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Week of 17th to 23rd of January 2010

Oil spilled at east Texas port as ships collide
PORT ARTHUR, Texas -- As much as 450,000 gallons of crude oil spilled in a southeast Texas port Saturday after two vessels collided, the U.S. Coast Guard said. No injuries have been reported, but part of the port has been closed and some nearby residents have been evacuated.

Port Arthur police Sgt. Ken Carona told television station KFDM that fewer than 100 people were evacuated from the area because of hydrogen sulfide - a hazardous gas with a rotten egg smell - that was emanating from the oil.

He told the station that people will be allowed back when the levels go down.

While the Coast Guard said around 450,000 gallons of oil were spilled, Carona says only about 40,000 gallons of oil were spilled.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Renee Aiello told The Association Press that the crude spilled at the Port of Port Arthur when a 600-foot tanker carrying oil collided with a towing vessel pushing a loaded barge. The Coast Guard was notified of the collision around 9:50 a.m., she said.

US Marines end role in Iraq; Biden in Baghdad
RAMADI, Iraq -- The U.S. Marine Corps wrapped up nearly seven years in Iraq on Saturday, handing over duties to the Army and signaling the beginning of an accelerated withdrawal of American troops as the U.S. turns its focus away from the waning Iraqi war to a growing one in Afghanistan.

In Baghdad, meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden held talks with Iraqi leaders amid rising tensions over plans to ban election candidates because of suspected links to Saddam Hussein's regime.

The White House worries the bans could raise questions over the fairness of the March 7 parliamentary elections, which are seen as an important step in the American pullout timetable and breaking political stalemates over key issues such as dividing Iraq's oil revenue.

The Marines formally handed over control of Sunni-dominated Anbar, Iraq's largest province, to the Army during a ceremony at a base in Ramadi - where some of the fiercest fighting of the war took place.

PAM COMMENTARY: Too bad they're only pulling out Marines. The Army and everyone else should be leaving along with them. When is the occupation going to end?

Plan to close Gitmo now on indefinite hold
As one of his very first acts in the White House, President Obama signed an executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay prison for terror suspects within a year.

The one-year mark arrived Friday -- and it will likely be a year or more before Obama makes good on his promise.

He has not offered a new deadline.

Unless Obama decides to change course, to close Gitmo the president must still find support in Congress to pay for what's being dubbed "Gitmo North" -- Illinois' Thomson Correctional Center -- a super-secure prison near Downstate Sterling for some of the detainees he wants to continue holding. Gov. Quinn says that Illinois should receive "at least" $145 million from the federal government for the Thomson prison.

Corporate Personhood Should Be Banned, Once and For All, by Ralph Nader
January 21, 2010 - -Today�s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission shreds the fabric of our already weakened democracy by allowing corporations to more completely dominate our corrupted electoral process. It is outrageous that corporations already attempt to influence or bribe our political candidates through their political action committees (PACs), which solicit employees and shareholders for donations. With this decision, corporations can now also draw on their corporate treasuries and pour vast amounts of corporate money, through independent expenditures, into the electoral swamp already flooded with corporate campaign PAC contribution dollars.

This corporatist, anti-voter decision is so extreme that it should galvanize a grassroots effort to enact a Constitutional Amendment to once and for all end corporate personhood and curtail the corrosive impact of big money on politics. It is indeed time for a Constitutional amendment to prevent corporate campaign contributions from commercializing our elections and drowning out the civic and political voices and values of citizens and voters. It is way overdue to overthrow �King Corporation� and restore the sovereignty of �We the People�!

PAM COMMENTARY: We haven't had a Constitutional amendment for the longest time. I've been saying that we may need one to limit the authority of the President, especially since George W. Bush granted himself so many new powers and Congress didn't seem in the mood to impeach him (at least not after he had the anthrax sent to them). Now a new guy is in office, and of course they never want to hand back authority, even if when it's really not even legal. So maybe we could start with Nader's amendment and put a few other ones together -- why doesn't every group with a big cause write its own amendment, and start working on getting it passed? We might just end up with a few new decent laws, no thanks to our current "democracy" where people vote for whoever ran the most TV ads.

Canada's man in Tehran was a CIA spy
Ken Taylor, the Canadian diplomat celebrated 30 years ago for hiding U.S. embassy personnel during the Iranian revolution, actively spied for the Americans and helped them plan an armed incursion into the country.

Mr. Taylor, ambassador in Iran from 1977 to 1980, became �the de facto CIA station chief� in Tehran after the U.S. embassy was seized by students on Nov. 4, 1979, and 63 Americans, including the four-member Central Intelligence Agency contingent, were taken hostage.

Had his espionage been discovered, Mr. Taylor told The Globe and Mail in an interview this week, �the Iranians wouldn't have tolerated it. And the consequences may have been severe.�

His intelligence-gathering activities were kept secret by agreement between the Canadian and the U.S. governments, although his role in sheltering six Americans and helping to spirit them out of Iran was later made public, winning him and the Canadian government widespread U.S. gratitude.

Glaxo, Merck disclose how much they're paying U.S. doctors
Responding to a continuing push from lawmakers to reveal how much the pharmaceutical industry is influencing America's doctors, two more major drug makers have made public their payments to physicians, but an industry expert says the data are of limited value.

The new websites, by GlaxoSmithKline and Merck, join one set up by Eli Lilly in August. A similar service is expected from Pfizer later this year.

Among South Florida doctors, the latest quarterly reports reveal that the recipient getting the most was B. Mitchell Grabois, an Aventura obstetrician-gynecologist who picked up $46,750 over three months from Glaxo. In second place was Steven Turpin, a Homestead pulmonologist, who was paid $32,100. Neither responded to a request for comment.

``We welcome the companies that are voluntarily disclosing,'' said Allan Coukell, a pharmacist who directs the Pew Prescription Project, a nonprofit watchdog group. ``But that remains a tiny fraction of all companies.''

Hugo Chavez: Haiti Earthquake Caused by U.S. Tectonic Weapon Test
Venezuelan leader, Hugo Chavez has reportedly said the Haiti earthquake was caused by a U.S. tectonic weapons test, also being dubbed The Earthquake Weapon.

Hugo Chavez told Spanish newspaper ABC that a "tectonic weapon" launched by the U.S. Navy was capable of triggering a powerful earthquake off the coast of Haiti. Chavez told the newspaper that this time it was only a test and the ultimate target is Iran

Conspiracy theorists have long held that the U.S. and Russia both have "tectonic" capable weapons.

Resort workers say decision to continue Royal Caribbean cruise stops to Haiti an easy one: 'Without this, we don't eat'
LABADEE, Haiti (AP) � With the Celebrity Solstice cruise ship anchored just offshore this beautiful expanse of white sand Friday, vacationers stretched out on beach chairs in the sun, sipped cold beer and pina coladas with pineapple slices on the rim and listened to Haitian folk music.

The beach resort of Labadee is just 60 miles (100 kilometers) from Port-au-Prince, but it's a world away from the devastation of the Haitian capital, where some 200,000 people are believed dead in an earthquake.

The cruise ships that stop here have become the center of a controversy: Should vacationers relax and have fun with so much suffering elsewhere on the island? Or would it be worse to halt the port calls and deprive locals of what they earn from tourism?

Jameson Charitable, 20, stood near the pier with a sign offering tours. "Without this," he said, motioning toward the boat, "we don't eat." He said he makes $15 every time a ship comes in.

About 200 people work here, and a few hundred more vendors and service providers are allowed in whenever ships arrive. The resort enclave, which has a beach, a zipline in the mountains and other activities, is leased by the Haitian government to Royal Caribbean International, which also owns the Celebrity cruise line.

Former Quebec MP found dead in rubble of Haitian hotel: family
Canwest News Service - Former Liberal MP Serge Marcil has been confirmed dead in Haiti, his family said Saturday, ending days of uncertainty and emotional turmoil for those who knew former politician.

Marcil�s remains were found in the rubble of the Montana Hotel in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.

�Serge was the gift that life gave me,� his wife, Christiane Pelchat, said in the statement to media.

Marcil, 65, had been in Haiti on a business trip for the Montreal-based engineering firm Group SM International when the earthquake struck on Jan. 12. He had been working for the company for two years.

His wife went to Port-au-Prince on Friday to retrieve his remains.

Thousands turn out at rallies to protest proroguing of Parliament
OTTAWA � Thousands of demonstrators showed up in the nation's capital on Saturday to voice their displeasure with the Harper government's decision to prorogue Parliament � one of dozens of rallies expected across the country.

Demonstrators made their presence felt in Ottawa, holding signs with such messages as Democracy Works, and holding singalongs, including a rendition of O Canada at a rally that was also expected to be attended by Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff and NDP Leader Jack Layton later in the day.

Media reports pegged the turnout at more than 3,000 people.

Organizers were boasting of rallies in 50 communities across the country, including major centres such as Toronto � where estimates of crowd attendance were also in the thousands � Calgary and Vancouver.

B.C.'s privacy office frozen, leaked letter says
VANCOUVER � Operations at the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner have ceased, leaving British Columbians with no independent office to hold the government accountable, says a leaked letter marked "Extremely Urgent" to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.

The letter, sent Friday, is from the executive director of the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, Mary Carlson, and is addressed to Bill Barisoff.

She said staff have shut down the whole operation to avoid any legal issues that could arise from reviewing cabinet files or law-enforcement information.

Their duties also include opening appeal files and privacy complaints, securing and reviewing records on the subject of an appeal, authorizing time extensions to respond to access requests and policing the timeliness of government responses to access requests.

The letter warns that B.C. has no independent office that can hold the provincial government and nearly 3,000 public bodies to account under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Coastal restoration getting 'dream team'; They'll help push to get projects started
Hoping that attention on coastal restoration needs in the Pontchartrain Basin will get much-needed projects up and running, the regional levee authority president for districts east of the Mississippi River established a "dream team" of coastal specialists Thursday to advise the board.

Despite years of planning at various levels of government, as well as the involvement of nonprofit organizations such as the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, coastal restoration advocates say too few projects have been started in the basin, which stretches from the Mississippi border south to the mouth of the river and west to Lake Maurepas.

"We can't keep talking about these projects or we'll have lost so much land there won't be anything left to protect," said Tim Doody, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East president who formed the Coastal Advisory Committee.

Environmentalist kicked off cruise discharge panel
Link: CoastAlaska via APRN A Southeast environmental activist has been removed from a 11-seat science panel charged by the state with examining wastewater treatment options for cruise ships. Gershon Cohen of Haines, a co-sponsor of the 2006 voter initiative that imposed strict limits on sewage discharge (and put a $50 head tax on passengers), appeared to be biased against the cruise industry, said Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Larry Hartig. Cohen said his science experience and education make him ideal for the panel and his dismissal "doesn't pass the red-face test." "The cruise ships have a seat on the panel, so they have an advocate," Cohen said, "and in fact the fisheries folks have a person on the panel in a fisheries seat, and they have an advocate." The Legislature has delayed enforcement of the new discharge standards while the issue is further studied.

Can Apple save the newspaper industry?
Nowhere is next week's launch by Apple of its new tablet device more breathlessly awaited than in the executive offices of traditional publishing houses.

For the tablet � or the iSlate or the iPad as it may become known � is regarded as a possible saviour for newspapers, magazines and textbooks.

There are electronic reading devices in existence already, such as Sony's e-Reader and Amazon's Kindle. But, publishers hope the unquestioned design talents of Apple will ensure that its latest product is the vehicle that enables them to transform their business models. After all, the iPod has converted millions to the idea of paying to download songs and, to a degree, has revived the music industry, becoming the world's largest music retailer in the process. The iPhone has created a culture of acquiring apps for "just about anything", many of them paid for.

Newspaper content is already being widely consumed on smart mobile phones but mostly for free. With a touch screen of 10-11 inches, the Apple tablet presents publishers of all kinds with the opportunity to create an entirely new reader experience, one that consumers might be persuaded to pay for.

David Rowan, editor of the UK edition of the technology magazine Wired, said that the size of the tablet screen could mean that readers enjoyed a "comparable experience" to reading a magazine. Innovative publishers would be offered myriad opportunities, such as accompanying an article on a film director with video footage, or a recipe piece with touch screen links to ingredients.

Tasers seen as option in 1/3 of police shootings
One-third of shootings by San Francisco police over a five-year period might have been avoided had officers been equipped with less-lethal options such as Tasers, a police study suggests.

Unlike many departments, San Francisco police officers are not equipped with Tasers, stun guns that disrupt a target's muscle control. Chief George Gasc�who ordered the study shortly after coming on the job in late July, says the city should consider adopting the devices.

Critics of Tasers, however, say they are not the nonlethal weapons the maker advertises. They point to hundreds of deaths associated with the devices since their use began spreading in law enforcement in the late 1990s.

The word "Taser" is not included in the 185-page study of officer-involved shootings, written by Assistant Chief Morris Tabak and released this week. But Gasc�ade it clear in an interview Friday that it supported the case for giving officers stun guns.

PAM COMMENTARY: Who's to say that taser deaths won't outnumber shootings once police are given that option?

Yellowstone's Plumbing Reveals Plume of Hot and Molten Rock 410 Miles Deep [R]
ScienceDaily (Dec. 14, 2009) � The most detailed seismic images yet published of the plumbing that feeds the Yellowstone supervolcano shows a plume of hot and molten rock rising at an angle from the northwest at a depth of at least 410 miles, contradicting claims that there is no deep plume, only shallow hot rock moving like slowly boiling soup.

A related University of Utah study used gravity measurements to indicate the banana-shaped magma chamber of hot and molten rock a few miles beneath Yellowstone is 20 percent larger than previously believed, so a future cataclysmic eruption could be even larger than thought.

The study's of Yellowstone's plume also suggests the same "hotspot" that feeds Yellowstone volcanism also triggered the Columbia River "flood basalts" that buried parts of Oregon, Washington state and Idaho with lava starting 17 million years ago.

Those are key findings in four National Science Foundation-funded studies in the latest issue of the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. The studies were led by Robert B. Smith, research professor and professor emeritus of geophysics at the University of Utah and coordinating scientist for the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.

McDonald's to create 5,000 jobs as British sales soar 11%
MCDONALD'S is to create 5,000 jobs in the UK after the nation was singled out as the US fast-food giant's best-performing market.

Speaking to The Scotsman, McDonald's UK chief executive, Steve Easterbrook, said he expected 400-500 jobs to be created in Scotland this year.

The extra posts would take the total number of workers employed by the group in the UK to 85,000.

Across the UK, annual sales rose by 11 per cent, beating the burger chain's global average growth of 3.8 per cent. Scotland itself marginally outperformed the UK, boasting a sales increase of 11.5 per cent for the year ending December.

PAM COMMENTARY: I wouldn't assume that Britons are liking junk food more these days. Rather, the increase is probably just a switch by customers from neighborhood cafes and diners to the cheap stuff, a way to save money during the slow economy.

Wind power surges in B.C. (Canada)
Environmental permits have been issued for two large wind energy projects in B.C., and work is to resume in January on a half-finished project that went bankrupt last year.

As it concluded a historic land settlement with the Haida Nation, the B.C. government issued an environmental certificate last week for a 110-turbine offshore wind farm in Hecate Strait near Haida Gwaii. The $2 billion NaiKun project includes 80-metre towers anchored to the seabed and underwater cables that connect the island chain to the BC Hydro grid at Ridley Island near Prince Rupert.

Energy Minister Blair Lekstrom and Environment Minister Barry Penner issued a second permit to the Thunder Mountain Wind Project, 45 km southeast of Tumbler Ridge in northeastern B.C. Its plan includes 160 wind turbine towers, five substations, a 65 km power line, access and maintenance roads.

Both permits impose dozens of conditions, including fish and wildlife monitoring programs and ongoing consultation with affected aboriginal communities. The Haida Nation is a partner in the NaiKun project, and will operate and maintain it when it is completed.

Sad end for Waterford Crystal; Rush for souvenirs as doors close for good
IT was a painful end for Waterford Crystal.

The thousands who worked there over the years, the hundreds of thousands who visited to admire its jewels and the millions who associate the brand with this country never thought they would see the day.

Waterford Crystal was, after all, the fourth most popular visitor attraction in the country -- bringing 315,000 people to the south-east every year.

But last night the slow but inexorable decline of the world-famous attraction was complete when the factory's visitor centre and gallery closed to the public for the last time.

Since January 5, when Waterford Wedgwood went into receivership, the nail in the business's coffin was inevitable, despite a brave but doomed campaign mounted by workers who wanted the factory to stay open.

The takeover of the brand a few months later by a consortium of American venture capitalists, WWRD, did not set local pulses racing with romantic thoughts of a rejuvenation of the Kilbarry plant, and production was soon halted.

The US-backed firm will make the crystal in locations across the globe, including Eastern Europe.

Google co-founders to sell $5.5B combined in stock
Google Inc. co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are relinquishing some of their control over the Internet search leader with the sale of 10 million shares worth $5.5 billion at current prices.

Under a plan disclosed Friday, the longtime business partners will each sell 5 million Google shares during a five-year period that will commence with the first trade.

The sales will occur periodically to lessen the chances of hurting Google's stock price.

Page and Brin, both 36, will remain Google's most influential shareholders, although they will be losing some of their clout.

Most U.S. Union Members Are Working for the Government, New Data Shows
For the first time in American history, a majority of union members are government workers rather than private-sector employees, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced on Friday.

In its annual report on union membership, the bureau undercut the longstanding notion that union members are overwhelmingly blue-collar factory workers. It found that membership fell so fast in the private sector in 2009 that the 7.9 million unionized public-sector workers easily outnumbered those in the private sector, where labor�s ranks shrank to 7.4 million, from 8.2 million in 2008.

�There has been steady growth among union members in the public sector, but I�m a little bit shocked to see that the lines have actually crossed,� said Randel K. Johnson, senior vice president for labor at the United States Chamber of Commerce.

According to the labor bureau, 7.2 percent of private-sector workers were union members last year, down from 7.6 percent the previous year. That, labor historians said, was the lowest percentage of private-sector workers in unions since 1900.

Italy moves to impose Internet regulation; Government decree would erode freedom of expression, mandate monitoring what individuals put on the Internet, critics say
Silvio Berlusconi is moving to extend his grip on Italy's media to the freewheeling Internet world of Google and YouTube.

Going beyond other European governments, the premier's government has drafted a decree that would mandate the vetting of videos for pornographic or violent content uploaded by users onto such sites as YouTube, owned by Google, and the France-based Dailymotion, as well as blogs and online newsmedia.

Google, press freedom watchdogs and telecom providers are among those pressing for changes in the draft to prevent the fast-track legislation from taking effect as early as Feb. 4. They say the decree would erode freedom of expression and mandate the technically burdensome � maybe even impossible � task of monitoring what individuals put on the Internet.

Reporters Without Borders Media says the measures could force Web sites to obtain licenses to operate in Italy.

The 34-page decree mandates vetting of any content harmful to minors, specifically pornography or excessive violence, and would require telecoms providers to shut down any Internet site not in compliance, or face fines ranging from euro150 to euro150,000 ($210 to $210,960).

NOAA may prohibit Navy sonar testing at marine mammal 'hot spots'
Marine mammal "hot spots" in areas including Southern California's coastal waters may become off limits to testing of a type of Navy sonar linked to the deaths of whales under a plan announced this week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NOAA also called for development of a system for estimating the "comprehensive sound budget for the oceans," which could help reduce human sources of noise -- vessel traffic, sonar and construction activities -- that degrade the environment in which sound-sensitive species communicate.

The plans were revealed in a letter from NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco to the White House Council on Environmental Quality. In the letter, Lubchenco said her goal is to reduce adverse effects on marine mammals resulting from the Navy's training exercises.

Environmentalists contend that sonar has a possibly deafening effect on marine mammals. Studies around the world have shown the piercing underwater sounds cause whales to flee in panic or to dive too deeply. Whales have been found beached in Greece, the Canary Islands and the Bahamas after sonar was used in the area. Necropsies showed signs of bleeding in the ears.

PAM COMMENTARY: See earlier links on this topic -- this article is too timid in its description of injuries to whales and dolphins.

Indiana City fed up with crows
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. � Thousands of crows have descended on Terre Haute, making a mess of downtown and causing trouble for business owners.

A researcher estimates that at least 32,000 crows are roosting in the city this winter, leaving sidewalks and trees covered in droppings.

While its unknown why the crows return to the city year after year, Indiana State University associate biology professor Peter Scott theorizes that the warmth and lights attract the birds. Scott said the crows also might choose the city because it offers protection from predators or a source of food. He said the crows leave the city during the day to forage for food, then return at night to spend the night in the trees.

PAM COMMENTARY: I wonder if Indiana's corn fields are the main draw, with the city providing some variety in their diet, along with warmth and shelter.

Sunflower DNA map could produce plants for fuel
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. � A $10.5 million research project aimed at mapping the DNA sequence of sunflowers could one day yield a towering new variety for both food and fuel.

Researchers envision crossbreeding a standard sunflower with the Silverleaf species out of Texas to produce a hybrid with bright yellow flowers bursting with tasty seeds and thick stalks filled with complex sugars that can be turned into ethanol.

The wild, drought-resistant Silverleaf is known for its woody stalks, which can grow up 15 feet tall and 4 inches in diameter.

"Since it's the closest relative of the cultivated sunflower, it should be perhaps reasonably straightforward to move some of the traits," said Loren Rieseberg, a University of British Columbia botany professor and leader of the DNA sequencing project.

PAM COMMENTARY: Just what we need -- more Franken-flowers.

My Dinner with Ollie (North's airplane)
High on a cliff overlooking the ocean near Quepos, El Avion was a lot like other restaurants we'd been to in Costa Rica, in that it consisted of tables spread out under a roof with nary an exterior wall to be found. Unlike those other restaurants, the center of El Avion's floor plan was taken up by the hulking carcass of an aging cargo plane.

There was a bar inside the plane. And normally, this gimmick alone would have been enough to make me happy. Then we found out what used to be carried in there.

I tell you what. I would not have thought that "Iran-Contra Affair" would make a great idea for a restaurant theme. But then, this is apparently why I'm a writer and not a successful restaurateur.

You're looking at the interior of a 1954 Fairchild C-123, specifically one of two such planes bought with the help of the CIA to run weapons (also purchased with the help of the CIA) to guerrillas in Nicaragua in the early 1980s.

PAM COMMENTARY: Sounds like a cool place, a tourist trap and restaurant rolled into one! Well, I guess it's time for some Iran-Contra flashbacks. I notice that the old videos I'd linked to on the Mena airport don't work anymore (they were on infowarstv.com, which must have removed them). So here's a flashback that covers a piece of the Iran-Contra story -- the drug-running/Contra re-supply airport at Mena, Arkansas:

The Mena Connection: Bush, Clinton, and CIA drug smuggling part 1/6
The Mena Connection: Bush, Clinton, and CIA drug smuggling part 2/6
The Mena Connection: Bush, Clinton, and CIA drug smuggling part 3/6
The Mena Connection: Bush, Clinton, and CIA drug smuggling part 4/6
The Mena Connection: Bush, Clinton, and CIA drug smuggling part 5/6
The Mena Connection: Bush, Clinton, and CIA drug smuggling part 6/6

Also, TheSmokingGun.com posted a copy of one of Hasenfus' first criminal complaints for indecent exposure.

And a blogger for the Daily Kos wrote a follow-up article on Hasenfus, including his Wisconsin arrests for indecent exposure. Apparently Hasenfus hung up when called for comment.

China eyes grand plan to develop Tibetan regions
China's top leaders say Tibet's development must include Tibetan areas in neighboring provinces � a move likely aimed at tying the region tighter to the rest of the country after deadly riots two years ago.

Chinese President Hu Jintao told the first high-level meeting on Tibet in nine years that the development would require hard work to prevent "penetration and sabotage" by separatists working for Tibet's independence, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported late Friday.

Hu also said at this week's meeting that residents' awareness of being part of China should be constantly enhanced, Xinhua reported.

The meeting was the first of its kind since the deadly riots in March 2008, the largest uprising against Chinese rule in decades. Chinese-owned shops and government offices were attacked in Tibet's capital, Lhasa, and other traditionally Tibetan regions of western China. The government says at least 22 people were killed in Lhasa, and Tibetan rights groups say nearly 140 Tibetans died.

First Nations win big in Casino Rama case
More than 100 First Nations hit the jackpot Friday in a dispute over profits from Casino Rama, beating back a claim that one band alone is entitled to the lion�s share of the money.

The Ontario Court of Appeal�s 78-page decision was a blow to the Chippewas of Mnjikaning, whose land just outside Orillia houses the gaming mecca, and who argued they had a deal with the Ontario government to receive 35 per cent of net profits.

Casino Rama is the only commercial gambling operation in Ontario located on a First Nation Reserve. Since opening nearly 14 years ago, it has boasted gross revenues of more than $5.2 billion, or about $500 million a year.

The Chippewas of Mnjikaning, about 1,500 people, claimed it had a binding agreement with the province that entitled the band to more than a third of the net profits in perpetuity, plus a further portion of gross revenues to compensate it for running the casino.

Another 133 First Nations, represented by the Chiefs of Ontario, opposed the claim, arguing revenue from the casino was to have been divided among all of them to help with economic development and improve health and education in their communities.

Listeria scare sparks salad recall in six provinces (Canada)
OTTAWA � The public was warned Saturday not to eat a specific brand of salad mix sold at grocery stores in six provinces due to fears it may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said the recall affects Compliments brand Italian Blend sold in 284 g packages with a best-before date of Jan. 18, 2010. The salads have a bar code of 68820 10093 and were sold Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

No illnesses have been reported as a result of people eating the salad.

CCTV in the sky: police plan to use military-style spy drones; Arms manufacturer BAE Systems developing national strategy with consortium of government agencies
Police in the UK are planning to use unmanned spy drones, controversially deployed in Afghanistan, for the �"routine" monitoring of antisocial motorists, �protesters, agricultural thieves and fly-tippers, in a significant expansion of covert state surveillance.

The arms manufacturer BAE Systems, which produces a range of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for war zones, is adapting the military-style planes for a consortium of government agencies led by Kent police.

Documents from the South Coast Partnership, a Home Office-backed project in which Kent police and others are developing a national drone plan with BAE, have been obtained by the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act.

They reveal the partnership intends to begin using the drones in time for the 2012 Olympics. They also indicate that police claims that the technology will be used for maritime surveillance fall well short of their intended use � which could span a range of police activity � and that officers have talked about selling the surveillance data to private companies. A prototype drone equipped with high-powered cameras and sensors is set to take to the skies for test flights later this year.

NYPD suspends 2 officers after video shows them punching handcuffed suspect on ground
NEW YORK - Two New York Police Department patrolmen have been suspended after a video surfaced showing them beating a handcuffed suspect during an undercover drug operation.

The footage was shot by a witness looking out an apartment window in the Bronx on Jan. 5. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly says he decided to suspend the two as soon as he saw the video.

The video shows the two officers bending down to punch the suspect, Jonathan Baez, who was handcuffed and face down on the ground.

A lawyer for Baez says other officers seen milling about as the scene unfolded should be punished as well. The lawyer says drug charges against Baez have been dismissed.

In Landmark Campaign Finance Ruling, Supreme Court Removes Limits on Corporate Campaign Spending [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about President Obama�s response? He was extremely critical, to say the least. He said, �With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics�a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.� Yet a number of especially conservatives are pointing out that there was�that President Obama spent more money for his presidential election than anyone in US history.

JAMIN RASKIN: OK, well, that�s a red herring in this discussion. The question here is the corporation, OK? And there�s an unbroken line of precedent, beginning with Chief Justice Marshall in the Dartmouth College case in the 1800s, all the way through Justice Rehnquist, even, in First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, saying that a corporation is an artificial creation of the state. It�s an instrumentality that the state legislatures charter in order to achieve economic purposes. And as Justice White put it, the state does not have to permit its own creature to consume it, to devour it.

And that�s precisely what the Supreme Court has done, suddenly declaring that a corporation is essentially a citizen, armed with all the political rights that we have, at the same time that the corporation has all kinds of economic perks and privileges like limited liability and perpetual life and bankruptcy protection and so on, that mean that we�re basically subsidizing these entities, and sometimes directly, as we saw with the Wall Street bailout, but then they�re allowed to turn around and spend money to determine our political future, our political destiny. So it�s a very dangerous moment for American political democracy.

And in other times, citizens have gotten together to challenge corporate power. The passage of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913 is a good example, where corporations were basically buying senators, going into state legislatures and paying off senator�paying off legislators to buy US senators, and the populist movement said we need direct popular election of senators. And that�s how we got it, basically, in a movement against corporate power.

Well, we need a movement for a constitutional amendment to declare that corporations are not persons entitled to the rights of political expression. And that�s what the President should be calling for at this point, because no legislation is really going to do the trick.

Now, one thing Congress can do is to say, if you do business with the federal government, you are not permitted to spend any money in federal election contests. That�s something that Congress should work on and get out next week. I mean, that seems very clear. No pay to play, in terms of US Congress.

And I think that citizens, consumers, shareholders across the country, should start a mass movement to demand that corporations commit not to get involved in politics and not to spend their money in that way, but should be involved in the economy and, you know, economic production and livelihood, rather than trying to determine what happens in our elections.

Daily pint of blueberry juice 'could help stop memory loss', study suggests
Half drank two cups of blueberry juice, similar to the kind available in supermarkets, every day for two to three months and half drank a placebo, a drink they thought was berry juice but was not.

Both groups were given the same memory and learning tests to see if it made any difference.

In just 12 weeks of drinking the juice, the volunteers were better at recalling words from a list, scored better on other word association tasks and also less likely to feel depressed too.

Researcher Robert Krikorian, reporting in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, said the study showed a �significant improvement on learning and memory tests� among those who drank blueberry juice.

Widespread antibiotic use in 1960s sparked MRSA
The European samples were concentrated around the base of the evolutionary tree. Working backwards, the scientists established that the strain probably emerged in Europe in the 1960s.

The finding lends support to the theory that the introduction of widespread antibiotic use in the 1960s may have spawned MRSA.

Natural selection would have favoured resistant strains that could survive the antibiotic onslaught.

Another discovery was that one MRSA outbreak in a London hospital intensive care unit was probably due to a bacterial strain imported from south-east Asia - possibly brought in by a single infected patient.

Haitians react to televangelist Pat Robertson's 'devil pact' remarks (Video)
PAM COMMENTARY: More reaction to Robertson's remarks, but this time from a Haitian instead of other people speaking for them.

Pat Robertson on Karate: Avoid "Inhaling Demon Spirits" (Video) (FLASHBACK)
Are you going to "take ghetto kids and make them very fine citizens" like Chuck Norris, or will you be "inhaling some demon spirits" for ultimate fighting power? 700 Club, 11/26/2007

Security �Red Zones� in Haiti Preventing Large Aid Groups from Effectively Distributing Aid [DN]
SASHA KRAMER: My name is Sasha Kramer, and I came out of Cap-Ha�en. I�m based there with a group called SOIL, Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods. And we�ve been working in Cap-Ha�en for the last five years, mainly on sanitation and garbage transformation.

What I�ve been witnessing here is that the aid actually arrived fairly quickly. So, very quickly, they had ships there with supplies, medical supplies, water. As I understand, there�s thousands of tons of food that are available. But the problem that they�re having is distribution of the aid.

And one of the issues with that is that large aid organizations working in Haiti, because it�s an area that has a State Department warning, there�s a lot of regions in Port-au-Prince that are considered red zones that they�re not able to go into without very high security restrictions. So when the large aid groups circulate around Port-au-Prince, they�re often in sealed vehicles with their windows up, and what this means is that they�re not able to develop good relationships with community leaders. Often they don�t speak Creole, as well, a lot of their international employees. So when a large disaster like this happens, and they need to be able to get into the neighborhoods to distribute the food, they are afraid to go in, because they don�t have the connections they would need in order to keep them safe and distribute the food in an organized manner. So, as I understand it, there�s a lot of aid just waiting to be distributed.

And we met with a lot of community groups from Port-au-Prince yesterday who said, �Hey, you know, our main need is water. We have water. We have people who will give their wells. We have community people who have water trucks, who are ready to distribute the water. It�s a question of gas. And we just need to be able to connect with the larger aid organizations to get that gas, and then we can get the water to the communities.�

AMY GOODMAN: But the hurricanes, four, one after another after another, that hasn�t led to any kind of international aid organization, UN communication with the local community groups?

SASHA KRAMER: Well, I mean, I think that they have limited communications still, I would say. I don�t know. That�s because after the hurricanes happened, security restrictions got even higher for international aid groups, because they said, well, Haiti is even more insecure now. So you�re even less able to circulate in the communities. So it�s been this very self-perpetuating process, where, at this point, the Haitians on the ground who are ready to do something have no way to connect with the people down at the UN base who have all the materials to make a difference.

Sea offers escape from the ruins; Thousands of Haitians wait hours by the shore for chance to catch ships headed for relative
Thousands of Haitians had gathered on the shoreline � its gaping cracks caused by the earthquake straddled by sandaled feet and filled with garbage � to see if they would be lucky enough to squeeze their way onto a boat headed to J�mie, another city in southwestern Haiti, on Wednesday morning.

Dena is one of them and had been standing at the edge of the water since the previous night.

But the ship, christened with the less colourful Trois-Rivi�s, had already set off on the second of its 12-hour voyages to J�mie since the earthquake struck.

Thousands crowded onto docked ships � unable to make their own journeys due to lack of fuel � near tilted shipping containers, hoping to jump across to the deck of a functional vessel the next time one comes around.

Manchurian Candidates: Supreme Court allows China and others unlimited spending in US elections [BF]
Right now, corporations can give loads of loot through PACs. While this money stinks (Barack Obama took none of it), anyone can go through a PAC's federal disclosure filing and see the name of every individual who put money into it. And every contributor must be a citizen of the USA.

But under today's Supreme Court ruling that corporations can support candidates without limit, there is nothing that stops, say, a Delaware-incorporated handmaiden of the Burmese junta from picking a Congressman or two with a cache of loot masked by a corporate alias.

Candidate Barack Obama was one sharp speaker, but he would not have been heard, and certainly would not have won, without the astonishing outpouring of donations from two million Americans. It was an unprecedented uprising-by-PayPal, overwhelming the old fat-cat sources of funding.

Well, kiss that small-donor revolution goodbye. Under the Court's new rules, progressive list serves won't stand a chance against the resources of new "citizens" such as CNOOC, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation. Maybe UBS (United Bank of Switzerland), which faces U.S. criminal prosecution and a billion-dollar fine for fraud, might be tempted to invest in a few Senate seats. As would XYZ Corporation, whose owners remain hidden by "street names."

PAM COMMENTARY: I was looking for an article that mentioned foreign ownership of corporations, and the influence of foreign nations on our elections as a result of the latest Supreme Court decision.

Iraq littered with high levels of nuclear and dioxin contamination, study finds
More than 40 sites across Iraq are contaminated with high levels or radiation and dioxins, with three decades of war and neglect having left environmental ruin in large parts of the country, an official Iraqi study has found.

Areas in and near Iraq's largest towns and cities, including Najaf, Basra and �Falluja, account for around 25% of the contaminated sites, which appear to coincide with communities that have seen increased rates of cancer and birth defects over the past five years. The joint study by the environment, health and science ministries found that scrap metal yards in and around Baghdad and Basra contain high levels of ionising radiation, which is thought to be a legacy of depleted uranium used in munitions during the first Gulf war and since the 2003 invasion.

The environment minister, Narmin Othman, said high levels of dioxins on agricultural lands in southern Iraq, in particular, were increasingly thought to be a key factor in a general decline in the health of people living in the poorest parts of the country.

"If we look at Basra, there are some heavily polluted areas there and there are many factors contributing to it," �she told the Guardian. "First, it has been a battlefield for two wars, the Gulf war and the Iran-Iraq war, where many kinds of bombs were used. Also, oil pipelines were bombed and most of the contamination settled in and around Basra.

"The soil has ended up in people's lungs and has been on food that people have eaten. Dioxins have been very high in those areas. All of this has caused systemic problems on a very large scale for both ecology and overall health."

PAM COMMENTARY: This has been well-known since the first Gulf War, but it's good to see the mainstream press follow-up occasionally.

Haitians flee shattered, barren city for new life in countryside; Government buses ferry thousands out of Haiti's earthquake-stricken capital city Port-au-Prince to rural safety
All around Port-au-Prince there are crowds of Haitians queuing. Outside the US embassy they jostle to present their credentials in an almost certainly fruitless search for work. Wherever aid trucks are parked they line up, buckets at the ready, for water and food. At the UN building they gather in the hope of securing plastic sheets to turn into makeshift tents.

Now the streets of Port-au-Prince are witness to a new form of waiting, as Haitians in their thousands scramble to board buses to quit the stricken city. An exodus is under way. The initial monstrous shock of the earthquake, that left the 3 million residents of the capital dazed and paralysed, has faded, replaced by an urgent instinct to flee.

Fleets of buses laid on by the government have begun ferrying people free of charge out of Port-au-Prince and into the countryside, where food is more plentiful and shelter certain. The government plans to create refugee villages outside the crushed capital, each housing 10,000 survivors, up to a total of about 400,000.

Many thousands more homeless residents of the capital are heading east by bus, to the border of the Dominican Republic, aiming to cross into a happier nation.

Canadian military targets gunsights with hidden biblical references
OTTAWA � Gunsights carrying hidden Biblical references are being used by Canadian special forces in Afghanistan but the military plans to move as quickly as possible in removing the controversial targeting devices from its weapons.

Militaries around the world didn�t know that U.S. manufacturer Trijicon had put the Biblical citations on the siGHTS now in use by forces throughout Afghanistan and Iraq.

Relief efforts in Haiti turn to long-term rebuilding
U.S. troops have been moving humanitarian cargo from the Port-au-Prince airport and airlifting supplies from 20 ships off Haiti's coast to four central hubs established by the United Nations, Fraser said. From there, supplies are distributed to 100 different points.

As of Thursday, ``We have distributed 1.4 million bottles of water, over 700,000 meals and roughly 22,000 pounds of medical supplies'' directly to the Haitian people, Fraser said.

An extra 4,000 U.S. troops are due to arrive in Haiti on Saturday to join the more than 12,000 U.S. troops on the ground and offshore.

In its first meeting since the earthquake collapsed the parliament building, the Haitian Senate gathered at the National Police Academy Thursday.

Fifteen senators held an informal session because they were unable to gather the necessary 18 for a quorum. The Senate asked Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive to appear before them Friday to answer questions about the slow delivery of aid.

In an email response, Bellerive said he would meet with them as soon as returns from an emergency trip to Canada.

Poll: Most Americans want more GOP support on health care
An overwhelming 72% of those surveyed Wednesday say Brown's victory "reflects frustrations shared by many Americans, and the president and members of Congress should pay attention to it." Just 18% say it "reflects political conditions in Massachusetts and doesn't have a larger meaning for national politics."

Obama had a similar reaction Wednesday in an interview with ABC News. "Here's my assessment of not just the vote in Massachusetts, but the mood around the country: The same thing that swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office," he said. "People are angry; they are frustrated."

There's less unanimity about what that larger meaning is, however: 55% call for lawmakers to go back to the drawing board to draft a more bipartisan proposal while 39% say they should continue to work on the current bill being pushed by Democrats.

Those surveyed also are inclined to say that the president and Democratic leaders have erred in making health care the top legislative priority for now. Forty-six percent say health care is important but there are other problems they should address first, and 19% say health care shouldn't be a major priority.

Lowering salt intake has profound effect
A modest reduction in the mounds of salt consumed by the typical American each year could lead to 155,000 fewer heart attacks and strokes annually, according to a new analysis.

The benefit would come from reductions in blood pressure that would result from cutting about 3 grams of salt a day.

The average man and woman now consume 10 grams and 7 grams a day, respectively.

That's about 8 pounds of salt a year for a man.

While some groups such as African-Americans, older people and those with high blood pressure would benefit the most, reducing salt would lower blood pressure throughout society, said lead author Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco.

PAM COMMENTARY: I don't know if I agree with this -- Joel Wallach has an interesting take on salt, namely that people need it and the snack food industry capitalizes on this. Also, the author of the books "The Water Cure" and "Your Body's Many Cries for Water" would argue that salt intake has to be balanced with water intake, and both have to be appropriate for a person's weight. With Americans, it's likely they're not getting enough water to offset the salt -- too much soda, coffee, milk and sweet drinks, not enough just plain real water.

Bottled Water Supplies in Port-au-Prince Airport Being Distributed�to US Embassy [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Everywhere we have traveled, people have asked, �Where is the aid?� Well, a lot of it appears to be here, right here at the Port-au-Prince airport. People ask for water. They ask for food. And we see many, many pallets, thousands of bottles of water. We see some being loaded now onto a truck. But people are asking, �Where is it? Why isn�t it coming to us faster?� Most people haven�t gotten it at all. Let�s see where this water is going.

So, where is the water going?


AMY GOODMAN: To the US embassy.


Supreme Court Rolls Back Campaign Finance Restrictions
By a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court on Thursday rolled back restrictions on corporate spending on federal campaigns. The decision could unleash a torrent of corporate-funded attack ads in upcoming elections.

"Because speech is an essential mechanism of democracy -- it is the means to hold officials accountable to the people -- political speech must prevail against laws that would suppress it by design or inadvertence," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the majority.

In his dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens accused the majority of judicial activism and attacked the use of corporate personhood in the case: "The conceit that corporations must be treated identically to natural persons in the political sphere is not only inaccurate but also inadequate to justify the Court's disposition of this case."

Republicans offered measured praise for the decision, but progressive good-government groups and Democrats responded angrily and vowed to fight back with legislation.

"With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics," said President Obama in a statement. "It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans... That's why I am instructing my Administration to get to work immediately with Congress on this issue. We are going to talk with bipartisan Congressional leaders to develop a forceful response to this decision."

PAM COMMENTARY: Free speech is important, but corporations already exercise too much control over the political process through their army of lobbyists. Giving them even more rights, to advertise during campaigns? Just wait for more legislation forcing you to buy their stuff. The last health care bill was written BEFORE this decision, to give you an idea of what's coming on the other side of today's ruling.

Obama proposes tough new limits on large banks' size and investments
President Obama called Thursday for tough new restrictions on the nation's largest banks, proposing to bar them from making the kind of high-risk investments that he said contributed to the financial crisis more than a year ago.

The proposal is more evidence that the Obama administration has Wall Street in its sights as it seeks to demonstrate to the middle class that it understands the economic frustrations of persistent unemployment.

In remarks from the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House, Obama chastised the leaders of financial firms for sending what he called an "army of industry lobbyists" to fight his broad efforts to reform the banking industry.

"My message to leaders in the financial industry is to work with us, not against us," he said. "If these folks want a fight, it's a fight I am ready to have."

California Supreme Court strikes down limits on medical marijuana possession
The California Supreme Court today struck down the state's limits on how much medical marijuana a patient can possess, concluding that the restrictions imposed by the Legislature were an unconstitutional amendment of a 1996 voter-approved initiative.

The decision means that patients and caregivers with a doctor's recommendation to use marijuana can now possess as much as is "reasonably related to the patient's current medical needs," a standard that the court established in a 1997 decision.

"I'm very pleased. They gave us exactly what we wanted," said Gerald F. Uelmen, a law professor at Santa Clara University who argued the case for Patrick K. Kelly, a medical marijuana patient from Lakewood who was convicted of possession and cultivation. "This makes it very clear that all of the rights of patients under the Compassionate Use Act are fully preserved."

The initiative did not limit the amount of marijuana that a patient could possess or cultivate other than to require it be "personal medical purposes."

Earthquake Frees Haitian Prisoners from Port-au-Prince Jail, 80% Never Charged with a Crime [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: So talk about who gets put in prison. How long do they stay? How many of them had not been charged?

MARIO JOSEPH: [translated] Up until now, nothing has happened, because there haven�t been any charges. But for certain people, like the Prime Minister, according to the Constitution, 186, he can�t be judged in an ordinary court because he�s political. But even though he said that, they kept him in prison for twenty-five months. After the inauguration of President Pr�l, there were certain people which they freed, like the Interior Minister, like former Deputy Amanus Mayette. But up until now, they kept Ronald Dauphin in prison, because he was less well known. And that�s the system of exclusion in Haiti.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain how many people haven�t been charged who were in prison, how many people were there without trial.

MARIO JOSEPH: [translated] Generally, in the Haitian prisons, everybody agrees that there are about 80 percent of the people are not charged. It is only a few, maybe ten percent, which are convicted. And those are awaiting an order to be sent to court. And that�s supposed to be done in three months, and he�s been waiting six years. He�s never been judged. In all the prisons, 90 percent are not judged, are not even charged. That�s in the system. And that�s what I�m telling you. This event, this earthquake, it�s justice with the getting the people out of jail.

The other thing I can say, in Haiti, we have a symbolic�the palace that went down, the Palace of Justice, the Haitian IRS, and the whole power of the state. This is like a message that was sent, because it wasn�t just the people in prison who were suffering injustice, but the poorest in the country, the excluded in the country. Thus I think it was a clear message. It was a symbolic thing for the people who are the chiefs in the country, in the government, to know how to serve the people and to stop the exclusionary system which was there for 200 years.

Russian happiness guru faces psychiatric ward
(01-21) 10:04 PST MOSCOW, Russia (AP) -- Some time in the coming month, Russian poetess Yulia Privedyonnaya may be packed off to a psychiatric ward in a case activists described Thursday as a dangerous throwback to the Soviet-era practice of punitive psychiatry.

Rights defenders see Privedyonnaya's plight as yet another worrying sign that Russian authorities are ready to revive Soviet-style psychiatric treatment of dissidents. In recent years, a number of anti-government activists and independent reporters have been forcibly subjected to treatment.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court upheld a ruling that Privedyonnaya should undergo a monthlong psychiatric examination at the Serbsky psychiatric hospital in Moscow, which was used in Soviet times for involuntary treatment of political prisoners.

If she is found to be mentally unsound, Privedyonnaya will be sent for further psychiatric treatment. The alternative is prosecution and possibly a lengthy jail sentence.

Half-pound meteorite hits doctor's office in Lorton
A Virginia doctor's office is cleaning up after being hit by a meteorite, but no one was hurt.

Frank Ciampi said the space rock struck the two-story building in Lorton where he and two other medical professionals work a little after 5:30 p.m. on Monday. He says it punched a hole in the roof, raining pieces of wood, plaster and insulation.

At first Ciampi didn't know what to think of the three chunks of stone that together formed a rock about the size of a tennis ball, but the office manager said it might be a meteorite.

A planetary scientist at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of Natural History, Cari Corrigan, confirmed it. She says the meteorite weighs just over a half pound and was probably traveling about 220 mph when it struck the building.

Federal report finds persistent mistakes and poor oversight at UC Irvine Medical Center
In another case, an on-call resident did not respond to repeated pages from nurses in the neurological intensive care unit, where a patient with an irregular heartbeat languished for more than an hour.

Investigators faulted pharmacists for not monitoring and storing drugs correctly, allowing nurses to carry narcotics in their pockets and inject patients without proper oversight.

At one point during the inspection, a federal investigator had to stop a nurse from injecting a brain-injured patient in intensive care with steroids because she had prepared the dose incorrectly, according to the report.

The hospital had to submit a plan of correction by Jan. 18, which has to be approved by federal officials before they return for another surprise inspection, said Jack Cheevers, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service.

The hospital�s October inspection was its second since July, when Medicare officials issued a finding of immediate jeopardy after investigators discovered five UCI patients had received overdoses because nurses using pain medication pumps were not properly trained. UCI officials immediately began training nurses to use the pumps, and the finding was lifted within 24 hours.

The Drugs I Need (Video)
Take action in support of drug safety legislation. http://tinyurl.com/2ukd36 We hope you enjoyed this video from Consumers Union. Please pass it on to your friends.

The Town of Allopath (Video)
The video parodies the drug companies and conventional healthcare system and many are furious about the truth being exposed. Hopefully the humour will open some eyes.

Haiti gasoline shortage slows relief efforts
U.S. forces rushed Tuesday to prepare new airports to boost the flow of aid to Haiti, but a week after an earthquake devastated its capital the relief effort was increasingly hampered by a crimp in the supply chain: a shortage of gasoline that left medicine, food and water sitting out of reach of the needy.

President Rene Preval said Haitian authorities had buried 72,000 victims of the quake, a figure that does not include an untold number buried privately. Officials have estimated that 200,000 people may have died, but the true figure may never be known.

In badly damaged neighborhoods throughout the city, heavy-equipment crews began tearing into thousands of collapsed buildings. An exodus grew, as people packed up their belongings and headed to the provinces.

Those who remained in the city were watching the skies. Rain clouds gathered over the high pine ridges far above the city. Sometimes the mountains hold them back; sometimes they don't.

"If it rains now, it will be a total catastrophe for us," Preval said. Tens of thousands of people are living in tent cities that spread daily through soccer fields, school grounds and parks. And rain could loosen tons of concrete rubble.

A Richly Deserved Humiliation; Coakley Loses and a Good Job Too
Republican Scott Brown takes over a seat held by the Kennedy family for over half a century and the dark cloud already hovering over Obama's White House thickens. By any measure the energetic Brown's emphatic defeat of Martha Coakley, believed only a month ago to be a sure thing as Ted Kennedy's replacement, is a disaster for the Democratic Party and for President Obama.

Coakley, a former prosecutor and attorney general of Massachusetts, ran a dumb, complacent campaign, allowing Brown, a state senator, to charge that she seemed to believe she had an inherent right to the seat. Coakley ladled out platitudes; Brown, pelting about the Commonwealth in a manly GMC truck, made the Democrats' health reform bill his prime issue, which was scarcely rocket science, since people of moderate income accurately believe that "reform" is going to cost them money, with zero improvement in overall service.

A year after his inauguration Obama has disappointed so many constituencies that a rebuke by the voters was inevitable. Yesterday it came in Massachusetts, often categorized as the most liberal in the union. This is entirely untrue. It's a disgusting sinkhole of racism and vulgar prejudice, as five minutes in any taxi in the state, listening to Talk Radio or reading the local newspaper, will attest.

Brown's achievement is not novel. His type of Republican has been elected governor in Massachusetts three or four times in the last 18 years by the real "majority party" --which is the "unenrolled" independents who are 1 and 1/2 times the size of Democrats in number among registered voters and tower over the Republicans of whom less than 12 per cent are registered as such.

464 killed in Nigeria, troops seek to end violence
Clashes between Muslim and Christian gangs subsided today in the Nigerian city of Jos and nearby communities, where rights activists said the death toll has topped 464.

Hundreds of soldiers and police were stationed throughout Plateau state�s capital city in central Nigeria to enforce a 24-hour curfew, which has left many streets deserted and businesses closed.

US-based Human Rights Watch said 151 bodies had been taken to the city�s mosque for burial since the violence started on Sunday, while the number of Christian dead was put at 65.

�The fighting has stopped in Jos, but we can hear gunshots in other communities in the outskirts of the city. We are expecting more corpses to be brought in from surrounding communities later today,� said Muhammad Tanko Shittu, a senior mosque official organising mass burials, who estimated the death toll among Muslims at 177.

Activists sentenced in Vietnam
A Vietnamese court has sentenced four democracy activists to between five and 16 years in prison.

The group was convicted in a one-day trial on Wednesday in Ho Chi Minh City on charges of collaborating with foreigners in a plot to overthrow the government.

Le Cong Dinh, a 41-year-old leading human rights lawyer, and Nguyen Tien Trung, 26, a computer expert and blogger, were said to have undertaken "activities aimed at subverting the people's administration".

The two other defendants, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, 43, and Le Thang Long, 42, internet entrepreneurs from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, respectively, were convicted of the same charge.

Italy's senate backs bill ending Berlusconi trials
Italy's parliament gave its first nod on Wednesday to a draft law drastically cutting the duration of trials, a measure critics say is tailor-made to stop pending court cases against Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The Senate, where Berlusconi has an ample majority, approved the so-called "short trial" draft bill -- one of the most radical reforms of Italy's snail-paced justice system since the end of World War Two -- by 163 to 130 votes.

It will now go before the lower house, where it is all but certain to get the green light.

The draft law sets a total limit of between 6-1/2 and 10 years on the three stages of court cases -- initial trial, first appeal and final appeal -- depending on how serious the crime is. Beyond that, the defendant would be automatically acquitted.

Because of its retroactive effect, the measure would effectively terminate two corruption and tax fraud trials against Berlusconi, who denies all charges and says he has been hounded by magistrates since entering politics in 1994.

The opposition said the draft bill was the umpteenth "ad personam" law, using the Latin term meaning "for one person," to save Berlusconi from prosecution. It says the way to speed up trials is to give the judiciary more resources.

Zimbabweans' perilous journey
Every month, thousands of economic migrants flee Zimbabwe and cross the border into South Africa in search of a better life.

However, many become victims of rapists and robbers waiting on the border.

Medical workers say they have seen an average of 15 abused women and girls a week since the beginning of the year.

With most cases going unreported due to fear, it is impossible to know the exact number.

But with unemployment in Zimbabwe at 90 per cent, desperation will keep driving people to make the journey, no matter how treacherous it may be.

US Mercenaries Set Sights on Haiti
We saw this type of Iraq-style disaster profiteering in New Orleans, and you can expect to see a lot more of this in Haiti over the coming days, weeks and months. Private security companies are seeing big dollar signs in Haiti thanks in no small part to the media hype about "looters." After Katrina, the number of private security companies registered (and unregistered) multiplied overnight. Banks, wealthy individuals, the US government all hired private security. I even encountered Israeli mercenaries operating an armed checkpoint outside of an elite gated community in New Orleans. They worked for a company called Instinctive Shooting International. (That is not a joke).

Now, it is kicking into full gear in Haiti.

The Orwellian-named mercenary trade group International Peace Operations Association didn't waste much time in offering the "services" of its member companies to swoop down on Haiti for some old-fashioned "humanitarian assistance" in the form of disaster profiteering. Within hours of the massive earthquake in Haiti, the IPOA created a special webpage for prospective clients, saying: "In the wake of the tragic events in Haiti, a number of IPOA's member companies are available and prepared to provide a wide variety of critical relief services to the earthquake's victims."

While some of the companies specialize in rapid housing construction, emergency relief shelters and transportation, others are private security companies that operate in Iraq and Afghanistan, such as Triple Canopy, the company that took over Blackwater's massive State Department contract in Iraq. For years, Blackwater played a major role in IPOA until it left the group following the 2007 Nisour Square massacre.

Murkowski EPA Amendment Expected Tomorrow
We'll find out tomorrow precisely which strategy Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) plans to employ in her mission to bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases. Her press office just announced that the senator will give a floor speech tomorrow in which she'll indicate whether she plans to tack an amendment blocking EPA regulations onto debt-ceiling legislation, or whether she'll offer a separate "resolution of disapproval" barring any EPA restrictions on carbon emissions.

Murkowski's move comes as Democratic leaders are growing increasingly worried about advancing their legislative priorities in the aftermath of Republican Scott Brown's win in Massachusetts on Tuesday. What was already expected to be a very tough vote on climate legislation just got a lot tougher. In fact, EPA regulation of carbon dioxide is starting to look like the last�and possibly only�hope for curbing emissions anytime soon. Murkowski's office argues, however, that she's not trying to prevent emissions cuts, but that she simply wants to keep the policy debate in Congress rather than letting the executive branch write the rules. And she's getting support from at least one Democrat�Virginia's Jim Webb.

"There�s been a lot of criticism of Sen. Murkowski�s motives," says Robert Dillon, the senator's spokesman. "The fact is all she�s asking for is an up or down vote on whether the EPA should be allowed to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act."

PAM COMMENTARY: This isn't as big of a deal as they're trying to make it -- everything can be regulated by LAWS instead of agencies. This amendment would just try to block turning things over to agencies, who can write many of their own policies. The FDA is a good example of agency regulation -- because of jobs promised to people there, the best science is often suppressed, and far too many dangerous or risky products are approved. Political representatives can sometimes be just as corrupt, but at least they're more in the open, and accountable to people during the next election.

Killer spiders invade Sydney (Australia)
Forget sharks and crocodiles: the real menace at this time of year, at least for surburban Sydneysiders, is a backyard spider whose bite can kill you in the space of two hours.

Insect experts have warned that the city is being invaded by funnel-webs, considered one of the world's most aggressive and poisonous spiders.

A reptile park north of Sydney where people can drop off captured specimens, and where they are milked of their venom to make antidote, has received more than 40 males in recent weeks. Males are deadlier than females.

A lengthy dry period, followed by unseasonable downpours and high humidity over the Christmas break, is blamed for the plague.

NZ army to remove bible quotes from weapon sights
WELLINGTON, New Zealand � New Zealand's defense force said Thursday that Biblical citations on markings on weapon sights used by its troops in Afghanistan will be removed.

Going to war in Afghanistan with Biblical citations stamped on their weapons is not appropriate for New Zealand soldiers, said defense force spokesman Maj. Kristian Dunne.

U.S. manufacturer, Trijicon of Wixom, Michigan, would be instructed to remove the inscriptions on further orders of the gun sights and the letters would be removed from gun sights already in use by New Zealand troops, he said.

The Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight rifle sights supplied by Trijicon and used by New Zealand troops carry references to Bible verses that appeared in raised lettering at the end of the sight stock number.

Alaska Wildlife sightings
PAM COMMENTARY: A gallery of reader-submitted wildlife pictures from Alaska. Some of these photos are stunning!

Native, environmental groups challenge Chukchi Sea drilling
A coalition of Alaska Natives has combined forces with some of the heaviest hitters in the environmental community to challenge a plan by Shell to drill for oil off Northwest Alaska.

The legal challenge to Shell's approved drilling plan for the Chukchi Sea was filed today in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The groups say that the plan approved by the Minerals Management Service does not comply with federal environmental laws. And they say the plan was approved without evaluation of the potential impact of a major oil spill in the Chukchi Sea.

The MMS has approved a Shell drilling plan for up to three exploratory wells in the Chukchi next summer.

$10,000 reward offered for scientific proof of H1N1 vaccine safety and effectiveness
(NaturalNews) In conjunction with NaturalNews, the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (www.ConsumerWellness.org) has publicly offered a $10,000 reward for any person, company or institution who can provide trusted, scientific evidence proving that any of the FDA-approved H1N1 vaccines being offered to Americans right now are both safe and effective.

Vaccine promoters keep citing their "science" in claiming that H1N1 vaccines are safe and effective. NaturalNews and the CWC ask one simple question: Where is this science?

The $10,000 reward will be issued to anyone who can produce scientific evidence meeting the following criteria:

� A scientific paper, published in a peer-reviewed medical journal, describing the results of a minimum of two Phase III trials structured as randomized, placebo-controlled scientific clinical trials of an FDA-approved H1N1 vaccine currently in distribution, carried out on a minimum of 1,000 people (for statistical significance) for a duration of at least 90 days. The inclusion criteria for both clinical trials must be properly randomized so that the participants are representative of the entire U.S. population and not merely a desired sub-group selected to skew the research outcome. Inclusion criteria must be provided to NaturalNews for verification.

PAM COMMENTARY: I started to get what seemed like swine flu symptoms a few days ago, and was able to handle it by zapping once a day for 3 days in a row. (I also had a cup of licorice tea each day, a glass of orange juice, and a cup of some herbal tea called "Gypsy Cold Care" -- a blend that's probably pretty weak, but at least it wasn't as dehydrating as the licorice.)

I don't know 100% for sure whether it was the swine flu, but if so, it seemed pretty weak just like they say -- at least when confronted with a zapper.

A giant leap for British salmon
The rivers of the South Wales coalfield once ran black with mining waste and were so polluted in places that no life could survive. But, in one of the most remarkable environmental turnarounds Britain has ever seen, a 20-year effort to clean them up has paid off � salmon have returned to all of them.

Watercourses such as the Ebbw, the Rhymney, the Taff and the Rhondda, whose names for many people are still redolent of a blighted landscape of pitheads and slag heaps, now have salmon running up them from the sea to spawn.

The revolution has been brought about by 20 years of work by the Environment Agency, local authorities and angling clubs, in the wake of the collapse of the South Wales mining industry at the end of the 1980s.

It is part of a significant improvement in water quality across England and Wales, continuing for nearly two decades, which has seen salmon coming back to once heavily polluted rivers such as the Thames, the Mersey and the Tyne.

Migrant domestic workers: 'I was in a prison, a cage, just like a slave'
Less than a week after arriving in the UK from Africa, Rose realised that she had made a terrible mistake. First, her passport was taken from her at the airport by her new employers. Then the promises that her employers had made began to disappear. Insults turned into slaps. One day she missed a call from her boss. �She beat me from upstairs to downstairs, dragging me. I was just crying and crying,� she says. �The more I cry, the more she beat me. She said, �Keep quiet, keep quiet. In this country you are not allowed to cry. The police will come�.�

The police didn�t come. Migrant domestic workers such as Rose (her name has been changed) tend to pass unnoticed through our day-to-day lives. The recipients of these visas � more than 16,500 are issued each year � come to work as housekeepers or nannies, gardeners or cooks, and live a closeted existence inside private houses. Many are treated well but their isolation, their dependence on their employers and a lack of clarity over their rights can leave them open to abuse.

Rose had come here to work as a nanny. She thought the pay would allow her to educate her brothers and her daughter back home. Instead, she was deprived of her wages and made to work as a skivvy. �I was in a prison, a cage, a slave,� she says. �I had no family, I had no friends. There was a point where I was even thinking I should commit suicide.�

Luckily for Rose, her cries did not go completely unheard. One night, her neighbour Abigail heard her wailing coming through the wall as she was putting her daughter to bed. Not even the roar of traffic past the row of townhouses was loud enough to muffle it. The sobs became so persistent that Abigail rang the bell of the house next door, convinced that someone had died. There was no answer.

Vincent Van Gogh: A life in letters
ON 23 July, 1890, Vincent Van Gogh sent a letter to his brother Theo from the village of Auvers-sur-Oise. "As for me, I'm applying myself to my canvases with all my attention," he wrote, and enclosed four sketches of paintings recently completed. A week later he was dead.

But the letter doesn't read like the work of a crazed artist about to paint a frenzied picture of crows above a cornfield then shoot himself. Van Gogh's last letter is very much like the hundreds that preceded it: thoughtful, articulate and above all, passionately engaged with the ongoing and difficult business of being an artist.

Experts on Van Gogh often talk about "the Van Gogh myth", that of the mad artist producing works of accidental genius. It is pernicious, helped by Irving Stone's bestselling bio-novel Lust for Life, and the subsequent film starring Kirk Douglas. But it is a myth.

We know this because Van Gogh left us his side of the story. More than 800 letters of his survive, close to a million words, an astonishing correspondence with his brother and others about love, friendship, literature, religion, and above all, art.

Art historians claim Van Gogh's ear 'cut off by Gauguin' (FLASHBACK)
Vincent van Gogh's fame may owe as much to a legendary act of self-harm, as it does to his self-portraits. But, 119 years after his death, the tortured post-Impressionist's bloody ear is at the centre of a new controversy, after two historians suggested that the painter did not hack off his own lobe but was attacked by his friend, the French artist Paul Gauguin.

According to official versions, the disturbed Dutch painter cut off his ear with a razor after a row with Gauguin in 1888. Bleeding heavily, Van Gogh then walked to a brothel and presented the severed ear to an astonished prostitute called Rachel before going home to sleep in a blood-drenched bed.

But two German art historians, who have spent 10 years reviewing the police investigations, witness accounts and the artists' letters, argue that Gauguin, a fencing ace, most likely sliced off the ear with his sword during a fight, and the two artists agreed to hush up the truth.

In Van Gogh's Ear: Paul Gauguin and the Pact of Silence, published in Germany, Hamburg-based academics Hans Kaufmann and Rita Wildegans argue that the official version of events, based largely on Gauguin's accounts, contain inconsistencies and that both artists hinted that the truth was more complex.

Stocks fall as China clamps down on bank lending
NEW YORK � Stocks fell by the most since late October on concerns that tighter lending rules in China could endanger an economic recovery. Disappointing earnings from IBM and Morgan Stanley added to investors' angst.

At the same time, a spike in the dollar pushed commodity prices sharply lower, hurting stocks of energy companies and materials producers.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 130 points from a 15-month high. Earlier, the index lost more than 200 in its worst drop since Oct. 30. Demand for safe havens like government debt rose, pushing yields lower in the Treasury market.

Concerns grew that China's efforts to keep its economy under control could hurt a global recovery. A top banking regulator said Wednesday that China will increase monitoring of banks as it tries to prevent speculative bubbles in areas like real estate. Last week China took steps to restrict runaway lending as a way to cool that country's rapid growth.

Investors are worried that a slowdown in China's huge economy would spill over to other countries.

Metro Birmingham group advocates urban backyard egg production
Her husband is an architect who runs his own company in Avondale. He designed the fancy chicken coop in their yard.

The Nelsons have been identifying other urban chicken-raising supporters and researching city zoning ordinances and the process to change them.

"We're in the embryonic stages, no pun intended," Julie said, adding that any ordinance revisions would have to result from a grassroots movement. "Having pro-hen ordinances would benefit people because they would have access to convenient fresh eggs. In this economy, that means something."

She also said "it's a joy" to raise a chicken.

A spot check of the metro area found that Birmingham, Jefferson County, Bessemer, Hoover and Alabaster do not allow farm animals -- including chickens -- in residential areas. In those cities, chickens are limited to agricultural areas, and some ordinances require minimum acreage on which chickens may live.

In Homewood, however, chickens and other fowl are allowed in residential areas if there is no noise, odor or pollution and the chickens are kept at least 300 feet from adjacent buildings.

PAM COMMENTARY: I once had a "friend" in Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania who raised chickens. The first time he tried his hand at it, all of his chickens and their chicks were killed by foxes because he let them run around the yard. The second time, he built a hideous shambles of a chicken coop in his backyard, which seemed to protect the birds a little more. I liked the birds, but later learned that the man was a horrible sexual predator, as was one of his friends who raised chickens.

TV star challenges crowd to share civil rights stories
Reid, an Emmy-nominated actor, producer and director known for his roles in TV's "WKRP in Cincinnati," "Simon & Simon," and "Sister, Sister," challenged the crowd of more than 1,200 to make sure that their children and grandchildren are taught the stories of the great heroes of civil rights and black history.

Character, he said, does not happen by accident.

"If character determines fate and TV defines reality, then we have our work cut out for us," Reid said. "I pledge to keep Martin Luther King's battle alive. Join me in the battle for the minds and hearts of our children."

Schools switch sugars in chocolate milk
Berkeley Farms is swapping the type of sugar it uses in the nonfat chocolate milk it ships to schools after San Francisco parents complained that the high-fructose corn syrup added to sweeten the milk is unhealthy for their children - a switch that does nothing to improve the nutritional value, experts say.

Sucrose, or regular white sugar, will replace the high-fructose corn syrup. The sugar and calorie content in the milk will remain the same.

Local healthy food advocates called the formula change a victory for consumers, but scientists and Berkeley Farms officials noted that the substitution won't make a difference nutritionally for children in the lunch line.

Are mystery bones those of 10th-century princess?
LONDON�She was a beautiful English princess who married one of Europe�s most powerful monarchs and dazzled subjects with her charity and charm.

Now a team of British and German experts say they think they�ve found the body of Princess Eadgyth (pronounced Edith) � a 10th-century noblewoman who has been compared to Princess Diana.

�She was a very, very popular person,� said Mark Horton, an archaeology professor at Bristol University in western England. �She was sort of the Diana of her day if you like � pretty and full of good works.�

Horton is one of a team of experts working to verify the identity of some bones found bundled in silk in Magdeburg Cathedral in Germany.

Russian journalist dies after beating by police officer
Reporting from Moscow - A Russian journalist who was thrown into a Siberian drunk tank and savagely beaten by a young police officer died today, in a case that has sparked a national conversation about the latent alcoholism and casual violence that wind their way through life in this winter-hardened land.

Konstantin Popov was a little-known 47-year-old journalist who specialized in writing about economics. A few days into the new year, in the thick of a 10-day Russian holiday known for its debaucheries, Popov was arrested and thrown into the police holding cell reserved for the drunk and disorderly.

He was taken home the next day, but he had been beaten so badly his wife grew alarmed and took him to a hospital. He soon lapsed into a coma from severe damage to his internal organs.

Because Popov was a journalist, and because Russia is a country where not-uncommon attacks on journalists are carefully tracked, his death drew national attention. News conferences were called. The Tomsk drunk tank was closed down. The deputy police chief resigned, along with the supervisor of the holding cell. The police chief apologized. The young officer was arrested and confessed.

Casting Doubt on US Claims of Suicide, Attorney Scott Horton Reveals 3 Gitmo Prisoners Died After Torture at Secret Site [DN]

SCOTT HORTON: Is the Naval Criminal Investigation Service�we were able to see how they had concluded the suicides occurred. And they state that these three prisoners bound their feet, bound their hands with cloth, stuffed cloth down their throats, in some cases, at least, put masks over their faces to hold the cloth in place, fashioned mannequins of themselves to put in their beds to deceive the guards, put up cloth to obstruct the view of cameras, fashioned a noose which they attached at the top of an eight-foot wire wall, stepped up as their hands and feet are bound and they�re gagging on cloth, stepped up on top of a wash basin, put their head through the noose, tightened it, and jumped off�and moreover, that these prisoners, in non-adjacent cells, did all of these things absolutely simultaneously, in a clockwork-like fashion. So the story is just simply incredible and simply not believable, I should stress.

And then we began looking at autopsy evidence, all sorts of other evidence, which strongly suggested that there was something seriously inappropriate here. We talked with pathologists and so on, who told us they had rarely seen something quite as irregular as what was going on here. And then, ultimately, I was approached by Sergeant Hickman, who gave me his account. And it�s not just Sergeant Hickman, actually; it�s almost his entire unit who was on duty that night and the perimeter guards. Four other soldiers provided aspects of corroboration. There�s not a single element of Sergeant Hickman�s story that is not in fact corroborated by others, based on the their own eyewitness testimony.

And I should say, the things they observed are the things they were required to observe. It was their duty. These were the perimeter guards. They were supposed to keep close count of everything that happened, and particularly who went in and out of the base that evening. And what they tell us is that three prisoners were removed from that cellblock that evening between 7:00 and 8:00 and taken to the secret facility, Camp No.

ANJALI KAMAT: Explain what Camp No is. Why is it called Camp No?

SCOTT HORTON: Well, they call it Camp No because �No, it does not exist� was an answer that they were supposed to give if there were inquiries about it. In their first weeks on the job there in March 2006, they had come across it when they were doing perimeter patrols. In fact, two of the soldiers here were PIs, and they decided sort of to sharpen their skills. They were going to monitor and keep an eye on Camp No, which they did. And they largely believed that this was a facility that was being used by the CIA, or certainly by Intelligence Service agents. They noted un-uniformed government personnel from other government agencies who seemed to be involved with or connected with this facility.

Study links Asia to smog component in Western US
Ozone blowing over from Asia is raising background levels of a major ingredient of smog in the skies over California, Oregon, Washington and other Western states, according to a new study appearing in Thursday's edition of the journal Nature.

The amounts are small and, so far, only found in a region of the atmosphere known as the free troposphere, at an altitude of two to five miles, but the development could complicate U.S. efforts to control air pollution.

Though the levels are small, they have been steadily rising since 1995, and probably longer, said lead author Owen R. Cooper, a research scientist at the University of Colorado attached to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo.

"The important aspect of this study for North America is that we have a strong indication that baseline ozone is increasing," said Cooper. "We still don't know how much is coming down to the surface. If the surface ozone is increasing along with the free tropospheric ozone, that could make it more difficult for the U.S. to meet its ozone air quality standard."

With Foreign Aid Still at a Trickle, Devastated Port-au-Prince General Hospital Struggles to Meet Overwhelming Need [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: What do you need? What would be constructive?

DR. EVAN LYON: What we need right now is electricity, water, nurses, surgeons and materials. We have on site right now�we have seven operating rooms up and running. We need about fifteen or twenty within the next twenty-four hours. We have materials to keep the operating rooms going for maybe another twelve hours. Once that runs out, then we�re stuck.

AMY GOODMAN: Soldiers haven�t brought you supplies?

DR. EVAN LYON: Not yet.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the most pressing problems of people here, dare I say the crushing need, and what has happened in this first week, the people who have died, the people who could have lived.

DR. EVAN LYON: The most pressing need is for surgery. Most of the injuries were crushing injuries, were bones. There are hundreds of people here with compound fractures, meaning the bone has broken and come out the skin. They�ve had first aid. They�ve been stabilized. They�re being given antibiotics. And some are dying of infection. What they need is surgery. And they need it right away. Those people are dying minute to minute to minute, because we don�t have the surgical capacity to take care of their wounds, to decompress the infections.

The other thing that weighs heavy on me is that we have no pain medicine. So we have people now�we�re approaching exactly one week in a few hours. We�ve had people with compound fractures. We�ve had people with limbs that need amputation. And we have no analgesia. We have no pain medicines of any kind.

Journalist Kim Ives on How Western Domination Has Undermined Haiti�s Ability to Recover from Natural Devastation [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: And just to be clear, when you talk about the two coups, the one in 1991, the one in 2004, both were of them were the�led to the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

KIM IVES: Correct.

AMY GOODMAN: And you talked about US involvement with those.

KIM IVES: Right. And Aristide, in both cases, was taken from Haiti, essentially by US forces, both times. The first time he ended up spending it in Washington, but now he�s presently in South Africa, where he�s been for these past six years.

But along with this political�these political earthquakes carried out by Washington were the economic earthquakes, the US policy that they wanted to see in place, because Aristide�s government had a fundamentally nationalist orientation, which was looking to build the national self-sufficiency of the country, but Washington would have none of it. They wanted the nine principal state publicly owned industries privatized, to be sold to US and foreign investors.

So, about twelve years ago under the first administration of Ren�r�l, they privatized the Minoterie d�Haiti and Ciment d�Haiti, the flour mill, the state flour mill, and the state cement company. Now, for flour, obviously, you have a hungry, needy population. You can imagine if the state had a robust flour mill where it could distribute flour to the people so they could have bread. That was sold to a company of which Henry Kissinger was a board member. And very quickly, that flour mill was closed. Haiti now has no flour mill, not private or public.

AMY GOODMAN: Where does it get its flour? This is the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

KIM IVES: It has to import it, and a lot of it is coming from the United States.

The other one is�and even more ironic, Amy�is the cement factory. Here is a country which is mostly made of limestone, geologically, and that is the foundation of cement. It is a country which absolutely should and could have a cement company, and did, but it was again privatized and immediately shut down. And they began using the docks of the cement company for importing cement. So when we drive around this country and we see the thousands of cement buildings which are pancaked or collapsed, this is a country which is going to need millions and millions of tons of cement, and it�s going to have to now import all of that cement, rather than being able to produce it itself. It could be and should be an exporter of cement, not an importer.

Bank Shot: Independents and Dem Base Still Aligned in Anger
Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), whose father held the seat for more than four decades, said that voters were protesting a lack of accountability for Wall Street -- a top priority for both Democrats and independents.

"Frankly, people wanted a whipping boy for the fact that they're losing their jobs and their homes and their businesses because of a lack of credit and that these banks are getting bailed out with taxpayer funds and it seems as if nobody's going to jail. I mean it's pretty basic. They feel like this country got put through the ringer and the taxpayers got held out to dry and nobody's being held accountable. It's like, in Roman times, they'd be trotted out into the coliseum and the lions would be brought out. They're wanting blood and they're not getting it. And so they want to protest and you can't blame them," he said.

The unemployment rate is hovering at 10 percent and many more people have stopped looking for work or are underemployed. Independents, said Lake, have been hit hardest by the economic downturn, so addressing the economy can win support from both independents and Democrats.

Picking up independents means making their lives better in a meaningful way. "We're facing an electorate that is uncertain. They're struggling," said Rep. Paul Hodes, a Democrat from New Hampshire running for Senate. "They've lost jobs. Their friends have lost jobs. They're worried about their houses."

The foreclosure crisis continues to devastate the middle class. The House has passed aggressive legislation to deal with it, allowing bankruptcy judges to rewrite mortgages, but it died in the Senate without Obama pushing for it. "Some people believe that Washington isn't getting it done, and we've got institutions designed by our founders to work slowly in an era when our PDAs work really quick. And so adapting those institutions to our modern era is an important issue," said Hodes.

PAM COMMENTARY: There are a number of articles speculating on the Democrats' loss of Ted Kennedy's old seat in Massachusetts yesterday. This one quotes Ted Kennedy's own son, so I thought I'd post it. Kennedy thinks the loss was due to financial hardship, and it's true that voters usually vote their wallets. There are other theories on the loss, and I'll post a few of those as well.

Health Care and the Massachusetts Senate Race; What�s bothering folks up there, anyway?
When President Obama came to Massachusetts to rally the troops for Martha Coakley Sunday, he had little to say about health care. That was curious, considering that the White House needs Coakley to keep his filibuster-proof Senate intact so the health care bill makes it to the finish line. It�s also puzzling considering that for weeks health care has been Topic Numero Uno, and the president has been working behind the scenes to shape the legislation.

In his remarks, the president noted that Coakley as attorney general had gone after big insurance companies that misled people into buying coverage, only to deny it when they got sick. Later in his talk, he told the crowd that when it comes to taking on the worst practices of insurance companies that routinely deny Americans the care they need, she�s going to be on your side. That was pretty much it. No mention of how Massachusetts reform became the model for national legislation; no mention of the state�s high cost of medical care; no mention that many residents have dropped coverage because they can�t afford it and are willing to take the penalty; no mention that small businesses are struggling mightily to pay their premiums.

It�s not unreasonable for Massachusetts residents to want their U.S. senator to be on their side, especially when it comes to the state�s soaring cost of health care�an issue simmering beneath the surface, even if it hasn�t quite bubbled over as a major issue, in Coakley�s campaign against Republican Scott Brown. �Small businesses are mad as hell,� says Jon Hurst, who runs the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, a trade group of some 3000 firms. �This is by far the worst year we�ve seen since the [reform] law has gone into effect.� Hurst is talking about the double-digit insurance rate increases his members are seeing in renewal envelopes. The premiums for his own five employees have jumped up thirty-three percent. The next logical step, he says, is a high deductible policy to bring down the price.

Bruce Derosier owns a fitness center in Spencer, a town of about 13,000 in the middle of the state. The premium for his individual policy was affordable at $1,800 nine years ago, but the $9,100 he pays now is not. His agent found him a similar Blue Cross policy for about $6,000 a year, but warned him it was an introductory offer and that the price could go up next year.

PAM COMMENTARY: My take on the whole thing is that people were expecting more from the Democrats since Bush left office -- an end to the wars, real health care reform, repairs to the economy, etc. Instead they were given more of the same, only without Bush as the idiotic front man.

The wars rage on, both already longer than any US war other than Vietnam. The economy is dire, with high unemployment for more than a year. And health care "reform" has turned into a gift for big corporations, basically forcing people to buy insurance policies.

It's unlikely that the Republican candidate will attempt to fix any of these problems, in fact he'll probably make them worse. But how would a continuation of Bush's old policies provide the motivation for people to turn out for the Democrats? Running for office is a lot like selling a product -- you have to give people a product they want.

Republican Brown beats Coakley in special Senate election in Massachusetts
BOSTON -- Republican Scott Brown dealt a devastating blow to President Obama's domestic agenda Tuesday night by capturing the Senate seat of the late Edward M. Kennedy, the legendary Democrat who had made health-care reform the cause of his political career.

Brown, a little-known Massachusetts state senator 10 days ago, won the special election by running directly against the health-care legislation that Kennedy trumpeted before his August death and that Obama considers his most important legislative priority. Coming on the eve of the first anniversary of Obama's historic inauguration, the stunning upset eliminated the Democrats' filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and created an immediate roadblock to approving the health-care plan and other Obama priorities.

The symbolism of the rejection was difficult to overstate: Kennedy, who held his Senate seat for nearly 47 years, served as a political mentor to Obama and was the patriarch of the Kennedy family's political dynasty. Even before the polls closed at 8 p.m., Obama's top advisers engaged in a public blame game with the campaign of state Attorney General Martha Coakley, the Democratic candidate, over who is responsible for the crippling setback to the party.

Brown's late surge was fueled by voter anger about the high unemployment rate and by his vow to block the president's proposal for health-care reform. He drew chants of "41!" during his acceptance speech Tuesday night, symbolic of his role as the 41st member of the Senate GOP caucus.

PAM COMMENTARY: The video embedded in this article says that the Democrat took a win for granted, and maybe didn't do enough. The article itself says that Brown appealed to voters' dislike of the current health care reform legislation, and that also voters had concerns about the unemployment rate. I'm sure all contributed to the loss.

Democratic blame game in full force in Massachusetts Senate special election
1. Less than 24 hours removed from state Attorney General Martha Coakley's (D) stunning loss in the Massachusetts Senate race, Democrats were at daggers-drawn over whose fault it was. Two rival camps quickly emerged: Coakley's campaign (and consultant -- in particular pollster Celinda Lake) versus national Democrats. From a Coakley campaign adviser came a strongly worded memo, arguing that she had consistently raised concern about voter apathy in advance of the special election and asked for fundraising help that she never received from national Democrats. One senior party official dismissed the memo as a "pack of lies" and -- in a memo rebutting the Coakley memo -- made several points including: 1) National Democrats had contacted the campaign on Jan. 2 asking what could be done to help and didn't hear back for four days. 2) The money problems were Coakley's and hers alone; "If the Coakley campaign did have money troubles perhaps it was because the candidate and campaign went on hiatus/vacation for the last 10 days of December," read the memo. 3) "Remember -- the most notable events of the last week had nothing to do with the national Democratic Party -- it was: Schilling is a Yankee, telling voters she didn't need to shake their hands, a Disastrous trip to Washington DC and a terrible debate performance," read the memo. The simple fact -- as we noted last night -- is that everyone from the White House to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to the Coakley campaign deserves their share of blame. It wasn't any one group or groups that cost Democrats this race but rather a confluence of factors: an angry electorate, a skillful Republican message that framed Sen.-elect Scott Brown (R) as the outsider and Coakley as the status quo, a damaged Democratic brand in state politics, a health care bill that remains far less popular than the White House is willing to admit and, yes, a poor candidate who made a series of blunders that reinforced the idea that she was out of touch. Democrats did well in sharing the credit during the ups of 2006 and 2008; they would now do well to share a bit of the blame for this loss.

2. As expected, the idea of delaying Brown's seating was quickly washed away amidst his victory. Even before Brown delivered his victory speech, Virginia Sen. Jim Webb (D) put out a statement insisting that "it would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Senator-elect Brown is seated." Brown, for his part, made clear he was ready, willing and able to head to Washington as soon as today. He said that he had spoken to interim Sen. Paul Kirk (D), who drew headlines last week for his insistence that he would vote for final passage of health care regardless of what happened in the special, and that Kirk "welcomes me as soon as I can get there." The truth of the matter on health care is that there are simply no good options out there for the White House and Senate Democrats. As the Post's Shailagh Murray and Lori Montgomery wrote today: "Unless Democrats can thread a very narrow legislative needle, Republican Scott Brown's upset victory over Martha Coakley in Massachusetts on Tuesday could lead to the collapse of a health-care bill that, only weeks ago, appeared close to becoming law." There seems to be considerable resistance from the House to simply pass the Senate bill and it's hard to imagine that resistance not growing in the wake of the Coakley defeat. An attempt to adjust the bill to attract a moderate Republican -- Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine) would seem the most obvious target -- will take both time and some fence mending as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) made clear recently that he didn't believe Snowe was negotiating in good faith. The White House continues to believe that the worst of all worlds is no bill at all and, as a result, are likely to explore all options that will allow the President to sign something. But, for an Administration that made clear they wanted to clear the decks of health care prior to the President's State of the Union address, that idea now seems like a pipe dream.

PAM COMMENTARY: This article brings up possible fundraising problems, and other nuts and bolts issues of running a campaign.

Kennedy�s absence tangible as Democrats ask what went wrong
WASHINGTON - For decades it was, quite literally, Ted Kennedy�s seat, the place in the Senate chamber where the legendary liberal pounded his desk and spoke passionately in favor of universal health care. And after the senator�s death, his legacy was marked by a black mourning cloth and crystal vase of white roses on his desk.

Democrats never imagined that a Republican determined to defeat the health care overhaul Kennedy fought to achieve right until his death could take, if not his actual seat, then his place in the Senate.

The stunning victory of Republican Scott Brown has disrupted both the legislative strategy and the psyches of a Democratic caucus still grieving the loss of their friend. And while the late senator�s long legislative record remains intact, advocates for a health care overhaul wonder whether the dream of achieving their goal died with the Massachusetts senator.

�It will certainly be a sad irony for Massachusetts to replace Senator Kennedy with someone who is determined to block a bill Senator Kennedy very much himself wanted to get passed,�� said David Kravitz, co-founder of Blue Mass Group, a liberal blog.

As Baucus Unveils Health Plan Absent of Public Option, New Study Finds 45,000 Uninsured Die Every Year (FLASHBACK) [DN]
JUAN GONZALEZ: Now, you have an individual mandate there in Massachusetts under the Massachusetts plan. How has that worked?

DR. STEFFIE WOOLHANDLER: Well, it hasn�t worked very well. When the individual mandate was rolled out this past year, we saw no improvement in the number of uninsured in the state. We actually saw a deterioration in access to care. The previous year, they had rolled out a Medicaid expansion. That worked. That got some people covered. But when they rolled out the mandate this year, there was no improvement in the number of insured.

The Census Bureau just announced that only�that only half of the uninsured were covered by that Medicaid expansion. It also found that there were five-and-a-half percent of people in the state uninsured. That�s not universal coverage. And then, our private insurance industry just announced that they�re raising all of our premiums ten percent, and they�re saying that�s because of the cost of the reform.

So, in Massachusetts, we�ve spent a lot of money. We�ve managed to cover about half of the uninsured through Medicaid expansion and expansion of Medicaid-like programs. We�ve given the insurance industry absolutely everything they wanted. And what we�re getting is higher prices and still having uninsured people in the state.

PAM COMMENTARY: That's right, Massachusetts is the state that required its citizens to buy medical insurance within the past few years. Massachusetts voters have had experience with the type of health care reform being debated in DC right now, and they've turned Ted Kennedy's seat over to a water boarding-supporting Republican to prevent that type of system from becoming national law.

How Quickly Should Scott Brown Take His Senate Seat?
But first, some background: Health care is the reason the timing of Brown's appointment is such a big deal.

If, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., suggested in a statement Tuesday night, Brown's swearing-in must wait until election results are certified, it would give Democrats as many as 15 days more of a 60-vote Senate majority. That's enough votes to block a Republican filibuster and enough time, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., suggested to reporters Tuesday, to whip through a revised health care bill that reconciles the differences between versions of the legislation that the House and Senate passed last year.

In his victory speech, Brown said that the state's interim senator, Democrat Paul Kirk, should step down right away. "Interim Sen. Paul Kirk has completed his work," Brown said. "The people, by their votes, have not filled the office themselves and I am ready to go to Washington without delay."

That's the way it usually works, Brown's suporters say. Campaign spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom cited the 1962 special election that launched launched the epic career of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. -- whose seat Brown will be assuming. Kennedy was elected on Nov. 6, 1962 and took his oath of office the next day.

Since then, there have been nine other cases in which interim senators, appointed to fill the vacancies of senators who resigned or died in office, did not seek election to their posts. Three ceded their seats to their replacements within 48 hours of the election. In the six other cases, it was a matter of weeks before the new senators were sworn in. Party affiliation doesn't appear to be the factor: Humphrey, a Democrat appointed to take the place of her late husband, Sen. (and LBJ's Vice President) Hubert Humphrey, stepped aside immediately when Republican Rudy Boschwitz was elected in Minnesota and Nicholas Brady, a Republican, let New Jersey Democrat Frank Lautenberg get a head start on his seniority. But appointed Sen. Kaneaster Hodges Jr. of Arkansas made fellow Democrat David Pryor wait to take office until the official beginning of his term.

No Deaths from Vitamins, Minerals, Amino Acids Or Herbs; Poison Control Statistics Prove Supplements' Safety [R]
(OMNS) -- There was not even one death caused by a dietary supplement in 2008, according to the most recent information collected by the U.S. National Poison Data System. The new 174-page annual report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers, published in the journal Clinical Toxicology, shows zero deaths from multiple vitamins; zero deaths from any of the B vitamins; zero deaths from vitamins A, C, D, or E; and zero deaths from any other vitamin.

Additionally, there were no deaths whatsoever from any amino acid or herbal product. This means no deaths at all from blue cohosh, echinacea, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, kava kava, St. John's wort , valerian, yohimbe, Asian medicines, ayurvedic medicines, or any other botanical. There were zero deaths from creatine, blue-green algae, glucosamine, chondroitin, melatonin, or any homeopathic remedies.

Furthermore, there were zero deaths in 2008 from any dietary mineral supplement. This means there were no fatalities from calcium, magnesium, chromium, zinc, colloidal silver, selenium, iron, or multimineral supplements. Two children died as a result of medical use of the antacid sodium bicarbonate. The other "Electrolyte and Mineral" category death was due to a man accidentally drinking sodium hydroxide, a highly toxic degreaser and drain-opener.

The Guant�mo �Suicides�: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle [DN]
Twenty minutes later�about the amount of time needed for the trip to Camp No and back�the paddy wagon returned. This time Hickman paid closer attention. He couldn�t see the Navy guards� faces, but from body size and uniform they appeared to be the same men.

The guards walked into Camp 1 and soon emerged with another prisoner. They departed Camp America, again in the direction of Camp No. Twenty minutes later, the van returned. Hickman, his curiosity piqued by the unusual flurry of activity and guessing that the guards might make another excursion, left Tower 1 and drove the three quarters of a mile to ACP Roosevelt to see exactly where the paddy wagon was headed. Shortly thereafter, the van passed through the checkpoint for the third time and then went another hundred yards, whereupon it turned toward Camp No, eliminating any question in Hickman�s mind about where it was going. All three prisoners would have reached their destination before 8 p.m.

Hickman says he saw nothing more of note until about 11:30 p.m, when he had returned to his preferred vantage at Tower 1. As he watched, the paddy wagon returned to Camp Delta. This time, however, the Navy guards did not get out of the van to enter Camp 1. Instead, they backed the vehicle up to the entrance of the medical clinic, as if to unload something.

At approximately 11:45 p.m.�nearly an hour before the NCIS claims the first body was discovered�Army Specialist Christopher Penvose, preparing for a midnight shift in Tower 1, was approached by a senior Navy NCO. Penvose told me that the NCO�who, following standard operating procedures, wore no name tag�appeared to be extremely agitated. He instructed Penvose to go immediately to the Camp Delta chow hall, identify a female senior petty officer who would be dining there, and relay to her a specific code word. Penvose did as he was instructed. The officer leapt up from her seat and immediately ran out of the chow hall.

Another thirty minutes passed. Then, as Hickman and Penvose both recall, Camp Delta suddenly �lit up��stadium-style flood lights were turned on, and the camp became the scene of frenzied activity, filling with personnel in and out of uniform. Hickman headed to the clinic, which appeared to be the center of activity, to learn the reason for the commotion. He asked a distraught medical corpsman what had happened. She said three dead prisoners had been delivered to the clinic. Hickman recalled her saying that they had died because they had rags stuffed down their throats, and that one of them was severely bruised. Davila told me he spoke to Navy guards who said the men had died as the result of having rags stuffed down their throats.

Monsanto: Report Genetically Modified Corn Causes Organ Damage In Rats [BF]
Genetically-modified corn sold by Monsanto (MON) causes organ damage in rats, according to a paper by three French scientists published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences. The Huffington Post published a piece today on the study.

The study, which looked at three different types of Monsanto corn, found a variety of side-effects from consuming the corn:

�[I]n the three GM maize varieties that formed the basis of this investigation, new side effects linked to the consumption of these cereals were revealed, which were sex- and often dose-dependent. Effects were mostly concentrated in kidney and liver function, the two major diet detoxification organs, but in detail differed with each GM type. In addition, some effects on heart, adrenal, spleen and blood cells were also frequently noted.�

Uganda oil contracts give little cause for optimism
But the problems facing Uganda - and Katine - are almost certain to be exacerbated rather than solved by oil. Last month, the campaigning group PLATFORM published three of the production sharing agreements (PSAs) the government has spent years keeping a closely guarded secret. The deals point towards a resource extraction programme designed for profit, not development, and contain a series of provisions that undermine any hope of changing course.

Our analysis reveals that the international oil companies, including Tullow Oil, backed by a $1.4bn loan arranged by the Royal Bank of Scotland, and Heritage, run by former mercenary Tony Buckingham (which had been due to finalise a sale of their licences to Italian firm ENI for $1.6bn, although these may now be bought by Tullow), are set to reap huge sums at Lake Albert - as much as a 35% return on their capital investment. That's three times what's internationally recognised as a fair profit.

The oil contracts are structured so that price risk lies primarily with the state, while the private companies are virtually guaranteed a healthy return even if the market slumps. As the oil price rises, investors will make a higher and unlimited profit, taking close to one quarter of oil revenues, whether each barrel is fetching $70 or $200.

Even the Norwegian experts advising the government have expressed serious reservations: a review of Uganda's contracts commissioned by the Norwegian Agency for International Corporation (NORAD) in 2008 concluded that the profit-share model adopted "cannot be regarded as being in accordance with the interests of the host country".

Premier hopes Samsung green deal will net 15,000 jobs$7B plan to build up solar, wind industry has already stirred up political turbulence
A controversial green energy deal between the provincial government and Samsung Group worth up to $7 billion will be unveiled Thursday, the Star has learned.

Sources said Tuesday that Premier Dalton McGuinty will reveal the details of a landmark agreement with the South Korean industrial giant to manufacture renewable energy equipment such as wind turbines here.

Samsung will also develop 600 megawatts of wind and solar farms in Ontario, which the Liberal government believes will help meet its target of 50,000 new jobs created over three years through the Green Energy Act.

"I want Ontario to be the place where we are manufacturing those wind turbines," not just for use in the province, but to sell abroad, McGuinty said Nov. 9.

Weight Watchers sues Jenny Craig over ads
NEW YORK - Weight Watchers International is suing rival weight-loss company Jenny Craig over ads it says are misleading and deceptive.

Weight Watchers, based in New York, says in the suit that Jenny Craig is running ads that refer to a study comparing Weight Watchers current weight-loss program and Jenny Craig's pre-packaged meals system.

But Weight Watchers says no such study has been done and the claims in the ads are not supported by fact or science.

The lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court in New York City. It asks for an injunction and damages along with a ban of the ads

Cargo firms delivering aid also involved in arms trafficking, says report (FLASHBACK) [WRH]
Air cargo companies involved in illicit arms and drug trafficking have been repeatedly contracted by the UN and other aid agencies to deliver humanitarian aid, a leading thinktank reveals today.

Evidence that arms dealers have comprehensively penetrated the world market in aid, peacekeeping and stability operations is disclosed in a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri). At least 90% of international air cargo carriers named in UN security council and other arms trafficking-related reports have also supplied UN agencies, EU and Nato governments, and non-government organisations, as well as private contractors in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, it says.

The report, Air Transport and Destabilising Commodity Flows, shows how air cargo carriers involved in humanitarian aid and peacekeeping operations have also transported a range of other "conflict-sensitive" goods such as cocaine, diamonds and precious minerals.

It cites as an example how UN peacekeeping missions in Sudan continued to use aircraft operated by Badr Airlines even after the UN security council said the company should be banned for allegedly breaking arms embargos. Unicef used Juba Air Cargo, also based in Sudan, even though the UN said it had documented evidence showing the company violated an arms embargo, the Sipri report says.

"Haiti is Shaken to the Core": Amy Goodman Reports from Port-au-Prince [DN]
JUAN GONZALEZ: Amy, I�d like to ask you, it�s been now almost exactly a week since the quake. What about the living? There are about a hundred�there�s 130,000 people in L��. Are they getting water? Are they getting any kind of assistance to be able to stay alive?

AMY GOODMAN: They are getting almost no help. We went from one family to another, and they said, continually, their lives are in the hands of God. The UN itself made the statement about security. And we wanted to know what was it they were referring to. We walk freely from one place to another. The people desperate, but certainly peaceful.

You know, Juan, what it looks like, where people are, they have formed--and it�s remarkable. As Sister Mary Finnick said to us, where--in Port-au-Prince at a place called Matthew 25, it was a hospitality house that has now become a house of hospitality for over a thousand people on the soccer field next door. There are camps, refugee camps, all over. In L��, some are smaller, some are larger. We would look behind cars, and people had erected with sheets and with anything that could protect them from the sun. You would look inside, and there would be many women, children, men laying on sheets on the ground--if they were lucky, they had been able to drag out mattresses�on chairs, on car seats. And they�re there, wherever you go. And in the main plaza, you have more than a thousand people who are gathered. And all they ask for, they ask for food, they ask for water. They ask for search and rescue equipment, although, of course, at this point it is hard to imagine that people could survive.

But, you know, Juan, sometimes they can. As we went through the airport on Sunday, a woman was being brought in--people are brought in on doors, carried in by sheets. You�ll see sometimes, if you�re lucky, the--a woman was being put on a plane to Miami, and we asked where had she come from. And they said, from the Caribe market, you know, a shopping place in Port-au-Prince. She had just been pulled out on Saturday morning. That�s Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. She was surrounded by her sisters, and she was being put on a plane. She is one of the lucky ones.

The stories of people hearing the moaning, day after day--their babies, their mothers, their fathers, their grandparents. They are simply asking for the support of a civilized world. And to be told that the UN is concerned about security before they�ll give aid, this is what is of grave concern to people.

You know, it�s interesting. I asked the mayor of L��--I asked the mayor what he would think--what he thought first of President Obama calling on President Bush and President Clinton, the three of them standing side by side, saying they wanted to show the face of unity, past and present presidents, that they were together in this effort to help save Haiti. I asked Mayor Santos of L��, what would he think of President Aristide returning home? He has spoken, you know, from South Africa. He has spoken and said he wants to come back. The Aristide Foundation is providing medical care and working with doctors here in Haiti, but the First Family from 2004 wants to return. What did he think of President Aristide standing, like Bush, Clinton and Obama did, with President Pr�l in a face of unity, in bringing hope to the people? And even he, who would not necessarily have supported Aristide in the past, Mayor Santos, said it would be a sign of hope to have that unified front, that people are looking for some help.

And when I said, you know, President Obama, talking about how he would save Haiti, I think what we have witnessed here--for example, at Matthew 25 in Delmas in Port-au-Prince--that�s a neighborhood. And Matthew 25, this hospitality house, is actually taking off on the adage Matthew 25: "Whatsoever you do unto the least of my brothers and sisters, you do unto me." The people who are working around the clock here, what they have shown us, in talking with the Haitians here, is not--I think we�re talking about anarchy of the government, but incredible communal strength of the community. These refugee camps, these smaller and larger camps that number in the thousands, they are organized communities. At night they�ll put rocks across the street. If you didn�t know these communities, you�d say, "What�s going on here? Right? Are these, you know, anarchists? Are they violent? Are they menacing?" They are protecting their communities and those within. And they don�t want those from outside to come in, especially at night. It�s remarkably organized at the local level, among neighborhoods, people helping each other.

US Accused of Militarizing Relief Effort in Haiti [DN]
SEBASTIAN WALKER: The most visible face of the international aid effort here in Port-au-Prince. Most Haitians here have seen little humanitarian aid so far. What they have seen is guns, and lots of them. Armored personnel carriers cruise the streets. UN soldiers aren�t here to help pull people out of the rubble; they�re here, they say, to enforce the law. This is what much of the UN presence actually looks like on the streets of Port-au-Prince: men in uniform, racing around in vehicles, carrying weapons.

At the entrance to the city�s airport, where most of the aid is coming in, there�s anger and frustration. Much needed supplies of water and food are inside. Haitians are locked out.

HAITIAN MAN: [translated] These weapons they bring, they are instruments of death. We don�t want them. We don�t need them. We are a traumatized people. What we want from the international community is technical help�action, not words.

SEBASTIAN WALKER: And beyond the well guarded perimeter, there�s something else going on. Here, the United States has taken control. It looks more like the Green Zone in Baghdad than a center for aid distribution. Heavily armed US forces patrol the entrances. Even within the airport, these soldiers are never without weapons. There are several thousand on the ground already, and that number is expected to grow.

America now decides who lands in Haiti, and there�s a constant stream of US aircraft arriving with thousands of US boots on the ground. Meanwhile, aid flights from other nations are being turned back. Two Mexican aircraft with vital life-saving equipment were told they couldn�t land on Saturday.

New airfield, more troops to increase delivery of aid, security
PORT-AU-PRINCE � Opening two new airfields and delivering supplies by helicopter and amphibious vehicles, the U.S. military said Tuesday that more humanitarian aid and troops would begin arriving in earthquake-stricken Haiti.

Army Maj. Gen. Daniel Allyn, deputy commander of the military operation in Haiti, said a runway in the town of Jacmel, on the south coast, will open for C-17 flights in 24 hours, and another field in the neighboring country of the Dominican Republic would also be used, though the timing was uncertain.

U.S military officials are working around quake damage to entry ports as time runs out for rescue workers to find survivors in crumbled buildings, and for international aid to relieve a population that has endured eight days with little food, water and medical attention.

WWF says China's wild tigers face extinction
BEIJING � The World Wildlife Fund warned on Tuesday that the wild tiger faced extinction in China after having been decimated by poaching and the destruction of its natural habitat.

"If there are no urgent measures taken, there is a high risk that the wild tiger will go extinct," Zhu Chunquan, conservation director of biodiversity at WWF China, said ahead of the start of the Year of the Tiger on February 14.

Zhu said that China's State Forestry Administration (SFA) estimated there were only around 50 tigers left in the nation's wilderness.

"Globally, WWF estimates that if poaching and other threats continue, there are around 30 years left until tigers go extinct," he told AFP.

Loss and degradation of the tigers' habitat in China and poaching of the animals as well as their prey -- or source of food -- were behind the rapid disappearance of the animal, he added.

B.C. native groups unveil 'authentic' logo
It took 12 years to work out a process that was acceptable provincewide, but 60 native organizations in British Columbia have finally agreed on a way to designate goods and businesses as culturally authentic.

A new seal was unveiled at a news conference Monday that is being awarded to native-run enterprises that pass a rigorous screening by the Aboriginal Tourism Association of B.C. Native leaders say the logo, which features the words �Authentic Aboriginal� framed by an eagle feather and human eye motif, will promote quality control and allow consumers to easily identify genuine native products.

The seal can be granted only to native owned and operated businesses, so it would not have headed off the controversy that emerged last week when VANOC was criticized by a Squamish Nation artist for selling aboriginal items, such as T-shirts and baseball caps, that were printed outside Canada. The Four Host First Nations have dismissed the criticism of VANOC as unwarranted because all the art was done by natives, although the mass reproduction of some items was done by non-native businesses.

�That issue hasn't come up, and it won't be one we'll be dealing with,� Linnea Battel, co-chair of the Aboriginal Tourism Association said of the Olympics dispute.

Report: Appalachian states should look beyond coal
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- Coal production in Central Appalachia is likely to continue its 12-year decline, and an environmental consulting firm said Tuesday it's time policy makers and legislators in four states work to diversify the region's economy.

A report issued by Downstream Strategies of Morgantown predicts production in West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee will fall nearly 50 percent within a decade and urges those states to adopt laws, low-interest loan programs and other measures to support the development of renewable energy sources.

The report blames the decline in part on increased competition from other coal-producing regions and other sources of energy, such as natural gas. It also points to the depletion of the most accessible, lowest-cost coal reserves and increasingly stringent environmental regulations.

The coal industry has long been concerned about Central Appalachia's decline and faces even more challenges as legislators and the public grow interested in global climate change, renewable energy options, and cap-and-trade legislation, said Chris Hamilton, vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association.

Kraft Foods, Cadbury agree $19.5 bln deal
LONDON � After months of fierce resistance, Cadbury's about-face to accept a sweetened 11.5 billion pound ($19.5 billion) takeover from Kraft Foods Inc. -- forming the world's biggest candy company -- has alarmed British unions, lawmakers and chocolate lovers.

With Cadbury shareholders expected to agree to the deal and a rival bid from The Hershey Co. looking less likely, opponents fear the U.S. multinational's impact on one of Britain's oldest and best-loved brands.

Just days after Cadbury declared its suitor a "low growth" company with a "long history of underperformance," the British maker of Dairy Milk chocolates and Dentyne gum capitulated to a raised bid of 840 pence ($13.78) per share.

The deal, comprising 500 pence cash and 0.1874 new Kraft shares for each Cadbury share, is a 9 percent premium to its previous 770 pence offer and 50 percent higher than Cadbury's market value before Kraft, based in Northfield, Illinois, went public with its approach in September.

Supreme Court won't immediately close river locks to safeguard Great Lakes from Asian carp
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to order immediate closure of shipping locks near Chicago to prevent Asian carp from infesting the Great Lakes.

The court rejected a request by Michigan for a preliminary injunction to close the locks temporarily while a long-term solution is sought to the threatened invasion by the ravenous fish. The one-sentence ruling didn't explain the court's reasoning.

Asian carp, primarily bighead and silver varieties, have been migrating up the Mississippi and Illinois rivers toward the Great Lakes for decades. They have swarmed waterways near Chicago leading to Lake Michigan.

Scientists fear that if they reach the lakes, they could disrupt the food chain and endanger the $7 billion fishery.

Asian carp DNA found in Lake Michigan; Supreme Court rejects remedy
Now the Army Corps is poised to announce that two "environmental" DNA samples show the presence of leaping silver carp above the O'Brien lock south of downtown Chicago.

One of those samples, taken Dec. 8, reveals the presence of DNA in Lake Michigan.

The Army Corps is scheduled to make an announcement at 1:30 Tuesday afternoon.

The court, meanwhile, has denied a request for a preliminary injunction to shut a lock at Navy Pier and O'Brien lock, the lock that the carp have apparently already bypassed.

While no actual fish have been found above the barrier, biologists say the presence of DNA in lake waters is essentially as good as finding a fish.

Researchers report Yellowstone earthquake swarm
The U.S. Geological Survey says a 3.3-magnitude earthquake struck at 8:39 p.m. Monday, and it was centered 9 miles southeast of the town of West Yellowstone, Mont. No damages or injuries have been reported.

Rafael Abreu, a USGS geophysicist, says a swarm of earthquakes has hit the park in recent days, which is normal.

Jamie Farrell, a doctoral student at the University of Utah, says the swarms generally last from a few days to weeks but sometimes last for months.

The recent series of quakes started Sunday night, and Farrell says more than 200 had been counted by 9 a.m. Monday.

Girl Scouts rolling out a new cookie
Trucks filled with cases of sweet treats are headed this way. Starting Thursday, it's Girl Scout cookie time.

``There is nothing cuter than a Daisy or Brownie Scout looking up at an adult and asking, `Would you like buy a box of Girl Scout cookies?' Who can say `no' to that?'' said Gail Lunsford, 72, cookie booth coordinator for the 22-troop Great Earth Service Unit in Plantation and parts of Fort Lauderdale.

Back this year are peanut butter sandwich Do-Si-Dos, shortbread Trefoils, chocolaty Thin Mints, thick peanut buttery Tagalongs, caramel Samoas, Dulce de Leche and zesty Lemon Chalet Cremes. A new cookie, Thank U Berry Munch, delivers tart cranberry and sweet white fudge in every crunchy bite.

Diabetes alarm raised; First Nations women face future with disease: study
It looked at more than 90,000 diabetics in Saskatchewan since 1980 and gives the clearest picture yet of differences that likely occur across Canada, says Dyck, who has been studying the relentless rise in diabetes rates for 20 years.

He and his colleagues suggest the disease is so insidious that First Nations women and their children are increasingly caught in a "vicious cycle" that sees the rates go up in each generation.

"And it's not going to level off unless we do something to intervene," Dyck said, stressing the need for earlier and more effective prevention programs.

More than two million Canadians have Type 2 diabetes and five million more are at risk for the disease, which disrupts sugar uptake in the blood. The epidemic is tied to sedentary lifestyles and the modern diet of food laced with sugar and fat.

San Onofre siren wakes nearby residents, turns out to be false alarm
A siren went off this morning at the San Onofre nuclear power plant near San Clemente, but it turned out to be a false alarm, officials said.

The siren woke nearby residents about 4:30 a.m., and calls began pouring into the Orange County Sheriff�s office and Southern California Edison.

�There was no emergency last night,� said Lt. Theodore Boyne.

Edison technicians reached the siren within 30 minutes and shut it off, said utility spokesman Gil Alexander.

A preliminary investigation concluded the alarm, which had made a �warbly� call instead of holding at a constant pitch, had been caused by an exceedingly rare equipment error.

PAM COMMENTARY: You never know what to believe with San Onofre -- sometimes they might tell you that they released something into the environment after the fact. I remember living near there during the late 90s, and nearly passing out one night as I drove past the plant just from something in the air. I never figured out what that was, and they weren't publishing anything about it in the local media, either.

Surmont oilsands expansion given green light
EDMONTON � Alberta�s oilsands got a major boost Tuesday with an announcement that the Surmont oilsands expansion has been given the green light.

The project will employ up to 2,500 construction workers, while the permanent employee count will rise to 300 from the current 100.

Project partners Total and ConocoPhillips said in a joint news release that construction of Phase 2 would start this year at the site southeast of Fort McMurray.

The steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) project will boost production at Surmont from 27,000 to 110,000 barrels of bitumen a day by 2015.

100 DAYS IN THE PARK: Photographer�s dedication rewarded in images of Glacier National Park
WEST GLACIER � It began on a snowy day in May, with a hawk owl perched on Glacier National Park�s eastern edge, a tiny vole caught tight in its clutches; and it ended in the fog, with a hoary marmot�s nose raised curious and sniffing, his long yellow teeth right up close and in person.

In between were rushing rivers, deep and ancient forests, mountain peaks, bear, moose, elk, deer, a spider on a trillium. Yellow-rumped warblers and Savannah sparrows. Goats, glacier lilies, grasshoppers. Forget-me-nots.

For more than three months, photographer Chris Peterson hiked and crawled and camped his way through Glacier National Park � every day, rain or shine � shooting its wildlands, wildlife, wildflowers and even a few wild people. It was, he said, a kind of birthday present to the park.

�I knew 2010 was coming up, with the park�s centennial,� Peterson said, �and I thought it�d be pretty cool to do 100 straight days in Glacier, in honor of 100 years.�

PAM COMMENTARY: I have a small photo gallery on Glacier National Park, and will have to do it again someday with a better camera and more time. It is beautiful -- although wildlife there isn't easy to find. This particular photographer went into some remote areas to find wildlife, but for most people Glacier Park isn't like Yellowstone, where you can see wildlife even from the road at times.

University study opens window on bird-strikes; Airborne accidents claim up to a quarter-million a year
"People who have things in their yards that make it a bird-friendly place, just by default tend to have more window strikes," he added. "It's a trade-off.

"You provide a lot of things, you increase the number of birds in your yard, you increase the number of strikes."

Bayne said this doesn't mean people should take those things away. But people can think about how those feeders are positioned relative to their windows. A bird shouldn't think a window is an escape route if it's flying from the feeder in a panic.

In Edmonton, about five per cent of patients turned in at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Edmonton are birds that hit windows, said Cheryl Feldstein, the society's executive director.

Judge orders press to pay damages to Polanski
A Paris judge ordered three French publications Tuesday to pay damages to Roman Polanski and his family for printing unauthorized photos � but the sums were a fraction of what the filmmaker had demanded.

Polanski and his wife had sued two French newspapers and two French magazines for a total of about euro150,000 ($217,215), complaining the publications ran photos that invaded their privacy. With most of the decisions in, they have so far been awarded euro12,500.

Many of the photographs at issue depicted Polanski, his wife or children in or near the Swiss Alpine chalet where he has been under house arrest since early December, awaiting word on whether he will be extradited to the United States on a 32-year-old sex case.

In one decision Tuesday, a judge ruled that the respected Le Journal du Dimanche weekly newspaper must pay Polanski euro3,000 for a December 2009 photo showing the "Chinatown" and "Rosemary's Baby" director looking out through a slit in the curtains of the chalet. He had asked for euro10,000.

PAM COMMENTARY: Looks like he's trying to cash in on his past crime, aside from refusing to take responsibility for it.

Doctor: Misinformation and Racism Have Frozen Recovery Effort at General Hospital in Port-au-Prince
DR. EVAN LYON: We�ve been working around the clock since our team from Partners in Health came to meet up with our Haitian colleagues, who are still here and still leading and still helping us recover to try to get this hospital back up and running. The infrastructure is really, you know, completely destroyed. There is a nursing school on this campus that collapsed completely, killing really, as far as we know now, the entire class of second-year nursing students. The medical school right behind me is�will not ever be usable again.

But the main problem is that this General Hospital, the main general public hospital for the city of Port-au-Prince, is still barely operational. We have a thousand patients scattered throughout the campus, mostly sleeping under the stars or sleeping in tents, a thousand patients who have been triaged, assessed. They�re getting primary care. They�re getting good medical care from Haitian staff and from volunteer international relief staff. But we are just scratching the surface of the operative needs of the orthopedic and other operative needs. Again, 1,000 people in need of operations, and we�re just barely starting to scratch the surface.

Two days ago, we began operating. We had four operating rooms up as quick as possible and have been using them ever since. We don�t have full proper anesthesia. We�re missing many of the materials we need. But that has been working. As of last night, we have some electricity on the campus, and we�ll be able to start operating twenty-four hours a day through this night and on through tomorrow.

I think, you know, the singing and the [inaudible], I know, is clear to many, certainly anyone who has followed Haiti and cared about this special country. One thing that I think is really important for people to understand is that misinformation and rumors and, I think at the bottom of the issue, racism has slowed the recovery efforts of this hospital. Security issues over the last forty-eight hours have been our�quote �security issues� over the last forty-eight hours have been our leading concern. And there are no security issues. I�ve been with my Haitian colleagues. I�m staying at a friend�s house in Port-au-Prince. We�re working for the Ministry of Public Health for the direction of this hospital as volunteers. But I�m living and moving with friends. We�ve been circulating throughout the city until 2:00 and 3:00 in the morning every night, evacuating patients, moving materials. There�s no UN guards. There�s no US military presence. There�s no Haitian police presence. And there�s also no violence. There is no insecurity.

Despite demand, U.S. carriers flying empty planes out of Haiti
Despite the demand from stranded travelers scrambling to leave Haiti, most planes operated by American, Spirit and other U.S. carriers are flying out of the country with no passengers on board. Even though airlines are flying supply-laden relief flights into the country, The Miami Herald reports they're not able to accept most passengers departing Haiti because of rules imposed by U.S. authorities.

The Herald writes the U.S. has "banned commercial air travel from the Port-au-Prince airport, citing the airport's inability to clear passengers for flights. That screening includes putting passengers through metal detectors and checking them against federal terrorist-watch lists."

FBI broke law for years in phone record searches
The FBI illegally collected more than 2,000 U.S. telephone call records between 2002 and 2006 by invoking terrorism emergencies that did not exist or simply persuading phone companies to provide records, according to internal bureau memos and interviews. FBI officials issued approvals after the fact to justify their actions.

E-mails obtained by The Washington Post detail how counterterrorism officials inside FBI headquarters did not follow their own procedures that were put in place to protect civil liberties. The stream of urgent requests for phone records also overwhelmed the FBI communications analysis unit with work that ultimately was not connected to imminent threats.

A Justice Department inspector general's report due out this month is expected to conclude that the FBI frequently violated the law with its emergency requests, bureau officials confirmed.

The records seen by The Post do not reveal the identities of the people whose phone call records were gathered, but FBI officials said they thought that nearly all of the requests involved terrorism investigations.

Obama and Grassroots: The Thrill is Gone?
When Barack Obama won the election in November 2008, one question was, what will he do with his army? His ultra-wired campaign had attracted over 13 million volunteers and donors plugged into Obama HQ via email and text messages. The future of this grassroots movement had to be decided, and eventually�perhaps too slowly�Obama for America (the campaign entity) morphed into Organizing for America and became an arm of the Democratic Party. And among the politerati, there's been much discussion over the past year whether Obama has made the best possible use of his supporters through OFA.

TechPresident.com, a "crosspartisan group blog" that explores how government and politicians use the Internet, commissioned journalist Ari Melber to evaluate OFA. In a 73-page report, Melber notes that the outfit "successfully mobilized...a new corps of super-activists" during 2009, mostly regarding health care reform. But he reports that congressional aides do not consider OFA "a major or powerful force on Capitol Hill." He writes: "In 2009, OFA focused more on supporting and thanking allied Members than pressuring resistant Democrats or Republicans." That sure makes OFA seem a tad wimpy.

The most intriguing part of Melber's report is the section featuring the comments of former Obama campaign staffers. They are quoted anonymously, but a powerful theme emerges: the Obama White House is not as interested in grassroots action as the Obama campaign was. Melber reports:

Most interviewees stressed that OFA's current structure, within the DNC and reporting to the White House, put significant constraints on OFA's activities. In this narrative, while the campaign operated as a single, holistic strategic entity, OFA is now inevitably subsumed in a sprawling organizational matrix, including the White House, Congress and party infrastructure. Thus it can be easily outranked. "It�s very, very hard, because you�re being led around by the White House, which has shifting strategy and different political concerns," noted one former staffer. The organizational chart makes it hard to quickly answer practical organizing questions, this person observed, or even settle on the right "political rhetoric" for communicating with supporters. This former staffer was also concerned about the commitment to a robust OFA at the White House, a view echoed by other campaign staff.

PAM COMMENTARY: I have a different take on this -- during the election, Obama was elected because his ideas were better than the other candidate's. But once elected, translating those ideas into real legislation was something else. I'd occasionally get an e-mail from this organization, as I supported Obama as the lesser of the 2 evils after the primaries, asking me to contact my Congressmen telling them to support Obama's latest this-or-that. Well, what if I didn't agree with the new law Obama wanted? What if I'd rather contact my Congressmen and tell them that it WASN'T what I wanted, that I'd rather they go in a different direction? This happened several times, and then I noticed that the e-mails tapered off. Maybe a lot of other people felt the same way I did, and the organization found out that those army of activists weren't doing what they wanted. That's the thing about activists -- you don't drive them. They may drive you, if you're willing to give them enough of what they want.

Google puts off launch of mobile phone in China; Censorship row sees Google postpone launch of handset that incorporates its email and web services
Google today postponed the launch in China of a mobile phone incorporating its email and web services, after the row with the government in Beijing over censorship and hacking of its internal network.

"The launch we have been working on with [mobile carrier] China Unicom has been postponed," said a Google spokesman.

Informed observers said Google had decided it could not launch a handset which relies on the US company's services � particularly the web search and Gmail applications, which would be "baked" into the operating system � when it could not be sure if those will continue to be available in China.

Google last week accused Chinese hackers of compromising its internal networks to try to access the webmail accounts of human rights activists, who have been repeatedly targeted by the Chinese government. As a result, Google said it would end the self-imposed censorship of its search results there.

Queen Berenike's cat goddess temple discovered in Alexandria, Egypt
Early studies on site revealed that the temple�s foundation can be dated to the reign of Queen Berenike - the wife of King Ptolemy III Euergetes (246-222 BC) - making this the first Ptolemaic temple discovered in Alexandria to be dedicated to Bastet. It also indicates that her worship continued in Egypt after the decline of the ancient Egyptian era.

Bastet originally took the form of a lion and protected the king during battle. However the Greek rulers of the Ptolemaic Dynasty associated her instead with their own Artemis, changing her appearance to that of a cat and calling her Ailuros, a lunar goddess.

The temple is thought to have been destroyed in later eras when it was put to use as a quarry, which lead to the disappearance of most of its stone blocks.

The inscribed base of a granite statue from the reign of King Ptolemy IV (205-222 BC) was also unearthed. It bears ancient Greek text written in nine lines stating that the statue belonged to a top official in the Ptolemaic court. Dr. Maqsoud claims the base was made to celebrate Egypt�s victory over the Greeks during the Battle of Raphia in 217 BC.

A Roman water cistern, a group of 14 meter-deep water wells, stone water channels, the remains of a bath area and a large number of clay pots and sherds that can be dated to the 4th century BC were also uncovered.

Chevron will restructure refining, cut jobs
No decisions have been made about which plants or markets will be affected or by how many of the division's employees will be cut, he said.

Word of the restructuring came Monday in a video message to Chevron employees from Mike Wirth, executive vice president for the company's global downstream business.

Chevron's downstream business has 19,000 employees globally, including 900 in Texas. In the U.S., Chevron owns refineries in Pascagoula, Miss; Salt Lake City; Honolulu; and in El Segundo and Richmond, Calif. Internationally, it owns three additional plants, and has a stake in nearly a dozen others.

Chevron, like other integrated oil companies, has been hit hard by a downturn in oil refining, brought on by a recessionary decline in demand for transportation fuels like gasoline and diesel, an increase in usage of biofuels like ethanol and a building boom in recent years that has resulted in a glut of refining capacity worldwide.

One of MLK's mug shots by The Smoking Gun
Martin Luther King Jr. was photographed by Alabama cops following his February 1956 arrest during the Montgomery bus boycotts. The historic mug shot, taken when King was 27, was discovered in July 2004 by a deputy cleaning out a Montgomery County Sheriff's Department storage room. It is unclear when the notations "DEAD" and "4-4-68" were written on the picture.

Google probes for enemies within
Google is investigating whether one or more employees may have helped facilitate a cyber attack that the US search giant said it was a victim of in mid-December, two sources have told Reuters.

Google, the world's most popular search engine, said last week it may pull out of the world's biggest internet market by users after reporting it had been hit by a "sophisticated" cyber attack on its network that resulted in theft of its intellectual property.

The sources, who are familiar with the situation, said that the attack, which targeted people who have access to specific parts of Google networks, may have been facilitated by people working in Google China's office.

"We're not commenting on rumour and speculation. This is an ongoing investigation, and we simply cannot comment on the details," a Google spokeswoman said.

Security analysts said the malicious software (malware) used in the Google attack was a modification of a Trojan called Hydraq. A Trojan is malware that, once inside a computer, allows someone unauthorised access. The sophistication in the attack was in knowing whom to attack, not the malware itself, the analysts said.

Kabul "under control" after brazen Taliban assault
Taliban gunmen launched a brazen assault on targets in the centre of Kabul on Monday, with suicide bombers blowing themselves up at several locations and heavily armed militants fighting a pitched battle in a shopping centre.

The insurgents failed in an apparent attempt to seize government buildings, but demonstrated their ability to cause mayhem at a time when US President Barack Obama is trying to rally support for an expanded military mission to fight them.

It was the worst attack on the city in nearly a year. Gunfire and loud explosions shook the city and a huge column of smoke towered over its centre, pouring out of the shopping centre where gunmen battled security forces for hours.

After more than four hours of gunbattles, President Hamid Karzai said in a statement that "the security situation is under control and order has once again been restored."

The Taliban said 20 of their fighters were involved in the attacks, which they said targeted the presidential palace, justice ministry, ministry of mines and a presidential administrative building, all clustered in the centre of town.

Myanmar court hears Suu Kyi appeal
Myanmar's highest court has begun hearing an appeal by opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi against her continued house arrest.

The Nobel peace laureate was sentenced last August to a further 18 months detention, after an uninvited American stayed overnight at her home.

Her lawyers are arguing the extension was unlawful because the sentence was based on a 1974 constitution that is no longer valid.

Nyan Win, one of Aung San Suu Kyi's lawyers, told reporters the supreme court was expected to deliver its verdict on the case later this week.

Gaza flooded after Israel opens dam gates
Israel has opened the floodgates of one of its dams in the eastern part of the Gaza Strip, flooding Palestinian houses and causing severe damage.

The Israeli authorities opened the dam's floodgates without any prior warning or coordination with local authorities in Gaza, stunning the residents of the area, the Press TV correspondent in Gaza reported late on Monday.

There has been heavy rain in the region over the past 24 hours. It seems the Israeli authorities could not handle the huge amount of rainwater and decided to open the floodgates without prior warning.

Because Gaza is located in a low-lying area and the elevation decreases on the way to the Mediterranean Sea, water gushed into the area, flooding two Palestinian villages and displacing a hundred Gazan families.

Vets Say Toxic Tests Sickened Them; Government Says Prove It; Army says it used 'voluntary human subjects,' but ill man says 'I was private first class I did anything they told me to do.'
Even those who know the area best won't step far off the narrow, muddy road that runs through the center of the desolate toxic dump at Utah's Deseret Chemical Depot.

It's been more than 30 years since the U.S. Army used this vast scrubland, known as the East Demilitarization Area, to dispose of a deadly arsenal of chemical and conventional munitions -- but the military still hasn't figured out how to clean up its mess.

The Defense Department does acknowledge the disaster, just as it has belatedly admitted having tested a gamut of chemical and biological weapons on military members in Utah's vast west desert during the Cold War. But the U.S. government insists that the tests have contributed to long-term illnesses in only a handful of exposed service members. And that has led the Department of Veterans Affairs to deny almost all claims for care and compensation made by those who believe they got sick as a result of the tests.

Although the Cold War was fought mainly by proxy and politicians, it was not without its casualties: Many died while waiting on the military to so much as acknowledge its secret programs.

Study: At Public Universities, Aid Goes to Relatively Wealthy
The Washington Post [2] reports today on a study from the nonprofit Education Trust [3] that found many public universities are giving aid to students from relatively wealthy families instead of poorer students, leading to campuses with less economic and racial diversity.

Among the study's key findings: at public research universities between 2003 and 2007, families with $115,000 or more in income saw their aid increase 28 percent, while families making $54,000 or less routinely received the same aid packages as families making $80,000 or more. At the same time, a federal Pell Grant that would have covered most of a four-year university education in 1980 now covers roughly one-third of the costs.

Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust, told the Post that public institutions do not reflect the demographics of their respective states, adding that �these institutions continue today to enroll students who are far richer and far whiter.�

Message From Ecuador to Chevron CEO John Watson
A heartfelt message from the Amazon rainforest communities in Ecuador to new Chevron CEO John Watson: "We don't want to continue dying of cancer." This video message appeals for Chevron to clean up its massive contamination of the Ecuadorian Amazon that has devastated the environment and continues to cause widespread cancer, birth defects, and other ailments.

EPA Gives Coal Mining Company Reason To Celebrate While Environmentalists Cry Foul
The Environmental Protection Agency announced a compromise regarding one mountain top coal mine in West Virginia. The mine will receive its permit to operate but must decrease its pollution of surrounding streams by half.

The Hobet 45 mine in West Virginia encompasses 25 square miles in the southern part of the state.

It was one of 79 sites the EPA decided to take a closer look at in September because of environmental concern.

Negotiation and compromise between the mining company and the Environmental Protection Agency has cleared the way for the surface mine�s operation because they EPA says it now meets Clean Water Act standards.

The mining company has promised to reduce the number of streams it will fill with the debris during the mountain top removal process � from 6 miles of streams to 3 miles. The company, Patriot Coal, will also have to monitor and contain its pollution.

Disappeared in the Andes
On January 5, 1985, my brother, Boris Weisfeiler, disappeared at the end of a 10-day solo hiking trip in the wilderness of Chile. He had planned to take a bus from the small southern town of San Fabian to Santiago, and then to fly to the United States to resume teaching at Pennsylvania State University where he was a mathematics professor. He never returned.

After a trapper discovered his backpack 10 days later on the bank of the Nuble river, a local court ruled that he had died of accidental drowning. But declassified US documents, from the US embassy and the CIA, tell a far more sinister and painful story of kidnapping, torture, and disappearance at the hands of General Augusto Pinochet�s forces of repression�a story that, for my family, still has no ending. My brother�s body has never been found; like so many other family members of the disappeared, in my heart I can not even be 100 percent sure he is dead. Twenty five years later, Boris Weisfeiler remains the lone US citizen among some 1100 Chilean desaparecidos from the Pinochet era.

Iraq instructs lawyers to take on Blackwater cases
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq has asked its lawyers in the United States to take on U.S. security firm Blackwater on behalf of victims shot by the company's security guards at a Baghdad traffic circle in 2007, officials said on Monday.

Fadhil Mohammed Jawad, a legal adviser to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, said a law firm used by the Iraqi government in the United States had been asked to contact lawyers previously hired by victims of the shooting and their families to take over their cases.

"The Iraqi government will take the matter up on behalf of the families of the victims," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said at a meeting with the families and victims.

"They have rights, and the aggressor must recognize their rights and the right to compensation because this was a despicable treatment of innocent people," Dabbagh said.

My curiosity about Dr. King's assassination was acutely aroused in January of 1994 when I went to The Memphis Commercial Appeal in mid January to get a back issue of their December 1993 Christmas week paper. While the CA clerk retrieved a copy of the paper for me from storage I began looking through the CA's book, I AM A MAN, for sale there at their counter. It is a picture book of the Memphis Sanitation Workers strike of 1968, the reason for Dr. King's presence in Memphis when he was shot. Page 101 is a picture of the murder scene.

In this picture Dr. King is lying on his back on the walkway with his feet stuck beneath the wrought iron balcony railing. His legs are bent at his knees forming an inverted "V"; his back lying flat on the walkway that turns left and passes the side of room 306 where he was staying. The balcony turns right again at room 307, which is offset from room 306 by a distance of nearly the length of the room. I belabor this point because it is important to know the physical layout of the rooms to determine where Dr. King was actually lying immediately after being shot.

I had no prior knowledge that day in mid January of 1994 that the CA's book I AM A MAN existed. But I left the CA with their book and newspaper less some twenty-five dollars and went to the city library located at Peabody & McLean to do some genealogy research. As I passed a display of books about Dr. King in the library's history department one book caught my attention, The FBI & Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by Mark Lane. Picking it up I opened it to within about three pages of Dr. Jerry Francisco's autopsy report testimony he gave at Ray's trial about a year after the murder.

Dr. Francisco stated that the death bullet entered Dr. King's body on the right side of his face, traveled downward right to left through his neck, and lodged beneath the skin close to his left shoulder blade. That information is consistent with where the eyewitnesses (one of whom is Reverend Andrew Young) in the murder scene are pointing. Finding this interesting I went to a copy machine and copied the page with Dr. Francisco's statement regarding his autopsy report.

In the murder picture Rev. Young is actually looking in the direction of his pointing finger, but I couldn't see any rooming house where he or the others with him were pointing. Page 107 of I AM A MAN is a picture of the Lorraine Motel taken from inside the bathroom window of the rooming house.

FDA to study what's in cigarettes
RICHMOND, Va. -- The Food and Drug Administration is working to lift the smokescreen clouding the ingredients used in cigarettes and other tobacco products.

In June, tobacco companies must tell the FDA their formulas for the first time, just as drugmakers have for decades. Manufacturers also will have to turn over any studies they've done on the effects of the ingredients.

It's an early step for an agency just starting to flex muscles granted by a new law that took effect last June that gives it broad power to regulate tobacco far beyond the warnings on packs, but short of banning it outright.

Companies have long acknowledged using cocoa, coffee, menthol and other additives to make tobacco taste better. The new information will help the FDA determine which ingredients might also make tobacco more harmful or addictive. It will also use the data to develop standards for tobacco products and could ban some ingredients or combinations.

"Tobacco products today are really the only human-consumed product that we don't know what's in them," Lawrence R. Deyton, the director of the Food and Drug Administration's new Center for Tobacco Products and a physician, told The Associated Press in a recent interview.

Navy defends sonar training in Gulf of Alaska
The third option calls for two 21-day training exercises. That option also could bring sinking exercises, in which the Navy would clean decommissioned ships to Environmental Protection Agency standards and use them as target practice at least 50 nautical miles from shore.

The Navy now conducts a joint exercise -- known as Northern Edge -- each summer with the Army and Air Force. Part of the exercise takes place in the Gulf of Alaska.

Environmentalists believe sonar has detrimental effects on marine mammals, particularly whales.

"The active sonar is something that we're pretty concerned about," said Jon Warrenchuk, a scientist with the conservation group Oceana. "These exercises are planned off of Kodiak and it's right beside critical habitat for Northern Right whales and there are about 100 of these left in Alaska, they estimate. They're, if not the rarest, probably one of the rarest marine mammals in the world. This is one of the areas they've identified as critical habitat for them. It's right beside the proposed training area."

Sheila Murray, a Navy spokeswoman, said there is a possibility that sonar could have adverse effects on marine mammals but said the Navy tries to avoid any type of interaction with marine mammals wherever possible. There are 29 protective measures in place to minimize impacts, such as turning off sonar within 200 yards of marine mammals, she said.

PAM COMMENTARY: "You don't mind if we kill the rest of this species, do ya? I mean, they were already on their way out anyway..."

Law to Curb Lobbying Sends It Underground
But for all its penalties, the law left the definition of a lobbyist fairly elastic. The criteria included getting paid to lobby, contacting public officials about a client�s interests at least twice in a quarter and working at least 20 percent of the time on lobbying-related activities for the client.

Enforcement is also light. Lobbyists suspected of failing to file receive at least one official letter offering a chance to rectify their status before any legal action is taken.

After the rules changed, private companies and nonprofit groups immediately began to rethink their registration.

The Union of Concerned Scientists, which advocates on arms control, energy policy and environmental issues, had previously registered almost anyone who went to Capitol Hill on its behalf, said Stephen Young, a senior analyst for the group. That changed after the new law.

�We thought: �Hmm, this is now not such an easy thing. Let�s see if we are required to do it. We are not? Let�s take them off,� � he said. The group terminated the registrations of �virtually all� its former lobbyists, he said.

Venezuela's Citgo Renews Cheap Heating Oil Program in United States [R]
NEW YORK � Citgo, the U.S. subsidiary of state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA, renewed a program under which it has provided cheap heating oil to hundreds of thousands of U.S. low-income households since 2005.

Citgo CEO Alejandro Granado, whose company carries out the initiative in partnership with U.S. non-governmental organization Citizens Energy Corporation, told Efe Friday the goal this year is to benefit 200,000 families, the same number as last year.

This year�s program was kicked off with a symbolic ceremony at Riverside Church in Harlem, known for its key role in the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Among those in attendance, in addition to Granado, were Venezuelan Ambassador to the United States Bernardo Alvarez and Citizens Energy�s founder and chairman, Joseph Kennedy.

Dems look at bypassing Senate health care vote [WRH]
BOSTON (AP) - A panicky White House and Democratic allies scrambled Sunday for a plan to salvage their hard-fought health care package in case a Republican wins Tuesday's Senate race in Massachusetts, which would enable the GOP to block further Senate action.

The likeliest scenario would require persuading House Democrats to accept a bill the Senate passed last month, despite their objections to several parts.

Aides consulted Sunday amid fears that Republican Scott Brown will defeat Democrat Martha Coakley in the special election to fill the late Edward M. Kennedy's seat. A Brown win would give the GOP 41 Senate votes, enough to filibuster and block final passage of the House-Senate compromise on health care now being crafted.

House Democrats, especially liberals, viewed those compromises as vital because they view the Senate-passed version as doing too little to help working families. Under the Senate-passed bill, 94 percent of Americans would be covered, compared to 96 percent in the version passed last year by the House.

The House plan would increase taxes on millionaires while the Senate plan would tax so-called Cadillac, high-cost health insurance plans enjoyed by many corporate executives as well as some union members.

PAM COMMENTARY: Massachusetts already knows about laws requiring people to buy their own health insurance -- they have one just like it! And people wonder how the Democrat could be in trouble -- in Kennedy's old state, no less. Now the House is being asked to vote for the worst possible plan -- the Senate's. I knew people who worked hard for Obama's campaign because they really believed he'd give them health care, they had problems with health bills, and health care was their main (and often only) issue. I don't know if those people will get anything from the new law, other than a big fat insurance bill out of their own pockets. They're sure not getting what they expected, that I know.

FBI admits Spanish politican was model for 'high-tech' Osama bin Laden photo-fit
The digitally altered image of an older and greying Bin Laden was meant to show how the world's most wanted terrorist might now look without his trademark turban and long beard. It was released in a renewed effort to locate him, more than eight years after the September 11 attack which he ordered and directed.

But it created an unexpected stir in Madrid when a Spanish MP recognised strong elements of himself in the image and complained to the US.

Gaspar Llamazares, 52, a member of Spain's communist party and the former leader of the United Left coalition in parliament, said his forehead, hair and jaw-line had been "cut and pasted" from an old campaign photograph.

The FBI claimed to have used "cutting edge" technology to reproduce new images of 18 of the most wanted terrorist suspects for the State Department's Rewards for Justice website.

U.S. Military Weapons Inscribed With Secret 'Jesus' Bible Codes
Jan. 18, 2010 "ABC News " � Coded references to New Testament Bible passages about Jesus Christ are inscribed on high-powered rifle sights provided to the United States military by a Michigan company, an ABC News investigation has found.

The sights are used by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the training of Iraqi and Afghan soldiers. The maker of the sights, Trijicon, has a $660 million multi-year contract to provide up to 800,000 sights to the Marine Corps, and additional contracts to provide sights to the U.S. Army.

U.S. military rules specifically prohibit the proselytizing of any religion in Iraq or Afghanistan and were drawn up in order to prevent criticism that the U.S. was embarked on a religious "Crusade" in its war against al Qaeda and Iraqi insurgents

One of the citations on the gun sights, 2COR4:6, is an apparent reference to Second Corinthians 4:6 of the New Testament, which reads: "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

E.ON chief: Preserve coal plants to keep lights on
Ageing coal-fired power stations should be exempted from environmental regulations and kept open to stop the lights from going out, the chief executive of E.ON UK has urged the government.

Paul Golby told the Guardian that some of the coal and oil-fired plants due to close this decade because of European pollution regulations should remain operational and ready to come online during periods of peak demand such as those experienced in recent weeks. The Guardian revealed this month that almost 100 large power users had to switch to alternative sources when National Grid triggered clauses in their interruptible supply contracts.

"Given that the issue we are trying to grapple with is climate change, there is a question mark over keeping one or two of these oil or coal fired plants mothballed to secure supplies for a few days per year when we get these conditions," Golby said.

"It might be a small economic and carbon premium worth paying for security of supply and getting us through this transition to a low-carbon energy system. It's something we have talked to the government about."

Golby's view is privately supported by many UK power station operators who fear a looming energy gap in a few years when old coal and nuclear plants have been closed but new reactors, clean coal plants and wind farms have not been built.

Voodoo wasps that could save the world
They are so small that most people have never even seen them, yet "voodoo wasps" are about to be recruited big time in the war on agricultural pests as part of the wider effort to boost food production in the 21st century.

The wasps are only 1 or 2 millimetres long fully-grown but they have an ability to paralyse and destroy other insects, including many of the most destructive crop pests, by delivering a zombie-inducing venom in their sting.

Now scientists believe they have made the breakthrough that will enable them to recruit vast armies of voodoo wasps to search and destroy farm pests on a scale that could boost crop yields without polluting the wider environment with insecticides.

PAM COMMENTARY: Great -- Franken-wasps. I'm sure nothing could go wrong there...

Democracy Now! tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1929-1968 [DN]
Martin Luther King. He was born January 15th, 1929. He was assassinated April 4, 1968, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. He was just thirty-nine years old. While Dr. King is primarily remembered as a civil rights leader, he also championed the cause of the poor and organized the Poor People�s Campaign to address issues of economic justice. Dr. King was also a fierce critic of US foreign policy and the Vietnam War. We play his �Beyond Vietnam� speech, which he delivered at New York�s Riverside Church on April 4, 1967, as well as his last speech, �I Have Been to the Mountain Top,� that he gave on April 3, 1968, the night before he was assassinated.

PAM COMMENTARY: Democracy Now! always has a good show on MLK Day featuring speeches by Dr. King every year. Here are the past 3 years, if you'd like to hear more:

Democracy Now!'s 2009 MLK show
The 2008 show
The 2007 show

Noam Chomsky on Movements (Video)
The way things change is because lots of people are working all the time. And you know, they're working in their communities, or in their workplace, or wherever they happen to be -- and they're building up the basis for popular movements, which are going to make changes. That's the way everything that has ever happened in history -- you know, whether it was the end of slavery, or whether it was the democratic revolutions, or anything you want -- you name it, that's the way it worked.

You get a very false picture of this from the history books. In the history books, there's a couple of leaders, you know -- George Washington, or Martin Luther King, or whatever -- and I don't want to say that those people are unimportant. Martin Luther King was certainly important, but he was not the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King can appear in the history books because lots of people whose names you will never know, and whose names are all forgotten, and who may have been killed and so on, were working down in the South.

PAM COMMENTARY: Another mention of the importance of all activists, not just the leadership or biggest names in a movements.

Giving Thanks (for all activists) -- and my favorite MLK quote...
Deep down in our non-violent creed is the conviction there are some things so dear, some things so precious, some things so eternally true, that they're worth dying for. And if a man happens to be 36-years-old, as I happen to be, some great truth stands before the door of his life -- some great opportunity to stand up for that which is right. A man might be afraid his home will get bombed, or he's afraid that he will lose his job, or he's afraid that he will get shot, or beat down by state troopers, and he may go on and live until he's 80. He's just as dead at 36 as he would be at 80. The cessation of breathing in his life is merely the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit. He died... A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true. So we're going to stand up amid horses. We're going to stand up right here in Alabama, amid the billy-clubs. We're going to stand up right here in Alabama amid police dogs, if they have them. We're going to stand up amid tear gas. We're going to stand up amid anything they can muster up, letting the world know that we are determined to be free!
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Selma, Alabama, 8 March 1965

PAM COMMENTARY: Years ago, I wrote this little page in tribute to one of my friends who was spending her holidays trying help people, and to other activists like her who give their time and money trying to make the world a better place. I also included my favorite quote by Dr. King at that time. Note that King would have been 80 years old last year, a few days before the inauguration of the country's first black president, Barack Obama.

US accused of annexing airport as squabbling hinders aid effort in Haiti; Priority landing for Americans forces flights carrying emergency supplies to divert to Dominican Republic
The US military's takeover of emergency operations in Haiti has triggered a diplomatic row with countries and aid agencies furious at having flights redirected.

Brazil and France lodged an official �protest with Washington after US military aircraft were given priority at Port-au-Prince's congested airport, forcing many non-US flights to divert to the Dominican Republic.

Brasilia warned it would not �relinquish command of UN forces in Haiti, and Paris complained the airport had become a US "annexe", exposing a brewing power struggle amid the global relief effort. The Red Cross and M�cins Sans Fronti�s also complained about diverted flights. The row prompted Haiti's president, Ren�r�l, to call for calm. "This is an extremely difficult situation," he told AP. "We must keep our cool to co-ordinate and not throw accusations at each other."

Aid plane turned away from Haiti airport, says medical charity; M�cins sans Fronti�s cargo plane carrying inflatable hospital blocked from landing at Port-au-Prince airport
A medical group today said one of its planes was turned away from Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital, despite guarantees given by the UN and the US defence department.

M�cins sans Fronti�s (MSF) received no explanation as to why the cargo plane carrying an inflatable surgical hospital was blocked from landing yesterday and re-routed to Samana, in the Dominican Republic.

All material from the cargo is now being sent by truck from Samana, but this has added a 24-hour delay. A second MSF plane is on its way and scheduled to land today in Port- au-Prince at around 10am local time (3pm GMT) with additional lifesaving medical material and the rest of the equipment for the hospital.

If this plane is also rerouted the installation of the hospital will be further delayed, in a situation where thousands of wounded are still in need of life-saving treatment, the group said.

Dr. Scott Reuben, former chief of acute pain at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, pleads guilty to health-care fraud
In 2005, Reuben received a $74,000 research grant from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, agreeing to test Celebrex as a component of the multimodal therapy. He claimed to have treated 200 patients, 100 with Pfizer�s product and 100 with a placebo.

�In fact, Reuben had not enrolled any patients into that study and the results reported both to Pfizer and to the Anesthesia and Analgesia Journal and in turn to the public were wholly made up by Reuben,� the charge states.

Albert said the fabrications were discovered by medical staff within the hospital during a routine review at the hospital�s �research week,� when clinicians design poster displays of their studies.

�We conducted investigations into past research,� at that time, Albert said. �Dr. Reuben cooperated fully.�

Pirates feud over largest ransom ever
MOGADISHU�The largest ransom ever paid to Somali pirates was dropped on Sunday onto a Greek-flagged oil tanker with two million barrels of oil on-board, pirates and maritime officials said.

An aircraft dropped a ransom believed to be between $5.5 million and $7 million for the release of the tanker which was hijacked near the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Seychelles, the officials said.

The Maran Centaurus was seized on Nov. 29 with nine Greeks, two Ukrainians, one Romanian and 16 Filipinos on board and the ransom dwarfs amounts paid previously for vessels held captive by Somali sea gangs.

The tanker has yet to be freed as a dispute between rival pirate gangs over the spoils means the recipients are wary of returning to the coastal haven of Haradheere with their booty.

Webb visits VA medical center after receiving complaints
U.S. Sen. Jim Webb made his first visit Friday to the Hampton VA Medical Center, where he praised the dedication of health care workers but said he is still following the incomplete investigations of many patient complaints.

In the fall, Webb asked the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to examine the quality of care at the Hampton facility after his office had received 149 complaints, including allegations that ranged from abusive patient treatment to wrongful death.

"We have disposed a number of those and there are others we're still looking at," said Webb, who declined to discuss the specifics of the complaints. "Any time anybody contacts us, we're going to take it very seriously." He made the remarks after touring the Hampton hospital with his staff.

Webb said his office has received several new complaints since writing to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki about the allegations by patients or their families.

CIA Cable �Granting Permission� to Destroy Torture Videotapes Surfaces [Updated] [WRH]
A January 8 release of documents in the ACLU FOIA lawsuit seeking materials related to the CIA�s destruction of videotapes of interrogators using "enhanced interrogation techniques" has revealed the first evidence of a precise instruction for the destruction of those tapes.

According to Rachel Myers at the ACLU, while there was previous evidence of requests from the "field" that the videotapes be destroyed, this is our first verification of the exact date CIA headquarters gave its approval.

The approval came in the form of "a two-page cable discussing a proposal and granting permission to destroy the videotapes." (emphasis added) The cable was sent from "HQ" to the "Field" on November 8, 2005, the same day an earlier request was made from the "Field". Confirmation of the destruction of the tapes was already revealed in a cable "from the field to CIA headquarters, confirming the destruction of the videotapes." (11/20/2009 Vaughn Index 4).

Requests for destruction of interrogation videotapes, and discussions around such an action are documented as far back as September 2002 (11/20/2009 Vaughn Index 55). It�s presumed that these requests came from the Thailand CIA black site where Abu Zubaydah had been an experimental victim of the new so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, which were based on stress inoculation torture survival schools for the military, known as SERE. Psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, formerly of SERE and its parent agency, Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA)[, have been identified as being key figures in implementing the program.]

Ban butter to save thousands of lives, says heart surgeon (UK)
Mr Kolvekar, a consultant at University College London Hospitals, said: 'By banning butter and replacing it with a healthy spread the average daily sat-fat intake would be reduced by eight grams.

'This would save thousands of lives each year and help to protect them from cardiovascular disease - the UK's biggest killer.

'When a patient comes to me, they have established coronary heart disease. We are the last resort.

'The frustrating thing is that often the need for heart surgery could have been prevented by following a healthier, lower sat-fat diet.'

The Muslim Cabbie Who Saved Christmas [R]
At the same time, I bet there are very few American who�ve heard the story of the Muslim cabbie who saved Christmas. It is another heartwarming but true Christmas story that took place last year on Christmas eve that is worthy of being made into a film for its profound effect. This was a story about honesty, integrity, ethics, and human decency, yet those who heard about, knew very little about the honest cabbie or where he came from.

It began with an Italian traveler, Felicia Lettieri, a 72 year old grandmother along with 6 members of her family who took two cabs from midtown Manhatten on Christmas eve. Mrs. Letterie left her purse and a hand bag in one of the cabs. Inside her bag was over $21,000 of the group�s traveling money, expensive jewelry, and some of group�s passports.

After realizing she had lost this great fortune, she went to the police who told her �not to get her hopes up.� Her family echoed these sentiments, telling her that �this is New York. Forget about it. You have lost everything.�

Not so quick! The cab driver was a medical student from Queens, N.Y. who took a job few days a week driving a taxi after his hours were cut back at his former job. When he found the purse, he looked for contact information. Seeing the rolls of euros, nevertheless he never bothered even counting the money. He finally found the address and then asked a friend of his with a car to drive him 60 miles one way to Patchogue. When he got there, no one was home. He left his cell phone number with a note �Mrs. Letterie, don�t worry about your money, it is safe.�

Have doctors found a cure for MS?
Doctors believe they have cured a British woman of �multiple sclerosis after a pioneering operation.

For years sufferers have been told there is no cure for MS, but the apparent success of the surgery has given new hope to those who are battling the disease, which attacks the nervous system.

And Alex Gibbs is so certain she has now beaten the disease that she has even become pregnant � something she would never have dared do before.

Alex, 38, travelled to the United States last June after reading on the internet about the breakthrough procedure, which involves widening the veins.

PAM COMMENTARY: When I post an article here, that doesn't mean that I endorse it or agree with it. This is just an interesting and experimental treatment for MS -- I'm not encouraging anyone to try it, and I'm not saying that it might work as well as other alternative approaches. I don't have enough information to report much about it yet.

There are people who say they've cured themselves of MS with a zapper and chelation therapy (the most famous case was Ken Pressner of Canada), designed to treat the most common model of the disease -- mercury poisoning followed by a parasitic invasion of the nervous system. Why would a zapper/chelation work, while increasing circulation also seems to work? I can think of a couple of reasons.

If the issue were really circulation, then chelation would help because in addition to removing mercury, chelation also happens to be very good at removing arterial plaques. It could therefore increase circulation somewhat. The zapper may also help by killing any microbes involved in inflammation.

On the other hand, if the main model of the disease -- parasites and heavy metal poisoning -- were correct, then increased circulation may help by giving the immune system a boost in fighting and eliminating them.

There's also the possibility that circulation is another model of the disease to be added to the others -- as it is, there are several valid models of the disease (including aspartame poisoning and viral causes), and an MS victim may have to sort it all out before deciding on which alternative treatments to try.

The day I decided to stop being gay
And lately I have, almost imperceptibly, been laying the groundwork to make parenthood happen in the old-fashioned way. I have been flirting with someone at my local pub, thinking about her at odd times, making excuses to call her and wondering if she likes me. It�s rather strange.

This will come as a shock to � among others � my male former partner of ten years, gay pals from my former media career, my rabidly heterosexual chums in the aviation industry and, not least, my family (who rather hoped I was going through a phase � albeit for about 20 years). Well, it�s come as a shock to me, too.

I once attended the nuptials of a gay male friend to a girl with whom he had unexpectedly fallen head over heels in love. It was a curious affair: the wedding party was peopled with his ex-lovers � including me, the best man and even the vicar. There is a risk that a wedding guest list of mine could have the same casting issues.

My sexuality was formed behind bike sheds and in school dormitories, a most unimaginatively clich�pattern of pubescent fumbling. This propelled me into a lifestyle, reinforced by a social milieu of flamboyant media gays. At the BBC, where I worked for seven years, homosexuality was very nearly compulsory.

At these tidings, my sceptical buddies will splutter, �You what?! Miss Patsy, trouser-chaser extraordinaire, has decided she�s now dancing at the other end of the ballroom? Pur-leeeeeeeze!� They have seen little evidence of an interest in the opposite sex during my adult life, nor asked why. And that�s the clincher.

Last dancing bears rescued in India
Two years ago I travelled to Agra in India to visit the biggest bear sanctuary in the world.

The park offers a peaceful life to former dancing bears and snatched bear cubs allowing them to live with each other with at least some comfort.

The park is part of a project to clear illegal dancing bears from the streets of India.

Now comes the heartwarming news that the last dancing bears have been surrendered.

Green jobs grow slowly; Federal funding for energy-saving projects has been slowed by a bureaucratic thicket.
Last year, Randy Hagen, president of Solar Skies Mfg in Starbuck, Minn., laid off four of his 14 workers after orders stalled for the rooftop solar collectors he makes. Government rebates promised last year under the Obama administration's green jobs initiative never won final approval, so consumers didn't buy.

"Everyone who is considering buying a solar thermal system in Minnesota was hoping there may be some rebate stimulus dollars available to them," Hagen said. "[But the] proposed rebate for solar thermal has not yet been approved by the Department of Energy. ... This has literally halted solar thermal sales and has directly hurt our business. ... Yet everyone perceives that if you are in renewable energy you should be doing well."

The Obama administration's call for green jobs as an economic savior initially sparked hope for economic recovery. But the federal funds have only dribbled into the sector, held up by various shades of bureaucratic red tape and the lingering credit crisis. As a result, projects stalled and workers got pink slips as banks froze credit, venture capital firms slowed sector investments and government rebates snagged. By year-end, green-sector job freezes and losses far outweighed gains.

Greg Palast - History of a Haitian Holocaust [BF]
6. From my own work in the field, I know that FEMA has access to ready-to-go potable water, generators, mobile medical equipment and more for hurricane relief on the Gulf Coast. It's all still there. Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honor�who served as the task force commander for emergency response after Hurricane Katrina, told the Christian Science Monitor, �I thought we had learned that from Katrina, take food and water and start evacuating people." Maybe we learned but, apparently, Gates and the Defense Department missed school that day.

7. Send in the Marines. That's America's response. That's what we're good at. The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson finally showed up after three days. With what? It was dramatically deployed � without any emergency relief supplies. It has sidewinder missiles and 19 helicopters.

8. But don't worry, the International Search and Rescue Team, fully equipped and self-sufficient for up to seven days in the field, deployed immediately with ten metric tons of tools and equipment, three tons of water, tents, advanced communication equipment and water purifying capability. They're from Iceland.

9. Gates wouldn't send in food and water because, he said, there was no "structure ... to provide security." For Gates, appointed by Bush and allowed to hang around by Obama, it's security first. That was his lesson from Hurricane Katrina. Blackwater before drinking water.

Not everyone surprised by Haiti earthquake; geologists sounded alarm for years
They were hoping to spur action. Beefed up building codes, early warning systems for tsunamis, public education and disaster planning, such as exist in California, were among their goals.

But between poverty and government corruption, nothing happened.

"I don't think anyone cares anything about an earthquake in Haiti because they have too many other things to worry about," said Roger Bilham, professor of geological sciences at the University of Colorado. "(The people) don't worry about earthquakes, but the government should care." The frustrated geologists point to the difference building codes and emergency preparedness measures can make.

The magnitude 7.1 Loma Prieta earthquake in California, known as the 1989 World Series earthquake, killed 63 people. The magnitude 6.9 Kobe earthquake in Japan in 1995 claimed 5,000 lives.

Asia's greed for ivory puts African elephant at risk
There has been a massive surge in illegal ivory trading, researchers warned last week. They have found that more than 14,000 products made from the tusks and other body parts of elephants were seized in 2009, an increase of more than 2,000 on their previous analysis in 2007.

Details of this disturbing rise have been revealed on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the world ivory trading ban. Implemented on 18 January 1990, it was at first credited with halting the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of elephants.

But the recent growth in the far east's appetite for ivory � a status symbol for the middle classes of the region's newly industrialised economies � has sent ivory prices soaring from �150 a kilogram in 2004 to more than �4,000.

At the same time, scientists estimate that between 8% and 10% of Africa's elephants are now being killed each year to meet the demand. The world's largest land animal is again threatened with widespread slaughter.

Greenpeace to build �14m flagship; The Rainbow Warrior III mega-yacht will be one of the greenest ships afloat, complete with satellite video system and a helipad
Many navies are shrinking as defence cuts bite, but environment groups are renewing their fleets in response to growing ecological pressure on oceans and losses of their vessels at sea.

German and Polish shipyards will shortly start work on Greenpeace's �14m flagship, a mega-yacht that will become the third Rainbow Warrior next year. It will be one of the biggest yachts to have been commissioned in the last decade with, say the designers, a massive 1,300 sq metres of sail supported on two A-frame masts.

Like billionaire Roman Abramovich's �300m mega-yacht, the Eclipse, also expected to be launched this year in Germany, the Rainbow Warrior III will have its own helipad and room for a flotilla of inflatables. But while it will sleep 30 in more comfort than the fishing boats the environment group usually converts, it will not have Abramovich's swimming pools, military-grade missile defence system, submarine or armour-plating.

Instead it will be one of the greenest ships afloat and a satellite system will allow campaigners to stream video footage from anywhere in the world. "We have converted ships for 30 years and it's time we practised what we preach," said Ulrich von Eitzen, a Greenpeace spokesman. "Upgrading the existing ship was not technically or financially feasible and converting a secondhand ship would compromise our campaigning and energy conservation needs."

Can the U.S. Navy Make Jet Fuel Out of Sea Water?
(NaturalNews) U.S. Navy scientists are investigating a method for transforming ocean water into jet fuel as a way to maintain U.S. military superiority even in the face of dwindling global oil supplies.

"The U.S. Navy is surrounded by seawater and the Navy needs jet fuel," said researcher Robert Dorner, who works at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. "In the seawater you have [carbon dioxide] and you have hydrogen. The question is, how do you convert that into jet fuel?"

The navy researchers hope to develop a new version of the Fischer-Tropsch process for combining carbon monoxide with hydrogen to produce synthetic gas (syngas), a precursor for both jet fuel and plastics. The Fischer-Tropsch process requires the use of cobalt catalysts and heat, and also produces waxes and the greenhouse gas methane as byproducts. Because of its high cost, it has rarely been used commercially -- most notably, the isolated regimes of Nazi Germany and Apartheid South Africa used it to transform solid coal into liquid fuel as a way of working around fuel embargoes.

Dorner and colleagues hope to modify the process to use the carbon dioxide dissolved in sea water instead of carbon monoxide, and an iron catalyst rather than cobalt. This latter change would reduce methane output by 70 percent and also increase syngas output. If this is successful, the researchers would then need to find a way to turn syngas into jet fuel.

"It's still a very energy-intensive process," Dorner said. "A lot of work remains to be done. We haven't even really looked at building an actual pilot plant yet."

U.N.�s World Health Organization Wants Tax on Internet [AJ]
The World Health Organization (WHO) is considering a plan to ask governments to impose a global consumer tax on such things as Internet activity or everyday financial transactions like paying bills online.

Such a scheme could raise �tens of billions of dollars� on behalf of the United Nations� public health arm from a broad base of consumers, which would then be used to transfer drug-making research, development and manufacturing capabilities, among other things, to the developing world.

The multibillion-dollar �indirect consumer tax� is only one of a �suite of proposals� for financing the rapid transformation of the global medical industry that will go before WHO�s 34-member supervisory Executive Board at its biannual meeting in Geneva.

Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed eyes expanding alliance with Murdoch's News Corp.
CAIRO (AP) -- The Saudi billionaire whose investment firm is one of the biggest stakeholders in Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. said he is looking to expand his alliances with the media giant, in the latest indication that his appetite for growth remains robust even as his company retrenches.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a nephew of the Saudi king and who was listed last year by Forbes as the world's 22nd richest person, met with News Corp.'s chief executive Rupert Murdoch on Jan. 14 in a meeting that "touched upon future potential alliances with News Corp.," according to a statement released by his Kingdom Holding Co. late Saturday.

Media reports have indicated that News Corp, parent to Fox News and Dow Jones & Co., among others, may be thinking of buying a stake in Alwaleed's Rotana Media Group, which includes a number of satellite channels that air in the Middle East.

Neither company has commented publicly on the possible deal, but the talks offer an indication yet that such an agreement may yet be in the offing.

Cindy Sheehan leads drone protest in Virginia
LANGLEY, Va. (AP) -- A group led by anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan rallied Saturday near the CIA's headquarters and former Vice President Dick Cheney's home in northern Virginia to protest the use of unmanned drone aircraft for attacks on al-Qaida and Taliban targets.

The group of about 70 people rallied along a highway outside the CIA compound. About half then marched to Cheney's street, which is nearby, and stayed for 20 minutes, though police kept them from going down his street.

Sheehan's 21-year-old son Casey was killed in Iraq in April 2004. She staged a prolonged demonstration outside former President George W. Bush's ranch near Crawford, Texas, in 2005.

She called the use of drones "cowardly" and "immoral." She says she's concerned about all military uses of drones but specifically about their use by the CIA in Pakistan. She says drones have killed about 700 civilians.

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Sources (if found on major news boards):
[AJ] - InfoWars.com, PrisonPlanet.com, or other Alex Jones-affiliated sites
[BF] - BuzzFlash.com
[DN] - DemocracyNow.org
[R] - Rense.com
[WRH] - WhatReallyHappened.com


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All original content including photographs © 2010 by Pam Rotella. (News excerpts copyright by their corresponding authors, news organizations, or other copyright holders, and quoted here typically as "fair use" or "teaser" paragraphs to generate interest in the full articles.)