Pam Rotella's Vegetarian FUN page -- News on health, nutrition, the environment, politics, and more!
Week of 1st to 7th of November 2009
Dominican Republic town blames U.S. firm for birth defects [WRH]
She lives in a small wooden house with no indoor plumbing in a rural village in northern Dominican Republic, not far from where coal ash generated by Virginia-based AES Corp. wound up at the edge of the sea. More than 50,000 tons of coal ash laden with heavy metals was left at a port abutting local homes for years while the company, politicians, prosecutors, environmental activists and bureaucrats argued -- and residents got sick.
It has been six years since a contractor from Delray Beach brought the black dusty residue to the province of Saman�and three years since the ash was cleaned up. Several civil lawsuits and criminal cases later, just when everyone thought it was over, the other shoe has dropped.
A civil lawsuit filed Wednesday in Delaware charges that toxic levels of waste dumped at the Arroyo Barril port has made people nearby sick. After years of repeated miscarriages, women whose blood levels show abnormal levels of arsenic are giving birth to babies with cranial deformities, with organs outside their bodies or missing limbs.
The case highlights the debate over coal ash, an unregulated byproduct of coal energy, which when processed and recycled is used in everything from cement to the foundation for golf courses. Popular Mechanics magazine this month calls a concrete made from coal ash one of the ``10 Most Brilliant Products of 2009.''
The ash, a concentrated form of naturally occurring contaminants, is what is left over from burning coal for power. It usually contains arsenic, lead, cadmium, chromium and nickel. But as towns in Tennessee and Maryland clean up massive spills of the substance, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is poised to rule on whether it should be classified as hazardous -- which would be a tremendous blow to influential power companies that have long lobbied against such a classification.
Pentagon: A third of U.S. youth too fat, sickly to serve [AJ]
More than a third of American youth of military age are unfit for service, mainly because they are too fat or sickly, the Army Times reports, quoting the latest Pentagon figures.
Most of the rest are too dumb or have used too many drugs to qualify, the study shows.
The report says 35% of the 31 million Americans aged 17 to 24 are unqualified because of physical and medical issues.
"The major component of this is obesity," Curt Gilroy, the Pentagon's director of accessions, tells the Times. "We have an obesity crisis in the country. There's no question about it."
Common antibiotics tied to birth defects; Study: Drugs to treat urinary infections could cause heart, brain problems
CHICAGO - Researchers studying antibiotics in pregnancy have found a surprising link between common drugs used to treat urinary infections with birth defects. Reassuringly, the most-used antibiotics in early pregnancy � penicillins � appear to be the safest.
Bacterial infections themselves can cause problems for the fetus if left unchecked, experts said, so pregnant women shouldn't avoid antibiotics entirely. Instead, women should discuss antibiotics choices with their doctors.
The new study is the first large analysis of antibiotic use in pregnancy. It found that mothers of babies with birth defects were more likely than mothers with healthy babies to report taking two types of antibiotics during pregnancy: sulfa drugs (brand names include Thiosulfil Forte and Bactrim) and urinary germicides called nitrofurantoins (brand names include Furadantin and Macrobid).
Landing a job like getting into Harvard
The exclusion of these so-called "discouraged" workers from statistics means that the official number of unemployed severely understates the weakness in the labor market. If you include these workers, the unemployment rate would rise to 13 percent, or 21.3 million.
If these workers were to apply for the 2.4 million jobs available, the odds of securing a job would be 11.2 percent, or roughly the same as getting into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
It gets worse. Another group excluded from the official unemployment report is the growing number of part-time workers who would prefer to have a full-time job. These workers are forced into part-time jobs or are forced to take part-time hours because no full-time work is available.
During the current recession, workers who are "part time for economic reasons" have grown from 4.6 million to 9.3million.
Adding part-time workers to the number of officially unemployed and the discouraged workers, as labor market expert Leo Hindery, Jr., has observed, results in a rise in the real unemployment rate to 19.2 percent, or 30.6 million people.
The odds of any one of these 30 million securing one of the 2.4 million full-time jobs available is 8 percent, the same as the admissions rate of the Ivy League gold standard, Harvard University.
Venezuela sends 15,000 troops to Colombia border [WRH]
CARACAS, Venezuela � President Hugo Chavez's government is sending 15,000 soldiers to the border with Colombia, saying the military buildup is needed to increase security, combat drug trafficking and root out paramilitary groups.
The deployment to the Venezuelan border states of Zulia, Tachira, Apure, Amazonas and Bolivar follows shootings involving troops and gunmen that have heightened tensions between the two countries. The latest came Thursday when pro-Chavez lawmaker Iris Varela said Venezuelan soldiers killed a suspected Colombian paramilitary fighter and detained five others near the border.
Venezuela has long complained that Colombia isn't containing the violence from its decades-long armed conflict involving leftist rebels and right-wing paramilitaries.
Repeating a frequent charge by Venezuela, Vice President Ramon Carrizalez accused Colombia on Thursday of intentionally allowing violence to spill over the border as a means of "destabilizing" Chavez's government.
"Colombia has been creating a pre-war atmosphere," Carrizalez said.
Chavez has also called an agreement giving U.S. military personnel expanded access to Colombian bases a threat to Venezuela's security, but the Venezuelan troop buildup on the frontier has nothing to do with the pact signed last week, officials said.
Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez did not address those accusations at a news conference in Bogota on Thursday, but he acknowleged that relations are poor. He said President Alvaro Uribe's government hopes to ease tensions "by talking, and we're ready to do that."
Hospital fined $150,000 in wrong-site surgery; Rhode Island Hospital has had five such incidents since 2007
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Rhode Island�s largest hospital was fined $150,000 and ordered to take the extraordinary step of installing video cameras in all its operating rooms after it had its fifth wrong-site surgery since 2007, state health officials said Monday.
Rhode Island Hospital, the teaching hospital for Brown University�s Alpert Medical School, was fined a second time for wrong-site surgeries, state health director David Gifford said. The hospital also was fined $50,000 after brain surgeons operated on the wrong part of the heads of three patients in 2007. Gifford said his department has issued only two fines � both to Rhode Island Hospital.
Virginia Tech's Mind Control Link and the Fort Hood Killer [AJ]
The Ft. Hood killer is Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a Virginia Tech graduate.
Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui ChoSeung-Hui Cho killed 32 students at Virginia Tech, then himself, in April of 2007.
Cathy O'Brien claims to have been a victim of a U.S. Government mind control program operating in a secret facility near Blacksburg, Virginia, home of Virginia Tech.
Cathy O'Brien wrote a book about this in 1995 entitled TRANCE-FORMATION of AMERICA. She claims Virginia Tech is good for two things, engineering and mind control. She adds that most of the mind control experimentation being conducted on the east coast of the United States is being performed from this secret underground facility near Blacksburg, Virginia.
This mind control program is run by DARPA, an agency of the Department of Defense responsible for the develpoment of new technology for use by the military. Developing Manchurian Candidates seems to be an important part of their agenda.
DARPA is an acronym meaning Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
PAM COMMENTARY: This doesn't prove that the shooter was a part of this program, and he was done with school a while ago. But the Virginia Tech facility has been brought up when the last Virginia Tech shooter went on a rampage, and it does raise the question of whether the shooter had been exposed to such a program.
Governor Perry: THREE Fort Hood shooters, two in custody, one killed [WRH]
PAM COMMENTARY: Perry's initial statement of three shooters is troubling, as usually the first press reports are often the correct ones, before any government cover-up or spin kicks in. This is why some in the alternative press (like Mike Rivera of WhatReallyHappened.com) are questioning whether this was a mutiny instead of the lone gunman.
More insurers paying for alternative remedies; Some are pushing to require or expand coverage under health reform
After years of being lobbied for more choice, insurers and employers increasingly are covering alternative therapies. There are even alternative "HMOs" -- networks of nontraditional providers that sell services to big employers and individuals.
It is one of the last frontiers for moving alternative medicine into the mainstream, fans say. Some are pushing to require or expand coverage as part of health care reform.
Choice may sound like a good idea, but it can lead more people to use remedies they may not realize are of unproven value. It also can mean the people who use those treatments will wind up paying for them, rather than have their insurer pay for proven remedies. Here's how:
• Insurers only cover a narrow range of alternative services for specific conditions where there is evidence of value, such as chiropractors for some types of back pain. But these services are marketed for many other uses that lack such proof, such as chiropractic treatments for asthma or ear infections, and acupuncture for high blood pressure or insomnia. Patients can be stuck with the tab, even though the provider is in their insurer's network.
• Most insurers do not pay for herbals and dietary supplements because they are of unproven safety and worth. Yet some insurers, such as Aetna, let sellers advertise supplements to members, which can imply a benefit and coverage. Kaiser Permanente's HMO carries many supplements in its pharmacies and allows its network doctors to "prescribe" ones that it then sells to members, who pay the full cost.
The result: Consumers who choose alternatives can wind up paying a greater share of their health care. Every person who chooses St. John's wort instead of Prozac for depression, red yeast rice instead of Lipitor for lowering cholesterol, or an unproven therapy instead of a visit to a medical doctor, pays out of pocket and saves the insurer money.
Insurers insist that saving money is not their motivation for offering or promoting alternative remedies.
"In no way would it benefit Aetna to have our members using harmful things," said Aetna spokeswoman Wendy Morphew.
Instead, these companies say they are offering the choice that consumers have long demanded, and a safer way to get supplements that people already are buying from sources of dubious quality.
PAM COMMENTARY: I don't mean to knock Reiki or energy healing in general -- I've been trained in energy healing and have occasionally worked miracles in friends' lives and my own life by using it. But I have this criticism of the TYPE of "alternatives" that hospitals and insurance companies are willing to cover, or allow to co-exist with them in hospitals: they're usually the LEAST EFFECTIVE treatments that alternative medicine has to offer. Sure, let a Reiki practitioner in the hospital. People will genuinely feel better, often get better faster. And many people will be helped. But give people something as effective as a zapper, or treat them in the hospital with a zapper? Prescribe flaxseed oil? Have hospital food change to healthy fresh organic produce with very little meat? I haven't seen it anywhere! And that's because the zapper would eliminate the need for so many antibiotics and much of the hospital time. The flaxseed oil and healthier diet would get peoples' immune systems in better shape, so they won't get sick so often. And the best part is, people can buy these off-the-shelf products and self-treat at home if they know how, often avoiding their doctors' offices during flu season. The medical industry just isn't going to tolerate that! They'd lose too much money. So you get acceptance of treatments that help, but rarely truly compete with, mainstream medicine.
And by the way, yes -- the above link is full of inaccuracies. Most supplements and herbs have many studies proving their effect, but those studies aren't taught in medical schools. (Some doctors have complained that medical education these days is nothing more than how to use drug therapy.) Gary Null, the naturopath, author, and radio show host, loves collecting articles from mainstream medical journals on how different vitamins or minerals help with various health problems. He has published some of those references in books (I own one of Null's books, which is HUGE and packed with wall-to-wall references to studies). Null loves showing those studies to doctors when they're willing to listen. So people who dismiss supplements without knowing the research -- they're so ignorant on the topic that you can't trust them at all, had better do your own research.
The nice thing about alternatives is that a bottle of herbs is often in the price range of $8 to $12. It doesn't take much to try something else if the first supplement doesn't work, and doctors do the same thing with drugs -- one doesn't work, so try another. Sometimes nothing works, which is why people have been spending so much on alternative remedies lately.
Good alternative medicine is so gentle and works so well that people are often convinced the alternative couldn't have been responsible for their recovery -- they must have gotten better on their own, or never had the condition in the first place. (They're expecting pain to accomplish gain.) And doctors reinforce this misconception -- after all, their medical texts tell them that multiple sclerosis only gets worse, not better. Therefore, if people cure their own MS with a zapper and chelation, they couldn't have had MS to begin with! (I have friends whose daughter went through this, and even though the cure happened right in front of their eyes, and they went through a lot of trouble to find it by traveling hours to a big city, somehow a later doctor convinced them that the previous doctor and their own eyes were wrong -- that the girl couldn�t have had MS. Why? Well, his textbooks say you can't get better from MS, that's why! By the way, for those interested in the treatment I just mentioned, start by googling Ken Pressner from Canada, then branch out to others, although the mercury/parasites model of MS isn't the only possible cause of the disease. And by the way, Pressner didn't have money motivating him to try cheaper alternatives -- the Canadian health system was happy to pay for whatever mainstream treatment was leaving him bed-ridden and unable to work.)
500 Search For Missing Girl
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - More than 500 volunteers are continuing the search for a Virginia Tech student who went missing in Charlottesville last month.
Twenty-year-old Morgan Dana Harrington was last seen Oct. 17 after she became separated from her friends at a Metallica concert.
A three-day search for Harrington began Friday with about 360 volunteers, but they turned up no new leads. On Saturday, there was a 30-minute wait for volunteers to register.
The search was organized by Texas-based Laura Recovery Center, named for a girl who was abducted and slain when she was 12.
PAM COMMENTARY: As I've said before, if people would just go out and search their own ditches, bushes, outbuildings, woods, and yards, plus their favorite public parks and fishing spots, we'd probably turn up a dozen missing people across the country. I don't want to sound like there's no hope she's still alive, but if she isn't, I'm sure the family and the police are better off if she's found now instead of months from now or never.
In wake of attack, military asks: Who cares for the caregivers?
WASHINGTON (AP) � Amputations. Combat stress. Divorce. Suicide. For troubled service members, military therapists are at their sides.
But with the U.S. fighting two wars, an acute shortage of trained personnel has left these therapists emotionally drained and overworked, with limited time to prepare for their own war deployments.
An Army psychiatrist is suspected in the shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, and the rampage is raising questions about whether there's enough help for the helpers, even though it's unclear whether that stress or fear of his pending service in Afghanistan might be to blame.
An uncle of Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan said Saturday that Hasan was deeply affected by his work treating soldiers returning from war zones. "I think I saw him with tears in his eyes when he was talking about some of the patients, when they came overseas from the battlefield," Rafik Hamad told The Associated Press from his home near the West Bank town of Ramallah in the Palestinian territories.
Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania, a psychologist in the Navy Reserves, said the toll is sometimes described as "compassion fatigue" or "vicarious trauma."
In Worst-Ever Shooting of Its Kind, 13 Dead, 30 Wounded at Ft. Hood Military Base; Suspect Had Reportedly Complained of Anti-Muslim Bias [DN]
QASEEM UQDAH: Yes, in hearing that he hired an attorney to separate himself from the military, that�s a separate issue. That would not give rise to what occurred. As I mentioned before, this was something�what he has done is a criminal act. He murdered people. He killed people. So that does not justify for his wanting to leave the service.
The harassment, in terms of that, that�s through command. When the investigation is concluded with respect to this, then that will come out. No matter what happens within the armed forces, there are mechanism and resources that are available for our service members to address any of their concerns, whether it�s religious harassment, gender harassment, whatever the case may be. And that�s something that we have to focus on here, as with removing any doubt on anyone�s mind that this is something that�s dealing with Islam. It�s not with Islam. This soldier committed a criminal act.
The harassment, yes, I have received numerous reports with respect to soldiers and various service members experiencing harassments at their commands. When I�ve gotten involved with this, the command works with me to resolve it. I have not experienced any situation. Most recent cases were in Great Lakes Naval Base, we had an incident. We had an incident with the Air Force, I want to say, in Georgia. But here, the command was extremely proactive with respect to resolving it.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And Aaron Glantz, we have you back on the phone now. What has been your experience in terms of those mechanisms functioning with soldiers within the military who have�who have problems in terms of their�the ability of their commands to address those?
AARON GLANTZ: Well, I think that there�s no question that the Army is incredibly stressed and at the breaking point, after six years of war in Iraq and eight years of war in Afghanistan. And one thing that we see again and again and that I think we�re going to see more and more of is distressing incidents, where people have served multiple tours in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, and then they turn to violence, more likely against themselves and then occasionally against others.
I wrote a story about a guy named Specialist John Fish, who was stationed at Fort Hood, who served a tour in Iraq and then was being deployed for a second tour to Afghanistan. And he complained after his first tour to Iraq that he was suicidal, that he was thinking of taking his own life, and his command didn�t believe him. And then when he was in training for the second tour, he walked out into the desert in New Mexico and shot himself in the head with a military-issued machine gun.
It�s difficult to put this incident that we see now in that type of box, though. It�s difficult because this major who committed the shooting spree at Fort Hood had not been deployed to the war. But I think that we can say that it�s yet another example of a violence that comes from the war that the Pentagon would rather not discuss openly, but will come to the surface as the war goes on and on.
AMY GOODMAN: Aaron, I wanted to ask you about a shooting the New York Times had reported October 21st, 2009. An American soldier accused of killing five other service members in a base in Iraq in May had been behaving erratically for weeks, even threatening to commit suicide, but a lack of adequate guidelines on how to handle his case allowed it to get out of control. US military investigators said this in a report. And the Times went on to say the shootings took place at Camp Liberty combat stress clinic, where the soldier, Sergeant John M. Russell, was being counseled. Can you talk about that shooting?
AARON GLANTZ: Well, I mean, you may remember that Sergeant Russell was on�I don�t remember exactly how many tours now, but he had been in Yugoslavia and was on not his first tour in Iraq and Afghanistan, when he walked into this combat stress clinic in Baghdad in May and shot it up and killed many people inside the combat stress clinic.
We also need to look at incidents that happen stateside, when people involve themselves in altercations with local law enforcement and crack under post-traumatic stress disorder. We call this �suicide by cop.� We had a case in 2005 in California, Andres Raya, who walked up to a liquor store and tried to rob the liquor store for no apparent reason and ended up dying in a hail of bullets with local police. We saw that in Maryland, where James Dean, after serving a tour in the war in Afghanistan, was being mobilized again for another deployment and didn�t want to go and barricaded himself in his father�s farmhouse out in the countryside. And then the police laid siege and ultimately killed him with a sniper�s bullet.
What�s different, though, again, about all of these cases are these are all people who had been deployed, and Major Hasan had not been deployed. But it is possible that having been at Walter Reed and having heard all these stories and been an Army psychiatrist and then knowing that he was going to deploy, that all of that caused him to snap.
"Restless Vagina Syndrome": Big Pharma's Newest Fake Disease [WRH]
It�s not your fault, ladies (and certainly not your partner�s), that you don�t orgasm every time you have intercourse, or that you lack the libido of a 17-year-old boy. You have a disease: female sexual dysfunction (FSD), and the pharmaceutical industry wants to help.
You are among the "43 percent of American women [who] experience some degree of impaired sexual function," according to a Journal of the American Medical Association article. The FDA�s evolving definition of FSD includes decreased desire or arousal, sexual pain and orgasm difficulties -- but only if the woman feels "personal distress" about it.
So, convincing women to feel distress is a key component of the drug company strategy to market a multi-billion-dollar pill that will cure billions of women of what may not ail them.
By promoting the belief that "normal" women have explosive sex all the time, BigPharma helped launch the disease. However, the FDA has yet to approve a treatment for women who fall short. Until then, they could try the Orgasmatron: a dial-a-delight spinal implant that rarely works -- and risks infection and paralysis. Or, for $60/month, pop LexaFem pills -- containing (how-could-it-not-work) "horny goat weed extract" in order to "feel like a real woman today." Its website promises, "You won�t ever feel unhappy again with LexaFem in your arsenal."
But the big swinging dicks of global FSD marketing (and off-label marketing) are Pfizer -- whose stop-gap strategy is selling women Viagra based on the fact that it works for men, and Procter & Gamble (P&G), which, using the same logic, has put its money on testosterone.
Bloomberg Wins 3rd Term as Mayor in Unexpectedly Close Race
With 99 percent of the vote counted, unofficial returns showed Mr. Bloomberg with 51 percent and Mr. Thompson with 46 percent. The result will make Mr. Bloomberg only the fourth three-term mayor in the last century.
�Conventional wisdom says historically third terms haven�t been too successful,� the mayor told supporters at the Sheraton New York Hotel in Midtown Manhattan around midnight after a tense night of watching returns. �But we�ve spent the last eight years defying conventional wisdom.�
Still, the margin seemed to startle Mr. Bloomberg�s aides and the city�s political establishment, which had predicted a blowout. Published polls in the days leading up to the election suggested that the mayor would win by as many as 18 percentage points; four years ago, he cruised to re-election with a 20 percent margin.
The billionaire mayor had poured $90 million of his own fortune into the race, a sum without equal in the history of municipal politics that gave him a 14-to-1 advantage in campaign spending.
But the turnout appeared to be on track to be among the lowest in modern New York history as the mayor�s vaunted campaign machinery failed to deliver the surge of supporters his aides had predicted.
�Everybody was shocked,� a Bloomberg aide said.
Mr. Bloomberg had based his third-term campaign largely on the argument that the city has been better run since he ushered in an era of corporate efficiency and nonpartisan leadership at City Hall. He also pointed to his accomplishments in education, crime reduction and public health.
But voters from Park Slope in Brooklyn to Morrisania in the Bronx seemed torn.
While they praised his competence and intelligence, many were put off by what they saw as Mr. Bloomberg�s heavy-handed move to rewrite the law that would have limited him to two consecutive terms, saying it was obviously self-serving. The mayor had previously opposed any undoing of term limits, which voters had approved twice.
PAM COMMENTARY: I don't know where Bloomberg gets off saying that he has run New York BETTER. Giuliani made the same claim, and the city has just become more run-down, filthier, and crowded each year. The subways are disgusting. All I can see is massive neglect all over the place -- just go there sometime and see for yourself. I've worked there on and off doing consulting since 2000, all the way up to earlier this year. If anything, I'd never vote for a Republican mayor after seeing how they waste money on themselves while the city around them falls apart. (And that's not even covering the large body of evidence built up by 9/11 truthers that Giuliani was a key figure in the implementation and cover-up of 9/11.)
Flashback to Pat Robertson 1: Falwell and Robertson blame gays and feminists for 9/11 (Video)
PAM COMMENTARY: This is the clip where Robertson and Falwell (now deceased -- I'm sure God wanted it that way) try to blame 9/11 on America's "feminists," "homosexuals," "abortionists," "paganists," "the ACLU," etc. Does the feminist/homosexual part sound familiar? Those groups were criticized in Virginia's governor-elect McDonnell's master's thesis at Robertson's own Regent University. With Pat Robertson being a friend of Virginia's governor-elect Bob McDonnell, I thought it would be fun to cover some of Robertson's more famous crazy remarks through the years. Read on for a trip down Robertson memory lane. . .
William Rodriguez, eye witness to 9/11 (Video, part 1 of 5)
William Rodriguez, eye witness to 9/11 (Video, part 2 of 5)
William Rodriguez, eye witness to 9/11 (Video, part 3 of 5)
William Rodriguez, eye witness to 9/11 (Video, part 4 of 5)
William Rodriguez, eye witness to 9/11 (Video, part 5 of 5)
PAM COMMENTARY: WHO did 9/11? Time for a flashback -- William Rodriguez (the "key master") has traveled the country telling his humble WTC worker's story of what he saw and experienced that day.
Flashback to Pat Robertson 2: Pat Robertson calls for assassination of Hugo Chavez
VIRGINIA BEACH (AP) � Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson suggested on-air that American operatives assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to stop his country from becoming "a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism."
"We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability," Robertson said Monday on the Christian Broadcast Network's The 700 Club.
"We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator," he continued. "It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."
Flashback to Pat Robertson 3: Robertson blamed Sharon stroke on policy of "dividing God's land"
On the January 5 edition of Christian Broadcasting Network's (CBN) The 700 Club, host Pat Robertson suggested that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's recent stroke was the result of Sharon's policy, which he claimed is "dividing God's land." Robertson admonished: "I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the EU [European Union], the United Nations, or United States of America." Although Robertson professed that "Sharon was personally a very likeable person," he nonetheless declared that "God has enmity against those who, quote, 'divide my land.' " Robertson called the 1995 assassination of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin "the same thing." A previous CBN news article, titled "Dividing the Land, Dishonoring God's Covenant," examined Sharon's decision to return control of the Gaza strip to the Palestinian Authority.
PAM COMMENTARY: I'm sure that it was all God's hand, and not Sharon's MORBID OBESITY and ADVANCED AGE that caused the stroke. And that Rabin's assassin, a religious extremist who openly admitted to being influenced by Israeli military leaders, was also directed by God personally.
While we're at it, why don't we cover why recent US Presidents died? Let's see, Ford had extra-bad karma from the genocide he & Kissinger did in East Timor, Nixon had to be the Vietnam War, Watergate, and corruption in general. Reagan had a few different military interventions but his worst was the dirty wars in Latin America, along with CIA drugs and weapons deals that financed the torture and murder going on down there (and let's not forget fueled the crack cocaine epidemic in L.A. -- every crack baby who died is Reagan's karma now). Let's see, who else -- the elder Bush was also an Iran-Contra guy (oh wait, he's just barely alive). And LBJ was Vietnam and all of those assassinations -- JFK, RFK, MLK, etc.
When George "Duh-bya" Bush dies, it'll be because of his covert ops doing 9/11 and then using that to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. When Clinton dies it'll be because he continued Bush the elder's Iraqi sanctions and killed loads of Iraqis that way including children, and Carter will die because he signed funding to continue the Indonesian genocide in East Timor. Actually, it's amazing these guys are still alive after everything they've done. I'm sure they'll get their karma on the other side, though! They all do, don't they?
Flashback to Pat Robertson 4: FEMA (under George Bush) Promotes Pat Robertson Charity (for Katrina victims)
JUAN GONZALEZ: Yes, Amy. Well, the reality is that Operation Second Blessing has been part of the Robertson empire now for many years. He is the chairman of the board himself. His wife is a vice president. One of his sons is a member of the board of directors. So, it�s wholly a non-profit foundation that is controlled by Robertson.
Interestingly enough, when I checked their latest 990 for the fiscal year ending of March of 2004, they give hundreds of grants for a few thousand dollars to churches all around the United States, but the single largest recipient of assistance from Second Blessing is Pat Robertson�s Christian Broadcasting Network. It received $885,000 in grants from the charity. For what purposes, I�m not quite clear.
But the other part of it is also that Second Blessing has had a less than stellar record. Back in the mid-1990s during the Rwandan genocide, Robertson appealed for assistance for Operation Second Blessing on his 700 Club for money to fly relief supplies to the Rwandan refugees in Zaire. What he�it turns out that an investigation later by the Virginia Attorney General�s office revealed that the planes that were bought by the charity were actually ferrying mining equipment for a diamond mining operation, the African Development Corporation, and low-and-behold, who is the principal shareholder of this private corporation? None other than Pat Robertson himself. So, he eventually had to reimburse his own charity $400,000 for the fact that these planes were being used, not for charitable work, but for his own enrichment. Although that might itself�ended up collapsing.
So Robertson�s use of this charity has had problems in the past, and the fact that the federal government listed it among the top three charities before the Catholic charities, before the United Jewish Appeal, before AmeriCares, before all kinds of other charities that have been in existence for decades and decades is quite unusual.
Flashback to Pat Robertson 5: Pat Robertson's Gold (and his business partnership with brutal war criminal Charles Taylor of Liberia)
What's more, to hear Robertson tell it, one of the abominations prompting God to hide his face from America is this country's self-indulgence, pursuit of financial gain and focus on wealth.
Which is the subject of today's column, and the basis for this humble question: What, pray tell, does the Good Lord make of Pat Robertson's gold-mining venture in Liberia with Charles Taylor, international pariah and one of the most ruthless, greedy and terror-producing heads of state in all of sub-Saharan Africa?
What? He didn't know?
Well it probably slipped Robertson's mind, busy as he is in getting people to send in those checks, money orders and love offerings to support his cause. How the reverend found time to hook up with Taylor, I'll never know.
But in May 1999, Robertson, through Freedom Gold Limited, an offshore company registered in the Cayman Islands but based at CBN headquarters in Virginia Beach, signed an agreement with Taylor and key cabinet members allowing the for-profit Freedom Gold to explore and receive mining rights in southeastern Liberia, where gold is believed to be in the ground.
It's a great deal for Liberia, which is now an economic basket case thanks to the long civil war and Taylor's corruption. It's also good for Freedom Gold, which was formed by Robertson in 1998. Liberia -- and for all practical purposes we're talking Taylor -- gains 10 percent ownership of Freedom Gold.
As The Post's Douglas Farah reported in January, huge amounts of the country's funds have been siphoned off by a small group of Taylor's associates and relatives. Taylor "has his hand in everything and gets a cut of everything," a businessman told The Post. Other Liberians, probably Taylor's gang, are entitled to buy at least 15 percent of Freedom Gold's shares after the exploration period.
PAM COMMENTARY: A few other good links on the Robertson-Taylor gold business:
Pat Robertson Slams Bush On Liberia
The trial of Charles Taylor (includes many transcripts with actual testimony)
Ex-Liberian dictator Charles Taylor's son sentenced to 97 years in US jail
Flashback to Pat Robertson 6: Pat Robertson And Diamonds; Televangelist Robertson's Humanitarian Planes Used For Diamond Mining Firm
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) -Airplanes sent to Zaire by evangelist Pat Robertson's tax- exempt humanitarian organization were used almost exclusively for his diamond mining business, say two pilots who flew them.
Three airplanes were flown to Zaire in September 1994 by Operation Blessing. However, chief pilot Robert Hinkle said only one or two of the roughly 40 flights during his six months in the country could be considered humanitarian. All the rest of the flights were mining-related, he told The (Norfolk) Virginia-Pilot.
. . . "We hauled medical supplies one time," Hinkle said in a telephone interview. "It might have been about 500 pounds at the most. It was a very minimal amount." The planes were capable of carrying about 7,000 pounds, he said.
Notes that Hinkle kept during most of the flights contain entries for 36 flights, the newspaper said. Of the 17 that mention the purpose of the trip, 15 are related to diamond mining.
Robertson's company, African Development Co., based in the Zairian capital of Kinshasa, sought to dredge diamonds from a remote jungle riverbed. Robertson is the president and sole shareholder of the company.
The company ended up losing millions of dollars, and is now the center of a lawsuit in which Robertson is trying to recoup some of his losses from a mining equipment manufacturer.
Zaire was a hot topic on "The 700 Club," Robertson's daily religious TV show, with regular reports in in 1994 on the work done by six Operation Blessing volunteer medical teams sent to help refugees from Rwanda.
During one broadcast in December 1994 Robertson showed snapshots taken on a trip to Zaire. The newspaper said Robertson didn't tell viewers the airstrip was built so planes could bring in mining equipment.
PAM COMMENTARY: Also see this article with a lot of good "Pat" links at the bottom, although a google search brings up lots of interesting stuff on many other scandals:
Diamonds are Robertson's best friend
Flashback to Pat Robertson 7: Pat Robertson's Regent University Flunks American History
TV preacher Pat Robertson's Regent University is soliciting support with a full-page ad in U.S. News & World Report that features a bogus quotation about the Ten Commandments supposedly uttered by James Madison.
The ad, which appears in the April 9 edition of the magazine, is centered around a large-type assertion at the top of the page attributed to Madison. "We have staked the whole of our political institutions," Madison is quoted as saying, "upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God."
The ad gives no source for the statement, and with good reason: It appears nowhere in the writings of Madison. It was debunked years ago by Madison scholars and even many Religious Right leaders have admitted that the quote can't be substantiated.
. . . Robertson founded Regent in 1977 as CBN University, named for his Christian Broadcasting Network. Today he serves as its chancellor and president. The school is headquartered in Virginia Beach but recently opened a satellite campus in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., because Robertson wanted a presence near the nation's capital.
Lynn noted that it's ironic that Robertson would try to draft Madison as an ally to prop up his university. Our fourth president, Lynn pointed out, was a strong advocate of separation of church and state. He opposed tax funding of religion, publicly funded chaplains in the Congress and the military and even expressed regret for issuing proclamations declaring official days of prayer during his presidency.
Flashback to Pat Robertson 8: Monica Goodling, One of 150 Pat Robertson Cadres in the Bush Administration
Monica Goodling, a previously unknown Justice Department official who served as liaison to the White House, has become a key figure in the Attorneygate scandal. When newly released emails revealed the prominent role Goodling played in engineering the firing of seven US Attorneys, Goodling pled the Fifth Amendment, refusing to testify under oath.
Josh Marshall writes that Goodling may be "afraid of indictment for perjury because she has to go up to Congress and testify under oath before the White House has decided what its story is."
Goodling's involvement in Attorneygate is not the only aspect of her role in the Bush administration that bears examination. Her membership in a cadre of 150 graduates of Pat Robertson's Regent University currently serving in the administration is another, equally revealing component of the White House's political program.
Goodling earned her law degree from Regent, an institution founded by Robertson "to produce Christian leaders who will make a difference, who will change the world." Helping to purge politically disloyal federal prosecutors is just one way Goodling has helped fulfill Robertson's revolutionary goals.
Regent has assiduously cultivated close ties to the administration and its Republican outriders. Gonzales's predecessor, John Ashcroft, is currently cooling his heels at Regent as the school's "Distinguished Professor of Law and Government." Christian right super-lawyer Jay Sekulow, who also teaches at Regent and shares a Washington office with Ashcroft, participated in regular briefings with the White House on court appointments. In 1998, he leased a private jet through Regent to fly Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to speak at the school's 20th anniversary (Though Sekulow regularly argues cases before the Supreme Court, he apparently did not view hobnobbing with Scalia as an ethical breach).
When the Bush administration came into power, it looked to Regent for a reliable pool of well-groomed Republican ideologues eager to wage the culture war from the inside. The former dean of Regent's Robertson School of Government, Kay Coles James, was promptly installed as the Director of the Office of Personnel Management.
Flashback to Pat Robertson 9: Robertson says the State Department should be "nuked"
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Television evangelist and Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson's suggestion that a nuclear device should be used to wipe out the State Department was "despicable," department spokesman Richard Boucher said Thursday.
"I lack sufficient capabilities to express my disdain," Boucher said. "I think the very idea is despicable."
A senior State Department official, who did not want to be identified, said the department has expressed its displeasure to Robertson.
Robertson made the comments during a series of interviews on his "700 Club" television show with journalist Joel Mowbray, author of a new book, "Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Endangers America's Security."
PAM COMMENTARY: And I could go on and on with link after link on how NUTS Pat Robertson has been through the years. But I don't want my whole page occupied by this guy, so you can just do a google search if you want more. And there's just so much more! I think it's pretty clear that he's a government operative, and that his religious credentials are highly questionable.
DANGERS OF FIZZY DRINKS [R]
SOFT drinks with artificial sweeteners could cause kidney damage, according to new research.
Just two colas or sodas a day were found to double the risk of a faster-than-average decline in kidney function, �scientists said. However, this problem was not linked to drinks that had been sweetened with sugar.
The researchers in the United States looked at the effect of fizzy drinks on more than 3,000 women, comparing those who consumed artificially sweetened drinks with those whose drinks were sweetened with sugar. They took into account factors such as age, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, and heart disease.
But the survey looked only at older white women. The scientists admitted that it was not clear whether their findings also applied to men or �people of different ethnic backgrounds.
Dr Julie Lin, who co-led the survey, with a team from Brigham and Women�s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, said: �While more study is needed, our research suggests that higher sodium and artificially sweetened soda intake is associated with greater rate of decline in kidney function.�
Fort Hood shootings: How often do soldiers kill soldiers? Military officials say the shootings at Fort Hood were an 'isolated incident.' But the stress of repeated wartime deployments has led to several such incidents in recent years. [R]
"This is an isolated and tragic case, and we're obviously in the process of obtaining more information as the events unfold," said Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Eric Butterbaugh.
Attacks on fellow soldiers -- particularly officers -- was dubbed "fragging" in Vietnam.
Between 1969 and 1971, the Army reported 600 fragging incidents that killed 82 Americans and injured 651, according to the Associated Press. In 1971 alone, there were 1.8 fraggings for every 1,000 American soldiers serving in Vietnam, not including gun and knife assaults.
Such incidents have dropped dramatically. But in recent years there have been several incidents in the United States and Iraq. As tallied by NBC News and the Associated Press, they include:
• May 11, 2009: Five soldiers shot dead at Camp Liberty in Baghdad by Sgt. John Russell.
• Sept. 8, 2008: Spc. Jody Michael Wirawan shoots himself to death after killing 1st Lt. Robert Bartlett Fletcher at Fort Hood.
• Feb. 25, 2008: Dustin Thorson, an Air Force technical sergeant, fatally shoots his son and daughter at home on Tinker Air Base in Oklahoma in domestic dispute with ex-wife. He had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after returning from Iraq.
• June 7 2005: Two National Guard officers are killed by a grenade at headquarters in Tikrit. Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez is later acquitted of murder in a court-martial.
• March 23, 2003: Army Sgt. Hasan Akbar tosses grenades into three tents and then fires a rifle at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait, killing one and injuring 14. Akbar later receives death sentence.
• Oct. 27, 1995: Sgt. William Kreutzer goes on shooting spree at Fort Bragg, killing one and injuring 18 in a sniper attack during formation. He is serving a life sentence after a death sentence was overturned.
Although the military services have done much in recent years to address the effects of a lengthy war on service personnel and their families, multiple deployments and the stress of combat have taken their toll.
Researchers report that the rate of PTSD and other mental difficulties tied to war may be as high as 35 percent.
The Army reported in January that the rate of suicide among soldiers had increased in 2008 for the fourth year in a row.
Blueberry Farming Giant Found to Use Child Labor at Michigan Fields [DN]
JUAN GONZALEZ: And Brian Ross, what about the issue of immigrant labor, often undocumented or illegal immigrants working on some of these farms? How does that affect their ability to be able to insist on decent working conditions?
BRIAN ROSS: They can�t insist on anything, because they fear being reported or deported. In fact, the Carnegie fellows who work with us report that oftentimes the children would run away. They were afraid that somebody would spot them in the field. Now, a lot of these migrant families come from Florida and Texas, and the children are American citizens, and they�re due full protection. But there have been cases where the father or the parents have been deported, the children left here. It�s a horrible situation that puts them at a huge disadvantage to demand even the most basic rights.
AMY GOODMAN: And Teresa Hendricks, what does it mean now for Wal-Mart to cut off the relationship with Adkin there in Michigan, where you are at the Michigan Migrant Legal Aid?
TERESA HENDRICKS: Well, I think it�s an important and responsible reaction to the situation. I think that they should look into more of the labor issues that go into the products that they sell. And we�re very happy that our local retailers here, like Meijer, have decided not to do business with these growers.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you believe Wal-Mart has known about this over the years, Kroger has known about this over the years?
TERESA HENDRICKS: I would think that would be unlikely, since this is a situation that happens in remote areas and rural areas in between bushes, and you have to be adept and skilled at going out and knowing what you�re looking for, like the US Department of Labor investigators and our staff.
Italy Convicts 23 Americans for C.I.A. Renditions
MILAN � In a landmark ruling, an Italian judge on Wednesday convicted a base chief for the Central Intelligence Agency and 22 other Americans, almost all C.I.A. operatives, of kidnapping a Muslim cleric from the streets of Milan in 2003.
The case was a huge symbolic victory for Italian prosecutors, who drew the first convictions involving the American practice of rendition, in which terrorism suspects are captured in one country and taken for questioning in another, often one more open to coercive interrogation techniques.
Critics of the Bush administration have long hailed the case as a repudiation of the tactics it used to fight terrorism. And the fact that Italy would actually convict intelligence agents of an allied country was seen as a bold move that could set a precedent in other cases.
Still, the convictions may have little practical effect. They do not seem to change the close relations between the United States and Italy. Nor did they reveal whether the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had approved the kidnapping. And it seemed highly unlikely that anyone, Italian or American, would spend any time in prison.
British nuclear expert's 17th floor UN death plunge 'was not suicide' [R]
A British nuclear expert who fell from the 17th floor of a United Nations building did not commit suicide and may have been hurled to his death, says a doctor who carried out a second post-mortem examination.
Timothy Hampton, 47, a scientist involved in monitoring nuclear activity, was found dead last week at the bottom of a stairwell in Vienna.
An initial autopsy concluded that there were �no suspicious circumstances�. But it is understood that Mr Hampton�s widow Olena Gryshcuk and her family were deeply unhappy with that verdict.
Now a doctor who undertook a second post-mortem examination on behalf of the family believes she has found evidence that Mr Hampton did not die by his own hands.
Election Day 2009: GOPers Sweep Governor Races; Bloomberg Wins Tight NYC Mayoral Race; Dems Take House Seats; Maine Repeals Gay Marriage [DN]
JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Adele, much of the coverage last night on television and in the press today, in the mainstream press today, tried to suggest that this was definitely a defeat for President Obama, who campaigned heavily for both of these candidates. Three times in New Jersey he came to stump for Jon Corzine. Your analysis of that?
ADELE STAN: Well, I think, you know, the Corzine case, you know, you could make that case. However, again, I mean, you didn�t necessarily have Obama voters voting in this election. I mean, this is an election that, you know, the Obama electorate�when we talk about the electorate, we think of it as this constant body, but it�s really not. I mean, different people vote in different elections. And, of course, presidential elections bring out a much larger voter turnout. So, I think for the Corzine�in the Corzine case, I mean, what you had, Obama really did try, but, I mean, they had a candidate that was going in at a great disadvantage, to begin with, given the state of the economy. Whether or not you can say that that�s a defeat for Obama himself, I don�t know.
In the case of Deeds in Virginia, that�s a quite a different case. Obama only, I believe, went into Virginia once for Deeds. There was a lot of tension between the Deeds campaign and the Obama campaign. The Obama campaign wanted to see Deeds take a different tack, which he didn�t. He was a very weak candidate. He wasn�t a good campaigner.
AMY GOODMAN: What was the tack that Obama wanted him to take?
ADELE STAN: Well, I mean, what Obama wanted to�from what I understand, I mean, where Deeds really kind of blew it was by trying to attack to close to the center, not being aggressive enough in embracing, you know, goals that are being talked about now on Capitol Hill. And he just was a generally weak candidate who did not want to take advice from Obama�s political operatives. You know, in Jersey, Corzine had at the top of his campaign someone who had worked on the Obama campaign. Deeds� people were, you know, less enthusiastic about following that game plan.
PAM COMMENTARY: First of all, the Democrat Creigh Deeds wasn't a "bad" candidate -- he was actually one of the most honest, responsible politicians I've ever seen. I thought he would have been way better than the Republican Bob McDonnell, or even Tim Kaine, the current Democratic governor. That�s because Deeds has enough of a spine to stand up to some of the bizarre ideas coming out of Republicans in the Virginia state legislature. He even stood up to Republican Bob McDonnell during the campaign on things like selling state liquor stores -- McDonnell wanted to sell the stores to use the one-time sales revenue to fund a small portion of transportation projects for Northern Virginia. (This was part of a string of bizarre plans by McDonnell to supposedly avoid an increase in the gas tax, including revenue from offshore drilling in a state whose powerful tourist industry doesn't want it, and from a shore that had been assessed before as not being a promising location for oil.) McDonnell pressed Deeds to commit to selling the state-run liquor stores, too. But Deeds said that money from those liquor stores was used to fund education, and that he would not cut revenue from education budgets in the state. I've hardly ever seen politicians who knew that much about how the state works right out of the gate, and had no trouble finding their spines when necessary.
I can give you MY well-informed opinion on why Deeds REALLY lost. I've lived in Virginia before, both northern and southern, and am a Democrat. I've been to events down there quite a lot, have visited friends, even been there within the past few weeks. So here's my analysis: it was reported that Deeds lost mostly because the young people and minorities who turned out for Obama didn't turn out for Deeds. They just didn't show up. Now, the guy in the interview here is right in that Deeds was trying to hug the middle of the road too hard, and it�s that very middle-hugging that�s the biggest problem of the Democratic Party in Virginia. There are certain key party members there who will show up at every event, then endlessly snipe at people who dare to mention issues (like me). Why? They feel that issues might alienate some middle-of-the-road voters. Well, it might, but taking a centrist position on everything gives your core membership no reason to bother supporting you.
With a perpetually centrist position, you never inspire anybody. And Deeds was pretty centrist, as were the people working on his campaign. I knew Virginia Democrats who were totally afraid of Bob McDonnell because he was just so crazy, openly campaigning as a corporate advocate like the rest of the Republican Party, talking about drilling offshore and putting in more nuclear power plants. He will easily set everyone's causes way back -- activists can protest and fight all they want, but with McDonnell they won't have an ear in Richmond for the next four years. Yet those very Democrats I know, who said McDonnell was horrible, STILL said they weren't moved to vote for Creigh Deeds, much less show up to volunteer for his campaign. There were various policy positions Deeds took that were just too Republican for them, and when the two policies that matter most to you are the same from candidate to candidate, is the rest of the package worth putting time into?
So although Deeds was incredibly responsible, experienced, hard-working and honest -- everything people supposedly REALLY want in a candidate -- very few people thought he was good enough. And that�s what a centrist position does for you -- makes your own backers YAWN and walk away.
And one more problem -- when Democrats don't stick to their values, non-Democrats don't believe in you, either! When people in general are hurting financially -- Democrats, Independents, Republicans -- they usually vote their wallets and turn Congress over to DEMOCRATS. Democrats are the party of "jobs" -- no one else cares about labor's problems. The Republican Party has historically been for union-busting, moving foreign workers into the country to take American jobs, holding the minimum wage down, moving jobs overseas, and siding with corporations in labor disputes and labor regulations. Some Democrats are for those things, too, but the Republicans go overboard with it. One of the first things Reagan did in office, you�ll remember, was fire all of the PATCO workers for daring to strike. And Republicans thought that was just dandy!
But this year in Virginia, Republican Bob McDonnell was able to run ads saying that Deeds had "job-killing policies" and that McDonnell himself was going to work on jobs for Virginia. How was Bob going to get more jobs for Virginia? Well, by encouraging "green" energies and making Virginia into an "energy capital" with nuclear, coal, natural gas, and offshore drilling. OK... So how is that supposed to get jobs? Well, we all know that it won't. He's just letting you know who owns his soul -- the energy industry. You'd have to be dumb to think a few new coal plants could provide a decent number of jobs for the state, especially since Virginia limits its governors to ONE consecutive 4-year term, and any possible jobs would be several years down the road with new plants.
But why did Creigh Deeds have such trouble countering that? He did run a few ads talking about tax cuts for any business that would create one new job -- something that would immediately create loads of jobs in the state without having to wait for people from out-of-state to show up. Why did people believe Bob McDonnell over Creigh Deeds? Well, I don't think that they really did. It's just that people who knew McDonnell was lying to them still weren't inspired to come out for Deeds. For one thing, this was an off-year election and there wasn't the motivating factor of an evil man like George Bush to oust from office. Even so, nothing Deeds said moved people enough to get them out of the house to vote.
McDonnell turns back Democratic tide in Virginia
Deeds failed to attract support from young voters and African-Americans, the constituencies that made up Obama�s winning coalition one year ago. Voters aged 18-29 made up 21 percent of the Virginia electorate in 2008; on Tuesday, only 11 percent of voters were under 29.
Although Deeds came close to winning 60 percent of the vote in Democratic-leaning northern Virginia� a threshold key to recent Democratic victories - turnout across the state was relatively low. Only 40 percent of voters cast ballots on Tuesday, lower than the 45 percent who voted in the 2005 governor�s race won by Democrat Tim Kaine and well below the 74 percent turnout rate in 2008.
PAM COMMENTARY: I saw DNC Chair/current Democratic Governor of Virginia Tim Kaine on CNN this morning, and he didn't mention the low turnout among young people and minorities, unless he covered it in the small portion of the interview that I missed. This is the first real election where he's been DNC chair, and obviously the Democrats didn't do well. I think it's partly his own fault, and that's why he didn't mention it -- Kaine has been one of the "middle-of-the-road" huggers in Virginia, and so if he admits to not inspiring young people, he really admits that his centrist strategy was responsible for Tuesday's election failure.
Long story short -- Tim, ya gotta give people something to believe in. If you sound like the other guy, there's no reason to bother coming out to vote for you. Stand up for what's right, what you believe in, and people will naturally follow you because they can believe in you.
Oh well, I don't think we'll ever be able to turn Tim Kaine into a Dennis Kucinich. I just hope he isn't going to be like Terry McAuliffe (actually a primary candidate in Virginia who lost to Deeds) and build a track record of losing races for Democrats. People who liked Howard Dean's work were already griping about Kaine, and now, initially at least, they've been proven right.
As it is, even without future losses, this election will do enough damage to the state. The Republican governor-elect had some of the most irresponsible plans I've seen openly aired in any election, and his past anti-feminist/anti-gay writings and affiliation with Pat Robertson make him look like a NUT to people both inside and outside of the state. What would you think of a state whose governor said bigoted things about women and gays, and hung out with Pat Robertson? Would you locate your company there, or a branch of your company there? Would the female and gay executives be willing to move there? Would talent who AREN'T religious extremists want to work for your company there?
Virginia elections 2009: GOP observers told to sit down inside Virginia Beach precinct
Virginia Beach Registrar Pat Harrington said she called Republican Party officials to ask them to have election observers sit down inside the precinct at Salem Middle School after her office received a complaint this morning.
Observers, she said, are allowed to sit inside the precincts and record the names and addresses of residents who check in to vote there. They are not allowed to stand behind election workers, check identifications or read information on computers, she said.
The complaint came after Al Quartararo said he noticed observers standing behind election officials who were checking voters in at the school. He said he noticed it happening to him and two other people who arrived to vote. After he left, he said, he called the registrar�s office to complain because he was concerned about what information the observers were texting about him.
PAM COMMENTARY: Repubs just can't stand to stop their dirty tricks, even when they're way ahead.
Thousands of women misled into breast cancer surgery (UK) [R]
The Government has been forced to rewrite its advice on breast cancer screening after research showed that thousands of women have been misled into having unnecessary surgery.
Women invited for screening by the National Health Service will be told that some of the cancers detected will be dormant and may never spread to other tissue.
Research published this year showed that for every 2,000 women screened regularly for a decade, one life would be saved but 10 healthy women would be treated unnecessarily. The information now given to women has been criticised for advertising only the benefits and not the risks to encourage women to be screened.
Joan Austoker, author of the NHS leaflets, admitted it had been a mistake to withhold information about potentially unnecessary treatment for a type of breast cancer called ductal carcinoma in situ. Austoker, director of the primary care education research group at Oxford University, who is writing the advice by the NHS breast screening programme, said: �We want to make sure that all the risks of breast screening are referred to in appropriate detail.
MOBILES TO 'SPARK TUMOUR RISE' (UK) [R]
It concluded mobile phone use of 10 years or longer was associated with an increased risk of tumours of up to 34 per cent.
This could mean an extra 1,500 newly-diagnosed cases in Britain every year. Last night radiation expert Dr George Carlo, who led the biggest industry-funded research project into mobile phone use and brain cancer, said: �This information confirms our fears, giving serious concern for us and future generations.�
The team, whose findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, said only eight of the 23 studies had reliable and up-to-date information. Later this year a �20million research project is expected to show those who used mobiles for a decade or longer could have a �significantly increased� risk of developing some types of brain tumours.
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Sources (if found on major news boards):
[AJ] - InfoWars.com, PrisonPlanet.com, or other Alex Jones-affiliated sites
[BF] - BuzzFlash.com
[DN] - DemocracyNow.org
[R] - Rense.com
[WRH] - WhatReallyHappened.com