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Click to visit VeggieCooking.com ARCHIVES 2009

Week of 6th to 12th of December 2009

Hundreds arrested at Copenhagen protest rally
Hundreds of people were arrested in Copenhagen today after sporadic street violence broke out during a major protest march as UN climate change talks reached their halfway point.

The demonstration, organised to urge conference delegates to work out a binding deal to tackle climate change, was largely peaceful but was marred when a group of protesters threw bricks at police.

As many as 700 people are thought to have been arrested amid clashes with riot police as the authorities used "kettling" tactics to contain marchers.

Organisers estimated that up to 100,000 protesters, including some dressed as penguins and polar bears and carrying signs saying "Save the Humans", joined the march across the city to the conference centre where negotiators and ministers are meeting.

Ahead of Major Climate Protests, a Rare Glimpse at Activist Preparations in Copenhagen [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Didn�t they also raid it last night?

LISA FITHIAN: Yeah. Yeah, thanks for the little reminder of that. They did raid that space last night and came in and woke people up.

AMY GOODMAN: Is this the Danish police?

LISA FITHIAN: This is the Danish police, came and confiscated a bunch of materials, some�a lot of the art supplies and materials for the protest. There�s a lot of question about whether they violated the agreements. And so, actually, they went to court today to try and get this stuff back. There�s some sense that they thought they might get the materials back, because there are agreements about the use of space with the city.

968 protesters arrested in Copenhagen
Copenhagen police arrested 968 green protesters on Sunday, Danish TV reports, for smashing several shop windows and lobbing rocks at cops during an otherwise peaceful protest march to the Bella Center, where climate change talks are being held.

Most of those arrested engaged in nonviolent resistance, but a handful of confrontations with officers turned nasty, especially in the city's Christiana neighborhood.

The police said that four cars were set ablaze, and an officer reported being struck in the jaw with a rock.

The rally � estimated at more than 50,000 -- began at Christiansborg Slotsplads, in the heart of the city, and proceeded slowly in mid-afternoon south to the convention center, ringed by a cordon of black police vans and officers in riot gear.

Innocent Guant�mo Torture Victim Fouad al-Rabiah Is Released In Kuwait [WRH]
What followed was even more disturbing, and demonstrates, succinctly, how the "enemy combatant" program developed by the Bush administration was fueled by the most damaging arrogance. As Mayer explained, when John Bellinger, the Legal Advisor to the National Security Council, and General John Gordon, the NSC�s senior terrorism expert, learned of the agent�s report and tried to reveal the information to President Bush, to ask him to urgently review the cases of the men held at Guant�mo, a meeting with Alberto Gonzales, who was then the White House counsel, was hijacked by David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney�s legal counsel, who dismissed their concerns by declaring, imperiously, "No, there will be no review. The President has determined that they are ALL enemy combatants. We are not going to revisit it!"

100-year-old N.Y. child molester to be freed [R]
But 10 years after his last arrest, as Sypnier prepared to shed the closely monitored lifestyle of the halfway house, its director warned that the spry and active Sypnier has not changed from the manipulator who used his grandfatherly charm to snare and rape victims as young as 4.

"Whether he's 100 or 101 or 105, the same person that was committing these crimes 10, 25, 30 years ago still exists today and has an unrepentant heart," said the Rev. Terry King, director of Grace House, which has twice taken Sypnier in from prison. "He is someone that we as parents, as members of the community, any community, really need to fear."

Six months after marking his 100th birthday in the Groveland Correctional Facility - becoming the first New York inmate to reach the milestone while incarcerated - the retired telephone company worker now says he wants to get to know the youngest members of a family that has disowned him.

"I'll tell them I never harmed any children," the father, grandfather and great-grandfather told his hometown newspaper, The Buffalo News.

A former daughter-in-law said he is not likely to get the chance.

Critics up pressure, oilsands industry winces; Letter by EU politicians singles out Canadian operations
The remarks coincided with a new letter sent by 11 members of the European Parliament from seven different countries to major oil and gas executives, urging them to stop their projects in the oilsands region because it produces two or three times more pollution than the fuel from conventional sources and disrupts natural carbon sinks, forests and peatlands.

"European companies are investing in the dirtiest fuel of all time: tar sand," said the politicians in the letter sent on Friday to the executives at Royal Dutch Shell, British Petroleum, Statoil and Total.

"Right now, during the climate negotiations in Copenhagen, the interest of some energy companies in this massively destructive energy source is difficult to understand. The momentum for the creation of a global low-carbon economy and turning away from fossil fuels is stronger than ever before."

New details emerge about probe of Highway of Tears murders (Canada)
Until now, it has not been clear what criteria the RCMP used to draw up its list of 18 �Highway of Tears� victims, how it chose the geographical scope of the project and what headway has been made on possible suspects � including a person of interest targeted during a mysterious search this summer of a property in Prince George, B.C.

E-Pana began in 2005 with a review of three unsolved 1994 murders along northern B.C.�s Highway 16, but would soon expand its scope.

�We started doing the review but very early into it we recognized that, if we are looking for this serial killer, we�ll have to broaden our scope and have a look at other files,� Hulan said last week.

President Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize: �The Instruments of War Do Have a Role to Play in Preserving the Peace� [DN]
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war. What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago. And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace.

We must begin by acknowledging a hard truth: we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations, acting individually or in concert, will find the use of force not only necessary, but morally justified.

I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King, Jr. said in this same ceremony years ago: �Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.� As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King�s life work, I am living testimony to the moral force of nonviolence. I know there is nothing weak, nothing passive, nothing na�, in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people, for, make no mistake, evil does exist in the world. A nonviolent movement could not have halted Hitler�s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaeda�s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism; it is a recognition of history, the imperfections of man and the limits of reason. . .

PAM COMMENTARY: It's pretty sad to mention Ghandi and King, and then write them off in favor of George W. Bush's oil wars.

Russia Threatens to Close Border to U.S. Pork [WRH]
Russian officials are hinting they are about to close their swinging doors to pork imports from the United States. Russia wants Washington to comply with its quality standards and agree on meat safety certification. Sergei Dankvert, head of Russia's National Meat Association, told Reuters U.S. exporters are generally not meeting Russian specifications. He is quoted as saying, USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service - has said it would not observe Russian food safety standards.

Since the end of October Russia has intensified its monitoring of U.S. pork products. To make its point, Russia has again expanded its ban on U.S. pork imports to include four more plants. The latest action, effective December 18, includes two more Smithfield Foods slaughterhouses, one in Monmouth, Iowa, and one in Clinton, North Caroline. The other two plants being reported are Pork King Packing in Marengo, Illinois, and Hatfield Quality Meats in Hatfield, Pennsylvania. Earlier Russia banned imports from 7 U.S. pork plants, citing findings of oxytetracycline in the products received.

Nuclear row: Tehran threatens to target Israel
Iran's defence minister has threatened to target Israeli nuclear and other "unconventional" sites if it comes under attack.

Ahmad Vahidi's warning came after Iran accused western-backed Saudi Arabia of handing over a missing Iranian nuclear scientist to the US and claiming that Washington is holding 10 more of its officials.

"Iran's armed forces are fully prepared," Vahidi told reporters on a visit to Syria yesterday. "The Zionists know they are not able to carry out any of their threats against Iran and they are aware of Iran's firm response," he was quoted as saying by the semi-official Mehr news agency. "They are worried about carrying out a pre-emptive first strike and terrified about the repercussions of their act."

Two computers stolen from Blagojevich's lawyers found
Two computers stolen from the offices of attorneys for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich have been recovered by Chicago police, according to one of those lawyers, Sam Adam Jr.

Adam said he has identified a pair of computers that were taken in the break-in on Dec. 4. Someone kicked in a door at the office of Adam and his father, Sam Adam, in the 6100 block of South Ellis Avenue and stole a total of eight computers and a safe.

Underming the American People's Right to Privacy: The Secret State's Surveillance Machine; Following the Money Trail: Telecoms and ISPs [R]
Hoping to forestall public suspicions of how things actually work in Washington, the administration has declared that "it will continue to block the release of additional documents, including communications within the Executive Branch and records reflecting the identities of telecoms involved in lobbying for immunity," according to EFF's Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl.

No small matter, considering that should a court ever find avaricious telecoms and ISPs liable for violating the rights of their customers, fines could mount into the billions. Even in today's climate of corporate bailouts and "too big to fail" cash gifts to executive suite fraudsters, damages, both in monetary terms and adverse publicity, would hardly be chump change.

Hence, last year's mad scramble for the retroactive immunity avidly sought by these grifters and granted by congressional con men on both sides of the aisle when they passed the despicable FISA Amendments Act, hastily signed into law by our former "war president."

Without belaboring the point that corporate media largely failed to expose the extent of the dirty deals struck amongst these scofflaws, Soghoian, a graduate student no less, stepped into the breech and filled some necessary gaps in the surveillance story.

Believing, na�ly perhaps, that numbers don't lie and that laying out the facts might just wake us from our deadly slumber, Soghoian writes: "If you were to believe the public surveillance statistics, you might come away with the idea that government surveillance is exceedingly rare in the United States."

Iraq awards oil deals, but no boon for U.S. invaders
The U.S. showing is far from the predictions of some invasion critics, who envisaged domination of Iraqi oil by a triumphant U.S. administration in the thrall of U.S. oil majors.

"We haven't really seen U.S. companies, and that is because of intense competition .... The issue is financial and technical and not at all political. This confirms Iraq can manage its oil policy and activities without politicization," said Thamir Ghadhban, a prime ministerial advisor and former oil minister.

The terms of Iraq's 20 year oilfield service contracts were seen by analysts as tight, and the legal ambiguity and security issues involved in a country still plagued by bombs and near constant political crisis may be a turn off for some.

"The terms are not exactly what everybody had hoped for. The bids are based on very ambitious assumptions in terms of stability -- the contract terms themselves and collaboration with the local (state oil) company and government," said a senior executive at a U.S. oil firm who declined to be named.

PAM COMMENTARY: Let's hope that Iraq can benefit from its own natural resources again, instead of the oil looting seen during the first years of the war.

Manuel Zelaya supporters say there's no justice for the dead
JUTICALPA, Honduras -- Ulises Sarmiento, a devout and wealthy follower of ousted Honduran President Manuel ``Mel'' Zelaya, paid a heavy price for his loyalty: A few weeks ago, hit men attacked with grenade launchers and a deluge of bullets, killing his two bodyguards.

An iron door kept the assassins at bay.

``Why do they come with grenades? You could hear this from a half mile away,'' said Sarmiento, 65, an Olancho businessman and a leader of Honduras' ``Resistance Movement,'' formed after Zelaya was kicked out of the country at gunpoint in June.

``They knew the police were never coming, and, sure enough, they did not come,'' said Sarmiento, now watched by six men, one of whom stays perched beside his bullet-ridden armored Ford F-250.

Copenhagen climate-change protest heats up with police clashes, arrests
COPENGAGEN -- A handful of black-clad protesters clashed with police Saturday in Copenhagen as tens of thousands of demonstrators marched through the city's streets, demanding action on climate change from world leaders.

At least 30,000 people demonstrated in central Copenhagen in a mostly peaceful march that was the centrepiece of protests planned in 130 cities across the world. Some organizers pegged the turnout much higher, including an estimate of more than 100,000 people.

Tensions flared at some points. Hundreds of young people threw bricks and smashed windows, prompting swift arrests by riot police.

One report said 300 to 400 people had been arrested.

Marchers walked toward Copenhagen's Bella Centre, the site where talks for a new climate framework between 192 countries continue. There, South African cleric and activist Desmond Tutu and former Irish president Mary Robinson were set to speak later in the day.

PAM COMMENTARY: The problem I have with "black-clad protestors" is that often they're government operatives, agents provocateurs. They attack their co-workers in the police force, so that police then have an excuse to attack the crowd at large -- despite the crowd doing nothing illegal (except for the agents provocateurs, who magically are never charged). This tactic has been used at almost every major protest in recent years -- it's a technique various governments use to violate whatever rights to protest that people may have in their countries.

When I hear about people who dress all in black, not identifying themselves, I assume they're only there to stage events. REAL protesters are usually proud of who they are and the work that they do. I guess it's time for a protest flashback to the RNC in NYC, 2004...

What REAL protesters look like, part 1 of 5 (FLASHBACK)
PAM COMMENTARY: Notice that at the RNC convention in New York, the REAL protest group "Pink Slip Bush" showed up in costumes to advertise their organization.

What REAL protesters look like, part 2 of 5 (FLASHBACK)
PAM COMMENTARY: REAL protesters often wear slogans on their clothing to let people know how they REALLY feel.

What REAL protesters look like, part 3 of 5 (FLASHBACK)
PAM COMMENTARY: REAL protesters sometimes hand-write their slogans when pre-made signs and clothing aren't quite what they REALLY want to say -- in this case "GOP out of NYC. Dance on someone else's graves."

What REAL protesters look like, part 4 of 5 (FLASHBACK)
PAM COMMENTARY: Notice that REAL protesters usually carry signs to say what they feel, and they dress in regular clothing.

What REAL protesters look like, part 5 of 5 (FLASHBACK)
PAM COMMENTARY: Finally, REAL protesters are the ones who REALLY get arrested.

Bristol Bay Native Corp. opposes Pebble
The Bristol Bay Native Corp. board voted Friday to oppose the development of the massive copper and gold Pebble prospect in Southwest Alaska and offshore oil and gas leasing in the Bering Sea.

On Pebble, the company said it is against the proposed mine given "the unquantifiable impacts the project could have on the natural resources of the Bristol Bay region."

On proposed offshore leasing, the company said it believes the risks of drilling, including spills, to the Bering Sea's marine resources and communities that rely on the resources "far outweigh any potential local or national benefits."

The two issues -- Pebble and offshore oil and gas -- have been hotly debated in Bristol Bay villages and around Alaska in the past few years. Some have argued that the projects are incompatible with protecting Bristol Bay and Bering Sea fisheries -- the region's long-time source of jobs and subsistence. Others say that the region should develop its oil, gas and minerals to provide a new source of income and revenue for Southwest Alaska villages struggling from high fuel costs.

Offshore oil drilling gets go-ahead in Alaska's Arctic [BF]
The Interior Department's Minerals Management Service signed off on a plan that allows Shell to drill up to three exploration wells during the July-to-October open-water drilling season. The company's proposal calls for using one drill ship, one ice management vessel, an ice-class anchor-handling vessel and oil spill response vessels, the Interior Department said. The closest proposed drill site is more than 60 miles to shore and about 80 miles from Wainwright.

"Our approval of Shell's plan is conditioned on close monitoring of Shell's activities to ensure that they are conducted in a safe and environmentally responsible manner," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said today in a statement announcing his decision. "These wells will allow the department to develop additional information and to evaluate the feasibility of future development in the Chukchi Sea.

Shell, Conoco Phillips and other companies last year paid more than $2 billion for leases in the Chukchi Sea off the northwest coast of Alaska. The companies and state officials believe the offshore reserves could power the Alaska economy for decades.

But the potential offshore development is of concern to native Alaskans and environmentalists. Native groups along the northern coast worry the noise of offshore development could chase away bowhead whales and other subsistence foods. They, along with environmentalists, are concerned about the limited technology for cleaning up oil spills in icy water.

"Obviously we're disappointed," said Marilyn Heiman, the U.S. Arctic program director for the Pew Environment Group. "A spill could happen from an exploratory well just as easily as it could from a production well. They have not yet demonstrated they have the ability and the expertise to clean up an oil spill, especially in the darkness, the extreme weather and the icy conditions."

"Oil on Ice" documentary (VIDEO, FLASHBACK)
PAM COMMENTARY: The fist 6 videos in this series are from "Oil on Ice," a 2004 documentary on the environmental impacts of the oil industry in Alaska. I had problems loading one of the videos, but my browser's "refresh" button solved the problem immediately.

"Being Caribou" documentary (VIDEO, FLASHBACK)
PAM COMMENTARY: Another documentary on the caribou migrations of Alaska, and potential impact of drilling for oil in environmentally sensitive areas.

Sugary cola drinks found to be a huge risk for gestational diabetes during pregnancy
(NaturalNews) According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 4% of all pregnant women (about 135,000 expectant moms) in the U.S. develop gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) each year. These are women who have never had diabetes before but suddenly have high blood sugar (glucose) levels during the later part of pregnancies. And if not well controlled, the condition can hurt their babies -- causing newborns to be so extremely large and heavy their shoulders can be damaged during birth. The babies born to women with GDM often have very low blood glucose levels at birth and may likely have breathing problems, too. What's more, babies born with excess insulin due to their mother's GDM often become obese in childhood and they frequently grow into adults who are at risk for type 2 diabetes.

So what causes gestational diabetes? That has remained unclear -- but now scientists have discovered what appears to be one cause. A new study, published in the December issue of the journal Diabetes Care, has found for the first time that drinking more than 5 servings of sugar-sweetened cola drinks weekly prior to becoming pregnant significantly raises the risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy.

"Compared with women who consumed less than 1 serving per month, those who consumed more than 5 servings per week of sugar-sweetened cola had a 22% greater GDM risk," Dr. Liwei Chen, MD, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Sciences Center in the New Orleans School of Public Health and lead author of the study, said in a statement to the press.

2nd bombshell of the afternoon. White House shuts down Senate health care debate in effort to kill drug importation amendment on behalf of Big Pharma (Blog) [WRH]
Hey, the White House finally woke up. It seems their friends in Big Pharma almost had something included in the bill that they didn't like. So the White House is working with a Democratic Senator to shut down the entire Senate debate on the bill until the offending amendment, that Big Pharma doesn't like, is killed. From Ryan Grimm at Huffington Post.

"The White House, aided by Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), is working hard to crush an amendment being pushed by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) to allow for the reimportation of pharmaceutical drugs from Canada, Senate sources tell the Huffington Post.

"As a result, the Senate health care debate has come to a standstill: Carper has placed a "hold" on Dorgan's amendment and in response, Dorgan tells HuffPost, he'll object to any other amendments being considered before he gets a vote on his."

So the White House is finally getting engaged, but only in an effort to ensure that you pay three to five times more for your prescription drugs, because the big pharmaceutical companies' monstrous profits are more important to this administration than the health and financial welfare of you and your family. This is something George Bush's White House would do. It's something that Barack Obama railed against during his run for the presidency. And now he's doing the same thing.

The tragedy of freeing sex offenders [R]
That GAO study of 500 sex offender therapy programs over a 50-year period cited no program that proved "beyond a reasonable doubt" that there was any "cure" for sex offenders. Nor was there "clear and convincing" evidence that sex offenders, as a class, can be "cured."

Moreover, a 2004 report on 724 Canadian sex offenders validated the U.S. GAO report. In "Jail Programs had Little Effect on Whether Freed Inmates Re-offended," roughly 22 percent of 724 treated and untreated sex offenders had been reconvicted of sex crimes within 12 years.

These data reflect only those predators caught for another sex crime within 12 years of release. Even this high rate of recidivism wildly understates re-offenses, since child molesters are commonly undetected despite assaulting scores of children for years.

Furthermore, unfortunately there is no way to tell who will re-offend.

Blackwater Predator missile-load contract ending
WASHINGTON (AP) -- CIA Director Leon Panetta has canceled a contract with the former Blackwater security firm that allowed the company's operatives to load missiles on Predator drones in Pakistan.

Panetta canceled the contract earlier this year and the work is being shifted to government personnel, a person familiar with the contract said Friday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the classified program.

Blackwater is now known as Xe Services. A spokesman was not immediately available for comment on the contract cancellation. The New York Times first reported the contract's existence in August.

The CIA's Predator program targets senior al-Qaida operatives and Taliban in Pakistan's tribal area along the border with Afghanistan, but the agency has never publicly confirmed its role in the operation.

Study says we're a nation of "non-tinkerers"
The United States has become a nation of "non-tinkerers," a new survey shows.

In a poll of 1,000 U.S. adults, nearly six in 10 said they had never made or assembled a toy.

Twenty-seven percent had not made or built even one item from a list of eight common projects, including furniture and a flower box.

Sixty-percent avoided handling major household repairs, opting to hire someone to do the work for them, according to the survey from the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association.

Hundreds show up for ODU 'flash mob'
When the crowd reached upwards of 400, ODU police asked Norfolk police for assistance. Officers tried to disperse students with "verbal commands," Mullen said. When that didn't work, they began using pepper spray, although it wasn't aimed at anyone directly.

"It's called clearing a space," she said.

Mullen said there was some minor property damage. No one was arrested and no one required medical attention, she said.

The event was organized on the social networking site Facebook, which quickly amassed some 1,000 members. The purpose was to "relieve the stresses of exams," according to the site.

"It just spread virally," Mullen said. "I'm sure it morphed at least a dozen times."

Hayes said the event was canceled on Facebook at 10:01 p.m.

A video on YouTube features a similar event held last week at James Madison University. There, students can be seen crowd surfing, throwing rolls of toilet paper and jumping off a balcony into crowds below.

Batch of H1N1 Vaccine Pulled Due to Severe Allergic Reactions
It is no surprise that this vaccine is producing an increasing number of unexpected adverse reactions, as more and more people are injected with ingredients that have not been thoroughly tested in a clinical setting.

The truth is, the package insert for Arepanrix, the H1N1 vaccine GSK is distributing in Canada, states that the clinical experience with Arepanrix is so limited that GSK had to use data from other vaccines for its dosage and administration guidelines. That�s right � the information that Canada is using as �proof� that this vaccine is safe and effective doesn�t even come from the vaccine itself.

Instead, GSK, with the blessing of Health Canada, is making a big leap of faith by asserting that flu vaccines are so much alike that it�s safe to assume that a new one is no different than existing ones.

One vaccine they used for comparison in approving Arepanrix was Pandemrix, an H1N1 vaccine currently being marketed in Europe. Another one contains H5N1 � bird flu � as the antigen. Both the comparables and Arepanrix contain an investigational formulation of ASO3, an adjuvant commonly known as squalene.

All three also contain thimerosal and Polysorbate 80.

Separately, each of these substances can cause a variety of autoimmune diseases as well as anaphylactic reactions, even before you mix them all up together in a single vaccine!

Can Alcohol Really Protect Your Heart?
A study has suggested that drinking alcohol every day may cut the risk of heart disease in men by more than a third. But the research has come under fire from scientists who say the study is flawed and should not encourage anyone to drink more.

The controversial study found that men who drank moderate, high and very high levels of alcohol had a lower risk of coronary heart disease.

Heavy drinking can damage organs and lead to early death. According to the World Health Organization, 76 million of the estimated 2 billion people in the world who drink alcohol suffer ill health as a result, and alcohol causes around 1.8 million deaths every year.

Calling 9/11
DECEMBER 11--The gentleman who kicks off this week's mug shot roundup was arrested last Friday by Florida cops for knowingly driving with a suspended or revoked license. A New York native, the 36-year-old has memorialized the 9/11 attacks on his throat.

Nature or sinister design: what's going on in town with highest rate of twins?
Many, like Lunkes, who is also the grandfather of twins, believe the town's twin boom is down to the water supply, extracted from the appropriately named rio Duvida, or Doubt river, that runs past his home. Others say minerals in the earth must be responsible. Recent years, however, have seen a more sinister explanation in this remote farming town where nearly 80% of residents are of German descent, shopfronts bear names like Danzer or Finkler and where an antiquated German dialect is still largely preferred to Brazil's official language, Portuguese.

According to these rumours Josef Mengele � a Nazi scientist often referred to as the "Angel of Death" � is the man behind what locals call the "twin revolution".

Mengele, thought to have died near Sao Paulo in 1979, is said to have visited the region in the 1960s, performing a number of obscure tests on local women who subsequently gave birth to twins, often with blonde hair and blue eyes. One of the town's former mayors has claimed that Mengele went about his work under the alias Rudolf Weiss.

Mengele, who fled to South America, was notorious for his obsession with creating an Aryan master race through genetic experimentation and his tests on twins in Auschwitz. Holocaust survivors say that the Nazi doctor routinely used twins � dubbed "Mengele's children" � as human guinea pigs. He is said to have diverted thousands of young children from the gas chambers to his operating tables, convinced that twins held the key to this master race.

Diplomacy That Will Live in Infamy
SIXTY-EIGHT years ago tomorrow, Japan attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor. In the brutal Pacific war that would follow, millions of soldiers and civilians were killed. My father � one of the famous flag raisers on Iwo Jima � was among the young men who went off to the Pacific to fight for his country. So the war naturally fascinated me. But I always wondered, why did we fight in the Pacific? Yes, there was Pearl Harbor, but why did the Japanese attack us in the first place?

In search of an answer, I read deeply into the diplomatic history of the 1930s, about President Franklin D. Roosevelt�s policy on Asia, and his preparation � or lack thereof � for a major conflict there. But I discovered that I was studying the wrong President Roosevelt. The one who had the greater effect on Japan�s behavior was Theodore Roosevelt � whose efforts to end the war between Japan and Russia earned him the Nobel Peace Prize.

Canadian diplomat arrested in Tanzania; High commission staffer allegedly spat at police officer and TV journalist
Tanzanian police arrested a Canadian diplomat Wednesday on accusations he spat at a police officer and a TV journalist.

Jean Touchette, first secretary at the Canadian High Commission in the African country, was arrested by police in the capital, Dar es Salaam, after he allegedly spat at a senior police officer during an argument over a traffic jam on the outskirts of the city, according to Tanzanian newspaper the Daily News.

Sarah Palin's War on Taxes - and History [BF]
If that image of "young men from wealthy families largely escaped its effects through college deferments" conjures up memories of the chickenhawks of the Bush administration, it should. As it turns out, the same men who generally avoided military service in Vietnam later refused to pay for the war in Afghanistan or their unnecessary invasion of Iraq.

The contrast between war presidents George W. Bush and FDR could not greater. And to be sure, as Bartlett again highlighted, Bush's refusal to pay for his wars is an exception to the rule of American history:

"In recent years, Republicans have been characterized by two principal positions: They like starting wars and don't like paying for them. George W. Bush initiated two major wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but adamantly refused to pay for either of them by cutting non-military spending or raising taxes. Indeed, at his behest, Congress actually cut taxes and established a massive new entitlement program, Medicare Part D."

Blackwater Guards Tied to Secret C.I.A. Raids
WASHINGTON -- Private security guards from Blackwater Worldwide participated in some of the C.I.A.�s most sensitive activities -- clandestine raids with agency officers against people suspected of being insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan and the transporting of detainees, according to former company employees and intelligence officials.

The raids against suspects occurred on an almost nightly basis during the height of the Iraqi insurgency from 2004 to 2006, with Blackwater personnel playing central roles in what company insiders called �snatch and grab� operations, the former employees and current and former intelligence officers said.

Several former Blackwater guards said that their involvement in the operations became so routine that the lines supposedly dividing the Central Intelligence Agency, the military and Blackwater became blurred. Instead of simply providing security for C.I.A. officers, they say, Blackwater personnel at times became partners in missions to capture or kill militants in Iraq and Afghanistan, a practice that raises questions about the use of guns for hire on the battlefield.

Separately, former Blackwater employees said they helped provide security on some C.I.A. flights transporting detainees in the years after the 2001 terror attacks in the United States.

The secret missions illuminate a far deeper relationship between the spy agency and the private security company than government officials had acknowledged. Blackwater�s partnership with the C.I.A. has been enormously profitable for the North Carolina-based company, and became even closer after several top agency officials joined Blackwater.

Blackwater operating at CIA Pakistan base, ex-official says
The US contractor Blackwater is operating in Pakistan at a secret CIA airfield used for launching drone attacks, according to a former US official, despite repeated government denials that the company is in the country.

The official, who had direct knowledge of the operation, said that employees with Blackwater, now renamed Xe Services, patrol the area round the Shamsi airbase in Baluchistan province.

He also confirmed that Blackwater employees help to load laser-guided Hellfire missiles on to CIA-operated drones that target al-Qaida members suspected of hiding in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border regions, confirming information that surfaced in the US media in the summer.

The secretive base at Shamsi is a key element in the CIA co-ordinated missile strikes that have hit more than 40 targets in the past year. Officials in Washington said that a drone attack on Wednesday killed a senior al-Qaida figure. The officials declined to name the individual, other than to say it was not Osama bin Laden. It is the first time in almost a year that the US has claimed to have successfully targeted a senior al-Qaida figure.

Natural help for hangovers
Holiday hangovers are as common as department store Santas. What's more, everyone and his or her grandmother can offer you a sure-thing cure. But be careful: Some of these "traditional" remedies can cause you more harm than good. The only real 100-percent cure for a hangover is this: don't drink alcohol. But that aside, researchers say common hangover-prevention practices, such as taking three aspirins or slurping down a plate of spaghetti before going to sleep, simply do not work. The effectiveness of an over-the-counter painkiller peaks in about four hours, so it will do little to help the morning train wreck. And eating pasta before bed will actually slow your body's absorption of the alcohol, prolonging the pain.

All is not lost. Here are 6 natural remedies that can tame the dog.

PAM COMMENTARY: Notice that their first remedy is water, to fight dehydration. I've often said that intoxication and hangovers seem to be directly related to dehydration.

More U.S. Christians mix in 'Eastern,' New Age beliefs
Going to church this Sunday? Look around.

The chances are that one in five of the people there find "spiritual energy" in mountains or trees, and one in six believe in the "evil eye," that certain people can cast curses with a look � beliefs your Christian pastor doesn't preach.

In a Catholic church? Chances are that one in five members believe in reincarnation in a way never taught in catechism class � that you'll be reborn in this world again and again.

Elements of Eastern faiths and New Age thinking have been widely adopted by 65% of U.S. adults, including many who call themselves Protestants and Catholics, according to a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released Wednesday.

BBC news site to add aggregator role
The BBC is planning to open up its website bbc.co.uk to other news organisations as a way of countering criticisms that the corporation has become too powerful online.

In what would be a significant new strategy for the BBC, the organisation�s most senior executives are looking at making changes to the BBC News section of the website to allow users to see the major stories being covered by the leading British newspaper sites and other providers of current affairs journalism. The development follows a succession of attacks on the scale of the BBC�s online operation, most obviously from James Murdoch, News Corporation�s chairman and chief executive for Europe and Asia.

Senior BBC sources have suggested that links to the sites of rival news organisation could exist on the home page of BBC News in order to offer the user the service of a wider selection of sources and a different diet of news. The move would be seen as a development of the partnership approach that the BBC began with an agreement in July to supply video news content to British newspaper sites, including those of The Independent, the Daily Mail, The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph.

The strategy for opening up BBC Online to other news sources has been confirmed to The Independent by Erik Huggers, the BBC�s director of Future Media & Technology. �The inflow of content [to BBC Online] is still limited to a bit of UGC [user-generated content] and a bit of commenting but I think what we�ll start to see is - just like we�re making news available on third party news websites through some of the technology and innovation that [was developed] in this division - I think it�s going to be interesting to see over the next year or so how there�s going to be potential for making it flow the other way round as well.�

Networks Still Hosting Military Analysts Without Identifying Massive Conflicts of Interest
Major television networks continue to host retired generals as military analysts without alerting viewers to their extensive ties to defense contractors and the Pentagon.

Military strategy is a frequent topic on TV in the wake of President Obama's announcement that he will send more troops to Afghanistan now -- and start bringing them out by mid-2011. But few television viewers have any idea that some of what they're hearing originates from men who are literally profiting from the war.

One of these men in particular -- NBC News military analyst and retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey -- has appeared on MSNBC at least 10 times in the past month to criticize Obama's proposed troop-withdrawal deadline, to lavish praise upon Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, and to underscore the importance of training Afghan security forces.

But neither McCaffrey nor the MSNBC anchors ever mentioned the fact that McCaffrey sits on the board of directors of DynCorp International, a company with a lucrative government contract to train the Afghan National Security Forces. Nor did they mention that McCaffrey recently completed a report about Afghanistan that was commissioned by Petraeus and funded by the Pentagon.

Anthrax War; Video Documentary (VIDEO)
The story begins in the days following the 9/11 terrorist attacks when anthrax-laced letters, mailed to media offices in New York and to the U.S. Senate in Washington, spread fear and panic across the United States and beyond. The filmmakers probe troubling questions surrounding the FBI�s investigation of the 21st Century�s first act of biological terrorism.

In tracing the 2001 bio-terror attacks in the U.S. to the heart of the U.S. bio-defense program, this film raises an alarm. These attacks that helped prepare a country for war have also spawned a multi-billion dollar bio-defense boom. The line between bio-offense and bio-defense is becoming extremely thin.

Biological weapons research is now being conducted by corporations and private labs without effective government oversight. The international treaty prohibiting the development of offensive bio-weapons may no longer be sufficient to keep the world from drifting towards the unthinkable biological warfare.

(FLASHBACK) Professor Francis Boyle on Alex Jones show - anthrax attacks were an inside job, and used to pass the "Patriot" Act, part 1 of 6 (VIDEO) [AJ]

Francis Boyle interview on anthrax (YouTube video), part 2 of 6
Francis Boyle interview, part 3 of 6
Francis Boyle interview, part 4 of 6
Francis Boyle interview, part 5 of 6
Francis Boyle interview, part 6 of 6

PAM COMMENTARY: This is an old 21 August 2008 (Thursday) interview of Dr. Francis A. Boyle on the Alex Jones Show (InfoWars.com). (For those with the podcast from 8/21/08, this interview starts 3 hours, 14 minutes into the show.) For those wanting more information on the anthrax attacks, this is an excellent interview with a bioweapons expert.

Judge won't suspend doctors' licenses in Anna Nicole Smith case
Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- A judge Friday refused to suspend the medical licenses of two doctors facing trial on drug charges linked to the 2007 death of Anna Nicole Smith.

The Medical Board of California should have asked for the suspension earlier and not eight months after Drs. Khristine Eroshevich and Sandeep Kapoor were first charged, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge David Wesley said.

Smith's boyfriend Howard K. Stern and the two doctors face 23 felony charges, including three counts of conspiracy to dispense and administer controlled substances to a known addict.

The three also are accused of conspiring to use false names to obtain drugs for Smith, a practice defense attorneys argued was intended to protect the celebrity's privacy.

The defendants, who are out on bond, entered not guilty pleas on all charges in an arraignment Friday. A trial date has been set for February, although it is expected to be pushed back to later next year.

Smith died February 8, 2007, from what a Florida medical examiner ruled was "acute combined drug intoxication."

Jobless benefits attached to war funding bill; Dems to add unemployment extension, debt language to defense bill
WASHINGTON - Democrats hope to pack a must-pass U.S. defense spending bill with measures to help victims of the ailing economy, Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin said on Friday.

But Durbin said his party will need help from Senate Republicans next week to pass the bill because he expects at least some anti-war Democrats to oppose it.

"There are some who, because this is a defense appropriations bill, feel this is a war vote," Durbin told Reuters on Capitol Hill. "They aren't going to vote for the war, directly or indirectly."

Jenny Sanford files for divorce from governor
COLUMBIA, S.C. � South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford said Friday morning that he takes "full responsibility for the moral failure" that led his wife, Jenny, on Friday to file for divorce.

"While it is not the course I would have hoped for, or would choose, I want to take full responsibility for the moral failure that led us to this tragic point," Sanford said in a brief statement. "While our family structure may change, I know that we will both work earnestly to be the best mom and dad we can be to four of the finest boys on earth."

The complaint filed Friday morning by first lady Jenny Sanford in Charleston County Family Court is brief and accuses the governor of having sex with another woman but provides no other details or discusses divorce issues other than to note agreements are expected to be filed in the matter sometime in the future.

Storm taxes flights, roads -- and holiday lights; 16 deaths reported; utility backs off request to shut off decorations
DES MOINES, Iowa - As millions across the northern half of the U.S. struggled with snowstorm-caused flight delays, road closures and canceled classes on Wednesday, many were also asked, albeit briefly, to turn off their holiday lights by a major power company feeling the strain.

PacifiCorp at first asked customers to skimp on electricity as it tried to cope with higher demand prompted by the frigid weather.

Winter storms, frozen stream, Racine County, WI, 9 Dec 2009

Winter storms, frozen lake, Racine County, WI, 9 Dec 2009

Winter storms, snow plow, Wind Lake, WI, 9 Dec 2009

Anyone for some Arctic roll? Mystery as spiral blue light display hovers above Norway
The mystery began when a blue light seemed to soar up from behind a mountain in the north of the country. It stopped mid-air, then began to move in circles. Within seconds a giant spiral had covered the entire sky. Then a green-blue beam of light shot out from its centre - lasting for ten to 12 minutes before disappearing completely.

Onlookers describing it as 'like a big fireball that went around, with a great light around it' and 'a shooting star that spun around and around'.

The Norwegian Meteorological Institute was flooded with telephone calls after the light storm.

Actor sues anonymous Wikipedia writer for libel
Ron Livingston, the actor who starred in the 1999 cult comedy Office Space, is suing an anonymous Wikipedia editor for writing that he is a homosexual.

Livingston was recently married. However, he contends that his Wikipedia profile has been altered several times to say that he is in a gay relationship with a man named Lee Dennison.

Current U.S. law forbids anyone from suing any provider of an "interactive computer service" for libels published on its sites. So Livingston is going after the unnamed writer, who is listed in his lawsuit as "John Doe."

BofA repays all of government bailout funds
Bank of America was among hundreds of banks that received government support through the government's TARP program. The bank received $25 billion as part of the initial round of investments when the credit crisis peaked last fall. It received an additional $20 billion in January shortly after it acquired Merrill Lynch in what was a heavily scrutinized deal.

Repayment of the funds frees the bank from the government restrictions that have hampered its search for a new CEO, including executive pay limitations.

Kenosha firefighters burn down house as test, 6 Dec 2009

Feds �Pinged� Sprint GPS Data 8 Million Times Over a Year
Sprint Nextel provided law enforcement agencies with customer location data more than 8 million times between September 2008 and October 2009, according to a company manager who disclosed the statistic at a non-public interception and wiretapping conference in October.

The manager also revealed the existence of a previously undisclosed web portal that Sprint provides law enforcement to conduct automated �pings� to track users. Through the website, authorized agents can type in a mobile phone number and obtain global positioning system (GPS) coordinates of the phone.

The revelations, uncovered by blogger and privacy activist Christopher Soghoian, have spawned questions about the number of Sprint customers who have been under surveillance, as well as the legal process agents followed to obtain such data.

But a Sprint Nextel spokesman said that Soghoian, who recorded the Sprint manager�s statements at the closed conference, misunderstood what the figure represents. The number of customers whose GPS data was provided to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies was much less than 8 million, as was the total number of individual requests for data.

The spokesman wouldn�t disclose how many of Sprint�s 48 million customers had their GPS data shared, or indicate the number of unique surveillance requests from law enforcement. But he said that a single surveillance order against a lone target could generate thousands of GPS �pings� to the cell phone, as the police track the subject�s movements over the course of days or weeks. That, Sprint claims, is the source of the 8 million figure: it�s the cumulative number of times Sprint cell phones covertly reported their location to law enforcement over the year.

A plan in need of clarity (Op-Ed)
I have great regard for the careful process the Obama administration employed in its efforts to define a new approach for the long-standing military commitment in Afghanistan and to put an operational framework in place for our responsible withdrawal. I intend, nevertheless, to continue to call on the administration to clarify to the American public and Congress how it defines success and how we reach an end point.

Since early 2009, I have said repeatedly that the U.S. strategy for Afghanistan must proceed based on four considerations: (1) the fragility of the Afghan government; (2) whether building a national army of considerable scale is achievable; (3) whether an increased U.S. military presence will ultimately have a positive effect in the country, or whether we will be seen as an occupying force; and (4) the linkage of events in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the coming weeks I intend to examine the administration's plan to see how it addresses these criteria and how it will affect our troops.

Since the president's address Tuesday, there has been much discussion of the date that the United States will begin to draw down military forces and transfer security responsibility. Just as important is a focus on creating the conditions to enable this transfer of responsibility. The administration has not defined them with sufficient clarity. Our strategy is sound only if framed with clearly defined and attainable goals, an understandable end point and a regional perspective. We must also avoid the inherent risks of allowing our success in Afghanistan to be defined by events that are largely beyond our control.

Man throws shoe at Iraqi shoe-thrower; Muntazer al-Zaidi, who threw shoes at George Bush in Baghdad, has footwear hurled at him during Paris press conference
Muntazer al-Zaidi � who became a national hero in Iraq after hurling his footwear at the then US president last year � was speaking at a press conference to promote his campaign for victims of the Iraq war when a man threw a shoe at him.

Zaidi ducked and the shoe hit the wall behind him. Film footage showed that a scuffle then broke out in the audience. "He stole my technique," Zaidi said afterwards.

French reports said the attacker was an exiled Iraqi journalist who spoke in defence of US policy and accused Zaidi of siding with a dictatorship.

Zaidi's brother, Maithan, then chased the attacker and threw a shoe at him as he left the room.

Showing the soles of shoes to someone is a sign of contempt in Arab culture.

Last year, millions saw images of Zaidi shouting: "This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog," during a Bush news conference, before throwing his shoes at the former president.

Zaidi, a television reporter for the Cairo-based al-Baghdadiya TV, was sentenced to three years imprisonment for assaulting a head of state. His sentence was later reduced to a year, and he was released in September.

He alleged that he was tortured by guards after his arrest, and the Paris news conference was held partly so he could talk about his experiences.

PAM COMMENTARY: See flashbacks to other articles below.

The Story of My Shoe, by Mutadhar al-Zaidi (FLASHBACK) [WRH]
Dozens, no, hundreds, of images of massacres that would turn the hair of a newborn white used to bring tears to my eyes and wound me. The scandal of Abu Ghraib. The massacre of Fallujah, Najaf, Haditha, Sadr City, Basra, Diyala, Mosul, Tal Afar, and every inch of our wounded land. In the past years, I traveled through my burning land and saw with my own eyes the pain of the victims, and hear with my own ears the screams of the bereaved and the orphans. And a feeling of shame haunted me like an ugly name because I was powerless.

And as soon as I finished my professional duties in reporting the daily tragedies of the Iraqis, and while I washed away the remains of the debris of the ruined Iraqi houses, or the traces of the blood of victims that stained my clothes, I would clench my teeth and make a pledge to our victims, a pledge of vengeance.

The opportunity came, and I took it.

I took it out of loyalty to every drop of innocent blood that has been shed through the occupation or because of it, every scream of a bereaved mother, every moan of an orphan, the sorrow of a rape victim, the teardrop of an orphan.

I say to those who reproach me: Do you know how many broken homes that shoe that I threw had entered because of the occupation? How many times it had trodden over the blood of innocent victims? And how many times it had entered homes in which free Iraqi women and their sanctity had been violated? Maybe that shoe was the appropriate response when all values were violated.

When I threw the shoe in the face of the criminal, Bush, I wanted to express my rejection of his lies, his occupation of my country, my rejection of his killing my people. My rejection of his plundering the wealth of my country, and destroying its infrastructure. And casting out its sons into a diaspora.

After six years of humiliation, of indignity, of killing and violations of sanctity, and desecration of houses of worship, the killer comes, boasting, bragging about victory and democracy. He came to say goodbye to his victims and wanted flowers in response.

Put simply, that was my flower to the occupier, and to all who are in league with him, whether by spreading lies or taking action, before the occupation or after.

Freed Iraqi shoe thrower tells of torture in jail; 'My flower to the occupier': Defiant journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi stands by protest against visiting George Bush (FLASHBACK) [WRH]
Zaidi said "throwing shoes against the war criminal Bush" was his answer to the cries of those bereaved by the conflict.

"The criminal murderer is standing here expecting us to throw flowers at him; this was my flower to the occupier."

Zaidi also talked of seeing "many, many massacres in every inch of our homeland" and of "witnessing the screams of victims and the cries of bereaved women".

Speaking through a translator at the headquarters of his employers, the al-Baghdadiya television station, he said he had "vowed to the victims" that he would take revenge.

He described the press conference with Bush as "an opportunity I could not waste".

His brother Uday told Reuters: "Thanks be to God that Muntazer has seen the light of day. I wish Bush could see our happiness. When President Bush looks back and turns the pages of his life, he will see the shoes of Muntazer al-Zaidi on every page."

Zaidi's family had been told not to hold a highly visible public celebration to mark his release. Nine months on, the shoe-throwing incident remains highly embarrassing to the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, who seems determined not to allow the Iraqi journalist who humbled George Bush to be feted with hero status.

Iraqi 'shoe-thrower' shot dead by US forces; An Iraqi man who witnesses said shouted abuse before throwing a shoe at a US army vehicle was shot dead by soldiers. (FLASHBACK)
Residents told an AFP reporter in Fallujah that Ahmed Latif, 32, whom they said was mentally disturbed, insulted the soldiers as they patrolled in the centre of the city, and then hurled a shoe at them.

The US army said later that a convoy in Fallujah had been attacked with a suspected grenade.

"Positive identification of the attacker was made, and US forces fired in self-defence wounding the attacker," the army said in a statement.

"Local Iraqi police secured the scene and transported the wounded attacker to a local hospital for medical care," it added.

Dr Ali Hatam of Fallujah hospital confirmed that Mr Latif later died from gunshot wounds.

The incident came a day after the Iraqi television journalist, Muntazer al-Zaidi, was freed after spending nine months in jail for throwing his shoes at the former US president George W. Bush during a visit to Baghdad last December.

PAM COMMENTARY: This is a different man than the original "shoe thrower."

Boston Woman Dragged by Train
A Boston woman suffered minor injuries when her purse got stuck in a departing "T" train and pulled her along the platform with it. As she was boarding, the doors abruptly shut, trapping her purse between them. The woman attempted to yank it out for about five seconds, but the momentum of the train sent her flying.

The train attendant who was responsible for monitoring the doorway was fired, while the driver was suspended for 10 days, William Mitchell, MBTA general manager, said in a statement.

This is the second train incident to happen in Boston recently. A drunk woman narrowly escaped being run over by a train when she fell onto the tracks last month.

PAM COMMENTARY: That's why AUTOMATED trains are so controversial -- there's nobody stopping them, no matter how many people they run over or drag.

Giant iceberg heading towards Australia
(CNN) -- A massive iceberg -- more than twice the size of New York's Manhattan island -- is drifting slowly toward Australia, scientists said Wednesday.

The iceberg, measuring 140 square km (54 square miles), cleaved off an ice shelf nearly 10 years ago and had been floating near Antarctica before commencing on its unusual journey north.

Named B17B, it was about 1,700 km (1,056 miles) off the coast of West Australia, according to the country's Antarctic Division.

"B17B is a very significant one in that it has drifted so far north while still largely intact," said Australian Antarctic Division glaciologist Neal Young, who spotted the slab using satellite images taken by NASA and the European Space Agency.

"It's one of the biggest sighted at those latitudes."

It is unlikely to drift too close to the coast in its current form, Young said. The warmer waters will cause it to melt.

FDA yet to improve safety after Vioxx scandal; Experts urged changes after drug was pulled off the market for heart risks
The Food and Drug Administration still hasn't restructured its staff to better monitor drug safety, more than three years after experts recommended key changes in the wake of the Vioxx scandal.

That's according to congressional investigators who found that the FDA has yet to follow through on changes suggested in 2006 to help the agency detect problems with drugs taken by millions of Americans. Those recommendations came after the embarrassing and dangerous episode with Vioxx, a blockbuster pain drug the FDA approved in 1999, only to pull from the market in 2004 after linking it to heart attack and stroke.

Agency officials have made some changes to drug oversight, according to a Government Accountability Office report, but the FDA continues to give the bulk of its decision-making power to scientists who approve new drugs, rather than those who monitor the side effects of drugs on the market.

"It is not yet clear if or when FDA's decision-making process will be substantially improved as a result of its efforts," according to the GAO report, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

Within the FDA bureaucracy, scientists tasked with reviewing new drug applications have traditionally had the most say over questions of safety, even after drugs are approved. But outside experts say leaving such key decisions to the scientists who first cleared the drugs could lead to inadequate safety actions, putting prescription drug users at risk.

Decline of hormone therapy decreases breast cancer cases, UW analysis finds
The declining use of hormone therapy among women has led to 6,000 fewer invasive breast cancer cases a year, according to an analysis by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The research quantifies and advances what doctors had suspected: that the dramatic decline in hormone use beginning in 2002 was the cause of a reduction in the breast cancer rate that began the following year.

The finding, which was presented at a medical meeting Monday, comes as a separate report shows that cancer rates and cancer deaths for men and women in the United States have dropped every year for several years.

New cancer cases dropped 0.7% a year from 1999 to 2006 while cancer deaths dropped 1.6% a year from 2001 to 2006, according to a report from the National Cancer Institute.

"The patterns are going in the right direction, but there still is a large cancer problem in the U.S.," said lead author Brenda Edward, a researcher with the institute.

A Plea to Congress on Jobless Benefits
WASHINGTON � State labor officials and worker advocates appealed on Monday for quick Congressional action to extend emergency jobless benefits and to renew health insurance subsidies for the long-term jobless.

Prolonged unemployment insurance, passed this year in the stimulus act, expires this month, and an estimated one million workers will see benefits end in January if Congress does not act.

The health subsidies, under which the federal government pays 65 percent of insurance costs under Cobra for up to nine months, have expired and are not available to the newly unemployed.

Renewal this month of both forms of aid is �a moral imperative,� Sandi Vito, the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, said Monday at a news conference here. Ms. Vito said the extensions were needed �through at least the end of 2010 as a bridge for people.�

U.S. Department of Agriculture Labels PETA a �Terrorist� Group [AJ]
PETA is not the most popular kid on the block. Between antagonizing meat-eaters and radicalizing the use of naked ad campaigns, the animal rights group has made more than a couple enemies.

This is the first time, however, that the lawful, nonviolent organization has been officially classified as a �terrorist threat.�

In a new security form circulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the federal department asks animal experimentation facilities whether they�ve been confronted by a handful of �terrorist� groups, including the Earth Liberation Front, known for their use of arson and explosives; the Animal Liberation Front, which popularized property destruction as a form of protest; and, yes, PETA � best known for distributing gory videos of factory farming.

While the USDA form doesn�t necessarily signal anything, some fear repercussions. Will Potter at Green Is The New Red suggests that PETA�s new classification may point to a change in the government�s willingness to charge nonviolent protestors under new antiterror legislation.

Consider the case of Adriana Stumpo, Nathan Pope, Joseph Buddenberg and Maryam Khajavi, who are facing charges under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act over chanting and intent to sidewalk chalk.

�Industries that rely on factory farming,� explains Brian Merchant on Treehugger.com, �may have the lobbying muscle to get PETA listed as a terrorist threat for their benefit.�

PAM COMMENTARY: This is a part of the ongoing harassment of peace, environmental, animal rights, vegetarian, and other legitimate activist groups by the US government. I think the reason they target do-gooder bleeding heart liberal groups is because their agents aren't going to be hurt harassing them -- the people they're targeting are the nicest people on earth.

PETA may be annoying, and some parents may not want their kids watching some of their sex-oriented ads, but they have a right to free speech like everyone else. Lying on the pavement in a giant plastic-wrapped meat container certainly makes a point (see earlier link), whether or not people "want" to see it. If you let the government say they can't do it, or limit free speech for any group no matter how unpopular, that's precedent to put further restrictions on free speech until it's illegal to criticize the government at all.

Noam Chomsky's quote on free speech from movie �Manufacturing Consent� (VIDEO FLASHBACK)
�I do not think that the state ought to have the right to determine historical truth, and to punish people who deviate from it. I�m not willing to give the state that right� But I�m saying if you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech for views you don�t like. I mean, Goebbels was in favor of freedom of speech for views he liked, right? So was Stalin. If you�re in favor of freedom of speech, that means you�re in favor of freedom of speech PRECISELY for views you despise. Otherwise you�re not in favor of freedom of speech. There�s two positions you can have on freedom of speech. Now, you can decide which position you want.�

Noam Chomsky on "Concision" in US Media from "Manufacturing Consent" (VIDEO FLASHBACK)
So Greenfield, or whatever his name is, hit the nail on the head. The US media are alone in that you must meet the condition of concision. You gotta say things between two commercials, or in 600 words. And that's a very important fact, because the beauty of concision -- you know, saying a couple of sentences between 2 commercials -- the beauty of that is that you can only repeat conventional thoughts.

. . . Suppose I get up on "Nightline" and say something, about whatever it is, in two minutes, and I say, "Gaddafi is a terrorist, Khomeini is a murderer, you know, et cetera, et cetera. The Russians, you know, invaded Afghanistan" -- all that sort of stuff. I don't need any evidence! Everybody just nods.

On the other hand, suppose you say something that just isn't regurgitating conventional pieties. Suppose you say something that's the least bit unexpected or controversial.

Suppose you say, "I mean, the biggest international terror operations that are known are the ones that are run out of Washington."

Or suppose you say, "What happened in the 1980s is the US government was driven underground."

Suppose I say "The United States is invading South Vietnam, as it was."

"The best political leaders are the ones who are lazy and corrupt."

"If the Nuremberg Laws were applied, then every post-war American President would've been hanged."

"The Bible is probably the most genocidal book in our total canon."

"Education is a system of imposed ignorance."

"There's no more morality in word affairs fundamentally than there was in the time of Genghis Khan. There are just different... You know, there are just different factors to be concerned with..."

Well, you know, people will reasonably, quite reasonably expect to know what you mean. "Why did you say that? I never heard that before. If you said that, you better have a reason. Better have some evidence, in fact you better have a lot of evidence, because that's pretty startling comment."

You can't give evidence if you're stuck with concision. That's the genius of this structural constraint.

PAM COMMENTARY: Criticism of a way that the mainstream media already limits discussion from Noam Chomsky, from the movie "Manufacturing Consent."

The entire film "Manufacturing Consent" with Noam Chomsky (VIDEO FLASHBACK)
PAM COMMENTARY: The entire movie "Manufacturing Consent" from Google Videos (for as long as they leave it up). It contains many insights from Chomsky on how the press in America helps to control thought or "manufacture consent" in a democracy.

10th Anniversary of the Bombing of Environmental Activist Judi Bari (FLASHBACK) [DN]
JUDI BARI: . . . So as I began to hear their stories�and I didn�t even do this consciously�I began to give them a forum. By listening to them, by asking them instead of telling them. I really not only learned a lot of wisdom from them, but also I began to build this alliance by advocating for the timber workers� issues in the community. And it didn�t have to be �save the trees.� I advocated for workplace issues separately, understanding that it�s the same thing, you know, that the workplace issues are neither separate from nor subordinate to the forest issues. They�re all part of corporate exploitation of the earth and the people.

So when the bomb exploded, it was May 24th, 1990, and we were on our way to a concert in Santa Cruz, where we were going to play songs and show a slideshow and recruit for Redwood Summer among the college students there. I can�t even describe how horrible it was. I can tell you I knew it was a bomb the second that it exploded. I felt it rip through me with just a force more powerful and terrible than anything that I could describe.

But the horror of this experience didn�t end with the bombing itself, because within minutes of the bombing, the FBI terrorist squad from the San Francisco FBI office was on the scene, and I literally mean this within minutes, certainly within a half-hour, according to their own records. The first record we have of their being on the scene is a log by the Oakland police, and twenty-five minutes after the bomb explodes, they recount their conversations with the FBI agents. So they were there pretty fast, considering that this was in Oakland and that the FBI office is in San Francisco.

And what the FBI did, arriving on the scene immediately�actually, my lawyer wrote in the brief, the FBI was there in a thrice, almost as if they had been standing around the corner holding their ears. But at any rate, whether or not they were standing around the corner holding their ears, they were certainly there quickly. And what they did was they quickly kind of took control of the scene, and they talked to the Oakland police, who were the responding agency. And what they did is they said to the Oakland police, they said, �We know these people. These people are terrorists.� And literally what they said�this was testified by Sergeant Sitterud of the Oakland police�he said, �They told us that these were the kind of people who would carry a bomb. They told us that these people in fact qualified as terrorists.�

With that, the Oakland police were a lot more willing to�they have a long relationship with the FBI, anyway, certainly going back to the days of the Black Panthers. And with this stuff being told to them by the FBI, they were willing to cooperate. But it�s not just that they accidentally thought that I bombed myself. What we found is that they told some very, very deliberate lies. And you can�t really excuse the Oakland police for going along with it, because these lies were so obvious that anybody with a set of eyes in their head could have seen them.

The first thing they said�and this was from FBI Special Agent Frank Doyle, and Frank Doyle was their bomb expert on the terrorist squad, so the reasons for the arrest are laid out in the search warrant�and what it says in there is it says that the Oakland police say, �I viewed the bombed car along with Special Agent Frank Doyle of the FBI. Frank Doyle informed me that the bomb was on the backseat floorboard, and therefore they should have seen it, and therefore they knew that they were carrying it.�

Well, years later, as this lawsuit has progressed, we�ve gotten hold of the Oakland police�s own photos. Now, the place where Frank Doyle testified the bomb was, was right where you put your feet when you�re sitting in the backseat, and this, of course, is under the seat. And any idiot could see this. I mean, Ray Charles could see this. You don�t have to be a bomb expert to see that this bomb was not in the back seat.

So at that point began an incredible press smear. From the moment that this bomb went off went an incredible press smear nationwide. It�s the only time we ever made the front page of the New York Times. And what this press smear was, to tell people that we were terrorists who had blown ourselves up with our own bomb. Although we can�t get anything that we actually do�we can�t get it in the newspapers, this one got picked up all over the place. There was selected leaks and innuendos given out by the FBI and the Oakland police in order to convince people that not only are we violent terrorists who carry bombs around in our car, but we are stupid violent terrorists who carry them under our own car seat.

MC: Our next speaker is a regular columnist for Z Magazine. He is the author of a number of books. In fact, he�s the co-author of a book with Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent. He�s an economist. He is a media analyst, Ed Herman.

ED HERMAN: The police case, as we know, was built on a lie that an honest media would have uncovered and publicized, but the mainstream media swallowed that lie, and they swallowed the position of the police and the FBI almost uniformly. And their bias in the treatment of the bombing and the underlying issues was blatant. It was so blatant, in fact, that I used the newspaper reports of that time for some years as a case study in a course I gave at Penn on media bias.

The New York Times had a front-page article by a woman named Katherine Bishop. It�s on May 26, 1990. And this article, in itself, is a beautiful illustration of media bias, and it�s worth thinking about, I think. In this article, the police/FBI version was totally controlling of the structure of the article. The first sub-head of the article had a quote; it said, �meant to be used,� unquote, and it meant that the police version was that Bari and Cherney intended to use it. That gets into the quote, and the whole first couple of paragraphs of the article is about the police version that they were transporting the bomb. Then, the second heading in the article is called �Other groups are wary,� references to tree spiking and all the negatives that contributed to making it look like this was a dangerous group.

The language that was used was also incredibly illuminating. For example, in the very first paragraph, this reporter says supporters of Earth First were, quote, �quick to denounce the charges. Police and the FBI were there instantaneously.� Never does the author suggest that they were quick to blame the Earth Firsters. No. Here�s another beautiful piece of language: the aim of Earth First was to, quote, �stop the harvesting of old-growth redwoods.� Now, that is key. It�s sort of like you�re collecting apples. This year, for harvesting this year, these 2,000-year-old redwoods, you�re harvesting. Later in the article, this reporter further says that tension was rising because of what Earth First was intending to do. Then the same reporter a couple of weeks later had another article, which talked about tensions rising because of Earth First�s intention to use tactics like sitting in trees. And, of course, one fundamental form of bias is that you treat the police and FBI as sacred. This reporter never suggested there�s any question of the police and FBI credibility.

PAM COMMENTARY: Another thing that happens when you allow limitations on freedom of speech -- you get a tyrannical government with no accountability to the people. Their lap dogs in the press are their cheerleaders as they kill people trying to make a positive difference in the community.

Peter Arnett's reporting from China; For Chinese journalists, self-censorship ensures the news is good (FLASHBACK)
But global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said in its 2007 annual report that Chinese authorities are getting even stricter with the domestic media. "Faced with burgeoning social unrest and journalists who are becoming much less compliant, the authorities, directed by President Hu Jintao, have been bringing the media to heel in the name of a 'harmonious society'," the report said, referring to the latest guiding philosophy adopted by the Chinese government.

"The press is being forced into self-censorship, the Internet is filtered and foreign media very closely watched," it said. Arnett's students -- described on the school's website in a statement by the dean, Ying Chan, as "the communication agents of the upcoming historical events and eyewitnesses *of the new world" -- show a refreshing lack of cynicism and ask penetrating questions.

-- Self-censorship aims to ensure all news is good news -- But they are not naive and some have already encountered the reality of working for a state that prefers all its news to be good. Eliot Gao, 24, a postgraduate student in Arnett's class who aspires to work in international journalism, cut his teeth doing investigative reporting.

In one of his earliest projects he investigated the link between cancer deaths in the town of Guiyu, in southern Guangdong province, and a local water supply that had been poisoned by electronic waste. "We went to the (local) government but they told us to go away when we asked about the cancer deaths," he said.

"So we went to hospitals and primary schools to ask questions. There was an eight-year-old boy diagnosed with cancer who died last year. We spent hours finding the house (but) the boy's mother said she didn't want to be interviewed. She was suspicious." Eventually he persuaded her to talk, he said, but he was told that his findings would not make it into print. The students know they will not enjoy the same freedoms as their counterparts in the West, but they and their teachers say they are optimistic about the future, no matter how slow change is in coming.

PAM COMMENTARY: If you want a news system like this, just keep letting the government declare free speech to be "terrorism." By the way, Peter Arnett was the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist fired by CNN for his story on "Operation Tailwind." Reports said that CNN was threatened with "non-cooperation" from the Pentagon if they didn't fire Arnett and retract the story. So instead of exposing the Pentagon on-air every day, asking tough questions of politicians until the offending parties at the Pentagon were fired (as any REAL news organization would do), CNN wimped out and fired Arnett like the sensationalist entertainment network cowards that they are.

Diane Sawyer announces final week on "Good Morning America"
Diane Sawyer told viewers Monday that this would be her final week anchoring ABC's "Good Morning America."

"I hope you celebrate with us this week, laugh with us this week," Sawyer said, adding that she's calculated that she's anchored "roughly" 2,881 shows in her ten years with the program.

PAM COMMENTARY: Another way to censor the press is to reward "softball journalists" like Diane Sawyer with the best jobs. I don't think Sawyer had a tough bone in her body; she stood up to the issues like a limp piece of lettuce. That's why "Good Morning America" was such a boring show. Did you watch it regularly? Neither did I.

Deadly winter storm barrels through the West
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - A howling winter storm barreled through the West, hitting the mountain states with snow and fierce winds as it headed toward the country's midsection on Tuesday.

The far-reaching storm system stretched from California to Indiana, gathering strength as it raced eastward.

Parts of Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin were bracing for blizzard conditions and up to 10 inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service.

"The storm system is really strengthening as it goes, and that's usually a recipe for some heavy snowfall and a lot of wind, and that's what we're watching for," said Mike Welvaert of the National Weather Service in La Crosse, Wis.

Santa Muerte in L.A.: A gentler vision of 'Holy Death'
Santa Muerte is not a Catholic saint, and in recent decades her popularity in Mexico, especially among the poor and criminal classes, has led to clashes with church officials and government authorities. Her first adherents included Mexican prisoners, drug dealers and prostitutes, and those in legitimate but dangerous nighttime work, such as security guards and taxi drivers.

"It's sort of like the Virgin for people on the edge," said Patrick A. Polk, a folklorist and curator at UCLA's Fowler Museum.

But in and around Los Angeles, where Santa Muerte services are held in at least three storefront shrines, a dash of pop theology and Southern California sunshine seems to have given the movement a mild New Age flavor.

Followers, many of whom call themselves Catholics, talk less about death than about cleansing the spirit and developing inner strength.

Tomatoes Thrown at Palin During Book Event
A man was arrested for allegedly throwing two tomatoes at Sarah Palin from the second floor balcony during a book signing event at the Mall of America in Minnesota, MyFoxTwinCities.com. reported.

Neither tomato came close hitting the former 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, but did hit a police officer in the face, the station reported.

The unidentified man may face charges for assaulting a police officer, according to the station.

Anatomy of a Failed Foreclosure Program
Just how badly is President Obama's $75 billion foreclosure program working out? Consider these newly-released numbers: Out of every 100 homeowners who came to JPMorgan Chase for help under the program, just 15 have or will likely receive a permanent payment reduction.

VeggieCooking.com - Order by December 15th to ship by December 16th (in time for Christmas)
HOLIDAY COOKBOOK ORDERS INFO: The last date to order the cookbook "Vegan Vegetarian Cooking" is December 15th if you want it to ship before Christmas. Get your order in by the 15th and I'll be sure to ship your book(s) by the 16th via USPS Priority Mail. That means you'll PROBABLY receive your book(s) on time for Christmas. (I can't guarantee Priority Mail's promptness, but USUALLY it takes less than a week.) Obviously if you're way out in California, it may be wise to place your order a couple of days earlier.

Don't forget about "The buddy pack" -- get 2 books with no extra shipping charge on the 2nd book (both by Priority Mail, of course). One for the vegetarian in your life, one for you. You know you want one! Don't waste money on cookbooks with impossibly difficult recipes or ingredients that are hard to find. Get good value for your money with a practical cookbook that you'll use for years to come. Buy "Vegan Vegetarian Cooking" today!

How Discarded Computers Are Poisoning Africa's Kids [R]
These children live amid the refuse of the Internet age, and many of them may die of it. They pull apart the computers, breaking the screens with rocks, then throw the internal electronics onto the fires. Computers contain large amounts of heavy metals, and as the plastic burns, the children also breathe in highly carcinogenic fumes. The computers of the rich are poisoning the children of the poor.

The United Nations estimates that up to 50 million tons of electronic waste are thrown away globally each year. It costs about �3.50 ($5.30) to properly dispose of an old CRT monitor in Germany. But it costs only �1.50 to stick it on a container ship to Ghana.

An international treaty, the Basel Convention, came into effect in 1989. The treaty is sound in its concept, forbidding developed countries from carrying out unauthorized dumping of computer waste in less developed countries. A total of 172 countries have signed the convention, but three of them never ratified it: Haiti, Afghanistan, and the United States. According to estimates by the US Environmental Protection Agency, around 40 million computers are discarded each year in the US alone.

Icy conditions close Grapevine as Southland braces for cold and snow
The California Highway Patrol closed Interstate 5 in both directions tonight as the first of three rainstorms moved through and Southern California braced for freezing temperatures.

The Grapevine, the main route between Northern and Southern California, was closed shortly after 5 p.m. because of icy conditions, and it's unclear when it will reopen.

Forecasters said the snow level could drop to 1,500 feet and temperatures could dip into the single digits overnight in mountain areas and into the 30s and 40s in the Los Angeles Basin.

CDC: Pet frogs source of salmonella outbreak
ATLANTA - Pet frogs are being blamed for a national salmonella outbreak that sickened at least 48 people.

The illnesses occurred from June through November, with reports coming in from 25 states. Health officials investigating the illnesses found that many of the people said they'd been in contact with frogs such as the African dwarf frog. The salmonella strain was found in aquariums with frogs in three homes where illnesses occurred.

PAM COMMENTARY: Hey, don't blame the frogs for bacteria that comes from their environment. Obviously the organism has to come from somewhere -- have they checked the worm cube or other pet food packages?

Burglars steal computers from Houston polling place
The computers contain personal information on voters that already is publicly available, said Hector de Leon, director of communications for the County Clerk, noting he does not believe the computers make voters more vulnerable to identity theft.

Voters' names, addresses and voter identification numbers already are posted online. Their birthdates and which elections they have cast ballots in are available in response to public information requests, de Leon said. De Leon said the computers do not hold social security numbers.

The computers do not contain recorded votes, de Leon said, so the integrity of ballots is not threatened.

Something Stinks: Fish Market Charged with Groping Employee Butts, Sticking Fish Hooks in Them
NEW YORK - M. Slavin & Sons, a retail and wholesale fish market, violated federal law by creating a hostile work environment for male employees, including physical and verbal sexual harassment and offensive and degrading comments based on race and national origin, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

According to the EEOC's suit, some of the owners and managers of M. Slavin & Sons subjected male employees, particularly black employees, including both black Americans and at least one immigrant from Africa, to ongoing harassment. The misconduct included groping their buttocks, putting fish hooks into their buttocks and unnecessarily rubbing their bodies into the employees when passing them by. The owners and managers also made numerous crude, obscene sexual and/or racist comments. One owner used the term "n----r" and another manager made comments such as "African b-----d" and "Let me see you run like you are in Africa."

In addition to the Brooklyn location which was the focus of the EEOC charge and investigation, the company operates other locations, including Hunts Point Market in the Bronx, Rhode Island and Virginia. The original complainant, the named harassers and the class of claimants all worked at the Brooklyn location.

Denmark's warm and 'fuzzy facts' [AJ]
But it turns out that Denmark's big claim to greenery isn't quite so impressive when you find out that they do not include one of their biggest and dirtiest industries -- shipping -- in calculating their annual carbon footprint.

That's because the last great world climate treaty, Kyoto, does not make them include their nasty shipping business in the calculation. No wonder the Danes liked that so much.

PAM COMMENTARY: Not a very good article, as is typical of the Post (a Murdoch paper known for its sports coverage and tabloid-style gossip). But it does raise a point that could use some good journalistic investigation -- apparently not by the Post, though.

Millions in U.S. Drinking Dirty Water, Records Show
More than 20 percent of the nation�s water treatment systems have violated key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act over the last five years, according to a New York Times analysis of federal data.

That law requires communities to deliver safe tap water to local residents. But since 2004, the water provided to more than 49 million people has contained illegal concentrations of chemicals like arsenic or radioactive substances like uranium, as well as dangerous bacteria often found in sewage.

Regulators were informed of each of those violations as they occurred. But regulatory records show that fewer than 6 percent of the water systems that broke the law were ever fined or punished by state or federal officials, including those at the Environmental Protection Agency, which has ultimate responsibility for enforcing standards.

PETA Stunts, Campaigns and Posters: A Joke of Itself?
Steve Dale on 12.05.09 | 22 comments | How ethical are People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals? Decide for yourself. I did when years ago, after writing about flea control I received an email from a PeTA supporter saying, 'I dare you write about killing fleas!' How effective are the PeTA approaches, and what you think of their messages? I think they're becoming a parody of themselves. . . the most recent exploitative example of 'do anything to get attention' (I am guilty of giving them that here) with ex-Chicagoan, supermodel Joanna Krupa's ad.

PAM COMMENTARY: PETA certainly is full of attention-seekers. I've often wondered if they'd be more effective going for the cute, cuddly animal sympathy angle -- something that would attract all age groups and genders to their cause. Emphasis on female models limits their audience to males of a certain age group, and alienates some who are offended by the sexual nature of their ads (for example parents who don't want it in front of their kids). On the other hand, they ARE good at grabbing attention and stirring controversy.

President Roosevelt (FDR) provoked the attack, knew about it in advance and covered up his failure to warn the Hawaiian commanders. FDR needed the attack to sucker Hitler to declare war, since the public and Congress were overwhelmingly against entering the war in Europe. It was his backdoor to war.

Congressmen to Call for Break-Up of Biggest Banks
Five House Democrats will call this week for a return to a Depression-era law that separated Wall Street investment banking from Main Street commercial banking.

If adopted, the measure would give banks one year to choose between being commercial banks or investment banks. The nation's biggest -- those now commonly referred to as "too big to fail" -- would be broken up. The Obama administration opposes the measure.

The amendment's five co-sponsors -- Maurice Hinchey of New York, John Conyers of Michigan, Peter DeFazio of Oregon, Jay Inslee of Washington, and John Tierney of Massachusetts - want to restore the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which prohibited commercial banks from underwriting stocks and bonds. The act was repealed in 1999 at the urging of, among others, Larry Summers, now President Barack Obama's chief economic adviser.

Bank of America employee fired for helping customers
In her video, Ramos said she'd never forget one customer in particular -- a 24-year-old mother with cancer who'd recently lost her mom and husband but still wanted to pay off a $6,000 debt. The woman didn't qualify for any program that would help her.

"She sobbed on the phone telling me she couldn't afford the 30 percent interest... that we had her account on. She couldn't afford the $39 late fee, the $39 over-limit fee. She told me that we were her first credit card when she turned 18, we were her only credit card, and that she was a loyal customer. And given the time to be on this earth a little while longer she would have always remained a loyal customer.

"According to Bank of America, she doesn't have enough income to be put on a program, but she can however keep paying the high interest rates on the account, and fees, because at the end of the day, it is her account, she did rack up the debt, she was late, and she did deserve the 29.99 percent interest rate."

PAM COMMENTARY: B of freakin' A... I sued them once and WON, with punitive damages.

Drinking epidemic 'fuels surge in cancer' [R]
Round-the-clock drinking and cut-price alcohol are to blame for an 'appalling' rise in cancers, experts warned today.

Cases of cancer of the mouth have gone up by half in the past decade, with a 43 per cent rise in liver tumours. There have also been big rises in breast and colorectal cancer.

Many experts are blaming alcohol consumption, which has doubled in the UK since the 1950s and has been fuelled by Labour's decision to relax licensing laws.

Graves moved in Northeast cemetery to make way for parking lot
Once an estate owned by Declaration of Independence signer Benjamin Rush, the Knights of Pythias Greenwood Cemetery was chartered in 1869 as an inviting burial park with rolling hills and tree-lined paths.

Scores of veterans of the Civil War and Spanish American War are interred at the 44-acre burial ground in the Northeast. Perhaps its most famous residents are W.C. Fields' parents, James and Kate Dukenfield.

Now, on six muddy acres, archaeologists are digging up the remains of thousands of people. Since July, more than 1,500 bodies have been disinterred to make way for the Cancer Treatment Center of America's need for 200 parking spots.

How to empty Guantanamo
WASHINGTON�He is known as the "Guantanamo czar," a regal title that belies the daily drudgery required for emptying the world's most notorious prison.

Sure, since U.S. President Barack Obama appointed Daniel Fried as his special envoy, the former ambassador has racked up the frequent flyer points, lunching in Palau one weekend and dining in Bermuda a few days later.

But Fried is more travelling salesman than dashing diplomat. His job peddling Guatanamo prisoners is especially hard when the pitch goes something like, "Please give these detainees homes even if we're not willing to do the same."

FDA Posts Nationwide Recall of Slim Fast Drinks: 10 million cans affected
A nationwide voluntary recall of all Slim-Fast ready-to-drink (RTD) products in cans has been posted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to the possibility of contamination with Bacillus cereus, a micro-organism, which may cause diarrhea and possibly nausea and/or vomiting. The probability of serious adverse health consequences is remote. Slim-Fast is a product of Unilever United States, Inc.

Nature photography blog -- BEAUTIFUL slideshow!
PAM COMMENTARY: Mercola.com linked to this nature photography slideshow which is pretty decent, despite some photos probably coming from zoos.

Queen warns media over paparazzi pictures of royals
The Queen has warned newspapers against publishing paparazzi photos of members of the royal family, it emerged today.

The warning comes amid growing frustration about intrusion into the private lives of the royals and their friends.

The monarch's lawyers have contacted newspapers, informing them of privacy obligations under their own code of practice.

The move is thought to have the full backing of high-profile members of the royal family including the Prince of Wales and his sons, princes William and Harry.

PAM COMMENTARY: That's right, the English press doesn't have the same free speech protections guaranteed in America by the Constitution.

Cancer From the Kitchen? (Op-Ed)
A number of studies, mostly in animals, have linked early puberty to exposure to pesticides, P.C.B.�s and other chemicals. One class of chemicals that creates concern � although the evidence is not definitive � is endocrine disruptors, which are often similar to estrogen and may fool the body into setting off hormonal changes. This used to be a fringe theory, but it is now being treated with great seriousness by the Endocrine Society, the professional association of hormone specialists in the United States.

These endocrine disruptors are found in everything from certain plastics to various cosmetics. �There�s a ton of stuff around that has estrogenic material in it,� Dr. Goldfarb said. �There�s makeup that you rub into your skin for a youthful appearance that is really estrogen.�

More than 80,000 new chemicals have been developed since World War II, according to the Children�s Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai. Even of the major chemicals, fewer than 20 percent have been tested for toxicity to children, the center says.

Representative Louise Slaughter, the only microbiologist in the House of Representatives, introduced legislation this month that would establish a comprehensive program to monitor endocrine disruptors. That�s an excellent idea, because as long as we�re examining our medical system, there�s a remarkable precedent for a public health effort against a toxic substance. The removal of lead from gasoline resulted in an 80 percent decline in lead levels in our blood since 1976 -- along with a six-point gain in children�s I.Q.�s, Dr. Landrigan said.

Obama Steals Bush�s Speechwriters
If you closed your eyes during much of the President�s speech on Afghanistan Tuesday night and just listened to the words, you easily could have concluded that George W. Bush was still in the Oval Office.

Or, at the very least, that Obama had stolen his speechwriters.

Because, like Bush, Obama had barely cleared his throat when out came the first mention of September 11, along with the Bushian line: �We did not ask for this fight.�

Pilots who overshot destination blame controllers
(CNN) -- The Northwest Airlines pilots who flew their jet past their destination city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, on October 21 have blamed air traffic controllers for the snafu.

In separate responses to the administrative law judge handling their case, Capt. Timothy B. Cheney, 53, of Gig Harbor, Washington, and First Officer Richard I. Cole, 54, say air traffic control rules weren't followed, which contributed to the incident.

"The air traffic controller(s) did not comply with the requirements of the air traffic control manual and other relevant orders, rules, procedures, policies and practices with respect to Northwest Flight 188, nor coordinate effectively with Northwest dispatch, and such failure was a causal or contributing factor in the incident," they said. The responses were filed November 24, but made public Monday.

No charges planned in chimp attack case
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - No charges will be filed against the owner of a chimpanzee that mauled and blinded a woman in February, Connecticut authorities announced Monday.

State�s Attorney David Cohen said an investigation found no evidence of "recklessness' on the part of the owner, Sandra Herold, of Stamford.

The 200-pound chimpanzee, who had earlier been given the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, went berserk after Herold asked a friend, Charla Nash, to help lure him back into her house. The chimp ripped off Nash�s hands, nose, lips and eyelids.

PAM COMMENTARY: It's unclear here whether the owner had a prescription to give her chimp Xanax, or if she violated drug laws to do so. That's significant because the attack could have been a side effect of the drug.

Iraq inquiry: Senior officer says he urged Tony Blair to delay invasion; Major General Tim Cross tells Chilcot panel that preparations were 'woefully thin'
A senior British officer today described how he urged Tony Blair to delay the invasion of Iraq two days before the start of conflict because preparations for dealing with the aftermath were not in place.

Major General Tim Cross � who was attached to the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (Orha) set up by the US to manage the aftermath � told the official inquiry into the conflict that the preparations were "woefully thin".

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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


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All original content including photographs © 2009 by Pam Rotella. (News excerpts copyright by their corresponding authors, news organizations, or other copyright holders, and quoted here typically as "fair use" or "teaser" paragraphs to generate interest in the full articles.)