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Week of 7th to 13th of February 2010
The Lobbying-Media Complex
February 12, 2010 "The Nation" -- President Obama spent most of December 4 touring Allentown, Pennsylvania, meeting with local workers and discussing the economic crisis. A few hours later, the state's former governor, Tom Ridge, was on MSNBC's Hardball With Chris Matthews, offering up his own recovery plan. There were "modest things" the White House might try, like cutting taxes or opening up credit for small businesses, but the real answer was for the president to "take his green agenda and blow it out of the box." The first step, Ridge explained, was to "create nuclear power plants." Combined with some waste coal and natural gas extraction, you would have an "innovation setter" that would "create jobs, create exports."
As Ridge counseled the administration to "put that package together," he sure seemed like an objective commentator. But what viewers weren't told was that since 2005, Ridge has pocketed $530,659 in executive compensation for serving on the board of Exelon, the nation's largest nuclear power company. As of March 2009, he also held an estimated $248,299 in Exelon stock, according to SEC filings.
Moments earlier, retired general and "NBC Military Analyst" Barry McCaffrey told viewers that the war in Afghanistan would require an additional "three- to ten-year effort" and "a lot of money." Unmentioned was the fact that DynCorp paid McCaffrey $182,309 in 2009 alone. The government had just granted DynCorp a five-year deal worth an estimated $5.9 billion to aid American forces in Afghanistan. The first year is locked in at $644 million, but the additional four options are subject to renewal, contingent on military needs and political realities.
In a single hour, two men with blatant, undisclosed conflicts of interest had appeared on MSNBC. The question is, was this an isolated oversight or business as usual? Evidence points to the latter. In 2003 The Nation exposed McCaffrey's financial ties to military contractors he had promoted on-air on several cable networks; in 2008 David Barstow wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning series for the New York Times about the Pentagon's use of former military officers--many lobbying or consulting for military contractors--to get their talking points on television in exchange for access to decision-makers; and in 2009 bloggers uncovered how ex-Newsweek writer Richard Wolffe had guest-hosted Countdown With Keith Olbermann while working at a large PR firm specializing in "strategies for managing corporate reputation."
These incidents represent only a fraction of the covert corporate influence peddling on cable news, a four-month investigation by The Nation has found. Since 2007 at least seventy-five registered lobbyists, public relations representatives and corporate officials--people paid by companies and trade groups to manage their public image and promote their financial and political interests--have appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, CNBC and Fox Business Network with no disclosure of the corporate interests that had paid them. Many have been regulars on more than one of the cable networks, turning in dozens--and in some cases hundreds--of appearances.
Study: Charter Schools Increasing Racial Segregation in Classrooms [DN]
JUAN GONZALEZ: Efforts to expand the number of charter schools are being organized around the country. In Virginia, Republican Governor Robert McDonnell outlined a plan on Wednesday to increase the state�s cap on the publicly funded, privately run schools. In Mississippi, the state Senate passed a bill Tuesday to clear the way for charter schools. Here in New York City, the city�s Panel for Educational Policy recently approved closing nineteen public schools at a time when Mayor Mike Bloomberg was pushing state legislators to lift the cap on charter schools. Part of the push for the new charter schools has come from the Obama administration. Under a new program called �Race to the Top,� states are competing for $4.3 billion in federal grants for reforming schools. States submitted applications for the money in January. The money will be doled out by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a strong supporter of charter schools.
AMY GOODMAN: While the charter school movement is growing, some concerns are being raised about the system. A new study by UCLA�s Civil Rights Project suggests charter school growth is increasing classroom segregation. Seven out of ten black charter school students attend schools with extremely low numbers of white students. Black students account for 32 percent of charter school enrollment nationwide, twice the percentage enrolled in public schools. The UCLA report is entitled �Charter Schools� Political Success is a Civil Rights Failure.�
Gary Orfield joins us now on the telephone. He�s co-director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, author of many books including School Resegregation: Must the South Turn Back? and Dismantling Desegregation: The Quiet Reversal of Brown v. Board of Education. Gary Orfield, welcome to Democracy Now! Explain the results of your study.
GARY ORFIELD: Very good to be with you. This study, which was conducted by Erica Frankenberg and Genevieve Siegel-Hawley and Jia Wang, uses a number of different federal data sets with data from all over the country to see how segregated charter schools are and to compare them with public schools and to look at them in a variety of ways.
Basically, what we find is that although public schools have become much more segregated since the Supreme Court changed the law in the 1990s, charter schools are vastly more segregated than that; and that it�s segregation not just by race, but also by poverty; and that there are not only segregated black schools and some segregated Latino schools, but there�s also segregated white schools that overrepresent whites in some states, including California, and some of which have no�appear to have no free lunch facility. So, basically, the system of choice that�s used here doesn�t have the civil rights protections that good magnet schools have, for example. And the Bush administration, as it pushed the growth of these policies, really stopped trying to enforce civil rights in this movement. So what we�re saying is, these issues really need to be looked at. If we�re going to require or put very heavy pressure on states to increase the number of charters�and most states have relatively few; thirty-five states have just small numbers of students in charters�we�ve got to make sure that there are civil rights provisions attached to them.
Manufactured Controversy Backfires As Vast Majority Back Medina, Attack Glenn Beck [AJ]
Fox News blowhard Glenn Beck attempted to set up Medina on his radio show yesterday by asking her if she believed the U.S. government was involved in 9/11.
"I think some very good questions have been raised in that regard," Medina said. "There are some very good arguments, and I think the American people have not seen all the evidence there, so I have not taken a position on that."
Medina's response was measured and even less vehement that than six of the ten 9/11 commissioners, who have all gone on the record to discuss how the government lied about the official story.
Furthermore, in merely refusing to completely accept the official version of events, Medina stands firmly with the majority of Americans. An October 2006 CBS/New York Times poll found that only 16% of Americans thought the government told the truth about 9/11 and the intelligence prior to the attacks. Medina is in agreement with no less than 84% of Americans who do not readily accept the official story as true.
Callers to 570 KLIF were unanimous in their response to the non-issue, agreeing that Medina�s answer was perfectly acceptable, accurate, and that they wouldn�t change their vote for her.
The following clip is astounding in the fact that it completely unveils how the establishment media has once again brazenly tried, but failed, to dictate reality by claiming that Medina�s campaign is now over, despite the fact that the vast majority of Texans completely agree with her position on 9/11.
The Legacy of Billy Tauzin: The White House-PhRMA Deal
More than a million spectators gathered before the Capitol on a frosty January afternoon to witness the inauguration of Barack Obama, who promised in his campaign to change Washington�s mercenary culture of lobbyists, special interest influence and backroom deals. But within a few months of being sworn in, the President and his top aides were sitting down with leaders from the pharmaceutical industry to hash out a deal that they thought would make health care reform possible.
Over the following months, pharmaceutical industry lobbyists and executives met with top White House aides dozens of times to hammer out a deal that would secure industry support for the administration�s health care reform agenda in exchange for the White House abandoning key elements of the president�s promises to reform the pharmaceutical industry. They flooded Congress with campaign contributions, and hired dozens of former Capitol Hill insiders to push their case. How they did it�pieced together from news accounts, disclosure forms including lobbying reports and Federal Election Commission records, White House visitor logs and the schedule Sen. Max Baucus releases voluntarily�is a testament to how ingrained the grip of special interests remains in Washington.
In the 2008 campaign, Obama declared his intention to include all stakeholders as he sought to reform the nation�s health care system, but also supported key Democratic health reform policies. Among these were several that targeted the pharmaceutical industry: Allowing re-importation of drugs from first world countries with lower drug prices and providing Medicare with negotiating authority over prescription drug prices in the recently enacted Part D program. These weren�t just promises, Obama had already voted for both of them as a senator in 2007. (Roll Call Vote 132 and Roll Call Vote 150.)
Set to carry out this agenda were two Capitol Hill veterans, schooled in the monied Washington culture, chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and deputy chief of staff Jim Messina. Emanuel was a former fundraiser, Clinton administration official, investment banker and member of the Democratic leadership in Congress. Messina was the former campaign manager and chief of staff to the powerful Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus. Both were known for their unparalleled legislative abilities.
Biology Professor Charged With Murder in Alabama Shooting; Three professors are dead; three others injured
A biology professor who the police say began shooting at a faculty meeting Friday afternoon has been charged with murder. Three professors were killed and three others wounded in the shooting at the University of Alabama at Huntsville.
Amy Bishop, a Harvard-educated biologist, was charged with a single count of capital murder Friday night.
The Associated Press reported that when she was taken Friday night from a police precinct to the county jail, she could be heard saying, "It didn't happen. There's no way. ... They are still alive."
Ms. Bishop had been informed months ago that she would not be granted tenure, but a university official said the faculty meeting was not related to her tenure case. One of the dead � Gopi K. Podila, chairman of the department of biological sciences � supported her tenure bid, according to the chairman of Huntsville's chemistry department.
The police found the murder weapon, a 9-millimeter pistol, Friday night in a second-floor bathroom in the university's Shelby Center for Science and Technology, The Huntsville Times reported.
Women of Color and the Anti-Choice Focus on Eugenics [BF]
The truth is:
• Black women are more likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer at a later stage and are more likely to die of cervical cancer.
• Black people make up 13 percent of the population in the United States yet account for more than 49 percent of AIDS cases. AIDS is the leading cause of death for Black women between the ages 25 to 34, and the second leading cause of death for Black men between the ages 35 to 44.
• Black and Hispanic women have the highest teen pregnancy rates.
• Forty percent of Black Americans report being uninsured at some point from 2007 through 2008.
• Black women continue to die from breast cancer at alarming rates and a recent study found that half of Black teenage women reported having had one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases.
Will Bill Clinton slow down after heart procedure?
CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- Right until he was wheeled into an operating room for a heart procedure, Bill Clinton was on the phone, talking about Haiti earthquake relief. An aide finally took the phone away from him.
On Friday, the 63-year-old former president seemed to have returned to multitasking, just a day after having a clogged artery reopened and two stents inserted into his chest.
"I feel great. ... I even did a couple miles on the treadmill today," Clinton said, speaking to reporters in a leather jacket from the driveway outside his home. He said doctors advised him "not to jog but walk. Not to walk fast up steep hills for a week."
Aides said Clinton's second heart procedure in five years seemed unlikely to slow down his brutal work schedule, which included two trips to Haiti, stumping for Senate candidate Martha Coakley and attending an economic summit in Switzerland � all in just over a month.
"He's working as hard as he's ever worked. He's done it for 63 years and will do it for the next 63 years. He's never going to stop," said Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist who helped guide Clinton's first presidential bid in 1992.
But some other advisers said Clinton's brief hospitalization was a reminder that his health has become more fragile. They worried that he's running too hard.
Guantanamo Detainee Deaths - Responding To The Defense Department's Whitewash [R]
On December 7, 2009, under the direction of Professor Mark Denbeaux, Seton Hall University School of Law's Center for Policy & Research (CP&R) published its 15th GITMO report titled, "Death in Camp Delta," covering three simultaneous deaths on June 9, 2006 in the maximum security Alpha Block. The detainees were found hanged in separate cells shortly after midnight on June 10, unobserved for at least two hours, rags stuffed down their throats, despite constant surveillance by five guards responsible for 28 inmates in a lit cell block monitored by video cameras. One of them was scheduled for release in 19 days, so why would he commit suicide?
The report found "dramatic flaws in the government's investigation (and) raise(s) serious questions about the security of the Camp (and) derelictions of duty by officials of multiple defense and intelligence agencies," who either let them die or killed them, then whitewashed the investigation to suppress it.
DOD responded, adding to the coverup, CP&R saying:
"The Center has found DOD's defense contradictory to, and inconsistent with, DOD's prior statement in its Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) report."
Binyam Mohamed storm widens as Johnson defends MI5 over torture
The political storm over allegations of MI5 complicity in torture escalated tonight after Alan Johnson, the home secretary, accused the media of publishing "groundless accusations" and commentators of spreading "ludicrous lies" about the Security Service.
As defence lawyers prepared to challenge the government's success in suppressing severe criticism of MI5 officers made by one of Britain's most senior judges, the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, pointed the finger at the "very top of government" saying senior ministers had probably known about claims of Britain's involvement in torture but failed to take action to stop it.
The home secretary's intervention came as Kim Howells, the chairman of the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), came out in support of Jonathan Evans, the director general of MI5, dismissing any suggestion that he had been misled by the Security Service. He said he had seen no evidence that MI5 had colluded in torture.
That is at the centre of this week's appeal court ruling, which disclosed CIA-based intelligence showing that MI5 knew that British resident Binyam Mohamed had been subjected to treatment "at the very least cruel, inhuman, and degrading".
The appeal court, presided over by the Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, also referred to a recent US court case where the judge vindicated Mohamed's claims that "UK authorities" had been "involved in and facilitated the ill-treatment and torture" to which he was subjected while under the control of the US.
$3 billion Oshkosh deal upheld; Losing bidders appealed, but firm will retain tactical trucks contract
The U.S. Army has upheld a $3 billion contract with Oshkosh Corp. after an appeal by two losing bidders failed.
It's good news for Oshkosh, which plans to begin building up to about 23,000 military trucks and trailers under the five-year contract starting in 2011.
The work will help sustain about 2,000 jobs at the truck manufacturer, which is one of the largest employers in the Fox Valley. It also will support hundreds of jobs at Oshkosh suppliers, including companies in the Milwaukee area.
"The residual effect is profound. People are going to be able to keep making their mortgage payments and will feel a little more comfortable now. Maybe they will go out and buy a car. It's a huge boost of confidence," said Jim Kacmarcik, owner of Kapco Inc., a metal-stamping company in Grafton and an Oshkosh supplier.
It's terrible news for Sealy, Texas, where defense contractor BAE Systems currently builds the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles used to haul troops and supplies.
Sealy, a city of about 5,800 residents 50 miles west of Houston, stands to lose a large percentage of the plant's 3,000 jobs.
Classic Car Slideshow [R]
PAM COMMENTARY: Jeff Rense linked to this on his site -- beautiful!
Police to probe colonel's GTA past
Police spokeswoman Const. Wendy Drummond said any investigation will be long and painstaking.
"We will be working with the Ontario Provincial Police, as required, to go through any unsolved cases in our jurisdiction that may be somehow related," she said Thursday.
"It'll take months before anything can be determined as far as previous cases and how they're linked."
On Thursday, OPP investigators continued to scour the Ottawa home where Williams lived with his wife, Mary-Elizabeth Harriman, associate director of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.
Williams, who was suspended as commander of the sprawling Canadian Forces Base Trenton after he was charged Monday, remains in a Kingston prison, but he is no longer under the suicide watch in place during his first days in custody.
Excerpts released from Jaycee Dugard�s diary; DA uses journal passages in bid to stop her accused kidnapper from contacting her
Jaycee Dugard, the California woman who was kidnapped as a child and held as a sexual prisoner for 18 years, both feared and felt protective of the man charged with holding her, newly released excerpts from her diary show.
Dugard was 11 years old when she was abducted off the street near her home in South Lake Tahoe, California. She was found in 2009, living in a derelict outdoor addition to the home of Phillip and Nancy Garrido. She had given birth to two children during her time in captivity.
Now Phillip Garrido�s lawyers want access to Dugard, 29. As part of a bid to prevent that, the District Attorney in charge of the case has made public portions of a diary she kept during the time she was the Garridos� prisoner.
�I don�t want to hurt him, sometimes I think my very presence hurts him,� Dugard wrote in September 2003, according to papers filed in court. �So how can I ever tell him how I want to be free. Free to come and go as I please.
�Free to say I have a family,� she wrote. �I will never cause him pain if it�s in my power to prevent it. FREE.�
Child Rapists Protected By The State [WRH]
In the October 2009 print edition of the UK Column, we reported in our article �BBC Hides Truth of Girl�s Sexual Abuse Ordeal� the shocking ordeal of Downs Syndrome girl, Hollie Greig, who was horribly abused by an Aberdeen paedophile ring, over a period of ten years. After investigating and planning a documentary, the BBC abruptly dropped the case, despite admitting that Hollie was a reliable and accurate witness. It is important to stress that both the police and qualified medical experts have described Hollie as a competent and entirely honest witness.
From the age of just six, Hollie was repeatedly sexually abused by her father, Denis Charles Mackie. Later, Mackie began sharing his daughter with a gang of paedophile �swingers� that has been operating in Aberdeen for many years. The identities of a further seven child victims are already known. There is no question that the gang are well-connected, efficiently organised and totally ruthless. Our frightening story is that they are protected by individuals of �high standing� within the Scottish establishment.
In 2000, after 14 years of terrified silence, Hollie eventually told her mother, Anne, about the abuses. Formal statements were made to Grampian Police, providing all the horrifying details and the names of the abusers. They included a senior Scottish Sheriff, a policeman, social workers, a nurse, a solicitor, an accountant, a fire officer, married couples and others. Some of the rapes were carried out at the homes of these individuals, including that of the Sheriff�s sister. Other children were sometimes involved, including children of the paedophiles themselves.
The latest chapters in this astonishing and horrifying story about Hollie, and the seven other abused children, have taken place over the past few weeks. The key issues are a continued refusal by Grampian police to fully investigate the overwhelming evidence for the paedophile rapes, and a wall of silence by the Scottish establishment.
Whilst there has been some general Scottish media coverage, notably in The Firm and the Aberdeen Press and Journal, the media has been largely silent on what must be one of Scotlands worst top level paedophile scandles. A key figure in the press silence is the Lord Advocate, in her former role as Procurator Fiscal in Aberdeen, when in 2000 she is alleged to have effectively buried the case. Was this to prevent her associate and most influential member of the paedophile ring, Sheriff X, from being investigated, along with the other named members of the fifteen-strong rape gang?
Court approves foster care for children taught racist beliefs
WINNIPEG--A judge has ruled that Manitoba parents who taught their children racist beliefs and drew racial slogans on one child�s skin cannot regain custody any time soon.
�Writing and drawing racist expressions and symbols on one�s child is not just bad parenting. Those interferences with a child�s person are batteries,� Justice Marianne Rivoalen wrote in a decision Thursday that grants permanent guardianship of the children to Manitoba Child and Family Services.
�Advocating genocide and the wilful promotion of hatred against an identifiable group are crimes in this country. These children have a right to be protected from these things.�
Rivoalen�s decision came two years after the children were seized by child welfare workers after the eldest showed up at her elementary school with racist slogans and symbols drawn on her skin in permanent marker.
No one in the case can be identified under provincial law.
PAM COMMENTARY: Not quite as bad as the schools who threw kids out for anti-Bush or peace slogans on their t-shirts during Bush's paranoid war-crazed years, but still bad enough. It isn't nice for parents to turn their kids into the freaks of the school, and it's possible that the state can make the case for some type of abuse there. But once you restrict speech in any way, legal precedent is set to restrict it in many more ways. Somehow restrictions of free speech, if allowed to stand legally, always lead down the road to making criticism of the government illegal. Bush tried to bring us to the point where people couldn't criticize his wars without a minimum of government harassment, and he would have liked to accuse peace activists of "terrorism" but most judges and enough police wouldn't go along with that. Still, that's where restrictions of free speech always lead when the wrong person takes power and has that legal precedent at his disposal -- say something about an obvious crazy leading the country into unjustified wars for financial profits, and you're a "terrorist" in jail.
Asian carp proposal isn't pleasing many
Chicago � In the wake of a three-hour public hearing Friday on the federal government's new plan to keep Asian carp from colonizing Lake Michigan, one thing is clear - nobody is thrilled with it.
The plan released earlier this week calls for pumping tens of millions of dollars into building new barriers that the federal government hopes will stop the fish but keep barge traffic moving on the Chicago canal system. It also sets aside $5 million for fresh doses of fish poison and funds research to explore ways to keep the carp from reproducing.
Most controversially, the plan also contemplates closing two navigation locks on specific days each month to periodically shut the last doors standing between the fish and Lake Michigan, and it vows to explore the feasibility of permanently cutting off the canal system to the Great Lakes, a project that would take years to accomplish.
Business owners who rely on the canals for their livelihood worry that even periodic shutdowns go too far.
"We sell the Chicago skyline, that's what we do, and we can't do it if we're not out on the lake," Mike McElroy of Mercury Sightseeing Boats, a business that takes tourists along the Chicago River and through the lock at Navy Pier, said as an estimated 300 people piled into the hearing.
Va. House panel OKs repeal of gun-purchase limit
Opponents of the bill said scrapping the law would, among other things, open the door for straw purchases of guns that would be resold to criminals and others who want to avoid electronic background checks.
"If someone walks into a store and buys 10 brand-new Glocks, they're not putting them into their own pocket for their own protection," said Andrew Goddard, a gun-control activist whose son was wounded in the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech. "They're buying 10 new Glocks because they're trying to sell them to somebody."
Goddard said lawmakers have created multiple avenues for gun buyers to avoid background checks. He cited a bill (HB69) the committee endorsed Friday that would exempt firearms and ammunition made and sold within Virginia from federal firearms laws.
Goddard and other opponents of the bill said they hope to enlist Wilder's help in defeating Lingamfelter's bill if it reaches the Senate. Wilder did not respond to a phone message left at his office. But the former governor has been critical of elected officials in both parties who have advocated repealing the limit on handgun purchases.
Parole official: Garrido acted �very strange�; Calif. releases 125 pages of documents about Dugard�s alleged kidnapper
Because he was also convicted of rape in Nevada for the same offense, Nevada state parole officials decided to keep Garrido on life parole, however. But they wanted him supervised in California, where he had been living since he got out of prison. From the records, it appears that California did not want to take Garrido on.
A Nevada parole agent wrote California parole officials in June 1999 urging them to accept the case, noting that "Ordering the subject to return to Nevada to await acceptance from your state would be disruptive and unproductive for the subject who has managed to change his behavior."
California officials apparently relented and Garrido had his first encounter with state parole agents that same month. The agent's opinion of Garrido also seemed high, "He is stable and the prognosis of success is good," he wrote.
Only four months later, the same parole agent, Al Fulbright, recommended that Nevada terminate Garrido's parole and reduce him to minimum supervision until then.
"On parole from (Nevada) for LIFE. (Why did I take this case?" Fulbright wrote in May 2000, after his bid to end Garrido's supervision apparently failed.
Man charged in Norfolk with plotting child's rape
Strieper was arrested as part of a sting operation involving an undercover federal informant. According to the complaint, unsealed Monday, Strieper began an online chat with the undercover operative in November that culminated with a plot to kidnap a boy.
On those Internet chats between the two, Strieper is heard professing his desire for boys as young as 2, the complaint says.
On Dec. 1, the chats had turned to thoughts of kidnapping.
"Have you ever thought of just grabbing a nice cutie that is walking home from school or something?" Strieper is quoted asking the informant.
"If your flexible you could fly here and then we can drive to a town like 45 min away or something like that," Strieper said the following day, according to the complaint.
The two arranged to meet in Norfolk on Feb. 5. When Strieper went to the airport, federal agents arrested him.
�Haiti: Killing the Dream�: Excerpt of Documentary on Centuries of Western Subversion of Haitian Sovereignty
RAMSEY CLARK: The arrogance with which we went about it, when you think of a young Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as an Assistant Secretary of the Navy, bragging�I can see him there bobbing on the deck now. And he�s writing the constitution for the free people of Haiti. There can�t be a more imperialist mentality than that. These people are too dumb to write their own constitution; I have to do it for them.
NEWSREEL: Haiti�s own Dartiguenave is elected provisional president, and the riot-ridden republic begins to function as a nation once again. Here are troops of the Palace Guard, but United States Marines are ever-present.
NOAM CHOMSKY: It was a murderous, bloody intervention which destroyed the constitutional systems, reinstated slavery. The Marines stayed there for twenty years. What they left behind them was a military force, a national guard, which essentially took over and has been running�and ran it under one or another dictatorship since.
OSSIE DAVIS: In 1957, the United States propped up the regime of Haiti�s most feared president, Fran�s Duvalier. Known as Papa Doc, he was a country doctor who became a despot. To ensure he would not be overthrown by the army like his predecessors, Papa Doc built up his own vigilante militia, the infamous Tontons Macoutes. Volunteers for the Macoutes were paid by having free license to steal and extort from the people they tortured, raped and murdered. Toward the end of his life, Duvalier cemented his ties to Washington and arranged for his son, Jean-Claude, to succeed him. After Papa Doc�s death in 1971, nineteen-year-old Baby Doc took over as president for life. Baby Doc plundered the national treasury and, with army support, turned Haiti into a major drug trans-shipment stop.
In 1986, a popular uprising ended the three decades of Duvalier dictatorship. Baby Doc was flown into exile aboard a US government jet, taking a vast fortune and leaving behind a devastated, but relieved, country. After years of living in fear, the Haitian people exploded, taking revenge on the most abusive Tontons Macoutes in the Dechoukaj, or uprooting of the Duvalier oppression. Some Macoutes who committed capital crimes suffered the popular justice called �P� Lebrun,� or necklacing: a tire filled with gasoline was placed around their bodies and burned.
Grants to expand broadband infrastructure in Va
RICHMOND, Va. - Two stimulus grants totaling $21.5 million have been awarded to expand broadband infrastructure in Virginia.
The matching grants were announced Monday by U.S. Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner and Reps. Tom Perriello and Rick Boucher.
A $16 million grant was awarded to Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative to expand an existing high-speed fiber network in southern Virginia. The expansion will connect K-12 schools to the network.
Virginia Tech Foundation Inc. received a $5.5 million grant to add an open access fiber-optic network to an existing network operated by Mid-Atlantic. The expansion will connect the university's main campus in Blacksburg with the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine in Roanoke.
A Warning To The Tea Party Nation [AJ]
Obviously, not only did the GOP-controlled Congress not eliminate a single federal department or agency�or even shrink the size of the federal government at all�it expanded the size and scope of the federal government at every level. And there is one reason for it: Big Government neocons posing as champions of conservatism co-opted and destroyed the Conservative Revolution of 1994.
If one wants to put names to these treasonous wretches (and I do), I�m talking about charlatans such as Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott. Anyone who thinks that Newt Gingrich is a real conservative or that he will do anything to reduce the size and scope of the federal government needs to speak with any of those Republican members of the freshman class of 1994. (Sadly, too, some of the members of that great freshman class went on to become Big Government toadies themselves. Such is the power of that Putrid Province by the Potomac.)
The Tea Parties of 2010 remind me very much of the Conservative Revolution of 1994. And if the Tea Party Nation is not very careful, they will succumb to the same fate. The signs of a silent takeover of the movement are already appearing.
As Toyota Recall Surpasses 10 Million Cars, Federal Regulators Faulted for Slow Response to Early Warnings [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: That�s Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, speaking to George Stephanopoulos. Joan Claybrook, your response?
JOAN CLAYBROOK: Well, my response is that since Secretary LaHood learned about this in November, I think that he�s been very tough and pushed hard to get Toyota to do these recalls.
What I�m talking about is the period from 2004 to 2010 and why the agency was not Johnny-on-the-spot but was really just very lackadaisical about it. And it is true that two former employees, engineers, of the enforcement office at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did go to Toyota. They still work there. And one of them, a guy named Santucci, was in charge of persuading the agency to narrow the scope of its investigations, so that the company did not have to supply certain kinds of documents and information. And the problem here is not only that the agency is underfunded, but that there�s a huge imbalance of knowledge and resources between a company like Toyota and the government agency. And that�s why the government agency needs to use subpoena power, so that the company knows that if they don�t give all the documents, relevant documents, to the agency, that some executives could go to jail.
And the other thing is that there are no criminal penalties for covering up a defect, and the amount of the civil penalty is only $16.4 million, which is chump change to Toyota, that that civil penalty needs to be $100 million to $200 million, so the company knows it�s going to get a real civil penalty if it doesn�t recall dangerous vehicles.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Joan Claybrook, what about the revolving door between the regulatory agencies of government that have to do with the automobile industry and the industry itself, people going back and forth from one job to the other? Could you talk about that?
JOAN CLAYBROOK: Well, there are probably twenty former agency officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at the highest levels, from administrators, deputy administrators, chief counsels, attorneys, and then also engineers, at a lower level, who have gone to work for major auto companies and been their advocates on issues dealing with auto safety and fuel economy.
And there are rules for the highest-level officials not being able to do certain kinds of work for the companies, if they had handled certain matters at DOT. But for the engineers, they can pretty much go from one day working at the agency and the next day working for the company. And in the case of Toyota, they hired two talented engineers who had been helping them keep these particular safety problems from being required to be�these vehicles from being recalled by the government.
Activists: Whalers hurt by their own pepper spray
ADELAIDE, Australia � Japanese whalers who complained of injuries from rancid butter thrown at them by an anti-whaling group were actually suffering from their own pepper spray attack, the protesters said Saturday.
Paul Watson, captain of the Sea Shepherd protest vessel Steve Irwin, said in a statement that video of Thursday's incident showed wind blowing the spray into the faces of the Japanese crew who were aiming it at the activists.
The Japanese said Friday three crew members had eye and face injuries from butyric acid, produced from bottles of stinking rancid butter that the activists sometimes aim at the ships. The activists maintain that butyric acid is nontoxic.
Watson said the Sea Shepherd video showed two of the Japanese crew on the deck of the Shonan Maru 2 wearing metal tanks on their backs. He said they aimed their nozzles and sprayed at the Sea Shepherd crew in an inflatable boat.
"However, the wind was not in favor of this Japanese tactic and the pepper spray is blown back into the faces of the three crew, who can be clearly seen rubbing their eyes. They appear to be suffering irritation to their eyes," the statement said. "I think this video absolves Sea Shepherd of any wrongdoing and demonstrates that the Japanese whalers routinely spin their stories to demonize our efforts to defend the whales from their illegal activities."
US senator to seek solutions on Japan base row
WASHINGTON � US Senator Jim Webb will head to Japan in a bid to seek solutions in an increasingly rancorous debate over a US military base on the southern island of Okinawa, his office said Tuesday.
Webb, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on East Asia and the Armed Forces subcommittee on personnel, will visit Tokyo, Okinawa and the US Pacific territory of Guam on the one-week trip starting Saturday.
Webb will "listen carefully to the views of the current Japanese government, the leaders and citizens of Okinawa and Guam and US military leaders and personnel stationed in the Pacific region," his office said in a statement.
The United States and Japan in 2006 reached an agreement to shift thousands of US troops to Guam from Okinawa, where the heavy presence of US forces has long led to frictions with the local community.
Texas gov. candidate questions any US role in 9/11
A Republican gubernatorial candidate said Thursday she has questions about whether the U.S. government was involved in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks � a statement she swiftly backed away from and one that drew immediate criticism from her better-known rivals in the race.
Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison dismissed the comments made by Debra Medina on the Glenn Beck Show that there were "some very good arguments" that the U.S. was involved in bringing down the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
"I don't have all of the evidence there, Glenn," Medina said. "I think some very good questions have been raised. In that regard there's some very good arguments and I think the American people have not seen all the evidence there."
Medina later released a statement saying she did not believe the government was involved in the attacks.
PAM COMMENTARY: OH WELL, at least she tried to be honest the FIRST time...
$272,000 in fines...and counting
Muskego � A fence and berms built to perhaps shield business operations that violate city ordinances could cost a homeowner about $272,000 in fines.
Since January 2009, Muskego has fined Jason Fry, the owner of the home in the South 8800 block of Racine Avenue, for two suspected violations of city home occupation and commercial ordinances. City officials suspect Fry of carrying on a landscaping and plowing business from his home, which is in an area zoned for residential with very limited business operations allowed.
Starting in May, the city added citations for suspected violations of fence height and for having berms that are steeper than ordinances allow. The city allows a maximum fence height of 6 feet. Some of the fencing is placed on the top of tall berms, making a virtual wall between the property and neighboring properties. The fence is on at least three sides of the property.
All four of the city citations are automatically renewed every day. At a maximum of $200 per day per citation, the potential total as of Thursday is about $272,000.
PAM COMMENTARY: Quite a fine for a home-based business.
Police search Ottawa home of Col. Williams
OTTAWA�Forensic investigators from the Ontario Provincial Police spent hours Thursday combing through the Ottawa home of an air force colonel charged in the murders of two women and the sexual assaults of two others.
Six plainclothes officers carrying boxes arrived at the semi-detached house shared by Col. Russell Williams and his wife shortly after noon.
They papered over windows at the home in Ottawa's tony Westboro neighbourhood. The couple's BMW remained parked in the driveway.
Williams, the former commander of Canada's largest military airfield, Canadian Forces Base Trenton, was arrested Sunday in Ottawa. The body of one of the victims, Jessica Lloyd, was found Monday.
Pa. family: 'Friends' torture, kill disabled woman
GREENSBURG, Pa. � Jennifer Daugherty's mom and stepdad didn't press for details when she mentioned she had made some new friends. The 30-year-old had the mental abilities of an adolescent but wasn't the kind to get in trouble, and she was even thinking about getting her own place soon. Police found her body Thursday stuffed into a garbage can in a school parking lot; they say she had been forced to consume detergent and urine � and to write a fake suicide note � before she was fatally stabbed by attackers who also shaved her head and painted her face with nail polish. Six suspects have been charged, including her new "friends."
"She was exploited, and her kindness and her handicap made her very vulnerable," Daugherty's sister, Joy Burkholder, said. "She trusted everybody; she believed everyone was good, and no one would hurt her."
Daugherty's stepfather said she often traveled on her own by bus from her home in Mount Pleasant to Greensburg, about 10 miles away, for dental or counseling appointments. After she hopped onto a bus Monday, she called her folks later in the day seeking permission to spend the night at "Peggy's" house.
It was the last time she would talk to them.
Sea Shepherd Successfully Shuts Down Japanese Whaling for 3 Days Thus Far
Is Sea Shepherd finally successful in shutting down this year�s Japanese whaling campaign?
For 3 days now, the Japanese have been unable to kill a single whale. Sea Shepherd�s 2 remaining ships, Steve Irwin and Bob Barker, have been closely tailing the Nisshin Maru�Japan�s factory ship. They are currently on a northeastwardly pursuit and have enough fuel to last a month.
According to their website:
�Not a single whale has died since the Bob Barker intercepted the fleet at 0100 Hours on February 6th. It is now the third day that the whaling fleet has been unable to kill a whale. We intend to turn these three whaling free days into three whaling free weeks,� said Captain Paul Watson. �I am confident that once again we will severely cut their kill quotas and we will once again negate their profits.�
High-speed rail carries high costs, Walker says
Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker said Thursday the state should pass up the federal government's offer of $823 million for a high-speed rail line linking Milwaukee to Madison and Chicago - unless millions more for operating the line come with the deal.
That's unlikely, he said. Based on what's known about the high-speed rail plan, Walker said he would reject the federal largess.
The county executive, a Republican candidate for governor, said he might back the high-speed rail idea if "there was a model that could be shown where it was self-sufficient, where the operating costs were covered by the users." He acknowledged that also was unlikely.
Walker warned against hidden costs linked to the line, which he said ultimately could lead to cannibalizing other state transportation projects or prompt some new tax or fee. "There's no appetite for a tax increase," Walker said.
He also questioned the basic premise of the line, saying the ticket cost likely would be too high to attract enough riders. Walker said the fast trains wouldn't be as swift as driving a car, when factoring in time needed to get to the Amtrak station in Milwaukee and time to get from a proposed rail station at the Madison airport to the state Capitol or other Madison destinations.
Chocolate may cut stroke risk, St. Mike�s neurologist finds
Just in time for Valentine�s Day, research out this week suggests eating chocolate may have a positive impact on stroke. Don�t go buying too many heart boxes just yet, though, say the study authors.
A new analysis, which involved a review of three prior studies, suggests eating about a bar of chocolate a week can help cut the risk of stroke and lower the risk of death after a stroke. But the evidence is still limited, said study author, neurologist Gustavo Saposnik at St. Michael�s Hospital, University of Toronto.
�This is something that requires further investigation,� Saposnik said.
One study they looked at found that 44,489 people who ate one serving of chocolate per week were 22 percent less likely to have a stroke than people who ate no chocolate. Another study found that 1,169 people who ate 50 grams of chocolate once a week were 46 percent less likely to die following a stroke than people who didn�t eat chocolate.
Rep. Patrick Kennedy, Edward Kennedy's son, opts to retire at 42
The 42-year-old Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island has decided not to seek a ninth term from the itty-bitty state's First District.
Kennedy, the son of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, who died last August of a brain tumor, is the 32d representative and the 14th Democrat to announce their retirement at the end of this congressional term, about 7% of the entire House membership.
His departure means for the first time in nearly a half-century there will be no member of the Kennedy clan in the United States Congress.
Patrick Kennedy, who was born after the assassination of his uncle, , the president, John F. was a standard liberal on social issues and more centrist on foreign policy and national security.
Doug Wilder: Obama needs a staff shakeup
I am an admirer of Tim Kaine, whom I backed in his current position as one of my successors as Virginia governor and even recommended for the vice presidency. But a spate of recent losses in races that Democrats should have won underscores what has been obvious to me for a long time: The chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee is the wrong job for him.
The changes must go much deeper. Obama�s West Wing is filled with people who are in their jobs because of their Chicago connections or because they signed on with Obama early during his presidential campaign.
One problem is that they do not have sufficient experience at governing at the executive branch level. The deeper problem is that they are not listening to the people.
Hearing is one thing; listening is another.
Some are even questioning whether Obama has forgotten how he got elected and the promises he made to the people who elected him.
Don't take my word for any of this. Look at the clear message the American people have been sending at the polls these past few months.
PAM COMMENTARY: The original Politico column by Wilder, calling for the replacement of Tim Kaine as DNC chair.
Doug Wilder interviewed by MSNBC on Kaine/DNC remarks (Video)
PAM COMMENTARY: This is a follow-up interview with Wilder after his column on Tim Kaine in Politico. A lot of people in the Democratic Party have been questioning Kaine's appointment from the beginning, as it seemed to be based on loyalty instead of talent. However, the weight of former Governor Doug Wilder saying the same thing gives real momentum to the idea of replacing Kaine. A good number of Democrats liked Howard Dean's leadership, and didn't think Kaine had any ideas that could be as successful as Dean's winning 50-state strategy.
In defense of Kaine, there really wasn't much he could do for some of the lost races. For example, the Massachusetts race was really a vote against the Senate's version of health care reform (the one that would have forced people to buy their own health insurance if they didn't already have it). Maybe someone could have come up with a brilliant strategy to change the focus of that race, but I doubt it would have worked.
And Virginia -- again, it seemed to be a vote against Obama's direction rather than a vote for the Republicans' Pat Robertson prot� who promised fantasy-land revenue streams and jobs. People had voted for Obama expecting him to end the wars, close Guantanamo, and especially fix the economy. Kaine's record as governor just prior to Deeds wasn't very inspiring, and so he didn't add anything to Deeds' campaign that way. In fact, Republicans won because turnout for that election was low. A lot of progressives just stayed home, some told me they didn't have anything to vote for. But to Kaine's credit, he dumped truckloads of money into the Virginia race. I even saw positive changes in Deeds' ads after the DNC became more involved in the campaign.
I don't think that Tim Kaine can be held responsible for everything that went wrong, but sooner or later wins and losses matter, regardless of whether anyone else could have done better. So far, Kaine has lost and lost again, and he took the job with low expectations anyway. Wilder's hint of finding Kaine a job better suited to him might be the best way out for everyone involved.
FBI calls for two year retention for ISP data
FBI director Robert Mueller is still keen to get US internet service providers to keep their customers' web logs for up to two years.
What is not clear is whether the director is talking about which websites are visited or the specific URL - which would require deep packet inspection and probably break US wiretap laws.
Greg Motta, boss of the FBI digital evidence section, said his director wanted "origin and destination information for non-content data", according to CNet.
Motta said the Feds simply want to keep powers they already have - since 1986 phone companies have been obliged to keep records of who makes calls, who they call, when they call and how long the call lasts. It's just that now, the Feds want to explicity include web activity as well. He said the FBI did not want to store the actual content of calls or emails.
Profile: Dr Conrad Murray
Originally from Grenada, Dr Murray was hired by promoters AEG Live, at Jackson's request, as the star's personal physician ahead of his 50-date residency in London, This Is It.
Initially brought up on the Caribbean island by his maternal grandparents, Dr Murray proved a hard-working student, eventually following his absent father, also a doctor, to the US - where he enrolled at Texas Southern University.
He graduated three years later with a degree in pre-medicine and biological sciences.
He continued his medical studies in Nashville, Tennessee, before completing his training in California and the University of Arizona where he studied cardiology.
Factbox: Jackson had vitiligo, wore wig, autopsy confirms
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Michael Jackson's full autopsy report was released following the filing of involuntary manslaughter charges on Monday against the singer's personal doctor. Following are some notable or new highlights of the Los Angeles County Coroner's report into Jackson's June 25 death.
* Jackson died of "acute propofol intoxication" administered at a level equivalent to that used during anesthesia for "major surgery". A consultant anesthesiologist said there were "no reports of its use in insomnia relief."
* None of the recommended monitoring, precision dosing or resuscitation equipment was present in Jackson's room.
* Jackson had the skin pigmentation disorder vitiligo, with white patches particularly on his chest, abdomen, face and arms.
* The hair on Jackson's head was described initially by police as "sparse and connected to a wig." The autopsy revealed "frontal balding".
Anti-whalers, Japanese fleet fire water cannons
ADELAIDE, Australia - Activists vowing to stop the killing of whales exchanged water-cannon fire with a Japanese whaling fleet they are tailing in the Antarctic Ocean, as sea confrontations that have led to collisions and a sunken vessel continue.
The Sea Shepherd conservation group said its ships, the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker, confronted the Japanese factory ship Nisshin Maru early Monday.
"The factory ship turned on their water cannons and were surprised when the Steve Irwin responded with a more powerful water cannon that had a couple of the whalers diving for the bridge doors," said a Monday statement from the group.
Obama Administration: US Forces Can Assassinate Americans Believed to Be Involved in Terrorist Activity [DN]
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, Congress has the authority, under a joint resolution, to challenge any presidential directive. It�s not widely known, Amy, but there are at least three states of national emergency that we�re operating under right now by presidential declaration: one relating to 9/11, another one relating to the war on terror, and a third one relating to Iran. You know, this idea of being governed by an edict, of being locked into this war on terror, poses all kinds of challenges to our Constitution. I take an oath to defend the Constitution. And when I see in the Fifth Amendment where it says that no one should be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, I want to know what�s the constitutional basis for suspending this provision for anyone, even for a moment, because if this is�if this, in any sense, can be set aside, then we are on a slippery slope to anti-democracy.
And I think that the reason why this is important for the Attorney General to reflect upon is that the President and all federal officials take an oath to defend that Constitution. This is the Constitution. If they�re saying that the authorization for the use of military force passed after 9/11 is the basis for this action, we should know that they�re saying that. But a fair reading of that said it applied only to those who were involved in 9/11, not someone who joins an organization later on, no matter how misguided or wrongheaded that that may be, that is seen to be a threat to the US, that someone can just say, �Well, you know, you�re done. You�re dead.�
You know, what about the right to be able to be told of the charges against you? What about the right to a trial? What about the right to be able to have�be presented by your accusers? This is�this is a dangerous moment. And either�I see it as a constitutional crisis. And Congress has to start stepping up to review these actions without regard to whether it�s a Democrat or Republican administration.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you have support among your colleagues, Congressman Kucinich?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: I just raised this issue in the last week, and it�s been snowing here, so I�ll be speaking to my colleagues about that when I see them. I�m here. I�m hopeful that this week there will still be some sessions of Congress, so we can begin the discussion.
Rep. John Murtha, Iraq War Critic, Dies at 77 (FLASHBACK by "Democracy Now!") [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Your early call for withdrawal of troops from Iraq, which shocked a lot of people�a conservative Democrat that you are, the Vietnam veteran that you are�one of the leading Democrats is from here, New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton. She did not endorse that call.
REP. JOHN MURTHA: Yeah, I�m disappointed. I�m not sure why that�s happened. She talked to me after I made my statement, and I see she�s finally calling for Secretary Rumsfeld�s resignation. And I think�I don�t know what the reason she�s decided not to endorse my position, but we�re spending $8 billion a month, $11 million an hour, and there�s so many things we could do. We cannot solve these other domestic problems without redeploying. And with 130,000 troops there for three-and-a-half years, the incidents are getting worse.
AMY GOODMAN: What message would you have for the senator from New York right now?
REP. JOHN MURTHA: Well, I think she has to look at this very carefully and decide. I think she ought to be out more in front. She�s a leader in this country. She�s a leading Democratic nominee, and I think she has to look at what I�ve been saying.
AMY GOODMAN: Congress member John Murtha and war veteran. I spoke to him in 2006 here in New York. He died yesterday at the age of seventy-seven from complications after a gallstone operation. He was operated on at the National Naval Medical Center. They said his intestine was damaged during the gallbladder surgery.
Former Va. governor urges DNC chairman's firing
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Democratic former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder is urging President Barack Obama to fire Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, another former Virginia governor.
Wilder wrote of Kaine, in a column for the Politico news Web site, that "the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee is the wrong job for him."
In an interview with The Associated Press, Wilder cited Republican victories in last month's Senate election in Massachusetts and in gubernatorial races last fall in New Jersey and Virginia.
"I'm just disappointed in his leadership," Wilder told the AP. "And there are a lot of people - a lot of Democrats - who come to me and are disappointed but are not going to speak out like I'm saying it."
"Don't let yourself believe that Massachusetts and Virginia and New Jersey were some aberration," Wilder said, "and I hope Tim and the president will take it in the constructive way it was intended."
At the White House, civil rights in song
Both songs captured the essence of the night: music that vitalized and comforted a generation through one of the most difficult cultural transformations in American history.
"The civil rights movement was a movement sustained by music," Obama said.
Timed to celebrate Black History Month, Tuesday's concert was the latest installment of the White House Music Series, a string of concerts celebrating uniquely American strands of sound.
Since last summer, the series has hopscotched from genre to genre, with nods to jazz, classical, country and Latin music.
But this show was genre-free, focusing instead on the songs that gave voice to a pivotal shift in our nation's history. Hosted by Morgan Freeman, the concert was streamed live on the White House Web site and will be televised Thursday at 8 p.m. on WETA.
Beer builds better bones, study finds
The average diet provides from 20 to 25 milligrams of silicon a day, the researchers said. Other studies contend that people, particularly older people, need twice that to keep their skin elastic and their bones, teeth and gums strong.
Beer could be the answer, the study reports. �Beer is a very rich source of silicon,� said lead author Charles Bamforth of the Department of Food Sciences and Technology.
Best of the bunch was India Pale Ale, with a higher content of malt and hops and therefore more silicon. �Wheat-based beers contain less silicon, which seems to be related to the lower levels of silicon in wheat malt.�
Light beers contained even less silicon because of their corn content, he said.
�The darker products, such as the chocolate, roasted barley and black malt all have substantial roasting and much lower silicon contents than the other malts, for reasons that are not yet known,� said Bamforth.
Two litres a day of one of high-silicon beer would provide someone with their daily dose of silicon, the study said.
Toyota on damage control as scope of recall increases
WASHINGTON - In public, Toyota is running apologetic TV ads and vowing to win back customers' trust. Behind the scenes, the besieged carmaker is trying to learn all it can about congressional investigations, maybe even steer them if it can.
It's part of an all-out drive by the world's biggest auto manufacturer to redeem its once unassailable brand - hit anew yesterday as Toyota's global recall increased to 8.5 million cars and trucks.
Yesterday's safety recall of 437,000 of its flagship Prius and other hybrids, plus a Tokyo news conference during which Toyota's president read a statement in English pledging to "regain the confidence of our customers," underscored a determination to keep buyers' faith from sinking beyond recovery.
Meanwhile, Honda Motor Co. said it was adding more than 378,000 cars to a safety recall for air bag inflation problems. It will replace the driver's side air bag inflator on the cars because they can deploy with too much pressure, risking injury or death to the driver. The recall now affects more than 822,000 vehicles.
The latest Toyota recall is to fix brake problems. There have been about 200 complaints in Japan and the United States about a delay when the brakes in the Prius were pressed in cold conditions and on some bumpy roads. The delay doesn't indicate a brake failure. The company says the problem can be fixed in 40 minutes.
Appeal judge watered down Binyam Mohamed torture ruling
The government launched a successful last-minute bid to persuade the court of appeal to erase the most damning details of MI5's complicity in torture from its decision in the Binyam Mohamed case � but has been unable to suppress a letter that details some of the contents of the original draft ruling.
On Monday, Jonathan Sumption QC wrote to the court warning that the paragraph in question was "likely to receive more public attention than any other parts of the judgments".
This, Sumption pointed out, was because the paragraph would state that MI5 did not operate in a culture that respected human rights or renounced "coercive interrogation techniques".
The letter also reveals that the judgment, before being rewritten, said this was particularly true of the MI5 officer known as Witness B who gave evidence in the case � and that this man's conduct was characteristic of MI5 as a whole.
Colonel described break-ins for police: Report
Col. Russell Williams is sitting in a provincial prison under close watch Wednesday, although authorities declined to say where.
The once high-flying career military officer told investigators about four dozen break-ins in addition to the crimes he has been charged with, published reports say.
Williams, who has been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of two women and the sexual assaults of two others, described the string of break-ins that followed the same pattern: stolen lingerie and lots of photographs, the Globe and Mail reported, quoting several sources.
He is also alleged to have told police he photographed the two break-ins that led to the rapes and the two murders of women. He has been denied bail on those four charges and remains in custody until his next hearing on Feb. 18.
Alcohol abuse weighs on Army
The Army needs to double its staff of substance-abuse counselors to handle the soaring numbers of soldiers seeking alcohol treatment, said Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army's No. 2 officer.
About 300 more counselors are needed to meet the demand, cut wait times and offer evening and weekend services, Chiarelli, the Army vice chief of staff, said in an interview with USA TODAY.
Last year, 9,199 soldiers enrolled in treatment after being diagnosed with alcohol problems, a 56% increase over 2003, when the Iraq war started, according to Army records released Monday. Overall, 16,388 sought some type of counseling, data show.
TV isn�t making kids fat. It�s the ads
It�s not time spent in front of the television, but rather the commercials that are contributing to childhood obesity, a new study suggests.
Examiners studied the viewing habits of nearly 4,000 children, ranging from infants to 12-year-olds. They found that TV viewing itself is not an indicator of present or future obesity, as has long been contended. Instead, it was the kind of TV viewed that predicted a child�s likelihood of gaining an unhealthy amount of weight.
Those children who watched commercial television and its attendant complement of ads tended to be obese. Children who watched public television or DVDs � essentially TV without the ads � were thinner and stayed thinner, on average.
This effect was more pronounced in children under 7.
�Commercial television pushes children to eat a large quantity of those foods they should consume least: sugary cereals, snacks, fast food and soda pop,� study author Fred Zimmerman said in a release. Zimmerman is the chair of UCLA�s School of Public Health.
Man vs marine in the Chagos Islands
Officially British Indian Ocean Territory, the islands are the subject of an ambitious plan by conservationists � backed by the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband � to keep them the way they are, by creating a marine protected area, where fishing and all other exploitation would be banned, of 210,000 square miles � more than twice the land surface of Great Britain. In an age when the oceans and their biodiversity are being ever more despoiled, it would be a supreme example of marine conservation and one of the wildlife wonders of the world � in effect, Britain's Great Barrier Reef, or Britain's Galapagos.
The plan excites many wildlife enthusiasts and has the formal support of several of Britain's major conservation bodies, from the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew and the Zoological Society of London to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The backing of the Foreign Office and the Foreign Secretary is significant. A public consultation on the plan ends on Friday.
But there is a notable omission from the plan. It takes no account of the wishes of the original inhabitants, the Chagossians � the 1,500 people living on the islands who, between 1967 and 1973, were deported wholesale by Britain, so that the largest island, Diego Garcia, could be used by the US as an airbase for strategic nuclear bombers.
When, in the 1990s, details emerged of the Chagossians' enforced exile, which left them in poverty and unhappiness on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, it was widely seen as a substantial natural injustice; and in 2000 the then-Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, gave them permission to return.
However, after 9/11, Diego Garcia assumed a new strategic importance for the US � it is used as a base for bombing missions over Afghanistan (and has also been used for the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" flights taking captives around the world for interrogation).
As a result, in 2004 the British Government reversed Cook's decision to let the islanders return, using the Royal Prerogative and bypassing Parliament. The islanders, some of whom are still in Mauritius and some of whom are now in Britain, challenged this decision, and in three judgments in successively higher courts, ending with the Court of Appeal, had it reversed, and won back their right of return.
War casualties put UK hospitals under strain � ahead of fresh Afghan offensive
Hospitals treating casualties of the war in Afghanistan are close to capacity and coming under growing pressure from the number of troops wounded by the Taliban-led insurgency, a report by parliament's independent watchdog warns today.
The demands are so great that the Ministry of Defence will today announce an increase in the number of ward beds at its rehabilitation centre, at Headley Court in Surrey, from 66 to 96, the Guardian has learned.
The report comes as ministers have warned of the prospect of further casualties as 4,000 British troops prepare to launch Operation Moshtarak � which means "together" in Pashtu � with US marines and Afghan forces. The aim of the operation, the biggest since the conflict in Afghanistan began, is designed to clear the town of Marjah in central Helmand, a Taliban stronghold and centre of the opium trade, of insurgents.
NY governor says he'll step aside only 'in a box'
ALBANY, N.Y. -- New York Gov. David Paterson, defying calls from even fellow Democrats to drop out of the race for a full term, said Tuesday that he would leave only if the voters turned him out through the ballot box, or he's carried out "in a box."
Paterson spoke to reporters after several days of rumors sweeping the state Capitol about carousing in the governor's mansion, all of which Paterson strongly denied.
A few months after Paterson took over from his predecessor, who resigned in a prostitution scandal, his popularity plummeted and many Democrats voiced their preference that Attorney General Andrew Cuomo run for governor when Paterson's term is up.
That infighting and the recent rumormongering have further fractured state Democrats and added a decidedly weird edge to the national party's struggle to maintain ground it gained in the last election.
PAM COMMENTARY: Go David Paterson! I don't know if New York will ever see another governor who's so honest with the public.
Some ditch social networks to reclaim time, privacy
Facebook reports that it has 400 million active users worldwide. Make that 399,999,999. Laura LeNoir is done.
"I feel better, I feel lighter, I got my privacy back," says LeNoir, 42, an office manager at an educational software company in Birmingham, Ala., who logged off a few weeks ago. "People say, 'You'll be back.' But I read more, walk the dogs more. I'll be fine."
As the social networking train gathers momentum, some riders are getting off.
Their reasons run the gamut from being besieged by online "friends" who aren't really friends to lingering concerns over where their messages and photos might materialize. If there's a common theme to their exodus, it's the nagging sense that a time-sucking habit was taking the "real" out of life.
Chinese farms cause more pollution than factories, says official survey
Farmers' fields are a bigger source of water contamination in China than factory effluent, the Chinese government revealed today in its first census on pollution.
Senior officials said the disclosure, after a two-year study involving 570,000 people, would require a partial realignment of environmental policy from smoke stacks to chicken coops, cow sheds and fruit orchards.
Despite the sharp upward revision of figures on rural contamination, the government suggested the country's pollution problem may be close to - or even past - a peak. That claim is likely to prompt scepticism among environmental groups.
The release of the groundbreaking report was reportedly delayed by resistance from the agriculture ministry, which had previously insisted that farms contributed only a tiny fraction of pollution in China.
Haiti parents testify they gave kids to Americans
Parents of some of the children who 10 U.S. missionaries tried to take out of Haiti after its catastrophic earthquake told a judge Tuesday that they freely handed over their kids, the Americans' lawyer said.
The parents' testimony means no law was broken and "we can't talk any more about trafficking of human beings," attorney Aviol Fleurant told reporters.
He said he was confident the judge will dismiss the case.
Nine of the Americans, most from an Idaho church group, have now been interviewed by the judge, who is to decide whether they will stand trial. The judge did not speak with reporters.
PAM COMMENTARY: Even if the parents voluntarily gave the children up, there's still the issue of whether the group set up a legitimate orphanage according to the laws of Haiti, or just started trucking kids around.
F.D.A. to Increase Medical Radiation Oversight
The federal Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that it would take steps to more stringently regulate three of the most potent forms of medical radiation, including increasingly popular CT scans, some of which deliver the radiation equivalent of 400 chest X-rays.
With the announcement, the F.D.A. puts its regulatory muscle behind a growing movement to make life-saving medical radiation � both diagnostic and therapeutic � safer.
Last week, the leading radiation oncology association called for enhanced safety measures. And a Congressional committee was set to hear testimony Wednesday on the weak oversight of medical radiation, but the hearing was canceled because of bad weather.
The F.D.A. has for weeks been investigating why more than 300 patients in four hospitals were overradiated by powerful CT scans used to detect strokes. The overdoses were first discovered last year at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where patients received up to eight times as much radiation as intended.
The errors occurred over 18 months and were detected only after patients lost their hair.
Canadian North Fork off limits to mining, energy development
British Columbia Lt. Gov. Steven Point declared the Canadian portion of the Flathead River Valley off limits to mining and energy extraction in a speech to his parliament on Tuesday.
Citing a new partnership with Montana, Point said the Flathead River Basin would be managed for existing types of forestry, recreation, guide outfitting and trapping uses. His comments came in the annual Throne Speech, which presents the provincial government's agenda to the parliament.
"Mining, oil and gas development and coalbed gas extraction will not be permitted in British Columbia's Flathead Valley," Point said. The partnership would also develop new ways of working out trans-border issues.
Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer said he would be flying to Vancouver, B.C., next week to sign a memorandum of understanding between the state and the province.
PAM COMMENTARY: This is a pollution control effort for the Glacier National Park area.
NASA chief: Mars is our mission
NASA's emerging exploration plan will call for safely sending humans to Mars, possibly by the 2030s, and de-emphasize exploration of the moon, the agency's leader said Tuesday.
�That is my personal vision,� NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. �I am confident that, when I say humans on Mars is a goal for the nation, not just NASA, I'm saying that because I believe the president will back me up.�
Bolden cited appearances set before congressional committees on Feb. 24 and 25 as a deadline for creating the �beginnings of a plan� for human exploration.
At those hearings, Bolden said, he will be able only to give a range of dates for a Mars trip because scientific questions, such as mitigating radiation exposure and bone loss, remain unanswered.
But he confidently said the 2030s, even the early 2030s, were viable if given a reasonable and sustained budget.
Home hazardous: Family's residence in Prattville had been used as a meth lab
PRATTVILLE -- The only room in this one-story house safe enough for human inhabitation is a small, non-ventilated room with a toilet, and even that is toxic.
Brenda Maitland bought the house, hidden just off Alabama 59, about four years ago. It is where she, her husband and two young daughters were going to swim, ride their new horse, plant a garden -- make a home.
But just after a week of living there, Maitland's youngest daughter got sick: sore throat, earaches, watery eyes, burning skin. They were the same symptoms that Brenda Maitland came down with while scrubbing the house the week before the family moved in.
"I thought it was the flu," she said. The people who lived there before them were heavy smokers -- so it could have been from that, the family thought.
But they learned it was far more than that. They learned they had bought a home that the previous owners had used as a methamphetamine lab.
John P. Murtha, Congressman, Dies at 77
WASHINGTON � Representative John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, a gruff ex-Marine who was one of the most hawkish Democrats in Congress but who became an outspoken critic of the Iraq war, died on Monday in Arlington, Va. He was 77.
He died while under treatment for complications of gallbladder surgery, his office said.
The first Vietnam veteran to serve in Congress, Mr. Murtha voted in 2002 to authorize use of military force in Iraq. But he evolved into a leading foe of the war as it was conducted under the administration of President George W. Bush.
�The war in Iraq is not going as advertised,� Mr. Murtha said in November 2005, as he demanded an immediate withdrawal of American troops. He called the Iraq campaign �a flawed policy wrapped in illusion.�
Michael Jackson's personal physician pleads not guilty to involuntary manslaughter
Michael Jackson�s personal physician entered a plea of not guilty Monday afternoon at a standing-room-only arraignment attended by Jackson�s parents and several siblings.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Keith L. Schwartz set bail for Conrad Murray at $75,000 � three times the standard for involuntary manslaughter cases. The judge also forbade Murray from prescribing heavy sedatives, including propofol, to his patients.
�I don�t want you sedating people,� the judge told Murray.
CFB Trenton chief charged with murder of two women (Canada)
The commander of CFB Trenton, a career officer with 23 years in the military, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of two women, including a corporal at Trenton and a Belleville woman who vanished 11 days ago.
Col. Russell Williams, 46, was also charged Monday in connection with sexual assault in two home invasions in the Tweed area, Det. Insp. Chris Nicholas said at a news conference today in Belleville.
The charges came �due to a singularity in those incidents,� Nicholas said. �We linked those crimes to a single suspect.�
Jessica Lloyd, 27, vanished Jan. 28 and police said on Monday that her body had been found. A second woman, Cpl. Marie France Comeau of the 435th squadron, Trenton, was found dead in her home in Brighton on Nov. 25, 2009.
World's tallest tower closed a month after opening
The world's tallest skyscraper has unexpectedly closed to the public a month after its lavish opening, disappointing tourists headed for the observation deck and casting doubt over plans to welcome its first permanent occupants in the coming weeks.
Electrical problems are at least partly to blame for the closure of the Burj Khalifa's viewing platform -- the only part of the half-mile high tower open yet. But a lack of information from the spire's owner left it unclear whether the rest of the largely empty building � including dozens of elevators meant to whisk visitors to the tower's more than 160 floors � was affected by the shutdown.
The indefinite closure, which began Sunday, comes as Dubai struggles to revive its international image as a cutting-edge Arab metropolis amid nagging questions about its financial health.
The Persian Gulf city-state had hoped the 2,717-foot (828-meter) Burj Khalifa would be a major tourist draw. Dubai has promoted itself by wowing visitors with over-the-top attractions such as the Burj, which juts like a silvery needle out of the desert and can be seen from miles around.
Police "fire live ammunition" at protesters
It took the presence of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela to calm the tensions and violence between protesting police reservists and police members at the Beyers' Naude Square, in central Joburg on Monday morning.
Police reservists from around the country had gathered to hand a memorandum to the Gauteng MEC of Community Safety, Khabisi Mosunkutu, complaining about working for years without pay only to be overlooked when permanent vacancies are opened.
Protesting reservists claim that about 11 of their peers had to be rushed to hospital after being shot with live ammunition by police officers.
Given Zondo, a 35-year-old reservist from Orlando, Soweto, said she saw two people being shot at close range by the police officers.
"They shot a man and a women and they dragged them into a police truck. When they shook the guy to wake him he was unresponsive," said Zondo, who has been a reservist for 9 years.
Robert Fisk: Why does the US turn a blind eye to Israeli bulldozers?
This majority of the West Bank - known under the defunct Oslo Agreement's sinister sobriquet as "Area C" - has already fallen under an Israeli rule which amounts to apartheid by paper: a set of Israeli laws which prohibit almost all Palestinian building or village improvements, which shamelessly smash down Palestinian homes for which permits are impossible to obtain, ordering the destruction of even restored Palestinian sewage systems. Israeli colonists have no such problems; which is why 300,000 Israelis now live - in 220 settlements which are all internationally illegal - in the richest and most fertile of the Palestinian occupied lands.
When Obama's elderly envoy George Mitchell headed home in humiliation this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu celebrated his departure by planting trees in two of the three largest Israeli colonies around Jerusalem. With these trees at Gush Etzion and Ma'aleh Adumim, he said, he was sending "a clear message that we are here. We will stay here. We are planning and we are building." These two huge settlements, along with that of Ariel to the north of Jerusalem, were an "indisputable part of Israel forever."
Northeastern Minnesota's moose population continues to decline
Northeastern Minnesota's moose population continues to decline, based on the latest aerial survey this winter by the Department of Natural Resources.
Wildlife researchers estimate that there were 5,500 moose in that region of the state. With a 23 percent margin of error, the estimate is not statistically different from last year's estimate of 7,600, but it supports other evidence that the moose population is declining.
"We don't believe the population dropped 2,000 in the past year, but it's indicative that the population is declining and parallels everything else we've been seeing,'' said Mark Lenarz, DNR wildlife researcher. "Our concern continues.''
Lenarz said this is the first year the survey has agreed with other indices showing the decline. The proportion of cows accompanied by calves continued a 13-year decline, dropping to a record low of 28 calves per 100 cows. The bull-to-cow ratio also continued to decline, with an estimated 83 bulls per 100 cows.
Reasons for the decline are uncertain, but researchers believe a warming climate is responsible. "There's more and more evidence suggesting it's related to climate,'' Lenarz said. Warmer temperatures can stress moose and make them susceptible to other diseases and parasites. Mortality from hunting or wolves is not a major factor, Lenarz said.
Dominion looks to define its role in offshore wind
"Wind is the largest renewable resource available to Virginia and it could end up being the cheapest one of scale," Doswell said.
Dominion has joined on as a member of the VOW Coalition, Doswell said, and has been an active participant in studies conducted to measure the feasibility of utilizing the winds off local shores to capture energy.
VOW, along with local politicians, has pushed for bills in the General Assembly that call for the creation of a state offshore wind authority with the power to help secure the issuing of bonds and government guarantees for loans, and to facilitate ways that might persuade the state's electricity monopoly to get on board.
If the mid-Atlantic is to derive some of its electricity from offshore wind, there are a number of ways in which Dominion might get involved, Doswell said.
Carp talks may miss bigger lake challenge; Summit called for fish threat, but biologists also fear ballast water
The focus of Monday's White House Asian carp summit is to stop the giant, ecosystem-ravaging fish from slipping in the Great Lakes' back door - the Chicago canal system that links the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico.
But the governors who called for the summit don't just want to talk about carp; they want the Obama administration to tackle the larger issue of invasive species in the Great Lakes, which have become an ecological stew teeming with at least 185 foreign organisms.
And if that discussion is going to occur, it will be impossible for regional and national leaders to ignore what's going on at the lakes' front door - the St. Lawrence Seaway, a manmade navigation corridor between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean.
That's the invasive species pathway biologists say poses the most trouble for the Great Lakes, even if Chicago canals and Asian carp are grabbing all the attention at the moment.
Oceangoing ships dumping contaminated ballast water are blamed for 57 species invasions since Seaway builders blasted their way into the lakes 51 years ago.
Michael Pollan on �Food Rules: An Eater�s Manual� [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: But explain the issue and the problem with high-fructose corn syrup.
MICHAEL POLLAN: Well, I mean, the reason I have suggested that you should avoid products with high-fructose corn syrup is not that we have science proving that it is a worse form of sugar than conventional cane sugar.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, again, it�s made out of corn.
MICHAEL POLLAN: It�s made from corn. It�s a very complex process that was invented by the Japanese in the �70s, and it really has been a boon to the food industry, because high-fructose corn syrup is very cheap, because we subsidize the corn, and it has various properties of food science that are very valuable. If you put it in a bread product, it gets a nice brown coating. And it actually helps prevent freezer burn in frozen foods. So�and you make any food sweeter, and we�ll eat more of it, so they�re putting it in everything. So if you can avoid high-fructose corn syrup, you�re probably avoiding a heavily processed food that you should avoid anyway. So that�s why I said don�t eat it.
But is it worse than sugar? Not necessarily. Both of them are about fifty-fifty glucose and fructose. They�re joined in a different way. Some people think that might affect absorption rates. But let�s assume they�re the same.
And so, they�ve come back and reformulated a bunch of products with sugar. And they�ve said �with real sugar now� or �with no high-fructose corn syrup.� And people�you know, how do you read that? You say, �Well, if they�re boasting about it, it must be healthier.� And so, we now are�we�ve created a health claim for sugar, and I feel somewhat responsible, because it�s very deceptive.
So I came up with a rule to avoid all these schemes, which is, don�t buy any food you see advertised on television. That is the only way to avoid their marketing cleverness. And that rule captures most processed food, because two-thirds of ad budgets go to heavily processed food. Only about five percent of ad budgets go to, you know, prunes or walnuts or real foods. So I�m hoping that your common sense will not�you know, will allow you not to tar them with the same brush.
US soldier gives four-year-old daughter 'waterboarding' over alphabet
Joshua Tabor allegedly told police he had used the technique because he was angry and knew his daughter was scared of water.
The 27-year-old, who had recently gained custody of the young girl, said she "squirmed" as he pushed her under the water three or four times, it was claimed.
Waterboarding is a controversial torture technique used by the CIA to interrogate al Qaeda suspects at Guantanamo Bay, where water is poured over detainees so they think they are drowning.
Mr Tabor, from the Lewis-McChord base in Tacoma, Washington, was arrested after he was seen wearing a Kevlar military helmet and threatening to smash windows.
When police went to his home in nearby Yelm, his girlfriend told them about the alleged torture.
Mr Tabor's daughter was found hiding in a cupboard with bruises on her back and throat. When asked how she got her injuries, she replied: "Daddy did it."
A Federal Effort to Push Junk Food Out of Schools
WASHINGTON � The Obama administration will begin a drive this week to expel Pepsi, French fries and Snickers bars from the nation�s schools in hopes of reducing the number of children who get fat during their school years.
In legislation, soon to be introduced, candy and sugary beverages would be banned and many schools would be required to offer more nutritious fare.
To that end, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will deliver a speech Monday at the National Press Club in which he will insist, according to excerpts provided to The Times, that any vending machines that remain in schools be �filled with nutritious offerings to make the healthy choice the easy choice for our nation�s children.�
The first lady, Michelle Obama, said last month that she would lead an initiative to reduce childhood obesity, and her involvement �shows the importance all of us place on this issue,� Mr. Vilsack said.
PAM COMMENTARY: Today's kids are exposed to a lot more junk food vending machines than my generation, because schools have turned to food vendors for a part of their budgets. Maybe it really does take a law to stop the madness.
Monsanto Indian Farmer Suicide (Video) (FLASHBACK)
PAM COMMENTARY: As long as we're on the topic of food profiteering, remember this old story?
Beach family goes it alone in suit over Chinese drywall
Ben Proto is mad. He's mad at his builder. Mad at his insurance company. Mad at his bank.
Proto, like hundreds of homeowners, has a home built with tainted Chinese-made drywall. The gases released by the drywall have damaged his electrical appliances and led him to move his family out of the home.
Unlike many of those home-owners who've added their names to the class-action lawsuit, Proto has gone at it alone, spending the past year negotiating with builders, lenders and insurance companies to get the home fixed.
So far, none of the companies that helped usher the Protos into their home has come to their aid. All have pointed the finger elsewhere.
Sarah Palin's palm cheat-sheet steals her show
Has there been a more talked about stolen glance since George H.W. Bush looked at his wristwatch during a 1992 debate with Bill Clinton?
On Saturday, former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin glanced at her left palm during a question and answer session at the first National Tea Party Conference in Nashville. The topic: her thoughts on what the top three priorities for the GOP ought to be should the party regain control of Congress.
It quickly became apparent that Palin had been glancing notes written on her palm. The Huffington Post produced a photographic close-up, which showed her hand contained the words "Energy", "Tax" and "Lift American Spirits." The phrase "Budget cuts" was also there, though the word "Budget" had been crossed out.
Much mockery has ensued -- from members of the press and liberal critics of Palin alike. Andrea Mitchell on Monday tweaked Palin's "cheat sheets" on MSNBC's Daily Rundown, saying she'd written notes on her own hand "just in case I didn't remember" the script.
Study: Moms over 40 nearly twice as likely to have autistic children
Women who give birth after age 40 are nearly twice as likely to have a child with autism as those under 25, California researchers reported Monday.
Surprisingly, the age of the father plays little role in the likelihood of the disorder unless the mother is younger than 30 and the father is over 40, according to the analysis of all births in California in the 1990s.
The number of women over age 40 in California giving birth increased by 300% in the 1990s, while the diagnosis of autism increased by 600%. At first glance, it might seem that the rise in older pregnancies could be responsible for the rise in autism, which is now thought to affect as many as one child in every hundred. But the authors of the paper, from UC Davis, calculate that older mothers account for less than 5% of the increase in autism diagnoses.
"There is a long history of blaming parents" for the development of autism, said Dr. Irva Hertz-Picciotto of the UC Davis MIND Institute, the senior author of the report. "We're not saying this is the fault of mothers or fathers. We're just saying this is a correlation that will direct research in the future."
PAM COMMENTARY: Well, the two major theories of autism are neurological damage from vaccines, or vitamin/mineral deficiencies (possibly both play a role). Older women are known to have more deficiencies, and it's possible that they're also more likely to trust their children to the medical establishment. Obviously, more research needs to be done on the real causes of autism and related statistical trends.
Iran severs cultural ties with British Museum over Persian treasure
British Museum officials were due to lend the 2,500-year-old artefact to Iran's national museum last month, but announced they were holding on to it to do some more research.
The clay cylinder - which was acquired by the museum after being discovered in 1879 - is regarded as the world's first declaration of rights.
Hamid Baghaei, head of Iran's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organisation, said the decision to keep the cylinder was unacceptable and politically motivated.
He said: ''The Cultural Heritage Organisation has cut all its relations and co-operation with the British Museum.''
'Whaling ship rammed us'
THE anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd says it will continue to monitor a Japanese whaling ship even though whalers allegedly rammed one of its vessels at the weekend off Antarctica.
Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson said the Japanese ship rammed the Bob Barker and tore a gash in the hull above the water line.
No one was injured in the incident about 300km off Cape Darnley, in the Australian Antarctic Territory, at 3.09pm on Saturday.
The organisation claimed the harpoon ship Yushin Maru 3 "intentionally" rammed the Bob Barker. The anti-whaling craft had been actively blocking the slipway of the Nisshin Maru, the Japanese whaling fleet's factory ship, when the collision occurred.
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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