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Week of 14th to 20th of February 2010

Fish and Wildlife chief dies after skiing
WASHINGTON -- The director of the Fish and Wildlife Service died Saturday after suffering chest pains while skiing in Colorado. Sam Hamilton was 54.

The 30-year veteran of the agency, who assumed its top post in September, died in the afternoon after being transported off the Keystone Ski Area, said Joanne Richardson, Summit County coroner. She said his death was consistent with an underlying heart problem.

Hamilton helped lead restoration work in the Everglades, the largest ecosystem restoration project in the country. He oversaw the extensive recovery and restoration efforts required following hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which devastated coastal wetlands, wildlife refuges and other wildlife habitat along the Gulf of Mexico.

Alexander Haig, former secretary of state, dies
Retired Army Gen. Alexander Haig, who held influential positions in the United States military and in politics and who as White House chief of staff shepherded Richard M. Nixon toward peacefully resigning the presidency, died today of complications from an infection. He was 85.

Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter sent the four-star general to Europe as supreme commander of NATO. Ronald Reagan made him secretary of state, resulting in a brief and stormy tenure in which he famously tried to assert command after the attempted assassination of the president. And Gen. Haig himself, a tall man with blue eyes who kept his chin-up military bearing long after he left the service, ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988.

His influence peaked in his late 40s during Nixon's last 16 months in office, when brewing developments in the Watergate scandal damaged and increasingly distracted the president. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger famously told Gen. Haig to keep the country together while he held the world together during one of the greatest constitutional crises in the nation's history. Special prosecutor Leon Jaworski, and many others, called Gen. Haig the "37 1/2 president."

Gen. Haig, untainted by the botched break-in to the Democratic National Committee headquarters, took over as chief of staff in May 1973 from H.R. "Bob" Haldeman, who would spend 18 months in prison for his role in the Watergate scandal. When the public learned about the secret Oval Office taping system, which would eventually implicate Nixon in the coverup, Gen. Haig acknowledged later that he urged the president to destroy the tapes.

PAM COMMENTARY: This article doesn't get to the famous "I am in control" quote until the last page, but it does provide a lot of good detail, and so I'd rather link to this than to shorter articles.

Federal Bureau of Invention: CASE CLOSED (and Ivins did it) [WRH]
That is only the first of many holes in FBI's case. Here is a sampling of some more.

The report assumes Ivins manufactured, purified and dried the spore prep in the anthrax hot room at US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). His colleagues say the equipment available was insufficient to do so on the scale required.

But even more important, the letter spores contained a Bacillus subtilis contaminant, and silicon to enhance dispersal. FBI has never found the Bacillus subtilis strain at USAMRIID, and it has never acknowledged finding silicon there, either. If the letters anthrax was made at USAMRIID, at least small amounts of both would be there.

Drs. Perry Mikesell, Ayaad Assaad and Stephen Hatfill were 3 earlier suspects. All had circumstantial evidence linking them to the case. In Hatfill's case, especially, are hints he could have been "set up." Greendale, the return address on the letters, was a suburb of Harare, Zimbabwe where Hatfill attended medical school. Hatfill wrote an unpublished book about a biowarfare attack that bears some resemblance to the anthrax case. So the fact that abundant circumstantial evidence links Ivins to the case might be a reflection that he too was "set up" as a potential suspect, before the letters were sent.

FBI fails to provide any discussion of why no autopsy was performed, nor why, with Ivins under 24/7 surveillance from the house next door, with even his garbage being combed through, the FBI failed to notice that he overdosed and went into a coma. Nor is there any discussion of why the FBI didn't immediately identify tylenol as the overdose substance, and notify the hospital, so that a well-known antidote for tylenol toxicity could be given (N-acetyl cysteine, or alternatively glutathione). These omissions support the suggestion that Ivins' suicide was a convenience for the FBI. It enabled them to conclude the anthrax case, in the absence of evidence that would satisfy the courts.

PAM COMMENTARY: Time for another flashback... See below.

Prof. Francis Boyle on Alex Jones Tv: Anthrax "Inside Job" (FLASHBACK) (Video) [AJ]
"... and I say it's criminal because I was the person who drafted the statute making it a crime..."

PAM COMMENTARY: The best interview on the anthrax attacks that I've heard so far, from the Alex Jones Show. Boyle is a top bioweapons expert.

Conyers Slams Authors Of Torture Memos, Announces Hearings [BF]
In a statement this afternoon, House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) says that the Justice Department torture memo report released today makes "plain that those memos were legally flawed and fundamentally unsound, and may have been improperly influenced by a desire to tell the Bush White House and the CIA what it wanted to hear."

Conyers, who posted the DOJ documents on his Web site, continued:

"The Office of Legal Counsel has a proud tradition of providing independent, high quality legal advice to the executive branch. The materials released today make clear that the lawyers who wrote the torture memos did not live up that tradition."

He announced the committee will hold hearings on the matter.

Report: Bush Lawyer Said President Could Order Civilians to Be 'Massacred'
At the core of the legal arguments were the views of Yoo, strongly backed by David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney's legal counsel, that the president's wartime powers were essentially unlimited and included the authority to override laws passed by Congress, such as a statute banning the use of torture. Pressed on his views in an interview with OPR investigators, Yoo was asked:

"What about ordering a village of resistants to be massacred? ... Is that a power that the president could legally--"

"Yeah," Yoo replied, according to a partial transcript included in the report. "Although, let me say this: So, certainly, that would fall within the commander-in-chief's power over tactical decisions."

"To order a village of civilians to be [exterminated]?" the OPR investigator asked again.

"Sure," said Yoo.

Millions of Unemployed Face Years Without Jobs
BUENA PARK, Calif. � Even as the American economy shows tentative signs of a rebound, the human toll of the recession continues to mount, with millions of Americans remaining out of work, out of savings and nearing the end of their unemployment benefits.

Economists fear that the nascent recovery will leave more people behind than in past recessions, failing to create jobs in sufficient numbers to absorb the record-setting ranks of the long-term unemployed.

Call them the new poor: people long accustomed to the comforts of middle-class life who are now relying on public assistance for the first time in their lives � potentially for years to come.

Yet the social safety net is already showing severe strains. Roughly 2.7 million jobless people will lose their unemployment check before the end of April unless Congress approves the Obama administration�s proposal to extend the payments, according to the Labor Department.

Welfare Recipients Forced to Sell Food Stamps to Buy Basic Necessities [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Well, TANF is up for reauthorization this fall, and journalist Seth Wessler�s investigation focuses on the impact of both the recession and welfare reform in Hartford, Connecticut, a state which has the shortest welfare time limit in the country, just twenty-one months. Seth Wessler is a senior research associate at Applied Research Center, a think tank on race, and a staff writer for ColorLines Magazine. His article, �Selling Food Stamps for Kid�s Shoes," is available online at colorlines.com.

We welcome you to Democracy Now! Explain what�s happening in Hartford.

SETH WESSLER: Well, this really is a story about what happens when the Great Recession meets welfare reform from 1996. It�s a story about what happens when people are pushed off of cash assistance by a welfare program that�s intent is to push people off of cash assistance, families trying to raise their children; what people do now that even those low-wage poverty jobs, that families have been stuck in for now a decade and a half, aren�t available.

And so, I spent the winter reporting from Hartford, Connecticut, a city that�s long been hit by the disappearance of manufacturing jobs and is struggling economically to figure out what families are doing now that the recession has hit and there really is no substantive safety net for poor families. And what I found was that people are forced to make very difficult decisions and are forced to trade their food assistance at bodegas for pennies on the dollar in order to make some cash to pay their bills, to pay rent, to buy, in the case of one woman I spent time with�who we�re calling Eva in this story; she asked her name be changed�to buy children�s shoes for her kids. So, people are forced to, in the end, break the law to get by. And what I see this as is a story about poor families innovating to survive in a horribly difficult economy after years of a stripped safety net.

Eva, the woman I spent three months with, talking to, was cut off of cash assistance last March. She�s in the state, Connecticut, with the shortest time limit in the country. After welfare reform, states were given vast amount of power to determine how long people could stay on cash assistance, how generous the program would be. And the state set the shortest time limit of any state of the country. She was cut off of cash assistance in the middle of the worst job crisis in a generation and has been searching for work endlessly without any luck. She�s a woman who�s been working low-wage poverty jobs for the greater part of a decade and now can�t even find one of those. She�s precipitously close to the edge now of becoming homeless, of not being able to feed her kids. And she�s forced to sell her food stamps, like many women who I talked to in Connecticut, in order to get by.

PAM COMMENTARY: It sounds like Connecticut is trying to encourage its poor people to move to New York.

The New Premiere Social Networking Site from Freeway Ricky Ross!
PAM COMMENTARY: I was surprised to hear Freeway Rick (of CIA Crack Cocaine Trafficking/Gary Webb's "Dark Alliance" book fame) on the 12-February-2010 Alex Jones Show. Ricky Ross is out of prison now (despite his life sentence), and as usual is happy to openly share his experiences as the crack cocaine kingpin of Los Angeles with us. That's the best thing about Freeway Rick -- he's willing to talk honestly about what he did, and that gives Americans a piece of the country's history that we should have. The link above is from Ross' new social networking site. Try to stay out of jail this time, Rick! It's a lot better having you on the outside.

Freeway Ricky Ross Is Free (FLASHBACK) (Video)
PAM COMMENTARY: A little background on Ricky Ross, although this doesn't cover even 1% of it -- it's best to read Gary Webb's book "Dark Alliance" to see how everything fit together.

Freeway Ricky Ross & The CIA Drug Game (FLASHBACK) (Video)
PAM COMMENTARY: More background on how Ross fit into the CIA's drug trade.

�A Bad Day for America�: Anti-Nuclear Activist Harvey Wasserman Criticizes Obama Plan to Fund Nuclear Reactors [DN]
JUAN GONZALEZ: And Harvey, the issue both of the disposal of nuclear waste from these plants as well as the safety of the plants themselves?

HARVEY WASSERMAN: The plants are no safer than they�ve ever been, and there is no solution to the nuclear waste problem. So, you know, it�s a double whammy here. We have technologies that will work, that will provide the jobs that we need for this country. And Obama has gone in completely the opposite direction.

And I will tell you that the environmental movement, in general, is very unhappy about this. There will be tremendous resistance to this plant and to all the other ones that this administration may try to build.

It�s quite indicative that, after all these years, the nuclear industry cannot get private financing for these reactors. They have to go to the federal government. And they can�t find Wall Street support or other independent support to build these reactors, because the reactors are not economically viable. And you�d think, after all these years, they�d have made enough progress at least to get even private insurance. The reality is that these reactors will be underwritten, in terms of liability, by the taxpayer. God forbid if there�s a mass accident at any nuclear power plant, including these, there will be only the federal government as an insurer, in case of liability.

An astonishing statement on the technology�can�t work and will never work. And it�s a terrible mystery as to why the administration has taken this bad step.

Ron Paul Wins CPAC Straw Poll
Mr. Paul, a Republican Congressman from Texas who inspired an intense following for president in 2008, swept the 2012 presidential straw poll Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

He won with 31 percent of the nearly 2,400 votes at the conference, edging out Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, who won the straw poll last year and who captured 22 percent of the vote.

When Mr. Paul�s name was announced in the packed ballroom of a Washington hotel, it elicited hoots and boos along with applause. Although Mr. Romney won fewer votes, he seemed to draw stronger applause.

Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska, who did not attend the conference, was a distant third, with 7 percent of the vote.

This is the week for attacks on alternative medicine as the FDA just sent a well known and respected medical doctor Dr. Andrew Weil a threatening letter. First viewers were shocked to see the NBC corporation do a hatchet job on Suzanne Somers in her new book � Knockout� and now they are after Dr. Andrew Weil.

Why are they targeting Dr. Weil? Possibly because Dr. Weil represents to millions of his readers one of the most intelligent learned men in alternative health today. This has mostly to be upsetting millions of Americans who take herbal supplements and are trying to maintain good healthy diets.

On a recent interview on CNN Dr. Weil talked about natural medicine and he talked of plants and herbs, which happens to be a target for the FDA.

The FDA has teamed up with the FTC is now on a major offensive for targeting alternative medicine along with promoting the N1H1 Swine vaccine which is really a cancer vaccine. The drug makers are using the FDA as the attack dog to do their dirty work and their objective is to shut down all alternative medicine and their supplements.

PAM COMMENTARY: They post the FDA's letter to Weil in this article -- it basically tells him that he can't sell a product while also telling people medicinal uses for that product, because it isn't approved as a drug. That's actually consistent with FDA policy, and isn't a new attack but rather aggressive enforcement of existing regulations. I suspect that Weil was targeted because he appeared on CNN's Larry King show and wasn't the lapdog that CNN wanted for their drug company sponsors -- he didn't endorse the H1N1 vaccine that CNN had been hyping for weeks. In fact, Weil dared to mention alternatives that people could try from herbal medicine, and said that he wasn't a friend of the pharmaceutical industry. Weil is a good enough doctor to sway people, and so I'm sure there was pressure on the FDA to look for something wrong with him. But long story short, the FDA allows either free speech OR sales of a product -- the two can't mix. You'll notice that I don't sell herbs or zappers, nor do I benefit financially from anyone who does. If I did, I couldn't give people my honest observations and opinions, or share things I'd learned from directly trying products or doing research. I feel that information on scientific breakthroughs like a zapper are just too important to withhold from my readers.

No evidence of poison plot at Ft. Jackson, investigators say
Five soldiers at Ft. Jackson, S.C., have been investigated on suspicion of making threats against fellow service members, but officials have found no substantive evidence of misconduct, U.S. military spokesmen said Friday.

The Christian Broadcasting Network, founded by evangelist Pat Robertson, has reported that soldiers were suspected of plotting to poison the food supply at the Army base. The report said the soldiers were part of an Army translation program that included Arabic speakers.

Army investigators have been conducting an inquiry since December, but "we have not found any credible information to substantiate the allegations," said Christopher Grey, a spokesman for the Army Criminal Investigation Command.

It is unusual for the agency to comment on the preliminary findings of an ongoing investigation.

PAM COMMENTARY: I hope this wasn't based on Robertson's "reporting" alone. Obviously, Pat Robertson is a TV preacher with some very strange beliefs, not much of a reporter.

Controversial Diabetes Drug Harms Heart, U.S. Concludes
Hundreds of people taking Avandia, a controversial diabetes medicine, needlessly suffer heart attacks and heart failure each month, according to confidential government reports that recommend the drug be removed from the market.

The reports, obtained by The New York Times, say that if every diabetic now taking Avandia were instead given a similar pill named Actos, about 500 heart attacks and 300 cases of heart failure would be averted every month because Avandia can hurt the heart. Avandia, intended to treat Type 2 diabetes, is known as rosiglitazone and was linked to 304 deaths during the third quarter of 2009.

�Rosiglitazone should be removed from the market,� one report, by Dr. David Graham and Dr. Kate Gelperin of the Food and Drug Administration, concludes. Both authors recommended that Avandia be withdrawn.

The internal F.D.A. reports are part of a fierce debate within the agency over what to do about Avandia, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline. Some agency officials want the drug withdrawn because they believe there is a safer alternative; others insist that studies of the drug provide contradictory information and that Avandia should continue to be an option for doctors and patients. GlaxoSmithKline said that it had studied Avandia extensively and that �scientific evidence simply does not establish that Avandia increases� the risk of heart attacks.

FDA issues warning on 4 common asthma drugs
WASHINGTON (AP) � The government is taking steps to curb use of some long-acting asthma drugs taken by millions, issuing safety restrictions Thursday to lower an uncommon but potentially life-threatening risk that asthma could worsen suddenly.

The Food and Drug Administration's warnings cover the drugs Advair, Symbicort, Foradil and Serevent. The FDA said they should be used only by asthmatics who can't control their lung disease with other medications � and then only for the shortest time possible.

Nor should LABA-containing drugs ever be used without simultaneous use of a different asthma-controlling medication, such as an inhaled corticosteroid � a move that specifically targets two of the drugs, Foradil and Serevent, the FDA said.

Why? These four drugs contain an ingredient that relaxes muscles around stressed airways, called a long-acting beta agonist or LABA. While they're very helpful at preventing day-to-day symptoms for some patients, the way LABA-containing drugs work also sometimes masks that inflammation is building in the airways. That means patients may not realize a serious asthma attack is brewing until they're gasping for air.

FBI said to be probing Pa. webcam case
PHILADELPHIA - A law-enforcement official with knowledge of the case says the FBI has opened a criminal investigation into a Pennsylvania school district accused of activating webcams inside students' homes without their knowledge.

The official, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, says the FBI will explore whether Lower Merion School District officials broke any federal wiretap or computer-intrusion laws.

Lower Merion officials say they remotely activated webcams 42 times to find missing student laptops in the past 14 months, but never did so to spy on students, as a recent lawsuit claims.

Wave of ill brown pelicans baffles scientists
Brown pelicans, whose wave-skimming and dive-bombing for fish are familiar to people who spend time on the California coast, have been mysteriously falling ill and dying by the hundreds over the past few weeks.

They have been turning up, sometimes starving and emaciated, in odd places: parking lots, backyards and freeways.

The wave of ill pelicans has overwhelmed the International Bird Rescue Research Center in Cordelia, which has taken in about 100 of the birds. Another 300 have been - or are still being - treated in the center's San Pedro branch.

"I have never seen anything like this that has lasted this long," said Jay Holcomb, director of the bird rescue center. Holcomb has been involved in rehabilitating marine birds for more than 40 years in California.

Wildlife biologists are perplexed by the disease. Many of the ill pelicans are found waterlogged, meaning that the feathers that normally keep them dry have somehow become contaminated. As a result, the ill birds have been suffering from hypothermia because of exposure to winter weather and ocean water.

In addition, necropsies of the pelicans have shown that the birds are eating prey, such as certain worms, inconsistent with their normal diet of anchovies and sardines.

White House adopts low profile as Barack Obama meets Dalai Lama
Barack Obama expressed "strong support" for the Tibetan way of life when he saw the Dalai Lama at the White House today, a meeting that risks further damaging US-China relations.

The visit was as muted as the White House could manage in an effort to minimise offence to the Chinese government, which had called on the president to cancel the meeting.

The Dalai Lama, speaking afterwards, said he was very happy with the meeting and that Obama had been "very much supportive". He said Obama had shown genuine concern for Tibet.

He was in a playful mood as he left the meeting, drawing patterns in the heaps of snow outside the White House and flicking some at waiting reporters, his jollity contrasting with the seriousness of the visit and its potential consequences.

Obama gave the Dalai Lama more than an hour, long enough to be polite to him and to show that he would not be cowed by Chinese demands not to meet the spiritual leader of Tibet.

But, in deference to Chinese hostility, the White House kept the meeting as low-key as possible. There was no television footage of the two together and the meeting was in the map room rather than the oval office, a small but symbolic gesture to show that it was not an official event.

The Lancet Slammed by Medical Veritas Editors; Vaccine Science Poisoned By Special Interests In PharmaMedia [R]
In a letter to the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Gilbert Ross, medical director of the pro-vaccine industry American Council on Science and Health, wrote, "The retraction . . . comes far too late. Even now, Horton fails to accept responsibility for the human toll he engendered by publishing the Wakefield 'study.'. . ."

"On the contrary," wrote Dr. Leonard Horowitz, Editor-in-Chief of Medical Veritas. "Dr. Horton's delay is best explained by his aversion to self incrimination and conspiring to cover-up iatrogenocide--the medical mass murder of innocent people for profit."

The Winter, 2010 issue of Medical Veritas, evidenced gross conflicting interests undermining the The Lancet's integrity. Following the publication of Dr. Wakefield's controversial study, Reed-Elsevier-ChoicePoint mergers occurred. The mega-company formed has nearly monopolized the medical scientific publishing industry. Previous to this, The Lancet editors protested the "damaging" of medicine and health science by pharmaceutical companies.

"Now it is obvious Dr. Horton's company has been grossly contaminated by special interests as biased as Dr. Ross's 'PharmaCouncil'," Dr. Horowitz said.

Virus-carrying salmon will not sicken humans, FDA says
(CNN) -- The Food and Drug Administration says Chilean salmon is still safe to consume despite a virus that has killed scores of fish.

"We have no information that there is any harm that can come from eating Chilean salmon," said Ira Allen, a spokesman for the FDA Center for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition.

Found only in Chilean farmed salmon, the virus causes infectious anemia in the fish, but it's not harmful to humans.

More than 60 percent of all farmed salmon imported into the United States was from Chile in 2004 but by 2009 it was down to 30.1 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

PAM COMMENTARY: Thankfully, I don't eat fish. I've also seen too many questionable things from the FDA to trust what they say.

Several people injured when plane hits Northwest Austin building
A small plane crashed into a Northwest Austin building that houses federal offices about 10 this morning, injuring several people and sparking a fire that sent plumes of smoke into the air that could be seen for miles.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said the crash, at the Echelon 1 building in the 9400 block of Research Boulevard, �appears to be an intentional act, appears to be by a sole individual, and it appears this individual was targeting federal offices inside that building.�

The plane, a single-engine Piper Cherokee PA-28-236 Dakota, took off from a Georgetown airport at 9:40 a.m., Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Laura Brown said.

A federal official confirmed for the Statesman that its tail number is registered to a plane owned by Andrew Joseph Stack, a private plane pilot whose nearby home was on fire at roughly the same time.

Plane crash into North Austin building
PAM COMMENTARY: This photo gallery shows destruction from the plane crash in Austin, from the city's local newspaper.

Short video of Austin plane crash (Video)
PAM COMMENTARY: Watch out for the noise on this one -- it starts playing with police sirens, without you having to press a "play" button first.

Aquaculture made safe (Opinion)
While Americans' appetite for seafood continues to grow, most of us know little about where our fish comes from or how it was produced. In California, more than half of our seafood comes from aquaculture, often imported from fish farms in other countries. Just as most chickens, pigs and cows are raised in tightly confined, intensive operations, so too are many farm-raised fish.

But raising fish in tight quarters carries some serious risks. Disease and parasites can be transmitted from farmed to wild fish. Effluents, antibiotics and other chemicals can be discharged into surrounding waters. Nonnative farmed fish can escape into wild fish habitat. And a reliance on wild-caught fish in aquaculture feed can deplete food supplies for other marine life.

These environmental impacts have been evident in many other countries with intensive marine fish farming. In Chile, where industry expansion was prioritized over environmental protection, salmon aquaculture has collapsed, causing a major blow to what had been one of Chile's leading exports. Tens of thousands of people are now jobless in southern Chile, where the salmon farming industry once boomed.

If aquaculture is to play a responsible role in the future of seafood here at home, we must ensure that the "blue revolution" in ocean fish farming does not cause harm to the oceans and the marine life they support.

Marine census grows near completion
Last fall the census reported having added 5,600 new ocean species to those already known. Ron O'Dor, a professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, said there may be another 100,000 or more to be found. "Add microbes and it could be millions," he said.

One benefit of learning more about ocean life is the chance of finding new medical treatments, Pomponi said.

For example, a chemical discovered in deep water sponges is now a component of the cream used to treat herpes infections, Pomponi said. Other research is under way on pain killers and cancer treatments based on ocean life.

Kristina Gjerde, of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, in Konstancin-Chylice, Poland, said the research will help guide governments in setting up marine protected areas to preserve species both for food and of value for other reasons.

PAM COMMENTARY: It seems they'd do anything to find a new chemical they can patent and profit from.

U.S. Senator Jim Webb Meets Governor & Local Senators
The Senator is the chairman of the ast Asia and Pacific affairs subcommittee and serves on the senate committees on foreign relations, armed services and veteran's affairs. He was also once the secretary of the Navy. He has arrived on Guam after a visit to Japan. Webb is touring the region to get a better understanding of the U.S./Japan defense realignment agreement and the Guam Military Buildup.

While Senator Jim Webb toured the island and met with local leaders today this is not the first time he's been on Guam. In fact the Senator from Virginia used to live and work on Guam.

In 1974 he worked for the Bureau Of Statistics and Plans and even did a report titled "The Future Land Needs of The U.S. Military on Guam.

Study raises red flag on counterfeit electronics in military
Already heavily taxed by two wars and repeated worldwide deployments, the U.S. military is facing yet another challenge: the increasing intrusion of counterfeit electronics and other parts into its supply lines.

And a new Commerce Department study finds the Pentagon is barely addressing the problem.

The study of contractors, subcontractors and Defense Department agencies tracked the rise in counterfeit electronics entering the system since 2005 � from 3,868 incidents then to 9,356 in 2008. The Navy�s Air Systems Command asked for the study, suspecting that many more counterfeit and defective electronics were finding their way into the Pentagon�s vast supply chain in ways that could affect the reliability of weapons.

The study found many flaws within the system: The different organizations, contractors, subcontractors, manufacturers, distributors and agencies themselves don�t talk enough about the issue. There�s a lack of accountability within organizations. Recordkeeping about instances of counterfeit parts is limited. And most organizations don�t know whom to contact in the government when confronted with fakes.

Most Pentagon organizations, the report also found, don�t have policies in place to thwart counterfeit parts.

Murkowski: Alaska needs economic 'soul searching'
JUNEAU -- Alaska's economy faces significant threats from environmentalists, federal regulations, and even from within in the form of problems like high student dropout rates and domestic violence, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Thursday.

The Republican told a joint legislative session she would do her part in Washington to fight such things as reactive or overreaching federal policies, but Alaska must do some "soul searching" about the future of its economy.

Oil drives Alaska's economy -- nearly 90 percent of unrestricted general fund revenue comes from it. But forecasts call for production to continue declining from the aging North Slope fields, and there's currently a mix of high hopes and unease about the prospects for a major natural gas pipeline to help make up some of the anticipated revenue losses.

Murkowski told legislators she would fight new federal oil and gas taxes and continue pushing for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an issue her father, Frank Murkowski, pressed as a U.S. senator before her.

PAM COMMENTARY: "Threats" to the state from environmentalists and federal regulations? Drilling in ANWR? When will Alaskans be able to feel secure that their food supply from hunting and fishing will remain secure enough to stop fighting their own government? Time for another flashback...

Being Caribou (Video, 72 minutes)
In this feature-length documentary, husband and wife team Karsten Heuer (wildlife biologist) and Leanne Allison (environmentalist) follow a herd of 120,000 caribou on foot across 1500 km of Arctic tundra. In following the herd's migration, the couple hopes to raise awareness of the threats to the caribou's survival. Along the way they brave Arctic weather, icy rivers, hordes of mosquitoes and a very hungry grizzly bear. Dramatic footage and video diaries combine to provide an intimate perspective of an epic expedition.

Oil on Ice PART ONE (Video)
PAM COMMENTARY: It looks like someone took this movie off of YouTube, but now this service is hosting it... for now. I'll link to the first part -- the other parts are listed if you want to watch the whole thing. Enjoy it online while you can.

Biologist dies in 3-car crash on Keys bridge
A three-vehicle accident Thursday on the Seven-Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys killed a Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist and injured three others, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

The two-lane bridge was closed in both directions for several hours after the 4 p.m. accident. The bridge is the only road link between Marathon and the lower Keys.

The accident involved a wildlife commission SUV pulling a boat on a trailer, a white van and a blue car. The SUV caught fire, trapping two biologists.

They were taken to Fishermen's Hospital in Marathon, where one was pronounced dead. The driver of a second vehicle, a female, was taken to Lower Keys Medical Center in critical condition. The driver of the third vehicle, a female, was airlifted to the Ryder Trauma Center in Miami, according to FHP Lt. Alex Annunziato. She was listed in stable condition with a broken femur.

It was too early to determine how the accident occurred, FHP said.

PAM COMMENTARY: That's an extremely dangerous highway, people speed badly and try to pass over double yellows all the time. That's how I was hit on that road back in the 90s, and I was told by an insurance company at the time that it was the most dangerous road in America (at least according to insurance companies at the time, based on claims from accidents there).

Africa's wildlife hotspot in trouble
The Masai Mara in Kenya is without doubt on that exclusive list of the earth's greatest wildlife hotspots to which people will travel thousands of miles to experience.

What for years has drawn visitors from all over the globe has been the abundance of Africa's "charismatic megafauna", as zoologists like to say, on the Mara's open grasslands. Not only are what hunters used to call the "Big Five" much in evidence � lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino (although the black rhino are increasingly rare) � but so are the vast herds of hoofed animals, the wildebeest, zebras and Thomson's gazelles.

The Masai Mara and the Serengeti in effect form a single savannah ecosystem bestriding the Kenya-Tanzanian border, and in October the herds migrate back to the Serengeti, in some of the largest animal movements on the planet; the wildebeest are thought to number more than a million. Most of the other magnificent creatures which Africa displays can also be found: cheetah, hippopotamus, giraffe, hyena, many antelopes and gazelles, and more than 450 species of birds. Many Britons who have never visited Africa will be familiar with the park from television shows such as Big Cat Diary.

Located 140 miles from Nairobi, and named after the Masai people, the tall cattle herders who were the traditional inhabitants of the area, the Mara has been a Kenyan national park since 1967. Tourists have flooded in for decades; the stiff entry fees ($60 [�38] for an adult last year, and $30 for a child) have been a major source of foreign currency for the Kenyan government.

But all is not well with the park and its wildlife. A scientific paper published last year showed that many animal species were declining, and blamed increased human settlement in and around the reserve. Funded by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), the study monitored hoofed species in the Masai Mara on a monthly basis for 15 years, and concluded that six species � giraffes, impala, warthogs, topis and water-bucks � had declined significantly, and at an alarming rate. Now comes the suggestion that too much tourism, especially when not properly regulated, can also start to erode the value of one of the world's richest wildlife areas. It is clear that "charismatic megafauna" and humans can mix � but only so far.

PAM COMMENTARY: This article seems to end abruptly with a theory, but no proof to support that theory. It may be another slanted conclusion to ask for more research money. But I'll link to the article anyway, because it does provide information on an alleged decline, no exact numbers given here though.

The illegal camps that threaten to destroy Kenya's Masai Mara
"Black rhinos are extremely shy and sensitive, and they need the shade and seclusion of riverine forest to calve," said Samson Lenjirr, an experienced warden and former head of the Masai Mara's rhino programme. "Where this camp is situated is the single largest such forested area in the reserve. These rhinos can't put up with permanent human settlement there, with generators running all day, tourist vans coming and going."

The last-ditch battle to stop the new lodge is emblematic of the wider struggle to save Kenya's best-known tourist attraction which, scientists warn, is in danger of ecological collapse thanks to runaway development.

An unpublished Kenyan government audit, seen by The Independent, reveals that the Greater Mara ecosystem is now weighed down by 108 camps and lodges, with more than 4,000 beds. Most of these units are flouting the law, failing to compensate local communities and not paying tax, the confidential report concludes. Nearly eight out of 10 of the camps surveyed have not carried out the required Environmental Impact Assessment while only 29 per cent of the camps are operating legally.

The apparent free-for-all in the Mara has worried the influential International Federation of Tour Operators (IFTO) sufficiently that the UK office wrote to the Kenyan government two weeks ago demanding a list of the illegal camps.

Rare wolf found safe in New Brighton
After three nights on the run, a rare wolf mysteriously sprung from a cage at a wildlife center in Forest Lake was captured safely Thursday in New Brighton.

"She's going to be fine, thank heavens. She's going to be fine," said Peggy Callahan, executive director of the Wildlife Science Center, who had the animal wrapped in a blanket in the back of an SUV.

Acting on a tip from citizens, police and wildlife officials cornered the female Mexican gray wolf -- one of fewer than 150 worldwide -- against a chain-link fence near Long Lake Road and Interstate 694 as traffic zoomed by. They got nets around the animal, allowing a wildlife official to inject it with a tranquilizer.

The wolf was disappeared Monday after someone broke a lock on its cage at the center. Its two sisters stayed behind. Officials plan to someday reintroduce the wolves to the wild.

Gordon Brown pledges full probe into hit squad fake British passports
Gordon Brown today promised a "full investigation" into the use of faked British passports by a hit squad who assassinated a Hamas commander in Dubai.

The Prime Minister said: "We are looking at this at this very moment."

"We have got to carry out a full investigation into this. The British passport is an important document that has got to be held with care," he told London's LBC Radio.

"The evidence has got to be assembled about what has actually happened and how it happened and why it happened and it is necessary for us to accumulate that evidence before we can make statements."

He spoke amid demands for the Israeli ambassador to be summoned to the Foreign Office to answer allegations that its security services were behind the assassination.

Two of those whose British passports were apparently used by the killers have expressed their shock at being named among 11 suspects identified by Dubai police.

At least some Dubai photos of Hamas 'assassins' appear fake
Reporting from Jerusalem - At least some of the passport photos and information released by Dubai this week on 11 suspects in the assassination of an alleged Hamas arms dealer appears to be false, Irish officials and several Israeli citizens said Tuesday.

The use of sophisticated fake IDs would match the professional manner in which the Jan. 20 slaying of Mahmoud Mabhouh was apparently carried out.

Melvyn Adam Mildiner, a British Israeli who moved to the Jerusalem area from London nine years ago, awoke Tuesday to find his name splashed across Israel's major newspapers alongside someone else's photograph in a mug-shot collage of the alleged hit squad.

"I went to bed with pneumonia and woke up a 'murderer,' " he mused to the Jerusalem Post.

Mildiner, who spent the day fielding phone calls from reporters, said he was worried about what sort of travel problems he now might encounter if Interpol has an arrest warrant in his name.

Former NYC police commissioner Bernard Kerik gets 4 years in jail
Bernard B. Kerik, the former commissior of both the New York City Police Department and the Corrections Department and at one time George W. Bush's nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security was today sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of tax fraud and lying on federal documents during his background check by The White House.

Kerik 54, was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $187,931 He was ordered to surrender no later than May 17, 2010 to begin serving his sentence.

"It is a very sad day when the former Commissioner of the greatest police department in the world is sentenced to prison for base criminal conduct," said Preet Baharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. "Today's sentencing of Bernard Kerik is one of the most powerful recent reminders that no one in this country is above the law,"

A somewhat humble Kerik asked that his legacy not be tarnished by his crimes.

PAM COMMENTARY: He must have really been guilty in a bad way for New York to do anything about him.

14 dead dogs dumped in NE Houston
Houston SPCA investigators said it is �highly unlikely� 14 dead dogs dumped in a wooded area on the northeast side of town died of natural causes.

The grisly discovery was made around 12:20 p.m. Wednesday after someone contacted Houston police to report the finding. The dogs were dumped in a wooded area just a short walk off Greens Road near the Eastex Freeway feeder road.

All of the dogs' carcasses were such advanced stages of decomposition that no necropsies can be performed, Houston SPCA Chief Animal Cruelty Investigator Charles Jantzen said. In this case, the dogs appeared to have been dead for at least three days, Jantzen said.

Keep pets out of plane cabins, doctors say
Airline passengers with pet allergies should not be forced to share cabin space with dogs and cats, says an editorial published Tuesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Last summer, Air Canada changed its policy to allow cats and small dogs to travel in the cabin, aligning itself with a WestJet policy.

"Surveys have shown that there's widespread public support for keeping pets off airplanes, in the cabins, and for those reasons we feel strongly that this is a public health issue that really needs to be addressed thoughtfully," said Dr. Matthew Stanbrook, a respirologist who co-wrote the editorial.

"Given the importance of air travel for Canadians and those who travel through Canadian airspace, we think that Air Canada needs to rethink its decision or be made to do so by government agencies."

Robert Fisk: Passport to the truth in Dubai remains secret
It's a propaganda war. Whoever killed the Hamas official in Dubai � let's speak frankly � it's part of an old, dirty war between the Israelis and the Palestinians in which they have been murdering their secret police antagonists for decades. Whose were the passports? Or should we say "passports". So here's a moment to reflect on realities.

Many Dubaians believe that the collapse of the emirate's economy last year was the revenge of Western banks � spurred on, of course, by the Americans � to punish them for allowing Iranian shell companies to use Dubai as a sanctions-busting base during the cold-hot war between the US-Israeli alliance and Iran. Now the Americans (or the Israelis � you can take your pick) want to turn Dubai into the Beirut of the Gulf. That was actually a headline last week � in The Jerusalem Post, of course � which painted Dubai as dangerous as it was economically calamitous.

But hold on a minute. According to a Dubai "source" of The Independent � readers will have to judge what this means � the security forces of the aforesaid emirate informed a "British diplomat" in Dubai (presumably the consul, since the embassy is in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi) of the UK passport details almost six days ago and "did not receive an appropriate reply". If this is true � the Foreign Office will be wrathful in its denials � then why didn't the British immediately express their outrage at the use of forged British passports and cough up details of the equally outrageous frauds a week ago? This misuse puts every British citizen at risk.

Yet the Foreign Office � so keen to warn British citizens of the dangers they face in the Middle East � sat on their large behind and did bugger all. I'm sorry. If they had the details, they had a duty to UK citizens to speak up. If they hadn't got the details, they should have told us. But they were silent. Why? Was there a cold breeze coming beneath a closed door?

Far too many police forces are now sending their minions to Israel to learn about "terror". The Canadians actually dispatched a team of cops to Tel Aviv who allowed themselves to wear "suicide vests" for publicity pictures. Air France now hands the US details of all its passengers' profiles � which, of course, go straight to the Israelis � despite the fact that Israeli security officers (like hundreds of Arab security officers in the Middle East) may well be involved in war crimes.

Shadowy and deadly - the long arm of the Mossad
Israel's Mossad secret service, more formally known as the Institute for Espionage and Special Tasks, has a long history of carrying out clandestine operations, including several spectacular assassinations. Much remains secret but cases that are documented have involved large teams of agents using false or stolen passports to disguise their Israeli origins.

The Mossad's assassination unit has been known at different times as Caesarea and Kidon (Bayonet). Women agents have often been involved � there was reportedly one in the Dubai killing.

Israel's official silence does not mean that it cannot be heard trumpeting its success. "The intelligence [about Dubai] was reliable and accurate," �commented the respected national security specialist Yossi Melman in the newspaper Haaretz earlier this month. "Even though Mabhouh knew Israeli �intelligence had him in its sights and took stringent precautions they still managed to get him."

Information released by Dubai shows the professionalism of the suspected assassins and their methods, Melman commented today, citing a novel written by a former Mossad officer, Mishka Ben-David, the plot of which bears a close similarity to the abortive poison attack on the Hamas leader Khaled Misha'al in Jordan in 1997. That case caused huge political embarrassment when two agents using false Canadian passports fled to the Israeli embassy in Amman.

Governors to come together over wind energy
Gov. Bob McDonnell and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar don't have much in common when it comes to offshore drilling, but wind energy may be another story.

Later this week, McDonnell and other mid-Atlantic governors will go to Washington to discuss how states can proceed in a "coordinated" fashion to access wind energy off the Atlantic coast.

Last summer, federal authorities granted clearance to permit offshore wind projects along the coasts of New Jersey and Delaware. There's also a tower off Massachusetts' coast gathering wind data. And federal officials are reviewing applications for projects off Florida and Georgia.

To speed along the process in Virginia, several lawmakers have filed bills this year to establish a state wind energy authority.

Mexican gray wolf on loose in Forest Lake
A Forest Lake science center hopes that the beckoning howls of 41 wolves and a waiting meal of venison will entice a missing Mexican gray wolf back to the cage it escaped after a break-in over the weekend.

The biggest risk, said Bob Ebsen, education director for the Wildlife Science Center, isn't to people or pets but to the missing female wolf itself. The shy 55- to 60-pound wolf has never been in the wild and has had no hunting experience. It could be shot by someone who thought it was a coyote, harassed to the point of injury or wind up as roadkill, he said.

Ebsen doesn't know who broke open the pen holding three female wolves Sunday night. "There are people out there who do things because they think it's the right thing to do, but the animal isn't benefiting now," he said. "You have a wolf that's been in a cage its whole life. It's a critically endangered species. ... They need housing facilities to recover this population."

There are fewer than 150 Mexican gray wolves on the planet, he said.

Bull trout protections up for public review
MISSOULA, Mont. � A U.S. Fish and Wildlife plan that would more than quadruple habitat protection for bull trout in the West is up for public review.

The agency is holding information sessions on the proposal in Montana, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Nevada. Biologist Wade Fredenberg, who held one session in Missoula on Tuesday, says people want to know what's happening in their home waters. Another public hearing is set for Boise, Idaho on Feb. 25.

The plan would designate 23,000 miles of streams and 533,000 acres of lakes and reservoirs in the five states as critical bull trout habitat. Final action is expected Sept. 30.

Operation Aphrodite (Video) [WRH]
PAM COMMENTARY: "Something happened," huh? The point of this video, linked to by WhatReallyHappened.com, is that the military had been using remote controlled aircrafts since WWII. Obviously, many 9/11 truthers feel that the "terrorist" planes on 9/11 were actually government planes controlled remotely.

Assembly backs limits on BPA in baby bottles
Madison � The Assembly voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to ban the sale and manufacture of BPA in baby bottles and cups for children age 3 and younger, clearing the way for the matter to become law.

The measure, passed 95-2, also requires that these items made without BPA be labeled to let consumers know that they don't contain the chemical.

"Today, we are putting the safety and well-being of citizens before corporate profits," said state Rep. Kelda Helen Roys (D-Madison), the bill's co-sponsor.

Last month, the state Senate unanimously passed an identical bill.

The measure moves to Gov. Jim Doyle for his signature to become law. He is expected to sign it.

PAM COMMENTARY: States stepping in to be responsible, where the Federal government won't.

Nine hospitalized in Olympic concert chaos at LiveCity Yaletown
In front of the stage, several barricades had collapsed under the weight of the surging crowd and chaos unfolded.

"One of the band said the barricade had broken and it was sharp and people were hurt," Stewart said.

"We heard a volunteer say a girl had hurt her foot and another girl had her leg cut pretty badly."

Several ambulances were called, the concert was cancelled and all the estimated 7,600 in attendance were asked to leave.

The future of the next few days of concerts is in doubt.

PAM COMMENTARY: Canada wanted those winter games SO BADLY, and now look at the wall-to-wall misfortunes they're having. Must be their bad karma for harassing anti-Olympic activists, or detaining Amy Goodman at the border.

Mexico's earthquake recovery could be a model for Haiti
MEXICO CITY -- The devastating 1985 earthquakes delivered Felipe Lembrino a mixed blessing: one year living in a squalid makeshift camp for the displaced, but also a new home built on government-granted land, financed by the Red Cross, constructed with his own calloused hands.

But it was not until Mexicans like Lembrino launched large protests against ineffective government -- barrio por barrio, neighborhood by neighborhood -- that they were assured permanent housing.

``The people of Haiti, they need to get together -- not everyone for himself, like we're seeing on television,'' Lembrino, 64, said of early images of Haitians fighting each other at aid distribution centers following last month's quake.

Spurred by the social unrest following the quakes, the Mexican government, aid groups and activists built or rehabilitated nearly 100,000 housing units in the capital in less than two years -- an achievement widely considered a success that could serve as a model for quake-torn Haiti.

Malaria, not murder felled King Tut
�However, most of the disease diagnoses are hypothetical, derived by observing and interpreting artifacts and not by evaluating the mummified remains,� the paper says.

But study researchers, led by Zahi Hawass of Egypt�s Supreme Council of Antiquities in Cairo, were given unique and unfettered access to the withered corpses of Tut and many of his supposed ancestors.

Using high-tech medical scanning equipment and DNA testing of mummified tissues, the researchers ruled out everything from Marfar to murder.

Instead they found genetic evidence of the Plasmodium falciparum parasite � the creature that causes malaria � in the young monarch�s remains, as well as in those of his mother and father.

The presence of malaria, accompanied by imaged evidence of degenerative bone diseases such as Kohler disease II, could have led to an acute episode of the mosquito-borne ailment when Tutankhamun broke his leg � likely by accident � during the ninth year of his reign.

Obama offers loan to help fund two nuclear reactors
President Obama seized a key Republican energy initiative as his own Tuesday, promising $8.33 billion in federal loan guarantees for a pair of Georgia reactors that he said would give new life to the U.S. nuclear power industry and create a surge of high-skill jobs.

By helping to finance the construction of the reactors -- the first new U.S. nuclear power units in more than 30 years -- Obama is hoping to jump-start his efforts to pass comprehensive climate-change legislation, which has stalled in Congress in the face of GOP opposition.

The president is also casting the nuclear initiative as a centerpiece of his plan to produce clean-energy jobs, although construction on the two reactors would not begin for more than a year. Nonetheless, after touring a Maryland training facility for energy jobs, Obama said the competition for those positions worldwide will be fierce.

"If we fail to invest in the technologies of tomorrow, then we're going to be importing those technologies instead of exporting them," he said. "We will fall behind. Jobs will be produced overseas instead of here in the United States of America. And that's not a future that I accept."

PAM COMMENTARY: "Clean" energy? What's so clean about radioactive waste?

Electric motor expertise sold Spanish firm on Milwaukee
In the race to attract green jobs, it turns out that Milwaukee's old-economy legacy of manufacturing is more plus than minus.

The strengths of a region once known as the "machine shop to the world" helped set it apart from nearly 80 other cities considered by Spain's Ingeteam, which announced Tuesday it will open its first U.S. factory in Milwaukee's Menomonee Valley.

Ingeteam expects to begin construction in April on a factory that it hopes to open in January with about 50 to 60 employees, said Alex Belaustegi, director of Ingeteam's renewable energy business. The factory is expected to employ 275 people by 2015.

Ingeteam initially looked at 76 locations in eight states before narrowing the list to two finalists: Milwaukee and Grand Rapids, Mich., said Timothy Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.

The key differentiator for Milwaukee: its labor force. In particular, Milwaukee had far and away the most people employed in the making of electric motors, the province of local firms including Rockwell Automation Inc. and New Berlin's ABB.

Scientists: Teton Range bighorn herd at risk
JACKSON, Wyo. � The roughly 100 animals that make up the isolated Teton Range bighorn sheep herd are at risk of extinction because they no longer migrate from their tough high-mountain habitat during the winter and are genetically isolated, scientists said.

The herd used to migrate every winter from the high peaks of the Tetons to lower, warmer climes.

The herd stopped migrating after about 1950 as development and domestic sheep grazing increased at lower elevations, said biologist Aly Courtemanch, a University of Wyoming master's degree candidate working for the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.

"Their winter range was taken over by houses and roads," she said.

Courtemanch and other researchers are using tracking devices and help from backcountry skiers to learn how the herd survives harsh temperatures and sparse winter habitat. It's the most recent effort of the Teton Bighorn Sheep Working Group, which formed in the early 1990s.

Southeast timber coalition loses lawsuit over Tongass logging
At more than 26,000 square miles, the Tongass is about the same size as West Virginia and is often labeled the "crown jewel" in the national forest system. It encompasses most of Southeast Alaska.

The Bush plan leaves about 3.4 million acres of the 17 million acre forest open to logging and other development, including about 2.4 million acres of backcountry areas that are remote and roadless. About 663,000 acres are in areas considered most valuable for timber production.

Mark Gnadt, a spokesman for the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, said his group was pleased with what he called a common-sense decision.

"Had it gone the other way, it would've thrown out requirements for buffer strips to protect salmon streams and other guidelines most all Southeast Alaskans agree are reasonable parameters for the timber industry," Gnadt said.

Palin slams �Family Guy� over Down character
JUNEAU, Alaska - Sarah Palin is lashing out at the portrayal of a character with Down syndrome on the Fox animated comedy �Family Guy.�

In a Facebook posting headlined �Fox Hollywood � What a Disappointment,� the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee and current Fox News contributor said Sunday night�s episode felt like �another kick in the gut.� Palin�s youngest son, Trig, has Down syndrome.

The episode features the character Chris falling for a girl with Down syndrome. On a date, he asks what her parents do.

She replies: �My dad�s an accountant, and my mom is the former governor of Alaska.�

Former city worker admits he led drug cell
A former Houston Parks Department employee turned narco-trafficker admitted in federal court Tuesday that he led a drug cartel cell that moved millions of dollars worth of cocaine from Monterrey, Mexico, to Houston.

Authorities have long contended that after his brother was murdered in Mexico, Jaime Zamora took sole control of the business in Houston, exchanging bulk cash and drugs in his East End home, as well as in his parents' house across the street.

On Tuesday, he pleaded guilty to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute cocaine after he was snared in an undercover operation by a drug enforcement agent .

He also is accused in state court of masterminding the Houston killing of a man he mistakenly thought was a hated drug rival, �El Narizon,� Spanish for Big Nose. Instead, the victim of the killing was just a man out having dinner with his family, shot down as his children watched.

Surprise! Doctors Learn Some Drugs are Stinky; Doctors Confused by Patients Who Quit Pills Found Out That Many Drugs Reek
Any good doctor will know about a drug's side effects, both brand names and generics before they prescribe it. But a doctor may have no idea that your medication tastes like fish.

A group of family physicians in Georgia were surprised to learn that many of their diabetes patients had stopped taking a well-known medicine called metformin because it smelled like "dead fish," according to a clinical observation published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Now these doctors want to warn other physicians to be on the lookout for stinky drugs.

"A physician may prescribe a drug and as far as seeing the drug, they may never have seen the tablet before and certainly never tried smelling it," said J. Russell May, a co-author of the clinical observation and a professor at the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy in Athens. Ga.

PAM COMMENTARY: Nice little graphic on this article.

Report: Wisconsin 2nd in nation in organic farms
MILWAUKEE - The latest agricultural numbers show Wisconsin with more than 1,200 certified organic farms, which is second in the nation behind California.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture also said Tuesday that Wisconsin leads the nation in sales of organic cranberries and beef cows.

The numbers are from 2008, which was the most recent information available.

Even though Wisconsin has a lot of organic farms, they are on average smaller than similar farms in other states. So Wisconsin is only sixth in the U.S. in total organic sales.

Anti-whaling activist in custody on Japanese ship
A New Zealand anti-whaling activist is being held in custody on a Japanese whaling ship after secretly boarding it the day before as part of a protest, the whalers said.

Diplomats in New Zealand and Tokyo have been meeting to discuss what to do with Pete Bethune, who jumped aboard the Shonan Maru No.2 from a power-ski on Monday.

Mr Bethune was the captain of the protest boat Ady Gil that sank after a collision with the Shonan Maru No.2 last month.

He boarded the Japanese ship with the stated goal of making a citizen's arrest of the ship's captain and of handing over a $3 million bill for the destruction of the Ady Gil.

The daring boarding is the latest escalation by the US-based Sea Shepherd activist group, which is trying to disrupt the Japanese whale hunt.

PAM COMMENTARY: Why do the Japanese need whale meat so badly? I assume the whalers are just profiteers -- that's usually the way crime works.

US senator says Japan base presence 'can be modified'
TOKYO � A senior US senator and defence expert said he believes the American military presence in Japan "can be modified", as a row simmers over an air base with a new centre-left government in Toyko.

But Senator Jim Webb also warned that the near 50,000 US armed forces in Japan, who are now concentrated on southern Okinawa island, remain essential to maintaining stability in the East Asian region.

Washington and Tokyo have quarrelled over the planned relocation of the Futenma Air Station on Okinawa since a new Japanese government last year said it would review the plan for a fresh base, citing local opposition.

Webb -- an ex-combat Marine and long-time Japan expert who heads the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on East Asia -- said that "I believe that the American military presence in Japan can be modified."

US wants Japan's quick decision over airfield
The United States is stepping up pressure on Tokyo to come to a quick conclusion over the relocation of US troops in Japan.

Visiting US Senator Jim Webb said on Monday that a solution needed to be found quickly.

In 2006, Washington and Tokyo agreed to relocate US troops stationed at Futenma Marine airfield from the larger city of Ginowan in Okinawa to the smaller town of Nago.

However, the new Japanese government that took office last September announced that it would decide on the deal by May.

Webb, a member of the US Senate Armed Services Committee, said the main purpose of his visit was to listen to the views of the Japanese government.

Is defence treaty with US set to collapse?
ALMOST exactly half a century ago, Tokyo and Washington signed a landmark agreement so divisive it forced then US president Dwight D Eisenhower to cancel a trip to Japan, led to the resignation of Japan�s prime minister Nobusuke Kishi and sparked large riots and violent demonstrations by students and trade unionists across the country.

Yet, despite the best efforts of its opponents, the US-Japan Security Treaty (Ampo) � the keystone of US defence policy in Asia � is still with us. The two sides officially celebrated its anniversary last month, even as they were buffeted by what could be the most serious crisis in the treaty�s history. Many wonder if it will survive 2010 at all.

The treaty is one of the odder creations of international diplomacy because it depends on a key contradiction: how can a country that is supposedly neutral and pacifist also be a key player in the American global defence network? The answer, points out Japan-based political scientist Douglas Lummis, is Okinawa, Japan�s southern-most prefecture.

Nearly 1,000 miles from Tokyo, and a psychological world away, Okinawa hosts about 75 per cent of all US military facilities in Japan. Thousands of young marines � many battle-scarred from Iraq and Afghanistan � are uneasily stationed there. The marine�s Futenma air base squats right in the centre of crowded Ginowan city, bringing noise, pollution and crime.

For decades, Okinawans complained of being forced to bear the burdens � and contradictions � of the nation�s entire defence strategy. Out of sight and mostly out of mind of the mainland, they demanded the US bases and troops be spread more evenly in Japan. Until last year, they were largely ignored by a succession of conservative governments led by the Liberal Democrats (LDP). But the election of the liberal-left Democrats (DPJ) under prime minister Yukio Hatoyama has raised expectations of long-awaited change.

Use of temps to fill jobs may no longer signal permanent hiring
When employers hire temporary staff after a recession, it's long been seen as a sign they'll soon hire permanent workers.

Not these days.

Companies have hired more temps for four straight months. But they remain reluctant to make permanent hires because of doubts about the recovery's durability.

Even companies that are boosting production seem inclined to get by with their existing workers, plus temporary staff if necessary.

"I think temporary hiring is less useful a signal than it used to be," says John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo. "Companies aren't testing the waters by turning to temporary firms. They just want part-time workers."

The reasons vary. But economists and business people say the main obstacle is that employers lack confidence that the economic rebound has staying power. Many fear their sales and the overall economy will remain weak or even falter as consumers spend cautiously.

Democratic Sen. Bayh of Indiana won't run for reelection
Bayh cited the lack of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill as his main reason for leaving, adding to skepticism that the fractiousness in Washington can be repaired and undermining President Obama's efforts to build bridges.

"There is too much partisanship and not enough progress -- too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving," Bayh said in a statement. "Even at a time of enormous challenge, the people's business is not being done."

His announcement in Indianapolis came amid Democrats' rising anxiety about the party's national standing, especially among independent voters who tend to identify with middle-of-the-road Democrats such as Bayh. A growing anti-incumbent mood fueled Republican Scott Brown's victory last month in a special election for the Senate seat long held by the late Edward M. Kennedy, one of the chamber's stalwart liberals. Democrats were defeated in the 2009 gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey. And senior Democratic Sens. Byron Dorgan (N.D.) and Christopher J. Dodd (Conn.) announced recently that they will not run for reelection.

National polls underscore the American public's disenchantment with the government: Just 36 percent of those surveyed said they planned to vote to reelect their representative in Congress, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll this month.

A hungry India balks at genetically modified crops
MUMBAI, India � It began quietly in America a decade ago, with a tomato.

Since the introduction of the Flavr Savr tomato, engineered for long shelf life, genetically modified food has become a fact of American life.

Not so in India. The debate over GM food, long settled in America, is noisily beginning here.

Last week, India halted the commercial release of the world's first genetically engineered eggplant, called Bt brinjal. The environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, said that given the lack of consensus within the scientific community and the pitch of public opposition, further study was needed to guarantee consumer safety.

Why the skepticism over a technology many scientists say is crucial for feeding the 9 billion people who will populate the planet by 2050?

To many in India, embracing Bt brinjal - which has a gene owned by Monsanto Co - also means embracing corporate farming and surrendering some control of the nation's food supply to a powerful foreign company. They worry this could have disastrous consequences for the nation's 100 million small farming families.

PAM COMMENTARY: The issue of GMOs were never "settled" in America -- they were just forced on the population here in the midst of a serious disinformation campaign. Time for another flashback to India's favorite agri-activist...

Vandana Shiva on Farmer Suicides, the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal, Wal-Mart in India and More (FLASHBACK) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the water tower protests?

VANDANA SHIVA: In the state of Rajasthan, which is the capital of the production of mustard--and mustard in India is very symbolic. It�s the color of our spring. When spring comes, we dress in the yellow of the mustard flower. It�s our staple oil, and we love the pungency of it.

1998, Monsanto and Cargill managed to get a ban on indigenous oils in order to create a market for soya oil, something we�ve never eaten before. We led a movement of women to bring back the mustard. But today, 70% of the oil India is eating, edible oil--and India was the capital of edible oil production�mustard, sesame, linseed, coconut, wonderful healthy oils�today, 70% of our edible oil market is soya oil dumped on us, palm oil dumped on us. And, as you know, today soya is being cultivated in cutting the Amazon, and palm oil is being cultivated cutting the rain forest of Borneo.

When the farmers can�t sell their mustard�nobody�s buying it�they�ve had protests. Twelve farmers were killed in Central India. And there was a farmer who climbed onto the water tower a few months ago, mimicking a Bollywood film, but basically saying he would jump to suicide if the farmer�s mustard was not bought. This hijacking of the market for agriculture by a handful of agribusiness, which is what the rules of WTO are�the Agreement on Agriculture is basically putting all of agriculture into the hands of ADM, ConAgra and Cargill, and all the seed sector into the hands of Monsanto�it must necessarily destroy more and more farms, more and more farming, and push more farmers to suicide for a while, unless we get a change.

We work for the change, and our work in Navdanya shows that farmers can double their incomes by using their own seeds, doing organic farming. All they need is a joining of hands with urban consumers and definitely a change in the rules of trade, which have treated the rights of Cargill as fundamental rights.

And something Americans don�t know much about, the nuclear deal with India has a twin agreement, and that twin agreement is on agriculture. It�s called the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture, and on the board of this agreement are Monsanto, ADM and Wal-Mart. So a grab of the seed sector by Monsanto, of the trade sector by the giant agribusiness, and the retail sector, which is 400 million people in India, by Wal-Mart. These are issues that are preoccupying us for about democracy in India right now.

Energy firm picks Milwaukee for plant
Politicians and business leaders were quick to celebrate - and claim credit for - Monday's announcement that a Spanish company will bring hundreds of new jobs to Milwaukee.

Wisconsin's current governor, two candidates to succeed him, and not one but two regional economic development alliances all lined up to score points from a new Menomonee Valley plant for Ingeteam, a Spanish manufacturer of wind-turbine generators.

About 270 manufacturing jobs will be created by the plant, said Greater Milwaukee Committee President Julia Taylor. Building the plant will bring construction jobs as well, said Patrick Curley, chief of staff to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

It will be Ingeteam's first North American factory, said Gale Klappa, co-chairman of the Milwaukee 7 economic development coalition.

Ingeteam chose the valley because of its proximity to workers, I-94 and Spanish-speaking neighborhoods, as well as Milwaukee's "great reputation for manufacturing," said Barrett, also a Milwaukee 7 co-chairman.

Norway plans the world's most powerful wind turbine
Norway plans to build the world's most powerful wind turbine, hoping the new technology will increase the profitability of costly offhsore wind farms, partners behind the project said Friday.

With a rotor diametre of 145 metres (475 feet), the 10-megawatt protype will be roughly three times more powerful than ordinary wind turbines currently in place, Enova, a public agency owned by Norway's petroleum and oil industry ministry, said.

The world's largest wind turbine, 162.5 metres (533 feet) tall, will be built by Norwegian company Sway with the objective of developing a technology that will result in higher energy generation for offshore wind power.

It will first be tested on land in Oeygarden, southwestern Norway, for two years.

The gain in power over current turbines will be obtained partly by reducing the weight and the number of moving parts in the turbine.

According to the NTB news agency, the prototype will cost 400 million kroner to build and could supply power to 2,000 homes.

Fish plant works to clean up its act, eliminate smell with $20M
L. Preston Bryant, the secretary of natural resources under then-Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, summoned company executives to his office in Richmond.

"I basically told them they needed to do something pretty drastic or else," Bryant recalled. "I think they heard me loud and clear."

What happened next has become lore in Reedville, a coastal fishing village affiliated with the menhaden industry for the past 150 years.

Omega executives from Houston flew into town unannounced, landing at a small corporate airstrip. They held a closed-door meeting, toured the plant on foot and by boat, then fired top managers and staff.

"They decided we needed a culture change in Reedville," Landry said.

Since then, a new general manager has been hired: Monty Deihl, a military veteran who grew up in Reedville and whose family has worked in the menhaden industry for decades.

"When I was a kid around here, septic waste went straight into the creek. And that was pretty much true with the plant," Deihl said during a site tour last month. "But we've cleaned up. This is a different place. We have to be."

PAM COMMENTARY: I'd rather have flaxseed oil as my Omega-3 supplement. I'm amazed that the government of Virginia (under the Democrat Kaine, of course) could get them to clean up their act.

FPL power-line plan could prove costly for some Miami-Dade officials
Nonetheless, the recent defeat of Feliu, a 12-year veteran of the South Miami City Commission, underscores how FPL's campaign to install high-voltage power lines in communities across South Florida is taking a toll on local politicians.

Immediately before the election, WTVJ-NBC 6 aired a news report that said that five FPL executives from FPL's Jupiter headquarters contributed $250 apiece, the maximum contribution allowed, into Feliu's campaign coffers.

Feliu said at the time these contributions didn't affect his favoring of the project.

That didn't dissuade some residents.

George Khuly said on election day that his vote for Stoddard came down to one point: ``I don't want the FPL lines.''

PAM COMMENTARY: More political wreckage from FPL... and I've wondered if the huge numbers of tumors on the backs of sea turtles had anything to do with FPL's Turkey Point nuclear power plant being located on prime sea turtle habitat.

Ex-Clinton prosecutor Starr to lead Baylor
Kenneth Starr, the prosecutor whose investigations into the administration and behavior of former President Bill Clinton made him a lightning rod for partisan politics, has been named president of Baylor University.

The announcement ended an 18-month search that began after regents fired former president John M. Lilley in 2008, saying they had lost confidence in his ability to serve Baylor's many constituencies.

Starr, 63, has been dean of Pepperdine University's law school since 2004. He is scheduled to be introduced on the Baylor campus Tuesday afternoon and starts work June 1. Baylor is the nation's largest Baptist university.

Monday, he was praised for his academic and administrative credentials � the Pepperdine law school vaulted up more than 150 spots in the U.S. News and World Report rankings during his tenure � and for his potential to pull together the sometimes-fractious Baylor community.

PAM COMMENTARY: For schools who'd rather have sensationalist news headlines than top academic credentials... I wonder whose b------ he'll be investigating there.

On Crete, New Evidence of Very Ancient Mariners
Early humans, possibly even prehuman ancestors, appear to have been going to sea much longer than anyone had ever suspected.

That is the startling implication of discoveries made the last two summers on the Greek island of Crete. Stone tools found there, archaeologists say, are at least 130,000 years old, which is considered strong evidence for the earliest known seafaring in the Mediterranean and cause for rethinking the maritime capabilities of prehuman cultures.

Crete has been an island for more than five million years, meaning that the toolmakers must have arrived by boat. So this seems to push the history of Mediterranean voyaging back more than 100,000 years, specialists in Stone Age archaeology say. Previous artifact discoveries had shown people reaching Cyprus, a few other Greek islands and possibly Sardinia no earlier than 10,000 to 12,000 years ago.

The oldest established early marine travel anywhere was the sea-crossing migration of anatomically modern Homo sapiens to Australia, beginning about 60,000 years ago. There is also a suggestive trickle of evidence, notably the skeletons and artifacts on the Indonesian island of Flores, of more ancient hominids making their way by water to new habitats.

Even more intriguing, the archaeologists who found the tools on Crete noted that the style of the hand axes suggested that they could be up to 700,000 years old. That may be a stretch, they conceded, but the tools resemble artifacts from the stone technology known as Acheulean, which originated with prehuman populations in Africa.

Universities are crumbling, secret database reveals (UK)
Scores of university halls of residences and lecture theatres in the UK were judged "at serious risk of major failure or breakdown" and "unfit for purpose", a secret database obtained after a legal battle by the Guardian reveals.

Some of the most popular, high-ranking institutions, such as the London School of Economics, had 41% of their lecture theatres and classrooms deemed unsuitable for current use, while Imperial �College London had 12% of its non-residential buildings branded "inoperable". At City University, 41% of the student digs were judged unfit for purpose.

Universities argue they have spent hundreds of millions in refurbishment since the judgments were made two years ago and use some of the buildings for storage purposes only.

The government agency that holds the information, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce), was forced to reveal it after an information tribunal ruled in the Guardian's favour, agreeing that it was in the public's interest for the data to be made public.

Ringling Bros.' baby circus elephant, Barack, fighting deadly virus; Elephant calf named Barack pulled from circus lineup
The first Asian elephant born as a result of artificial insemination at a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus facility has been pulled from the circus lineup after he became infected with a potentially deadly herpes virus.

The 1-year-old calf, Barack, is being treated for elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV), a disease that has killed several Asian elephants in zoos across the continent in the past three decades. He and his mother were taken off the traveling unit two weeks ago and sent to Ringling's Center for Elephant Conservation in Polk City, about 40 miles southwest of Orlando. The duo had made a brief appearance at the Orlando Amway Arena last month during the circus' "Greatest Show on Earth."

Barack is expected to survive, said veterinarian Dennis Schmitt, chairman of veterinary services and director of research for Ringling. The calf, named for the president because he was born on the eve of Barack Obama's inauguration, did not show most symptoms, which include a bruised tongue, lethargy, and swollen head and neck. Trainers noticed, however, he had not been as active as usual.

"We're cautiously optimistic that he'll continue to progress," Schmitt said.

Little is known about the elephant herpes virus. Since 1977, at least 30 acute cases have been reported in North America, and most of them involved elephants younger than 7 years old, according to researchers at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington. About a third of those elephants survived after receiving the antiviral drug famciclovir, which is used to treat the virus in humans. However, EEVH only affects elephants and has not been linked to humans.

From milk jugs to furniture
In a spacious building in Duluth, Loll Designs has been making outdoor furniture out of recycled materials for four years.

Though you can't find the furniture line in a Duluth store, the company's durable, colorful products are popular in states like California, Florida and Texas.

Sales grew by 50 percent last year to $2 million and are expected to grow 50 percent again this year. The company also is poised to reach overseas markets with a European distributor.

PAM COMMENTARY: This article is almost a commercial for the company, but the interesting part is that they're successful at doing it.

The Year of the Tiger: The Chinese century
The pace and extent of China's ascent among nations has been remarkable. Barely 20 years ago, it went virtually unnoticed. Today it is an economic superpower � if not (at least yet) a cultural and military one.

By every measure it is a rising power. It is now the world's second- biggest economy behind the United States, and some experts predict it will overtake the US within two decades. It has overtaken Germany to become the world's largest exporter. It holds the largest foreign-currency reserves on earth, more than $2 trillion (�1.3 trillion). Barring a collision between China's authoritarian politics and its economic liberalisation � the paradox of "Confucian capitalism" � this momentum will surely continue.

Despite its progress, China certainly has great potential weaknesses: a poor rural population and ethnic tensions, to name but two. It is also the world's greatest polluter. But its public infrastructure programme dwarfs anything in the West. In that sense especially, its centralised and authoritarian system is a source of strength, enabling decisions to be taken and vital projects to be launched without the delays that often hold up such investment elsewhere.

The West's economic travails have, if anything, made China yet more confident and assertive, and more dismissive of criticism from abroad � be it of its human rights record or its manipulation of the yuan's exchange rate. The fact is that money, not gunboats, gives huge muscle to a diplomacy whose goals are mercantilist rather than ideological. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, it seemed a foregone conclusion that the 21st, like the 20th, would be an "American Century". Now, for the first time in almost a millennium, a Chinese century is on the cards.

PAM COMMENTARY: Happy Chinese New Year, by the way! It just happens to be on Valentine's Day this year.

Tech CFOs are bullish about the economy
That collective sigh you're hearing out of Silicon Valley, Austin and other tech outposts is from their chief financial officers. After a brutal 18-month stretch, more than two-thirds expect a bump in sales this year.

Their bullish stance is the chief takeaway from an annual survey by BDO, one of the USA's leading accounting and consulting firms.

The findings reflect a reversal in fortunes in the minds of CFOs. Last year, only 30% of them forecast improved sales revenue. On average, they anticipate a 9% jump in sales this year. A whopping 68% attributed their rosier outlook to an economic rebound in the United States.

This year, 81% of tech CFOs expect merger and acquisition activity in the market to increase. Last year, only 43% predicted as much. More than half say the primary incentive for M&A activity is to increase sales and profits.

North Fork Flathead protection latest in growing list of Northern Rockies conservation efforts
As momentous as Campbell's announcement was, it's also part of a conservation trend sweeping across the Rocky Mountains on both sides of the border.

Canadian conservationists have been pushing the Castles Special Place initiative to protect the mountains north of Waterton Lakes National Park. They've also been trying to extend Waterton's boundary west to the Flathead River. And then there's the big-umbrella project known as the "Yellowstone to the Yukon Initiative" which seeks to protect wild areas along a 2,000-mile swath of the Rocky Mountains.

In the United States, Plum Creek Timber Co. is close to concluding its Legacy Project, which transfers 310,000 acres of corporate logging country to public and conservation ownership in the Seeley-Swan, Blackfoot and Clark Fork drainages of western Montana. Last summer, energy companies surrendered exploration leases on 111,000 acres of the Rocky Mountain Front east of Great Falls.

"There's a constant theme - people really want to keep this landscape the way it is today," said Bob Ekey, director of the Wilderness Society's Northern Rockies region in Bozeman. "And you can't do nothing. You have to take some kind of action."

And you don't have to wait for government to act either. Landowner-based projects like the Blackfoot Challenge and the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Proposal have been securing thousands of acres of ranch and farm land as wildlife habitat. The Nature Conservancy of Canada has been doing similar work around Crowsnest Pass.

Valentine's Day card to readers 2010, rose garden behind fountain

Victims of electrosensitivity syndrome say EMFs cause symptoms
The explosive spread of electromagnetic fields across the world has undeniably spawned at least one disorder: electrosensitivity syndrome. Millions of people -- most of them in Europe -- say they suffer headaches, depression, nausea, rashes and other problems when they're too close to cellphones or other sources of EMFs. They've formed their own support groups, started their own newsletters and taken drastic steps to avoid EMFs, with some even wearing metallic clothing. A band of EMF "refugees" has moved to a valley in southern France to avoid radiation.

The list of victims includes Gro Harlem Brundtland, the former director-general of the World Health Organization. In 2002, when she still held her title, Brundtland told the BBC that she didn't allow cellphones in her office because the radiation gave her headaches.

In "Full Signal," a documentary that premiered at the 2009 Santa Fe Film Festival, a self-described sufferer of EMF poisoning says that if someone accidentally forgets to turn off a cellphone before entering her house, she starts to feel ill within a couple of hours. "After four hours I can't speak anymore," she says.

Alarming, yes, but such symptoms may not have much to do with electromagnetic fields. Even David Carpenter, a professor of environmental health sciences and biomedical sciences at the University at Albany, State University of New York, who often warns against the dangers of EMFs, isn't convinced that low-level radiation can cause such a wide range of symptoms. He believes that EMFs can cause cancer and possibly neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's and Lou Gehrig's disease, but there's no good evidence that cellphones can cause headaches and other vague complaints, he says. "I'm not sure electrosensitivity is real."

PAM COMMENTARY: "Sure, it can cause cancer, but HEADACHES? Nahhh..."

Photo gallery of 9/11 attacks
PAM COMMENTARY: Notice the official government line used to describe the photo gallery, "after terrorists flew two airliners into the towers." Otherwise it's a nice little gallery for 9/11 researchers.

Anti-whaling activists face trial in Japan
Two Greenpeace activists who were arrested after attempting to expose embezzlement in Japan's whaling fleet will go on trial tomorrow in a case campaigners hope will spark a domestic backlash against the heavily-subsidised industry.

Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki were detained in June 2008, two months after intercepting a consignment of whale meat they claimed had been stolen by a member of the crew on the Nisshin Maru, the Japanese Antarctic whaling fleet's mother ship.

The activists � who claimed the meat was destined for the black market � face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of theft and trespass.

They said the package, retrieved from a warehouse in Aomori, northern Japan, was marked "cardboard" but contained 23kg of salted whale meat worth around 350,000 yen (�2,477).

Greenpeace said it had evidence to prove that at least 23 of the ship's crew smuggled more than 90 boxes of salted whale, disguised as personal baggage, and accused them of defrauding the Japanese taxpayer with the approval of Kyodo Senpaku, which operates the whaling fleet.

Kyodo Senpaku insisted the packages were a "bonus" for crew members who had spent several months in the inhospitable waters of the southern ocean.

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


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