made that shook the beef industry to its very core.
Bradley can't recall where he was or what he was doing that day in 2003 when the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed a case of BSE, or mad cow disease, had been discovered in northern Alberta.
What he does remember is how his anxiety gradually escalated throughout the following weeks, as auction marts across the province cancelled sales and international borders remained closed to Canadian beef.
For Bradley, Canada's BSE crisis didn't arrive with the sudden shock of a car accident or natural disaster, but with the slow-growing realization that the future of his whole industry was in jeopardy.
PAM COMMENTARY: WARNING: This article has a video, with sound, that starts to play without the reader taking any action.
Mad cow crisis put brakes on trucking (18 May 2013)
On the morning of May 20, 2003, Mark Wendorff's trucks rolled across the Montana border loaded with cattle.
Hours later, Alberta's beef industry was in chaos with ranchers, feedlot operators and truckers facing financial ruin after a case of mad cow disease surfaced on an Alberta farm.
"It's like someone woke up that day and turned the switch off," Wendorff recalls ruefully. "Everything changed for good."
The discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, in a single cow, slammed the door shut on the $2-billion annual beef trade with the United States.
Canada's largest beef market banned all imports -- and it would be 26 months before live Canadian cattle crossed the border again.
The decision all but crippled Canada's export-dependent beef sector, leaving various industry players struggling with multibillion-dollar losses.
Mark Purdey's Organophosphate Model of Mad Cow Disease (FLASHBACK) (1 November 2004)
In 2002-03, CWD was a hot news topic. Deer and elk in the area of Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, were eradicated in a brutal and controversial government-sponsored shooting spree. The mass kill-off was allegedly designed to stop the spread of CWD to other herds, but was widely attacked as a public relations ploy, useful for little else than trying to convince hunters in Wisconsin that the wild meat supply was safe and covering up the true causes of the disease.
The infectious "prion" model of these diseases claims that prions found in diseased animals are then transmitted to other animals through rendered animal products in their feed. The prions in animal feed then go on to infect many animals who consume that feed. At least that's the official line in the U.S. and Great Britain. However, at the height of the Mad Cow epidemic in England, an organic farmer's personal observations led him to a different conclusion.
Mark Purdey and the Organophosphate model of Mad Cow Disease
Somerset farmer Mark Purdey observed that the UK's Mad Cow outbreak immediately followed the government's attempt to eradicate the parasite warble fly from cattle. Most farmers were required to treat their cows' spines and skulls with Phosmet, an organophosphate pesticide. Because Purdey was an organic farmer, he obtained special permission to avoid treating his cattle. He then observed that his neighbors' treated herds went on to contract Mad Cow Disease (BSE), whereas Purdey's untreated herds did not. Purdey also had purchased a non-organic herd which had been treated with Phosmet before he acquired it. That particular herd also went on to develop Mad Cow Disease.
"Cambridge University prion biochemist, David R. Brown is dismissive of the science behind the infectious model of BSE. He terms it 'a very limited amount of science by a few assumed-reputable scientists.' He insists there is 'no evidence an infectious agent is present in either meat or milk.' " (Fintan Dunne, "Organophosphates Implicated In Mad Cow Disease")
The bacterial model of Mad Cow Disease (FLASHBACK) (19 November 2004)
The mainstream media has embraced the prion theory of Mad Cow Disease since BSE ( Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, known as Mad Cow Disease) became an epidemic in the 1990s. Other than a few alternative news sources, the press largely ignores other theories of the disease. The bacterial model of Mad Cow Disease is a competing theory with extensive supporting scientific evidence. In his article Is Mad Cow Disease caused by a bacteria?, Lawrence Broxmeyer, M.D., presents documentation supporting the Bovine Tuberculosis model of Mad Cow Disease.
Broxmeyer is a researcher who has concentrated much of his time on Tuberculosis (TB), and is familiar with how TB can cause symptoms like those found in the Spongiform Encephalopathies. His full article Is mad cow disease caused by a bacteria? (.pdf version) can be found by clicking here.* The text version (does not include epidemic maps) can be found by clicking here.
Bovine TB has a long history in Great Britain, with symptoms often similar to those of Mad Cow Disease. The deformed "prions" implicated in other research may be another symptom of the disease and not the cause, according to Broxmeyer, and "many animals that die of spongiform TSE's never show evidence of misfolded proteins." Broxmeyer says the infectious capability of a protein without genetic material is unlikely, and "Prions" were found to be proteins occurring naturally in normal tissues, although changes were sometimes noticed in the diseased animals. However those prion changes wouldn't explain damage to healthy tissues, and a causative agent is needed to explain prion "misfolding" at the outset. Moreover, prions have not been proven as necessary to cause the disease, and an increased level of prions in laboratory experiments has not been shown to increase the likelihood of infection. What researchers are calling prions, according to Broxmeyer, could in fact be "amyloids," a type of "deposition that took place due in the course of chronic inflammatory disease, mainly tuberculosis, the usual precipitating cause." Britain's historical battle with Bovine TB is documented by Broxmeyer, with the disease often appearing in the best stables, and creating a slight risk of infection to humans consuming the flesh of diseased animals. Broxmeyer provides maps to show that the concentration of bovine TB in the southwestern area matches the outbreak of mad cow disease. He claims that the link between eating beef diseased with Bovine TB and the human disease is well established.
Broxmeyer, a doctor who has treated TB in patients and studied it extensively, cites symptoms of TB which match the encephalopathy and neurological damage seen in Mad Cow Disease (BSE), Scrapie in sheep, and CJD in humans. He explains that Tuberculosis often assumes "L-forms," or cell-wall deficient forms, which are hard for researchers to detect using standard methods, and evade the animal's immune system. (This is also related to the bacterium's pleomorphic nature.) Mad Cow tissue was shown to be infectious in experimentation even without "prions" present, which could indicate that an agent like L-forms are at work. Bovine TB can also cause "downer cows" and both meningitis and encephalitis in cattle and humans.
"...Current mad cow diagnosis lies solely in the detection of late appearing "prions", an acronym for hypothesized, gene-less, misfolded proteins, somehow claimed to cause the disease. Yet laboratory preparations of prions contain other things, which could include unidentified bacteria or viruses. Furthermore, the rigors of prion purification alone, might, in and of themselves, have killed the causative virus or bacteria. Therefore, even if samples appear to infect animals, it is impossible to prove that prions are causative..." (Lawrence Broxmeyer, M.D., Is mad cow disease caused by a bacteria?)
Corporations are manufacturing uncertainty about scientific findings. Now scientists are fighting back. (18 May 2013)
Science is under attack. With corporations manufacturing uncertainty to undermine studies that hurt their bottom lines and the sequester cutting billions in funding for scientific research, you'd think the American science community would be hunkered down in their labs avoiding outside interference at all costs.
A new project of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the Center for Science and Democracy, is encouraging scientists to do just the opposite. The center encourages scientists to speak out and help others to better understand scientific information and to distinguish evidence from political positioning. We spoke with the Center's director Dr. Andrew Rosenberg by phone this week. This is an edited version of our conversation.
Theresa Riley: In Bill's conversation with public health historians David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz, they talk about a "war on science" that is being waged by industries to prevent and weaken regulations. In Heads They Win, Tails We Lose, a report released last year, UCS investigators showed how widespread the practice is. What tactics do they use?
Andrew Rosenberg: In the political arena, there are lots of avenues where corporate influence comes in. Sometimes it's directly lobbying elected officials. For example, on fracking, Common Cause found that the industry has spent almost $750 million over the last decade lobbying to try to ensure that regulation isn't increased, that the federal government stays out of fracking -- even, to some extent, in the monitoring and evaluation of impacts of fracking. And that's unfortunately a pretty common picture. On medical devices it's a similar sum, $700 million, to lobby on behalf of medical devices and pharmaceuticals to try to keep the rules as business friendly as possible. People understand that there's lobbying. I'm not sure they understand the magnitude.
Feds rooting out 'unwelcome speech' on campus: But what is that? (18 May 2013)
The failure of the University of Montana to respond adequately to rape and sexual assault allegations against popular football players has led to a broadening of how the federal government defines sexual harassment, causing free speech advocates to worry that the new policy will be used to punish "unwelcome" flirting and chill the right to speak freely on campus.
A detailed "resolution agreement" with the University of Montana, dated May 9, outlines what the US Department of Education and Justice Department describe as a new "blueprint" for how colleges should view sex discrimination, assault, and harassment on campuses. The new policy is seen as binding, because colleges can lose federal funding, including Stafford and Pell grants, if they don't abide.
Key among the federal findings at the University of Montana, where the university acknowledged it failed to properly address allegations of sexual assault against several football players, is the necessity to broaden the definition of sexual harassment to "unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature," including "verbal conduct," or speech.
The new policy also suggests that harassment does not have to be "objectively offensive" to warrant complaints, and demands colleges take action against alleged aggressors even before judicial hearings are held.
How the IRS spun out of control (18 May 2013)
The inquiry has put a spotlight on an obscure branch of the IRS, the Tax Exempt/Government Entities Division, which is largely housed in an office building in downtown Cincinnati.
Former employees describe staff in the Cincinnati office as well-intentioned but overworked, struggling to keep up with more than 60,000 applications a year from groups that want to be classified as tax-exempt, such as churches, chambers of commerce, PTAs and advocacy groups.
The applications are reviewed by about 200 people in a "determinations unit," about 140 of those in Cincinnati. To keep ahead of the flood, former employees say, the staff frequently resorts to shortcuts.
"That office is given direction to move as quickly as possible, but also be accurate," said Philip Hackney, an assistant law professor at Louisiana State University who worked in the IRS chief counsel's office from 2006 to 2011. "It's impossible. They miss a lot of stuff."
PAM COMMENTARY: I don't see the scandal here. Political groups don't get tax-exempt status. Groups with a political mission shouldn't be tax deductible any more than the Democratic or Republican Parties. The agents were just trying to do their jobs.
IRS probe ignored most influential groups (18 May 2013)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- There's an irony in the Internal Revenue Service's crackdown on conservative groups.
The nation's tax agency has admitted to inappropriately scrutinizing smaller tea party organizations that applied for tax-exempt status, and senior Treasury Department officials were notified in the midst of the 2012 presidential election season that an internal investigation was underway. But the IRS largely maintained a hands-off policy with the much larger, big-budget organizations on the left and right that were most influential in the elections and are organized under a section of the tax code that allows them to hide their donors.
"The IRS goes AWOL when wealthy and powerful forces want to break the law in order to hide their wrongful efforts and secret political influence," said Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat who is among a small Senate group pushing campaign finance reform measures that would force these big outside groups to disclose their donors. "Picking on the little guy is a pretty lousy thing to do."
Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS and the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity were among those that spent tens of millions of dollars on TV ads and get-out-the-vote efforts to help Republicans. Democrats were aided in similar fashion by Priorities USA, made up of former Barack Obama campaign aides, and American Bridge 21st Century Foundation, an opposition research group led by a former adviser to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
And yet those groups so far have escaped investigations into whether they have crossed the blurry line under the law between what constitutes a tax-exempt "social welfare" organization that is free from donor reporting requirements and a political committee subject to taxes and disclosures.
Victims: Marines failed to safeguard water supply (18 May 2013)
A simple test could have alerted officials that the drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated, long before authorities determined that as many as a million Marines and their families were exposed to a witch's brew of cancer-causing chemicals.
But no one responsible for the lab at the base can recall that the procedure -- mandated by the Navy -- was ever conducted.
The U.S. Marine Corps maintains that the carbon chloroform extract (CCE) test would not have uncovered the carcinogens that fouled the southeastern North Carolina base's water system from at least the mid-1950s until wells were capped in the mid-1980s. But experts say even this "relatively primitive" test -- required by Navy health directives as early as 1963 -- would have told officials that something was terribly wrong beneath Lejeune's sandy soil.
A just-released study from the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry cited a February 1985 level for trichloroethylene of 18,900 parts per billion in one Lejeune drinking water well -- nearly 4,000 times today's maximum allowed limit of 5 ppb. Given those kinds of numbers, environmental engineer Marco Kaltofen said even a testing method as inadequate as CCE should have raised some red flags with a "careful analyst."
"That's knock-your-socks-off level -- even back then," said Kaltofen, who worked on the infamous Love Canal case in upstate New York, where drums of buried chemical waste leaked toxins into a local water system. "You could have smelled it."
Dark clouds hang over air shows after budget cuts (18 May 2013)
Patty Wagstaff is a Hollywood stunt pilot, three-time U.S. aerobatic champion, inductee to the National Aviation Hall of Fame and favorite on the air show circuit. One of her tricked-out planes is on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
But this weekend, she's grounded.
Federal budget cuts that eliminated military flying acts triggered the cancellation of dozens of air shows, meaning lost income for performers, air show announcers, concessionaires, vendors and others who depend on air shows and the millions of spectators.
Locally, Joint Base Langley and Oceana Naval Air Station each cancelled air shows.
The cancellations also mean disappointed fans, fewer events that celebrate aviation and inspire youngsters and lost military recruiting opportunities.
Students can't resist distraction for two minutes ... and neither can you (18 May 2013)
Are gadgets making us dumber? Two new studies suggest they might be. One found that people who are interrupted by technology score 20 percent lower on a standard cognition test. A second demonstrated that some students, even when on their best behavior, can't concentrate on homework for more than two minutes without distracting themselves by using social media or writing an email.
Interruptions are the scourge of modern life. Our days and nights are full of gadgets that ping, buzz and beep their way into our attention, taking us away from whatever we are doing.
We've known for a while that distractions hurt productivity at work. Depressing research by Gloria Mark at the University of California, Irvine, says that typical office workers only get 11 continuous minutes to work on a task before interruption. With smartphones reaching near ubiquity, the problem of tech-driven multitasking -- juggling daily tasks with email, text messages, social media etc -- is coming to a head.
Multitasking has been the subject of popular debate, but among neuroscientists, there is very little of that. Brain researchers say that what many people call multitasking should really be called "rapid toggling" between tasks, as the brain focuses quickly on one topic, then switches to another, and another. As all economics students know, switching is not free. It involves "switching costs" -- in this case, the time it takes to re-immerse your mind in one topic or another.
Psychologists find being positioned above others buffers against effects of ostracization (18 May 2013)
Being physically above others can buffer against some of the negative psychological consequences of social exclusion, according to research published online May 16 in Social Psychological and Personality Science.
"Our study investigated whether participants' spatial position has an influence on their reactions to being ostracized," Christiane Schoel of the University of Mannheim and her colleagues wrote in the study.
"Drawing on embodiment research, we hypothesized that excluded participants would react less aggressively toward the perpetrators when positioned above (vs. below), and thus 'aloof' from the situation."
For their study, Schoel and her colleagues had 40 university students play the computer game Cyberball. The 3-player game was developed by psychologists to study social exclusion and ostracization.
From "bunga bunga" to "pianists" - Italy's political slang (18 May 2013)
The confusing nature of Italian politics has come to the fore in recent months, with an electoral result in which the leading party won the lower house but not the senate, a resulting two-month stalemate, and the final formation of a government led by none of the candidates who campaigned.
Here is a selection of the words that best sum it all up in the encyclopaedia 'Il Crollo' ('The Downfall'), compiled by journalist Lorenzo Pregliasco:
The term for a "mysterious sexual ritual" supposedly enjoyed by guests at Silvio Berlusconi's parties. It originated from testimony from the Moroccan nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug, or 'Ruby the Heartstealer', in October 2010.
The phrase became synonymous with Italy's then prime minister, and its viral spread through international media in 2011 accompanied the collapse of both his reputation and the financial markets' trust in Italy's ability to repay its debt.
Originally meaning caste, the word now refers to a clique of politicians keeping a grip on privilege and power. It was a favorite term of the 5-Star Movement that stormed to 25 percent of the vote in its first national election, promising to kick the 'casta' out of parliament.
Judge blocks Arkansas' tough new abortion law (17 May 2013)
A federal judge barred Arkansas from implementing one of the nation's most restrictive abortion laws Friday, calling it "more than likely unconstitutional."
The law, which the Legislature enacted over Gov. Mike Beebe's veto in March, makes abortions illegal after only 12 weeks of pregnancy. It's scheduled to take effect in August.
At a hearing Friday in Little Rock, U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright granted a temporary injunction sought by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights, which argued that doctors who provide abortions would suffer "irreparable harm."
Wright said the 12-week standard criminalizes some abortions before the generally accepted medical standard of viability for a fetus, which is 24 weeks.
"The Supreme Court has consistently used viability as a standard with respect to any law that regulates abortion," Wright said. "This act defines viability as something viability is not."
Only 2 of 13 small SUVs do well in crash tests (16 May 2013)
DETROIT (AP) -- Only two of 13 small SUVs performed well in front-end crash tests done by an insurance industry group. Several popular models fared poorly.
Subaru's 2014 Forester was the only vehicle to get a "good" rating. The 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport received an "acceptable" rating. But top-selling models such as the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Jeep Wrangler received only "marginal" or "poor" ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The ratings, released Thursday, are for the institute's new "small overlap" crash test that covers only 25 percent of a vehicle's front end.
The group's tests are more stringent than the U.S. government's full-width front crash test. The institute says that in many vehicles, a crash affecting one-quarter of the front end misses the main structures designed to absorb the impact of a crash. Yet such crashes account for nearly a quarter of the collisions that cause serious or fatal injuries to people in the front seats.
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.
Need earlier news?
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Sources (if found on major alternative news boards) -- you may want to look at these boards yourself, as they're much more extensive than my site:
[AJ] - InfoWars.com, PrisonPlanet.com, or other Alex Jones-affiliated sites
[BF] - BuzzFlash.com
[DN] - DemocracyNow.org
[R] - Rense.com
[WRH] - WhatReallyHappened.com
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