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Week of 24th to 30th of January 2010

Alternative medicine sales soar as consumers shake off cynicism (UK)
Sales of alternative medicines are booming as consumers shake off their cynicism.

Analysts say the market has grown by 18 per cent in two years and is worth �213million a year.

And they predict sales will increase by 33 per cent to �282million over the next four years as more patients reject prescription drugs in favour of natural remedies.

Even relatively unknown treatments such as ayurveda - the Indian holistic system of diet, yoga, massage and herbs - are picking up in popularity.

A Growing Share of Americans' Income Comes from the Government [AJ]
While most eyes were focused on the better-than-expected gross domestic product data for last year's fourth quarter, this week's report from the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis also included details on U.S. personal income.

Along with wages and salaries, dividends and interest income, this category includes personal current transfer receipts, which the BEA defines as "income payments to persons for which no current services are performed and net insurance settlements." That is, government social benefits (and, to a very minor extent, net transfers received from businesses).

As you can see from the following graph, while the relationship between personal income and GDP has not changed all that much over the course of the past six decades, the share of income accounted for by transfer payments has jumped more than 200 percent.

The latest data also confirms that the financial crisis has played a major role in boosting Americans' dependence -- for lack of a better word -- on government largesse, with the run-up over the past two years accounting for around a quarter of the relative increase since 1947.

Did the Late J.D. Salinger Include a Satire of George H.W. Bush in The Catcher In The Rye? [AJ]
�The worst part was, the jerk had one of those very phony, Ivy League voices, one of those very tired, snobby voices. He sounded just like a girl. He didn�t hesitate to horn in on my date, the bastard. I even thought for a minute that he was going to get in the goddamn cab with us when the show was over, because he walked about two blocks with us, but he said he had to meet a bunch of phonies for cocktails, he said. I could see them all sitting around in some bar, with their goddamn checkered vests, criticizing shows and books and women in those tired, snobby voices. They kill me, those guys.�

Who was Sally�s friend? �His name was George something � I don�t even remember- and he went to Andover. Big, big deal.� Who was the �phony Andover bastard� who so exasperated Holden Caulfield? Can this be a very early cameo appearance of George Herbert Walker Bush? J.D. Salinger is not known for giving interviews, but George Bush, Big Man on the Andover campus, would have been a figure of some note under the clock in the Biltmore during the early 1940�s, which seems to be the epoch in which this episode is set.

Manufacturing Consent For Attack On Iran; Senate OKs Sanctions on Iran's Fuel Suppliers
January 29, 2010 "Reuters" -- Thursday, January 28, 2010; 6:58 PM -- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate on Thursday approved legislation that would let President Barack Obama impose sanctions on Iran's gasoline suppliers and penalize some of Tehran's elites, a move aimed at pressuring Tehran to give up its nuclear program.

The sanctions, approved on a voice vote, would target companies that export gasoline to Iran or help expand the country's oil-refining capacity by, in part, denying them loans and other assistance from U.S. financial institutions.

The House of Representatives has already passed similar legislation. Differences between the two bills will have to be worked out before the measure becomes law.

Lawmakers and the Obama administration fear Iran's uranium enrichment program will be used to develop weapons, while Tehran says it is for peaceful purposes such as generating electricity.

Many in Congress want to give Obama more tools to pressure Iran. Cutting off gasoline supplies would hurt Tehran's economy; while Iran has the world's third biggest oil reserves, it must import 40 percent of its gasoline to meet domestic demand because of a lack of refining capacity.

Secret Banking Cabal Emerges From AIG Shadows: David Reilly
Jan. 29 2010 - "Bloomberg" -- The idea of secret banking cabals that control the country and global economy are a given among conspiracy theorists who stockpile ammo, bottled water and peanut butter. After this week�s congressional hearing into the bailout of American International Group Inc., you have to wonder if those folks are crazy after all.

Wednesday�s hearing described a secretive group deploying billions of dollars to favored banks, operating with little oversight by the public or elected officials.

We�re talking about the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, whose role as the most influential part of the federal-reserve system -- apart from the matter of AIG�s bailout -- deserves further congressional scrutiny.

The New York Fed is in the hot seat for its decision in November 2008 to buy out, for about $30 billion, insurance contracts AIG sold on toxic debt securities to banks, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Merrill Lynch & Co., Societe Generale and Deutsche Bank AG, among others. That decision, critics say, amounted to a back-door bailout for the banks, which received 100 cents on the dollar for contracts that would have been worth far less had AIG been allowed to fail.

State Farm won't renew thousands of Fla. policies [BF]
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. � Thousands of State Farm Florida property insurance customers will be seeing notices in their mailboxes next week saying their policies will not be renewed, a company spokesman said Thursday.

The first wave of notices will be mailed Monday to a selected number of the company's policyholders who were set to renew Aug. 1, spokesman Chris Neal said.

It's part of an agreement reached with the Office of Insurance Regulation in December. The company is cutting 125,000 policies in the next 18 months to reduce its liability in hurricane-prone Florida, where State Farm insures nearly 714,000 homeowners.

State Farm, which quit writing new homeowners policies in Florida two years ago, will send its final notices early next year for policies that would be otherwise renewed in the last week of July 2011. Most of the policies not being renewed are in high-risk coastal areas.

Nigerian oil rebels threaten 'all-out' attacks [WRH]
Nigeria's main rebel group Saturday called off a truce in the oil-rich Niger Delta, threatening an "all-out onslaught" and adding to the political and economic woes of Africa's oil and gas giant.

The announcement is a fresh blow for authorities amid uncertainty over the health of the country's president, in hospital in Saudi Arabia for more than two months, which has sparked an unprecendented political crisis.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) had declared the unilateral ceasefire on October 25 to allow "meaningful" dialogue with authorities.

But three months on, MEND said: "it is sufficiently clear that the government of Nigeria has no intentions of considering the demands made by this group for the control of the resources and land of the Niger Delta to be reverted to the rightful owners, the people of the Niger Delta.

Sea-level rise slowly becomes issue in Outer Banks
Coastal scientists are predicting that rising seas could drown much of the Outer Banks by the next century, but the issue is just starting to be recognized as a looming crisis in league with beach erosion.

Despite the vulnerability of the barrier islands to potentially catastrophic rising seas, there is no clarion call to be proactive.

"I think most people who spend time around the ocean probably think there is some rise in the ocean levels," said Allen Burrus, v ice c hairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners and a Hatteras native. "But they also feel that, like most things in nature, it comes in cycles."

A science panel - hosted by the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources - this month presented data that showed seas off the Outer Banks have risen 0.17 of an inch a year over a 24-year period, the highest rate in the state. Data will be reviewed every five years to observe trends.

Sundance Founder Robert Redford on His Life, His Activism and the Importance of Independent Films [DN]
ROBERT REDFORD: ... I was made a lot of promises. But it was a very low budget film, a million-and-a-half dollars. I had given up my salary, and I was very passionate about it. I was willing to do it for nothing. And it practically was done for nothing. It was real guerrilla filmmaking. But, to answer your question, it was so exciting. It was so really, really exciting. And you had all these people pitching in for the same reasons, giving it their all. And it just had a--created energy.

What happened was, the studio dumped it, because they didn�t believe in it. And I had to experience that the hard way. And I realized that there was never any real support for it. They were sort of letting me do it, due to the larger pictures. But the experience of making it so excited me that I kept wanting to do it. And that led me to be making other films throughout the �70s, because I would do a larger film, which I was happy to do, and �if I do this, would you let me make this little riskier film?� And they say, �Yeah, as long as it�s under $2 million.� So I did The Candidate and Jeremiah Johnson and Ordinary People and a couple of others. And that experience was very thrilling to me. I loved it. And I thought, well, I�m lucky because, you know, I�m making these larger films, and because of that and whatever success they�re having, I�m allowed to make the smaller ones. Well, other people aren�t that lucky. So what about creating something that would allow more people to have that same benefit? But we would have to create the structure.

So that�s what led to the lab program. And then we would focus on that category of independent film, which was sort of dead, and see if we could fuel that. And that led to the festival. And the festival then grew after several years, until it is what it is. That�s enough said on all that. But international created the possibility to bring international stories here. And basically, there was a political subset to it, because these were stories very often about diasporas and people suffering and wanting to get their story out about why there were suffering and what it looked like, so people could understand. And we gave them a platform.

Glenn Beck Stars as �V for Viper� [AJ]
Note the last line of that speech and then listen to what Glenn Beck said about 911 �Truthers� in a 2007 CNN show about the confrontation between Bill Maher and a 911 �Truther� on his show �Reel Time� circa. October, 2007. At 1 minute, 51 seconds into this clip:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJSd-ymwYzE , Beck declares:

These �truthers� are exactly the kind of people who want to rock this nation�s foundation!

Sounds eerily familiar to the previous quote, does it not? Coincidence? Or is Glenn Beck channeling the mind of author Alan Moore, a self-described Kabbalist and Chaos Magician who penned both the 1982 graphic novel �V for Vendetta� as well as the 1986 graphic novel �Watchmen� that advocated false-flag terror as a Machiavellian �end justifies the means� scenario that unites the world under a global government following the nuking of a major U.S. city? Or is it just that all good villains think the same? You be the judge. One thing is for sure. Whoever is writing Glenn Beck�s material is of the same mind-set.

As a matter of fact, everything we see happening on the world stage sounds like a Hollywood film script. In James Cameron�s �Avatar�, a planet is occupied and exploited for it�s mineral wealth. Now we find the U.S. occupation of Haiti, which has just recently found to be sitting on a vast fortune in mineral resources of oil, gold, uranium, zirconium and iridium.

PAM COMMENTARY: Lately Alex Jones has been doing a good job of exposing Glenn Beck. Jones says that he's making a short film called "The Glenn Beck Deception" (a play on the name of Jones' well-known film "The Obama Deception"). Among many other things, Jones says that Beck is there to divert legitimate political movements, and to "manage" white people. Some very interesting shows lately, very good insights on Beck's bogus activism.

EXCLUSIVE�Blackwater�s Youngest Victim: Father of 9 Year-Old Killed in Nisour Square Gives Most Detailed Account of Massacre to Date [DN]
MOHAMMED KINANI: One of the guards gestured towards us with his hands. The gesture means �stop,� so we stopped. I, and all the cars in front and behind me stopped. We followed their orders. At that point, I didn�t even know they were Blackwater. I didn�t know it was a security company. I thought was some sort of American army unit. Or maybe a Military Police unit. In any case, we followed their orders.

JEREMY SCHAHILL: As Mohammed and his family waited in the SUV, the man in the car next to them was frantic, "I think someone was shot in that car in front of you he told Mohammed. It was then Mohammed watched in horror as Blackwater gunners for no apparent reason blew up a white Kia sedan front of their eyes. Inside, Mohammed would later learn were a young Iraqi medical student and his mother.

MOHAMMED KINANI: There was absolutely no shooting or any sign of danger for us or Blackwater. No one was in the slightest danger. Suddenly, in a flash of a second, they started shooting in all directions. And it wasn�t warning shots, they were shooting as if it were fighting in the field. By the time they stopped shooting, the car looked like a sieve. This is the only way to describe it, because it was truly riddled with bullets. They finished with the first car and turned their guns on us. It turned into the apocalypse.

JEREMY SCHAHILL:As chaos and blood flooded the square, Mohammed remembers the fate of one man in particular who tried to flee the Blackwater gunmen.

MOHAMMED KINANI: Everyone was trying to escape. Whoever wasn�t shot dead in their car just wanted to escape somehow. When one man tried to run, they shot him. He dropped dead on the spot. He was on the ground bleeding and were shooting non-stop. They shot like you�re trying to kill everyone they could see. He sank into his own blood. And every minute, they would go back and shoot him again and I could see his body shake with every bullet. He was dead, but his body shook with the bullets. He would shoot at someone else and then go back to shooting at this dead man. This man is dead in a pool of blood! Why would you keep shooting him?

Doctors are addicted to 'every drug under the sun' (UK)
Doctors are addicted to �every drug under the sun� the head of the first ever confidential GP service for health professionals has warned.

In its first year the clinic has treated NHS staff hooked on drugs including heroin, ketamine, a horse tranquilliser, and methadrone, a drug linked to amphetamines, said Dr Clare Gerada, medical director of the Practitioner Health Programme.

The service also uncovered six cases of undiagnosed psychosis, in which sufferers see things or hear voices.

The clinic was set up amid fears many health professionals were treating themselves or avoiding their local GP or hospital because of worries colleagues could learn of their health problems.

Charges fly over grounded airlifts
Hundreds of grievously injured Haitian earthquake victims remained in limbo Saturday, waiting for the U.S. military to resume airlifts to American hospitals four days after the flights were halted amid finger-pointing from the state and federal governments.

The Obama administration insisted late Saturday that the flights ceased because of logistical challenges -- and not over questions of who will pay the hospital bills in the United States, as the military had said earlier in the day.

Flights stopped on Wednesday amid a bewildering flurry of accusations and confusion over intentions, visas and costs -- and an angry surgeon's prediction that 100 of his patients would die if military flights didn't resume.

Military officials blamed Florida hospitals, saying they wouldn't take more injured Haitians. Hospital spokesmen strongly denied saying it.

Idaho volunteers arrested in Haiti
Sean Lankford said his wife and daughter were among 10 Americans detained Saturday at the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic as they were moving 33 orphans to new housing.

Lankford said the Idahoans had been planning an orphanage in the Dominican Republic for several years, and they were ready to build when the earthquake hit. Members quickly arranged to help a pastor whose orphanage in Haiti collapsed, Lankford said.

"They've been working with governments on bothsides for a while," he said.

The Idahoans from Meridian's Central Valley Baptist Church and from East Side Baptist Church in Twin Falls are with Idaho-based New Life Children's Refuge. The detainees include people from Texas and Kansas.

Despite their good intentions, the Americans - the first known to be taken into Haitian custody since the Jan. 12 quake - stepped into a firestorm in Haiti, where leaders have suspended adoptions amid fears that lost or parentless children are vulnerable to trafficking, The Associated Press reported.

Inching along in the channel
A collision on Jan. 23 between an oil tanker and a chemical barge dumped more than 460,000 gallons of crude into the waterway, shutting down operations for almost five days, and imperiling the region's economy as refineries began to run dry.

The narrow channel runs along the 12-mile stretch from Texas Island, where the Intracoastal Waterway enters from the west, to the Neches River intersection at Stewts Island, where the Intracoastal continues east. That means the Intracoastal Waterway and the Sabine-Neches Ship Channel share the same narrow corridor. It is the longest such shared stretch of waterway in the nation.

And the pilots who steer the ships through the channel say it can be a nerve-wracking experience.

�If you're on the conn (conducting the vessel), you can feel the water pressure. You can feel the bank (of the shoreline). You can feel the suction of the other vessel. It's real subtle,� said Tweedel, whose pilots guide tankers, bulk carriers and other deep-draft vessels in and out of the docks along the Sabine-Neches.

PAM COMMENTARY: In other words, tankers going through there were an accident waiting to happen.

David Bass on finding Morgan Harrington's remains (Video)
PAM COMMENTARY: The local farmer in his own words.

America's Secret Afghan Prisons
One quiet, wintry night last year in the eastern Afghan town of Khost, a young government employee named Ismatullah simply vanished. He had last been seen in the town's bazaar with a group of friends. Family members scoured Khost's dusty streets for days. Village elders contacted Taliban commanders in the area who were wont to kidnap government workers, but they had never heard of the young man. Even the governor got involved, ordering his police to round up nettlesome criminal gangs that sometimes preyed on young bazaargoers for ransom.

But the hunt turned up nothing. Spring and summer came and went with no sign of Ismatullah. Then one day, long after the police and village elders had abandoned their search, a courier delivered a neat handwritten note on Red Cross stationery to the family. In it, Ismatullah informed them that he was in Bagram, an American prison more than 200 miles away. US forces had picked him up while he was on his way home from the bazaar, the terse letter stated, and he didn't know when he would be freed.

In the past few years Pashtun villagers in Afghanistan's rugged heartland have begun to lose faith in the American project. Many of them can point to the precise moment of this transformation, and it usually took place in the dead of night, when most of the country was fast asleep. In its attempt to stamp out the growing Taliban insurgency and Al Qaeda, the US military has been arresting suspects and sending them to one of a number of secret detention areas on military bases, often on the slightest suspicion and without the knowledge of their families. These night raids have become even more feared and hated in Afghanistan than coalition airstrikes. The raids and detentions, little known or understood outside the Pashtun villages, have been turning Afghans against the very forces many of them greeted as liberators just a few years ago.

Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein Respond to Obama�s First State of the Union [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Naomi Klein, right now�well, you just flew into Park City, Utah just before President Obama�s State of the Union address. Your reaction to it?

NAOMI KLEIN: Well, I mean, we knew the spending freeze was going to come, but to me, it�s really striking. I think what this moment represents is the decision, which we all feared would come, to pass the bill on from saving Wall Street, from saving the elites of this country from their own mess, a bill worth trillions of dollars, to regular people in need in this country. I mean, that�s what a spending freeze really means.

And we have to look at it in the context of the debt crisis that is occurring at the state level. There�s deficit�huge deficits being run up. California is the most dramatic example, but you�re already seeing how students are facing things like 30 percent tuition increases. Women�s shelters are being closed. So, you know, when the President says freeze spending, that�s saying to the states, �We�re not going to help you. We�re not going to bail you out.�

So this is really�this, to me, all comes back to the top-down bailout that should never have taken place in the first place, the decision that was made to throw the taxpayer dollars at the banks, at the elites, no strings attached, not to help the people losing their jobs, losing their homes. And now the bill is being passed on, because the debt crisis, the private-sector debt crisis, which started this, the banks racking up these huge debts, was never solved. It was just moved. It was just moved to the public coffers.

And now Obama is�this is a Hoover move. This is a Herbert Hoover move. And I think we have to say very clearly, he is not FDR. And, you know, in the spirit of Howard Zinn, who passed yesterday, I keep thinking, you know, what would he say about the State of the Union? And I think he would tell us to refuse to pay this bill, that we need a debtors� revolt.

Report: No sanctions for lawyers who OK'd torture
Bush administration lawyers who drafted legal theories that led to waterboarding and other harsh treatment of terrorism suspects showed poor judgment but won't face sanctions for professional misconduct, according to a published report.

A forthcoming government ethics report initially concluded the two key authors of the so-called torture memos, Jay Bybee and John Yoo, who were officials in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel during the Bush administration, had violated their professional obligations as lawyers when they crafted the memos that allowed the use of harsh interrogation tactics.

But a senior Justice Department official, David Margolis, later softened the department's finding to say the authors simply showed poor judgment, Newsweek reported.

Margolis, who is a career lawyer and not a political appointee of the Obama administration, has supervised the department's internal discipline through several administrations from his post in the deputy attorney general's office.

PAM COMMENTARY: Outrageous as usual, although it's questionable whether they came up with the violations themselves or drafted something under orders.

U.S. citizen in CIA's cross hairs
Reporting from Washington - The CIA sequence for a Predator strike ends with a missile but begins with a memo. Usually no more than two or three pages long, it bears the name of a suspected terrorist, the latest intelligence on his activities, and a case for why he should be added to a list of people the agency is trying to kill.

The list typically contains about two dozen names, a number that expands each time a new memo is signed by CIA executives on the seventh floor at agency headquarters, and contracts as targets thousands of miles away, in places including Pakistan and Yemen, seem to spontaneously explode.

No U.S. citizen has ever been on the CIA's target list, which mainly names Al Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden, according to current and former U.S. officials. But that is expected to change as CIA analysts compile a case against a Muslim cleric who was born in New Mexico but now resides in Yemen.

Anwar al Awlaki poses a dilemma for U.S. counter-terrorism officials. He is a U.S. citizen and until recently was mainly known as a preacher espousing radical Islamic views. But Awlaki's ties to November's shootings at Ft. Hood and the failed Christmas Day airline plot have helped convince CIA analysts that his role has changed.

PAM COMMENTARY: All of these extrajudicial killings are illegal, as no due process is involved.

Winter vomiting bug closes whole hospital (UK)
Whipps Cross University Hospital in London has been shut to new patients for three days as staff battle to contain the outbreak of norovirus.

Visitors have been banned, all planned routine surgery has been cancelled and ambulances with emergency patients are being diverted to nearby hospitals.

In total 18 wards are closed at the hospital.

Many hospitals across the capital have been affected by the bug but none to the same extent and a source said pressure on the NHS in London was at about six out of ten.

Nationally cases of norovirus, which causes severe diarrhoea and vomiting and can be dangerous in the young and elderly, are lower than at this point last year.

Japan's whalers are at sea again, harvesting meat that few will eat
Oddly, very little is known about the dynamics of whaling in Japan, probably because foreign media do such an awful job of reporting it. Without an explanation, Japan's taste for "whale blood" (as The Independent once put it) seems irrational and barbaric, fuelling racist stereotypes that the Japanese do not deserve.

Clearly, it is not because Japan's citizens love whale meat. A 2006 Greenpeace survey concluded that 95 per cent of Japanese had "never or very rarely eaten" it. Outside of a handful of local ports, fresh whale is as rare as, say, veal, in the UK. Pro-whalers respond that it is so only because foreign pressure has made the meat so expensive to harvest. But even after the 1986 international whaling moratorium and the start of Japan's "scientific" whaling, 70 tons of whale meat was left unsold from a catch of 1,873 tons after the fleet returned to port in spring 2001 � a fraction of the 230,000 metric tons consumed in the peak whaling year of 1962. Although some middle-aged citizens remain fond of it, most youngsters would rather eat almost anything else. The mass consumption of whale meat, and the industry that supports it, was essentially forced on Japan by a lack of alter-native resources half a century ago.

So, boring as it sounds, Tokyo's relentless drive to reverse the whaling ban is essentially political, and understanding why means casting our minds back to how the ban came into being. The Japanese Fisheries Agency (JFA), which controls the nation's whaling policy, feels that it was bamboozled and blackmailed into abandoning commercial hunts by the US-led West.

One date, in particular, is for ever burned into the JFA's collective consciousness. On 30 June 1979, anti-whaling protester Richard Jones, who later became an Australian senator, dumped red paint over Japanese delegates at the International Whaling Commission's (IWC) conference in London. Caught up in the growing environmental movement, the bureaucrats professed no idea why they were being blamed for the destruction of whale stocks, when historically the US and Europe had hunted far more whales.

In the 1980s, as a bitter trade war raged between Japan and the West, Washington came under pressure to limit access to its coastal waters, which yielded nearly a million tonnes of fish per year to Japanese boats. In a deal struck in the middle of the decade, Japan agreed to withdraw its objections to the IWC whaling moratorium in return for a US pledge to keep this access open. But months after Japan formally agreed to the ban in July 1986, its US fishing quota was halved. Two years later, it had fallen to zero and an angry JFA responded by kick-starting the now infamous practice of "scientific whaling".

Aging pipes force sewage into San Francisco Bay
"There's no way we would eat anything we catch," Petrosh said, watching one of the lines buck with what looked like a bite. "Just think of the bay - it's too contaminated. We just catch 'em for fun and throw 'em right back."

Little did she know how contaminated the water really was.

During the storms that howled through the Bay Area a couple of weeks back, a total of 630,000 gallons of raw sewage spewed into the bay at 47 spots, according to environmental watchdog group San Francisco Baykeeper.

That was small fry, however, compared with the 170 million gallons of under-treated - meaning only partially processed - sewage discharged from three East Bay Municipal Utility District "wet weather" overflow plants on the eastern side of the bay, Baykeeper reported. The plants are there to process overflows during storms, but in big drenchers like this month's the water is sullied more than usual by sewer overflows.

One of those "wet weather" plants is at Point Isabel, right by where Petrosh was fishing.

Dr. Francis A. Boyle on The Alex Jones Show: The Art of War [AJ]
PAM COMMENTARY: This article has links to an audio version of the interview.

The little mine that did: Workers, owners save Troy Mine from closure
The economy was bad, the bosses said. Productions costs were rising. Metal prices were tanking.

�We�d always taken these jobs for granted,� Steiger said. �Until we thought we might lose it, we didn�t realize what we had.�

What they had were 180 of the highest-paying jobs in Lincoln County. What they also had were mortgages, truck payments, kids in college.

�It was a nightmare,� Steiger said.

But somehow, some way, in the space of one year, the crews at Troy Mine have emerged stronger than ever. No one lost a job, and it looks like no one will. Pay cuts are being paid back, �and we�re like a completely different company coming out,� Steiger said.

Gandhi's ashes scattered off South Africa coast
DURBAN, South Africa (AP) -- Six decades after his death Saturday, some of Mohandas K. Gandhi's ashes were scattered off the coast of South Africa, where he was confronted by racial discrimination during a 21-year sojourn and developed some of his philosophies of peaceful resistance.

An early morning service in a harbor in the eastern city of Durban on the 62nd anniversary of Gandhi's death included the laying of flowers and candles on the water's surface.

Gandhi, known as the Mahatma or "great soul," was shot dead by a Hindu hard-liner in 1948 in New Delhi. His ashes were divided, stored in steel urns and sent across India and beyond for memorial services. It was not unusual for some of the ashes to have been preserved instead of scattered as intended.

South Africa's state broadcaster, SABC, reported the portion of Gandhi's ashes in South Africa was brought here by a family friend. SABC quoted Gandhi's great grandson Kidar Ramgobin as saying Saturday's ceremony included the playing of the national anthems of South Africa and India.

The Fateful Geological Prize Called Haiti [WRH]
Leaving aside the relevant question of how well in advance the Pentagon and US scientists knew the quake was about to occur, and what Pentagon plans were being laid before January 12, another issue emerges around the events in Haiti that might help explain the bizarre behavior to date of the major �rescue� players�the United States, France and Canada. Aside from being prone to violent earthquakes, Haiti also happens to lie in a zone that, due to the unusual geographical intersection of its three tectonic plates, might well be straddling one of the world�s largest unexplored zones of oil and gas, as well as of valuable rare strategic minerals.

The vast oil reserves of the Persian Gulf and of the region from the Red Sea into the Gulf of Aden are at a similar convergence zone of large tectonic plates, as are such oil-rich zones as Indonesia and the waters off the coast of California. In short, in terms of the physics of the earth, precisely such intersections of tectonic masses as run directly beneath Haiti have a remarkable tendency to be the sites of vast treasures of minerals, as well as oil and gas, throughout the world.

Notably, in 2005, a year after the Bush-Cheney Administration de facto deposed the democratically elected President of Haiti, Jean-Baptiste Aristide, a team of geologists from the Institute for Geophysics at the University of Texas began an ambitious and thorough two-phase mapping of all geological data of the Caribbean Basins. The project is due to be completed in 2011. Directed by Dr. Paul Mann, it is called �Caribbean Basins, Tectonics and Hydrocarbons.� It is all about determining as precisely as possible the relation between tectonic plates in the Caribbean and the potential for hydrocarbons�oil and gas.

Notably, the sponsors of the multi-million dollar research project under Mann are the world�s largest oil companies, including Chevron, ExxonMobil, the Anglo-Dutch Shell and BHP Billiton.[1] Curiously enough, the project is the first comprehensive geological mapping of a region that, one would have thought, would have been a priority decades ago for the US oil majors. Given the immense, existing oil production off Mexico, Louisiana, and the entire Caribbean, as well as its proximity to the United States � not to mention the US focus on its own energy security � it is surprising that the region had not been mapped earlier. Now it emerges that major oil companies were at least generally aware of the huge oil potential of the region long ago, but apparently decided to keep it quiet.

Fancy oysters with your Shakespeare?
Today's theatre audiences tend to sustain themselves by craftily tucking into goodies during the performance or quaffing pre-ordered drinks at the bar during the interval.

But archaeologists have found that the British habit of snacking while watching the latest play began hundreds of years ago � although back then the fare was somewhat different.

The preferred snacks for Tudor theatre-goers appear to have been oysters, crabs, cockles, mussels, periwinkles and whelks, as well as walnuts, hazelnuts, raisins, plums, cherries, dried figs and peaches.

Some clues even suggest that 16th-century fans of William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe also ploughed through vast quantities of elderberry and blackberry pie � and some may even have snacked on sturgeon steaks.

The evidence has emerged from the most detailed study ever carried out on a Tudor or early Stuart playhouse. Archaeologists have been analysing the thousands of seeds, pips, stones, nutshell fragments, shellfish remains and fish and animal bones found on the site of the Rose Playhouse on London's South Bank.

Grave-digging scientists to tackle Mona Lisa mystery
ROME�The legend of Leonardo da Vinci is shrouded in mystery: How did he die? Are the remains buried in a French chateau really those of the Renaissance master? Was the "Mona Lisa" a self-portrait in disguise?

A group of Italian scientists believes the key to solving those puzzles lies with the remains � and they say they are seeking permission from French authorities to dig up the body to conduct carbon and DNA testing.

If the skull is intact, the scientists can go to the heart of a question that has fascinated scholars and the public for centuries: the identity of the "Mona Lisa." Recreating a virtual and then physical reconstruction of Leonardo's face, they can compare it with the smiling face in the painting, experts involved in the project said.

"We don't know what we'll find if the tomb is opened, we could even just find grains and dust," says Giorgio Gruppioni, an anthropologist who is participating in the project. "But if the remains are well kept, they are a biological archive that registers events in a person's life, and sometimes in their death."

The leader of the group, Silvano Vinceti, said he plans to press his case with French officials in charge of the purported burial site at Amboise Castle early next week.

5 ways to save the Grammy Awards; Changes are needed if the show hopes to regain its once huge audience
Since they started in 1958, no one has ever accused the Grammy Awards of being on the cutting edge. This is, after all, a music award show that didn't add Best Rock and Roll Recording as a category until 1962 � six years after Elvis ele ctrified "The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show" and America with his talent � and didn't give out its first award for a Rap Performance until almost a decade after the Sugarhill Gang had the genre�s first Top 40 hit with �Rapper�s Delight.�

Add to that the fact that Grammy ratings have been in a slump since 1994 when they were last watched by an audience of 30 million. In the last four years, they have not been able to get 20 million viewers. That�s not even a decent night of "American Idol." Still, don�t worry, music fans � we might not be able to save the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards that being are handed out Sunday, but while the patient is on the table, the doctor is in the house armed with a red guitar and the truth.

1. Less is more
You wanted bloated? Check this out ... there are 29 genre categories, from Pop and Rock to Classical and Gospel, in this year's Grammys. And there are 109 categories within those fields. Compare that for a second to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who will be giving out around 24 Oscars and five Special Oscars on March 7.

Then add to that the Byzantine breakdown of who's eligible for what, how and why. You see why the Grammys and their rules has been the butt of jokes in and outside the industry for years. Do we really care who wins the Best Surround Sound Album award? Or the overly ambitious Best Recording Package award � which is actually for Art Directors not musicians? Especially in an era of iTunes?

PAM COMMENTARY: Actually, I doubt that anything this article suggests would help the Grammys. But I thought I'd post it here, as a precursor to my own observations...

First, who wants to watch their favorite musicians when they're CENSORED? "Don't say anything bad about the war or the president, or anything political. We have it on 5-second delay, we can cut you out..." That's really showing 'em... how to be irrelevant and boring. And how about the music industry itself, signing airheaded acts instead of anyone who deals with real issues? Where's the new Crosby, Stills and Nash, or Bob Dylan? Oh, that's right, YOU NEVER SIGNED THEM. I guess Neil Young's album will have to do... for those old enough to remember who he is.

How about TV coverage of the event? "What kind of gown are you wearing? My my, that's a pretty gown. OK, move along, gotta talk to the next gown." I used to like fashion when I was a teenager, but then I got a life...

Also, the products don't have much variety, although they do have several categories. I think this has to do with the money-making nature of the music industry. One guy has a hit with a "grunge" style, suddenly the music industry says "Grunge sells, it's the new fad!" And they sign act after act of grunge artists who imitate the big successes in that style, and therefore sound almost exactly the same. How could THAT possibly bore the hell out of people?

I think that's why lame shows like "American Idol" do so well -- people get to see some variety for a change, musical artists before they're filtered down to a few money-making "products" for the music industry.

In the end, the Grammys is really just another show on TV. Either it can hold peoples' interest, or it can't. The nice thing about the music world these days is that with the internet, people can get anything they want, 24/7. They don't have to listen to anything they don't want, including music from people they don't believe in, many appearing on the Grammy Awards. Time for another, although necessarily lengthy, flashback. Note the quote, "Yeah, it kind of did. I mean, I got popular and famous right away." That's because during a war, people LIKE to hear anti-war songs... Or translated into music industry language, there's a MARKET for it...

Democracy Now! Special: An Hour of Music and Conversation with Legendary Native American Singer-Songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie (FLASHBACK) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: When did you write �Universal Soldier�? How did you write it?

BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE: I wrote �Universal Soldier� very early in the �60s. And it was just--it was both original to me, but it was also an absorption and a reflection of what I was seeing in the streets and on college campuses.

[singing] He�s five foot two, and he�s six feet four
He fights with missiles and with spears
He�s all of thirty-one, and he�s only seventeen
He�s been a soldier for a thousand years

He�s a Catholic, a Hindu, an atheist, a Jain
A Buddhist and a Baptist and a Jew
And he knows he shouldn�t kill
And he knows he always will
Kill you for me, my friend, and me for you

And he�s fighting for Canada
He�s fighting for France
He�s fighting for the USA
And he�s fighting for the Russians
And he�s fighting for Japan
And he thinks we�ll put an end to war this way

And he�s fighting for democracy
And fighting for the reds
He says it�s for the peace of all
He�s the one who must decide
who�s to live and who�s to die
And he never sees the writing on the walls

But without him
How would Hitler have condemned him at Dachau?
Without him Caesar would have stood alone
He�s the one who gives his body as a weapon to a war
And without him all this killing can�t go on

He�s the universal soldier
And he really is to blame
But his orders comes from far away no more.
They come from him and you and me
And brothers can�t you see
This is not the way we put an end to war.

AMY GOODMAN: Did it just explode on the scene as soon as you started to sing it? I mean, we�re talking about now in the �60s the Vietnam War.

BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE: Yeah, early �60s. Yeah, it kind of did. I mean, I got popular and famous right away. And I was very, very fortunate, in that I could travel where my�the other girls who had graduated college with me, they couldn�t travel. I could travel. And I had a Native American background and really interest in knowing what had not been told to me, because when I was growing up, my mother who raised me, she especially told me, you know, what you see in the movies and read in books is not necessarily true, but you can find out someday. . .

. . . AMY GOODMAN: The �60s and �70s, Johnson, Nixon--what about music and culture at that time? How was it affected?

BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE: Well, at the time, we didn�t know about it, but a lot of us were being blacklisted. Our music was being suppressed.


BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE: Letters were being sent to radio stations, acknowledging and giving pats on the back for broadcasters who were refusing to play music that ought to be suppressed. And--

AMY GOODMAN: How do you know that now?

BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE: Well, I only found out about it maybe twenty years after the fact, when a broadcaster in Toronto brought it to my attention. He had a letter on White House stationery, you know, commending him for having suppressed music that deserved to be suppressed, and it was about me. Eartha Kitt was affected. Taj Mahal was affected. A lot of people were affected.

But when I found out about it, I went and got my FBI files, and I was just appalled. I mean, the Freedom of Information Act, at that time, anyway, was just a crock. In the first place, they ask you to come in and be with an FBI agent in the FBI offices. And my lawyer said, �No, no, no. No, you can send somebody to our offices.� So I looked at the files, and they were all crossed out, big fat magic markers.

And then, a couple years ago, on the internet, a former CIA agent came forward, as well, and talked about the suppression of music in the �60s. And so, these--

AMY GOODMAN: How did you feel it at the time?

BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE: When I first found out about it, I was just surprised, I was just flabbergasted, because I had never known that there was anything going on like that. I didn�t know that records were not being--not showing up at their destinations, so there�d be no records in town when I had a big concert. So I was mystified. It had never occurred to me.

And then later on, you know, a couple years ago, when I found out about the Nixon administration, as well, doing things like that, according to the CIA agent, anyway, you know, it bothers me, but it�s not the kind of thing that I�ve made a career of being mad about, because where are Johnson and Nixon now, anyway? I have a new record and a great life, and I only wish that people at the time had been able to hear the songs that I thought were reflecting their feelings. I think it would have made a difference, because I think music can make a difference.

PAM COMMENTARY: You can hear her sing it at the link above by clicking on the video there, the song starts somewhere between the 27 and 28 minute marks.

Cracking the codex: Long lost Roman legal document discovered
Dr Simon Corcoran and Dr Benet Salway of the history department at University College London have found fragments of an important Roman law code that previously had been thought lost forever.

It�s believed to be the only original evidence yet discovered of the Gregorian Codex � a collection of constitutions upon which a substantial part of most modern European civil law systems are built.

They made their remarkable find by painstakingly linking 17 pieces of seemingly incomprehensible parchment. Together they form, according to Dr Salway, �a page or pages from a late antique codex book � rather than a scroll or a lawyer�s loose-leaf notes,� judging by the number of abbreviations within characteristic of legal texts, and the presence of writing on both sides of the fragments.

Thought to originate from Constantinople (modern Istanbul) the page or pages bear �the text of a Latin work in a clear calligraphic script, perhaps dating as far back as AD 400,� Salway added.

Thatcher went to work on an egg, her private papers from 1979 show
Her fondness for whisky is well known, as is her ability to get by on as little as four hours sleep a night. But an even more unusual aspect of Margaret Thatcher's lifestyle is revealed today: the Tory leader steeled herself for the 1979 general election with a crash diet that featured no fewer than 28 eggs a week.

The two-week high-protein diet included one day - Thursdays - on which eggs were on the menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The only respite she was allowed in this grapefruit and black coffee, steak and lettuce diet was a glass of whisky "when meat is eaten". Otherwise it was "no alcohol".

The impact of such a diet on her temperament, especially when combined with her famed lack of sleep, can only be guessed at. But the ticks she made against each ingredient on her personal diet sheet seems to indicate that she followed the Mayo Clinic regime � well-known for rapid weight loss � rigorously.

The diet plan was tucked into the cover flap of her 1979 Economist pocket diary which is among her personal papers released today.

PAM COMMENTARY: I always wondered why she was so nuts.

The Sharp Dressed Man Who Aided Mutallab Onto Flight 253 Was U.S. Government Agent [AJ]
Please note that in the article that follows, I am not claiming that the U.S. Government knew Mutallab had a bomb or intended to hurt anyone on Flight 253 when the U.S. Government let him board.

Since our flight landed on Christmas Day, Lori and I have been doing everything in our power to uncover the truth about why we were almost blown up in the air over Detroit. The truth is now finally out after the publication of the following Detroit News article:


Let me quote from the article:

�Patrick F. Kennedy, an undersecretary for management at the State Department, said Abdulmutallab�s visa wasn�t taken away because intelligence officials asked his agency not to deny a visa to the suspected terrorist over concerns that a denial would�ve foiled a larger investigation into al-Qaida threats against the United States.

�Revocation action would�ve disclosed what they were doing,� Kennedy said in testimony before the House Committee on Homeland Security. Allowing Adbulmutallab to keep the visa increased chances federal investigators would be able to get closer to apprehending the terror network he is accused of working with, �rather than simply knocking out one solider in that effort.��

PAM COMMENTARY: Despite the first paragraph where the author says he's not trying to say that the US government knew the suspect had a bomb, it seems likely that they did. It all seems to fit their usual M.O. for false flag events, but what they were trying to justify with this one is a matter of debate. To follow is the news story quoted by this article...

Terror suspect kept visa to avoid tipping off larger investigation [AJ]
Washington --The State Department didn't revoke the visa of foiled terrorism suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab because federal counterterrorism officials had begged off revocation, a top State Department official revealed Wednesday.

Patrick F. Kennedy, an undersecretary for management at the State Department, said Abdulmutallab's visa wasn't taken away because intelligence officials asked his agency not to deny a visa to the suspected terrorist over concerns that a denial would've foiled a larger investigation into al-Qaida threats against the United States.

"Revocation action would've disclosed what they were doing," Kennedy said in testimony before the House Committee on Homeland Security. Allowing Adbulmutallab to keep the visa increased chances federal investigators would be able to get closer to apprehending the terror network he is accused of working with, "rather than simply knocking out one solider in that effort."

The committee's hearing continues a series across Capitol Hill that started last week, all looking into the events leading up to and after the attempted bombing of Flight 253 over Detroit. Law enforcement officials say Abdulmutallab tried to detonate an explosive hidden in his underwear on board the flight from Amsterdam shortly before its landing at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus on Christmas Day.

Since the failed attack, criticism has swirled around leaders of the U.S. intelligence community who have indicated they were warned by the suspect's father about a month before the flight of a potential terror threat, but failed to stop Abdmutallab, despite other warning signs like the fact that he purchased a one-way ticket to Detroit with cash.

Homeopathy protesters to take 'mass overdose' outside Boots
Hundreds of sceptics will stage a "mass overdose" outside Boots stores around Britain tomorrow to protest against the chain's continuing sale of homeopathic remedies and to argue that such treatments have no scientific basis.

The event - called 10:23 - will see the protesters swallowing the contents of entire bottles of homeopathic pills to illustrate their claims that such remedies "are nothing but sugar pills".

It is being co-ordinated by the Merseyside Skeptics Society, a non-profit organisation dedicated to "developing and supporting the sceptical community".

The "overdoses" will take place outside Boots stores in Birmingham, Bristol, Brighton, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hampshire, Leeds, Leicester, London, Liverpool, Manchester, Oxford and Sheffield. "Sympathy events" will also be held in Canada and Australia.

PAM COMMENTARY: These people are confusing the toxicity of petroleum-based drugs as a necessary attribute of efficacy. Actually, homeopathy was the precursor to the modern drug industry, and is based on experimentation with various substances -- read Andrew Weil's book "Health and Healing" for a good description of how it evolved. And I don't claim to be a homeopathic expert, but when it comes to herbs, a lot of them work pretty well while also being (usually) non-toxic and very gentle. Yes, peppermint tea CAN settle a stomach depending on what's making a person feel ill. And no, drinking a lot of peppermint tea day after day is NOT going to kill anyone.

Gas pipeline could cost up to $41 billion
TransCanada Corp. now estimates it would cost between $32 billion and $41 billion to lay a 1,700-mile natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to Alberta and would take about two years longer to launch the project than originally expected when it was first announced in 2007.

The revised price tag was revealed in a federal filing Friday amid concerns that potential shale gas developments in the Lower 48 could delay an Alaska gas pipeline. But Tony Palmer, TransCanada's vice president of Alaska development, said at a press conference Friday that despite an "epic financial crisis" and the development of huge shale gas finds, expectations for natural gas prices and demand 10 years out still make the project feasible.

TransCanada and its partner, an Exxon Mobil midstream arm, are proposing the "Alaska Pipeline Project" under a license granted by the state of Alaska that includes $500 million in subsidies. Under their plan, gas would flow by 2020, with full operations slated in 2021.

On Friday, TransCanada reached a milestone by filing plans for an "open season" with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. If FERC approves the plan, TransCanada will hold an open season between May 1 and July 30 during which the pipeline builder will seek bids from companies with gas to move. For those companies, it's a matter of weighing risk and reward. They'll shoulder the bulk of the hefty price tag, but stand to gain if they can link their gas to markets.

PAM COMMENTARY: See also Alaska gas pipeline could cost $41 billion

U.S. Drops Plan for a 9/11 Trial in New York City
But behind the brave face that many New Yorkers had put on for weeks, resistance had been gathering steam.

After a dinner in New York on Dec. 14, Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, pulled aside David Axelrod, President Obama�s closest adviser, to convey an urgent plea: move the 9/11 trial out of Manhattan.

More recently, in a series of presentations to business leaders, local elected officials and community representatives of Chinatown, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly laid out his plan for securing the trial: blanketing a swath of Lower Manhattan with police checkpoints, vehicle searches, rooftop snipers and canine patrols.

�They were not received well,� said one city official.

Mysterious Bush-Bush-Obama meeting at the Oval Office this morning [AJ]
President Barack Obama hosted a pair of Bushes this morning in the Oval Office: former President George H.W. Bush and his son, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Two weeks ago, Jeb's brother, former President George W. Bush, was at the White House talking about Haiti relief with Obama and ex-President Bill Clinton.

The White House described it as a social call, but feel free to speculate. Jeb Bush's presence was unexpected -- the White House hadn't said anything about him being invited. It's all very... bipartisan.

The Bushes were at the White House for just over a half-hour, emerging in a driving snow that over the next few hours will blanket the capital with several inches of fluff.

"Good meeting, good meeting," the elder Bush, 85 and walking with a cane, said in response to a question called out by a reporter.

Bush the elder hosted Obama at Texas A&M a few months back, at an event celebrating community service/volunteerism and marking the 20th anniversary of his Points of Light project.

PAM COMMENTARY: Oh, I hope they're not thinking of running JEB for President now! I guess there's a limited pool of people evil enough to be mass murderers of history, and they HAVE to keep recycling the same crazies, but this country has had ENOUGH of that family!

Here's a story -- in the late 90s, I was sitting in a bar in Florida. Lawton Chiles was still governor there, and a couple of new guys were running to succeed him after he retired. A TV over the bar showed a mean-spirited commercial for candidate Jeb Bush, and of course the Bush family hadn't gained the infamy that came with George Duh-bya yet. I didn't know anything about Jeb and barely remembered that his dad had a role in Iran-Contra, but I took one look at Jeb's face on TV and told the guy I was talking to, "He's all coked up. I can tell just by looking at him." The man next to me said that it was unfortunate, but Jeb Bush would probably become the next governor of Florida. He said that the other guy was better, but was just too goofy-looking, and that he felt sorry for Buddy MacKay but he just didn't look the part.

Ironically, Buddy MacKay DID become the next governor of Florida -- briefly, before the newly-elected Jeb Bush took office. That's because Lawton Chiles died (supposedly while exercising alone) just before leaving office, and MacKay happened to be Lieutenant Governor, succeeding him.

Body in backyard is missing Fla. lottery winner's
PLANT CITY, Fla. -- Winning $30 million in the Florida Lottery should have been the best thing that ever happened to Abraham Shakespeare. But with his newfound wealth came a string of bad choices and hangers-on who constantly hit him up for money. Nine months ago, he vanished. Friends and family hoped he was on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean. On Friday, detectives confirmed that a body buried under a concrete slab in a rural backyard was his.

The home Shakespeare was found behind belongs to the boyfriend of a woman who befriended him in 2007, the year after he won the lottery. Authorities believe he was murdered and the woman may know something about it, but they do not yet know how he died and have not arrested anyone.

Shakespeare's brother, Robert Brown, said Friday that Shakespeare often wished he had never bought the winning ticket.

"'I'd have been better off broke.' He said that to me all the time," Brown said.

State to probe birth defects spike in Calif. town
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has ordered two state agencies to investigate a rash of birth defects that have confounded impoverished Kettleman City for more than a year.

Schwarzenegger's intervention into a bitter environmental battle came as a surprise and relief to both residents and the activists who have been demanding answers.

"This is a tremendous victory for the people of Kettleman City, whose pleas for help have fallen on deaf ears, including the state's for the past 15 months, said Bradley Angel, executive director of the environmental justice group Greenaction. "We just wish he would have done this a year ago."

The birth defects became a rallying point last year for residents trying to stop the expansion plans of the West's largest hazardous waste facility by Chemical Waste Management Inc. Their stories of miscarriages and the photographs they carried of children with facial defects failed to convince the Kings County Board of Supervisors that the company's expansion plans should not go forward.

PETA protester hit with pie at Newfoundland hotel
ST. JOHN�S, N.L.�People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals got a taste of its own tactics as one of its seal hunt protesters was pied in St. John�s, N.L., on Friday.

A woman wearing a seal suit was waiting for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to arrive for a speech when a man approached, dressed in a local mascot�s outfit � a dog with a rain slicker and a sou�wester.

The seal hunt supporter shoved a cream pie into the woman�s face after knocking off the head of her seal costume.

The man then took off down the street.

Twenty-one-year-old Emily Lavender said she was happy to take a pie in the face for her cause.

PETA took credit earlier this week for hitting federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea in the face with a pie to protest her support for sealing.

PAM COMMENTARY: "We love to kill baby seals SO MUCH! I don't mind hitting a girl, if she makes me FEEL BAD for KILLING BABY SEALS! Oh, I'm such a killing-baby-seals HERO!"

Spot where Harrington body found scrutinized
The best way to access the location where missing Virginia Tech student Morgan D. Harrington�s body was found is across a neighboring property, according to the Albemarle County farmer who found her remains. �A lot of my neighbors who are outdoors people have said to me that they think the most logical entrance is from Blandemar Farm subdivision,� Dave Bass said. The area, Blandemar Farm Estates, is a collection of large homes on cul-de-sacs, surrounded by vast expanses of clipped grass. Bass said he saw police drive a car across that grass and through a neighbor�s hayfield to access a fence line near where the body was found on his farm. The farm is west of U.S. 29, near its intersection with Red Hill Road, about 5.5 miles south of Interstate 64. �The easiest way by public road, even in a car, not an SUV or pickup or tractor, would be what I just described,� he said. �There is a barbed wire fence, but you couldn�t get to that place without crossing creeks or barbed wire fences.� Harrington, 20, went missing after she left a Metallica concert held at the University of Virginia�s John Paul Jones Arena on Oct. 17. Bass discovered her remains Tuesday.

Bass, who lives on the farm with his wife and daughter, said they don�t get many trespassers, and it likely would have been difficult to sneak past the two homes � his and his daughter�s � on the road into his farm. �It would be difficult for someone to pass either home without being noticed, but, you know, I�m not different than you. I don�t sit at the window all day looking for trespassers,� he said. Anyone who did draw notice would be in a bind because of the long drive back out, he said. He didn�t see anything the night Harrington went missing, he said. There is some illegal spotlighting of deer near the Hardware River, he said. Relatively few people come onto the farm, he said. �I don�t have any employees,� he said. �I do the farm myself, and � you know, we have the normal people that would come on any residential property to fix your air conditioning or your heating or your plumbing,� he said. He said four hunters have permission to hunt the farm, and their names have been given to police. He has also spoken at length with investigators, he said. �I�ve spent a lot of time talking with them,� he said. �I don�t know if it helped them much. I tried.�

The area where the body was discovered was initially reported by police to be a hayfield. It was, in fact, a pasture with particularly tall grass, Bass said. �It�s a creek bottom, and the grass grows real well, even though I bushhog it,� he said. He added, �The only reason I think I saw it was the heavy deep snow.� By the time the more than 20 inches of snow the region received in December melted, it had matted down tall grass all across the region. In the particular pasture where Harrington was found, the grass had been at least knee-high, Bass said. He saw the remains because he was on a tractor, several feet off the ground, he said. Bass initially thought the body was a deer, but when he saw what appeared to be a human skull, along with fingers and toes, he knew he had to call police, he said.

Virginia State Police still have no suspects, state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said. A rumor that circulated midday Thursday that police had made an arrest was unfounded, she said. They�re also waiting on the medical examiner�s office for cause and time of death, she said. Geller confirmed that police had finished examining the area where the remains were found by midday. �Now that we�ve finished that part of the collection process at the scene, � we move into the analysis stage,� she said.

UPDATE: Morgan Harrington's Pantera shirt found near 15th Street?
Several residents of 15th Street claim to have been interviewed by investigators who canvassed the area in connection to the death of Morgan Harrington. The residents, who wished to remain anonymous, told C-VILLE that investigators mentioned finding a shirt that could possibly belong to Morgan Harrington, who was wearing a black Pantera t-shirt when she disappeared the night of October 17. The street is between 1 and 1.5 miles from the Copeley Road Bridge, where Harington was reportedly last spotted.

"About 11:30am, I got a knock on my back door. I opened it up and it�s a guy who flashes a badge and says he�s a detective," said one resident. "He just told me that they were canvassing my building, because they had found what they thought was Morgan Harrington�s shirt somewhere in the bushes in front of the building." The resident said the investigator asked whether the resident remembered anything suspicious from the night Harrington disappeared, or since, and recommended that the resident call CrimeStoppers if anything occurred. The investigator was not in uniform and did not leave a business card, but reportedly flashed a badge.

...A second resident told C-VILLE that, on Wednesday, "I came outside from my apartment. I was going to my car, and there was a woman who was kind of digging in the bush, and there were two guys walking around the apartment across the street. I heard the one guy [say] they hadn�t found anything, so the one guy was like 'Well, we found her shirt over here.'"

The second resident added: "There wasn�t any UVA police car around. They looked like they were wearing detective clothes. It�s really speculative, but, whatever."

PAM COMMENTARY: How'd they find that place? Sounds like someone confessed, or maybe somebody else figured out who'd killed her based on where the body was found.

Scientists test model dinosaur wings
The long-dead bones of a four-winged dinosaur, the cat-sized Microraptor gui, have inspired lively argument among present-day paleontologists. How, they ask, did such an animal coast through the skies?

For a study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers took an unusual approach to test the 125-million-year-old dinosaur's flight capability -- they built a life-size model microraptor from a beautifully preserved fossil skeleton found in China.

Little is known about how this microraptor lived, but some scientists believe it probably glided from tree to tree in the subtropical forests, eating insects and smaller animals.

Researchers at the University of Kansas and Northeastern University in China made a full cast of an unusually intact microraptor fossil without disturbing the bones' positions in relation to each other. Then they covered the cast with clay "flesh" and added real bird feathers, trimmed to size.

Howard Zinn (1922-2010): A Tribute to the Legendary Historian with Noam Chomsky, Alice Walker, Naomi Klein and Anthony Arnove [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: ...We spend the rest of the hour paying tribute to Howard Zinn, the late historian, writer and activist. He died suddenly Wednesday of a heart attack at the age of eighty-seven.

After serving as a bombardier in World War II, Howard Zinn went on to become a lifelong dissident and peace activist. He was active in the civil rights movement and many of the struggles for social justice over the past fifty years. He taught at Spelman College, the historically black college for women. He was fired for insubordination for standing up for the students. While at Spelman, he served on the executive committee of SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. After being forced out of Spelman, Zinn became a professor at Boston University. In 1967 he published Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal. It was the first book on the war to call for immediate withdrawal, no conditions. A year later, he and Father Daniel Berrigan traveled to North Vietnam to receive the first three American prisoners of wars released by the North Vietnamese.

When Daniel Ellsberg needed a place to hide the Pentagon Papers before they were leaked to the press, he went to Howard and his late wife Roz. In 1980, Howard Zinn published his classic work, A People�s History of the United States. The book would go on to sell over a million copies and change the way we look at history in America. The book was recently made into a television special called The People Speak. Well, in a moment, we�ll be joined by Noam Chomsky, Alice Walker, Naomi Klein, Anthony Arnove. But first, I want to turn to a 2005 interview I did with Howard Zinn, in which he talked about his time as an Air Force bombardier in World War II.

HOWARD ZINN: Well, we thought bombing missions were over. The war was about to come to an end. This was in April of 1945, and remember the war ended in early May 1945. This was a few weeks before the war was going to be over, and everybody knew it was going to be over, and our armies were past France into Germany, but there was a little pocket of German soldiers hanging around this little town of Royan on the Atlantic coast of France, and the Air Force decided to bomb them. Twelve hundred heavy bombers, and I was in one of them, flew over this little town of Royan and dropped napalm�first use of napalm in the European theater.

And we don�t know how many people were killed or how many people were terribly burned as a result of what we did. But I did it like most soldiers do, unthinkingly, mechanically, thinking we�re on the right side, they�re on the wrong side, and therefore we can do whatever we want, and it�s OK. And only afterward, only really after the war when I was reading about Hiroshima from John Hersey and reading the stories of the survivors of Hiroshima and what they went through, only then did I begin to think about the human effects of bombing. Only then did I begin to think about what it meant to human beings on the ground when bombs were dropped on them, because as a bombardier, I was flying at 30,000 feet, six miles high, couldn�t hear screams, couldn�t see blood. And this is modern warfare.

In modern warfare, soldiers fire, they drop bombs, and they have no notion, really, of what is happening to the human beings that they�re firing on. Everything is done at a distance. This enables terrible atrocities to take place. And I think, reflecting back on that bombing raid and thinking of that in Hiroshima and all the other raids on civilian cities and the killing of huge numbers of civilians in German and Japanese cities, the killing of 100,000 people in Tokyo in one night of fire-bombing, all of that made me realize war, even so-called good wars against fascism like World War II, wars don�t solve any fundamental problems, and they always poison everybody on both sides. They poison the minds and souls of everybody on both sides. We�re seeing that now in Iraq, where the minds of our soldiers are being poisoned by being an occupying army in a land where they are not wanted. And the results are terrible.

Howard Zinn: �I Wish Obama Would Listen to MLK� (FLASHBACK) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: When Barack Obama was running for president, asked in the debates who would MLK endorse, who would Dr. King endorse, he said, �None of us.�

HOWARD ZINN: Yeah, that�s true, because King believed--and this actually is one of the themes of our people�s history, is that you cannot depend on presidents, and you cannot depend on elections and voting to solve your problems. People themselves, organizing, demonstrating, clamoring, they are the only ones who can push the President and push Congress into change. And that�s what we have to do now with Obama. We have to point to what Obama said in the course of the campaign, when he said we not only have to get out of Iraq, we have to get out of the mindset that brought us into Iraq. Obama, himself, has not gotten out of that mindset yet. And I think we, the people, have to speak to him about that.


HOWARD ZINN: Well, these people that I saw on your program earlier who were demonstrating for the single-payer health system, which Obama is very, very reluctant to endorse, they were doing what needs to be done. They were committing acts of civil disobedience. They were going into offices where they were told to leave, and they wouldn�t leave. They were doing what we were doing during the movement against the war in Vietnam. They were doing what the black movement was doing in the South. And this is what we will need. We will need demonstrative acts which dramatize the fact that our government is not responding to what the people need and what the people want.

2010 State of the Union Address by President Obama (Video)
PAM COMMENTARY: Nothing like watching it for yourself instead of hearing about it later.

Republican Response to 2010 State of the Union Address by VA Governor Bob McDonnell (Video)
PAM COMMENTARY: No, he didn't sound any better during the Virginia campaign, either. It was a low-turnout election. Lesson to be learned -- THIS could happen to you if you don't show up to vote! How about the way he blames the deficit on the new administration, rather than 8 years of Bush's tax cuts, wars, new drug benefit at full prices/gift to big pharma, and so on? But then McDonell has a lot of "selective memory" that way.

2007 State of the Union: SuperNews! (Video) (FLASHBACK)
PAM COMMENTARY: A little humor from previous years, preceded by a Google Ad that's probably worth tolerating.

Democratic Response to 2007 State of the Union Address by VA Senator Jim Webb (Video)
PAM COMMENTARY: Remember this more honest response by another newly-elected Virginian? Only this time it sounds like a response to the State of the Union Address should.

Police confirm remains belong to Morgan Harrington; Va. Tech student vanished from Metallica concert
Harrington, the daughter of an associate dean at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, was last seen wearing a black T-shirt with "Pantera" across the front in tan letters, a black mini-skirt, black tights and black knee-high boots, police said. She became separated from her friends after she left the John Paul Jones arena where the concert was being held and was not allowed to re-enter due to venue policy

Authorities did not speculate on the cause of death.

David Bass, who owns the 742-acre Anchorage Farm about 10 miles south of the John Paul Jones arena, found the remains while doing maintenance work on the property and contacted the police, according to the University of Virginia's Cavalier Daily.

"I saw what I thought was a dead deer." Bass said. "I got a little bit closer and it didn't look like a deer skull."

The hayfield was last cut in August 2009 and would have been possibly waist-high by mid October 2009, authorities said.

Property owner describes finding what is believed to be Morgan Harrington�s remains
He said it was only accessible by driving up his private driveway then taking several unpaved paths.

In Bass�s opinion, he could only be accessed using four wheel drive.

He said state police investigators couldn�t even get there in their vehicles, instead having to walk.

Bass said, since several friends participated in volunteer searches for Morgan Harrington, his first thought was that it might be her.

PAM COMMENTARY: Way back when she first disappeared, I urged people to check their own properties, just in case someone had dumped her body on private land. It's very common for predators to dump bodies in remote areas, or in ditches along farm roads -- they figure no one will check there until after most DNA evidence has decomposed. It sounds a little more involved for this farmer to check everywhere on his property, but if he'd at least tried as soon as it seemed likely that she'd been abducted, he may have been able to find her body right away. A lesson going forward for those wanting to help find missing persons -- before you hop in the car and drive 25 miles or more to help in a search, how about checking your own backyard first?

Red-headed dinosaurs?
What color were dinosaurs? Well, at least one of them had a head-to-tail feathered mohawk in a subdued palette of chestnut and white stripes. That is what a team of Chinese and British scientists reported on Wednesday in Nature, providing the first clear evidence of dinosaur colors from studies of 125-million-year-old fossils of a dinosaur called sinosauropteryx.

"We might be able to start painting a picture in color of what these things looked like," said Lawrence M. Witmer, a paleontologist at Ohio University, who was not involved in the study.

Of course, such pictures have been painted many times, but the colors were products of a painter's imagination, not a scientist's laboratory. Dinosaur fossils are mostly drab collections of mineralized bones. A few preserve traces of skin, and fewer still preserve structures that many scientists have argued are feathers.

In the new study, Michael Benton, a paleontologist at the University of Bristol, and colleagues have analyzed the structures of what appear to be feathers and say that they match the feathers of living birds down to the microscopic level. And they used those microscopic features to determine what color the ancient feathers were.

Nothing dull about an orange dinosaur
MODEL makers who paint dinosaurs a traditional green, grey or brown will now have to add orange to their palette.

The real � rather than imagined � colour of these extinct creatures has been determined for the first time.

Research suggests a meat-eating dinosaur that lived in China about 125 million years ago had orange and white bristly feathers, which evolved for colourful display, rather than for flight, camouflage or warmth.

The turkey-sized Sinosauropteryx caused excitement when unearthed more than a decade ago in Liaoning Province, because it was the first dinosaur specimen to be found with the fossilised impressions of feather-like structures.

Were early humans close to extinction?; Geneticist says it�s a mystery how modern humans thrived
A new genetic study concludes that humans living 1.2 million years ago were too few to populate three continents, contrary to popular opinion.

The genetic evidence suggests 1.2 million years ago the effective human population � an indicator of genetic diversity -- was about 10,000, said Chad Huff, a co-author of the study and a human geneticist at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

This means essentially that the human population, including those who were of reproductive age and those younger and older, was effectively 30,000 odd souls at that time, said Huff. A surprisingly small number than thought, Huff said.

These findings have led some to speculate that perhaps early humans were on the verge of extinction. Huff, however, isn�t sure that�s the correct interpretation of the study�s data.

UCSF patient records possibly compromised
(01-27) 16:01 PST SAN FRANCISCO -- Medical records for about 4,400 UCSF patients are at risk after thieves stole a laptop from a medical school employee in November, UCSF officials said Wednesday.

The laptop, which was stolen on or about Nov. 30 from a plane as the employee was traveling, was found in Southern California on Jan. 8.

There is no indication that unauthorized access to the files or the laptop actually took place, UCSF officials said, but patients' names, medical record numbers, ages and clinical information were potentially exposed. The laptop did not contain any Social Security numbers or other financial data.

The security breach is UCSF's second in recent months. Last month, UCSF officials revealed that a faculty physician responding to an Internet "phishing" scam potentially exposed the personal information of about 600 patients.

Wisconsin lands $800 million for high-speed rail
Wisconsin will receive more than $800 million to build a high-speed rail line carrying passengers between Milwaukee and Madison at 110 mph and recapture a piece of a regional rail system largely abandoned six decades ago.

The high-speed line could be up and running as early as 2013, the state says.

President Barack Obama mentioned the federal investment in high-speed rail in his State of the Union speech Wednesday night and was expected to announce the specific awards for 13 projects nationally at an event in Florida on Thursday morning.

A fact sheet issued by the White House lists the $810 million for the stations and track improvements necessary for the high-speed line connecting the state's two largest cities, along with improvements to the Amtrak Hiawatha line between Milwaukee and Chicago that will serve as the building blocks for a 110-mph service along that route.

Ridership on that line nearly doubled from 397,518 passengers in 2002 to 766,167 in 2008, then leveled off in 2009. The decrease was blamed on the recession, which decreased travel across various modes of transportation.

The federal funding is part of an $8 billion package of rail grants approved by Congress in the 2009 economic recovery act. It provides money to build up the tracks and start operation of a high-speed rail connection that had been stalled in Wisconsin for decades.

Use robot groundhog for festival, group urges
An animal rights group wants organizers of Pennsylvania's Groundhog Day festival to replace Punxsutawney Phil with a robotic stand-in.

According to the long-time tradition, if Phil the groundhog sees his shadow on the Feb. 2 unofficial holiday, then there will be six more weeks of winter. If he does not appear to see his shadow, there will be an early spring.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says it's unfair to keep the animal in captivity and subject him to the huge crowds and bright lights that accompany tens of thousands of revellers each year in Punxsutawney, a tiny borough about 105 kilometres northeast of Pittsburgh. PETA is suggesting the use of an animatronic model.

But William Deeley, president of the Inner Circle of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, says the animal is �being treated better than the average child in Pennsylvania.� The groundhog is kept in a climate-controlled environment and is inspected annually by the state Department of Agriculture.

PAM COMMENTARY: Have you ever been to the "Groundhog Museum" in Punxsutawney? Funny story -- a family I know was passing through the area and saw a sign directing motorists to the "Groundhog Museum." It'd been a long day and the parents didn't want to stop. But one of their boys wanted to see it and BEGGED them to stop, until they finally did.

What's the "Groundhog Museum"? It's a little room that comes off of the local Punxsutawney library, where the famous groundhog hibernates in a little nest-like groundhog house area. There are big windows looking in, where people can see maybe a bit of his fur as he's curled up in a ball.

Obviously, everyone in the family was disappointed that they'd gone so far out of their way and delayed their return home to see THAT. Years later, I had to see the "museum" for myself when I was in the area -- sure enough, Punxsutawney Phil hibernates in his own little display case, the "Groundhog Museum." Or at least the locals say that's the famous groundhog in the case, for some reason he looked smaller than the groundhog I see on TV. Perhaps "the cameras add 10 pounds" rule applies even to groundhogs...

Gov. Suggests Building Prison In Mexico; Schwarzenegger Speaks To Sacramento Press Club [BF]
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger floated an unusual suggestion Monday on how to cut the state's bloated prison costs with a private venture -- build a private prison in Mexico.

"We pay them to build a prison down in Mexico and then we have those undocumented immigrants be down there in a prison and with their prison guards and all this," Schwarzenegger told a gathering of the Sacramento Press Club. "It will halve the costs to build the prisons and halve the costs to run the prisons."

The governor's remark came amid alarm from law enforcement and crime victim groups about a new program meant to thin the state's prison population through early release.

"We're going to release early tens of thousands of criminals into your neighborhoods, many of them without parole supervision," Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, said.

Tycoon search goes online
DETECTIVES investigating the disappearance of millionaire property developer Herman Rockefeller are confident that he is still alive and have extended their search online.

Police are looking into a number of reported sightings of the 52-year-old and believe they have enough information to suggest he has not come to any harm.

There was another unconfirmed sighting of the multi-millionaire today, in the town of Kyneton, north-west of Melbourne.

Police confirmed a Kyneton resident phoned triple 0 earlier to report seeing a man who fitted Mr Rockefeller�s description, sparking a search by local police.

K Street rushing to get its slice of jobs bill before Obama's spending freeze
So far, Senate Democrats have released only an outline of what they are contemplating. The draft shows a sharp turn, though, from the type of stimulus package Congress passed a year ago � and that may limit the opportunities for lobbyists.

At $80 billion instead of $787 billion, the new package is much smaller. It also puts greater emphasis on tax cuts to encourage businesses to hire more workers to bring the unemployment rate below 10 percent.

One of the largest components will likely be a job hiring tax credit, which a draft summary of the bill pegged at $20 billion. The tax credit discussion has spurred a lengthy debate about how to design it so that employers do not abuse the system.

Several industries and advocacy groups also stand to gain from the new jobs bill, and there is no shortage of ideas about how the money should be spent. The push comes on the heels of President Barack Obama�s stated goal of a three-year freeze in domestic spending to reduce the federal debt. Such an effort is likely to make competition for federal dollars even fiercer and is driving some of the push to have projects added to the jobs package now under consideration.

US congressmen urge end to Gaza siege
Two congressmen in the United States are among the first to publicly call for end to an Israeli-imposed siege on Gaza.

Congressmen Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Jim McDermott (D-WA) sent a letter, signed by over 50 members of the US Congress to President Barack Obama urging him to ease the humanitarian suffering of the people of Gaza by lifting Israel's siege on the coastal territory.

In the letter, the congressmen urged the president "to press for immediate relief of the suffering of the citizens of Gaza as an urgent component of your broader Middle East peace efforts".

The letter states that the crisis triggered by the siege on Gaza "has devastated livelihoods, entrenched a poverty rate of over 70%, increased dependance on erratic international aid".

Drug company GlaxoSmithKline is recalling a blood-thinning tablet that may contain more medicine than it should.
The 3mg blue Marevan tablets containing warfarin have been dispensed to patients in New Zealand since November last year.

GlaxoSmithKline says people taking the 3mg tablet have an increased risk of bruising and/or bleeding. People are advised to return these tablets to pharmacies.

Marevan is one of three medications containing warfarin that pharmacists can dispense in New Zealand. Warfarin is an anticoagulant used widely to thin blood and help prevent clots.

The Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand's chief executive, Annabel Young, says patients will still be able to maintain their treatment by taking three of the 1mg tablets instead.

Antidepressants affect lactation process
Apart from affecting mood, emotion and sleep, taking certain antidepressants may delay the postpartum production of breast milk, a new study finds.

Many mothers particularly those who are known as primiparous are more vulnerable to experience early breastfeeding difficulty as milk secretion is delayed beyond 72 hours among them. These moms are also at risk of the early cessation of breastfeeding.

According to the study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, delayed secretion of breast milk is commonly reported in selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)-treated mothers.

SSRIs antidepressants such as fluoxetine, sertraline and paroxetine influence the serotonin regulation process both in the brain and in the breast, the study found.

"The breasts are serotonin-regulated glands, meaning the breasts' ability to secrete milk at the right time is closely related to the body's production and regulation of the hormone serotonin," said lead researcher Nelson Horseman.

Turkish envoy conveys Israel offenses to UNSC
Turkey has "strongly" warned Israel at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for that country's policy and activities against the Palestinians, World bulletin reported.

Turkey's UN Permanent Representative Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan conveyed to the UNSC Turkey's thoughts on Israel and Palestinians at the monthly meeting on the Middle East.

Israel must end the forced evacuation of the Palestinians in Jerusalem and end Jewish settlements on occupied territories. Israel must also end the tragedy in Gaza, Apakan stressed.

Turkey fully supports international efforts so that the peace process in the Middle East is restored, Apakan said.

Deadly fish virus discovered in Lake Superior; The contagious disease has now been reported in all five of the Great Lakes.
A deadly fish virus has been discovered in fish from Lake Superior near Duluth.

The contagious disease, viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus, causes death in numerous fish species, but poses no threat to humans.

The virus attacks freshwater and saltwater fish and causes them to bleed to death. It already had been found in the other four Great Lakes and has been identified in 28 fish species in the Great Lakes watershed, where it has killed large numbers of walleye, muskellunge, smallmouth bass, whitefish, yellow perch and black crappies.

Dirk Peterson, acting fisheries chief for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said the discovery will not change regulations in Minnesota. Anglers already are required to remove aquatic vegetation from boats and take other precautions to avoid moving invasive species from infested waters to clean waters. The DNR will continue checking for the virus in a number of lakes, he said, including private and state-owned ponds that are used to stock fish in public waters.

The State of the Union We'd Like to See (Video)
PAM COMMENTARY: A little humor about the State of the Union Address.

Barefoot runners avoid injury: study
WASHINGTON�The best running shoe may be none at all, U.S. researchers said Wednesday.

Runners who eschew shoes may be less likely to do serious injury to their feet, because they hold their feet differently, Daniel Lieberman of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts and colleagues found.

Writing in the journal Nature, they said runners who wear shoes tend to hit the ground with their heels first, whereas barefoot runners put the balls of the feet down first.

"People who don't wear shoes when they run have an astonishingly different strike," Lieberman said in a statement.

Apple unveils its tablet computer, the iPad
(01-27) 14:59 PST San Francisco -- After months of speculation and hype, Apple unveiled a portable device Wednesday called the iPad that will attempt to usher in a new era of touch-screen computing, filling the gaps between smart phones, laptops and e-readers.

In front of a rapt audience of technology journalists from around the world, Apple CEO Steve Jobs showed off the iPad, calling it "the most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device." He said the iPad will give people a unique experience - powerful yet personal - that other devices can't provide.

Apple's tablet computer has generated tremendous buzz because of the company's string of runaway hit products, such as the iPod and iPhone, which have transformed the way people interact with digital content. Apple's success in crafting easy-to-use and stylish devices has also piqued the curiosity of the print media industry, which is anxious to find ways to expand sales of its content.

Tablet computers have never really caught on, in part because of higher prices, bulkier designs and underwhelming software. But Jobs said the time is right for the tablet to take its place among portable computing devices.

After Arrest, Provocateur�s Tactics Questioned
NEW ORLEANS � Shortly after news broke of his arrest on charges of trying to tamper with the telephones in Senator Mary L. Landrieu�s district office here, James O�Keefe III posted a brief statement on Twitter: �I am a journalist,� it read. �The truth shall set me free.�

It is still unclear exactly what Mr. O�Keefe and three other men were doing when they were caught on Monday, charged by federal authorities with fraudulently entering a federal building for the purpose of �interfering� with Senator Landrieu�s phone system. But the episode has raised questions about the nature of the journalism practiced by Mr. O�Keefe, even among his past supporters.

Mr. O�Keefe is a conservative activist who gained fame last year by posing as a pimp and secretly recording members of the community group Acorn giving him advice on how to set up a brothel.

At least three of the men charged in the episode have backgrounds in campus journalism. Both Mr. O�Keefe, 25, a graduate of Rutgers, and Joseph Basel, 24, a graduate of the University of Minnesota-Morris, started conservative newspapers on their campuses, which they saw as counterweights in a liberal campus environment. (Mr. Basel actually called his paper The Counterweight.) Stan Dai, 24, was editor in chief of The GW Patriot, a conservative campus newspaper at George Washington University.

In Theory: Many hidden agendas behind oil reserve data
The other development is related to the regularly leaked but often contradictory information about the world's oil reserves. The latest US government report was about the Orinoco Belt oil reserve, a territory that occupies the southern strip of the eastern Orinoco River Basin in Venezuela, boosting Venezuelan oil reserves to 500 billion barrels � twice Saudi Arabia's reserves.

Venezuela's registered oil reserves are now around 50 billion barrels.

Similar data was also published about the oil reserves in Bahrain, Iraq and Kuwait. The Bahrain and Iraq reserves were estimated to be double the previously discovered quantities. The estimations also found the Bahraini per capita reserves will be the highest in the world.

All these assessments were made at a time when both Bahrain and Iraq decided to triple their oil production. Kuwait's oil reserves, however, declined by almost 50 per cent � from 97 billion barrels to 50 billion barrels. This led Kuwait's Parliament members to demand the truth behind the matter.

PAM COMMENTARY: I like this article because it admits the uncertainty in estimating reserves -- a dose of realism from a region involved in oil production.

Michael Moore on Haiti, the Supreme Court Decision on Corporate Campaign Financing, and Why He Calls the Democrats �Disgusting� [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: The Obama administration?

MICHAEL MOORE: Yeah, the Obama. What did I say? The�

AMY GOODMAN: Bush administration.

MICHAEL MOORE: Yeah, yeah. We already put pressure on them. They�re no longer with us. But that wasn�t just Freudian. That�s really�that is my state of mind. That is how I�m, you know, feeling, because I won�t accept the sugarcoated difference between the Obama administration and the Bush administration. And you can say, on the surface, just how great things are in terms of compared to the last eight years, but the substance, when it comes to, you know, the rubber meeting the road, I can�t tell you how profoundly disappointed I am at this point.

And this situation with the National Nurses Union, they went out to their membership. Who would be willing to go to Haiti right now? Over 11,000, almost 12,000 nurses�12,000 nurses�around this country have signed up, who are willing to go right now to Haiti. I don�t know if I heard it on your show last week or someplace else. You know, essentially one nurse could provide help for dozens of people. So just imagine if we could get 12,000 nurses there, with the necessary supplies, how many people could have been helped. I mean, this offer was made days and days ago.


MICHAEL MOORE: To the Obama administration from the executive director of the National Nurses Union. She contacted the administration. She got put off. She had no response. Then they sent her to some low-level person that had no authority to do anything.

And then, finally, she�s contacting me. And she says, �Do you know any way to get a hold of President Obama?� And I�m going, �Well, this is pretty pathetic if you�re having to call me. I mean, you are the largest nurses union. You are, I believe, one of the vice presidents of the AFL-CIO, of the main board of the AFL-CIO, and you can�t get a call in to the White House to get 12,000 nurses down there? I don�t know what I can do for you. I mean, I�ll put my call in, too.�

But as we sit here today, not a whole heck of a lot has happened. And it�s distressing. It�s just one example, I think, of so many things, and you covered a lot of it last week when you were there, that just have fallen through here.

Study finds drop in age-related hearing problems
NEW YORK�Sweet news for baby boomers: Despite all those warnings that loud rock music would damage their ears, their generation appears to have better hearing than their parents did. In fact, a new study suggests that the rate of hearing problems at ages ranging from 45 to 75 has been dropping for years, at least among white Americans.

"I'm less likely to have a hearing loss when I get to be 70 years old than my grandmother did when she was 70," said Karen Cruickshanks of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

She's an author of the study -- and a baby boomer who remembers taking guff from her mother for listening to loud music.

Apart from giving her generation some satisfaction, the new work implies that what people do and experience may help them prevent or delay hearing loss as they get older. Experts theorize there may be several reasons for the finding, like fewer very noisy jobs and better ear protection at worksites, immunizations and antibiotics that prevented certain diseases, and maybe even a decline in smoking.

PAM COMMENTARY: Dr. Wallach (the big vitamin doctor/author) says that deficiencies like tin and calcium are related to hearing loss. I wonder if the drop in hearing problems has anything to do with the number of Americans popping calcium/magnesium tablets.

Household chemicals linked to reduced fertility
Flame-retardant chemicals found in many household consumer products may reduce fertility in women, researchers reported today. Their study joins several other papers published in the last two years suggesting that the chemicals, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, affect human health.

PBDEs have been used as flame retardants for four decades and are found in foam furniture, electronics, fabrics, carpets and plastics. The chemicals are being phased out nationwide, and certain PBDEs have been banned for use in California. But they are still found in products made before 2004. Californians may have higher exposures compared with residents of other states because of the state's strict flammability laws, according to the study authors, from UC Berkeley.

Most of the previous research on the chemicals has been in animals. But a 2008 study linked the chemicals to disrupted thyroid levels in men, and a study published this month tied PBDE exposure in pregnancy to neurodevelopmental delays in young children.

"These are association studies. You can't show cause and effect," said Dr. Hugh Taylor, an expert on endocrine-disrupting chemicals at Yale University who was not involved in the new study. "But we have cause-and-effect studies in animals, and we have association studies in humans. I think that is fairly convincing."

Haiti earthquake may have exposed gas, aiding economy
The earthquake in Haiti this month may have left clues to petroleum reservoirs that could aid economic recovery in the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation, a geologist said.

The Jan. 12 earthquake was on a fault line that passes near potential gas reserves, said Stephen Pierce, a geologist who worked in the region for 30 years for companies that included including he former Mobil Corp. The quake may have cracked rock formations along the fault, allowing gas or oil to temporarily seep toward the surface, he said Monday in a telephone interview.

``A geologist, callous as it may seem, tracing that fault zone from Port-au-Prince to the border looking for gas and oil seeps, may find a structure that hasn't been drilled,'' said Pierce, exploration manager at Zion Oil & Gas Inc., a Dallas-based company that's drilling in Israel. ``A discovery could significantly improve the country's economy and stimulate further exploration.''

Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive met Tuesday in Montreal with diplomats, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to discuss redevelopment initiatives. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said wind power may play a role in rebuilding the Caribbean nation, where forests have been denuded for lack of fuel, the Canadian Press reported.

Guatemalan police arrest ex-president wanted in U.S.; Alfonso Portillo indicted on charges of money laundering
Police captured fugitive former President Alfonso Portillo in northern Guatemala on Tuesday, a day after U.S. prosecutors indicted him on charges of laundering money stolen from foreign donations meant to buy children's books.

Dozens of agents raided a ranch in the province of Izabal to execute the arrest, Attorney General Amilcar Velasquez said.

An indictment unsealed Monday in federal court in New York alleges that in a four-year scheme starting in 2000, Mr. Portillo embezzled $1.5-million in donations from Taiwan intended to buy school library books.

It accused Mr. Portillo of endorsing cheques drawn from a New York bank and depositing them in a Miami account; the money then was transferred to a Paris account in the name of his ex-wife and daughter.

Embattled Trow to leave Humane Society; Facing criminal charges, former president intends to resign from THS board of directors
Controversial former Toronto Humane Society president Tim Trow will resign from the THS board of directors, a lawyer for the organization said Tuesday.

Trow, THS president between 2001 and late 2009, is facing criminal charges of animal cruelty, obstruction of a peace officer and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence. He had previously dismissed calls for his resignation, which intensified in the spring after newspaper reports suggested the THS was neglecting animals and mismanaging its finances.

Agents uncover document mill for illegal immigrants in Norfolk
Authorities say they have uncovered another so-called document mill that was producing hundreds of bogus identifications, Social Security and green cards enabling illegal immigrants to live and work here.

Three suspects charged with operating the ring were due to appear in federal court this afternoon. Each is in the country illegally, according to authorities.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents used confidential informants to infiltrate the ring and record conversations implicating the suspects in the production and sale of the phony documents, according to a court affidavit filed by an ICE agent.

Texas oil spill -- Half the 462,000 gallons in Texas oil spill evaporated, dispersed or removed
About 462,000 gallons of oil spilled when an 800-foot tanker headed for an Exxon Mobil Corp. refinery in Beaumont collided Saturday with a vessel pushing two barges. As of Monday, roughly 220,000 gallons of oil had evaporated, dispersed or been recovered, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

No injuries have been reported. Port Arthur residents were evacuated after the spill while officials tested the air quality. So far only two oil-covered birds have been reported; one of them was captured and cleaned up, and the other flew away.

More than 60 vessels and 550 people from the Coast Guard, the state, the shipping company and others responded to the spill. More than 11 miles worth of the plastic walls known as booms are floating around the spill, and 27 skimmer boats were removing the oil floating on the water.

"This response has helped contain this oil and keep it from becoming a catastrophe," said Texas General Land Office spokesman Jim Suydam. "Had this oil escaped the ship channel, it could have been a catastrophe."

It was the largest spill in Texas since 1990, when a Norwegian tanker spilled 4.3 million gallons about 60 miles off Galveston. The state typically has about 800 spills a year, but nearly all involve less than one barrel, according to the Texas General Land Office.

UPDATE 1- Texas spill unlikely to cause emergency oil draw
HOUSTON, Jan 26 (Reuters) - The tanker-barge collision that spilled oil at Port Arthur, Texas, and shut a key energy industry waterway probably won't force refiners to seek crude from the emergency U.S. reserve, a major refiner said Tuesday.

"I really doubt anything happens on that front," a spokesman for a major refiner said, citing ample crude stockpiles, low refinery runs due to weak fuel demand and expected quick reopening of the waterway.

The U.S. Coast Guard, which shut the Sabine-Neches Waterway Saturday, plans to reopen it to "limited" traffic starting Thursday, forestalling the need for Strategic Petroleum Reserve requests, which would take a few days to fill anyway, officials said.

Crude and products prices appeared unaffected on Tuesday by the continuing waterway shutdown. [O/R]

Cleanup of the spill, which soiled 9 miles (15 km) of shore line, will continue for weeks, a Coast Guard spokeswoman said.

Suicide car bomber strikes Baghdad police forensics office
A car bomb has exploded outside a Baghdad forensics lab and major crime unit that played roles in the prosecution of the Saddam Hussein loyalist known as Chemical Ali, who was executed hours before a deadly series of blasts in the Iraqi capital on Monday.

Today's suicide blast killed 18 people and injured 82.

The victims were mainly police, with many believed to have worked on terrorism investigations and prosecutions, including those of former Saddam henchmen.

It happened in the Karrada district, close to the site of Monday's three explosions, in which city centre hotels were targeted, killing 42 people.

The body of Chemical Ali � Ali Hassan al-Majid, who was also a first cousin of Saddam � was collected by his family, who had driven to Baghdad from their hometown, Tikrit, in the centre of Iraq.

He will be buried alongside the executed president, who was hanged in 2006, and his two sons, who were killed during a US raid in Mosul three years earlier.

Kucinich Announces Program To Add A Million New Jobs [BF]
CLEVELAND -- An Ohio congressman pushed for a new program to add a million new jobs Monday.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich unveiled his plan Monday afternoon at his Lakewood office.

Kucinich is proposed offering early retirement with social security benefits and health insurance subsides to people as young as 60 years old. He said that will free up as many as a million new positions in businesses that have already shed jobs.

"In every business, people are cutting to the point of where they're not functioning the way they used to. So, this gives business a chance to get new blood in. At the same, be able to do it in a way that they don't have to have access more money to do it,� Kucinich said.

Kucinich said he�ll introduce his Kucinich job plan bill this week on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Unions Can't Compete With Corporate Campaign Cash by John Nichols
They imagine that, with spending limits removed, organized labor will be able to buy enough television time to reward their political friends and punish their political enemies.

It's a sweet fantasy. But the reality is that corporations will be buying so much more television time when it matters -- in the run-up to key elections -- that the voices of working Americans will drowned out with the same regularity that they are on Capitol Hill -- where, it should be noted, overwhelming Democratic majorities have yet to deliver on even the most basic demands of the labor movement.

To think otherwise is to neglect the reality that one corporation -- Goldman Sachs -- spends more annually to pay just its top employees than the combined assets of all the nation's major unions.

University of Wisconsin communications professor Lew Friedland points out that the nation's four largest banks would have to allocate a mere one-tenth of one percent of their assets--$6 billion--to counter a campaign in which the whole of the U.S. labor movement spent all of its assets.

Dangerous Crossroads: U.S. Moves Missiles And Troops To Russian Border Nuclear and Conventional Arms Pacts Stalled
On January 13 the Associated Press reported that the White House will submit its Quadrennial Defense Review to Congress on February 1 and request a record-high $708 billion for the Pentagon. That figure is the highest in absolute and in inflation-adjusted, constant (for any year) dollars since 1946, the year after the Second World War ended. Adding non-Pentagon defense-related spending, the total may exceed $1 trillion.

The $708 billion includes for the first time monies for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq which in prior years were in part funded by periodic supplemental requests, but excludes what the above-mentioned report adds is the first in the new administration�s emergency requests for the same purpose: A purported $33 billion.

Already this month several NATO nations have pledged more troops, even before the January 28 London conference on Afghanistan when several thousand additional forces may be assigned for the war there, in addition to over 150,000 already serving or soon to serve under U.S. and NATO command.

Washington has increased lethal drone missile attacks in Pakistan, and calls for that model to be replicated in Yemen have been made recently, most notably by Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who on January 13 also advocated air strikes and special forces operations in the country. [1]

Smokers with lung cancer: It's not too late
Smokers may develop a fatalistic attitude and assume there is little they can do to improve their chances of survival after a diagnosis of lung cancer. That would be a mistake, say researchers writing today in the British Medical Journal.

The authors of the study, from the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, analyzed 10 studies that measured the effects of quitting smoking after a diagnosis of lung cancer. They found that people who are diagnosed at an early stage can double their chances of survival over five years if they stop smoking, compared with people who continue to smoke.

The authors of the study say the findings provide grounds for healthcare professionals to offer smoking cessation treatments for lung cancer patients. But, in an editorial accompanying the paper, other experts point out that some doctors feel bad about asking people with lung cancer to quit. And, in most cases, the lung cancer is advanced and other issues take center stage, such as hospice care.

"Perspectives differ among health-care professionals who have to advise patients with lung cancer. Some discuss smoking habits with all patients and caution against smoking. Others think it is inhuman to dwell on the matter � that it adds to feelings of guilt and takes away a life long comfort from the dying patient," said the authors of the editorial, Tom Treasure professor of cardiothoracic surgery, Clinical Operational Research Unit UCL, in London, and Janet Treasure, a professor of psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, King�s College London.

U.S. seeks extradition of Guatemalan ex-president
GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - The United States has requested the extradition of former Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo on money-laundering charges, authorities said on Sunday as they searched for him at several of his properties.

Portillo, who also faces corruption charges in Guatemala, was not at any of the locations searched by police, the government said.

"The (extradition) request was approved by a court in Guatemala on Friday," Interior Ministry spokesman Nery Morales told Reuters. "We are still looking for him."

Portillo won office in 2000 promising to redistribute wealth, but fled the country shortly after his four-year presidential term ended in 2004 and spent the next four years in Mexico.

He was extradited from Mexico to Guatemala in 2008 to face charges he embezzled millions of dollars of public money during his presidency.

Largest US health insurer�s profits rise 30 percent
As if to mock the Democrats' loss of Ted Kennedy's Senate seat and the subsequent and rapid unraveling of a healthcare bill that seemed determined to curb the excesses of the US health insurance industry, the largest US health insurer announced Thursday morning that its fourth quarter profits had climbed a whopping 30 percent.

UnitedHealth, the largest US health insurer by market capitalization, posted earnings of $944 million in the fourth quarter of 2009, up from $726 million in 2008.

The profit totals topped analyst estimates.

And, as if to add salt to the wound, an analyst for Goldman Sachs -- itself the target of post-bailout ire -- added that he thought the insurer's profits were "very solid" in a research note and said "they bode well for other managed care companies."

Economic Black Hole: 20 Reasons Why The U.S. Economy Is Dying And Is Simply Not Going To Recover
#2) The Federal Housing Administration has announced plans to increase the amount of up-front cash paid by new borrowers and to require higher down payments from those with the poorest credit. The Federal Housing Administration currently backs about 30 percent of all new home loans and about 20 percent of all new home refinancing loans. Tighter standards are going to mean that less people will qualify for loans. Less qualifiers means that there will be less buyers for homes. Less buyers means that home prices are going to drop even more.

#3) It is getting really hard to find a job in the United States. A total of 6,130,000 U.S. workers had been unemployed for 27 weeks or more in December 2009. That was the most ever since the U.S. government started keeping track of this statistic in 1948. In fact, it is more than double the 2,612,000 U.S. workers who were unemployed for a similar length of time in December 2008. The reality is that once Americans lose their jobs they are increasingly finding it difficult to find new ones. Just check out the chart below�.

#4) In December, there were also 929,000 �discouraged� workers who are not counted as part of the labor force because they have �given up� looking for work. That is the most since the U.S. government first started keeping track of discouraged workers in 1949. Many Americans have simply given up and are now chronically unemployed.

#5) Some areas of the U.S. are already virtually in a state of depression. The mayor of Detroit estimates that the real unemployment rate in his city is now somewhere around 50 percent.

Mom: Army leans toward suicide ruling; But Colonie soldier "in no way, shape or form" took her own life, she says [R]
ALBANY -- The mother of Staff Sgt. Amy Seyboth Tirador, a Colonie native slain in Iraq in November, said Friday she believes military investigators are "leaning toward" ruling her daughter's death a suicide.

Tirador, 29, was killed Nov. 4, the victim of a gunshot to the back of her head while walking to an evening work shift on the U.S. military base Camp Caldwell in Kirkush, Iraq, near Iran.

The Army has attributed the fatality to a "non-combat-related incident." Tirador's mother, Colleen Murphy, said she suspects the investigation will find the bullet was self-inflicted.

"They seem to be leaning toward suicide in the questions that they have asked," Murphy said in a phone interview, referring to military investigators. She would disagree with such a finding.

Bus-riding cat Casper killed in hit & run [R]
LONDON (Reuters) � A cat which became famous in Britain for riding on the buses around the southern English city of Plymouth has died after being run over, media reported.

Casper, a 12-year-old black and white cat, used to wait with commuters at a bus stop outside his home and then hop on to the number 3 bus to find a seat to curl up on.

The cat was so well-known on the service that drivers knew at which stop to let him off.

Casper's death was announced on a notice put up at his bus stop by his owner, the BBC and local newspapers reported.

U.S. to Appeal Blackwater Decision
BAGHDAD (AP) -- The U.S. will appeal a court decision dismissing manslaughter charges against five Blackwater Worldwide guards involved in a deadly 2007 Baghdad shooting, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said Saturday.

Biden's announcement after a meeting with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani shows just how diplomatically sensitive the incident remains nearly three years later. A lawyer for one guard, noting that word of the intended appeal came in Iraq, accused the Obama administration of political expediency and the U.S. was pursuing an innocent man, rather than justice.

Blackwater security contractors were guarding U.S. diplomats when the guards opened fire in Nisoor Square, a crowded Baghdad intersection, on Sept. 16, 2007. Seventeen people were killed, including women and children, in a shooting that inflamed anti-American sentiment in Iraq.

Biden expressed his ''personal regret'' for the shooting and said the Obama administration was disappointed by the dismissal. ''A dismissal is not an acquittal,'' he said.

PAM COMMENTARY: I don't think anyone feels they're "innocent" -- the issue here was where they should be tried, and who should be held accountable for what they did.

1.2M pounds of pepper-coated salami recalled
SAN FRANCISCO � A Rhode Island sausage company has issued a recall of 1.2 million pounds of ready-to-eat pepper-coated salamis, sausages and other cured meats because they may be contaminated with salmonella, the Dept. of Agriculture announced this morning.

The company, Daniele International Inc., of Pascoag and Mapleville, R.I., has created a hotline for consumers with questions (888-345-4160).

"Our family business has been producing premium gourmet products for over 60 years," said vice president of Sales Davide Dukcevich. "While we conduct further tests, our goal right now is to take prudent, proactive measures to do everything possible to remove any products that do not meet our high standards for quality and taste."

The recall comes after six months of painstaking work by health officials at both the federal and state levels who have been trying to track down the cause of a national outbreak of a relatively common form of the disease, called Salmonella Montevideo. It was first reported in July and has thus far sickened 184 people in 38 states, leading to at least 35 hospitalizations but no deaths, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cleanup under way in 462,000-gallon oil spill off Texas
No injuries were reported when the Exxon Mobile-chartered tanker -- the 807-foot Eagle Otome -- collided Saturday with two barges being towed by a tug boat. The tanker was carrying about 570,000 gallons of crude oil to Exxon's Beaumont refinery when it crashed, Exxon Mobile spokesman Kevin Allexon told CNN. The cause of the crash was unknown, but is under investigation, he said.

"We are very concerned about how this could have happened," Allexon said. "We are very concerned about the impact to the environment, to the community. No one wants to see this happen."

The port is primarily for industrial use, but it is not far from wetlands. None of the nearby marshes or sensitive wildlife were adversely affected, Chambers said, but one heron was "oiled." The bird was alive and undergoing treatment, he said.

An evacuation order that was imposed in a 50-block area around the port after the collision was lifted. That area was evacuated Saturday out of caution, as the tanker was carrying a type of oil containing sulfide.

Fifteen skimming vessels sailed the area recovering the oil and workers dropped more than 45,000 feet of boom -- fencing-like material -- to keep the oil from spreading, Chambers said. More than 500 people were involved in containing and cleaning the spill, said Darrell Wilson, spokesman for Malaysia-based AET Tanker Holdings, the owner of the tanker.

The biggest oil spill in U.S. history occurred in 1989 when the Exxon Valdez ran aground on a reef in the Gulf of Alaska, resulting in the spill of 11 million gallons of crude.

Liberal Radio, Even Without Air America
The collapse of Air America on Thursday came across as a symbolic loss for those seeking an ideological counterweight to right-wing talk radio dominated by personalities like Rush Limbaugh. But symbolic it is, little more, given that small pockets of progressive talk are flourishing on the radio dial despite Air America�s misfortunes. The hosts of several progressive talk shows hastened to remind fans last week that although the format�s brand-name network had folded, their shows were still on the air.

Air America�s biggest names have been more successful after leaving the network. Rachel Maddow has a prime-time show on MSNBC, and Al Franken, the former comedian most closely associated with Air America, is a senator from Minnesota.

Reminded of Ms. Maddow and Mr. Franken on Twitter Thursday evening, Mr. Moulitsas conceded, �That�s a pretty good legacy.� But with so many defections and so few listeners, it is little wonder that people might think Air America had folded long ago.

The nearly six-year-old network, which suffered from merry-go-round management and repeated financial shortfalls, halted production on Thursday evening, only one hour after staff members were told they were losing their jobs. The network�s signals will officially leave the airwaves on Monday.

PAM COMMENTARY: I thought Air America was great, but I have to admit that I could only listen to it for so long. Although they aired a good number of interviews and some original reporting, they also spent quite a lot of time on commentary. There are other radio shows out there with much more substantive reporting, like Pacifica's "Democracy Now!" I usually found myself turning to Air America only when I couldn't find something I liked better.

Actually, it was a lot more fun when Al Franken was on, with his Henry Kissinger impersonations and other great comedy bits. But it's OK that he moved on to the US Senate -- I'll forgive him for the big career change.

Et Tu, Fox News Channel? [BF]
It's a horrible, unspeakable tragedy that gets you right in the core of your humanity. The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere is flattened by a huge earthquake. Hundreds of thousands killed, thousands of children orphaned, more than 1.5 million now homeless. Bodies of the dead are lain in the street to be bulldozed into mass graves while machete-wielding gangs fight for the scarce resources. The pain, the fear, the sense of hopelessness is palpable.

It is now incumbent upon all of us, as fellow humans, to lend a hand and help the Haitians. And in a rare show of humanity, broadcast and cable television outlets have agreed to pre-empt their regular programming to air the Hope For Haiti Now Global TV Telethon.

Except for Fox News Channel.

Tobacco Smoke Exposure Promotes Pre-existing Cancer Tumors Growth
Repeated exposure to tobacco smoke can promote the growth of pre-existing cancer tumors, besides causing lung cancer, say researchers.

Scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have found that mice with early lung cancer lesions that were repeatedly exposed to tobacco smoke developed larger tumors - and developed tumors more quickly - than unexposed animals. The key contributing factor was lung tissue inflammation.

The study has been published January 19 in the journal Cancer Cell.

Michael Karin, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology and Pathology at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, who led the work, said: "We've shown for the first time that tobacco smoke is a tumor promoter - not only a tumor initiator - and that it works through inflammation."

T�rembl�Journey to the Epicenter of the Earthquake [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Wasn�t the helicopter just on the ground? Couldn�t they have given it over then?

MAYOR SANTOS ALEXIS: That�s exactly the problem. If they were here on the ground, why do they have to fly and drop the bread? That�s exactly our question.

AMY GOODMAN: What did they deliver when they were on the ground?

MAYOR SANTOS ALEXIS: That�s exactly the problem. That�s what we�re asking ourselves. Why you were on the ground, you couldn�t give them the bread? You have to fly back up and throw the bread in the air? We don�t appreciate it.

Duke Professor Skeptical of bin Laden Tape [WRH]
Bruce Lawrence has just published "Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama Bin Laden," a book translating bin Laden's writing. He is skeptical of Thursday's message.

"It was like a voice from the grave," Lawrence said.

He thinks bin Laden is dead and has doubts about the tape. Lawrence recently analyzed more than 20 complete speeches and interviews of the al Qaida leader for his book. He says the new message is missing several key elements.

"There's nothing in this from the Koran. He's, by his own standards, a faithful Muslim," Lawrence said. "He quotes scripture in defense of his actions. There's no quotation from the Koran in the excerpts we got, no reference to specific events, no reference to past atrocities."

Overdoses: Another Danger of Radiation "Treatments"
Mr. Jerome-Parks died several weeks later in 2007. He was 43.

A New York City hospital treating him for tongue cancer had failed to detect a computer error that directed a linear accelerator to blast his brain stem and neck with errant beams of radiation. Not once, but on three consecutive days.

Soon after the accident, at St. Vincent�s Hospital in Manhattan, state health officials cautioned hospitals to be extra careful with linear accelerators, machines that generate beams of high-energy radiation.

But on the day of the warning, at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, a 32-year-old breast cancer patient named Alexandra Jn-Charles absorbed the first of 27 days of radiation overdoses, each three times the prescribed amount. A linear accelerator with a missing filter would burn a hole in her chest, leaving a gaping wound so painful that this mother of two young children considered suicide.

PAM COMMENTARY: The worst part of this article is that it leads the reader to believe that radiation is GOOD, if only used in appropriate amounts. There are so many problems with using radiation in medical treatment regimens that the practice should have been banned long ago.

Vibrant Haitian art vanishes in the dust
The earthquake two weeks ago buried hundreds of thousands and struck deep into Haiti's vibrant arts community, erasing in seconds cultural touchstones like the murals that depicted Christ's birth, crucifixion and ascension. Even as talk turns to rebuilding, artists struggle to account for the loss of thousands of expressions of artwork that shows themselves -- and the world -- a creativity that persists through years of political strife, turmoil and poverty.

``We'll be knocking on every door possible to save whatever is left,'' said Gerald Alexis, a Haitian-born curator and expert on Caribbean art who from his home in Quebec is trying to mobilize arts groups to find a way to preserve the portions of the mural that survive. ``It is essential for future generations, for our identity.''

The losses on the cultural front are staggering. At the Centre d'Art -- the successor home of the original movement that launched Haitian art -- the front of the building has been torn off and reduced to rubble. Neighbors were able to salvage some pieces, Alexis said, though many are visible but out of reach on the second floor.

Private collections across the city, and at least one artist and several arts patrons, perished in the quake. The Haitian government has asked former Culture Minister Daniel Elie to conduct an inventory to determine what is lost.

Vegemite becomes politically correct
VEGEMITE has gone halal in a bid by food giant Kraft to make the national "treasure" available to Muslim Australians.

The label on Australia's most famous spread has changed in recent months to include halal certification in a move some have described as "ridiculous" political correctness.

"Islamic communities are proud Australians and they want to be able to eat our national icon as well," Kraft spokesman Simon Talbot said.

"We don't own Vegemite. The people of Australia own Vegemite. We're just the custodians and we want to make sure Vegemite is available for everyone."

UK 'using obscure legal principle' to dismiss torture claims in colonial Kenya
The government is invoking an obscure legal principle to dismiss claims of torture and rape by the British colonial administration in Kenya, campaigners claimed.

The Foreign Office has said four elderly Kenyans alleging that they suffered serious physical and sexual abuse at the hands of the British during the Kenyan "emergency" of 1952 to 1960 should not be allowed to proceed with their claim because of the law of state succession.

The government argues it is "not liable for the acts and omissions of the Kenyan colonial administration", claiming the Kenyan government was now responsible for events that took place while Kenya was a British colony. But a cross-party group of MPs will this week publish an open letter demanding an apology and the creation of a welfare fund to help the alleged victims through old age.

Allegations that the British abused suspected Mau Mau fighters have continued since the Kenyan government lifted a 30-year ban on membership in 2003.

Non-stick chemical linked to thyroid illness; People with high levels of PFOA more than twice as likely to be on medication, study finds
People with higher residues in their blood of a chemical used to make non-stick coatings for frying pans and water-repellent clothing have a far greater likelihood of reporting thyroid diseases, according to a new study released Thursday.

The finding is the first time exposure to the chemical, known as perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA, has been linked to thyroid-related illness, one of the most common medical problems experienced by women in North America. Thyroid disorders are estimated to affect one Canadian out of 20, and are five to seven times more common in women, according to the Thyroid Foundation of Canada.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that in a group of nearly 4,000 people in the United States, those with elevated PFOA levels were more than twice as likely to report being on medication to treat thyroid conditions as those with lower concentrations of the chemical.

Almost everyone carries detectible blood levels of PFOA, a nearly indestructible chemical used to make many consumer products. Besides cookware, it is used to make grease- and stain-resistant fast food containers and carpets, among other uses.

In 2006, because of concerns over possible health effects of the chemical, U.S. and Canadian regulators asked manufacturers to reduce emissions and product content of PFOA by 95 per cent by 2010 � and virtually eliminate it by 2015. While manufacturers say little or no PFOA is left in consumer products after manufacture, environmentalists argue that non-stick coatings can break down into PFOA, which can be absorbed by animals and people.

Men can detect when women are ovulating
A man can smell when a woman is ovulating � and the proof is in his testosterone, says a new study from Florida State University that had undergraduate men sniffing sweaty T-shirts for course credit.

The study, published last month in the journal Psychological Science, suggests that olfactory cues signalling a woman�s ovulation � her most fertile time � can prime men to have sex with them.

Prior studies have shown that smells affect the hormones and subsequent mating habits of animals. Odours emitted by females influence male testosterone levels, particularly during ovulation. Higher testosterone, in turn, makes males more prone to initiate courtship. It has also been associated with competitiveness, dominance and risk-seeking, traits typically valued by women, particularly those at their reproductive peak.

In the latest study, the researchers decided to map the connection between female ovulation and male testosterone by having women wear T-shirts three nights straight during various phases of their menstrual cycles � and getting men to sniff them.

Why Alzheimer's is called `type 3 diabetes'
The two work insidiously in tag-team fashion: With dementia, her father forgets the last time he's eaten; because of Type 2 diabetes, his body is unable to properly convert glucose into energy.

While both can be age-related diseases, a growing body of research is showing an even stronger link that connect the two: Insulin.

So strong is the link, some call Alzheimer's disease, "type 3 diabetes."

Just as insulin produced by the pancreas helps regulate blood sugar levels in the body, scientists discovered that the brain also produces insulin of its own, critical in the formation of new memories.

Pa. turkey farm to appear on CBS Evening news
"As we walked to the barn and then stood among the turkeys, I got to tell her how we raise our birds differently than those produced at factory farms and show her a handful of the feed we use.

"Our turkeys have much more room to move around, which helps them grow naturally but more slowly than factory farm birds. And their feed is a total vegetarian mix of corn, soy and vitamins. It will never contain pet food, bakery, fish or poultry by-products that are added by some turkey producers who want to keep their food costs down," Koch says.

"Raising the birds our way costs more, but we've shown it can be done and that there is a market for it," he says. Although Koch can't be sure of the final content that will air on CBS Evening News, he says, "From what they told me, their point is that Denmark completely banned the use of non-therapeutic antibiotics in meat, and that it can be done here, too."

The entire European Union four years ago banned feeding antibiotics to livestock for growth purposes out of concerns it plays a key role in the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

More vegan food would help environment
I was delighted to hear that Marietta's cafeterias plan on reducing waste for the environment ("MC becomes part of national recycling contest," Marietta Times, Jan. 19). However, there is an even better way to save the environment: adding more vegan food. According to an extensive United Nations study, raising animals for food contributes more to climate change than all cars, boats, and trains combined. If we really want to make a difference, the first step is to cut out the meat.

The amount of resources wasted on producing animal-derived products is staggering. We currently feed more than 70 percent of the grains raised in the U.S. to animals raised for food. Similarly, nearly half the water and 80 percent of agricultural land consumed in this country is used for livestock, rather than direct consumption by humans. Farmed animals produce about 130 times as much excrement as the entire U.S. population, much of which finds its way into our local waterways. Passing these resources through animals, who use up 90 percent of the energy they consume simply by living their lives, requires exponentially more land, water, and other resources than simply eating plants directly.

Field Poll: Governor's approval rating 27%
A majority of voters - 59 percent - also said that Schwarzenegger, who will be termed out at the end of this year, will leave the state in worse shape than when he won office in 2003, after Gov. Gray Davis was recalled. At the time, he enjoyed some of the highest approval ratings of any governor ever elected - 64 percent. But his numbers have fluctuated drastically over the past six years.

"The legacy question is interesting - this is a governor who was elected as an outsider that would come into Sacramento and make a series of reforms, blow up boxes and make things better," he said. "The verdict from voters is that he has really failed in that effort. ... There's a great deal of disappointment."

By contrast, DiCamillo noted that Gov. Pete Wilson, who served from 1991 to 1999, enjoyed relatively positive reviews at the end of his tenure - 38 percent of voters said he left the state in better condition than he found it, 19 percent said it was worse and 40 percent said it was about the same. But Wilson, DiCamillo said, entered office at the beginning of an economic downturn and left at a time when the economy was fairly strong.

"A lot of what happens to governors is really dependent on the circumstances they find themselves in," he said. "But for Schwarzenegger, a lot also has to do with the fact that he said he saw the problems of Sacramento and got elected to do something about it, and the assessment of most voters is that he failed at that."

In Haiti, some see the spirit world behind the quake
In Haiti, the spiritual world is omnipresent, a raucous realm where voodoo, folklore, superstition, Protestant and Catholic faiths compete, clash and sometimes converge.

When the earth shakes no one talks about fault lines and tectonic plates. Instead, there are many otherworldly explanations of why the earthquake hit and the aftershocks go on here, from the biblical to the superstitious to the conspiratorial.

The devastation Jan. 12 has also widened a rift that has been growing since U.S. missionaries began coming to Haiti in the 1800s: Evangelical Christians blame voodoo for bringing on this ruin, claiming it is satanic. Voodoo priests counter that the Christians are exploiting the catastrophe to convert people and raise money.

"The Protestants tell people that voodoo is evil," said Louis, 52, who lives next to the cemetery. "They say that voodoo is responsible for this. They are taking advantage of the situation to get people into churches."

150,000 Haiti quake victims buried, gov't says
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti � The truckers filling Haiti's mass graves with bodies reported ever higher numbers: More than 150,000 quake victims have been buried by the government, an official said Sunday.

That doesn't count those still under the debris, carried off by relatives or killed in the outlying quake zone.

"Nobody knows how many bodies are buried in the rubble � 200,000? 300,000? Who knows the overall death toll?" said the official, Communications Minister Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue.

Dealing with the living, meanwhile, a global army of aid workers was getting more food into people's hands, but acknowledged falling short. "We wish we could do more, quicker," said U.N. World Food Program chief Josette Sheeran, visiting Port-au-Prince.

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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.)