Pam Rotella's Vegetarian FUN page -- News on health, nutrition, the environment, politics, and more!
Don't forget to check the fun links of the month page!
Week of 10th to 16th of January 2010
Haiti aid flow grows; feuds over reaching victims [WRH]
Bellerive said an estimated 300,000 people are living on the streets in port-au-Prince and "Getting them water, and food, and a shelter is our top priority."
The US military operating Haiti's damaged main airport said it can now handle 90 flights a day, but that wasn't enough to cope with all the planes sent by foreign donors and governments circling overhead in hopes of winning one of the few spots available on the tarmac.
France's Cooperation Minister Alain Joyandet told The Associated Press that he had filed an official complaint to the US government after two French planes, one carrying a field hospital, were denied permission to land.
A plane carrying the prime ministers of two Caribbean nations also was forced to turn back late Friday due to a lack of space at the airport, the Caricom trade bloc announced.
Tylenol recall expanded to Motrin, Benadryl, more
The recall includes some batches of regular and extra-strength Tylenol, children's Tylenol, eight-hour Tylenol, Tylenol arthritis, Tylenol PM, children's Motrin, Motrin IB, Benadryl Rolaids, Simply Sleep, and St. Joseph's aspirin.
The FDA and Johnson & Johnson's McNeil Consumer Healthcare Products said they did not know the number of bottles recalled. It included caplet and geltab products sold in the Americas, the United Arab Emirates, and Fiji.
Consumers should check the full list at www.mcneilproductrecall.com to identify the recalled batches.
The FDA said about 70 people have been either sickened by the odor � including nausea, stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea � or noticed it.
The smell is caused by small amounts of a chemical associated with the treatment of wooden pallets, Johnson & Johnson said. The FDA said the chemical can leach into the air, and traced it to a facility in Las Piedras, Puerto Rico.
'Even Charles Manson could beat him now'
Every Wednesday at 4.30pm they come: a small steady human trickle rolling down a ravine in Prestonsburg, western Kentucky �towards the Town Branch church. They come in pick-ups, on foot, alone and with families. Some stop for just a few minutes. Others linger. They come for food and warm second-hand clothes. They come because desperation in this part of America has become a routine part of life.
More than a quarter of the families in Prestonsburg live in poverty; half of the children in Floyd County, where it is situated, are on food stamps. This �Appalachian coal mining area has never been rich. But no one can remember when it has ever been this poor either. It sits on the old Route 23 � the country music highway of which Dwight Yoakam (a Floyd Country native) sang in Readin', Rightin', Route 23. It was the road that took people north to factory jobs in places such as Detroit and Cleveland and "the good life they had never seen". Now those cities are broke and there's nowhere left to go.
"We're getting more and more �people coming here as time goes by," says Tom Price, who helps administer the church's Feed My Sheep pantry. "The bottom's just fallen out of it all." He blames it on Barack Obama. "Is there a direct correlation [between Obama's victory and the region's bad times]? I don't know. But I do know a lot of people are hurting."
A week may be a long time in politics. But a year has not been enough for the Democratic president to meet the expectations of his candidacy, deal with the situation he inherited or defuse the barbed charges of his detractors. For many the change that Obama promised when he was inaugurated a year on Wednesday has ended up being a change for the worse. Unemployment is rising, houses prices are falling, unpopular wars are still raging. After 100 days only Ronald Reagan had higher approval ratings for his first few months in office than Obama. But as his first year draws to a close nobody has had lower ratings at this stage since Dwight Eisenhower.
Keith Bartley, Floyd County's Democratic chairman, says one key reason why Obama's such a tough sell here is because of the effect of his cap and trade policy on the coal industry. Lt Governor Daniel Mongiardo, the Democratic frontrunner in Kentucky's senatorial race later this year, says he would not want Obama to come and stump for him on the campaign trail, particularly because of his environmental policies. "With some of the positions he has taken, especially on coal, no. He certainly can't come into eastern or western Kentucky and help. Nor would I want him to."
PAM COMMENTARY: So far I haven't seen a willingness on the part of Obama to deviate much from Bush's economic policies, and so I don't expect to see much improvement anytime soon. And coal -- it's a lot of pollution better replaced with renewables, but the displaced workers will need other opportunities. Years ago, someone told me that windmills take just as much money and labor as coal or anything else, in fact maybe a little more, because they need so much maintenance. But the skills to machine the parts and the best locations for wind will shift where those new energy jobs are located.
Wind over water; Some see giant wind farms on horizon for the vast, breezy Great Lakes
So you might be surprised that he has a problem with some retired engineers who want to determine whether a wind turbine could be erected to supply electricity to the island's population, which peaks in summer at about 3,000 residents. This fall they installed a temporary 165-foot-high tower in Big Bay State Park to gauge which way the wind blows, and just how hard.
Nelson sees the year-long study as a waste of a year's worth of wind.
The 54-year-old grumbles that the Apostle Islands town should just get on with it and buy an actual wind turbine.
Standing in front of his caf�ith a hand-painted sign on the wall that reads: "People are exactly as free and independent as they choose to be," Nelson says he'll even donate a prime piece of his own land to help liberate his island from the polluting coal power he so detests.
"It's like this: You got an apple tree, it's got some apples. We don't need a committee to spend a year deciding whether we should pick those apples."
Wind jobs outstrip coal mining (FLASHBACK)
Here�s a talking point in the green jobs debate: The wind industry now employs more people than coal mining in the United States.
Wind industry jobs jumped to 85,000 in 2008, a 70% increase from the previous year, according to a report released Tuesday from the American Wind Energy Association. In contrast, the coal industry mining employs about 81,000 workers. (Those figures are from a 2007 U.S. Department of Energy report but coal employment has remained steady in recent years though it�s down by nearly 50% since 1986.) Wind industry employment includes 13,000 manufacturing jobs concentrated in regions of the country hard hit by the deindustrialization of the past two decades.
The big spike in wind jobs was a result of a record-setting 50% increase in installed wind capacity, with 8,358 megawatts coming online in 2008 (enough to power some 2 million homes). That�s a third of the nation�s total 25,170 megawatts of wind power generation. Wind farms generating more than 4,000 megawatts of electricity were completed in the last three months of 2008 alone.
Another sign that wind power is no longer a niche green energy play: Wind accounted for 42% of all new electricity generation installed last year in the U.S. Power, literally, is shifting from the east to west, to the wind belt of the Midwest, west Texas and the West Coast. Texas continues to lead the country, with 7,116 megawatts of wind capacity but Iowa in 2008 overtook California for the No. 2 spot, with 2,790 megawatts of wind generation. Other new wind powers include Oregon, Minnesota, Colorado and Washington state.
The Deindustrialization of Tampa Bay (Video) [WRH]
PAM COMMENTARY: Nice original local reporting clip -- someone went around and videotaped vacant manufacturing properties in his area.
Bob McDonnell sworn in as Virginia's 71st governor
At this morning's prayer breakfast, McDonnell told the audience, �As I embark on this journey I just want to say . . . I do pray for the wisdom of Solomon."
�Last year, I prayed for votes and money. This year it�s wisdom and money,� he continued, eliciting uproarious laughter with his reference to the state's budget woes.
Among the crowd were key legislative leaders, new McDonnell administration appointees and religious broadcaster Pat Robertson.
The Virginia Beach televangelist drew rebukes this week when he said on the 700 Club program the island nation of Haiti was cursed after it was struck by a massive earthquake.
Robertson didn�t want to discuss the controversy today, telling reporters who approached him �This is Bob�s day. I�m talking about Bob McDonnell, okay.�
McDonnell earned a law and master's degree from Robertson�s Regent University in the Beach.
US Policy in Haiti Over Decades "Lays the Foundation for Why Impact of Natural Disaster Is So Severe"
AMY GOODMAN: ... I wanted to bring you the quote of someone else who was talking about history, and that was the evangelist Pat Robertson. I wanted to get your response to Pat Robertson. He made this comment yesterday. It was on the Christian Broadcasting Network program. He claimed that Robertson--well, Robertson claimed that Haiti was cursed after it made a pact with the devil.
PAT ROBERTSON: And, you know, Kristi, something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and the people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, �We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.� True story. And so, the devil said, �OK, it's a deal.� And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other. Desperately poor.
That island of Hispaniola is one island. It's cut down the middle. On the one side is Haiti; on the other side is the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etc. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island. They need to have, and we need to pray for them, a great turning to God. And out of this tragedy, I'm optimistic something good may come.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Pat Robertson. Bill Quigley, your response?
BILL QUIGLEY: Well, this is very sick, twisted man, you know, to have that approach. I think Pat is same person who said Katrina was the revenge for sodomy in the South and that 9/11 was something. I have been in many, many churches in Haiti. I have been to the National Cathedral. I was a friend of the Archbishop who died. These folks have nothing. They are so generous. They are so inspiring, because when they--even though they have nothing, to meet a stranger, as you would know from going there, they'll give you half of their nothing. And people spend Sundays and Tuesdays and Thursdays and Fridays in church praying, asking for health, asking for cures for the illness for their children, asking for the chance to go to school. They're deeply, deeply religious people.
And this idea that they made a pact with the devil, I think, is not something that's peculiar, unfortunately, just to Pat, because this idea that Haitians and voodoo, that there's some sort of very, very special thing, not talking about the Irish--the myths that we have as Irish or the different kinds of traditions that we have as Germans or Italians or other people like that, is a very deep racism in that. There's also a very, very deep -- just a twisted understanding of what the role of the Church is and what it can be for people. The first thing -- I would guarantee that the very first thing that people did once they found their relatives alive or dead is that they prayed. And a lot of the screaming and crying that people are hearing in the streets, those are screams and cries to God asking for help, asking for forgiveness, asking for assistance.
Map of damage in Haiti
PAM COMMENTARY: You have to click on the blue pointers to get information on each damage site that it flags, but at least it gives some specific information.
Security concerns cause doctors to leave hospital, quake victims
Port-au-Prince, Haiti (CNN) -- Critically injured earthquake victims watched doctors and nurses walk away from a field hospital Friday night after United Nations officials ordered a medical team to evacuate the area out of security concerns.
Saturday morning the U.N. allowed the medical personnel to return, said Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent.
Gupta was the only doctor left on Friday night with the 25 earthquake victims -- some of them critically ill. He said he assessed their needs, but with no supplies, he said there was little he could do to treat them.
Gupta monitored patients' vital signs, administered painkillers and continued intravenous drips. He stabilized three new patients in critical condition.
"I've never been in a situation like this. This is quite ridiculous," Gupta said Friday night.
PAM COMMENTARY: I normally can't stand Gupta on-air because he's typically telling people to buy whatever products CNN's pharmaceutical advertisers want sold. It's good to see him in his new role as a real doctor in Haiti, being genuinely useful to people.
Broadcast Coverage: Compassion and Self-Congratulation
Disaster is both one of the hardest and easiest sights to watch on television; the medium feeds on paradox, presenting extraordinary images that horrify and also comfort. Since the earthquake struck Haiti on Tuesday, network and cable news shows have organized the chaos with raw, graphic footage, as well as with beautifully edited vignettes, some scored to music, that calibrate the balance of hope and despair.
In a disaster this huge, television reporters are the heralds of the fund-raising effort. News organizations repeatedly let people know how and where to donate money for Haiti, and those reminders allow Americans to feel that they can do something useful. They also help television news organizations by reminding viewers � and earthquake victims � that journalists serve as a pillar of the rescue mission, on the scene to do more than just gather information.
Lines of communication are still poor, and conditions are not exactly cozy: some reporters are sleeping on the ground and using car batteries to record their stand-ups. Nevertheless, the need is so vast that the NBC anchor Brian Williams felt prompted to explain himself on MSNBC earlier in the week. As he toured a stricken area, Mr. Williams noted that he and his crew were the only ones there with food, water and power, but that they were using those resources to provide reportage that would galvanize viewers to get involved.
And the television reports are wrenching. Men in masks toss bloated bodies into garbage trucks. Relatives dig with their hands past slabs of cement. A lifeless foot sticks out of a pile of plaster. Helicopters circle streets strewn with corpses. Katie Couric clasps the hand of a scared and wounded boy screaming in pain as a doctor tends to his foot.
There are not enough successful rescues to go around. The same few � a freed United Nations security guard pumping a fist in the air, a woman who was trapped for countless hours in a toppled market, emerging on a stretcher � are shown again and again.
McDonnell to be sworn in as Va. governor
RICHMOND -- Virginia's former attorney general Robert F. McDonnell will be inaugurated as the state's 71st governor at noon Saturday in front of a crowd of thousands at the historic state Capitol.
The state's first Republican governor in eight years will take the oath of office immediately after ticketmates, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and former state Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II, who was elected state attorney general.
Virginia Supreme Court Justice Barbara Milano Keenan will become the first woman to swear in a Virginia governor when she administers the oath. McDonnell plans to lay his hand on a Latin Vulgate Bible that had been presented to his great-grandparents on their wedding day in 1876 at St. John's Parish in Peabody, Mass.
McDonnell, 55, defeated his Democratic opponent, state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, by a landslide in November, running as a pragmatic leader who could work across party lines to solve the state's financial problems.
PAM COMMENTARY: McDonnell was the candidate whose controversial student thesis at Pat Robertson's university made news for being anti-feminist, anti-working woman, anti-gay, etc. McDonnell is also friends with Pat Robertson, the TV preacher often in trouble for intolerant and bizarre remarks on-air, recently making news by blaming Haitians for the earthquake there and insinuating it was due to a past pact with the devil.
McDonnell happened into winning the state election because Virginians were dissatisfied with the Democratic Party for a number of reasons, and many cast protest votes. It's unlikely that most voters approved of McDonnell's affiliation with Robertson, or of his espousal of Robertson's bizarre belief system.
McDonnell wasn't very impressive on the campaign trail, especially not for his ideas on fixing Virginia's economy. For now, he has an opportunity to show the state whether his ideas will work for them. Perhaps he'll pull it all together, although realistically it seems that the state may be in for a rough ride. Many times the wisdom of Virginia's law has become apparent -- in limiting its governors to one consecutive term.
Induction into office also induces costs to taxpayers
Inaugural tuxedoes for numerous state officials: $4,000.
Corsages and boutonnieres for them: $200.
Souvenir engraved Bibles and ink pens for the swearing-in ceremony: $765.
People who pick up the tab: taxpayers.
Scientists turn stem cells into pork
Call it pork in a petri dish � a technique to turn pig stem cells into strips of meat that scientists say could one day offer a green alternative to raising livestock, help alleviate world hunger, and save some pigs their bacon.
Dutch scientists have been growing pork in the laboratory since 2006, and while they admit they haven't gotten the texture quite right or even tasted the engineered meat, they say the technology promises to have widespread implications for our food supply.
"If we took the stem cells from one pig and multiplied it by a factor of a million, we would need one million fewer pigs to get the same amount of meat," said Mark Post, a biologist at Maastricht University involved in the In-vitro Meat Consortium, a network of publicly funded Dutch research institutions that is carrying out the experiments.
Post describes the texture of the meat as sort of like scallop, firm but a little squishy and moist. That's because the lab meat has less protein content than conventional meat.
PAM COMMENTARY: Yeah, I wouldn't want to taste that stuff either.
Naomi Klein Issues Haiti Disaster Capitalism Alert: Stop Them Before They Shock Again
NAOMI KLEIN: But as I write about in The Shock Doctrine, crises are often used now as the pretext for pushing through policies that you cannot push through under times of stability. Countries in periods of extreme crisis are desperate for any kind of aid, any kind of money, and are not in a position to negotiate fairly the terms of that exchange.
And I just want to pause for a second and read you something, which is pretty extraordinary. I just put this up on my website. The headline is "Haiti: Stop Them Before They Shock Again." This went up a few hours ago, three hours ago, I believe, on the Heritage Foundation website.
�Amidst the Suffering, Crisis in Haiti Offers Opportunities to the U.S. In addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the U.S. response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti earthquake offers opportunities to re-shape Haiti's long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the image of the United States in the region.� And then goes on.
Now, I don't know whether things are improving or not, because it took the Heritage Foundation thirteen days before they issued thirty-two free market solutions for Hurricane Katrina. We put that document up on our website, as well. It was close down the housing projects, turn the Gulf Coast into a tax-free free enterprise zone, get rid of the labor laws that forces contractors to pay a living wage. Yeah, so it took them thirteen days before they did that in the case of Katrina. In the case of Haiti, they didn�t even wait twenty-four hours.
Tibet activist's e-mail attacked from China
Living under Chinese rule in Tibet, Tenzin Seldon's parents couldn't carry an image of the Dalai Lama or recite their mantras in public. Now the 20-year-old Stanford sophomore believes the long arm of the Chinese government has stretched across an ocean and generation to infiltrate her own life.
Seldon is one of the dozens of human rights advocates whose e-mail accounts were accessed in cyber attacks that appear to have originated in China, she says and Google Inc. confirms.
"I'm a human rights activist for not only Tibetans, but also the Chinese people," Seldon said. "Clearly they saw that as a threat."
The Mountain View Internet giant has stopped short of directly accusing the Chinese government of involvement in the digital spying, but outside observers say the company's emphatic response leaves little doubt. Upon revealing the sophisticated assaults on Tuesday, Google said it will stop censoring search results in the nation over the next few weeks, even if the decision means the company is forced to shutter its Chinese operations.
Science in the coffee brew
The most progressive caf�in Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco and Portland, Ore. � along with Montreal�s Caf�yriade on Mackay St. � all feature siphon coffee. Online forums buzz with coffee geeks comparing brew times and contemplating �turbulence.�
The siphon pot�s design is a cross between a high school science experiment and utilitarian sculpture. The coffee is brewed using two stacked transparent glass globes heated by an alcohol burner or halogen heat source, or the stovetop.
It works on the principle of expansion and contraction of gases. The water is heated in the bottom chamber. The resulting steam creates enough pressure to push the water up through the siphon tube into the upper pot, where it bubbles and mingles with the coffee grinds. The coffee is allowed to brew for a few minutes and then the pot is removed from the heat. That�s when the gases cool and contract, creating enough of a vacuum in the bottom pot to pull the coffee down through a filter, leaving the coffee grinds above, virtually dry. The two pots are then separated and the coffee is ready to pour.
Sound complicated? It is, and that�s just what coffee nerds love about it. Anthony Benda, whose Caf�yriade was one of the first siphon bars in Canada when it opened just over a year ago, says siphoning is one of the trickiest ways to brew.
�There are a lot of variables to control, from the temperature of the water to the amount of turbulence throughout the brew process,� he says. �But aesthetically, there�s nothing like it.�
Scientists say fish not half-baked
As well as editing the book, Dr Brown has carried out original research of his own on allegedly-forgetful fish. In one experiment, fish in a tank were assailed by a trawler-like mechanism and had to figure out an escape route. It took about five attempts until the fish mastered the art of escape, but when they were subjected to the same experience a year later, they remembered what to do the first time round.
''This was for fish that live about two years in the wild, so the evidence is that the memory was ongoing for much of their lifespan,'' Dr Brown said. ''That was about the record for fish memory findings so far, but the results are limited more by the difficulty of repeating the experiment years later than it is by the memories of the fish.''
The Militarization of Emergency Aid to Haiti: Is it a Humanitarian Operation or an Invasion? [R]
The main actors in America's "humanitarian operation" are the Department of Defense, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). (See USAID Speeches: On-The-Record Briefing on the Situation in Haiti, 01/13/10). USAID has also been entrusted in channelling food aid to Haiti, which is distributed by the World Food Program. (See USAID Press Release: USAID to Provide Emergency Food Aid for Haiti Earthquake Victims, January 13, 2010)
The military component of the US mission, however, tends to overshadow the civilian functions of rescuing a desperate and impoverished population. The overall humanitarian operation is not being led by civilian governmental agencies such as FEMA or USAID, but by the Pentagon.
The dominant decision making role has been entrusted to US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).
A massive deployment of military hardware personnel is contemplated. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen has confirmed that the US will be sending nine to ten thousand troops to Haiti, including 2000 marines. (American Forces Press Service, January 14, 2010)
Aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson and its complement of supporting ships has already arrived in Port au Prince. (January 15, 2010). The 2,000-member Marine Amphibious Unit as well as and soldiers from the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne division "are trained in a wide variety of missions including security and riot-control in addition to humanitarian tasks."
Iron Chef Special Used Ringers, Not Veggies From The White House Garden [WRH]
The White House segment was taped in late October. The cook-off actually took place the following week, in what Iron Chef calls its "Kitchen Stadium" in New York City.
So clearly the stuff that was picked that October day at the White House never had a chance of making it on the show because the produce would not be fresh. The use of the "stunt vegetables" was revealed in a November New York Times Marian Burros article and in Obamafoodorama.com, Eddie Gehman Kohan's web site-of-record on anything having to do with food and food policy coming out of the Obama White House. But no one knew until the show if the "stunt double" vegetables would be disclosed.
Viewers were not explicitly told that the vegetables in "Kitchen Stadium" were not the ones they had seen the chefs harvest. Various participants in the show misled viewers with references to "using radishes from the White House garden" and other similar mentions. Except for the honey, no food on the show came from the White House.
PAM COMMENTARY: And then there's that whole problem of the sewage sludge having been used to fertilize the white house lawn in the past -- I wouldn't want to eat out of that garden!
�Bush Was Responsible for Destroying Haitian Democracy�--Randall Robinson on Obama Tapping Bush to Co-Chair US Relief Efforts [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: President Obama has tapped President Clinton and former President George W. Bush to coordinate the aid relief to Haiti. I was wondering your thoughts on that.
RANDALL ROBINSON: Well, Amy, I�m, of course, troubled by that. I don�t think this is the time--neither the time nor the place to discuss those things that have troubled me for a long time in the history of American policy towards Haiti. Now the focus must be upon the rescue efforts that are underway to save lives.
But I hope that this experience, this disaster, causes American media to take a keener look at Haiti, at the Haitian people, at their wonderful creativity, at their art, at their culture, and what they�ve had to bear. It has been described to the American people as a problem of their own making. Well, that�s simply not the case. Haiti has been, of course, put upon by outside powers for its whole post-slavery history, from 1804 up until the present.
Of course, President Bush was responsible for destroying Haitian democracy in 2004, when he and American forces abducted President Aristide and his wife, taking them off to Africa, and they are now in South Africa. President Clinton has largely sponsored a program of economic development that supports the idea of sweatshops. Haitians in Haiti today make 38 cents an hour. They don�t make a high enough wage to pay for their lunch and transportation to and from work. But this is the kind of economic program that President Clinton has supported. I think that is sad, that these two should be joined in this kind of effort. It sends, I think, the wrong kind of signal. But that is not what we should focus on now. We should focus on saving lives.
But in the last analysis, I hope that American media will not just continue to�the refrain of Haiti being the poorest country in the western hemisphere, but will come to ask the question, why? What distinguishes Haiti from the rest of the Caribbean? Why are the other countries, like the country in which I live, Saint Kitts, middle-income and successful countries, and Haiti is mired in economic despair? What happened? And who�s had a hand in it? If Haiti has been under a series of serial dictatorship, who armed the dictators? There are other hands in Haiti�s problem. Of course Haiti is responsible for some of its own failures, but probably not principally responsible. We need to know that. We need to be told the whole story of these wonderful, resilient, courageous and industrious people. And we have not been told that. I would hope that this would be an opportunity for doing so.
AMY GOODMAN: In talking about President Bush, while most people may not know the role the US played in the ouster of President Aristide February 29th, 2004, probably what would come to mind when there�s any discussion of relief efforts is Katrina.
RANDALL ROBINSON: Yes. The problem of what happened in February 2004 continues. We had democracy in Haiti, and that democracy was blighted by the Bush administration. And now President Aristide�s party is prohibited from participating in the electoral process. His party is the largest party in Haiti. And why should [the US government] be so afraid to let his party participate? If Haitian people don�t want them, they won�t vote for them. That is the very essence of democracy, that people get a chance to stand for election, and the electorate gets a chance to make a decision. But [the US government has] obstructed that process in Haiti. [The US government has] done that under the Clinton administration, under the Bush administration, and that continues under the Obama administration. And that is indeed unfortunate. I am imploring American media to examine this in whole part, in ways that media have failed to do so up until now.
PAM COMMENTARY: Some have speculated that Haiti has been singled out for predatory policies because it was a slave state that dared to rebel and win its freedom. It seems odd that anyone would still be holding a grudge against the descendents of those self-freed slaves 200 years later.
Note that in the interview above, Robinson occasionally referred to the US government as "we." My regular readers know that I resent being lumped in with policymakers who carry out plans that I would never agree to, and that most Americans would not agree to if notified of the plans in advance and honestly briefed on them. So I changed the word "we" to "the US government" in those cases above (where it misrepresents the US government as being the same as its people). I'd like to do the same for the next article below, but you can remember not to assume responsibility when they use the words "us" or "we."
And I'd never donate to something that George Duh-bya Bush was involved in. What a joke -- asking America's worst, and probably least popular, president to help raise money for a catastrophe. Earth to President Obama -- look around you. George Duh-bya WAS the catastrophe. If you want to be popular, just do the opposite of whatever Bush would do.
Haitian Earthquake: Why the Blood Is on Our Hands
Despite having been bled dry by American bankers and generals, civil disorder prevailed until 1957, when the CIA installed President-for-Life Fran�s "Papa Doc" Duvalier. Duvalier's brutal Tonton Macoutes paramilitary goon squads murdered at least 30,000 Haitians and drove educated people to flee into exile. But think of the cup as half-full: fewer people in the population means fewer people competing for the same jobs!
Upon Papa Doc's death in 1971, the torch passed to his even more dissolute 19-year-old son, Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier. The U.S., cool to Papa Doc in his later years, quickly warmed back up to his kleptomaniacal playboy heir. As the U.S. poured in arms and trained his army as a supposed anti-communist bulwark against Castro's Cuba, Baby Doc stole an estimated $300 to $800 million from the national treasury, according to Transparency International. The money was placed in personal accounts in Switzerland and elsewhere.
Under U.S. influence, Baby Doc virtually eliminated import tariffs for U.S. goods. Soon Haiti was awash predatory agricultural imports dumped by American firms. Domestic rice farmers went bankrupt. A nation that had been agriculturally self-sustaining collapsed. Farms were abandoned. Hundreds of thousands of farmers migrated to the teeming slums of Port-au-Prince.
The Duvalier era, 29 years in all, came to an end in 1986 when President Ronald Reagan ordered U.S. forces to whisk Baby Doc to exile in France, saving him from a popular uprising.
Once again, Haitians should thank Americans. Duvalierism was "tough love." Forcing Haitians to make do without their national treasury was our nice way or encouraging them to work harder, to lift themselves up by their bootstraps. Or, in this case, flipflops. Anyway.
Thailand blames its critics for refugees' fate
COUNTRIES concerned for 4500 Hmong people secretly deported from Thailand should have resettled the asylum seekers while they had time, the Thai Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, has said.
Thailand has been criticised by Australia, the United Nations, the US and others for using the army to secretly ship the Hmong back to Laos, where they say they will face persecution.
Four countries, including Australia, had already agreed to take some of the asylum seekers but they are now back in Laos, where they cannot be accessed and their fate is uncertain.
But Mr Abhisit said the Laotian Government had guaranteed the asylum seekers would be well treated, and said that if the countries willing to resettle them were so concerned, they should have acted faster. Some of the asylum seekers had been living in camps on the Thai-Laotian border for more than five years.
Longest annular eclipse provides spectacle
A solar eclipse that reduced the sun to a blazing ring surrounding a black disk has entered the record books as the longest annular eclipse for 1000 years.
The phenomenon which lasted eleven minutes and eight seconds, set a record that will not be beaten for another millennium.
An annular eclipse occurs when the moon only blocks the sun's middle therefore creating a ring, and could be seen across parts of Central Africa, the Maldives, southern India, northern Sri Lanka, parts of Burma and China.
Local media in the affected areas issued warnings about the dangers of looking directly at the sun, but fascinated onlookers thronged streets to witness the occasion and were plunged into semi-darkness.
U.S. judge expresses concern about Tyson poultry settlement; He signs off on preliminary agreement, but attorneys' fees, court costs an issue
A proposed settlement that could net consumers $5 million worth of refunds and coupons from the nation's largest poultry producer moved one step closer to fruition Friday when a federal judge -- albeit with reservations -- signed off on the preliminary agreement.
Judge Richard D. Bennett repeatedly expressed concerns about the $3 million plaintiffs attorneys' fees and court costs that could be paid by Tyson Foods under the terms of the settlement. Bennett said he would be hard-pressed to sign off on what he called such a disproportionate scale, with the plaintiffs' counsel set to get about 37.5 percent of the overall total, while thousands of consumers net refunds capped at $50.
Several consumer lawsuits were filed across the country in 2008, and later consolidated in Baltimore, accusing Tyson of lying about the drugs that go into its birds, with the company marketing its poultry as raised without antibiotics. Tyson denies any wrongdoing under the deal, outlined in a public hearing this week for the first time.
Google agrees to take down racist site
"It portrays indigenous Australians in the most unsavoury light possible, and you wouldn't want a child stumbling across it," he told ABC Radio.
Mr Newhouse said Google agreed to take the link down after he filed an official complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission.
"Lo and behold they agreed last night to take down the sites."
Mr Newhouse believes the site would be filtered under the Federal Government's mandatory filter.
"Sites that promote racial vilification would actually fall within that description [illegal sites] and therefore would be filtered."
The Federal Government plans to introduce legislation this year requiring all service providers to ban "refused classification" material.
PAM COMMENTARY: The problem with censorship, even if it starts with good intentions, is that eventually it will spread to everything. This has actually happened at libraries in the US, with the installation of "filters" required by the CIPA law to supposedly stop children getting access to porn sites there. Rather than just blocking porn sites, the filters would often block sites critical of George Bush or his war policies.
George Carlin's Greatest Moment [WRH]
PAM COMMENTARY: "... You have owners. They own you. They own everything."
Police arrest CEO of Israeli civil rights group in Sheikh Jarrah
Police arrested 15 left-wing protestors in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem on Friday, among them the CEO of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Hagai Elad.
Leftist activists have held weekly demonstrations in Sheikh Jarrah for the past three months, in protest of the eviction of Palestinians from their homes and their replacement with Jewish families.
According to activists, the protest that took place on Friday was not authorized, unlike previous weeks' protests. At the onset of the demonstration, police declared it illegal and threatened to arrest its participants. An eye witness reported that police began arresting the main participants, Hagai Elad and a protestor waving a Palestinian flag among them.
In a statement, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel condemned its CEO's arrest. "We harshly condemn the police's suppression of the freedom of speech which had no legal grounds. The demonstration was forcefully scattered even though it took place legally, with no provocations or disruptions of public order," it was written.
Turkey's PM calls for UN reform after repeated Israel breaches
He also called for UN to be reformed and restructured.
He said Israel had ignored and violated over 100 UN resolutions including resolution 1701, which brought effectiveness and credibility of the UN into question.
Iran says it enriches uranium for civilian applications and that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it has a right to the technology already in the hands of many others.
However, most experts estimate that Israel has at least between 100 and 200 nuclear warheads, largely based on information leaked to the Sunday Times newspaper in the 1980s by Mordechai Vanunu, a former worker at the country's Dimona nuclear reactor.
Israel, which has initiated several wars in the region in its 60-year history, has not denied having nuclear weapons, but has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and open its facilities for IAEA perusal.
Israel also often threatens Iran an attack over its nuclear sites.
Rival to government drug advisory panel launched (UK)
An independent group designed to give "politically neutral" information about the risks of drugs is being launched.
It has been set up by the government's former chief drugs adviser, David Nutt, who was sacked last October for criticising government policy.
The Independent Council on Drug Harms consists of about 20 specialists.
Prof Nutt has said the group will be "very powerful" and its "goal" will be to take over from the official Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.
Scientists stunned by fire-dancing chimps
Chimpanzees have been seen performing a "fire dance" in front of grassland wildfires as part of a suite of unusual behaviours that could indicate an ability of man's closest living relative to understand and even control fire.
Instead of fleeing the wildfires in panic, the chimps appeared to monitor them carefully, showing no signs of the fear other animals normally exhibit. Their leader - the alpha male - even performed a ritualistic display while facing the flames.
The observations could shed light on when our human ancestors first controlled fire, a key stage in human evolution. Scientists said if chimps are able to understand the nature of fire then the same could have been true for the small-brained, ape-like ancestors of humans millions of years ago.
Jill Pruetz, an anthropologist at Iowa State University in Ames, said she saw the fire-dancing behaviour a couple of times in chimps living in a savannah region at Fongoli in Senegal. "I was really surprised at how good the chimps were at predicting the behaviour of fire," Dr Pruetz said. "These were the fires that occur at the end of the dry season and they can burn very hot and can move very swiftly.
"The chimps were much better than I was in predicting how the fire would move.
In one case, the fire was around us on three sides yet they were very calm and they minimised the distance and the amount of time they had to move."
The "fire-dance" of the alpha male was similar to the rain-dancing behaviour observed by the primatologist, Jane Goodall, when the dominant chimp would begin to sway in slow motion at the signs of an approaching storm, Dr Pruetz said. "Chimps everywhere have what is called a rain dance and it's just a big male display to show dominance," she said. "Males display all the time for different reasons, but when there's a big thunderstorm approaching they do this exaggerated display, it's almost like slow motion.
Milwaukee Mayor Barrett wants complete control of school board, instead of current system of elections
Barrett's original plan called for the mayor to select the superintendent, appoint members of the School Board and set the school budget. Later that plan was modified to allow for an elected School Board, with limited powers.
"We've now allowed an elected School Board to have jurisdiction over just about every area, and they still won't accept this," Col�aid Wednesday. "This is about personal agendas now. What they're doing is holding the ball and preserving the status quo. And they know it."
Col�aid that if the plan for a major change in governance of MPS isn't passed, the next chapter of Milwaukee Public Schools will be catastrophic.
"Any superintendent in their right mind would not sign a contract with the district right now," Col�aid. "I don't know of any CEO who would want to walk into this."
PAM COMMENTARY: Aside from the attempted power grab, so far kept at bay by legislators, Barrett wants to run for governor of Wisconsin soon. As Barrett is supposedly a Democrat, that could be good news for the Republican candidate.
2 clinic workers fired for refusing flu shots
Officials with RiverStone Health in Billings confirm that two employees were fired, one resigned and one retired after refusing to get flu shots.
RiverStone Health was formerly known as the Yellowstone City-County Health Department.
RiverStone spokeswoman Arianne Rapkoch said Thursday that the county board of health adopted a policy requiring RiverStone employees to get a flu shot by Dec. 1. She says two employees were fired, one chose to resign and another took early retirement because they did not want to get the flu shot.
Rapkoch says the policy was put in place in the fall of 2009, and included both the seasonal flu shot and the swine flu shot. She says the board had been discussing the policy for two years.
Pat Leikam, who retired a month earlier than planned, said her work didn't include contact with patients.
Obama�s �Green Jobs� Go to Prison Slaves [AJ]
US Congressman Dave Camp (R) speaks about federal prison inmates that are taking Green Jobs out of the regular workforce. These prisoners make $0.23 an hour.
Dead, dying and injured mingle at overwhelmed Haiti hospital
PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI -- The food and aid being ferried into this shattered city have yet to reach the overwhelmed central hospital, where some patients have eaten nothing since Tuesday's devastating earthquake.
The hospital has no power, and few doctors on staff who survived the quake. Patients moaned in pain Friday and begged for medication that never came.
The dead were lined up next to the barely living. Those who cannot walk--and there are many--lay in their own waste.
Jean Jude Lesperance, a 42-year-old accountant, slumped on a metal folding chair, his eyes barely open. A deep gash on his shoulder oozed blood and pus down his left arm, which he said he cannot move or feel.
Friends have tried for two days to find him a bed in the hospital, but the chair is the best they could do.
How World Bank policies led to famine in Haiti (Vide) (FLASHBACK) [BF]
Raj Patel: International trade rules have ravaged Haiti's domestic food production.
PAM COMMENTARY: This video just starts playing when you load the site, so if you're in an environment that has to stay quiet, adjust your volume before clicking on the above link.
America�s next security measure: �Israelification� of airports?
The Obama administration�s measures to toughen airport and airline security following last month�s failed bombing attempt of an American airliner by a 23-year-old Nigerian man are rushing ahead.
Some 450 body-scanning machines have been ordered for airline terminals, more than 10 times the number now in use. Airline passengers coming to the United States from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and nine other nations are to undergo extra screening.
Amid the growing clamour to ratchet up airline security comes the call for one more step: the "Israelification" of US airports.
"We could all do a lot worse than to learn from the Israeli model," wrote David Harris, the executive director of the American Jewish Committee, in The Huffington Post, a widely-read online news magazine.
The enthusiasm has not stopped there. Israel�s airline and airport security practices, which combine technical detection with a heavy emphasis on profiling and personal interaction between security personnel and passengers, drew the praise of retired army Lt Gen Thomas McInerney.
"Let�s use the same procedures that the Israelis use on [the Israeli airline] El Al," Mr McInerney told Fox News, in urging more ethnic, national and behavioural profiling of travellers. All Muslim men between the ages of 18 and 28, he added, should be strip searched at US airports.
Minnesota food company expands voluntary nationwide recall
A Minnesota food company is expanding its voluntary nationwide recall.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture says Parkers Farm took that action after the department determined that all products made at the company's Coon Rapids plant may have been contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria.
The recall now includes all products produced under the Parkers Farm label, as well as a number of products marketed under other labels and produced at the Coon Rapids plant.
The recalled Parkers Farm products include peanut butter, bagel spreads, dips and spreads, and cheese.
The products are distributed nationwide in retail stores including Hy-Vee, Cub, Rainbow, Lunds/Byerly's, Target, Whole Foods, Jewel, Dominicks, Marsh, Price Chopper, Shop Rite, Nash Finch, Sam's Club, Costco, Safeway, Kroger, Wal-Mart and Aldi.
No illnesses have been linked to the recall. The bacteria can cause listeriosis, a potentially serious disease.
Health talks in overdrive; bill hinges on Mass. vote
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats rushed to strike final deals on historic health care legislation Friday amid rising concern that the outcome of a special Senate election in Massachusetts could sink the bill. Obama prepared to fly to the state on Sunday for last-minute campaigning.
"If Scott Brown wins, it'll kill the health bill," said Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. Frank said Democratic candidate Martha Coakley should have campaigned harder for the seat held for decades by Edward Kennedy, but he also said he thinks she'll win Tuesday's contest anyway.
The latest polls show an unexpectedly close race between Brown and Coakley. Brown has said he would vote against the health bill, which would probably take it down because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., does not have a vote to spare. All Republicans are opposed.
Obama taped a campaign plea that will be telephoned to Massachusetts voters, and he will campaign personally for Coakley this weekend. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs dismissed suggestions the Republican would win in Massachusetts and declared, "As you heard the president say yesterday, we're going to get health care done."
FDA alters stance, has 'some concern' about chemical BPA
The Food and Drug Administration today said it has "some concern" about a ubiquitous, estrogen-like chemical called BPA, used in consumer products ranging from baby bottles to dental sealants and the linings of metal cans, but the agency didn't call for a ban of the chemical or a change in consumer behavior.
That's a subtle, but significant change from the agency's 2008 position, in which the FDA said that BPA is safe.
The Food and Drug Administration today said it has "some concern" about a ubiquitous, estrogen-like chemical called BPA, used in consumer products ranging from baby bottles to dental sealants and the linings of metal cans, but the agency didn't call for a ban of the chemical or a change in consumer behavior.
That's a subtle, but significant change from the agency's 2008 position, in which the FDA said that BPA is safe.
Paleontologists concerned about B.C. mining company's new Arctic project
The company has also applied for 13 other licences nearby, claiming the region has "the greatest potential for coal deposits of any unit" in Canada's vast Arctic archipelago.
But the U.S.-based Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, which represents 2,000 of the world's leading fossil scientists, has been rallying its members this week to deluge Nunavut's review board with objections to Weststar's plans.
"The proposed development area includes fossil sites of a broad range of ages that includes some of the most significant sites in the world, and the Society . . . is deeply concerned over the possible loss of these valuable resources," said a statement issued Thursday.
"These unique, world-renowned sites near Strathcona Fiord include fossil plants and animals that lived during one of the warmest times in all of Earth history, when Ellesmere Island was blanketed in forests inhabited by alligators, turtles, primates and hippo-like animals," the society said. "Despite over three decades of searching the High Arctic, no sites of comparable age and fossil richness have been discovered elsewhere in the Canadian Arctic."
B.C. safe injection site wins court battle to stay open (Canada)
VANCOUVER � Vancouver's safe-injection site will remain open for the time being, after the B.C. Court of Appeal on Friday dismissed an appeal from the federal government.
The federal government is now expected to take its fight to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Insite is a scientific research project that provides supervised and sanitary conditions for the use of intravenous drugs.
It was approved under the former federal Liberal government, and opened in September 2003 as a three-year experiment.
The goal of Insite was to limit the harm caused by sharing needles, which leads to the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C, and reduce the number of overdose deaths.
Magnitude 5.4 quake shakes Venezuela coast town
CARACAS (Reuters) - A medium strength earthquake caused panic in the small eastern Venezuelan coastal town of Carupano on Friday and shook the nearby city of Puerto La Cruz, which contains an oil refinery, but no damage was reported.
The local seismological service said the quake measured 5.4 magnitude and hit at about 1:30 p.m. local time (2 p.m. EST) in a Caribbean coastal region.
The United States Geological Service reported the quake was of magnitude 5.6, at a relatively shallow depth of 7.3 miles. It happened 24 miles southwest of Carupano and was felt in Puerto La Cruz, where state oil company PDVSA has a refinery.
"People were very worried and ran into the streets because it felt very strong," Carupano resident Milagros Ordaz told Reuters by telephone. Cars wobbled on the roads in Puerto La Cruz, a witness said.
Ethiopia � country of the silver sickle � offers land dirt cheap to farming giants; Addis Ababa sells vast fertile swaths to international companies in effort to introduce large-scale commercial agriculture
Further west in Gambella, Karuturi Global, the listed Indian horticulture company that employs Rao, is bringing in 1,000 new tractors to work the 300,000 hectares it has leased � making it one of the biggest farms in the Horn of Africa, if not the continent. "It is 120 kilometres [75 miles] wide," Rao said proudly. "Three hours to cross by Jeep."
Ethiopia's great land lease project is moved swiftly ahead. In an effort to introduce large-scale commercial farming to the country, the government is offering up vast chunks of fertile farmland to local and foreign investors at almost giveaway rates. By 2013, 3m hectares of idle land is expected to have been allotted � equivalent to more than one fifth of the current land under cultivation in the country.
The move is part of a wider trend that has seen other African and Asian countries seek to take advantage of high global demand and the cost of crops by offering agricultural land to foreign companies, private equity funds and governments, particularly those of import-dependent Gulf countries.
If done properly, the investments have the potential to increase local food availability and create badly needed jobs. If not � as was the case with the attempt by the South Korean firm Daewoo to lease half of Madagascar's arable land to grow corn for export in 2008, a deal many saw as 21st- century colonialism � they could prove disastrous.
In a food-insecure country such as Ethiopia, where several million people rely on food aid, the idea of offering fertile land to outsiders has raised concerns. But government officials point out that Ethiopia has vast reserves of underused land � 60m hectares of the country's 74m hectares suitable for agriculture is not cultivated � and insist no local farmers will be adversely affected. Esayas Kebede, investment support co-ordinator at the agriculture ministry, said that foreign companies were essential for the move from subsistence to commercial farming, a key part of the country's development strategy.
Marvels from Mars: Stunning postcards from the Red Planet [R]
The two NASA rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, which have been trundling around the Martian surface since 2004, have discovered ancient rocks which may have been formed in long-dried-up Martian seas.
We have not found life - not even microbes, let alone Little Green Men - but many scientists believe that there may have been life in the past that survives, perhaps buried underground, to this day.
Controversy surrounds the possible existence of liquid water on the Martian surface - a probable prerequisite for life.
Some tantalising pictures, taken by the Mars Global Surveyor probe from orbit, showed what look like small springs or streams gushing down steep cliffs.
Mars is equal in area to the land-surface of the Earth - the planet is smaller than our world and has no oceans. But what no one disputes is that it has a beauty out of this world.
Drilling picks up as prices recover; Light oil leads resurgence in activity
CALGARY - Oil and gas drilling activity has gained new life in Western Canada during the first two weeks of the year, rising to levels not seen since 2008 but still below industry averages.
Stronger oil prices have sparked renewed interest in drilling from an industry recovering from soft commodity prices, low demand and tight credit markets.
IEA sees world oil use in 2010 highest since 2007
LONDON -- Global oil demand this year will reach the highest level since 2007, with rising consumption led by faster growth in emerging economies in Asia, the International Energy Agency said on Friday.
The Paris-based adviser to 28 industrialised economies trimmed by 20,000 barrels per day (bpd) its expectations for the rise in global oil demand this year. It now sees demand increasing by 1.4 million barrels per day in 2010.
Outright demand will be 86.3 million bpd, still lower than the 86.5 million bpd used in 2007, but 10,000 bpd higher than previously forecast. Consumption has fallen for the last two years.
�Oil demand in China and Asia has been revised higher by 70,000 bpd from last month, which has more than offset a revision of 60,000 bpd in the OECD,� said David Fyfe, head of the oil industry and markets division of the IEA.
�By 2011, we�re expecting something like another 1 million bpd of growth, but it hinges on the economic recovery.�
Rare Sumatran tiger and her cubs filmed for the first time in the wild by camera trap
The first footage of an incredibly rare female tiger and her cubs have been captured by a camera trap deep in the Sumatran jungle, say researchers.
The big cat family triggered the infrared video camera after the curious hunters stopped to sniff and check out the trap.
The team from WWF-Indonesia have spent five years studying tigers using camera traps on known tiger routes through a forested 'wildlife corridor' in central Sumatra. However, this is the first time a tigress and her cubs have been spotted.
The researchers say the footage gives them a unique insight into the elusive tigers' behaviour and also helps them to identify individual animals.
There are as few as 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild and they are under relentless pressure from poaching and clearing of their habitat.
PAM COMMENTARY: The video looks like the tiger is trying to EAT the camera.
For Google, a Threat to China With Little Revenue at Stake
SAN FRANCISCO � Google has said principle drove its threat to back out of China unless the government there allowed it to run its search engine without censorship.
Analysts say that inevitably, the decision was a business calculation, too.
Google�s business in China, for now, remains small. Estimates put Google�s China revenue last year at about $300 million, a tiny fraction of its more than $22 billion in global sales.
Still, Google�s investment in China includes building a staff of more than 600 people there, many of them highly paid engineers. And in October, Eric E. Schmidt, Google�s chief executive, predicted that China would become a dominant market for online businesses, saying that in five years, the Internet �will be more non-English, it will be Chinese.� Clearly, Google has high hopes for its business there.
But there is also an economic value, even if it is hard to gauge, of the good will that Google�s decision has earned it. And it comes at an opportune moment.
Aristide, Haiti's exiled ex-president, offers to return and help rebuild; Speaking from South Africa, the former priest says he feels a profound need to try to rescue earthquake victims.
Reporting from Johannesburg, South Africa - Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, deposed and exiled in a 2004 coup, offered today to return to Haiti, saying he could not wait to go home to help rebuild his country after Tuesday's devastating earthquake.
In a rare public statement, he said he felt a profound need to try to save the lives of victims awaiting rescue. He refused to take questions on whether he planned to fly to Haiti without an official invitation.
Aristide said supporters around the world had promised a plane to fly him in, with emergency relief. Yet he offered no details on how he planned to return. His choice of venue, a hotel at Johannesburg's international airport, was symbolic of his will to return, Aristide said.
"As far as we are concerned, we are ready to leave today, tomorrow, at any time to join the people of Haiti, to share in their suffering, help rebuild the economy, moving from misery to poverty with dignity," Aristide said, reading a statement in an almost inaudible whisper. His wife, Mildred, was at his side, her eyes downcast throughout the brief news conference.
Tyranny Hasn�t Seen Anything Yet! by George Galloway
We may have complaints about our police, but I tell you, when you see policemen hurling half-bricks into a crowd of women and men who had come to deliver medicine to desperate people under siege, you thank your lucky stars that we do not live in such a State. Fifty five of our 500 were wounded and, but for the shocking effect of Arab public opinion (our own media didn't give a damn) of the live footage (all on Youtube now), we might still be there yet.
Next day, the dictatorship wanted us on our way. We refused to leave without our wounded comrades and the seven of our number who had been taken prisoners. After another stand-off our demands were met and we proceeded to a tumultuous welcome in Gaza our numbers complete. Word came to me from inside the Egyptian tyranny that I was to be arrested when we came out. Had that happened while I was surrounded by 500 pumped up convoy members there would have been serious trouble.
So I sent them the message that I would come out in the dead of the night before and face the music alone, but for my old friend Scots journalist Ron McKay. McKay is a thriller writer these days but what happened next would have taxed even his imagination.
Haiti�s History: Noam Chomsky Traces Underpinnings Of Aristide�s Ouster Back To 1991-1994 Coup (FLASHBACK) [DN]
NOAM CHOMSKY: In Haiti, you can read on the front pages of the main newspapers that death squad leaders are rampaging through the country. The death squad leaders, apart from a hideous record in the�in earlier years, were responsible for maybe 4,000 to 5,000 deaths during the period of the military junta in 1990, 1994�1991 to 1994. The military junta, though it�s�that much is reported, they were leaders of the military junta, which killed maybe 4,000 or 5,000 people than death squads did, the paramilitaries. What is not mentioned is that the military junta was supported by the Bush and the Clinton administrations. Inform, just quickly go over the background. There�s a long, ugly, horrifying history going back two centuries. But just starting in 1990, the Haiti did have its first free election in 1990. The U.S. had a candidate, World Bank official Mark Bean who would assume obviously win. He had all the money and everything else. Nobody was paying attention to what was going on in the slums and the streets and the hills and what was going on was pretty impressive. A lot of large-scale effective organizing among some of the poorest, most miserable people in the world and grassroots movements had developed with nobody paying any attention. Which were so powerful that when it did come to an election, they swept the election. The U.S. candidate got 14% of the vote and Aristide, President Aristide won by a very large majority, which shocked everybody. The United States instantly, instantly turned to overthrowing the government. It withdrew support from badly, desperately needed support from the government and not because the government was inefficient, it was getting very good marks from the international lending institutions and so on, but because it had broken the rules. It was a popular government that had been elected on the basis of large-scale grassroots organizing, all aid was withdrawn from the government. Aid was given, but only to the opposition.
Up until that point, under agreements first with carter and then intensified with Reagan, the U.S. had a virtual blockade around the island during the periods of the vicious military dictatorships that the U.S. was supporting to try to prevent people from escaping. That�s illegal, of course. It�s in gross violation of the universal declaration of human rights and conventional humanitarian law. But anyway, that�s what was going on. They changed it when Aristide was elected. For the first time, Haitians were allowed to come to the United States and accept political asylum, not when they were being tortured by Duvalier�s thugs. It didn�t matter too much because very few people were trying to get out. In fact, during that moment of hope, people for the first time were trying to get in. But if anyone was trying to get out, they were, for the first time, allowed to be called political refugees. When the coup took place, it was anticipated seven months later, it reversed. Then nobody could flee again because they weren�t political refugees. The organization of American states called an embargo after the military coup, bush was then president, announced right away that the U.S. Would disregards it. It would permit U.S. Firms to break the embargo to continue providing aid, commerce with the military junta and the rich backers. The press did report this, New York Times reported it. There was an effort to fine-tune embargo for the benefit of the Haitian poor. And namely by allowing U.S. firms to violate the embargo. That passed without comment. And, in fact, traded with Haiti continued, extended under Clinton, even further. The crucial element in the embargo, any embargo as oil to Haiti, the military would�and the rich elite would run out and wouldn�t be able to continue if they didn�t have oil.
Georgia's answer to the Simpsons; The Samsonadzes portrays Georgian life Simpsons-style, with a couple of Russian leaders thrown in for good measure
PAM COMMENTARY: The secret to The Simpsons is that they're a good reflection of American culture and American realities -- everything from the mutated three-eyed fish near the nuclear power plant to the bullies pounding kids at school. We'll see if the Georgian series can reflect its Georgian audience enough for people to relate to it.
Dozens of animals rescued from home of Alvin breeder
Police and the Houston SPCA raided a suspected puppy mill in Alvin where they found more than 75 animals, including miniature horses, held in deplorable conditions, officials said.
The animals were recovered from a home in the 1100 block of Davis Bend about 7 p.m. Thursday.
About 75 dogs � including American bulldogs, Chihuahuas, Pomeranians and dachshunds � were found in cages stacked on top of each other in a shed and small trailer in the back yard of the home. Some of them were puppies.
Investigators also found horses, miniature horses and guinea pigs.
A resident at the home told officials she bred the dogs and guinea pigs, but that the horses were her pets, according to authorities.
Scientists stop burying live pigs in snow; Growing media pressure generated by activists called it cruel and pointless
VIENNA - Scientists say they will no longer conduct avalanche experiments monitoring the deaths of pigs buried in snow, after animal rights groups protested their methods.
Anesthesiologist Peter Paal says he and his colleagues decided Friday to stop their work because of growing media pressure generated by activists calling it cruel and pointless.
The project in the Austrian Alps was focused on establishing what factors make it possible for humans to survive an avalanche in an air pocket until rescued without suffering permanent brain damage.
Swine flu taskforce's links to vaccine giant: More than half the experts fighting the 'pandemic' have ties to drug firms (UK) [AJ]
More than half the scientists on the swine flu taskforce advising the Government have ties to drug companies.
Eleven of the 20 members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) have done work for the pharmaceutical industry or are linked to it through their universities.
Many have declared interests in GlaxoSmithKline, the vaccine maker expected to be the biggest beneficiary of the pandemic.
The disclosure of the register of interests comes just days after a health expert branded the swine flu outbreak a 'false pandemic' driven by the drug companies which stood to profit.
The Government is now trying to offload up to �1billion worth of unwanted swine flu vaccine.
PAM COMMENTARY: Also see InfoWars.com's link to this article -- it has a number of good links at the bottom for more information on the topic.
Johnson & Johnson expands Tylenol recall
Johnson & Johnson expanded a recall of over-the-counter medications Friday, the second time it has done so in less than a month because of a moldy smell that has made users sick.
The broadening recall now includes some batches of regular and extra-strength Tylenol children's Tylenol, eight-hour Tylenol, Tylenol arthritis, Tylenol PM, children's Motrin, Motrin IB, Benadryl Rolaids, Simply Sleep, and St. Joseph's aspirin. Caplet and geltab products sold in the Americas, the United Arab Emirates, and Fiji were recalled.
Johnson & Johnson's McNeil Consumer Healthcare Products recalled some Tylenol Arthritis Caplets in November due to the smell, which caused nausea, stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Almost three weeks ago, the company expanded its recall to include Tylenol Arthritis Caplets.
The way the company handled the recall has irked federal regulators, who say McNeil did not act fast enough.
The Food and Drug Administration said McNeil knew of the problem in early 2008 but made only a limited investigation.
The agency said about 70 people were either sickened by the odor, or noticed it.
Jury clears British 'Pirate Bay' operator of fraud charge; Operator of music file-sharing search site Oink found not guilty of conspiracy to defraud
The first person in the UK to be prosecuted for online music sharing has been acquitted of conspiracy to defraud, scuppering the music industry's hopes that it would have a homegrown equivalent of last year's high profile Pirate Bay case in Sweden with which to deter British music pirates.
Alan Ellis, 26, was accused of making hundreds of thousands of pounds from the Oink website, which he operated from his flat in Middlesbrough. Before it was shut down in a police raid in 2007, the website had more than 200,000 members who had downloaded more than 21m music files.
Music industry figures last night blasted the verdict at Teesside Crown Court as completely out of line with successful prosecutions in other jurisdictions.
Last April, a court in Sweden found the four men behind the The Pirate Bay website guilty of breaking copyright law and handed down jail terms and a $4.5m (�3m) fine. Neither The Pirate Bay nor Oink actually hosted unlawfully copied material; both merely made it easy for active members to find other people on the web who were prepared to share files.
Chris Matthews on Hardball, replays Pat Robertson's remarks "Haiti Made A Deal With The Devil! True Story!"
PAM COMMENTARY: Pat Robertson's controversial remarks (seeming to blame the victims for Haiti's earthquakes) are replayed here as a segment on "Hardball" (see earlier link for Fox News' coverage).
Keith Olbermann Quick Comment: Robertson blames Haitians for earthquake
PAM COMMENTARY: More comments on Robertson's controversial remarks, this time from Keith Olbermann of MSNBC's "Countdown."
Raw surveillance camera video: Buildings Collapse As Haiti Quake Strikes (Video)
PAM COMMENTARY: There's a 30-second commercial before the video starts, but you can turn the volume down for that. The video itself is from a security camera and doesn't have sound, but it does show a building shaking and then falling down. Then the video cycles to something else (with sound) about Haiti.
Activists protest experiments burying pigs in snow
Vehement protests by animal rights activists prompted scientists on Thursday to temporarily stop an avalanche experiment that involved burying pigs in snow and monitoring their deaths.
The two-week experiment � taking place in the Western Austrian Alps � was trying to determine what factors make it possible for humans to survive an avalanche in an air pocket until rescued without suffering permanent brain damage.
Hermann Brugger, co-director of the experiment led by the Institute of Mountain Emergency Medicine in Bolzano, Italy, and the Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria, asserted the pigs didn't suffer because they were sedated and given an anesthetic beforehand.
But activists called it cruel and pointless.
Google attacks traced back to China, says US internet security firm
An American internet security firm says it has traced the sophisticated cyber-attack against Google and 30 other US companies back to the Chinese government "or its proxies". In its announcement that it might quit China, Google stopped short of accusing the Chinese government of responsibility for the attacks. However, the report from Verisign's iDefense Labs said the internet addresses "of the attack correspond to a single foreign entity consisting either of agents of the Chinese state or proxies thereof".
Internet attacks are difficult to trace to their source as attackers often use several computers, sometimes in different countries, to cover their tracks. The researchers traced the attacks to the servers used to control software involved in the attack. Researchers at the security lab interviewed several sources from defence and intelligence contractors to back up their allegations against the Chinese government.
In Britain, Gordon Brown's spokesman said: "The Google statement contained serious allegations on privacy and freedom of information. We are not privy to their discussions with the Chinese authorities. But we will be watching closely. Clearly internet freedom is a fundamental right and an essential component of a modern economy. At the last bilateral human rights dialogue with China the government lobbied specifically on internet access."
Scott Horton Interviews Cindy Sheehan [WRH]
Peace activist Cindy Sheehan discusses the Peace of the Action anti-empire protests beginning in March in Washington, DC, how current US wars are outlasting the public�s attention span and the need for focused antiwar goals to prevent division among allies and derision in the media.
PAM COMMENTARY: This is an audio interview -- just click the "play" button.
Senior officers admonished in Bahrain hazing case
Roughead's letter noted that Conway should have done more to determine what officers in his chain of command knew about the hazing allegations, what they did to address them and how they followed up on the matter.
The investigation documented more than 90 incidents of harassment of junior sailors assigned to the kennel, including some being force-fed dog treats, locked in a kennel and ordered to simulate oral sex during a training video.
When Conway endorsed the investigation, he asked that its findings be forwarded to the commands of implicated sailors who were transferred before it was complete. There's no record of that happening, so Roughead ordered eight sailors be counseled by superiors "to ensure their awareness of the Navy's policy on hazing."
The kennel master at the center of the abuse - Chief Petty Officer Michael Toussaint - was later promoted. His second-in-command, Petty Officer 1st Class Jennifer Valdivia, killed herself in Bahrain in early 2007 as the investigation was wrapping up.
Long Island Shantytown Is Destroyed
In November, about 15 or more day laborers lived in tents in a wooded area of Huntington Station on Long Island. Homeless people have been making the woods their home for the past 20 years.
Among the men who camped in the woods in November were Huevo, 37, a Salvadoran day laborer who described himself as an alcoholic, and Pablito, 50, a Mexican day laborer who has diabetes.
PAM COMMENTARY: This is in a photo gallery format, where you have to click the arrow for the next photograph, and then you get the next paragraph in the story along with the new photo.
Rehab clinic dumps addicts at airport
CHERTSEY, QUE.�When recovering drug addicts arrived at their 8:30 morning class at the Clear Haven Center north of Montreal as usual last Thursday, they were told of its imminent closure.
Less than 90 minutes later, they were on a bus headed to the airport, some with no plans or means to get home, the Star has learned.
The fragile rehabilitation of some of those addicts began to unravel that day. One 26-year-old man, a heroin user, relapsed the day after returning home and overdosed on the drug, his family says.
Elijah Peabbles is now brain dead and will probably be taken off life support Wednesday.
"None of this would have happened if they hadn't kicked him out like that," said Elijah's 18-year-old brother Preston, reached at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Me.
Police arrest Israeli man with harem, suspect rape
An Israeli man who kept a cult-like harem of women and fathered dozens of children with them has been arrested on suspicion of enslavement, rape and incest, police said Thursday.
Police say Goel Ratzon kept 17 women in a state of near-total obedience in at least three apartments in the Tel Aviv area. Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said they bore him 37 children, some of whom were born to his own daughters.
Ratzon, a self-described healer about 60 years old with flowing white locks and a bushy white beard, controlled the women's money and sometimes abused them if they dared to challenge his control, police alleged.
Authorities have investigated Ratzon before but did not find enough evidence to charge him. A recent law against human trafficking opened the door to pursue enslavement charges, Rosenfeld said.
In final speech, Gov. Kaine touts record
Although he spent much of the address emphasizing what Virginia can be proud of, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine acknowledged in his final speech to the General Assembly that there is much work left.
Chief among the unfinished items is finding a way to pay for Virginia's transportation needs, Kaine said Wednesday night. He blamed House Republicans for the failure to find a fix.
"I had hoped to solve that issue as governor but could not convince you that we needed to invest new state money in roads to maintain our competitive edge," the Democratic governor said during his state of the commonwealth speech.
Republicans, however, said it was a stubborn Kaine who insisted on new taxes instead of compromising.
PAM COMMENTARY: With Pat Robertson's recent remarks about Haiti, it's a bit disturbing that the next Virginia governor (Bob McDonnell) is friends with Pat Robertson and actually graduated from Robertson's university (where McDonnell's controversial thesis was written). Kaine is moving on to chair the DNC, and has already been holding that job part-time while finishing his only term as Virginia's governor.
Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter caught in online sex sting [R]
The former top United Nations weapons inspector has been caught in a sex sting.
Scott Ritter, who served as chief weapons inspector in Iraq, told a 15-year-old girl he wanted to have sex with her and also filmed himself carrying out a sex act on a webcam.
But instead of talking to a teenage girl, he was in contact with an undercover police officer in an online chatroom seeking out child predators.
Ritter, 44, is facing up to ten years in jail and a lifetime on the sex offenders register after being charged with child endangerment.
PAM COMMENTARY: Well, that's disappointing. Ritter was a voice who helped the anti-war movement when Bush was claiming that Iraq had "weapons of mass destruction" as an excuse to invade the country. Ritter, a former Marine and Republican, toured the country and gave many interviews saying that no, Iraq didn't have "WMDs" because he made sure they'd been destroyed in his role as weapons inspector during the 1990s. Of course Bush invaded anyway because he'd already planned to invade Iraq, the WMD lie was just one of many to build his phony case.
Ritter turned out to be right, no such weapons were found after Bush invaded Iraq. There was a case of some soldiers who died transporting WMDs, and it was thought at the time that those weapons were being trucked in so that Bush could grandstand around them and claim he'd found some. But the weapons were so lethal that they killed the men transporting them, and one of the soldier's fathers went on a talk show ("Democracy Now!" I think) and said that even the date his son died had been classified, so he could no longer tell people the day on-air. (I may find that old interview and link to it as a flashback, but so far have been unable to find it -- is it possible that the whole incident was classified and impossible to find online now?)
As far as the police officers who go into chat rooms to fish for predators -- I found them annoying in some of the alternative health chatrooms I'd used in the past. We'd be having a serious discussion about the latest health news of the day or different herbal remedies, and in would come someone claiming to be a 14-year-old, obviously a cop fishing for predators. It was totally out of place and disruptive. But some people still fall for it apparently, don't see through the obvious ploy.
The cricket that pollinates plants
Crickets, like most members of the insect order Orthoptera (grasshoppers and their allies), are well-known for eating plants rather than helping them to reproduce. Until now, the insects known to be involved in pollination, with honey bees leading the way, have included ants, beetles, hoverflies, butterflies and moths, while birds and even bats can be involved in the pollination process � but no crickets or grasshoppers.
The unprecedented behaviour was recorded on a nocturnal camera set up by orchid researcher Claire Micheneau in a R�ion cloud forest, which caught a raspy cricket in the act of pollinating a species of epiphytic, or tree-growing, orchid called Angraecum cadetii.
"We knew from monitoring pollen content in the flowers that pollination was taking place," said Dr Micheneau, who is collaborating with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. "However, we did not observe it during the day. That's why we rigged up a night camera and caught this raspy cricket in action.
"Watching the footage for the first time, and realising we had filmed a truly surprising shift in the pollination of Angraecum, a genus that is mainly specialised for moth pollination, was thrilling."
As wallets open for Haiti, credit card companies take a big cut
As a massive human tragedy unfolds in Haiti, relief organizations are soliciting credit-card donations through their hotlines and websites. About 97 percent of these donations will actually make it to the designated organizations -- but the other 3 percent will be skimmed off by banks and credit card companies to cover their "transaction costs."
Thanks to this hidden fee, American banks and credit card companies are making huge profits -- somewhere in the neighborhood of $250 million a year -- off of people's charitable donations, according to a Huffington Post analysis.
Those profits rise sharply after major disasters, when humanitarian relief organizations such as Oxfam and Operation USA take in more than 85 percent of their donations via credit card -- and the credit card providers, with only a few exceptions, refuse to waive their fees.
Credit card companies have only been willing to waive their processing fee for charity once, Richard Walden, the CEO of Operation USA, tells the Huffington Post, and that was for the tsunami disaster of 2004.
Massive aid effort begun for Haiti quake victims
The early airlifts to Haiti will concentrate on search and rescue efforts, setting up makeshift hospitals and delivering food. One of the first teams expected to arrive in Haiti was 37 search-and-rescue specialists from Iceland, along with 10 tons of rescue equipment.
The Irish telecommunications company Digicel said it would donate $5 million to aid agencies and help repair Haiti's damaged phone network.
Doctors Without Borders said it had already treated over 300 people in tents near where its Martissant health center was damaged. The injuries include broken bones and some severe burns from domestic gas containers that exploded in collapsed buildings. It said hundreds more Haitians were being treated in tents elsewhere.
U.N. humanitarian spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said the neighboring Haitian cities of Carrefour and Jacmel may also be heavily damaged. There is no electricity in Port-au-Prince, Byrs said, adding that the airport was open but not connected by a serviceable road to the city.
Charles Vincent, a senior World Food Program official, said the U.N. already had 15,000 tons of aid in Port-au-Prince. It hoped to airlift 86 tons of high-energy biscuits from El Salvador, enough to feed 30,000 people for a week, but will reroute the shipment through the neighboring Dominican Republic if aid cannot travel over the airport road to the Haitian capital.
Hampton Roads Navy and Coast Guard ships head to Haiti
Several U.S. Coast Guard ships already have left for Haiti. The Portsmouth-based cutter Forward, which arrived in Port-au-Prince early Wednesday morning, was among the first American responders.
The Forward�s Cmdr. Diane Durham, speaking by phone Wednesday afternoon, described the damage her crew has witnessed as �catastrophic.� Piers, buildings and cranes at the capital�s main ports have collapsed. She said about half of a local, 80-man coast guard contingent in Port-au-Prince is dead.
�It�s just devastation everywhere,� she said.
So far the Forward�s 110-person crew has spent most of its time assessing damage, working with surviving local authorities and ferrying supplies and people by helicopter and with small boats, Durham said. Though most piers in the area have been destroyed, the bay appears clear to receive ships carrying aid, she said.
�All U.S. Coast Guard personnel have been reported safe,� she added.
The Forward was moored in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba when the earthquake struck. Durham said her crew felt the ground shake and immediately began preparing to leave.
It�s unclear how long the Forward and other U.S. military ships might be asked to stay in the area, officials said.
More evidence emerges that Americans are drugged out of their minds
Think Americans are maxed out on the number of psychiatric meds that huge numbers of them are taking? Think again. A new report says U.S. adults are increasingly being prescribed combinations of antidepressants, anti-anxiety and antipsychotic medications -- and they could be experiencing serious side effects as a result.
The study, published in the January edition of Archives of General Psychiatry, investigated patterns and trends in what is known as psychotropic polypharmacy, meaning the prescribing of two or more psychiatric drugs. Ramin Mojtabai, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and Mark Olfson, M.D., M.P.H., of Columbia University Medical Center and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, examined data gathered from a national sample of office-based psychiatry practices. In all, the researchers looked at the medications prescribed between 1996 and 2006 during more than 13,000 office visits to psychiatrists by adults.
The results showed a significant increase in the number of mind impacting drugs prescribed over these years. The percentage of doctor visits which resulted in two or more medications being prescribed increased from 42.6 percent to 59.8 percent. What's more, the percentage of visits at which three or more drugs were prescribed soared from 16.9 percent to 33.2 percent. And the median number of medications prescribed at each appointment with a psychiatrist increased on average by of 40.1 percent.
The combinations of drugs being prescribed with increasing frequency include antidepressants with sedative-hypnotics (the most prescribed combination), antidepressants given along with antipsychotics and combinations of several kinds of antidepressants. But at least the doctors prescribing these mixed drugs are only doing so based on solid research showing the combos are safe and effective, right? Wrong.
"Because scant data exist to support the efficacy of some of the most common medication combinations, such as antipsychotic combinations or combinations of antidepressants and antipsychotics, prudence suggests that renewed clinical efforts should be made to limit the use of these combinations to clearly justifiable circumstances," the authors wrote in their paper. "At the same time, a new generation of research is needed to assess the efficacy, effectiveness and safety of common concomitant medication regimens, especially in patients with multiple disorders or monotherapy-refractory conditions."
Obama orders rapid mobilization of U.S. rescue, relief efforts for Haiti
The U.S. government's response accelerated Wednesday as the extent of the disaster became clear. Obama canceled a speech on job creation as his top advisers huddled in the White House Situation Room throughout the day.
But even as U.S. agencies lined up to help, officials sounded a note of concern, saying they are deeply worried about whether Haiti's infrastructure can handle the influx of help. The island's airport and seaport sustained substantial damage in the tremblor.
"If the port is severely damaged, that makes it very, very difficult" to deliver relief supplies, said U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. James A. "Jim" Watson IV, director of Atlantic area operations.
Charities large and small also mobilized Wednesday to help. World Vision staff members worked to move blankets, bottled water and other relief supplies. The American Red Cross promised tarps, mosquito nets and cooking sets for 5,000 families from a warehouse in Panama. And churches and small nonprofits called in volunteers, collected canned goods.
Iranian nuclear scientist slain; It was unclear what may have motivated the bomb attack, which Tehran blamed on the U.S. and Israel.
TEHRAN, IRAN - An Iranian nuclear scientist was killed Tuesday by a remote-controlled bomb planted on a motorcycle parked outside his home, state news outlets reported.
Iran's Foreign Ministry blamed the attack on the United States and Israel, without giving details.
Massoud Ali Mohammadi, 50, was killed as he left his house in a north Tehran neighborhood. State television showed images of crying people and houses with broken windows as a burned-out motorcycle was taken away by security forces. Two people also were reported injured.
The science behind Haiti's quake
The earthquake in Haiti had a preliminary magnitude of 7.0 and it appeared to have occurred along a strike-slip fault, where one side of a vertical fault slips horizontally past the other, scientists say. California's San Andreas fault is also characterized as strike-slip.
It was the strongest earthquake since 1770 in what is now Haiti. In 1946, a magnitude-8.0 quake struck neighboring Dominican Republic and shook Haiti, killing 100 people, most of them in the tsunami that followed. In that case, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, the death toll was light because the quake struck in the afternoon on a holiday.
Tuesday's quake was centered about 10 miles (15 kilometers) west of Port-au-Prince at a depth of 5 miles (8 kilometers), the USGS said. Since then, more than 30 smaller quakes have shaken the island, with magnitudes ranging from 4.5 to 5.9.
Stunned Haitians stacking victims by fallen homes
An Associated Press videographer saw a wrecked hospital where people screamed for help in Petionville, a hillside district that is home to many diplomats and wealthy Haitians as well as the poor.
At a destroyed four-story apartment building, a girl of about 16 stood atop a car, trying to peer inside while several men pulled at a foot sticking from rubble. She said her family was inside.
"A school near here collapsed totally," Petionville resident Ken Michel said Wednesday after surveying the damage. "We don't know if there were any children inside." He said many seemingly sturdy homes nearby were split apart.
U.N. peacekeepers, many of whom are from Brazil, were distracted from aid efforts by their own tragedy: Many spent the night hunting for survivors in the ruins of their headquarters. The agency said Wednesday that 14 personnel were killed and 150 were missing.
"It would appear that everyone who was in the building, including my friend Hedi Annabi, the United Nations' secretary general's special envoy, and everyone with him and around him, are dead," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Wednesday, speaking on RTL radio.
PAM COMMENTARY: This article has an interesting chart of past Haitian natural disasters and a video embedded in it.
Government decides not to seek 5th Gotti trial
NEW YORK�The federal government decided Wednesday not to seek a fifth racketeering trial against John "Junior" Gotti, son of the notorious Gambino family crime boss who also was noted�for a time�for avoiding conviction.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara issued a one-paragraph statement saying they had decided not to seek another trial "in light of the circumstances." Judge Kevin Castel signed an order approving the request.
Gotti, who insists he left organized crime a decade ago, has been free on $2 million bail since a jury deadlocked on Dec. 1 after deliberating for 11 days, forcing a mistrial. He spent the holidays at home on Long Island with his family.
Three trials in 2005 and 2006 also had ended in hung juries.
Male Chromosome May Evolve Fastest
The Y chromosome makes its owner male because it carries the male-determining gene. Boys are born with one Y and one X chromosome in all their body�s cells, while girls have two X�s. The other 22 pairs of chromosomes in which the human genome is packaged are the same in both sexes.
The Y chromosome�s rapid rate of evolutionary change does not mean that men are evolving faster than women. But its furious innovation is likely to be having reverberations elsewhere in the human genome.
The finding was reported online on Wednesday in the journal Nature by a team led by Jennifer Hughes and David Page of the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Mass. In 2003, Dr. Page, working with scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine, decoded the DNA sequence of the human Y chromosome. He and the same Washington University genome team have now decoded the chimpanzee Y chromosome, providing for the first time a reference against which to assess the evolutionary history of the human Y.
The chimpanzee and human lineages shared a common ancestor just six million years ago, a short slice of evolutionary time. Over all, the genomes of the two species are very similar and differ in less than 1 percent of their DNA. But the Y chromosomes differ in 30 percent of their DNA, meaning that these chromosomes are changing far faster in both species than the rest of the genome.
Prosecutors Target Northwestern Journalism Students Working on Exonerating Wrongfully Convicted Prisoners [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: And so, talk about the filing yesterday by the news organizations, Bryan Smith.
BRYAN SMITH: Well, the filing, I believe, was eighteen news organizations filed an amicus brief, including the Washington Post, New York Times, Associated Press, both Chicago papers. It was basically defending the students in this regard, that, as you pointed out in your introduction, you know, one of the operative questions here is whether the students acted as�were acting as reporters or whether they were acting as investigators, criminal investigators.
The students claim that they, you know, were acting as reporters, and they back that claim saying they published the information that they uncovered on their website and also cooperated with a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times to produce a front-page story. Alvarez, on the other hand, says that the students were acting as criminal investigators and without an intent to publish anything. And she also said that the fact that they turned their information over to the Center for Wrongful Convictions suggests that they were actually working with the legal team in an investigative capacity. So this amicus brief is in support of the students� position that they were acting as reporters.
Thousands feared dead in Haiti quake; global rescue and relief efforts underway
At U.N. headquarters in New York, officials told reporters that heavy equipment, search personnel and medical teams were urgently needed in the nation of 9 million, the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said emergency workers had made little progress overnight and urged the United States and other foreign governments to mount a massive international relief effort.
"Basic services such as water and electricity have collapsed almost entirely," Ban said. "Medical facilities have been inundated with injured."
Handicap International, a private relief agency with an office in Haiti, said its head of mission there described "scenes of chaos: mass destruction, the dead and injured lying in the streets, looted shops and petrol stations on fire." The group added in an e-mail, "People everywhere are looking for friends and family members. Most inhabitants have no access to food and water. The numerous aftershocks have forced the population to seek refuge outside of the buildings left standing."
More than two dozen aftershocks of magnitude 4.5 or higher rocked Haiti following Tuesday's temblor, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.
By late Wednesday afternoon, U.S. officials said, a 15-member Disaster Response Assistance Team was on the ground in Haiti to assess where people were most in need of help. A search-and-rescue team from Fairfax County, Va., had also arrived, and two others from Miami and Los Angeles were due in later, along with teams from Britain and France. U.N. officials said China and the Dominican Republic were also sending search-and-rescue teams to Haiti. Each of the U.S. teams has about 72 people and "significant" equipment, the chief U.S. relief coordinator said.
Shep Smith Condemns Pat Robertson's 'Devil' Comments [WRH]
SMITH: The people of Haiti have been used and abused by their government over the years. They have dealt with unthinkable tragedy day in and day out. And we�re in the middle of a crisis the Western Hemisphere has not seen in my lifetime, and 700 miles east of Miami, hundreds of thousands of desperate human beings need our help, our support, our money, and our love. And they don�t need that.
PAM COMMENTARY: Pat Robertson is at it again, this time implying that Haitians deserved the earthquake because of a deal allegedly made with the devil in the past. Every time you think that Pat Robertson can't get any crazier, he manages to outdo himself again. (See my earlier series on Pat Robertson's lunacy in the November 2009 archives.)
PHOTOS: Earthquake hits Haiti
PAM COMMENTARY: A collection of earthquake photos posted by the L.A. Times When you get to the end of one series of numbers, just click the right arrow again, and the next few numbers will appear. There were almost 40 photos in this collection when I checked it.
Haiti's history of misery
Haiti occupies the mountainous western third of the island of Hispaniola. When the Europeans first arrived more than 500 years ago, they were amazed at how wooded the country was.
Now only some 3% of those original forests remain. The rest have been chopped down for lumber or for charcoal, which is still the most widely used fuel in the countryside.
It is this deforestation that increased the havoc caused by a series of storms in 2008 , when almost a thousand people were killed and up to a million were made homeless after four hurricanes struck around the important town of Gonaives in as many weeks.
In 2004, a tropical storm struck the northwest of the country. The historic port of Cap Haitien bore the brunt on that occasion, with an estimated 3,000 people killed.
PAM COMMENTARY: This article whitewashes the US' role in some of Haiti's past political turmoil, but it provides at least a partial outline, and so I'll link to it anyway. Just remember that it was probably written in a hurry, and that something this short can't possibly tell even half of the story.
Army prosecutes single mother for refusing to deploy and put her son in foster care. [WRH]
Spc. Alexis Hutchinson, a 21-year-old Army cook, refused to deploy to Afghanistan in November because she had no one to take care of her 10-month-old son. Hutchinson said when she brought her situation to her superiors� attention, they told her that she would have to deploy anyway and place the child in foster care. �For her it was like, �I couldn�t abandon my child,�� her civilian attorney Rai Sue Sussman told the AP. After skipping her unit�s flight out of Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, GA, millitary police arrested her and confined her to the base while prosecutors decided how to proceed. Today, the Army filed charges against her and, if convicted in a court-martial, she faces several years in prison and a dishonorable discharge:
"A spokesman for Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah said Wednesday that Hutchinson has been charged with missing movement -- for missing her overseas flight -- being absent without leave, dereliction of duty and insubordinate conduct.
"The stiffest charge, missing movement, carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a dishonorable discharge. � But first, an officer will be appointed to decide if there�s enough evidence to try a case against her"
There are 70,500 single parents on active duty in the U.S. military, but cases like Hutchinson�s are �rare.� The Army requires all single-parent soldiers to submit a care plan for dependent children before they can deploy to a combat zone. Hutchinson had such a plan; her mother had agreed to care for the boy but became �overwhelmed� caring for three other relatives and decided she couldn�t keep the baby for a full year. An Army spokesman said the Army would not deploy a single parent with no one to care for his or her child.
Stonehenge on world's most threatened wonders list due to traffic
The government's decision to abandon, on cost grounds, a plan to bury roads around Stonehenge in a tunnel underground and the cancellation of plans for a permanent visitor centre, have put the site on the Threatened Wonders list of Wanderlust magazine.
Other sites are the 4x4-scarred Wadi Rum in Jordan, and the tourist-eroded paths and steps of the great Inca site at Machu Picchu in Peru.
Lyn Hughes, editor in chief of Wanderlust, said the A303 and A344 junctions near Stonehenge meant the site was "brutally divorced from its context".
"Seeing it without its surrounding landscape is to experience only a fraction of this historical wonder,� she told the Guardian.
Ottawa defends fine against U.S. Steel; Government lawyer tells court penalty has to be big enough to deter law-breaking
If fines against foreign companies that fail to keep their promises when investing in Canada are too small the sanction runs the risk of being treated as "just another cost of doing business," the federal government says.
Lawyers representing the attorney general were in Federal Court in Toronto on Wednesday, defending the Investment Canada Act against claims by U.S. Steel Corp. (NYSE: X) that it violates foreign companies' constitutional rights.
U.S. Steel, which bought the former Stelco for more than $1 billion in 2007, is facing possible fines of up to $10,000 a day � an amount the company says could amount to $14.6 million � for its failure to keep employment and production promises it made when it acquired the Hamilton-based steelmaker. Under the act, it could also face divestiture of its Canadian operations.
However, U.S. Steel is arguing that the case should be dismissed entirely because the act punishes companies that don't comply with the rules as if they had committed a criminal offence, but doesn't give them the rights guaranteed under criminal proceedings, and therefore violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Evidence of dogs' sixth-sense: Labrador bolts from U.S. office before earthquake tremors strike building [R]
Animal instinct, pet owners swear by it. From cats sensing impending health problems like seizures, to dogs barking madly when unfamiliar footsteps appear on the garden path.
Even as far back as 373BC, it is recorded that animals, including rats, snakes and weasels, deserted the Greek city of Helice in droves just days before a quake devastated the place.
Those without that 'special bond', though, remain sceptical. But doubters, prepare to be converted.
CCTV footage has emerged of a news station office in North Carolina seconds before an eathquake struck on January 9.
Thousands feared dead in Haiti quake; many trapped
President Rene Preval said he believes thousands were killed in Tuesday afternoon's magnitude-7.0 quake, and the scope of the destruction prompted other officials to give even higher estimates. Leading Sen. Youri Latortue told The Associated Press that 500,000 could be dead, although he acknowledged that nobody really knows.
"Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed," Preval told the Miami Herald. "There are a lot of schools that have a lot of dead people in them."
Even the main prison in the capital fell down, "and there are reports of escaped inmates," U.N. humanitarian spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said in Geneva.
The head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission was missing and the Roman Catholic archbishop of Port-au-Prince was dead.
Google may shut down in China; Human Rights Activists' E-mail Accounts Attacked
(01-12) 18:05 PST San Francisco -- In a surprise announcement late Tuesday, Google Inc. said it may turn its back on the massive Chinese marketplace, following a sophisticated cyber attack that targeted the e-mail accounts of human rights advocates in the Asian nation.
In response to the digital assault, the Mountain View Internet giant said it will stop censoring search results in the country, reversing a widely criticized compromise it first made when launching in China.
Google stopped short of accusing the Chinese government of orchestrating or encouraging the security breach, but the object of the attacks and Google's emphatic response both underscored the likelihood in the minds of many observers.
"That's the strong implication," said Greg Sterling, founding principal of Sterling Market Intelligence.
An unusually candid corporate blog post by David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer, said that 20 large companies were also attacked. The company is in the process of notifying those businesses and working with unspecified U.S. authorities on a wider investigation.
Agencies mount sweep in search of illegal Miami-Dade slaughterhouses
A massive force of federal, state and county agents early Tuesday hit an isolated pocket of West Miami-Dade County suspected to be at the center of Miami's black market in horse flesh, an illicit trade exposed by nearly two dozen grisly horse killings.
It was a major operation, with at least 100 police officers and regulators, from county code enforcers to animal service investigators to state business regulators to federal environmental and food safety inspectors.
``We don't know what is in there. We could have slaughterhouses, illegal dumping. We're targeting every aspect,'' said Charles Danger, director of Miami-Dade County's Building and Neighborhood Compliance Department. The multiagency effort, planned for months, was intended as a crackdown on a string of unlicensed slaughterhouses that have operated openly for decades in a small unincorporated area west of Hialeah Gardens called the C-9 Basin.
``We've been working on this since the first news of the horse slaughters,'' said Danger. ``This is an area that for a long time has needed enforcement action.''
�Baby Einstein� Founder Goes to Court
A co-founder of the company that created the �Baby Einstein� videos has asked a judge to order the University of Washington to release records relating to two studies that linked television viewing by young children to attention problems and delayed language development.
�All we�re asking for is the basis for what the university has represented to be groundbreaking research,� the co-founder, William Clark, said in a statementMonday. �Given that other research studies have not shown the same outcomes, we would like the raw data and analytical methods from the Washington studies so we can audit their methodology, and perhaps duplicate the studies, to see if the outcomes are the same."
Mr. Clark said that he had been seeking the information for years, but that the university had either denied his requests or failed to be fully responsive.
A spokesman for the university said its lawyers had not yet read the complaint and could not comment on the complaint.
PAM COMMENTARY: Interesting, but I never know who to believe when I hear things like "can't duplicate the studies." That's the same excuse used by Thomas Rivers of the Rockefeller Institute to try to discredit Royal Rife's work in the 1920s and 30s. It turns out River's claim was dishonest and probably due to academic jealousy -- Rivers didn't even have the right equipment to attempt a duplicate study, and his virus theory would have been discredited if Rife's work had been accepted. So Rivers had motives to mislead other scientists about Rife's research.
In the case of �Baby Einstein,� it's possible that the claims of other researchers are legitimate, but it's also possible that they don't like competing theories or products.
PETA pulls ads featuring Michelle Obama
McLEAN, Va. � The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said Tuesday it is pulling an ad campaign that used the likeness of first lady Michelle Obama without her permission.
At the same time, PETA is urging the White House to take a stand against another unauthorized use � the debut last week of the Ringling Bros. circus' newest performing elephant, "Baby Barack."
PETA said it used photos of Michelle Obama in an anti-fur campaign because the first lady does not wear fur. But they never received authorization to use her image.
L.A. Unified names school complex for RFK; Mexican food titan also honored
The education complex at the site of the once-grand Ambassador Hotel will be named in honor of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, who was killed there by an assassin in 1968. The long-expected honor, approved by the Los Angeles Unified school board this afternoon, faced no opposition. The discussion quickly evolved into a tribute to the senator, who was cut down as he celebrated his win in the Democratic presidential primary at the storied Wilshire Boulevard hotel.
�We can now continue the legacy of Robert F. Kennedy,� said Kennedy friend Paul Schrade, who has worked with local allies for years to create a school as a fitting memorial for the senator.
The Ambassador school project has become �a symbol of hope for so many of us,� said board member Nury Martinez, who like others struggled to keep her composure.
The effort that resulted in the Kennedy complex began in the 1980s, when the school district battled over the decaying Ambassador Hotel with developer Donald Trump, who wanted to build the world�s tallest building on the site. That tug-of-war persisted for more than a decade, even after Trump ceded his interest to other developers.
Quake hits Haiti; reports of ``catastrophe of major proportions'' emerging
A powerful 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck near the capital of Haiti Tuesday afternoon, crippling the impoverished island nation and knocking out most of its communication with the outside world.
There were no fatalities reported as of 8 p.m., but there were growing, alarming reports of mass destruction -- a hospital was reported to have collapsed and people were heard screaming for help.
Sections of the National Palace have crumbled and there were reports of injuries.
``There are people injured in the palace,'' said Fritz Longchamp, executive director of the palace. ``I'm calling for help and medical assistance for them.''
Haitian President Ren�r�l and the First Lady have sought safe haven on the island, The Miami Herald has learned.
Part of the road to Canape Vert, a suburb of the capital city of Port-au-Prince, has collapsed, as have houses perched in the mountains of Petionville, where the quake was centered. Petionville is a suburb some 10 miles up from downtown from Port-au-Prince.
PAM COMMENTARY: Earthquakes rarely go as high as 7.0 -- that would be a major, devastating event.
Miep Gies, who helped hide Anne Frank, dies at 100
Miep Gies, the office secretary who defied the Nazi occupiers to hide Anne Frank and her family for two years and saved the teenager's diary, has died, the Anne Frank House museum said Tuesday. She was 100.
Gies died from a neck injury sustained in a fall at her home shortly before Christmas, museum spokeswoman Annemarie Bekker said.
Gies was the last of the few non-Jews who supplied food, books and good cheer to the secret annex behind the canal warehouse where Anne, her parents, sister and four other Jews hid for 25 months during World War II.
After the apartment was raided by the German police, Gies gathered up Anne's scattered notebooks and papers and locked them in a drawer for her return after the war. The diary, which Frank had been given on her 13th birthday, chronicles her life in hiding from June 12, 1942 until August 1, 1944.
Gies refused to read the papers, saying even a teenager's privacy was sacred. Later, she said if she had read them she would have had to burn them because they incriminated the "helpers."
Iraq invasion violated international law, Dutch inquiry finds; Investigation into the Netherlands' support for 2003 war finds military action was not justified under UN resolutions
The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a violation of international law, an independent inquiry in the Netherlands has found.
In a damning series of findings on the decision of the Dutch government to support Tony Blair and George Bush in the strategy of regime change in Iraq, the inquiry found the action had "no basis in international law".
The 551-page report, published today and chaired by former Dutch supreme court judge Willibrord Davids, said UN resolutions in the 1990s prior to the outbreak of war gave no authority to the invasion. "The Dutch government lent its political support to a war whose purpose was not consistent with Dutch government policy. The military action had no sound mandate in international law," it said.
The report came as the Chilcot inquiry in the UK heard evidence from Tony Blair's former press secretary, Alastair Campbell, about Britain's decision to enter the war.
Lobbyists helped Murkowski write bill to limit EPA;
GREENHOUSE GASES: Both men held top posts in the agency under Bush, D.C. newspaper reports.
Both men had high-ranking positions in the EPA during the Bush administration. Holmstead was an assistant administrator for air and radiation. Martella served as the EPA's general counsel. Holmstead's clients include the CSX railroad, Arch Coal, Duke Energy and Progress Energy, according to Senate lobbying records. Martella's clients include the National Alliance of Forest Owners and the Alliance of Food Associations.
Murkowski's proposed amendment came shortly before the EPA announced in December that pollution from greenhouse gases endangers public health. At the same time, the agency announced plans to move forward with regulations that will limit emissions by large producers of greenhouse gases.
The EPA's move to regulate carbon dioxide and other emissions is part of its compliance with a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision requiring the agency to determine whether greenhouse gases endanger the country's health and welfare. If the agency found that such emissions are indeed dangerous -- which it did -- the court instructed the EPA to address the problem.
The Obama administration has said it would prefer that Congress write the guidelines, and it could be years before the EPA rules take effect. But if Congress doesn't act, the EPA's rules could set the standard for greenhouse gas emissions on the part of large emitters such as power plants, factories and other so-called stationary sources of pollution.
Damaged container of explosives shuts down North Carolina port
MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (AP) -- Officials shut down a North Carolina port and urged people to leave the area Tuesday after a forklift operator punctured at least one container filled with a powerful explosive.
The material was pentaerythritol tetranitrate, but it's not clear what form it was in, Mayor Jerry Jones said.
The chemical is also known as PETN, the substance authorities say was part of a device a Nigerian man used to try to bring down a Detroit-bound Northwest flight on Christmas Day. PETN is often used in military explosives and found inside blasting caps. It is also the primary ingredient in detonating cords used for industrial explosions.
Jones said the damage appeared to be an accident and there were no concerns about terrorism. He said a dock worker punctured a container as he was unloading barrels of the chemical.
Police Fight Cellphone Recordings; Witnesses taking audio of officers arrested, charged with illegal surveillance [WRH]
Jon Surmacz, 34, experienced a similar situation. Thinking that Boston police officers were unnecessarily rough while breaking up a holiday party in Brighton he was attending in December 2008, he took out his cellphone and began recording.
Police confronted Surmacz, a webmaster at Boston University. He was arrested and, like Glik, charged with illegal surveillance.
There are no hard statistics for video recording arrests. But the experiences of Surmacz and Glik highlight what civil libertarians call a troubling misuse of the state's wiretapping law to stifle the kind of street-level oversight that cellphone and video technology make possible.
"The police apparently do not want witnesses to what they do in public,'' said Sarah Wunsch, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, who helped to get the criminal charges against Surmacz dismissed.
Boston police spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll rejected the notion that police are abusing the law to block citizen oversight, saying the department trains officers about the wiretap law. "If an individual is inappropriately interfering with an arrest that could cause harm to an officer or another individual, an officer's primary responsibility is to ensure the safety of the situation,'' she said.
In 1968, Massachusetts became a "two-party'' consent state, one of 12 currently in the country. Two-party consent means that all parties to a conversation must agree to be recorded on a telephone or other audio device; otherwise, the recording of conversation is illegal. The law, intended to protect the privacy rights of individuals, appears to have been triggered by a series of high-profile cases involving private detectives who were recording people without their consent.
PAM COMMENTARY: How is documenting something from a safe distance "interfering"? Sounds like the law needs to be changed.
The Yemen Hidden Agenda: Behind the Al-Qaeda Scenarios, A Strategic Oil Transit Chokepoint
On December 25 US authorities arrested a Nigerian named Abdulmutallab aboard a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on charges of having tried to blow up the plane with smuggled explosives. Since then reports have been broadcast from CNN, the New York Times and other sources that he was "suspected" of having been trained in Yemen for his terror mission. What the world has been subjected to since is the emergence of a new target for the US �War on Terror,� namely a desolate state on the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen. A closer look at the background suggests the Pentagon and US intelligence have a hidden agenda in Yemen.
For some months the world has seen a steady escalation of US military involvement in Yemen, a dismally poor land adjacent to Saudi Arabia on its north, the Red Sea on its west, the Gulf of Aden on its south, opening to the Arabian Sea, overlooking another desolate land that has been in the headlines of late, Somalia. The evidence suggests that the Pentagon and US intelligence are moving to militarize a strategic chokepoint for the world�s oil flows, Bab el-Mandab, and using the Somalia piracy incident, together with claims of a new Al Qaeda threat arising from Yemen, to militarize one of the world�s most important oil transport routes. In addition, undeveloped petroleum reserves in the territory between Yemen and Saudi Arabia are reportedly among the world�s largest.
The 23-year-old Nigerian man charged with the failed bomb attempt, Abdulmutallab, reportedly has been talking, claiming he was sent on his mission by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), based in Yemen. This has conveniently turned the world�s attention on Yemen as a new center of the alleged Al Qaeda terror organization.
Study sees parking lot dust as a cancer risk; Sealant doesn't stay put on pavements, raising health concerns
Chemicals in a cancer-causing substance used to seal pavement, parking lots and driveways across the U.S. are showing up at alarming levels in dust in homes, prompting concerns about the potential health effects of long-term exposure, a new study shows.
The substance is coal tar sealant, a waste product of steel manufacturing that is used to protect pavement and asphalt against cracking and water damage, and to impart a nice dark sheen. It is applied most heavily east of the Rockies but is used in all 50 states.
But scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey say the sealant � one of two types commonly used in the U.S. � doesn�t stay put. It slowly wears off and is tracked into homes on the shoes of residents.
The USGS study, which found high levels of chemicals used in the sealant in house dust, marks the first time researchers have raised alarms about potential health effects for humans � especially young children � from the parking-lot coatings.
Body scanners can store, send images, group says
Washington (CNN) -- A privacy group says the Transportation Security Administration is misleading the public with claims that full-body scanners at airports cannot store or send their graphic images.
The TSA specified in 2008 documents that the machines must have image storage and sending abilities, the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) said.
In the documents, obtained by the privacy group and provided to CNN, the TSA specifies that the body scanners it purchases must have the ability to store and send images when in "test mode."
That requirement leaves open the possibility the machines -- which can see beneath people's clothing -- can be abused by TSA insiders and hacked by outsiders, said EPIC Executive Director Marc Rotenberg.
PAM COMMENTARY: Even if images can't be stored on any given computer, hackers may be able to intercept the signal going from the scanner through the airport's computer network, or through a wireless signal used instead of cabling. Unless the cabling and encryption is done very carefully to isolate the scanner and its cables (and I'm sure in many cases it won't be, just because everyone wants to hire the cheapest and therefore least-experienced IT help), then the machine could expose scanned "data" (virtual nude images of passengers) to the outside world.
Soda fountains contained fecal bacteria, study found
(CNN) -- It fizzes. It quenches. And it could also contain fecal bacteria.
Nearly half of the 90 beverages from soda fountain machines in one area in Virginia tested positive for coliform bacteria -- which could indicate possible fecal contamination, according to a study published in the January issue of International Journal of Food Microbiology.
Researchers also detected antibiotic-resistant microbes and E.coli in the soda samples.
"Certainly we come in contact with bacteria all the time," Renee Godard, lead author of the study and professor of biology and environmental studies at Hollins University, a private liberal arts college in Roanoke, Virginia. "It's simply that some bacteria may potentially cause some disease or gastrointestinal distress. One thing we hesitate with is that people get afraid of bacteria. Many of them are benign or helpful, but certainly, I don't want E.coli in my beverage."
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's drinking-water regulations require that all samples test negative for E.coli.
Canadian owner of exotic animals killed by tiger
LONDON, Ont. -- A 66-year-old exotic animal owner from southern Ontario, Canada, was attacked and killed by his 650 pound tiger as he entered the animal's cage to feed it.
Ontario Provincial Police were aware that Norman Buwalda kept exotic animals on his property in Southwold, southwest of London, Ont. when they responded to an emergency call Sunday afternoon.
A family member had found Buwalda a short time after the incident and managed to lock the male Siberian tiger in a separate portion of the cage. Buwalda, who was the chairman of the Canadian Exotic Animal Owner's Association, was pronounced dead at the scene.
This was not the first incident involving a tiger on Buwalda's property. In 2004, a 10-year-old Toronto boy suffered serious neck and head injuries after being mauled by a tiger. The boy survived.
Oink creator improving his skills, court told
A software engineer whose illegal pirate music website allowed 21 million songs to be downloaded told a court today he set it up in his bedroom to brush up on his computing skills.
Alan Ellis, 26, was studying at Teesside University and living in shared digs when he created the Oink website in 2004.
When police raided his terraced home three years later, they found almost 300,000 dollars in his accounts and the site had 200,000 members, Teesside Crown Court has heard.
He entered the witness box to begin his defence, explaining that he set up the website to improve his skills because he was unhappy with his "outdated" software engineering honours degree.
Bomb Blast Kills Physics Professor in Tehran
PARIS � A remote-controlled bomb attached to a motorcycle killed an Iranian physics professor outside his home in northern Tehran on Tuesday, state media reported, blaming the United States and Israel for the attack.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. One state broadcaster, IRIB, quoted a Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying that �in the initial investigation, signs of the triangle of wickedness by the Zionist regime, America and their hired agents are visible in the terrorist act� against the scientist, Massoud Ali Mohammadi.
There was some dispute about his field of scientific specialization.
The English-language Press TV said he taught neutron physics at Tehran University, although it was not clear whether he was part of Iran�s contentious nuclear enrichment program.
The broadcaster called the professor a �staunch supporter of the Islamic Revolution� of 1979 that overthrew the Shah and initiated three decades of theocratic rule.
But two Iranian academics, who spoke in return for anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said in telephone interviews that he was not a nuclear physicist and had specialized in particle and theoretical physics. The Web site of Tehran University lists him as a professor of elementary particle physics.
Chemical engineer gets 4 years for Iran deals
In one of two federal cases Monday involving illegal trade with Iran, a chemical engineer in suburban Philadelphia is being sentenced to four years in prison for trying to sell chemicals to his native country.
Prosecutors say 65-year-old Ali Amirnazmi (ah-meer-NAZ'-me) of Berwyn tried to supply chemicals to Iranian businesses. Some of the chemicals involved are used to make rocket propellants.
Appraising Kaine: A term marked by tragedy, economic woes
Republican Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell, a conservative with Virginia Beach ties, will be sworn into office Saturday. His governing philosophy, it's safe to say, is decidedly different from Kaine's.
"Kaine had the misfortune of leading during a time when the opposition party was in no mood to cut deals again with a Democratic governor," Rozell said.
There's an element of truth to that, conceded Griffith, who still faults Kaine for failing to broker deals with rivals.
"Either he lacked the skills or he wasn't willing to work towards some type of compromise," Griffith said.
To counter such claims, Kaine points to coalitions he forged to improve Virginia's foster care system and reduce infant mortality. He also highlights the restaurant smoking ban accord reached with Republicans last year.
PAM COMMENTARY: As regular readers of my site may know, I lived in Virginia for a part of Kaine's term, and I'm a Democrat. (For the benefit of new readers, I'm well aware that the party isn't perfect, but typically they're more likely to help the little guy, and less likely to sell the country to big financial interests. Not always -- just more often than the other big party.) I saw Kaine at a some of their events there, and I'm familiar with the man.
This article doesn't really address the Kaine who I observed. My impression of Kaine was that he was "there" but not outstanding -- fairly sane and better than some of the corrupt crazies in politics these days, but not exceptional at anything. He didn't seem to be openly passionate about any causes, didn't make enough "progress" on any issues to be "known" for them. He wasn't a great speaker, or a great campaigner, or even friendly as far as I could tell.
He didn't come up with bad legislative ideas himself, but then he'd go along with some of the worst Republican legislation I've ever seen, for example the unpopular mandatory HPV vaccines for schoolgirls (the drug company-supported delegate, Hamilton, who introduced that bill at the request of drug companies has since been disgraced and left office, but the law still stands), and the "abusive driver fees" where police could decide to fine motorists thousands of dollars for a single traffic ticket (that law has since been reversed after a massive public outcry and petitions). When laws are that bad, a decent governor would veto them. Not Kaine. He didn't really STAND for anything -- not for his favorite causes, not against the worst laws, not even for popular issues simply to earn points with voters. Perhaps that's because he was a Democrat in a Republican state, and he didn't feel free to be who he was, or say how he felt. If so, he was good at hiding it.
When the next election came around, Kaine couldn't run because Virginia only allows its governors one consecutive term. That may have been OK for Kaine, but not for Deeds, the new Democratic candidate. Anything Kaine had done would obviously carry over somewhat in peoples' minds to the next Democratic candidate, and they could remember a few negative-to-mediocre things about Kaine, but nothing exceptional to override all of that in their minds. Again, he was just sort of "there." Deeds lost the election, although not entirely because of Kaine's non-legacy.
Kaine did endorse Obama early in the Democratic primaries, and most think that is the reason Kaine was awarded the DNC chair. Whether he can provide the leadership to get Democrats elected, we'll see -- so far his record has been mixed. And I guess that word "leadership" sums it up. Former DNC chairs like Howard Dean had that quality. People were inspired by Dean and glad to follow him, work for him, embrace his strategy. And they won, partly because Dean's 50-state strategy was a winner, and partly because George Bush was so bad that he won elections for Democrats. With Kaine -- he'll have to be more "leadership" than "there" to win. I've never thought of him as "inspiring," but maybe there's a side to him that I haven't seen yet, that he can show now that he's only accountable to Democrats, that he didn't think was necessary to show in a state-level administrative role. I guess we'll see how it plays out in the years to come.
Earthquake swarm continues at California-Mexico border
The California border continued to rattle with significant seismic activity five days after a 5.8 earthquake struck the region.
The most recent strong aftershocks from Wednesday's quake registered 4.0 and 3.1, among scores that have occurred south of the border in the last few days. Some of these quakes have been felt by residents in California and Mexico, but there have been no reports of injuries or damage.
The strongest aftershock was 4.8. Most have been centered in Mexico near Mexicali and the town of Guadalupe Victoria.
The border area is considered a seismically active region, but quake experts say the 5.8 temblor is the kind of quake seen about once a decade.
The 5.8 quake was felt over a wide section of the Southwest, including San Diego, Phoenix and Tijuana. It occurred at 10:48 a.m. about 20 miles southeast of Mexicali.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, residents across Imperial County, San Diego County, Orange County and even Los Angeles County reported feeling the temblor.
China unveils anti-missile test after Taiwan sale
China successfully tested emerging military technology aimed at destroying missiles in mid-air, the government said, while state media warned ties with Washington would be hurt by U.S. missile sales to Taiwan.
China claims Taiwan is an illegitimate breakaway from mainland rule and sees the U.S. arms sales an intrusion into a domestic dispute.
The brief report on the "ground-based mid-course missile interception technology" from China's state-run Xinhua news agency gave few details, and did not specify whether any missile or object had been destroyed in the test, staged on Chinese soil.
"The test has achieved the expected objective," said the report, without describing that objective.
"The test is defensive in nature and is not targeted at any country," it quoted the Chinese Foreign Ministry as saying.
Railway tie gasifier gets nod from IHA; Technology will work with creosoted ties as fuel, say health officials
A proposed gasification plant in Mission Flats designed to turn railway ties into energy has no health concerns that can�t be ruled out through rigorous monitoring, according to an Interior Health Authority letter.
A team of health professionals was consulted on a permit application by Aboriginal Cogeneration to gasify thousands of creosote-laden ties in a pilot project to create electricity. It sent its recommendation to the Ministry of Environment this week.
�This appears to be a fuel you can deal with using this technology,� said Ken Christian, director of health protection for IHA.
US to store $800m in military gear in Israel
The U.S. Army will double the value of emergency military equipment it stockpiles on Israeli soil, and Israel will be allowed to use the U.S. ordnance in the event of a military emergency, according to a report in Monday�s issue of the U.S. weekly Defense News.
The report, written by Barbara Opall-Rome, the magazine�s Israel correspondent, said that an agreement reached between Washington and Jerusalem last month will bring the value of the military gear to $800 million.
This is the final phase of a process that began over a year ago to determine the type and amount of U.S. weapons and ammunition to be stored in Israel, part of an overarching American effort to stockpile weapons in areas in which its army may need to operate while allowing American allies to make use of the ordnance in emergencies.
The agreement was signed by Brig. Gen. Ofer Wolf, who heads the Israel Defense Forces� technology and logistics branch, and Rear Adm. Andy Brown, the logistics director of U.S. Army European Command.
PAM COMMENTARY: Almost a billion in weapons that Israel can use as it deems "necessary"? Sounds like sneaky back-door military aid to me!
Blagojevich Sorry He Said 'I'm Blacker' Than Obama [R]
CHICAGO (Jan. 11) - Ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich said Monday that it was stupid for him to tell Esquire magazine that he's "blacker than Barack Obama" and that he doesn't believe it anyway.
In an interview on WLS Radio in Chicago, Blagojevich explained he was speaking metaphorically to the reporter whose story appears in the February issue of the magazine. He said his comments were made out of frustration with the way blacks and others who are struggling are treated by government.
"It's a stupid metaphor to say I'm blacker than Barack Obama, that I apologize for," he said. "It's not appropriate for me, a white person, to stand out somehow and claim to be a black person, that's just wrong ... I was expressing frustration that the policies of this new administration still haven't really been focusing on the great deal of inequities we have in our society."
PAM COMMENTARY: Even though some may consider his remarks to be controversial, I know what he means. Sometimes black politicians' priorities are much the same as white politicians' and the black community's needs are delayed or not even addressed. The remedy for this could include finding white politicians who are better advocates, and sometimes even more familiar with the plight of minority communities, due to their personal background. It's all politics -- choosing the best person to represent you.
Fox News VP: We �hope� Palin will be �polarizing� as a Fox News contributor. [BF]
Yesterday, Fox News announced that former Alaska governor Sarah Palin had signed a multi-year deal as a contributor to the conservative cable network. �Governor Palin has captivated everyone on both sides of the political spectrum and we are excited to add her dynamic voice to the FOX News lineup,� said Fox News Executive Vice President for Programming Bill Shine in a statement. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Shine also said that he hopes Palin will be a �polarizing� voice on the network:
With her hiring, Fox News gets a high-profile figure whose pronouncements on issues such as healthcare reform have helped drive contentious partisan debate � it was her Facebook post that first raised the term �death panels.�
�She is one of the most talked about and politically polarizing figures in the country,� said Bill Shine, the network�s executive vice president of programming. �First off, we hope she brings that.�
Shine, who said last year that Fox was �the voice of opposition� to the Obama administration, also said that �he was not concerned that Palin would make false assertions on the air.� If Palin says something controversial on the air, �in the end, that�s probably going to help us,� said Shine. �That�s what people will want to watch.�
PAM COMMENTARY: Of course. Fox isn't good at much, other than The Simpsons, and doesn't have a lot of real news other than some respectable reporting by its local stations in the larger cities.
Fox News: Blowhards, yes. Journalism, no. Just following the rules of a Murdoch company.
Massive pay and little spent on actual research -- Cancer leader quits, meeting Monday [BF]
Mr. Hill said he discovered nearly half the money raised in 2007 nationally went to salaries, and more money went to prevention rather than a cure for the disease.
�Due to these excessive salaries and other info I have found, I can no longer ask anyone for any money for the American Cancer Society as I have no interest in paying this highly paid executives while they lay off 140 individual who needed their jobs,� Mr. Hill wrote.
Mr. Hill announced he would leave the leadership position and outlined the details about his research in a letter to the editor printed in The News-Times Sunday, Jan. 3, edition. The letter was also sent as a mass e-mail Dec. 31 to Relay For Life volunteers.
Mr. Hill stated in the letter that he researched ACS executive compensation after receiving an e-mail from Tony LaFond, Regional Relay Online Leadership Team Member for Eastern North Carolina.
Mr. LaFond�s e-mail stated leaders of county chapters needed to concentrate on expenses and raise more money to find a cure for the disease. He also said 2010 Relay For Life T-shirts would not be printed locally, and there will be a limit on the amount of shirts each county will receive to save money.
Mr. Hill said he assumed Mr. LaFond was passing along orders from corporate ACS. He became both curious and skeptical about the national organization and launched his online search, striking pay dirt in an Atlanta-based Web site called Atlanta Unfiltered. That site listed research in the ACS pay and links to tax documents.
He discovered CEO John Seffrin was paid a total of $1,045,887 in salary, benefits and deferred compensation for the year ending Aug. 31, 2008, according to tax records; 2007 earnings were $947,687; and $810,796 in 2006. The total for the deputy CEO, Donald Thomas, went from $596,000 in 2007 to more than $1.2 million in 2008. Mr. Hill cited www.atlantaunfiltered.com/2009/12/21/john-seffrin-american-cancer-societsy-ceo-1045887/ for this information.
PAM COMMENTARY: I have yet to find a large cancer research organization that genuinely intends to find a cure for the disease, and feel sorry for good-hearted people who participate in events that they're led to believe will help find a cure. All that time and energy wasted for mega-salaries of non-profit executives, and surprisingly, costs of fundraising itself. (I once had a contract job at ACS, and asked them about how they make decisions on spending their research dollars. They informed me that LOCAL offices -- as in, the local ACS office in any city -- don't participate in research funding decisions. Their sole purpose is to fundraise for the larger organization, which will decide how to spend the money elsewhere.)
I've found the best new possibilities come from alternative medicine, and indeed when I thought that I had breast cancer, alternative medicine is what I used from start to finish, with fast and impressive results. (For those interested, I primarily used a combination of the Hulda Clark zapper and Budwig diet, along with dietary changes and other things that may have all contributed to the positive outcome in their own way -- see my YouTube video series to get the full protocol combination that I used, and details behind them.)
In contrast, my Aunt Sharon just died of breast cancer in December. I may write an article about that when I'm ready to deal with that tragedy, but long story short she used conventional medicine all the way. Her breast cancer was detected early, she had a double mastectomy even though it wasn't medically necessary, just for preventative measures at her doctor's suggestion. Then when it "came back" a few months later and was "terminal," she just followed her doctor's orders... and died. I gave her information on where she could find the protocols that helped me, but she wasn't the type of person to stray from her doctor's orders or suggestions, even when he told her that she was going to die under his care. That's my experience with the disease -- alternative medicine seems to yield the best results, and any research money is probably best spent there.
Galloway right to relish Egypt expulsion
George Galloway was deported from Egypt on Friday as "persona non grata" by the Egyptian authorities, accusing him of undermining Egyptian security. What a bizarre, twisted and demented accusation from a dictatorial regime that has ruled Egypt for over 30 years and which has been an accomplice with Israel to the Gaza blockade causing untold suffering of the Palestinian people.
Let me declare my interest from the outset, I am not a great fan of Galloway, in fact I am standing as the Liberal Democrats' parliamentary candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow, where he is the current MP, and in the next general election I will be providing a direct challenge to his party, Respect.
However, leaving aside party or political differences I agree with Galloway when he says "It's always been a badge of honour to be deported by a tinpot dictator". I, like many others around the world, have been disgusted by the way Egyptian authorities have dealt with this aid convoy. I have found Galloway courageous enough to stand up to both Israel and Egyptian authorities. It is a shame that no other British MPs or politicians have shown even an ounce of courage in the same way.
Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, has never been a friend of freedom-loving people. He has never supported just causes and of course he has never signed up to democratic reform in Egypt. No civilised person should have any word of support for this dictator nor should we have any economic or political relationship with the regime. People of Egypt have been strangled by this regime and if I ever support regime change, this regime would be at top of my list. Unfortunately, the British and American governments have sustained such illegitimate regimes for too long.
MP George Galloway tells Norm Coleman how it is (Video) (FLASHBACK)
PAM COMMENTARY: This is Galloway from a few years back, demonstrating real manhood to the US Senate.
Some background -- the Bush administration was trying to punish British Member of Parliament Galloway for not supporting the Iraq War, this time by falsely accusing him of corruption in the old "oil for food" program. In this video, Galloway is addressing former Republican Senator Norm Coleman, who has since lost his Senate seat to former SNL comedian/Air America radio show host Al Franken.
Norm Coleman came into office under suspicious circumstances. Former VP Cheney had threatened Coleman's predecessor, the late Minnesota Senator Wellstone, with "serious ramifications" if he voted against the war, and of course Wellstone voted against the war anyway. After that, Wellstone's plane went down and Wellstone died just before an election where he was the popular incumbent expected to win. Many people feel the plane crash was a hit by Cheney, and Republican Norm Coleman appeared to be losing the race until Wellstone conveniently died in that crash.
Next thing you know, Coleman is in DC serving as the front man for false accusations against Galloway. I guess he owed the Bush administration a favor for the "help" in winning his seat... and in the hearings that followed, Galloway helped Coleman gain permanent name recognition for participating in the Bush administration's fraud. Coleman's already-tarnished image never recovered, and he was replaced in the following election.
WSJ proves it's turning into another sleazy Murdoch rag by attacking Galloway's humanitarian convoy
And last week, he was deported and banned from Egypt after leading an aid convoy to the Gaza Strip whose transit through Egypt left dozens wounded and at least one Egyptian border guard dead. Mr. Galloway, for the record, denies that he is or has ever been a supporter of Hamas, just as he always denied knowingly lending aid and comfort to Saddam Hussein, or being a beneficiary of the dictator's largesse. As for his aid missions to Gaza, he insists it was solely for the benefit of its people. Any propaganda value for Hamas that might arise out of his efforts is purely, so to speak, collateral damage--as were the death and injuries that resulted from his latest foray into freelance diplomacy.
PAM COMMENTARY: I had to post an excerpt from this obvious Neocon hit piece, just for those who thought that the Wall Street Journal could withstand ownership by Rupert Murdoch. Some believed that the journalistic integrity of the WSJ's staff would prevent it from turning into another of Murdoch's worthless tabloids. READ THIS AND WEEP!
I could go through every sentence in this article and show how each is a complete fraud and defamation of one of the few real humanitarians in politics these days. But I'll limit myself to this: Before Murdoch took it over, the WSJ used to be capable of thoughtful analyses that weren't completely unbiased, but at least factual enough to be useful to those making decisions in the investment world. Now take a look at your worthless paper -- it's just like the New York Post, only without sex scandals and nudity. I'd scold the financial world for not banding together to save the paper from Murdoch, but all is not lost -- I'd encourage people who want serious news to help WSJ's competitors to build their organizations. Or create your own and gradually take over the Journal's old audience! My best guess is that you can leave WSJ for dead; Murdoch ruins everything he touches, and he shows no signs of giving up WSJ to a serious news organization.
The 'false' pandemic: Drug firms cashed in on scare over swine flu, claims Euro health chief [AJ]
The swine flu outbreak was a 'false pandemic' driven by drug companies that stood to make billions of pounds from a worldwide scare, a leading health expert has claimed.
Wolfgang Wodarg, head of health at the Council of Europe, accused the makers of flu drugs and vaccines of influencing the World Health Organisation's decision to declare a pandemic.
This led to the pharmaceutical firms ensuring 'enormous gains', while countries, including the UK, 'squandered' their meagre health budgets, with millions being vaccinated against a relatively mild disease.
A resolution proposed by Dr Wodarg calling for an investigation into the role of drug firms has been passed by the Council of Europe, the Strasbourg-based 'senate' responsible for the European Court of Human Rights.
An emergency debate on the issue will be held later this month.
Dr Wodarg's claims come as it emerged the British government is desperately trying to offload up to �1billion of swine flu vaccine, ordered at the height of the scare.
104-year-old strongman dies after being hit by car
A famed strongman who once lifted 3,200 pounds at Coney Island during its heyday and was still bending quarters with his fingers at age 104 died Monday after he was hit by a minivan.
Joe Rollino was struck as he crossed Bay Ridge Parkway in Brooklyn, and suffered a broken pelvis, head trauma and broken ribs. He died a few hours later at an area hospital. Police said the driver was going the speed limit and had not been drinking. No criminality is suspected, but the driver was issued a summons for a defective horn.
During his storied life, Rollino hobnobbed with Harry Houdini, watched Jack Dempsey knock out Jess Willard and was friendly with Mario Lanza. He even had a bit part in "On the Waterfront."
Rollino would've been 105 on March 19, and was the model of health, according to friends. A vegetarian for life, he didn't drink or smoke, his friends said, and he exercised every day. He was a lifetime boxer and was part of the Oldetime Barbell and Strongmen, an organization of men who can still rip book binders at the seam.
Powering Up With Plant Foods: Vegan Athletes
WHEN SUSAN LEVIN hears what Michael Phelps stuffs into his mouth � like entire pepperoni pizzas � she worries that his Olympic career could be headed for a dive. That's because she's the director of nutrition education at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which promotes a vegan diet. And along with benefits such as losing weight, lowering your risk of certain diseases and being environmentally sound, she says switching to solely plant-based food sources makes you a better athlete.
It worked for Levin, who never liked running until she went vegan 15 years ago. "I was suddenly better at it, enjoyed it more and was faster. At the end of the day, I had all of this energy," says Levin, who's seen the same level of activity in her colleagues at their Friendship Heights office. "People are bouncing off the walls. They run, bike, do yoga." And contrary to the stereotype of the vegan waif, and thanks to rich sources of protein such as grains and beans, they have real muscles.
They also have real role models, including former NBA star John Salley and professional triathlete Brendan Brazier, who are two of the celebs backing PCRM's 21-Day Vegan Kickstart. The program walks users through a diet makeover with a meal plan, cooking demos and other resources, which makes the process simpler than what both Salley and Brazier went through on their own.
It was high blood pressure and family members' health history that convinced Salley to drop meat five years into his career, a move his teammates thought was bonkers. While he devoured books about nutrition, they were grabbing grub at fast-food joints. The difference, he believes, is why he managed to stay in the NBA for 15 years (and score four championship rings) and some of the other guys barely had the mojo to practice. "Literally, I was 36 and rookies couldn't keep up with me," he remembers.
Vegan Tennis Champ Rallies Against Meat Dangers (FLASHBACK) [R]
A quart of whiskey, a pack of cigarettes and a cube of LSD is better for you than eating one piece of meat, a doctor once told Peter Burwash, former Hawai'i resident and Davis Cup champion turned tennis coach, author and motivational speaker.
"The trauma of the extra (meat-derived) chemicals in the body is horrendous," Burwash said, clarifying the analogy. "An athlete should have no meat, fish, poultry or eggs."
A professional tennis player for seven years, motivational speaker for 30 years and vegetarian for 34 years, Burwash spoke about nutrition and exercise to nearly 150 attendees last Wednesday in the Kuykendall Auditorium.
Burwash spends 150 days a year touring the world as a motivational speaker and has written 10 books on topics ranging from nutrition to leadership to teen suicide. The lecture was sponsored by the Vegetarian Society of Hawai'i.
America's weight-loss industry reaped a profit of $40 billion last year, said the 59-year-old. America's bookstores report the top-selling category of books to be cookbooks, while diet books are second. Out of 27,961 diet books registered in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., none work, Burwash said.
2 Navy SEALs' detainee abuse trials moved to Iraq
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Two Navy SEALs accused in the mistreatment of an Iraqi detainee should be tried at the U.S. base in Iraq where the alleged victim is being held, a military judge ruled Monday.
Cmdr. Tierney Carlos moved the trials after government prosecutors said they would make the detainee available for deposition at Camp Victory in Baghdad but would not bring him to Naval Station Norfolk to testify. The judge ruled that Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Keefe of Yorktown, Va., and Petty Officer 1st Class Julio Huertas of Blue Island, Ill., have a right to face their accuser in open court.
A hearing for a third defendant, Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew McCabe of Perrysburg, Ohio, is tentatively set for Wednesday before a different judge.
McCabe is accused of punching Ahmed Hashim Abed, the suspected mastermind of a 2004 ambush that killed four U.S. security contractors in Fallujah. The contractors' bodies were dragged through the streets and hung from a bridge.
PAM COMMENTARY: I can understand the raw emotion of people who feel the suspect deserved some kind of punishment for what he ALLEGEDLY did, but that's what the court system is for. The men should have been happy that they may have actually found one of the perpetrators, and left it at that. For one thing, sometimes mistakes are made and the wrong person is arrested. What then, after you've already beaten up the person who was NOT responsible? And even if the man was guilty, he was already in custody and facing trial, possibly having no more free days in the remainder of his life. It should have been left at that, emotions surging or not. The soldiers in this case needed an attitude adjustment, and my guess is that their training should have prepared them for such a scenario, especially if they were specifically trained for prison work.
Concerning the contractors who were strung from a bridge -- I once attended a speech by Jeremy Scahill (author of the book on Blackwater, the company employing the contractors/victims at the time), and he brought along the mother and the widow of one of those contractors. I won't divulge which contractor's family it was for their own privacy, although those familiar with Scahill's lecture circuit probably know. The mother said that she was never contacted before Bush attacked Fallujah in retaliation for those killings, and that she wouldn't have approved of the mass killings supposedly to avenge her son's death. The contractor's wife also knew little about it, and in fact had not seen footage of the contractors' charred bodies until that very night of Scahill's speech, when a video clip was shown for a few minutes behind the speaker. She said that she tried to shelter her (and her dead husband's) children from news reports of the incident. Bush just went ahead and attacked the city without consulting with the dead contractors' families, apparently.
Also, the mother described how her son had sent a letter to Erik Prince before the incident, describing certain management problems he'd observed on the job. After that,
he and the other contractors were sent across town unprotected, on a mission to get pots and pans, according to Jeremy Scahill who had investigated the incident and relayed his findings on the show Democracy Now. I have to wonder if the mission was some kind of retaliation for complaining, either by Prince or the contractor's supervisor. Either way, Iraq was a war fought on fabricated grounds, and none of this should have happened at all. Hopefully, someday, this country will have people with the courage to bring those responsible to justice.
US agency goes after cadmium in children's jewelry
LOS ANGELES � Federal and state watchdogs opened a new front Monday in the campaign to keep poisons out of Chinese imports, warning Asian manufacturers not to substitute other toxins for lead in children's jewelry and beginning an inquiry into cadmium found in the products around the United States.
Regulators reacted swiftly to an Associated Press investigation reporting that some Chinese manufacturers have been using cadmium in place of lead in children's charm bracelets and pendants, sometimes at extraordinarily high levels. Congress clamped down on lead in those products in 2008, but cadmium is even more harmful.
"Parents will be outraged to learn certain jewelry makers overseas thought they could pull a fast one at the expense of our kids' safety," said Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, who has championed stronger rules for children's products.
Cadmium, which is known to cause cancer, is a soft, whitish metal that occurs naturally in soil. It's perhaps best known as half of rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries, but also is used in pigments, electroplating and plastic.
Cadmium is attractive to Chinese manufacturers because it is cheap and easy to work with. But, like lead, it can hinder brain development in the very young, recent research shows.
In taped remarks to be delivered Tuesday in Hong Kong, the chairwoman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission urged other countries to ensure that manufacturers do not substitute cadmium, antimony or barium in place of lead in children's products.
Toyota unveils new hybrid compact car
DETROIT � Toyota Motor Corp. raised the stakes in the global race for the most fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles today with the unveiling of a new hybrid compact car.
The Japanese-based auto giant, which has surpassed General Motors Co. as the world's biggest vehicle maker, revealed the FT-CH "dedicated hybrid" concept car at the North American International Auto Show here and officials indicated that they hope to start producing a version of it within three years.
"That's a fair expectation," said Ray Tanguay, a Toyota Motor Corp. managing officer who is also president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada.
The company said the production version of the car will be 558 mm (or 22 inches) shorter than the current Prius gasoline-electric hybrid but still seat up to five people.
Pricing will also be lower than the Prius in efforts to attract entry level buyers who are environmentally conscious, Tanguay added.
PAM COMMENTARY: Nice!
S.E.C. Seeks New Charge Against Bank of America
Update | 3:36 p.m. The Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday sought permission from a federal judge to add a new charge to its existing civil lawsuit against Bank of America, adding an accusation of failing to disclose huge losses at Merrill Lynch before a shareholder vote in December 2008.
The basis of the S.E.C.�s proposed amended complaint is that the multibillion-dollar losses incurred at Merrill merited a change to Bank of America�s proxy statement to shareholders before they voted to approve the merger of the two firms. The S.E.C. pointed to a Bank of America registration statement saying it would provide updates about any �fundamental changes� to previously disclosed information.
This is the second time the S.E.C. has sought to update its charges against Bank of America, in a case being heard by Judge Jed S. Rakoff of the Southern District of New York.
Bank of America issued a press release in January 2009 disclosing that Merrill had lost more than $15 billion for the quarter, setting off a tempest of fury over the deal and what the Charlotte-based banking giant knew and didn�t know at the time.
What the S.E.C. is alleging now is that Bank of America executives were aware that the firm�s new acquisition had lost $4.5 billion in October, which the regulator contends should have been disclosed to shareholders in a revision of a Nov. 3, 2008 proxy statement.
If admitted, the new complaint would accuse Bank of America of negligently concluding that it need not disclose those losses before the shareholder vote, violating its fiduciary duty to its investors and making its previous disclosures materially false and misleading.
Chimps and Monkeys Could Talk. Why Don�t They?
Walking through the Tai forest of Ivory Coast, Klaus Zuberb�could hear the calls of the Diana monkeys, but the babble held no meaning for him.
That was in 1990. Today, after nearly 20 years of studying animal communication, he can translate the forest�s sounds. This call means a Diana monkey has seen a leopard. That one means it has sighted another predator, the crowned eagle. �In our experience time and again, it�s a humbling experience to realize there is so much more information being passed in ways which hadn�t been noticed before,� said Dr. Zuberb� a psychologist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
Court order shuts web sites over H-1B visa fracas
The hiring by U.S. firms of foreign programmers with H-1B visas has long been controversial in the tech world. A recent judicial action in New Jersey touches a nerve in that ongoing irritation.
New Jersey state judge James Hurley recently issued an order shutting down three web sites in response to a charge that the sites defamed the programming staffing firm Apex Technology.
Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Kurt Opsahl said it is one thing to order that allegedly defamatory materials be taken down but quite another to shut down the web sites entirely.
"Imagine if a court could order Amazon.com or Yelp.com shut down because of a disparaging review of a single product," Opsahl said in a critique.
More families relying on food stamps to feed their kids
Washington - The United States has more poor children now than it did a year ago.
As recession-hammered families increase, more are using food stamps to feed their kids, according to a study by the Brookings Institution and First Focus, a bipartisan child advocacy group.
"They are a really good barometer, a kind of economic-needs test," said Mark R. Rank, an expert on social welfare programs at Washington University in St. Louis. "If you're receiving food stamps and you're a child, by definition, you're in poverty."
Across the nation, 7 million people joined the food stamp rolls from August 2008 to August 2009, the study said. Users rose from 29.5 million to 36.5 million. Half of those were children.
Among the states that showed high increases in the percentage of food stamp caseloads were Idaho, 36%; Florida, 34%; and Washington state, 32%. Georgia had a 27% increase in its food stamp caseload, and California and North Carolina were up about 21% each.
Berlusconi Forgives Tartaglia; �At trial, magistrates should not send out message that anyone can have a go at prime minister�
�EPISODE NOT TO BE TAKEN LIGHTLY� � Speaking about the attack in Piazza Duomo, Mr Berlusconi explained to PDL members that he had forgiven Mr Tartaglia in human terms, according to the reports. �You know I don�t nurse resentment�, Mr Berlusconi is reported to have said to those listening at the PDL�s Via dell�Umilt�remises. The prime minister then went on to say how important it was that Mr Tartaglia�s actions should not be taken lightly. This was how he put it: the message should not be sent out that anyone can have a go at the prime minister, who represents an institution. Otherwise, it could spark off a free-for-all. To back up his comments, Mr Berlusconi said that if the model cathedral had struck him a couple of centimetres higher, he could have ended up �six feet under�, or lost an eye. The prime minister told his audience that the Piazza Duomo attack was engendered by a climate of hatred. He is reported to have denied fuelling this climate, having only mentioned the orientation of certain institutional bodies, which is clearly a left-leaning orientation.
PAM COMMENTARY: Here's a curious sentence at the end of this article: "On the issue of a clamp-down on internet, Mr Bersani again said that �there are other ways forward; there are self-regulation mechanisms for service providers�." Sneaky way of saying they're considering censorship. See the article Regulating Internet is No Fund-raising Dinner from the same Italian newspaper.
Berlusconi back in Rome after attack
Berlusconi's popularity has increased after the attack in Milan, polls have shown. The images of his bloody and frightened face raised sympathy, as did photos of the premier leaving the hospital with bandages on his face. Berlusconi says he has forgiven attacker Massimo Tartaglia, who has been described as mentally ill and remains in custody.
The attack also pushed to the back burner a sex scandal that had engulfed the premier over his purported fondness for young women.
"I believe that modernizing the country is indispensable. It's worth working on this for all of us," Berlusconi told reporters upon his arrival from Milan.
The justice reform has been in the works for months, since legislation granting immunity from prosecution to the premier and other top officials while in office was thrown out in October. As a result, Berlusconi faces two trials in Milan, one on tax fraud and the other on corruption.
PAM COMMENTARY: Awww... Now I'm beginning to wonder if this whole nosebleed thing was staged for sympathy!
BP poised to become bigger than Shell again
More than two years into a turnaround program at London- based BP, Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward has reversed a decline in output by ramping up operations in the Gulf of Mexico and doubled a cost-savings target. Peter Voser, who heads Shell, is now taking similar steps to reduce spending and cut jobs. A close at current levels would be the first time BP has been worth more than Shell since October 2006, Bloomberg data show.
�BP seems the most likely of our coverage group to pursue more material opportunities given the funding headroom, greater scope to deploy stock and potential areas of strategic interest,� Mark Bloomfield, a London-based analyst at Citigroup Inc., wrote today in an e-mailed report. He raised his recommendation on BP shares to �buy� from �hold.�
Hayward pledged in October 2007 to catch up with competitors and regain investor confidence after a fatal explosion at a U.S. refinery in 2005 and delays in starting projects dragged the share price down.
Prehistoric building found in modern Israeli city
JERUSALEM � Israel's Antiquities Authority say the remains of a prehistoric building and ancient flint tools have been discovered in the modern city of Tel Aviv.
Archaeologist Ayelet Dayan says the find is "important and surprising" because it's the first evidence of life from that time in the area.
The three-room structure is believed to be about 8,000 years old and was built in the Neolithic period � when humans went from nomadic existence to permanent settlements. It is the earliest building ever found in Tel Aviv. The flint tools and hippopotamus bones found nearby date back 100,000 years.
Tel Aviv, Israel's financial and cultural center on the Mediterranean, was built on sand dunes 100 years ago. The ancient remains were uncovered during construction in the affluent Ramat Aviv neighbourhood.
The rise of the permanent temporary workforce; Pay is falling, benefits are vanishing, and no one�s job is secure
As an independent agent, Smith has no health insurance, no retirement benefits, no sick days, no vacation, no severance, and no access to unemployment insurance. But in recession-ravaged Ormond Beach, she's considered lucky. She has had more or less steady work since she signed on with LiveOps in October 2006. "LiveOps was a lifesaver for me," she says.
You know American workers are in bad shape when a low-paying, no-benefits job is considered a sweet deal. Their situation isn't likely to improve soon; some economists predict it will be years, not months, before employees regain any semblance of bargaining power. That's because this recession's unusual ferocity has accelerated trends � including offshoring, automation, the decline of labor unions' influence, new management techniques, and regulatory changes � that already had been eroding workers' economic standing.
The forecast for the next five to 10 years: more of the same, with paltry pay gains, worsening working conditions, and little job security. Right on up to the C-suite, more jobs will be freelance and temporary, and even seemingly permanent positions will be at greater risk. "When I hear people talk about temp vs. permanent jobs, I laugh," says Barry Asin, chief analyst at the Los Altos (Calif.) labor-analysis firm Staffing Industry Analysts. "The idea that any job is permanent has been well proven not to be true." As Kelly Services, CEO Carl Camden puts it: "We're all temps now."
Peter Cappelli, director of the Center for Human Resources at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, says the brutal recession has prompted more companies to create just-in-time labor forces that can be turned on and off like a spigot. "Employers are trying to get rid of all fixed costs," Cappelli says. "First they did it with employment benefits. Now they're doing it with the jobs themselves. Everything is variable." That means companies hold all the power, and "all the risks are pushed on to employees."
Hardline warrior in war to save the whale
(from p. 2) Last week, Watson was full of praise for the 77 people from 16 countries, including Japan, who are crewing his three ships this year. In 30 years of harassing industrial fishers, he has taken 4000 volunteers to Antarctica, the Pacific and the Atlantic to try to stop whaling, sealing and illegal fishing. Few have returned anything other than inspired and committed.
The sinking of the Gil was just the latest skirmish in what has become an annual battle between the volunteers for the California-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which Watson founded after leaving Greenpeace in the 1970s, and the Japanese Institute of Cetacean Research, a scientific research body that has effectively become the Japanese Government's whalers.
For the past nine years, these two small navies have clashed dramatically in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, an area of 50 million sq km in which the International Whaling Commission has banned all types of commercial whaling.
One year the whaling fleet was chased 3000km through icebergs; another, two Sea Shepherd volunteers were captured and tied to the railings of a Japanese ship after they had been invited on board; three years ago the Japanese allegedly shot at Watson; there have been water cannon battles, and last year the Japanese escalated the war by throwing concussion grenades on the Sea Shepherd boats.
Sea Shepherd responded by throwing bottles filled with non-toxic but foul-smelling butyric acid on the Japanese.
Japan kills 680 Antarctic whales
Japan's whaling catch in its latest Antarctic hunt fell far short of its target after disruptions by anti-whaling activists, the Fisheries Agency said on Monday.
Japan, which considers whaling to be a cherished cultural tradition, killed 679 minke whales despite plans to catch about 850. It caught just one fin whale compared with a target of 50 in the hunt that began in November.
Some ships in its six-ship fleet have returned home after clashes with the hardline group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, including a collision that crushed a railing on one of the Japanese ships.
A Fisheries Agency official said ships could not carry out whaling for a total of 16 days because of bad weather and skirmishes with the activists.
Dolphin slaughter turns sea red as Japan hunting season returns
Occasionally a hunter emerges into the gaps between the covers, grimacing as he plunges his knife into the water. Minutes earlier the sea around him was emerald green. Now it is turning a deep crimson, the morning air tainted with the stench of freshly drawn mammal blood.
The gruesome spectacle of dolphins being slaughtered for profit has returned to Taiji, just as international condemnation of the Japanese town's annual cull reaches a crescendo. At least 100 bottlenose dolphins and 50 pilot whales have been taken in the first hunt of the season, which began on 1 September.
Over the next six months the town's fishermen will catch about 2,300 of Japan's annual quota of 20,000 dolphins. The meat from a single animal fetches up to 50,000 yen (�330), but aquariums are prepared to pay up to �90,000 for certain types.
In a typical hunt the fishermen pursue pods of dolphins across open seas, banging metal poles together beneath the water to confuse their hypersensitive sonar. The exhausted animals are driven into a large cove sealed off by nets to stop them escaping and dragged backwards into secluded inlets the following morning to be butchered with knives and spears. They are then loaded on to boats and taken to the quayside to be cut up in a warehouse, the fishermen's work hidden from the outside by heavy shutters.
NBC Pulls Plug on Leno Prime Time Show
NBC has just confirmed the TMZ story that Jay Leno's 10 PM show is going off the air next month when the Olympics begin.
And as we also reported, after the Olympics, Leno will take over Conan O'Brien's time slot -- at least for the first half hour.
NBC chairman Jeff Gaspin added that he wants to push Conan and Jimmy Fallon back an hour so things will go back to the way they were -- with Jay controlling 11:35 to 12:35 .... but that's not a done deal.
Putin: new weapons to counter US shield
Russia, January 10, 2010 (Pal Telegraph) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Tuesday warned that Moscow would pursue plans for new weapons to counter the US missile defense system.
The premier told reporters in the southeastern city of Vladivostok that Washington's bids for a missile defense system are the biggest obstacle in bilateral talks aimed at reaching a new deal to reduce nuclear arsenals produced during the Cold War rush.
While both sides have been optimistic that a successor to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) would soon be penned, but the new comments betray more serious problems facing the deal, already delayed when the two nuclear powers failed to agree on a new outline by the treaty's expiring date, December 5.
Subsequently, START I was extended until a new draft was mutually agreed on.
"What is the problem? The problem is that our American partners are building an anti-missile shield and we are not building one."
Soldier Marc Hall's Freedom Rap Song Lands Him in Liberty Jail
In the ironically named Liberty County Jail since December 11 sits Army Specialist and Iraq War veteran Marc Hall, a rap musician who had the audacity to write a song attacking the Pentagon for subjecting him to a so-called stop-loss order after he had finished his Army tour and had returned from a posting in Iraq.
Hall, whose hip-hop alias is Marc Watercus, wrote the song and sent it to the Pentagon as a protest. His commander at Ft. Stewart initially had him arrested after he went to his base commander to protest his stop-loss order. He had planned to leave the service when his contract was up on Feb. 27. The Pentagon then upped the charges, claiming that in sending his song to the Pentagon, he had �communicated a threat� to he military. In the song lyrics, Hall says he will shoot officers if he is stop-lossed.
The Pentagon reports that since 2001 it has prevented 120,000 soldiers from leaving the service using the stop-loss policy, which critics say is being grossly mis-used. Originally intended to keep the military from having to withdraw active troops from the battlefield if their contracts expire while they are engaged in the field, the policy has become instead a way of compensating from low enlistment and re-enlistment rates, with stop-loss orders generally hitting soldiers who have already returned home from the wars and who, like Hall, who has a wife and child, are preparing to return to civilian life.
PAM COMMENTARY: The FCC doesn't fine radio stations for swear words in music -- the DJ or radio guests just can't curse on-air. I guess the Pentagon doesn't use FCC standards while listening to music.
Viva Palestina's Bumpy Road
While Egyptian government has been complicit for a very long time now, its wrongdoings have been of a secondary nature. However, somehow, recently Egyptian government is succeeding, much to Israel's delight, in diverting attention away from the Israelis.
This has primarily been done by their insistence on placing unreasonable obstacles in the path of the convoy. For instance, the VP Convoy had planned to enter Gaza on December 27 to mark the first anniversary of the attack.
That was intended to show how, one year on, the siege continues to compound the suffering of the Gazans. They have not been allowed to rebuild their homes or their lives.
Instead of being in Gaza and handing over the aid to the waiting recipients on 27th of December as planned, the VP Convoy was stranded in a compound in Jordan with hundreds of vans and ambulances full of aid. The reason for this was that Egypt had refused to grant permission for theconvoy to pass through the necessary part of their territory.
Domestic Espionage Alert: Spy Drone Discovered [AJ]
The drone uncovered during this investigation are not like the large, expensive models used by the military for targeted strikes on militants half a world away. These are manufactured by Insitu out of Bingen, Washington (corporate offices located in Australia), only weigh about 40 pounds (18.1 kg) before monitoring equipment is installed. This model has the capacity to stay airborne for up to a day.
The Houston Police Department responded with the following statement, �Potential public safety applications include mobility, evacuations, homeland security, search and rescue, as well as tactical.�
Such benign excuses were also used during the passage of draconian bills such as FISA and the Patriot Act before it was revealed the much more insidious and rampant applications of those tools.
Cheney Family Values
The Cheney family business has become unpatriotic fright wing propaganda. And business is bustling. When dad Dick gets weary of sending President Obama missives via POLITICO, he sends in daughter Liz for the heavy lifting. And any day now, Dick�s wife Lynn will come out with an anti-Obama children�s book.
Last week, Dick Cheney�dripping with sticky holiday malice over the aborted Christmas underwear bomber�inexplicably asserted that Obama was �pretending we�re not at war.� Why? Because it took the President three days to address the nearly tragic security slip-up. Okay, maybe Obama could have, even should have responded more swiftly. But to suggest he�s taking his job lightly or ignoring our perilous position in the world because he happened to be on vacation is ridiculous. Especially coming from George W. Bush�s veep. Bush, as you may recall, took six days to respond to shoe bomber Richard Reid back in December �01. And W. spent one third of his presidency vacationing.
On Wednesday, Liz Cheney in a statement from the powerful perch of her Keep America Safe website, issued another finger-wagging diatribe to the Commander-in-Chief. �President Obama has weakened American security by treating terrorism as a law enforcement matter, refusing to use every tool at his disposal to prevent attacks, and taking his eye off the ball,� Cheney wrote.
The former second daughter, who also had a nepotism gig with the state department during the Bush administration ( she was involved in monitoring �Shock and Awe� over in Iraq; and we all know how well that went down), also rattled off a neo-con wish list for the President. She wants Obama to reverse his decision to shut down Gitmo. And over rule DOJ�s decision to try 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a civilian criminal court and send him to a military tribunal.
Charges of Palestinian Child torture in Israeli prisons
In each case, boys between the ages of 16 and 17, report being held in 'Cell No. 36' at the Interrogation Centre. 'Cell No. 36' is described as measuring approximately 2x3 metres in which the child is forced to sleep on a concrete bed or a thin mattress on the floor. Meals are passed to the child through a flap in the door depriving him of all human contact. One child reports being held in solitary confinement in 'Cell No 36' for 65 days.
The walls of 'Cell No. 36' are reported to be grey in colour with sharp protrusions preventing the child from leaning against them for support. Perhaps more disturbingly, 'Cell No. 36' does not have any windows and only a single dim yellow light which is kept on 24 hours a day. Some children report suffering pain behind their eyes and adverse psychological effects after being detained in 'Cell No. 36'.
It appears that the dominant purpose for detaining children in 'Cell No. 36' is to break their spirits in order to extract confessions. This conclusion is supported by the testimony of one child who states that 'on the 10th day of interrogation and because I was under so much pressure, I decided to confess so as to get out of the cell.' All of the children report being kept in 'Cell No. 36' between lengthy interrogation sessions in which clearly prohibited techniques were utilised, such as excessive shackling of the legs and hands as well as position abuse.
Children held in Al Jalame for interrogation are denied access to a lawyer and do not receive family visits, in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention and multiple human rights treaties. No education is provided to the children at this facility. Further, the detention of Palestinians from the Occupied Palestinian Territory in Al Jalame is in clear violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949), which states that an occupying power must detain residents of occupied territory in prisons inside the territory i.e. in the West Bank.
Former Israeli president testifies in rape case
Katsav's testimony at the Tel Aviv District Court was given behind closed doors to three judges, said the report, adding that it will not be made public.
Witnesses have been testifying against Katsav over the past months, also behind closed doors. In his testimony, the former president is expected to deny the allegations against him, as he has done in the past.
In 2007, Katsav was charged with two counts of rape and one count of sexual assault against a key witness in the case � known as Tourism Ministry Aleph -- between 1996 and 1999.
He is furthermore accused of sexually harassing and committing an indecent act against L.Y., who formerly worked at the President's Office. Another former employee of the office, known as H.A., has also accused Katsav of sexual harassment.
Katsav has also been charged with exploiting his position to commit sexually abusive acts against the female complainants, all formerly employed by him at a time when he took senior political positions.
You could end up a 'dead peasant' [WRH]
HOUSTON � Irma Johnson never really thought of herself as a crusader.
But the quiet widow from The Woodlands has been featured in a Michael Moore movie, watched her story retold on �Good Morning America� and is trying to let others know that their employers may have purchased secret insurance policies on their lives and stand to profit handsomely when they die.
The industry darkly refers to the policies as �dead peasant� life insurance.
And but for a post office error, Johnson might not have learned that when her husband, Dan Johnson, died of brain cancer in 2008, the bank that had fired him years earlier got $4.7 million in insurance proceeds on his life.
For the unemployed, new job often means a pay cut [BF]
Unemployed for nearly a year, David Becker was relieved to land a new job in information technology last summer.
The offer carried a price, though: It was a lower-rung job than the one Becker had lost. He had to uproot his family from Wisconsin to Nevada. And, like many formerly jobless people who find work these days, Becker is now paid far less than before � $25,000 less.
It's one of the bleak realities of the economic recovery: Even as more employers are starting to hire, the new jobs typically pay less than the ones that were lost.
In the government's data, a job is a job. More jobs point to a growing economy. But to people who used to earn $60,000, a new $40,000 job means they'll spend less � and contribute less to the recovery.
"In most cases, it means a subdued expansion, for sure," said Marisa Di Natale, director at Moody's Economy.com.
Microsoft appeals i4i's Word patent case
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT-Q30.660.210.68%) Friday asked for a full panel of judges to review a recent appeals court decision to uphold a $290-million (U.S.) jury verdict against it for infringing a patent held by a small Toronto-based software firm.
The world's largest software company wants all 11 judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which handles many patent and trademark cases, to review the case involving i4i Ltd. in the hope of overturning the original judgment.
Microsoft had already appealed the case last year, but in December a panel of three appeals court judges rejected its arguments, upholding the original federal jury decision in August.
That jury, in U.S. district court in Texas, ruled Microsoft had infringed a patent belonging to i4i relating to text manipulation software in the 2003 and 2007 versions of Word, Microsoft's word processing application.
Zimbabwe farm invasions keep investors away
Zimbabwe's remaining white farmers say continued farm invasions as well as human- and property-rights abuses by officials from President Robert Mugabe's party are keeping international investors away from the poverty-stricken country.
Zimbabwe had 4 500 white commercial farmers and agriculture was the cornerstone of the economy before the government's controversial land seizures began 10 years ago.
According to the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU), 152 of the 300 commercial farms still in operation are now being targeted for eviction.
The situation has worsened since last month when Mugabe told his Zanu-PF party that whites were not Zimbabweans.
Stranded Indian workers seek shelter in Afghan temple
KABUL: Dozens of Indian labourers have been forced to take refuge in Kabul's Sikh temple after job agents who promised lucrative jobs in the unstable capital disappeared, leaving the men penniless and without passports.
Billions of dollars in Western military contracts have turned Afghanistan � long a source of refugees fleeing chronic conflict � into an unlikely magnet for migrant workers willing to risk their lives for a more lucrative pay packet.
Around 200 stranded men were crowded into the Karte Parwan Gurdwara, the centre of Afghanistan's small Sikh community, last month. Many flew home after their families scraped together funds for flights and travel documents, but over 30 are still stuck.
Conservation group buys prairie chicken habitat
The Conservation Fund, based in Arlington, Va., said it has purchased 883 acres next to the Buena Vista Wildlife Area in Portage County for $2.045 million. The group plans to hold the land until midyear and then resell it to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
The transaction is part of an ambitious project by the DNR and others to string together 15,000 acres of grassland to provide habitat for the threatened bird.
Buena Vista Wildlife Area is a state-owned 12,700-acre property consisting of scattered grassland and some woodland.
The prairie chicken once lived in every county, but its habitat has shrunk to six counties in the central part of the state. Its tiny range continues to shrink, and scientists have found that inbreeding has watered down the bird's genetic makeup. To help, prairie chickens from out of state have been transplanted to diversify the bird's gene pool.
The prairie chicken is known for the males' acrobatic courtship dances. As they stake out territory to attract hens for mating, orange pouches on their necks inflate into tiny basketballs. Their oboe-like mating cry has been described in some circles as a fading voice of the American prairie.
Like many grassland birds, the prairie chicken has been harmed by urban encroachment and modern farming practices. In 1979, it became a threatened species in Wisconsin.
Spanish wind-turbine generator manufacturer may locate new factory in Milwaukee
Although state and local officials aren't confirming it yet, there were strong indications Friday that a Spanish manufacturer of wind-turbine generators may locate its new factory in Milwaukee - an investment projected to create 100 to 200 jobs.
The Obama administration announced that Spanish energy company Ingeteam was awarded $1.66 million in clean-tech manufacturing tax credits to make wind turbine generators as well as power converter and control systems in Milwaukee.
Ingeteam is based in Bilbao, Spain, the same city that was visited last fall by state Commerce Secretary Richard Leinenkugel, City Development Director Rocky Marcoux and representatives of the Milwaukee 7 economic development coalition.
At the time, local economic development officials said Milwaukee and one other city were in the running for the first U.S. factory of a Spanish wind power company.
Sea to provide power for 250,000 homes (New Zealand)
Crest Energy plans to spend $600 million on sinking 200 tidal power turbines to the seabed of the harbour entrance, creating New Zealand's first tide-driven power station.
The project will start with 20 turbines.
Last month, Todd Energy said it was taking a 30 per cent stake in Crest, which aims to be fully operational within nine years generating 200MW of power, enough to supply 250,000 homes.
But in an interim decision, the Environment Court says Crest Energy must do further work, mainly to satisfy concerns about the turbines interfering with the critically endangered Maui's dolphin and the important snapper fishery on the west coast of the North Island.
Chernobyl nuclear accident: figures for deaths and cancers still in dispute
The UN's World Health Organisation and the International Atomic Energy Agency claim that only 56 people have died as a direct result of the radiation released at Chernobyl and that about 4,000 will die from it eventually.
They also say that only a few children have died of cancers since the accident and, that most of the illnesses usually linked to Chernobyl are due to psychological distress, radiophobia or poverty and unhealthy living.
But other reputable scientists researching the most radiation-contaminated areas of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine are not convinced. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, another UN agency, predicts 16,000 deaths from Chernobyl; an assessment by the Russian academy of sciences says there have been 60,000 deaths so far in Russia and an estimated 140,000 in Ukraine and Belarus.
Meanwhile, the Belarus national academy of sciences estimates 93,000 deaths so far and 270,000 cancers, and the Ukrainian national commission for radiation protection calculates 500,000 deaths so far.
The mismatches in figures arise because there have been no comprehensive, co-ordinated studies of the health consequences of the accident. This is in contrast to Nagasaki and Hiroshima, where official research showed that the main rise in most types of cancer and non-cancer diseases only became apparent years after the atomic bombs fell.
With Chernobyl there have been difficulties in gathering reliable data from areas left in administrative chaos after the accident. Hundreds of thousands of people were moved away from the affected areas, and the break-up of the Soviet Union led to records being lost.
Company plans to sell renewable electricity to Progress Energy
In its application with the state, ALP Generation LLC states that the Spring Hope project will benefit the local community and neighboring communities �by having clean, renewable, carbon-neutral, reasonably priced, small-power generation, which does not produce acid rain.�
NC Warn, a nonprofit watchdog group out of Raleigh that according to its Web page is �working for clean efficient energy,� does not necessarily share that view.
�The claim that burning wood is carbon-neutral is being contested pretty heavily across the country,� said Jim Warren, the executive director of the organization. �There are all sorts of factors and nuances to this whole thing, and it�s going to be debated for a long time. It�s just not as clear cut as saying, �(Wood-burning plants) are �carbon-neutral.��
Warren also said that the trees that provide the fuel for these power plants are critical to reducing carbon levels in the atmosphere.
Companies speed up logging on Island; Activists blame end of moratorium; forest firms credit better markets
Forest companies are logging private lands on southwest Vancouver Island at an accelerated rate and logging trucks are rolling through communities such as Sooke and Lake Cowichan at a pace that has not been seen for a decade.
While companies say the increased activity is good news and a sign of a slight market improvement, environmentalists are blaming the imminent end of a moratorium on export of raw logs from former tree-farm-licence land.
"It would be strange if there was no relationship between the breakneck speed of logging and the expiration of log-export conditions," said Ken Wu of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee.
Big Ag's Big Lie About Feeding America
"That means the true net of the Westlands, when you take away all the government giveways may be only $30-40 million," he concluded. "Now, if you subtract the anticipated costs of drainage and make Westlands pay for their own waste disposal, they may actually not be generating any true wealth out there at all, except what the government gives them."
The Cretaceous sedimentary rock shales that underlie Westlands Water District contain salts and trace elements like selenium, arsenic, boron and heavy metals, according to Bill Jennings, executive director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. Several layers of virtually impermeable clay lie below the shales.
"Irrigation of these soils has led to high concentrations of these pollutants draining via surface and subsurface flow to the San Joaquin River," said Jennings. "Efforts to control these toxics led to the creation of Kesterson Reservoir and the disaster where selenium poisoning led to thousands of deformed birds. Kesterson Reservoir was ordered closed by the State Water Board in 1985, but drainage from Westlands continues to discharge to the San Joaquin River at levels that are highly toxic to fish."
Here's the point, according to Carter. "We all keep hearing about how Westlands 'feeds the nation' or even more preposterously, 'feeds the world.' They continually conflate themselves with the entire San Joaquin Valley or the entire state of California, which even then (at about $34 billion) is still less than 10 percent of national gross agricultural output."
Carter and other environmental water justice advocates are wondering why Leslie Stahl of CBS' 60 Minutes didn't examine this angle when she covered California water politics in her poorly-researched report on Sunday, December 26.
Worm takes toll on Japanese black pines in N.C.
Scattered throughout Corolla neighborhoods and along N.C. 12, Japanese black pine trees are dying by the dozens.
Brown pine trees stand out from the greenery of live oaks, wax myrtles and loblolly pines. One here, two next to the beach house, three or four there along the highway.
Dick Garvey pointed to two large tree trunks purposely cut close to the ground in the Corolla neighborhood of Villages at Ocean Hill.
"You can see these were good-sized trees," said Garvey, president of North Beach Resort Management Inc. "They go so fast once they're infected."
The Underwear Bomber - Crushing Freedom With Phony Arab Terrorism [WRH]
Moving on to the bomb itself; as mentioned it was PETN, or rather Pentaerythritol, which is a building block for PETN. To make PETN, Pentaerythritol must be mixed with concentrated nitric and sulfuric acids. It is assumed that these acids were in the syringe that the knicker bomber was attempting to inject, under the cover of a blanket, into his underpants. He then attempted to ignite the newly prepared PETN with some kind of a fuse. He was apparently unaware that PETN requires a shock wave rather than heat or flame to detonate, and a shock wave is best provided by an initiator explosive. In short, the whole enterprise was doomed to failure from the beginning. Since the bomber and his smartly-dressed handler were able to get to the gate without passports, and are unlikely to have passed through security, we are left to ponder why the bomber didn't carry an explosive that required much less preparation, like a half a stick of dynamite for example. Here's a short video of what a half stick of dynamite does to a file cabinet.
Tentative conclusion number three therefore is that the goal was not to actually 'kill infidels' but rather to reinforce the concept of 'Muslim terrorism'. In fact, it seems clear at this stage that the combining of terrorism and commercial air travel is a specific tactic by the real terror masters to maximise fear. After all, it is difficult to think of a place where the average citizen already feels more vulnerable than on a metal tube hurtling through the air at 35,000 feet. Add in a wild-eyed 'terrorist' and you have the optimal psychological conditions for fear-based programming.
In this particular case however, the knicker bomber was far from wild-eyed. According to the first passenger who attempted to subdue Mutallab on the plane, he offered no resistance and was docile. He was "staring into nothing" according to Dutch 'film maker' Jasper Schuringa. Schuringa also noted that Mutallab was actually on fire but showed no reaction whatsoever. This is suggestive of someone who is in some sort of trance. Indeed, Schuringa stated this explicitly in this interview but immediately followed it with the words, "I don't want to talk about that."
Restoration of lost Scientology materials complete [R]
CLEARWATER, Fla. � More than 1,000 unreleased recordings of lectures by L. Ron Hubbard and reams of corresponding writings have been unveiled in the culmination of a 25-year project to locate, restore and transcribe lost pieces of the Scientology founder's work.
Though sure to be derided by the church's many critics, its followers say the materials amount to an opportunity to deepen understanding of the religion and to release the last known unpublished Hubbard works dealing with Scientology and Dianetics.
"It would be like discovering that Buddha, unbeknownst to anybody, had sat down and wrote down the entirety of his discoveries and it could be verified that he wrote it," said Tommy Davis, the church's top spokesman.
The new materials were announced in a New Year's celebration at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles that was broadcast to churches around the world last week and include 1,020 lectures and hundreds of corresponding booklets from courses and other sessions with Scientology ministers from 1953 to 1961. They include discussions of how Hubbard arrived at the principles of Dianetics and his research on everything from decision-making to personal responsibility.
Collection of Mardi Gras images from the 1950s and '60s is being donated to the Museum of Mobile (with photo gallery)
MOBILE, Ala. -- A.J. Bordelon was the kind of man who built a camper on the back of a truck so that he and his wife, Opal, would have a place to sleep when they visited Alaska the year it became a state.
A self-taught electrician, photographer and business owner, Bordelon spent years meticulously documenting his family and life around Mobile -- and picturesque spots in the other 49 states -- beginning in the 1950s.
Eight years after his death, his youngest daughter, Jeanette Calametti of Mobile, has pledged to give more than 300 of her father's slides to the Museum of Mobile this month.
Among the images are those from Mardi Gras in the 1950s and 1960s, a time before barricades kept crowds back.
"They show all the different buildings and homes along Government Street," Calametti said. "There are all these people from the community and marching bands."
PAM COMMENTARY: I thought my readers would like the old Mardi Gras pictures. One thing that's striking compared to crowd photos of Americans today -- note the overall lack of obesity.
Antidepressants: A new pill to swallow in treating depression
The new research calls the true power of happy pills into question. It certainly contradicts those drug ads about the instant, painless, magical and restorative nature of antidepressants.
It also has big implications for health care costs -- not to mention medical ethics.
Doctors wrote 164 million prescriptions for antidepressants in 2008, totaling $10 billion in U.S. sales, according to IMS Health. About 27 million Americans now take antidepressants, mostly for problems less acute than severe clinical depression.
In doing so, these patients expose themselves to side effects such as weight gain, agitation, insomnia, loss of sex drive and so on -- which in turn can lead to more health problems, doctor visits and prescriptions. Such patients might be better off exercising or spending time with friends instead.
Britain is ruled by 26 illegal Brussels sprouts [R]
So we are not to have a new Government until February 26. Furthermore, until that time all but one member of that Government is occupying their position illegally.
Of course, I am here referring not to the silly little joustings between Messrs Brown and Cameron, as they fight for the right to run our provincial government here in Britain. Our real government, in that it now makes most of our laws, resides in Brussels, and on January 1, following the coming into force of the European Constitution (aka the Lisbon Treaty), we were due to get a new set of European Commissioners. But with the exception of its president, Jos�anuel Barroso, none of the appointees can take up their posts until hearings have been completed in the European Parliament.
6.5 quake rocks Humboldt County, California
(01-09) 20:46 PST EUREKA -- A 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck off the Humboldt County coast Saturday afternoon, cutting power in Eureka and causing damage across the county.
No injuries were reported, but 18,000 customers were without electricity as darkness fell and phone service was spotty throughout the region, said Sheriff's Department Cpl. Brenda Godsey.
Emergency services personnel were fanning across the 3,000-square-mile county to assess numerous reports of gas and water leaks, Godsey said. No major structural damage was initially reported.
The quake struck at 4:27 p.m. about 33 miles southwest of Eureka, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Five aftershocks followed within the next two hours, the strongest measuring 3.8.
Galloway: Britain, Egypt need leaders like Erdogan
British lawmaker George Galloway has slammed Egypt for its support of the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip, hailing Turkey's support for the Palestinian people.
Galloway, who headed the Viva Palestina aid convoy for the Gazans, was deported from Egypt.
"I wish that Egypt and Britain had leaders like [Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan," Turkey's Yenisafak quoted Galloway as saying on Saturday.
He hailed the Turkish government's support for the humanitarian convoy.
The member of the Respect Party noted that he will never visit Egypt again, stressing that the Egyptian people are different from the "dictatorship" running the country and said that he will miss them.
Why Dodd Went Down
But how did Democrats end up having to worry about losing a seat in deep-blue Connecticut in the first place?
Dodd, who was first elected to the Senate in 1980, was once considered as close to invulnerable as a politician can get. His job approval ratings were in the 60s as recently as 2007. Then the recession and the financial crisis hit. Conservatives knew that deregulation, tax cuts for the rich, and greed-is-good philosophizing couldn't possibly be the reason for the downturn. They needed a liberal to blame.
Dodd was an easy pick. As ranking Democrat and then chair of the Senate banking committee, he was a top recipient of Wall Street campaign cash. And between 1989 and 2008, Dodd took more money than any other politician from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government-sponsored entities that conservatives like to blame for the collapse of the mortgage market.
The narrative stuck, and Republicans smelled blood in the water. By late November, before two candidates figured their odds were better if they switched races, there were five Republicans running against Dodd. The switches left Schiff and two more prominent candidates: Rob Simmons, a former three-term congressman (he voted for the Bush tax cuts and the Iraq War, but he still led Dodd by double digits in some polls), and Linda McMahon, the superrich CEO of Stamford-based World Wrestling Entertainment (she is reportedly willing to spend up to $50 million of her own money on the race).
Perhaps Dodd could have avoided facing a former congressman and a $50-million woman if he had voted against the Troubled Asset Relief Program. But at the end of 2008, when Bush's treasury secretary, Hank Paulson, came begging�on bended knee, literally�for $700 billion to bail out the banks, Dodd and many other Democrats said okay. "There's a lot of pent-up frustration," Paindiris told me in December. "Whoever personifies Wall Street and bailouts and Washington and career politicians is going to be the victim of the general election."
Researchers Reluctantly Admit Mediterranean Diet Beats Diabetes Drugs for Controlling Blood Sugar
(NaturalNews) For the first time, a long-term health study has demonstrated that the Mediterranean diet may help diabetes patients control their blood sugar without the use of medication.
"A Mediterranean-style diet is a very important part in the treatment of diabetes," said endocrinologist Loren Greene of New York University Medical Center, who was not involved in the study. "We knew that, but there just hasn't been a good study to confirm this before."
In a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers assigned 215 overweight, adult residents of Naples, Italy, to adhere to one of two diets. Participants in one group were assigned to follow a Mediterranean diet -- eating large quantities of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and certain healthy fats such as olive oil; favoring lean protein sources such as nuts, poultry and fish; and gaining no more than half their daily calories from carbohydrates. Participants in the other group were assigned to follow a low-fat diet similar to that recommended by the American Heart Association -- with no more than 30 percent of its daily calories from fat and 10 percent from saturated fat; low in sweets and high-fat snacks; and high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
All participants were instructed to limit their caloric intake to 1,800 calories per day for men and 1,500 per day for women. They were given regular nutrition counseling and urged to exercise regularly.
After four years, 56 percent of the participants in the Mediterranean diet group were able to manage their diabetes without drugs, compared with only 30 percent of those in the low-fat group. Participants eating a Mediterranean diet also maintained more weight loss and more improvement in levels of HDL ("bad") cholesterol and triglycerides.
University of Washington monkey starved to death in lab last year
Staff at the University of Washington's National Primate Research Center allowed a monkey to starve to death last year.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection report says the male pigtailed macaque had lost a quarter of his body weight, and had not been weighed regularly as required by the university's own protocols.
Three workers and one supervisor were disciplined, said center Director David Anderson.
Nona Phillips, director of UW's Office of Animal Welfare, said the incident was "extremely upsetting."
PAM COMMENTARY: Students with classes in a college laboratory once told me that their professor would fail anyone who let a lab animal die from negligence.
McDonald's seeks to cut cows' methane emissions; Three-year study by burger giant aims to reduce pollution from flatulent livestock
McDonald's has long been the butt of jokes about what goes into its burgers, but now it is to spend thousands of pounds investigating what comes out of its beef cows.
The fast food chain, which uses beef from 350,000 cattle a year for its burger meat, is to conduct a three-year study into methane emissions from cattle on 350 farms across Britain. Gas produced by flatulent livestock accounts for 4% of the UK's total carbon emissions. It is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse agent.
The company's announcement comes after the environment secretary, Hilary Benn, called for the food industry to look at ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of the government's 2030 food strategy, which was unveiled last week.
A study carried out in America in 2006 calculated that producing a single cheeseburger involves the emission of around 3.1kg of carbon dioxide.
Okinawans urge US troops expelled
Locals in Okinawa, which currently hosts more than half of the 47,000 US troops in Japan, associate the US military presence on the island with crime and pollution, recalling the appalling account of the rape of a 12-year-old schoolgirl by three American soldiers in 1995.
Japan's chief cabinet secretary is the head of a committee tasked with finding a place for the relocation of the US air base. In his visit to the area, he said the committee tries to hear the local and the US military officials to reach a solution by May.
Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's center-left government, which came to power in Japan in August after almost five decades of conservative rule, has pledged to reconsider past agreements on the US military presence and adopt a less subservient position toward Washington.
However, the United States has maintained that the planned airfield at the more northerly and remote Camp Schwab along Okinawa's rural northeast coast is the only viable plan.
S. Arabia Urges Denuclearization of Israel
The regional tranquility and stability could be secured through the denuclearization of Israel, the Saudi minister said in a press conference with his German counterpart Guido Westerwelle in Riyadh on Saturday evening.
"The task to strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime in the Middle East remains extremely urgent," Faisal noted.
Israel, the Middle East's sole nuclear power, possesses hundreds of nuclear warheads while it is not a signatory to the NPT or any other international convention. The Zionist regime has never allowed UN inspectors to visit its nuclear sites or arsenals.
Israel has in general followed the country's policy of nuclear ambiguity, neither confirming nor denying the existence of its assumed arsenal.
However, in May 2008 former US president Jimmy Carter said Israel has at least 150 nuclear weapons in its arsenal.
Israel razes Palestinian structures in West Bank
Israeli forces today knocked down shelters that were home to about 150 Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Palestinian officials said.
A spokesman for the Israeli authorities in the West Bank, occupied by Israel since a 1967 war, said 14 "illegally constructed structures were removed". They had been built on a military training ground, "endangering the lives of those present", Lee Hiromoto, the spokesman, said.
Atef Hanini, a local Palestinian official, disputed the Israeli justification and said the Palestinian farming community had lived in the area of Tana, east of Nablus, for decades.
A mechanical digger ploughed through what remained of one of the shelters and a Palestinian woman remonstrated with Israeli soldiers at the scene. The structures included homes, stables and a school.
Death sentences over Myanmar leaks
Among the pictures purportedly leaked by the three men were those of an alleged secret network of tunnels built by North Korean experts inside Myanmar, which were published in June by the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), based in Oslo, Norway.
There has been speculation that the tunnels are part of secret nuclear facilities being developed with the assistance of Pyongyang.
During a visit to Thailand last July, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said North Korea could be sharing atomic technology with Myanmar.
The documents further showed that Maung Aye, the government number two, visited Russia in 2006 to discuss the procurement of a guided missile system, the DVB said on its website on Friday.
The military government, which took power in 1962, has not commented on the verdicts or the accusations surrounding the leaked documents.
Mirror journalist killed in Afghan blast
A British journalist was killed in an explosion in Afghanistan yesterday, the Ministry of Defence announced today.
Rupert Hamer, the Sunday Mirror's defence correspondent, died of his wounds at the scene north-west of Nawa.
The newspaper's photographer, Philip Coburn, was injured in the blast, which also killed a US Marine and an Afghan soldier, the MoD said.
Chavez opts for two-tier currency to boost oil earnings ahead of elections
PRESIDENT Hugo Chavez yesterday announced Venezuela's currency will be devalued to boost revenue from oil exports and hold down prices of priority imports such as food to counter soaring inflation.
The higher rate, which he called the "oil dollar", will double the paper value of Venezuela's petroleum earnings when converted to local currency. Oil accounts for about half the government budget, but that income has been squeezed by lower world oil prices and declines in output in the past year.
Chavez said the priority exchange rate will be allotted for food, healthcare products, school supplies, machinery and equipment for economic development, among other things.
China overtakes Germany as biggest exporter
BEIJING � China overtook Germany as the world's biggest exporter after exports rose in December for the first time in 14 months, data showed today, in a new sign of the rapid Chinese rise as a global economic force.
Chinese exports in the last month of 2009 jumped 17.7 percent from a year earlier, the state Xinhua News Agency and government television said. That made total exports for the year just over $1.2 trillion, ahead of the $1.17 trillion forecast last month for Germany by that country's foreign trade organization, BGA.
Economists and Germany's national chamber of commerce said earlier it was likely to lose its longtime crown as top exporter.
China's new status is largely symbolic but reflects the ability of its resilient, low-cost manufacturers to keep selling abroad despite a collapse in global consumer demand due to the financial crisis.
Tobacco smoke causes behavior problems in children
(NaturalNews) A study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives has revealed that children who are exposed to cigarette smoke prenatally and during the first year of their life are likely to develop behavioral problems by the time they are of school age. Particularly problematic during the gestational years, tobacco smoke can more than double the risk of childhood behavior problems.
Scientists from Germany analyzed children whose mothers smoked while they were in the womb as well as children who were exposed to second hand smoke following their birth up until their first birthday. The children who were only exposed prenatally were 90 percent more likely to develop behavioral problems compared to children whose mothers did not smoke at all. Children who were exposed only after birth had a 30-percent higher risk. Children exposed both prenatally and after birth had a double risk of developing abnormal behavior problems.
In order to isolate the true cause of behavioral problems, scientists crafted a detailed questionnaire that aimed to eliminate possible biases that would have altered results, such as external social and environmental factors. When all was said and done, hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder, and social interaction problems were among the primary setbacks observed in the tobacco-exposed children.
Because the negative effects of tobacco smoke were found to be the greatest during fetal development, scientists see an undeniable link between tobacco and developmental problems. The formative years of a child's growth and maturation are severely upset by the presence of tobacco, something scientists hope every mother and prospective mother will consider.
Gere backs vegetarian zone at site of enlightenment
DELHI - Richard Gere the Hollywood actor who has spurned red meat for the past 30 years, has thrown his support behind a plan to transform the site of Buddha's enlightenment into a vegetarian zone to spread the message of peace.
The activist, who is taking part in a five-day training session with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist leader, in the Indian town of Bodhgaya, took part in a candlelit march this week highlighting the campaign. "Bodhgaya is a pious place and I want to come here again," the star of movies such as An Officer and a Gentleman and Pretty Woman told reporters, after joining around 500 monks and activists who took part in the march. "I am with the people who have launched this campaign."
According to Buddhist tradition, Bodhgaya, in the state of Bihar, is where Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment around 500BC. Starting in the 19th century, the area gradually become a site of pilgrimage and is now visited by Buddhists from all over the world, whose presence gives it a very different character from the rest of north India's impoverished "cow belt".
Since the Dalai Lama's flight into India from Tibet in 1959, Bodhgaya has become the winter pilgrimage destination for thousands of Tibetans who live in India, and is the site of a large Tibetan market. While not taking life is the first Buddhist precept, it is not essential to be vegetarian to be a Buddhist. The Dalai Lama himself sometimes eats meat while he is away from his purely vegetarian kitchen in Dharamsala. Indeed, because of the climate and the difficulty of obtaining fresh vegetables and alternative sources of protein, many Buddhists in Tibet are not vegetarian. Neither is Gere.
The plan to turn Bodhgaya into a vegetarian zone is the project of a group called Tibetans for a Vegetarian Society that believes doing so would help spread a message of peace. Speaking last night from Bodhgaya, the group's founder, Tenzin Kunga Luding, said Gere's participation in the event had been a morale booster for the activists. "We have been calling for this since 2006 and slowly the campaign is building up," said Mr Luding. "He really was very supportive and very good to us. It has helped the cause a lot."
TRAVIS - HEALY GOES VEGGIE FOR MCCARTNEY
TRAVIS rocker FRAN HEALY has thanked SIR PAUL MCCARTNEY for agreeing to perform on his new solo album, by converting his entire family to vegetarianism.
Healy was so stunned and humbled to land the devout vegetarian for one of the tracks on his upcoming release, he and his wife Nora decided to pay back his generosity by giving up meat.
Healy adds "Nora and I were sitting and thinking of a thankyou present and I suggested going vegetarian. Our son is already one, so it would mean we would all be on the same boat (sic).
New Clothes Could Make You Sick - 'GMA' Research Shocking [R]
"Good Morning America" just took all the fun out of our post holiday shopping when it revealed details of its filthy investigation into what's lurking on our brand new clothes. Germ phobes be warned, this gets pretty ugly.
A microbiologist hired by "GMA" found evidence of feces, vaginal secretions and even diarrhea causing viruses when it took cultures from so-called brand new clothes at popular high- and low-end stores in New York City. (ABC did not name the retailers.)
GMA's research was conducted for the morning show by Dr. Philip Tierno, director of microbiology at New York University. He turned up lots of dirt.
Tierno cultured 14 pieces of new clothing and found "excessive" amounts of disease causing germs and bacteria on a few pieces -- including a blouse and a jacket -- and trace amounts of some of these same offenders on other pieces. The invisible threats turned up in some surprising places -- fecal material in the offending blouse and jacket for example.
Officials Hid Truth of Immigrant Deaths in Jail
Silence has long shrouded the men and women who die in the nation�s immigration jails. For years, they went uncounted and unnamed in the public record. Even in 2008, when The New York Times obtained and published a federal government list of such deaths, few facts were available about who these people were and how they died.
But behind the scenes, it is now clear, the deaths had already generated thousands of pages of government documents, including scathing investigative reports that were kept under wraps, and a trail of confidential memos and BlackBerry messages that show officials working to stymie outside inquiry.
Ex-prosecutor blamed for 3 protester prison deaths
Mortazavi led interrogations of dozens of reformists arrested and put on trial after the June vote, according to opposition Web sites and families of the detained activists. The report said Mortazavi claimed the three detainees had died from meningitis.
After months of denials, Iran's hard-line judiciary acknowledged last month that the three were beaten to death by their jailers. That confirmed one of the opposition's most devastating claims against authorities and the elite Revolutionary Guard forces, which led the crackdown on anti-government protests after the election.
One of the detainees who died in custody was the son of Abdolhossein Rouhalamini, a top aide to conservative presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei. Rouhalamini's death in July, two weeks after he was arrested, sparked anger even among government supporters.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, ordered the immediate closure of Kahrizak in July and Jalali said that came after reports of beating and inhumane behavior there.
After reports of torture and rape emerged in August, authorities vowed to punish those found guilty to control the damage. Mortazavi, who now heads a government body tasked with fighting smuggling of goods, is the highest ranking official to be implicated so far. But there was no immediate word on whether he would be prosecuted.
Egypt discovers new workers' tombs near pyramids
CAIRO -- Egyptian archaeologists discovered a new set of tombs belonging to the workers who built the great pyramids, shedding light on how the laborers lived and ate more than 4,000 years ago, the antiquities department said Sunday.
The thousands of men who built the last remaining wonder of the ancient world ate meat regularly, worked in three months shifts and were given the honor being buried in mud brick tombs within the shadow of the sacred pyramids they worked on.
The newly discovered tombs date to Egypt's 4th Dynasty (2575 B.C. to 2467 B.C.) when the great pyramids were built, according to the head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass.
Graves of the pyramid builders were first discovered in the area in 1990, he said, and discoveries such as these show that the workers were paid laborers, rather than the slaves of popular imagination.
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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