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News from the Week of 14th to 20th of March 2010

Final health bill omits some of Obama's promises
It was a bold response to skyrocketing health insurance premiums. President Barack Obama would give federal authorities the power to block unreasonable rate hikes.

Yet when Democrats unveiled the final, incarnation of their health care bill this week, the proposal was nowhere to be found.

Ditto with several Republican ideas that Obama had said he wanted to include after a televised bipartisan summit last month, including a plan by Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma to send investigators disguised as patients to hospitals in search of waste, fraud and abuse.

And those "special deals" that Obama railed against and said he wanted to eliminate? With the exception of two of the most notorious � extra Medicaid money for Nebraska and a carve-out for Florida seniors faced with losing certain extra Medicare benefits � they are all still there.

Would You Pay $20 for Access to a Breast Cancer Cure?
It seems safe to describe Andrew Hessel as an unbridled optimist. After all, he�s selling $20 shares in a journey toward a personalized cure for breast cancer, which he says could be feasible in the next few years.

Andrew Hessel described the Pink Army Cooperative as the first �biotech company that is owned by the people.�Mr. Hessel serves as the managing director of the Pink Army Cooperative. This Canadian organization has set out to lower the cost of cancer treatments while also making them more effective by embracing a new wave of synthetic biology technology (a field that was recently the subject of a piece in The New York Times Magazine).

In particular, the group hopes to build a relatively cheap virus in its labs that could be tweaked on an individual basis to hunt down and kill breast cancer cells.

PAM COMMENTARY: I'm amazed at how many people are willing to spend money on the promise of a "cure" that never comes. The FDA, AMA, and pharmaceutical industry have spent plenty of time and money ensuring that cheap, effective cures for the disease never make it into mainstream medicine. They'll continue to do so as long as people allow them to control Washington through their army of lobbyists, or their drug advertising revenue that influences reporting by major news outlets.

Personally, I'd never use "mainstream" medical care for cancer, mostly because I'd rather survive the disease than pay a fortune for the poor statistical chance their "treatments" offer. And there's no charge if you'd like to know the protocols that I chose to use when it seemed apparent that I had breast cancer. Just start at my page on alternative cancer treatments and follow the links. (You can donate to the site later if you appreciate my efforts to HELP sick people instead of FLEECING them.)

The protocols I used (like the zapper, the Budwig diet, the dietary changes) are some of the best alternative cancer treatments my research has found, which is why I used them. But it's good to learn as much as possible, so anyone researching the disease can also find other protocols online and in books. Why throw your money at various pie-in-the-sky research promises before you're truly informed about treatments that are already working for people?

Thousands rally to pull troops from 2 war zones
"Arrest that war criminal!" Sheehan shouted outside the White House before her arrest, referring to Obama.

At a rally before the march, Sheehan asked whether "the honeymoon was over with that war criminal in the White House" -- an apparent reference to Obama -- prompting moderate applause.

The protesters defied orders to clear the sidewalk on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House and park police say they face charges of failure to obey a lawful order.

Activist Ralph Nader told thousands who gathered in Lafayette Park across from the White House that Obama has essentially continued the policies of the Bush administration, and it was foolish to have thought otherwise.

"He's kept Guantanamo open, he's continued to use indefinite detention," Nader said. The only real difference, he said is that "Obama's speeches are better."

Others were more conciliatory toward Obama. Shirley Allan of Silver Spring, Md., carried a sign that read, "President Obama We love you but we need to tell you! Your hands are getting bloody!! Stop it now."

Protesters Mark Anniversary of Iraq Invasion (Video)
PAM COMMENTARY: An AP report on the peace protests, including Cindy Sheehan. It's a very short video -- just over a minute long.

Thousands march in D.C. war protest
Thousands are protesting in the nation's capital on the seventh anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, carrying signs reading �Indict Bush Now� and flag-draped cardboard coffins.

Protesters gathered at Lafayette Square across from the White House and planned to march through downtown. Stops on the route include military contractor Halliburton, the Mortgage Bankers Association and The Washington Post offices.

The protest, organized by military veterans and activists Ralph Nader and Cindy Sheehan, was expected to draw smaller crowds than the tens of thousands who marched in 2006 and 2007. But organizers say momentum is building as peace protesters have become disenchanted with President Obama's decision to send more troops into Afghanistan.

PAM COMMENTARY: All this talk about health care reform to supposedly save lives (actually, in the past death rates have gone DOWN when doctors went on strike, calling that whole argument into question), and yet they continue to deliberately kill people with their wars.

Rep. Alan Grayson�s �Medicare You Can Buy Into Act� Attracts 50 Co-Sponsors [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Florida Congress member Alan Grayson speaking on the House floor last week. His bill has since attracted fifty co-sponsors.

Congress member Grayson joins us now from Washington, DC. He�s a freshman Congress member, and he�s no stranger to controversy. In October, he came under heavy criticism from Republicans after he said on the House floor that the Republicans� healthcare plan involved wanting people to, quote, �die quickly.� He also established the website namesofthedead.com, honoring those who�ve lost their lives because they were uninsured. This past weekend, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin traveled to Grayson�s Florida district and urged voters at a Republican fundraiser to oust Grayson in November.

Well, Congress member Grayson, welcome to Democracy Now!, still speaking to us from the nation�s capital. Can you start off by explaining your bill that you�ve introduced, and then where you stand on, well, the whole healthcare reform bill that is being pushed through now?

REP. ALAN GRAYSON: I�ve introduced a simple three-and-a-half-page bill that opens up Medicare to anybody who wants it. If you want it and you pay for it, it�s yours. It�s that simple. It�s open to everybody under the age of sixty-five, whether or not you�re handicapped. And you pay the same amount as other people your age would pay.

And the reason to do this is because we need a public option. We need an option that doesn�t involve putting us at the tender mercies of insurance companies, particularly if there�s a mandate to do so. A lot of people feel that there is a fundamental conflict of interest between themselves and private insurance companies. The private insurance companies make money by denying you the care that you need to be healthy, and sometimes to stay alive. And a lot of people are just sick of it.

So the way to get beyond that is to open up Medicare, which is now available to only one-eighth of the population, to anybody who�s willing to pay for it. And it makes perfect sense when you think about it. I mean, we don�t say the federal highways are only open to senior citizens. And the Medicare provider network is an enormously valuable, expensive thing that we�ve created with federal tax dollars that ought to be open to everyone, not just seniors.

AMY GOODMAN: And how does this fit into the major piece of legislation that will or�I don�t know would even pass�won�t be voted on by the House?

REP. ALAN GRAYSON: My hope was that we would vote not only on the Senate bill, which doesn�t have a public option, not only on the reconciliation amendment, which probably will not have a public option, but that we�d also vote on this, that there�d be three votes instead of two votes. And if we voted on this and we passed it, then it would be presented to the Senate and subject to reconciliation in the Senate, so that we could end up with a public option.

A Strange Call From Reid to Vote on the Public Option ... Later
What began as one of the most controversial issues of the months-long health care debate continues to be so: The public option -- a government-backed insurance plan designed to compete with private companies -- wasn�t included as part of the Democrats� reconciliation bill, sending some liberals through the roof.

Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) attempted to appease some of the chamber�s most ardent public option supporters, vowing to hold a separate vote on the issue later this year, the Huffington Post reported today. In a letter to Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Reid said he was �very disappointed� that the Democrats didn�t have the votes to keep the provision as part of the reform bills.

�I remain committed to pursuing the public option,� Reid wrote.

PAM COMMENTARY: He's just trying to make Democrats feel better, after they were stabbed in the back with a "reform" bill that forces the uninsured to buy insurance and uses tax money to prop up the huge profits of the medical-pharmaceutical-insurance industry. I doubt it will do him any good -- empty promises can't hide what everyone just saw.

Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute to H.R. 4872, as Reported [WRH]
PAM COMMENTARY: WhatReallyHappened.com claims that this pdf file is the text of the health care bill to be voted on by the House Sunday, but it doesn't seem as long as other press reports would lead you to believe.

Cindy Sheehan Sets Up �Camp OUT NOW� in Antiwar Protest [DN]
JUAN GONZALEZ: And Cindy, why do you feel that the peace movement has, as you say, given the Obama administration a pass? What has contributed to sort of this deconstruction of the movement that was so strong during the Bush administration?

CINDY SHEEHAN: Well, you know, that�s a very good question, Juan, and I�ve been trying to analyze that and figure it out, too. Of course, nobody liked George Bush. Nobody was�you know, in the movement was happy with the Bush administration. Happy to see him go, we wanted to see him go in handcuffs instead of on the date when all presidents leave office. But a lot of people in the antiwar movement actually worked for Obama, thinking that he was going to be some kind of a change. So if you work for somebody and that person is elected, then you achieve your goal.

And so, even though Obama said he was going to send more troops to Afghanistan, Afghanistan has become the new�the new hot war. Iraq has become the new forgotten war. And so, as Iraq is winding down for US troops, people are still being killed there. People are still, like the woman said, being economically compromised. But General Stanley McChrystal has said that this is going to be a bloody year for everybody in Afghanistan. And we can�t give the Democrats a free pass. Obviously, the Democrats are not the party�are not an antiwar party. And we, the people, have to figure out that it�s not�that peace and war are not a bipartisan issue. It�s a systemic issue that we have to organize to resist.

Florida water managers weigh cuts, selloffs to finance U.S. Sugar deal
With the odds of borrowing a half-billion bucks growing dicey, water managers are exploring new ways to finance Gov. Charlie Crist's deal with the U.S. Sugar Corp. -- a controversial land buy the governor stood firmly behind Thursday during a South Florida visit.

One possible alternative: Pay for a big chunk -- perhaps even all -- of the $536 million price tag in cash.

But coming up with cash up front could require serious, and politically messy, surgery on the South Florida Water Management District's $1.5 billion budget.

An internal ``financial options'' memo produced this month by Thomas Olliff, a Water District assistant executive director, contemplates an array of potential cuts: canceling or postponing nearly a dozen existing Everglades restoration projects, slashing salaries, selling a district plane, closing a laboratory, selling state-owned land, even downsizing the deal again by selling off thousands of acres of U.S. Sugar citrus groves.

Jesse Ventura, looking over his shoulder
In his just-released book, Ventura again claims that a CIA operative worked in Minnesota government during his administration -- and that he assumes there is still such an agent assigned to St. Paul. He also wanted a reporter to know that, given his revelations, he would never commit suicide. So if anything suspicious happens, and the official report states that Ventura committed suicide, "You'll know, that's baloney."

This is Ventura's fifth book, but the first he has written "about something besides myself." Conveniently, it feeds off his current series on TruTV, "Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura," for which he said he'll film 10 new episodes this summer. In "American Conspiracies," he and co-author Dick Russell have rounded up the greatest hits of the conspiracy pantheon into a compendium that does not seem to break much new ground. It's more a reaffirmation of previous theories on the Kennedy assassinations, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., Jonestown, the 9/11 attacks and the financial collapse and bailout of 2008.

If there's a surprise, it's Ventura's argument that the CIA used double agents who let themselves get caught at the Watergate in order to take down President Richard Nixon.

"There is ample evidence Nixon was set up," he said.

Judge orders renegotiation of 9/11 settlement
NEW YORK � A federal judge on Friday rejected a legal settlement that would have given at least $575 million to people sickened by ash and dust from the World Trade Center, saying the deal shortchanged 10,000 ground zero workers whom he called heroes.

"In my judgment, this settlement is not enough," said U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein, who delivered his pronouncement to a stunned gallery at a federal courthouse in Manhattan.

Rising from his chair, the 76-year-old jurist said he feared police officers, firefighters and other laborers who cleared rubble after the 9/11 terror attacks were being pushed into signing a deal few of them understood.

Under the terms of the settlement, workers had been given just 90 days to say yes or no to a deal that would have assigned them payments based on a point system that Hellerstein said was complicated enough to make a Talmudic scholar's head spin.

"I will not preside over a settlement that is based on fear or ignorance," he said.

EXCLUSIVE... Indonesian Forces Tapped by Obama for Renewed US Aid Implicated in New Assassinations [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: President Obama was scheduled to travel to Indonesia next week but the White House has announced the trip will be postponed �til June because of the healthcare negotiations on Capitol Hill. The trip to Indonesia would have marked Barack Obama�s first time returning to Indonesia since he was elected president. He lived in Indonesia for several years as a child.

Well, yesterday I reached investigative journalist and activist Allan Nairn about his new investigation into assassinations by US-trained Indonesian army and Kopassus officers. I reached him in Southeast Asia.

ALLAN NAIRN: President Obama wants to restore military aid to the Indonesian armed forces, including Kopassus, the Red Berets. I�ve just come out with a piece that shows that the Indonesian army and Kopassus have been involved in a series of recent assassinations of civilian political activists. The piece names the names of the officers involved, including a Kopassus general named Sunarko. These assassinations were carried out in the region of Aceh in late 2009.

They targeted activists for the Aceh�the Partai Aceh, which is pro-independence. In one case, the case of a man named Tumijan, he was abducted, tortured to death. His body was dumped in a sewage ditch near an army post. In another, a man was sitting in his car outside his house. An assassin walked up, put two bullets in his head through the window.

According to a senior Indonesian official with detailed information on these murders, they�re part of a program of political murder being carried out by TNI, the Indonesian armed forces, and Kopassus and by military intelligence. And so, these killings are still going on today. And Obama is about to give them new aid on the pretense that the Indonesian army has reformed and has stopped killing civilians, which is false.

AMY GOODMAN: How do you know this, Allan?

ALLAN NAIRN: From people inside the Indonesian government, who gave the names of some of the killers and the officers they work for. And just a few hours ago, I spoke on the phone with General Aditya, who is the head of the police in Aceh, and he confirmed that his forces had in fact detained some of the assassins who were working for the army. They�d been holding them for months, but they never announced this, because they were afraid to do it. The police are afraid of the army. But when I asked him about it directly, he admitted it publicly for the first time. The Indonesian police have confirmed this. They know about it, but they�re afraid to act. The Indonesian army and Kopassus are running a program of killing civilians, and it�s active right now. And Obama wants to give them new US weapons, training and money.

Kissinger�s 1974 Plan for Food Control Genocide [WRH]
On Dec. 10, 1974, the U.S. National Security Council under Henry Kissinger completed a classified 200-page study, �National Security Study Memorandum 200: Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for U.S. Security and Overseas Interests.� The study falsely claimed that population growth in the so-called Lesser Developed Countries (LDCs) was a grave threat to U.S. national security. Adopted as official policy in November 1975 by President Gerald Ford, NSSM 200 outlined a covert plan to reduce population growth in those countries through birth control, and also, implicitly, war and famine. Brent Scowcroft, who had by then replaced Kissinger as national security adviser (the same post Scowcroft was to hold in the Bush administration), was put in charge of implementing the plan. CIA Director George Bush was ordered to assist Scowcroft, as were the secretaries of state, treasury, defense, and agriculture.

The bogus arguments that Kissinger advanced were not original. One of his major sources was the Royal Commission on Population, which King George VI had created in 1944 �to consider what measures should be taken in the national interest to influence the future trend of population.� The commission found that Britain was gravely threatened by population growth in its colonies, since �a populous country has decided advantages over a sparsely-populated one for industrial production.� The combined effects of increasing population and industrialization in its colonies, it warned, �might be decisive in its effects on the prestige and influence of the West,� especially effecting �military strength and security.�

NSSM 200 similarly concluded that the United States was threatened by population growth in the former colonial sector. It paid special attention to 13 �key countries� in which the United States had a �special political and strategic interest�: India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Turkey, Nigeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia. It claimed that population growth in those states was especially worrisome, since it would quickly increase their relative political, economic, and military strength.

For example, Nigeria: �Already the most populous country on the continent, with an estimated 55 million people in 1970, Nigeria's population by the end of this century is projected to number 135 million. This suggests a growing political and strategic role for Nigeria, at least in Africa.� Or Brazil: �Brazil clearly dominated the continent demographically.� The study warned of a �growing power status for Brazil in Latin America and on the world scene over the next 25 years.�

9 major changes in new health care bill [AJ]
In their attempt to pass a sweeping health care overhaul this weekend, House Democrats are pushing a package of legislative fixes to lure undecided or opposed members of their party to the �yes� category.

Proposed changes to the Senate-passed health care bill include a scaled-back tax on high-cost health insurance plans � a provision that is widely unpopular with House Democrats � and more money to help states pay for an expansion of Medicaid, the state-federal health program for the poor and disabled. The new measure, called a reconciliation bill, also would take additional steps to close a gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage and to help low- and middle-income Americans purchase health insurance through new insurance exchanges.

If approved by the House, which is scheduled to vote Sunday, the package would be considered in the Senate under a process that would require just 51 votes for passage rather than the 60-vote threshold to break a filibuster. President Barack Obama has postponed a scheduled trip to Asia to be in town to help persuade wavering Democrats to vote for the bill.

Seven Years of War: On Anniversary of US Invasion, Iraqi Feminist Yanar Mohammed Says Iraq Is No Different Under Obama than Bush
AMY GOODMAN: Yanar Mohammed, can you compare the war under Bush and under the current president, Obama?

YANAR MOHAMMED: Inside Iraq, a citizen, a citizen inside Iraq, a woman in Iraq, or a worker or even an official, you would absolutely see no difference. We did not feel any difference inside here. People are so exhausted economically that there isn�t much hope that something very good could happen soon. There are hopes that maybe on the long run we could�our struggles could get us something, but for the time being, the extreme privatization of Iraq, the oil revenues that go to places we don�t know where they are, 80 percent unemployment among the women of Iraq, the extreme poverty that�s pushing women to being trafficked and prostituted, it�s all a situation that�s overwhelming. It would be hard for me to have a very clear vision right now.

We just want to have some relative security to us to organize our ranks for the coming times. And we are optimistic that if the American�if the US Army leaves us, we may be able to have the dynamics of the people and to make the wheels go the other way around to the way that will help us have�claim our resources again, our oil again, and our lives again.

American released from Myanmar returns to US soil
CHANTILLY, Va. (AP) -- A pro-democracy activist jailed for months in Myanmar after trying to visit his sick mother in prison arrived home in the United States on Friday, capping weeks of discussions between the ruling military junta and the U.S. State Department.

Nyi Nyi Aung (nee nee ong) was reunited with his fiance at Washington Dulles International Airport. He gave Wa Wa Kyaw (wah wah chaw) a long hug and said he was thankful to be home.

Still, the homecoming was bittersweet, he said.

"My freedom is not really the point. We want to try to reach freedom for Burma," Nyi Nyi Aung said, using the other name for Myanmar. "My family and friends all stay in prison, so I feel not really happy."

Hundreds call police about Alcala's photo collection
The day after a jury voted for the death penalty for serial killer Rodney James Alcala, police detectives released a trove of photographs of women and children they seized more than 30 years ago from a storage locker the killer rented just as police were closing in on him.

Detectives said they wanted to know who these people were and whether they might have gone missing during Alcala's murder spree in the late 1970s.

Since then, detectives have spent their days fielding a flood of phone calls from people whose loved ones have been missing for decades.

"It's tough," said Huntington Beach police Capt. Chuck Thomas. "This is about more than just catching the bad guy. This has a lot to do with being compassionate and understanding with people who are trying to find someone."

California Tribe Hopes to Woo Salmon Home
SAN FRANCISCO � On Friday night, more than two dozen Native Americans embarked from here on a spiritual mission to New Zealand, where they will ask their fish to come home to California.

The unusual journey centers on an apology, to be relayed to the fish on the banks of the Rakaia River through a ceremonial dance that tribal leaders say has not been performed in more than 60 years.

The fish in question is the Chinook salmon, native to the Pacific but lately in short supply in the rivers of Northern California, home to the Winnemem Wintu � a tiny, federally unrecognized and poor tribe supported by some Social Security payments, a couple of retirement plans and the occasional dog sale.

As the Winnemem see it, the tribe�s troubles began in early 1940s, with the completion of the Shasta Dam, which blocked the Sacramento River and cut off the lower McCloud River, obstructing seasonal salmon runs, and according to the tribe, breaking a covenant with the fish.

Nevada wild-horse roundup death toll rises
Activists in Nevada are questioning the rising death toll from a government roundup of wild horses from the range north of Reno.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman JoLynn Worley says 77 mustangs involved in the Calico Mountains Complex gather have died so far _ 70 at a Fallon facility where they were taken and the rest at the roundup site.

That's nearly double the 39 horses that had died when the roundup of 1,922 horses concluded on Feb. 5.

Horse advocates are pressing the government for measures to deal with the situation.

Worley attributes the deaths mostly to the poor body condition of mares that were sent to Fallon, where the animals are being prepared for adoption or transfer to pastures in the Midwest.

Food distributor, some stores want new system for milk expiration dates
Since 1980, the state has required this sell-by date - also called a pull-by date - to be stamped on milk containers.

Under Core-Mark's proposal, Montana's current 12-day sell-by date would be replaced by one chosen by individual milk processors, which would determine the length of time needed to protect consumers. There would be no standardized date.

Core-Mark's proposal says, in part: "No Grade A pasteurized milk may be put in any container marked with a sell-by date which does not reasonably protect the health and safety of Montana consumers."

Officials from Core-Mark's Spokane office were unable to comment for the story because of a past "gag-order" agreement with the Livestock Board.

Advocates of the rule change say it would open the door for stores to buy more milk for lower prices, often from out of state. They say Montana consumers would reap the savings.

John Yoo: A President Can Nuke the US (Video) [WRH]
I gave John Yoo every opportunity I could to place a limit on presidential power. Can a president shoot missiles in the United States? Can a president drop nukes in the United States?

PAM COMMENTARY: I think the questioner was trying to get at black ops like 9/11, and the lack of laws to hold future presidents responsible for other attacks on the US by its own government.

Congress members want Chinese drywall declared fire hazard
Congressional members are asking the top U.S. fire official to declare defective Chinese drywall a fire hazard.

In letters to U.S. Fire Administrator Kelvin Cochran, congressional members from Florida, Virginia and Louisiana said homeowners should be warned about the fire risk associated with the Chinese-made product.

A large quantity of Chinese drywall was imported during the housing boom and after a string of Gulf Coast hurricanes and it has been linked to corrosion in homes and possibly health effects.

On Thursday, the U.S. representatives and senators said they were afraid that smoke and fire alarms and sprinklers would stop working in homes with the drywall and that corrosion would lead to home fires.

Canadian sci-fi writer convicted in border case
PORT HURON, Mich. � A Canadian science fiction writer has been convicted of assaulting, obstructing and resisting a police officer during an inspection in Michigan last year by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.

A St. Clair County jury convicted 52-year-old Peter Watts of Toronto on Friday. He faces up to two years in prison when he is sentenced on April 26.

Watts was trying to cross into Canada on Dec. 8 at the Blue Water Bridge when his vehicle was selected for inspection. Authorities say he was detained after becoming noncompliant. Watts testified that he was trying to comply.

A message seeking comment left Friday for his lawyer, Douglas Mullkoff, wasn't immediately returned.

Watts' books include "Starfish," "Maelstrom" and "Behemoth," known as the "Rifters Trilogy."

PAM COMMENTARY: Canada used to be an enjoyable trip, but I've read many accounts of border crossing problems recently, as though they hate tourists up there.

Deal to close Guantanamo said near; Closure would come in exchange for 9-11 military tribunals, not civilian trials
WASHINGTON�After months of negotiations with a bipartisan group of six senators, the White House is reportedly close to a deal to shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison where Canadian terror suspect Omar Khadr has been behind bars for years.

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that White House counsel Robert Bauer and Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama's chief of staff, are near an agreement on closing the infamous post-911 prison following talks with a group of senators from both parties, headed by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

In exchange for congressional support from Republicans to close down the prison, sources told the Journal, the administration has agreed that more detainees will be tried before military tribunals, a stark reversal of previous Obama policy and something that amounts to a dismissal of Attorney General Eric Holder's stance on the issue.

The deal means the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, his co-conspirators and several other prominent terror suspects will appear before revamped military commissions, and not be tried in civilian court.

PAM COMMENTARY: There's no reason that due process has to be abandoned to close the prison. They're just trying to set bad legal precedent in order to curtail peoples' rights again. The very Senator they're working with, Graham, has fought against habeas corpus, the law that prevents the government from "disappearing" people into illegal detention.

FDA announces tobacco restrictions
The Food and Drug Administration announced regulations Thursday that ban the sale and marketing of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products to people younger than 18 � measures that, for the most part, already have been implemented by the states.
Anti-smoking groups say the most significant aspect of the FDA's action, which goes into effect June 22, is that it marks the beginning of an era in which tobacco restrictions carry the federal government's weight.

The FDA crafted the regulations in the mid-1990s, but the Supreme Court set them aside in 2000 because, it said, the agency lacked the authority from Congress to regulate tobacco. On June 22, President Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which empowered the FDA to regulate tobacco.

Under the act, the FDA last year banned the sale of clove- and fruit-flavored cigarettes, which appealed to young smokers. On March 30-31, the FDA's Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee will review scientific evidence about the use of menthol cigarettes, which are still on the market.

Sea Shepherd crew embark on bluefin tuna mission
The environmentalists who have been a harpoon in the side of Japanese whalers are off on their next mission.

The Sea Shepherd crew leaves Wellington tomorrow, headed for the Mediterranean, aiming to protect the endangered bluefin tuna.

The big fish are rare, and highly prized by consumers and environmentalists alike.

�The bluefin tuna right now has reached a point where there is less than 15 percent of its original numbers and we�re gonna lose this species unless we intervene,� says Sea Shepherd captain Paul Watson.

He and his crew sailed into Wellington yesterday fresh from Antarctic clashes with Japanese whalers.

Australian police confirm Sea Shepherd lodged complaint on collision
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A lawyer for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has lodged a complaint in relation to the January collision between the activists' powerboat Ady Gil and Japanese whaling vessel Shonan Maru No. 2, police confirmed Friday.

The collision occurred in waters off Antarctica on Jan. 6 and resulted in the sinking of the Ady Gil days later. Both parties blame each other for the incident, which followed escalating tension between Japanese whalers and the U.S.-based activist group.

Clashes between the anti-whaling activists and the Japanese whaling fleet culminated when Pete Bethune, captain of the Ady Gil, secretly boarded the Shonan Maru No. 2 on Feb. 15 to arrest the ship's captain for the attempted murder of his crew.

Bethune, 44, was detained on board the Japanese vessel before being taken back to Tokyo to face charges of trespassing on the ship after approaching by jet-ski.

FDA panel unanimously back approval for Medtronic's scan-friendly pacemaker
WASHINGTON - Federal health experts are recommending approval for a Medtronic pacemaker designed to be safely used with MRI scanners.

Patients with the heart-pacing implants are generally discouraged from having MRI scans because the radio waves could interfere with the functioning of their device.

Medtronic has asked the FDA to approve its REVO Surescan pacemaker as the first device of its kind that can be used while undergoing the high-powered scans.

A Food and Drug Administration panel of cardiologists unanimously backed the device in a 15-0 vote, according to an agency spokeswoman.

PAM COMMENTARY: With the FDA's awful track record, I always wonder whether new products are going to help people or start killing them.

Calamity for pope as the past � and case of Peter Hullermann � returns to haunt him
For Father Rupert Frania it seemed the best way. His parishioners in the Bavarian spa town of Bad T�had just learned a terrible secret.

It had been reported that one of their curates was a convicted paedophile, Peter Hullermann. The curate who had officiated at the children's mass. The one who had been with their sons and daughters the year before at a campsite in the mountains over their medieval town.

Frania decided to tackle the issue from an angle. In his sermon at the main mass last Sunday morning, he began with the parable of the prodigal son � and was stopped dead in mid-sentence.

"I cannot listen to that," shouted a man who was soon to have been married by Hullerman. "You just cannot dodge the issue any longer," he continued as other parishioners broke into applause and some began shouting "shut your mouth" at their parish priest.

It was a raucously rebellious start to a week in which the disclosure of hundreds of cases of alleged clerical sex abuse in the Roman Catholic church's European heartlands shook the allegiances of millions and forced their pastors to make unprecedented admissions of guilt and mortification.

Beach says mow wetlands; state says no
Regulating wetlands is hardly an easy task in marshy Hampton Roads. Take, for example, the case against developer Glenwood South LLC, which involves the city, the state and the construction of 19 homes near Stumpy Lake.

The state argues that Glenwood South, based in Virginia Beach, violated its environmental permit in several ways, most notably by altering and degrading a small scrubby wetland, measuring one-third of an acre, that was supposed to have been protected as open space.

The developer counters that, basically, its crews mowed and cleaned the site - and that the city of Virginia Beach instructed the company to do so after labeling the protected wetland an overgrown lot.

"We had the state saying, 'Don't touch the site,' and the city saying, 'Mow it now,' " said Carl Eason, an attorney representing Glenwood South and its affiliate, Warner Construction. "I felt like I was in 'Alice in Wonderland.' "

On Thursday, the dispute reached something of a conclusion when the State Water Control Board approved a negotiated settlement that includes a fine against the developer of more than $24,000.

Eason said his client agreed to settle the case, ongoing since 2007, because fighting the allegations in court would have been more expensive and time-consuming.

Can Strep Throat Lead to Behavior Problems?
Can a bout of strep throat lead to serious behavioral problems like obsessive hand washing or odd tics in children?

Obsessive hand washing sometimes follows strep infections; are the two related?The condition, known as Pandas, for pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infection, remains a controversial topic among child health experts. Dr. Robert King and Dr. James Leckman of the Yale Child Study Center, who recently joined the Consults blog to answer readers� questions about Tourette�s syndrome, here respond to readers concerned about the link between strep and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Q.If your child shows symptoms of a tic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder or Tourette�s syndrome, you should have them checked for strep. Pandas, could be the cause. A simple blood test will tell if your child�s �strep titers� are at an abnormal level.

This can be treated with antibiotics. Worth checking out before you subject your child to psychiatric medications. Not all doctors believe in Pands. But let me tell you, it�s worth finding a doctor who does.

Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader: A Discussion on Healthcare, Politics and Reform [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: We�re joined now by Congress member Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, who will be voting for the healthcare reform bill, and longtime consumer advocate Ralph Nader. Both of them, Ralph Nader and Dennis Kucinich, have run for president of the United States several times.

Ralph Nader, your response to the healthcare reform bill and Congress member Kucinich�s position?

RALPH NADER: Well, this is the latest chapter of corporate Democrats crushing progressive forces both inside their party and against third parties. There�s nothing new here. It�s being pointed out in my former running mate�s autobiography, the late Peter Camejo, which is coming out in a couple weeks from Chicago.

What we�re seeing here is a legislation that doesn�t even kick in until 2014, except for one or two items on staying with your parents� insurance policy until you�re twenty-six. That means that there will be 180,000 Americans who will die between now and 2014 before any coverage expands, and hundreds of thousands of injuries and illnesses untreated. This bill does not provide universal, comprehensive or affordable care to the American people. It shovels hundreds and billions of dollars of taxpayer money into the worst corporations who�ve created this problem: the Aetnas, the CIGNAs, the health insurance companies. And it doesn�t require many contractual accountabilities and other accountabilities for people who are denied healthcare in this continuing pay-or-die system that is the disgrace of the Western world.

For the drug companies, it�s a bonanza. It doesn�t require Uncle Sam to negotiate volume discounts. It allows these new biologic drugs, under patent, to fight off generic competition�that�s a terrible provision. And it doesn�t allow reimportation from countries like Canada to keep prices down.

Congressman Kucinich�s points are not respected, either. There is no public choice or public option in order to keep prices down, so it�s an open sesame for these giant insurance companies that are concentrating more and more power, in violation of the antitrust laws, over the millions of American patients. And it doesn�t safeguard the states from the kind of litigation that�s heading toward Pennsylvania and California, that are now trying single payer.

So what we should recognize is nothing is really going to happen in this bill, if it�s passed, until 2014, because there�s a gap here, including a presidential campaign and the contest in 2012 and a congressional elections in 2010, for the single-payer supporters in this country. Majority of the American people, majority doctors and nurses, support single payer. They�ve supported Dennis Kucinich all over the country on this. They have supported singlepayeraction.org, which I hope a million people will visit in the next few days in their outrage over what�s happening here.

So I think what we have to do, Amy, is see this as a four-year gap before this bill kicks in and try to get the single payer as a major issue in the 2010 campaign and as a major issue in the 2012 campaign and try to save some of those 180,000 Americans that will die because they cannot afford health insurance to get diagnosed or treated. And that figure comes from Harvard Medical School researchers.

The FDA cautions against high doses of Zocor (simvastatin), urges label changes
The highest doses of the cholesterol-lowering drug Zocor produce an increased risk of muscle damage, the Food and Drug Administration cautioned Friday. The risk is highest in patients of Chinese descent and is also high when Zocor, known generically as simvastatin, is combined with certain other medications, including amiodarone, niacin and diltiazem.

All statins have a small but real risk of producing muscle damage called myopathy. In rare cases, this damage can progress to a more severe form called rhabdomyolysis, in which damaged muscle tissues release a protein called myoglobin into the bloodstream. Myoglobin can damage the kidneys, which filter foreign materials out of blood. Victims have dark or red urine and fatigue, in addition to muscle pain. The condition can lead to lethal kidney failure.

The damage is more common at the highest approved dose of Zocor, 80 mg. A large clinical trial comparing 6,031 patients taking 80 mg. daily with 6,033 patients taking 20 mg. found 52 cases of myopathy in the 80-mg. group and only one in the 20-mg. group. Eleven patients in the 80-mg. group developed rhabdomyolysis, but none in the low-dose group.

In 2008, the FDA cautioned against using doses of Zocor greater than 20 mg. in combination with the anti-arrhythmia drug amiodarone, sold under the brand names Pacerone and Cordarone. The agency has now approved new labeling for Zocor that warns against prescribing 80 mg. tablets of Zocor for patients of Chinese descent who are also taking cholesterol-lowering doses of niacin, and warns that physicians should carefully monitor such patients taking lower doses of Zocor. It is not known if the warning should apply to patients of other Asian descent.

Final health bill omits some of Obama's promises
It was a bold response to skyrocketing health insurance premiums. President Barack Obama would give federal authorities the power to block unreasonable rate hikes.

Yet when Democrats unveiled the final, incarnation of their health care bill this week, the proposal was nowhere to be found.

Ditto with several Republican ideas that Obama had said he wanted to include after a televised bipartisan summit last month, including a plan by Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma to send investigators disguised as patients to hospitals in search of waste, fraud and abuse.

And those "special deals" that Obama railed against and said he wanted to eliminate? With the exception of two of the most notorious � extra Medicaid money for Nebraska and a carve-out for Florida seniors faced with losing certain extra Medicare benefits � they are all still there.

Flies may shoo whooping cranes from Necedah; Scientists looking for new nesting sites
Swarms of pesky black flies at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge are prompting scientists to scout other potential locations for a project that's cost $16 million so far to bring the whooping crane back to the eastern United States.

A partnership in charge of reintroducing the species to Wisconsin isn't abandoning the refuge, however. Cranes were introduced there in 2001, and since then, they've been trained to migrate with ultralight aircraft to Florida.

But this year researchers will look for other sites in the state - including the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge - where they believe smaller populations of the insects live.

Necedah's black flies have proved to be the biggest challenge in a multimillion-dollar endeavor to re-establish a second flock of endangered whooping cranes in the U.S., officials say. Another more entrenched flock flies between Texas and northern Canada.

Jon Stewart Skewers Glenn Beck
Jon Stewart gets a lot of material from Glenn Beck, but the Daily Show host went all-in on Thursday night with a whopping 15-minute parody of the Fox News host.

Words don't really do it justice, unless they're on a chalkboard, so just enjoy the video ...

U.S. Plans Spot Tests of Organic Products
The Department of Agriculture said on Friday that it would begin enforcing rules requiring the spot testing of organically grown foods for traces of pesticides, after an auditor exposed major gaps in federal oversight of the organic food industry.

Spot testing is required by a 1990 law that established the basis for national organic standards, but in a report released on Thursday by the office of Phyllis K. Fong, the inspector general of agriculture, investigators wrote that regulators never made sure the testing was being carried out.

The report pointed to numerous shortcomings at the agriculture department�s National Organic Program, which regulates the industry, including poor oversight of some organic operations overseas and a lack of urgency in cracking down on marketers of bogus organic products.

The audit did not name growers or processors that marketed products falsely labeled organic or say where any such products had been sold.

The head of the National Organic Program, Miles McEvoy, said on Friday that enforcing testing rules was one of several steps the agency was taking to improve oversight of the industry. It will also require unannounced inspections of organic producers and processors and start regular reviews of organic products in stores to make sure they are correctly labeled and meet federal regulations, he said.

House Democrats release 'fixes' to $940 billion health care bill
Individual Mandate:
Most Americans would be required to buy health care insurance or face penalties.

Senate bill:
Those without insurance would pay either $750 per year per person up to $2,250 per family or 2% of household income, whichever is greater. It would be phased-in: $95 in 2014, $495 in 2015, and $750 in 2016 or .5% of taxable income in 2014, 1.0% of taxable income in 2015, and 2% of taxable income in 2016.

House change:
The individual penalty would be reduced from $750 to $695, but the alternative penalty on households would increase. The household income assessment would change from .5% to 1% in 2014, 1% to 2% in 2015, and 2% to 2.5% for 2016 "to make the assessment more progressive."

More to come.

Updated at 3:52 p.m. ET. Employer mandate:
Employers with 50 or more employees would have to pay a fee if they do not provide health coverage.

Senate bill:
If any of an employer's full-time employees receive federal subsidies to help pay for health coverage, the employer would pay $750 per full-time employee or $3,000 for each employee receiving federal subsidies, whichever is less.

House change:
The fee would be increased to $2,000 per full-time employee. However, the fee would not be imposed on the company for the first 30 full-time employees.

Why Did Kucinich Cave In To Obama? [AJ]
If the resistence and pressure from the Left had refused to back down, perhaps some improvements could�ve been made to an otherwise terribly bad, awful bill.

But nothing has changed. As Michael Moore pointed out, there is no true �ban on preexisting conditions�. That talking-point is a complete falsehood. First of all, the clause does not even kick in for 4 whole years, so the Insurance Companies can deny care and eligibility all that they want to for the next 4 whole years. Secondly, when the clause does kick in, it only imposes just a very small penalty (a fine) if they reject people. So for an Insurance Company, it is going to be much cheaper for them to pay a simple $5000 fine, then it would ever be to cover a citizen with a health problem of any consequence (especially someone with a past cancer diagnosis). So, this is all just a big lie. There is no �ban on pre-existing conditions�.

The other completely false talking point is that� �the bill will get 30 million new people covered.� It does nothing of the kind. All the bill does is to mandate that people write horribly expensive checks to the Insurance Monopolies, and become their victims and slaves � with no choices and no options. But no actual �care� is ever assured. The Insurance Companies set all the rules, and can continue to deny treatments, deny surgeries, deny tests, and even terminate your entire policy (for a small fine) if you get too expensive.

So the entire rationale for this bill that is being made by Obama, the Democrats in Congress, and even so-called �progressive� groups like MoveOn.dog is a lie.

It�s a LIE folks. But, unlike others who don�t even bother to read the fine print, Dennis Kucinich knows all of this.

So why did he cave?

What�s in Obamacare? Who Knows [AJ]
According to the New York Times, in an article by Robert Pear, published on November 14, 2009, the statements made by some lawmakers regarding Obama�s health care bill were written by lobbyists working for Genentech, one of the world�s largest biotechnology companies.

Now get this: These very same lobbyists wrote statements made by both democratic and republican lawmakers, that on the surface seemed to be in conflict, but were actually pushing the agendas of the Monetary/Banking Cartel�s biotech, pharmaceutical, and insurance corporations. So much for the phony left/right paradigm, that our �diligent� lawmakers pretend to play.

Glaxo funded backers of 'danger' drug; Pharmaceutical giant accused of skewing debate about diabetes treatment linked to heart attacks
More than nine out of 10 scientists who backed a drug at the centre of a safety scare had financial links to the pharmaceutical industry, a study has found.

The disclosure will renew concern about the influence of the multinational companies on patient safety, where a warning about a drug can wipe billions from their balance sheets.

The pharmaceutical industry has become adept at manipulating results and selectively withholding unfavourable data that could expose patients to harm. Now it is accused of skewing the debate over one drug, Avandia, prescribed to millions of people around the world with Type 2 diabetes. Avandia, made by the British multinational GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which helps diabetics control their blood sugar levels, was linked with an increased risk of heart attacks in research published in 2007.

Since then debate has raged within the scientific community about whether Avandia should be withdrawn from the market. Warnings were issued on both sides of the Atlantic but the drug is still recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) in the UK and taken by tens of thousands of British patients.

In the US, internal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) documents leaked to The New York Times last month said 500 heart attacks a month could be avoided in the US if patients on Avandia were switched to a rival drug. A separate investigation by a cross-party US Senate committee was sharply critical of GSK, saying it failed to warn patients of the heart risks earlier. It also said GSK executives had "attempted to intimidate independent physicians".

EPA to scrutinize water risk from fracturing
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will do a detailed study of hydraulic fracturing, the technique used to extract natural gas from dense shale formations, to determine whether it poses risks to surface and ground water.

The study has been expected for some time, but the EPA formally announced its plans Thursday, saying it has $1.9 million set aside for the study this year with more funds possible next year.

�Our research will be designed to answer questions about the potential impact of hydraulic fracturing on human health and the environment,� Dr. Paul Anastas, assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Research and Development, said in a prepared statement. �The study will be conducted through a transparent, peer-reviewed process, with significant stakeholder input.�

Hydraulic fracturing involves drilling into a formation and injecting water mixed with sand and chemicals under high pressure. The mixture cracks open the shale while the sand holds open the fractures, allowing the natural gas to flow more freely to the surface.

The chemicals make up a small part of the overall mix � less than 0.5 percent by volume � but often include hazardous substances such as acids and compounds found in cleaners and antifreeze.

Bluefin tuna, polar bear trade bans defeated at UN meeting
DOHA-A U.S.-backed proposal to ban the export of Atlantic bluefin tuna prized in sushi was rejected Thursday by a U.N. wildlife meeting, with scores of developing nations joining Japan in opposing a measure they feared would devastate fishing economies.

It was a stunning setback for conservationists who had hoped the 175-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES, would give the iconic fish a lifeline. They joined the proposal�s sponsor Monaco in arguing that extreme measures were necessary because the stocks have fallen by 75 per cent due to widespread overfishing.

�Let�s take science and throw it out the door,� said Susan Lieberman, director of international policy with the Pew Environment Group in Washington. �It�s pretty irresponsible of the governments to hear the science and ignore the science. Clearly, there was pressure from the fishing interests. The fish is too valuable for its own good.�

As the debate opened, Monaco painted a dire picture for a once-abundant species that roams across vast stretched of the Atlantic Ocean and can grow to as big as 1,500 pounds.

Bluefin tuna fails to make UN's list of protected fish
WWF said it would step up calls for restaurants, retailers, chefs and consumers around the world to stop selling, serving, buying and eating the endangered fish.

Monaco had said its proposal would not mean a permanent ban and that trade could resume once stocks recovered.

"This exploitation is no longer exploitation by traditional fishing people to meet regional needs," Monaco's Patrick Van Klaveren told delegates. "Industrial fishing of species is having a severe effect on numbers of this species and its capacity to recover. We are facing a real ecosystem collapse."

The tuna defeat came hours after delegates rejected a US proposal for a Cites ban on the international sale of polar bear skins and parts. The US argued that the sale of polar bears skins was compounding the loss of the animals' sea ice habitat due to climate change. There are projections that numbers of the bears, which are estimated at 20,000 to 25,000, could decline by two-thirds by 2050 because of habitat loss in the Arctic.

No rabies found in wolves blamed in teacher death
Two wolves suspected of killing a teacher outside a rural Alaska village did not have rabies, lab tests concluded Thursday.

The animals were shot Monday from the air by state wildlife employees, who said they matched descriptions of the wolves seen where Candice Berner, 32, was killed while jogging last week.

Berner died March 8 along a road about a mile outside Chignik Lake on the Alaska Peninsula in southwest Alaska.

An autopsy concluded she had been killed by animals, and state public safety officials said wolves were suspected. Berner's body was dragged and surrounded by wolf tracks, indicating more that as many as four animals could have attacked.

Wolves recently had been spotted on the outskirts of the village of 105, prompting residents to arm themselves.

Family: Morgan Harrington bones were shattered
When Morgan D. Harrington�s bones were found in an Albemarle County pasture, they had been shattered and broken into jagged pieces, her parents said Wednesday.

�When you view � not just a skeleton, but brutal damage to a skeleton, you can imagine what [her mother] must have gone through,� the victim�s father, Dan Harrington, said.

He and Gil Harrington, Morgan�s mother, addressed the media Wednesday, marking five months since their daughter disappeared. They came from their home in Roanoke to the University of Virginia for the event.

Harrington, 20 and a Virginia Tech student, was killed after leaving an Oct. 17 Metallica concert at the UVa�s John Paul Jones Arena. Harrington was last seen hitchhiking on a railroad bridge on Copeley Road. A farmer found her remains about three months later, on his farm near U.S. 29, in southern Albemarle County.

The Colonial Parkway Murders, the Route 29 Stalker and the Shenandoah Park Murders in Virginia: Could There Be a Connection? (FLASHBACK)
Between 1986 and 1989, at least eight people (two each year) were murdered along a Virginia scenic route known as the Colonial Parkway. All four cases involve the slaying or disappearance of young people who were traveling by car in isolated areas. Two people are missing or presumed dead. The person responsible for these murders has never been caught. The FBI. has stated that these crimes are probably related. Authorities have speculated that the unidentified subject(s) responsible for these killings may have been (or remains) in law enforcement, possibly a police officer or security guard. One theory suggests the suspect may be a rogue CIA. operative from "the Farm" at Camp Peary in York County. Since there appears to be no sign of a struggle in the cases, it is believed the suspect uses his uniform, and/or vehicle to lure his victims into danger.

PAM COMMENTARY: This is a very lengthy collection of articles on serial killings in Virginia. Harrington's parents said recently that they felt her daughter's murder may have been related to other serial killings in the state, particularly the Colonial Parkway murders.

Re-released: Darrell Rice readies for freedom (FLASHBACK)
For Darrell David Rice, there may be something of a silver lining to spending the past nine months in federal prison: he has an airtight alibi for the night of October 17, when 20-year-old Morgan Harrington disappeared after attending a Metallica concert at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville.

After completing the prison term handed down for violating the terms of his probation on his 11-year attempting kidnapping sentence, Rice will be released December 18, and his attorney says Rice hopes his freedom won�t generate the kind of hysteria that erupted when he first left prison two and a half years ago.

�He just wants to live his life, not bother anyone, and not have them bother him,� says Fairfax-based attorney James Connell III.

In 2007, Rice left prison after serving his sentence for attempting to kidnap a female bicyclist in Shenandoah National Park in 1997. While that�s the most serious conviction on Rice�s record, he was also indicted for the 1996 double slaying of two female hikers in Shenandoah National Park, although the charges were dropped after DNA from an unknown male was found at the scene.

F.B.I. Faces New Setback in Computer Overhaul
WASHINGTON � The Federal Bureau of Investigation has suspended work on parts of its huge computer overhaul, dealing the agency the latest costly setback in a decade-long effort to develop a modernized information system to combat crime and terrorism.

The overhaul was supposed to be completed this fall, but now will not be done until next year at the earliest. The delay could mean at least $30 million in cost overruns on a project considered vital to national security, Congressional officials said.

F.B.I. officials said that design changes and �minor� technical problems prompted the suspension of parts of the third and fourth phases of the work, which is intended to allow agents to better navigate investigative files, search databases and communicate with one another.

The decision to suspend work on the $305 million program is particularly striking because the current contractor, Lockheed Martin, was announced to great fanfare in 2006 after the collapse of an earlier incarnation of the project with the Science Applications International Corporation.

Land Board OKs resolution to protect North Fork of Flathead after controversey
HELENA - The state Land Board on Thursday approved a resolution to protect the North Fork of the Flathead River from future mineral development - but not without some controversy and finger-pointing.

The 3-1 vote approved a resolution that says Montana will work with British Columbia to implement a joint "memo of understanding" to prohibit development of oil, gas, coal and other minerals in the North Fork basin near Glacier National Park.

The resolution also said any mineral lease in Montana's Coal Creek State Forest will not allow any "surface occupancy," essentially banning development, and that any quarry or sand-and-gravel operation will be limited to 4.94 acres in size.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer, a Land Board member, said the agreement with British Columbia will "ensure the protection of the Flathead Basin and Glacier National Park for this generation and generations to come."

Earlier Thursday, the board agreed to lease 572 million tons of state-owned coal for development of a coal mine in southeastern Montana, near Otter Creek.

Opponents of that decision wondered aloud how the board could justify protecting the North Fork from coal mining while voting to lease coal for a massive mine in rural, southeastern Montana.

Newly signed jobs bill unlikely to spur hiring
Don't look for a burst of hiring by small businesses in Wisconsin as a result of the federal jobs bill signed into law on Thursday.

A number of small-business owners in the state say they make hiring decisions based on the business they generate, not whether they can save nine months' worth of Social Security payroll taxes per newly hired worker, which is the main feature of the law.

But in an economy that seems stumped about which way it is heading - signs of growth one day are replaced by signs of stagnation the next - every bit of aid that business can get helps, they say, and they plan to take advantage of the new law if they can.

New jobs, though, won't come in large numbers until there is enough work to justify them.

Kucinich Sells Out On Health Care After Ride In Air Force One [AJ]
Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich has bowed to intense pressure, culminating in a jaunt onboard Air Force One with president Obama, and decided to to flip his vote on the pending health care bill to help ensure its passage.

The representative from Ohio has repeatedly voiced his opposition to the bill, calling it �a giveaway to the insurance industry�.

�The fact is that one out of every three health care dollars goes for corporate profits, stocks options, executive salaries, advertising, marketing, the cost of paperwork � this bill doesn�t change that.� he said.

Just last week, Kucinich told MSNBC�s Countdown that that even if it meant he had the deciding vote in the House, he would oppose the legislation, effectively signing its death warrant.

PAM COMMENTARY: At least he chose a date that was easy to remember -- St. Patrick's Day 2010, the day Congressman Kucinich sold his soul to the insurance industry. I'm still appalled that the plan under consideration will FORCE people to buy private insurance policies. I do hope that (if the bill passes) the legal requirement to buy insurance will be overturned in court.

And the president's dog and pony show in Ohio? Who's to say that the leukemia patient is going to benefit even slightly from the conventional medical care she wanted her insurance policy to cover? She may have been better off researching inexpensive alternative cancer treatments with a good reputation for her particular disease. Mainstream medicine has a horrible "success" rate with cancer in this country, and there's a good chance that she'll die regardless of the amount of money that anyone spends on "treatments."

Rep. Dennis Kucinich's health care switch encourages Democrats
Under pressure from President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Cleveland Democrat says he switched his stance after talking to his wife and close friends and meeting with numerous constituents who insisted some reform is better than nothing. He says he did not receive concessions for his vote, maintaining that sort of deal making "undermines public confidence."

His switch puts Democrats closer to the 216 votes they need to pass the politically charged bill amid uniform GOP opposition and concern by other Democrats about its cost and anti-abortion language.

Republicans reacted quickly to Kucinich's announcement. Pat Corrigan, a longshot GOP candidate for Kucinich's congressional seat, put out a press release saying the congressman "betrayed us all." The National Republican Congressional Committee subtitled its release: "Left-Wing Icon Flips from 'No,' Exposes So-Called Moderates."

Democratic leaders said a vote on the bill will most likely take place this weekend as Republicans lodged objections to a parliamentary maneuver that Democrats have proposed to "deem" the bill passed without an actual vote on it.

Cudahy hospital's water wall deemed source of Legionnaires' outbreak
Aurora St. Luke's South Shore in Cudahy has turned off the water wall in the lobby of its facility after it was identified as the source of the Legionnaires' bacteria that sickened eight people in the last three to four weeks.

Two of those people remain hospitalized in stable, but improving, condition, said Bruce Van Cleave, chief medical officer of Aurora Health Care.

In total, about 4,000 people were contacted after the outbreak. While there have not been any additional cases, Foldy said he would not be surprised to see a few more.

The fountain was turned off March 10. Aurora also has turned off water walls in about five other of its facilities in Wisconsin, including its new hospital in Summit.

The water in the Cudahy center had been drained and cleaned every month. However, Foldy said, it would be reasonable for hospitals around the state to permanently turn off water walls and decorative fountains.

That's because water in the structures can become airborne and get into the lungs of people, including those who may have weakened immune systems.

He said he knew of one other Legionnaires' outbreak in another state that was traced to a hospital water wall.

ACLU obtains document stating 9/11 commission told to "not cross the line" [WRH]
According to a document obtained by the ACLU under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) on Tuesday March 16, the 9/11 commission was warned on Jan. 6th, 2004 by high-level administration officials to "not cross the line" in the investigation of the events that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001.

The high-level administration officials included Attorney General John Ashcroft, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and CIA Director George J. Tenet. The ACLU described it as a fax sent by David Addington, then-counsel to former vice president Dick Cheney.

The government officials urged the 9/11 Commission, �not to further pursue the proposed request to participate in the questioning of detainees,� according to the letter, citing the need to �Safeguard the national security, including protection of Americans from future terrorist attacks.� (See page 26 here).

Marcy Wheeler, writing for FireDogLake, speculates that the memo was an attempt by Bush administration to keep the torture of detainees from going public at the time. To many others, including Colleen Crowley, the memo is only a small part of a coverup that effectively gagged the 9/11 Commission from any real fact-finding.

Blood protest stains Thai PM's residence with red
Red-shirted protesters have hurled plastic bags filled with their own blood into the residential compound of the Thai prime minister, hoping their shock tactics will bring down his government.

A number of protesters later marshalled in front of the US embassy in a demonstration leaders said would be aimed at exposing the government's alleged illegitimacy to the international community.

Seeking new ways to dramatise their cause, a small group of protesters were allowed by police to approach Abhisit Vejjajiva's walled compound in a ritzy Bangkok neighbourhood and unleash a barrage of bags that smeared the walls, roof and grounds with red.

Earlier, a standoff between protesters and riot police had blocked all approaches to the home of Abhisit, whom the Red Shirt movement hopes to topple by calling for new elections. After negotiations, three dozen demonstrators were allowed to squeeze through the police cordon carrying about six five-litre plastic water bottles filled with blood, which was poured into small plastic bags and then hurled at the home.

Wal-Mart announcement tells 'all black people' to leave store
Customers and staff at the Wal-Mart superstore in New Jersey were shocked after a man used the public address system to tell "all black people" to leave.

On Sunday evening at the Washington Township store, a male voice calmly announced: "Attention Wal-Mart customers: All black people leave the store now."

Officials from Wal-Mart Stores are reviewing security tapes to try to determine who made the announcement.

Witnesses told the Courier-Post newspaper that customers and store employees looked stunned.

St Patrick's Day puts Ireland in the limelight
Several of the world's landmarks are turning green for St Patrick's Day today, the annual celebration of all hues of Irishness.

London's green Eye The Sydney Opera House, London Eye, Toronto's CN Tower and New York's Empire State building will be lit by green floodlights as part of a marketing push by Tourism Ireland.

Back in Ireland, Dublin's flagship parade started at 12pm in Parnell Square, led by soccer legend Packie Bonner. Around 650,000 people are expected to line the 3km (2-mile) route. This year it takes the theme The Extraordinary World - a nod to Ireland's increasing multiculturalism as well as the past two centuries' global spread of the Irish.

New York's St Patrick's Day parade is the world's largest, and attracts 150,000 official marchers along 5th Ave, 44th-45th St. The parades originally started in the US but have since become part of Paddy's Day celebrations everywhere. Many cities, London included, chose to have their parade early on Sunday 14 March.

Alaskans fear for their way of life
a lot of people in Alaska, Don Hernandez has always fed his family with deer he shoots and fish he catches in the Tongass National Forest.

He says his way of life is threatened by a plan to give the American Indian-owned Sealaska title to 85,000 acres of National Forest land. Sealaska wants to log 75,000 acres, including areas of large-tree old-growth forest surrounding Hernandez's hometown of Point Baker.

Sealaska says the plan � a swap of forest land it's entitled to use for land that is considered more valuable � can help preserve roadless old-growth forest that serves as watershed and hunting grounds. It also would help the region launch "a new type of economy" based on tourism and sustainable-energy instead of relying solely on logging, says Sealaska Vice President Rick Harris.

Hernandez, who is scheduled to testify against the proposal at a congressional hearing today, says he's worried about "our ability to go out, hunt and fish and help provide for our families. It all depends on good old-growth habitat and healthy stream habitat for spawning salmon."

New technology to aid military surveillance
For years, the United States has used cameras mounted on aircraft and on the ground to collect surveillance for intelligence purposes. As the amount of footage has grown, the military has struggled to sift through and make use of it all.

Officials said Valiant Angel will change that.

It will allow intelligence analysts and field commanders to log, edit and search video archives to find exactly what they're looking for. They'll be able to tag clips with keywords and with information about the footage's time, location and importance.

They'll even be able to draw directly on digital surveillance images and circle key portions, the way television sportscasters mark on-screen stills during games.

All of the information will be saved for later searches. Valiant Angel also condenses digital images so that low-bandwidth users - such as a soldier in a remote province using a laptop and a 56k modem - can access them.

Dem Leadership in Final Push on Healthcare Reform, House Considers Passing Bill Without Direct Vote [DN]
RYAN GRIM: Right, and thanks for having me, Amy.

And the fact that you mention that Dennis Kucinich isn�t commenting on whether or not he�s going to change his vote is noteworthy in and of itself, because Kucinich is the kind of person that always comments. He always speaks his mind. And I actually saw him last night in the capital and asked him if it was true that he was changing his vote, and he said, �No comment.� So he didn�t deny that he might be thinking about changing from a no to a yes. The significance of that is that Democrats are really rallying everybody together. There�s a real sense in the capital that this is going to move forward and that everybody is going to come together.

The way it works is that, Thursday, the Rules Committee will send a package to the House floor. And Sharif described it correctly. There will be this�probably be this deeming mechanism. Pelosi said yesterday that�s the way she prefers to do it. And so, the House would not have to vote on the actual Senate bill, but they would vote on the reconciliation package. And the rule would say that that vote deems the Senate bill to have been passed. The Senate bill then goes to the White House. He signs it, and it becomes law. Then the reconciliation package goes from the House over to the Senate, at which point the Senate could either take it or leave it. Whether or not they pass it, the Senate bill has still become law.

So that�s a big fear among liberals in the House, is that they�re going to pass this Senate bill on the word of the Senate to pass the reconciliation fixes, and the Senate will pull the football back. The last institution in America that you want to trust to take any action is the United States Senate. So Nancy Pelosi said yesterday that�she was asked what kind of commitment she wanted from the Senate, and she said, �Oh, I don�t know. Firstborn son?� So they�re not going to move forward until there is some kind of a blood oath from the Senate that they�re going to accept anything that comes from the House over to the Senate. But, as Pelosi said yesterday and as she said also on Friday, that will not include a public option.

SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: Now, on this issue of the public option, we heard Pelosi in that clip saying the Senate does not have enough votes. Senate leaders themselves have said they don�t have enough votes. First they said, �We have�we don�t have enough to stop a filibuster.� But now it would just�they would just need fifty votes, and they�re claiming now they don�t have the fifty votes. But you did an analysis of Senate commitments. Talk about that issue.

RYAN GRIM: Yeah, the funny thing about having progressive media up in the United--working in the United States Capitol now is that we can go out and count for ourselves. We don�t have to rely on what the White House says about what the count is or what the Senate says the count is. And along with some outside groups and some other progressive reporters in the Capitol, we�ve been canvassing every Democratic senator, you know, throughout the institution. And as of a few days ago, we got up to forty-one commitments. Now, on top of that, you can add people like Tom Harkin, who�s a strong public option supporter, Jay Rockefeller, Bob Byrd. Other people have made comments, positive--that were positive about the public option in the past�Mark Warner, Herb Kohl. And you very quickly get up to fifty-two, fifty-three, fifty-four votes for the public option. So the question is not votes in the Senate. The excise tax on insurance benefits has maybe five votes among Democrats, yet that is going to be able to pass. So it�s not a question of votes; it�s a question of effort. The administration, since the summer, has been uninterested in the public option, and so it never wanted to make the effort.

Now, there�s another interesting question on the House side. So, while Pelosi is able to say that the Senate dropped the ball earlier this year, there may not actually be the votes in the House without an aggressive effort from the White House. Now, they passed the public option last year, but that was with these pro-life, pro-public-option Democrats, so you�re losing a lot of these Stupak votes. And so, in order to replace them, you have to move to the right and pick up some Blue Dogs, who might only support the bill on the condition that there not be a public option. That�s all guess work. The basic point is that the administration just isn�t interested in it, and congressional leaders don�t want to take the time that it would take in order to get this accomplished, because they�re afraid that any additional time puts the healthcare reform�puts healthcare reform in jeopardy. They just want to get it done and move on.

GOP assails Dems on approach to health bill
"Anyone who endorses this strategy will be forever remembered for trying to claim they didn't vote for something they did," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Tuesday. "It will go down as one of the most extraordinary legislative sleights of hand in history."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to shield lawmakers from having to vote directly on the Senate-passed health care bill because it's unpopular with House Democrats.

"Nobody wanted to vote for the Senate bill," Pelosi, D-Calif., explained in a round-table meeting with liberal bloggers Monday.

"It's more insider and process-oriented than most people want to know, but I like it because people don't have to vote on the Senate bill," she said of the approach.

Rural Haiti Struggles to Absorb Displaced
Life has come full circle for many Haitians who originally migrated to escape the grinding poverty of the countryside. Since the early 1980s, rural Haitians have moved at a steady clip to Port-au-Prince in search of schools, jobs and government services. After the earthquake, more than 600,000 returned to the countryside, according to the government, putting a serious strain on desperately poor communities that have received little emergency assistance.

�There has been a mass exodus to places like Fond-des-Blancs,� said Briel Leveill� a former mayor and founder of the leading peasant cooperative in this region, which includes Nan Roc. �But the misery of the countryside is compounding the effects of the disaster. I�ve heard people say it would be better to risk another earthquake in Port-au-Prince than to stay in this rural poverty without any help from the government.�

Indeed, some have already returned to the capital seeking the international aid that is concentrated there. But if the reverse flow continues, it could undermine a primary goal of the Haitian government and the international community: to use the earthquake as a catalyst to decentralize Haiti and resuscitate its agricultural economy, said Nancy Dorsinville, a special adviser to Bill Clinton, the United Nations special envoy to Haiti.

�If we really mean what we say about decentralization, then we have to think fast about a more robust distribution of food to the countryside, cash-to-work programs there, and assistance to agriculture,� Ms. Dorsinville said.

Decentralization has long been championed by many advocates for Haiti because the countryside endured decades of neglect while the Port-au-Prince area gained dysfunctional congestion. Now, with the capital city battered, it has become a policy buzzword, even as food is growing ever scarcer in the countryside.

Testicular Cancer Treatments Worse than the Disease
(NaturalNews) Large numbers of men who undergo treatment for testicular cancer suffer serious and long-term side effects or illness, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Oslo and published in the journal BJUI.

In the past, the rate of long-term side effects has not been well known because doctors are only required to report side effects that require medical intervention or threaten the patient's life.

"Current patients with testicular cancer should be informed about the risk of short-term and particularly long-term side-effects of their highly effective treatment" lead author Sophie D. Fossa said. "It is important to focus on reducing risks through healthy lifestyle choices and consider important issues like preserving future fertility."

Reviewing 40 studies published between 1990 and 2008, the researchers found that a full 30 percent of patients undergoing cisplatin-based chemotherapy may suffer from damage to their sensory nerves, while 20 percent of testicular cancer survivors suffer from hearing loss or ringing in their ears. The rate of chronic fatigue in survivors is 17 percent, which is twice as high as in the general population. As many as 25 percent of survivors suffer long-term damage to their circulatory systems. Testicular cancer survivors also have 1.8 times the general risk of developing another form of cancer.

$70 million in drugs stolen from Eli Lilly warehouse
Police will meet with federal agents Tuesday as they investigate the brazen theft of tens of millions of dollars' worth of prescription drugs from the warehouse of Eli Lilly, an international pharmaceutical firm.

The theft at the Freshwater Boulevard warehouse early Sunday was well-planned and "extremely substantial," Police Chief Carl Sferrazza said. "This will turn out to be, unfortunately, the largest theft that our town has ever experienced," he said.

A spokesman for Eli Lilly told the Associated Press the stolen drugs were worth $70 million and included Prozac, Cymbalta and Zyprexa. He says no narcotics or painkillers were taken. The burglars were sophisticated, Sferrazza said, scaling up the warehouse's outside walls and cutting a hole in the roof. They rappelled down, disabled the alarm "and proceeded to steal multiple pallets of prescription drugs," he said. He didn't know what type of drugs or how many pallets were taken, he said, but it was enough to fill at least one tractor trailer truck. "I can tell you it was many, many pallets," he said Tuesday morning. "They might have spent at least a couple of hours unloading all these drugs." Police were dispatched to the warehouse at about 1:50 p.m. Sunday, when the theft was discovered, according to a police report.

PAM COMMENTARY: The key words here are "drugs were worth." They're giving you the RETAIL value, rather than how much the company had actually invested in making the drugs. (Often drugs that sell retail for a dollar or more per pill only take a couple of cents to manufacture.) I'd be surprised if Lilly lost more than a few thousand dollars from the crime. The retail value is usually mentioned because police try to estimate the maximum that thieves could make by selling stolen drugs on the street.

Noam Chomsky on Obama�s Foreign Policy, His Own History of Activism, and the Importance of Speaking Out [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: What were you charged with?

NOAM CHOMSKY: The charges were conspiracy to, you know, resist the draft or overthrow the government or something or other. The conspiracy trials are kind of an interesting story. I could talk about them, but it was real, you know. If it hadn�t been for the Tet Offensive, I probably would have spent a couple years in jail. But--

AMY GOODMAN: Did you go through the trial?

NOAM CHOMSKY: The trials were called off right after the Tet Offensive. There was one that was underway, but--you know, the Spock trial, where they picked all the wrong people, but--and that was overturned on appeal, but mainly because of the Tet Offensive. I mean, the business world just said, �Look out.� In fact, what they did--what happened in 1968 is that a group of so-called wise men--you know, big shots from Wall Street and so on--went down to Washington and basically gave the President marching orders. It was a very real power play. Johnson was told, �Stop the bombing of North Vietnam. Don�t run for office again. And begin negotiations and start to withdraw.� And he followed orders, to the letter. Then Nixon came along and did it a different way. But the visible escalation of the war declined. Visible, I say, because some of the worst atrocities were in 1969, and then it went off to Cambodia and Laos, where it was even worse. But that was kind of invisible. It still is. But it kind of tempered at that point, and one of the things that was done was to call off the trials, because there was an effort on the part of the government to sort of make peace, you know, make peace with the students. And that was an interesting story, too. But that ended the trials.

But yeah, that was--yeah, it was risky. Civil disobedience is--it�s no fun. You know, I mean, you can�t really say it�s risky. So, maybe you get maced or beaten or something like that, spend a couple days in jail, but--not the pleasantest experience, but it�s not the kind of risk that dissidents take in other countries. But yeah--but that�s the kind of decisions you have to make. You just can�t become involved part-time in these things. It�s either serious and you�re seriously involved, or, you know, you go to a demonstration and go home and forget about it and go back to work, and nothing happens. I mean, things only happen by really dedicated, diligent work. I mean, we�re not allowed to say nice things about the Communist Party, right? That�s like a rule. But one of the reasons why the New Deal legislation worked, you know, which was significant--you know, just changed the country--was because there were people who were there every day. Whether it was a civil rights issue, a labor rights issue, organizing, anything else, they were there, ready to turn the mimeograph machines--no internet--organize demonstrations. They had a memory. You know, the movement had a memory, which it doesn�t have now. Now everyone starts over from fresh. But it had a kind of a tradition, a memory, that people were always there. And if you look back, it was very heavily Communist Party activists. Well, you know, that was destroyed. And it�s one of the--the lack of such a sector of dedicated, committed people who understand that you�re not going to win tomorrow, you know, you�re going to have a lot of defeats, and there�ll be a lot of trouble, you know, and a lot of things will happen that aren�t nice, but if you keep at it, you can get somewhere. That�s why we had a civil rights movement and a labor movement and so on.

The lesson that we ought to learn, there was a split in American public opinion, very sharp split, very visible, in the early �70s, between elite opinion--you know, newspapers, Harvard faculty and so on--on the one hand, and the general population, on the other. Not the antiwar movement, the general population. In elite opinion, articulate opinion�and that you can read, so it�s easy to document�the most extreme condemnation of the war was that it was a mistake which proved to be too costly. OK, that�s about as far as you can go. Among the public, about 70 percent, in polls, said it�s not a mistake, it�s fundamentally wrong and immoral. OK? It�s a very sharp and significant split. And I think the lesson we ought to learn is, to bring it to today, that, say, when Obama is praised for opposing the war in Iraq because he thought it was a mistake, we should recognize that to be on a par with Nazi generals after Stalingrad who thought that the two-front war was a mistake. The issue isn�t was it a mistake; it�s whether it�s fundamentally wrong and immoral. Well, that�s the lesson that has to be drawn. That�s what the public probably already understands, but we have to do something with them and organize with them.

FedEx fossil arrives 300m years late; A fossil amphibian has come to light on land owned by FedEx and has been named Fedexia striegeli
Fossil hunters have named a 300m-year-old amphibian in honour of the courier service FedEx, after unearthing the creature on land owned by the company near a US airport.

The remains of the ancient amphibian, which lived 70m years before the first dinosaurs, were recovered in 2004 from a slab of rock near Pittsburgh International Airport by Adam Striegel, an amateur fossil enthusiast on a geology field trip.

Researchers at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh described the creature on the basis of its remarkably well-preserved 12cm-long skull, which survived fossilisation without being crushed.

A group led by David Berman, curator of vertebrate palaeontology at the museum, identified the amphibian as a new genus and species, Fedexia striegeli, in the institution's journal, Annals of Carnegie Museum.

Hand-borne bugs could offer crime scene clues
Horatio Caine, shake hands with a new clue.

In a study that will surely spawn a story line for the smugly cool CSI Miami character, played by David Caruso, U.S. scientists have discovered that our hands are smeared with signature colonies of germs that are unique to each individual.

When people touch any surface, they can lay down a load of these germs that might be traced back � through DNA analysis of the bugs � to their original owner.

�We�re coated in bacteria, and it�s unavoidable,� says Noah Fierer, a University of Colorado at Boulder bacteriologist and lead study author.

�And potentially, this could be another tool in the (crime scene) tool kit,� Fierer says.

Fierer says there are likely 100 different varieties of bacteria that can live comfortably and benignly on a human hand. Of these species, which are not pathogenic and are often helpful to our health, each individual carries a unique number and concentration.

Dodd Financial Reform Bill: The Federal Reserve's 'Remarkable Recovery,' New Powers
In a proposal set to be unveiled this afternoon, Sen. Chris Dodd (D - Conn.) anchors his latest financial reform bill around a relatively undiminished Federal Reserve.

The Fed, of course, has no shortage of critics eager to excoriate its handling of the financial crisis. Actually, that's putting it lightly -- the central bank has been blasted for its handling of consumer protection, interest rates, its failure to spot the housing bubble and its role in bailing out some of the nation's largest financial firms.

As Simon Johnson notes, critics will surely object to the fact that Dodd's bill will entrust the Federal Reserve to oversee the nation's largest and most systemically important financial firms. "Unfortunately, on the major issue - too big to fail financial institutions that caused the 2008-09 crisis and that will likely trigger the next meltdown - there is nothing meaningful in the proposed legislation," Johnson wrote of the bill.

Just last year, Reuters notes, Dodd said the Fed had been "an abysmal failure." Now, it appears the central bank has made "a remarkable recovery."

Dodd's treatment of the Fed has certainly evolved over the past few months. In November, this Wall Street Journal headline declared that Dodd was among a group of "Senators Seeking Sweeping Curbs On The Fed." Also in November, the Washington Post, for its part, declared "Dodd's Reform Plan Takes Aim At Fed."

Charles Bowden on �The War Next Door� [DN]
SHARIF ABDEL KOUDDOUS: In your latest article in High Country News, you write, �There is no serious War on Drugs. Rather, there is violence, nourished by the money to be made from drugs. And there are U.S. industries whose primary lifeblood comes from fighting a war on drugs.� Explain what you mean by that.

CHARLES BOWDEN: Well, certainly. We�re spending $30 to $40 billion a year on narcotics officers in this country. Every state in the union, if you get out of the house and drive, is now studded with little prisons, some private. They�re all dependent on the�on laws outlawing drugs. The income from drugs in Mexico exceeds all other sources of foreign currency, except possibly oil, and that�s debatable. In other words, if President Calderon succeeded in his claimed goal of eradicating the drug industry in Mexico, Mexico would collapse in a minute. That�s what I mean.

I mean, why don�t we face the fact that drugs are like alcohol? They�re part of our culture now. They�re not going away. If we want to make them illegal, we can continue to live the way we have: imprisoning our own people, creating a police state, having prisons everywhere. But no matter what we do, they�re going to be in the neighborhood, just as they are.

There was an interesting government study released a while ago that said 232 American cities now have the presence of Mexican drug organizations. Well, look, I�m a little older, possibly, than some of your listeners, but if you bought a joint in 1975, it wasn�t coming from Finland or some place. They�ve always been here. It�s a market. All we�ve got to decide is whether it�s legal or illegal. That�s it. It�s like gambling. It�s got a life of its own.

But we are destroying, or helping to destroy, a country next door by our policies. Although there are many explanations for the problems in Mexico, and most of them lie with Mexicans, but certainly our economic policy, NAFTA, our drug policies, the war on drugs, and our militarization of the country have proven to be nothing but a disaster for the Mexican people.

AMY GOODMAN: Charles Bowden, how does this relate to the hundreds of women who have been murdered in Ciudad Ju�z and Chihuahua over the last, oh, fifteen years? We�re talking nearly 500 or more.

CHARLES BOWDEN: Well, we�re talking nearly 500 in a fifteen-year period in a city that had a million and a half. Here�s how it relates. Essentially, none of those crimes have never been solved. During that same period, 95�between 90 and 95 percent of the murders have been males. None of those crimes have been solved. Last year, of those 2,600-plus murders in Ju�z, there were thirty arrests. Not solutions, just arrests. The way they figure in is, if you�re a Mexican citizen, anybody can kill you, and nothing�s going to happen to them. And it doesn�t matter if you�re a child, a man or a woman, that their justice system is broken. I can understand, because of the sort of cause c�bre quality while people are focused on the dead women, but I think we ought to focus on the dead human beings. This city kills people, and nothing happens to the killers.

Mexico Is Warned on Drug Detector
MEXICO CITY�The British government has notified Mexico that a handheld device widely used by the Mexican military and police to search for drugs and explosives may be ineffective, British officials said.

Mexico�s National Defense Secretariat has spent more than $10 million to purchase hundreds of the detectors, similar to the �magic wands� in use in Iraq and Afghanistan, for its antidrug fight. Although critics have called them nothing more than divining rods, Mexican defense officials praise the devices as a critical part of their efforts to combat drug traffickers. At the military�s National Drug Museum, one of the devices is on display, with a plaque that describes its success in finding hidden caches of drugs.

Mexican military officials say the black plastic wands, known as the GT 200 and manufactured by the British company Global Technical Ltd., are widely used nationwide at checkpoints to search for contraband inside vehicles as well as to canvass neighborhoods in drug hotspots for drug and weapons stash houses.

As of April 20, 2009, the army had purchased 521 of the GT 200 detectors for just over $20,000 apiece, for a total cost of more than $10 million, according to Mexican government documents. Police agencies across Mexico have made additional purchases, records show.

Obama runs out of patience with Israel; Settlement issue provokes 'biggest crisis in relations for 35 years'
The Israeli Prime Minister insisted yesterday that construction would continue "in the same way as has been customary over the last 42 years". He added: "The building of those Jewish neighbourhoods in no way hurt the Arabs of East Jerusalem and did not come at their expense."

But a prominent Fatah figure and former Palestinian foreign minister, Nabil Shaath, told The Independent that the prospect of talks resuming had been sabotaged by Israel's action. Speaking in Qatar yesterday ahead of reconciliation talks with Hamas, which governs Gaza, he added: "The speed at which Jerusalem is being Judaised and de-Arabised has surpassed any period in the history of the peace process and is so alarming that we cannot possibly continue giving cover to Mr Netanyahu that we are still negotiating while he is doing this."

Mr Netanyahu avoided direct reference to the plans at the heart of the row for expanding the Ramat Shlomo settlement. But the Prime Minister, who has apologised for the timing of last week's announcement, showed no sign of abandoning it altogether.

There was no official confirmation of reports in the Israeli press that the US was also demanding other measures, including an early release of Palestinian prisoners and a clear Israeli promise that talks, if and when they begin, would genuinely deal with the core issues between the two sides: borders, Palestinian refugees, and the future of Jerusalem. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz and Israeli Army Radio reported meanwhile that in a conference call with Israeli consuls across the US on Saturday night, Michael Oren, Israel's Ambassador to Washington, said that the crisis was one of "historic proportions". Summoned to the State Department on Friday, he reportedly urged the consuls, on instructions "from the highest level", to lobby Congress, Jewish community groups and the media to make Israel's case. Mr Oren, a historian, apparently recalled a previous stand-off in 1975 between Henry Kissinger and the then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin over US demands in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur war for a partial withdrawal from the Sinai.

U.S. is awaiting Israel's answer to 3 demands; A response is expected today in what U.S. officials call a major test of the American-Israeli relationship.
WASHINGTON - In an effort to get peace talks back on track, the Obama administration is pressing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reverse last week's approval of 1,600 housing units in east Jerusalem, make a substantial gesture toward the Palestinians and publicly declare that all of the "core issues" in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the status of Jerusalem, be included in upcoming talks, U.S. officials said.

The three demands, relayed on Friday by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in a tense phone call with Netanyahu, have not been publicly disclosed by the administration. But Israel is expected to provide a formal response on Tuesday.

U.S. officials are casting it as a test of Netanyahu's commitment to the relationship between the United States and Israel.

"We have to have guarantees that these kinds of things will not happen again," said a senior U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. "If he is unwilling to make that kind of commitment, it raises the questions of how committed he is to negotiations -- and it raises the question of how committed he is to the relationship between Israel and the United States."

Smokers who quit see improved artery health within year, UW study shows
Despite gaining an average of nine pounds, a large group of smokers from Wisconsin who quit had a significant improvement in the health of their arteries within a year of their last cigarette.

The benefit was the equivalent of a 14% reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to the University of Wisconsin-Madison study that was presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology.

Smoking has long been associated with the build-up of plaque in arteries, including those in the heart. Indeed, one-third of premature smoking deaths are due to cardiovascular disease.

And it always had been assumed that quitting smoking improved artery health. But the study, which involved 1,500 smokers from Milwaukee and Madison, is the largest and one of the first to quantify the improvement using an objective measure, in this case an ultrasound reading of an artery in the arm, said Neal Benowitz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco who was not a part of the study.

94 people living near China lead factory found to have lead poisoning; authorities close plant
BEIJING - At least 94 people living near a lead factory, most of them children, have tested positive for lead poisoning, state media said Monday, prompting authorities to order the closure of the plant. Hundreds more people are still waiting for test results.

Reports of lead poisoning have emerged around the country since last year, highlighting the heavy environmental cost of China's rapid economic development.

Authorities organized medical tests for some 1,600 residents in four villages within an 2,600-foot (800-meter) radius of the Zhongyi Alloy Co. in Longchang county of Sichuan province's Neijiang city, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Monday.

Ninety-four residents, including 88 children, were found to be suffering from lead poisoning, while 745 others were waiting for their test results.

Schweitzer asks feds to cancel oil and gas leases near Glacier Park
HELENA - Gov. Brian Schweitzer on Monday asked the federal government to formally cancel oil and gas leases near Glacier National Park that have been in limbo since a 1988 federal appeals court ruled them improper.

No company has ever attempted to develop the leases.

"What I know about Washington, D.C., is that if you don't ask, you're probably not going to get," Schweitzer said at a news conference called to announce the letter he sent Monday to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

The leases were issued under President Reagan's then-Interior Secretary James Watt; they included tracts throughout western Montana and a section on the Gallatin National Forest.

The Legacy of James Watt (FLASHBACK)
His legions of eager critics will not have James Watt to kick around any more. Indeed, Watt will probably be most remembered for the kind of righteous, goading declarations that finally forced his resignation: long before his crack about "a black, a woman, two Jews and a cripple," Watt had said that the electorate is composed of "liberals and Americans" and that Beach Boys fans are riffraff. But Watt did more than just make inflammatory pronouncements. He pushed through radical changes in Interior policy, most of which are likely to endure at least as long as Ronald Reagan is President. And some elements of the Watt legacy are irrevocable.

Watt's policies broke dramatically with those Interior had pursued under both Democratic and Republican Administrations. He veered hard to the right, away from unalloyed concern for environmental preservation, and toward commercial use of the Government's vast land holdings. Remarkably, he wrought deep changes mainly without changing laws; his tools were budgetary finesse, regulatory manipulation and personnel shifts. "He was a consummate bureaucrat," says National Wildlife Federation Executive Lynn Greenwalt, an erstwhile Watt colleague at Interior. "He knew how to make a big, sprawling agency do what he wanted." Watt's trouble was that he tended to go too far, gratuitously provoking environmentalists and a wary public. Among his controversial actions:

Strip Mining. Despite an internal mutiny, Watt closed down offices of the regulatory Office of Surface Mining, and had 93% of the OSM rules rewritten to make them looser. Critics say the effect is to permit environmental damage.

Wilderness. While spending more for the upkeep of national parks and adding facilities for the handicapped, Watt put a virtual moratorium on the acquisition of new land and even resisted accepting acreage that private owners offered to donate. Furthermore, Watt proposed that at the turn of the century all 80 million acres of virginal U.S. wilderness could become available for drilling and mining.

FCC plan would greatly expand broadband Internet connections
The Federal Communications Commission announced on Monday its long-awaited plan to bring broadband Internet connections to every home and business in the United States, part of an ambitious, multibillion-dollar attempt to create a new digital infrastructure for the nation's economy.

The national broadband plan outlines dozens of policy recommendations aimed at raising the portion of people with high-speed Internet connections to 90 percent, from the current 65 percent, over the next decade and significantly increasing the connection speeds of homes with such service.

Mandated by last year's stimulus legislation, the plan will be presented to Congress on Tuesday and is widely expected to set the FCC's agenda for years to come. It would move the commission squarely into the age of the Internet, creating a federal mandate for installing thousands of miles of new fiber-optic cable and erecting many cellphone towers.

Many of the FCC's proposals are short on details, and lawmakers and the agency can accept or reject any number of the ideas.

A Host of Mummies, a Forest of Secrets
In the middle of a terrifying desert north of Tibet, Chinese archaeologists have excavated an extraordinary cemetery. Its inhabitants died almost 4,000 years ago, yet their bodies have been well preserved by the dry air.

The cemetery lies in what is now China�s northwest autonomous region of Xinjiang, yet the people have European features, with brown hair and long noses. Their remains, though lying in one of the world�s largest deserts, are buried in upside-down boats. And where tombstones might stand, declaring pious hope for some god�s mercy in the afterlife, their cemetery sports instead a vigorous forest of phallic symbols, signaling an intense interest in the pleasures or utility of procreation.

The long-vanished people have no name, because their origin and identity are still unknown. But many clues are now emerging about their ancestry, their way of life and even the language they spoke.

Their graveyard, known as Small River Cemetery No. 5, lies near a dried-up riverbed in the Tarim Basin, a region encircled by forbidding mountain ranges. Most of the basin is occupied by the Taklimakan Desert, a wilderness so inhospitable that later travelers along the Silk Road would edge along its northern or southern borders.

Idaho drug prison to open in July
BOISE, Idaho � Idaho lawmakers and Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter now aim to staff a new $50 million, 432-bed drug treatment prison starting July 1, despite budget woes that had threatened to push the opening back to September.

Department of Correction Director Brent Reinke met separately with Otter aides, as well as Rep. Maxine Bell and Sen. Dean Cameron, on Friday. Bell, R-Jerome, and Cameron, R-Rupert, head the Joint Finance-Appropriations budget writing committee.

They agreed Reinke should open the Correctional Alternative Placement Prison, or CAPP, at the start of fiscal year 2011, rather than Sept. 15.

David Hensley, Otter's staff attorney, told The Associated Press on Monday that Reinke will try to take advantage of a flexible budget to open the prison now, in hopes of realizing savings later in the year as more inmates are released following treatment - rather than winding up in the state's other, more-expensive medium- and minimum-security prisons.

Ottawa lays out �all-hazards� national emergency plan
Largely logistical in nature, the plan touches on virtually every conceivable natural or man-made disaster, from toxic spills and plane or train crashes to earthquakes, deadly storms and pandemics.

It also addresses government roles in tackling �cyber incidents� and terrorism � all in the name of protecting lives, property, national security and the economy.

In November, Auditor-General Sheila Fraser said Public Safety Canada � the agency responsible for co-ordinating the federal crisis response � had not completed an emergency blueprint, nor had it received formal blessing.

That was two years after Parliament gave the department the lead on crisis management.

24% in state lack health insurance; The jump in 2009 stems largely from the loss of job-sponsored coverage, a UCLA study finds.
Nearly 1 in 4 Californians under age 65 had no health insurance last year, according to a new report, as soaring unemployment propelled vast numbers of once-covered workers into the ranks of the uninsured.

The state's uninsured population jumped to 8.2 million in 2009, up from 6.4 million in 2007, marking the highest number over the last decade, investigators from UCLA's Center for Health Policy Research said.

People who were uninsured for part or all of 2009 accounted for 24.3% of California's population under age 65 -- a dramatic increase from 2007 driven largely by Californians who lost employer-sponsored health insurance, particularly over the last year.

Among those over age 18, nearly 1 in 3 had no insurance for all or part of 2009, the UCLA researchers found. The ranks of uninsured children also grew. The study was based on phone interviews from 2007, updated with current insurance enrollment data.

New HIV infections increasing among homosexuals
NEW YORK (AP) -- New HIV infections are increasing among homosexuals, drug users and prostitutes who don't seek help because of laws that criminalize these practices, the head of the U.N. AIDS agency said Monday.

Michel Sidibe, the head of UNAIDS, said "it is unacceptable" that 85 countries still have laws criminalizing same sex relations among adults, including seven that impose the death penalty for homosexual practices.

He called a proposed Ugandan law that would impose the death penalty for some gays "very unfortunate" and expressed hope it will never be approved.

At a time when UNAIDS is scaling up its program and seeking universal access to HIV treatment, Sidibe said he was "very scared" because bad laws are being introduced by countries making it impossible for these at risk groups to have access to services.

AP: FBI aiding Mexico in probing murders of 3 with Ju�z consulate ties
The U.S. consulate in Ciudad Juarez, shut for Monday's Mexican national holiday, also will be closed on Tuesday as "a way for the community to mourn the loss" of the victims, said consulate spokesman Silvio Gonzalez.

It was the second U.S. border consulate closed because of violence in the last month. The consular office in Reynosa, across from McAllen, Texas closed for several days in late February because of gun battles in the area.

Several U.S. citizens have been killed in Mexico's drug war, most of them people with family ties to Mexico. It is very rare for American government employees to be targeted, although attackers hurled grenades at the U.S. consulate in the northern city of Monterrey in 2008.

The atmosphere of violence in Juarez had been creeping closer to U.S. offices for some time: on Friday, the consulate put a bar just around the block from its office off limits to U.S. government personnel "due to security concerns."

Probe widens in hunt for killers of 3 tied to U.S. consulate
CIUDAD JUAREZ � In the deadly city of Juarez, people are slaughtered daily � in their homes and in the street, at drug clinics and youth parties, at funeral homes and outside neighborhood schools.

But the killing of Lesley Enriquez, who worked at the U.S. Consulate and was four months pregnant, her husband, Arthur Redelfs, a corrections officer in El Paso, and Jorge Alberto Salcido Ceniceros, whose wife worked at the consulate, brought the murderous mayhem even closer to home in United States than perhaps it's ever been.

Two of the victims were U.S. citizens, one of them a U.S. government employee. The apparently coordinated attacks took place in broad daylight as the three were leaving a consulate children's party. Three children were with them when the two separate assaults took place.

Now, the international investigation has expanded to both sides of the border in the search for clues about the killers as well as their motives.

Corporate Debt Coming Due May Squeeze Credit
When the Mayans envisioned the world coming to an end in 2012 � at least in the Hollywood telling � they didn�t count junk bonds among the perils that would lead to worldwide disaster.

Maybe they should have, because 2012 also is the beginning of a three-year period in which more than $700 billion in risky, high-yield corporate debt begins to come due, an extraordinary surge that some analysts fear could overload the debt markets.

With huge bills about to hit corporations and the federal government around the same time, the worry is that some companies will have trouble getting new loans, spurring defaults and a wave of bankruptcies.

The United States government alone will need to borrow nearly $2 trillion in 2012, to bridge the projected budget deficit for that year and to refinance existing debt.

Wolverine State loses only known wild wolverine
The Wolverine State has lost its only known wild wolverine.

State officials said Monday hikers found the 28-pound female over the weekend outside Minden, about 90 miles north of Detroit.

Department of Natural Resources and Environment spokeswoman Mary Dettloff says natural causes are suspected.

Hunters first spotted the wolverine in 2004. Teacher Jeff Ford tracked the animal for years and says it had distinctive markings "like a fingerprint." He says years of monitoring failed to document any other wolverines in the area.

Previously, the last known Michigan wolverine sightings were in the early 1800s. The animal's ferocious reputation led to its selection as a mascot for the state and the University of Michigan.

Most North American wolverines are found in Alaska and Canada.

Obama brings Dennis Kucinich on Air Force One for health care speech
Traveling to the Cleveland area to make yet another major speech for passing health care reform into law, President Barack Obama chose as a travel companion one very skeptical lawmaker.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) is from the area where Obama is speaking. That would normally make his appearance on Air Force One Monday morning a non-event. But the Ohio Democrat also happens to be one of, if not the only progressive holdout in the House, on health care legislation. And he has hinted strongly that his vote, which could be the deciding margin, is firmly in the "no" camp.

The White House pool reporter on the trip did not get an immediate readout of any conversation between Kucinich and Obama. Though accompanying the two on the trip was Phil Schiliro, the president's liaison to Congress.

A White House aide said that this trip would be the last one outside of D.C. that the president will make before heading overseas on March 21. All other lobbying efforts will be conducted inside the beltway via "member meetings and phone calls" such as the one that already took place between Obama and Rep. Scott Murphy (D-N.Y.)

PAM COMMENTARY: Yeah, I saw Obama's speech on TV today, and the irony is that the real person he used as an example wouldn't be helped much by the bill he was pushing. The lady with leukemia had to drop her health insurance because the rates kept going up -- Obama claims that the current health care bill will help bring down the cost of insurance, but I've seen other estimates that say exactly the opposite, and seem to be more realistic (as in, if insurance companies have to accept preexisting conditions, then they'll have to raise rates). Also, the lady was facing huge bills from aggressive chemotherapy -- the bill Obama is pushing doesn't negotiate cheaper rates for those drugs, nor does it help cheaper and more effective alternative cancer treatments gain acceptance. The bill isn't much more than a thinly disguised gift to insurance and drug companies, and there's no reason for Kucinich to support it. In fact, Kucinich is known for his uncompromised integrity, and would be respected less by his constituents if he sold out.

Before the 2008 election, I went to a MoveOn.org event because I was interested in the issue featured that night, and was surprised by the big turnout. It seems MoveOn gets better participation than the Democratic Party, probably because they don't disappoint their members by siding with corporate interests. The woman hosting the event had a big home in the hills with beautiful real wood paneling, for that "mountain lodge" atmosphere. After the event, I stayed to help her fold chairs and clean up, and that's when I found out that she was supporting Obama specifically because her main issue was health care. She was in the process of selling that home, she told me, because her husband had dementia and had to be moved into a nursing home. She couldn't afford the nursing home bills, and couldn't get government help with his expenses unless she was dirt poor. Therefore, she had to sell the family home to both pay for his care, and then qualify for benefits after that money ran out.

Like most people I knew who supported Obama because of the health care issue, she was expecting something like national health insurance or a universal Medicare system. I doubt that she, or others like her, will benefit much from the health care bill now before Congress.

After benefiting from so many "health care warriors" working for his campaign, of course Obama had to try to enact some sort of health care reform. But how many health care-focused people would have supported Obama for THIS type of "reform"? I doubt it would have been many. I never encouraged them in their efforts during the campaign because I knew Washington well enough to have an idea of what would happen. The pharmaceutical industry practically owns Washington, and the medical and insurance industries aren't far behind. There will never be meaningful change until people learn to counteract those special interests.

Scientists find key to rattlers' infrared sight
In the long evolution of reptiles, the venomous rattlesnakes and their ilk have developed a highly sensitive way to spot their prey and flee from predators: They carry tiny infrared detectors on the sides of their heads that instantly sense the heat of warm-blooded animals nearby.

And like a heat-sensitive television camera, those detectors send an image of the target animal to the snake's brain, telling it where and when to strike - or where a hungry enemy is lurking.

Now a team of scientists at UCSF that is exploring the varied sensory systems of humans has discovered the chemical molecule that endows poisonous pit vipers of all kinds with their unique detective ability.

It's an obscure protein that many other animals carry, from tiny fruit flies to people, but in other varieties it serves far different functions than in rattlesnakes, according to David Julius, a neurobiologist at UCSF's new Mission Bay Campus.

Pentagon Gun Was From Tennessee Police
WASHINGTON � Two guns used in high-profile shootings this year at the Pentagon and a Las Vegas courthouse both came from the same unlikely place: the police and court system of Memphis, Tenn.

Law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that both guns were once seized in criminal cases in Memphis. The officials described how the weapons made their separate ways from an evidence vault to gun dealers and to the shooters.

The use of guns that once were in police custody and were later involved in attacks on police officers highlights a little-known divide in gun policy in the United States: Many cities and states destroy guns gathered in criminal probes, but others sell or trade the weapons in order to get other guns or buy equipment such as bulletproof vests.

In fact, on the day of the Pentagon shooting, March 4, the Tennessee governor signed legislation revising state law on confiscated guns. Before, law enforcement agencies in the state had the option of destroying a gun. Under the new version, agencies can only destroy a gun if it's inoperable or unsafe.

Addiction, poor diet bedevil Alaskans
The study also shows what factors are not as significant to why people die. For instance, lack of access to health care is linked to only one top cause of death for Alaskans as a whole, suicide. For Alaska Natives, access to health care is a bigger issue due to geographic rather than financial reasons.

The most important factors behind why we die:

� Addictions are implicated in each of the top 10 causes of death in Alaska except Alzheimer's disease. For example, smoking is linked to cancer. A history of substance abuse is associated with suicide. Drinking a lot of alcohol is tied to diabetes.

� Environmental problems play into four of the top 10: cancer, heart diseases, injuries and chronic respiratory diseases.

� Diet and nutrition are also linked to four reasons for dying: cancer, heart disease, cerebro-vascular disease (strokes) and diabetes.

Montana State Prison: Female prison guards fired for sexual misconduct
In some cases, the women reported that they couldn't say no to the inmate out of fear, or were afraid to go to a co-worker out of shame at what had happened, that one small mistake led to something else.

Experts say there is a culture of silence in the prisons that makes it difficult for female guards to come forward with problems before they spin out of control. But they also cite a double standard in which female guards are treated less harshly when their transgressions come to light.

Documents detailing the state investigation into Murphy's liaisons show he persuaded at least five Montana female prison employees to break the rules over several years. He even convinced his therapist to have sex with him, and was able to arrange one-on-one meetings with her even though prison officials knew of his past success in conniving favors out of female workers.

Charges were filed against one of the female prison workers. Murphy, 36, faced no charges.

The affair cost one female employee her marriage, her career and any chance at a real job.

Lawsuit settlement means no more perfume, aftershave or other scents for Detroit city workers
DETROIT - Change is in the air for Detroit city workers.

City employees will be urged not to wear perfume, cologne or aftershave as a result of a settlement in a federal lawsuit.

Officials plan to place warning placards in three city buildings. The signs will warn workers to avoid "wearing scented products, including ... colognes, aftershave lotions, perfumes, deodorants, body/face lotions ... (and) the use of scented candles, perfume samples from magazines, spray or solid air fresheners."

The employee handbook and Americans with Disabilities Act training also will bear warnings.

The Detroit News reports the move stems from a $100,000 settlement in a federal lawsuit filed in 2008 by a city employee who said a colleague's perfume made it challenging for her to do her job.

Harry Reid's wife out of hospital
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid�s wife was discharged from a Washington-area hospital Sunday after being treated for a broken neck and back when a tractor-trailer rear ended her minivan.

Landra Reid, 69, was hospitalized last week after she and the couple's 49-year-old daughter, Lana, were hit by a semi-truck while traveling in their Honda Odyssey in stop-and-go traffic on Interstate 95 about 14 miles south of Washington.

The Nevada senator's wife of 50 years, who suffered a broken nose, broken back and a broken neck, underwent neck surgery Friday at Inova Fairfax Hospital.

The couple�s daughter � the eldest of their five children � had relatively minor injuries and was discharged hours after the crash on Thursday.

PAM COMMENTARY: VERY fortunate to survive being rear-ended by an 18-wheeler, and then walk away only a few days later.

All three eagle eggs hatched at Norfolk Botanical Garden
The third eagle egg has hatched at the Norfolk Botanical Garden, according to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

The egg �pipped� or was broken through on Saturday about 12:30 p.m. and biologists observed a third chick being fed in the nest shortly after 9 a.m. today, so the hatching occurred overnight.

All three chicks weren't seen together until about 2:30 p.m. today.

The Eagle Cam at Norfolk Botanical Garden (Live Video)
PAM COMMENTARY: This video feed sometimes has problems, and often not all eagle chicks survive to adolescence, but some people might enjoy watching.

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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.)