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News from the Week of 23rd to 29th of May 2010
This week's links are still incomplete due to tax season and the resulting backlog of urgent tasks. The news links will be caught up later, possibly during July. - PR

Congress to the unemployed -- The war is important, you're not
WASHINGTON � The Senate easily passed an almost $60 billion war funding bill Thursday, but anxiety over out-of-control budget deficits led House leaders to drop tens of billions of dollars in spending from a separate catchall bill anchored by an extension of jobless benefits.

Confronted with a rebellion by Democratic moderates, House leaders planned to dump overboard $24 billion in aid to states and allow generous health insurance subsidies for laid-off workers to expire. The changes were an effort to round up votes to extend unemployment benefits and renew more than 50 popular tax breaks that expired last year.

Help for doctors facing a big cut in Medicare reimbursements would also be dropped from the measure, aides and lobbyists said, and is unlikely to be resurrected by a vote on Friday.

Democrats will miss their self-imposed deadline of passing the jobless benefits measure before Memorial Day, even if the House passes the bill Friday. The Senate announced Thursday that it will not hold any more votes until senators return from their holiday break June 7.

Tier 5: Pelosi Says No To More Weeks Of Unemployment Benefits
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that Congress will not take up any measure to give the long-term jobless more weeks of unemployment benefits beyond the 99 weeks available in some states.

Congress is currently locked in an epic battle just to preserve the 99 weeks for the rest of the year. In a seemingly futile effort to appease deficit hawks, Dem leadership already weakened its "extenders bill," formally known as the American Jobs and Closing Loopholes Act, by shortening the unemployment extension through November instead of December.

Hundreds of thousands of people, however, have already exhausted 99 weeks of benefits with no jobs in sight. Thousands signed a petition to demand Congress add a "Tier V" to the four tiers of benefits that currently make up the 99 weeks.

A reporter asked Pelosi at her weekly press conference if there were any plans to help the 99ers.

"No. This bill will go until the end of November, at that time we'll take up something, but not between now and then," said Pelosi (D-Calif.). "The situation I see is that members who are from low unemployment areas are very concerned about the deficit. Members who are from high unemployment areas are very concerned about jobs. So we have to come to a compromise as to how to move forward, and we did with this bill going to November."

Slow recovery keeps unemployment high
For many Americans, it doesn't feel much like a recovery.

The unemployed face fierce competition for job openings. Those with jobs are watching their paychecks shrink. A growing number of people are at risk of falling into foreclosure. And people with only the most stellar credit are likely to get a new loan.

"We're out of recession, but the recovery is not going to bring a whole lot of smiles," said Joel Naroff, of Naroff Economic Advisors.

The economy grew at a 3 percent annual rate from January to March, according to a new estimate released by the Commerce Department Thursday. The new reading, based on more complete information, was slightly weaker than an initial estimate of 3.2 percent a month ago.

Consumers spent less than first estimated. Same goes for business spending on equipment and software. And, the nation's trade deficit was a bigger drag on economic activity. Those factors led to slower growth last quarter than first estimated.

Census Bureau tackles undercount of Native Americans
Several times a week, Tulalip Reservation resident Roberta Belanich gathers her questionnaires and heads out to the homes of neighbors who haven't returned their Census 2010 forms.

Belanich is an Alaska Native, a member of the Haida and Tlingit tribes, but came to the reservation in Marysville through marriage in 1981. She remembers when a nearby hill was all trees. "Now it's all houses," she said. "That's all happened in the last 10 years."

Little more than half the reservation's residents took part in the 2000 count, reflecting a long pattern of nonparticipation among Native Americans whose deep-rooted skepticism of the federal government, among other factors, has made them historically one of the country's most undercounted groups. The issue is especially keen on reservations, where the U.S. Census Bureau estimated it had undercounted the population by more than 12 percent in 1990.

"If anybody should feel a disconnect from the government, it's Native Americans," said Deni Luna of the bureau's regional center in Seattle. "... There's still this feeling of, 'Don't trust the government, because this is how we got wiped out.' "

Cops target blacks, study finds (Canada)
MONTREAL - Black Montrealers are more than four times as likely as whites to be questioned by police and 21/2 times as likely to be arrested, a public hearing on racial profiling was told yesterday.

And black youths between age 12 and 18 are more than twice as likely to be arrested as young whites, said Christopher McAll, a professor of sociology at the Universit�e Montr�.

McAll, who is also scientific director of the Montreal Research Centre on Social Inequalities and Discrimination, unveiled results of a study on blacks in the youth justice system on the first day of hearings by the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission.

McAll and co-author L�el Bernard combed through court records for 1,518 youths arrested and charged with an offence on the island of Montreal in 2001 to sketch a portrait of young blacks in the criminal justice system.

Tanning beds can quadruple your risk for dangerous skin cancer
The biggest study ever done on tanning beds and melanoma finds that indoor tanning can raise the risk of that cancer roughly two to four times.

Scientists have long known that heavy exposure to ultraviolet rays, including sunburns and heavy tanning, can cause skin cancer. That link is one reason tanning businesses were taxed in the recent health reform law, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration may beef up warnings and ban teens from using tanning beds.

But doctors are still trying to figure out just how risky indoor tanning is. After studying more than 2,200 tanners and their pale peers, scientists report that regular indoor tanning raised a person's risk of melanoma - the deadliest skin cancer - between 74 percent and 340 percent. People who tanned longer had higher risk, as did people who tanned in beds that mostly use UVA radiation, not a related kind known as UVB.

�Too many teenagers tend to live a life ignorant of risk," said researcher Electra Paskett. "We need to encourage a shift in social norms about tanning similar to what was done with smoking because the risk is that high."

Bolivia lions freed to Bob Barker-funded refuge
LA PAZ, Bolivia � Four lion cubs freed under Bolivia's circus-animal ban took off for California on Thursday, heading to a new life in a refuge built with the help of television personality Bob Barker.

The cubs were rescued under a Bolivian law set to take effect in July that prohibits circuses from having any animals - including pets - making it the world's most comprehensive ban.

A fifth lion, mother of three of the cubs, was also rescued after a lifetime of circus work. But she proved too elderly to make the trip and had to be euthanized, said Enrique Mendizabal, a volunteer with Animal Defenders International.

His group helped house the lions in Bolivia before they were moved out of the country.

Three endangered baby horses born at Calgary Zoo; First births of their kinds since 1994
CALGARY - The Calgary Zoo welcomed three new additions in the last month, officials said today - baby Asian Wild Horses born at the facility's breeding operation.

The three foals are the first animals to be born at the Devonian Wildlife Conservation Centre since 1994. It expands the zoo's herd from eight to 11 animals.

Zoo officials say they will hold a public contest to name the horses, born April 24, May 2 and May 20. Details of the contest has yet to be announced.

The Asian Wild Horse is classified as critically endangered by the World Conservation Union.

Transient killer whales hunting in Puget Sound
As many as a dozen transient killer whales have been reported in Puget Sound this week, hunting for seals and sea lions.

Howard Garrett of the Orca Network said four or five orcas that had been cruising Sinclair and Dyes inlets at Bremerton Wednesday left Thursday morning and headed toward Port Orchard.

Garrett says orcas also were spotted Tuesday off West Seattle, including a large male that's identified by a ragged dorsal fin.

The Kitsap Sun reports the transients from southeast Alaska and British Columbia frequently show up in Puget Sound in the spring, often when the resident fish-eating orcas aren't around.

Hearings: Questions arise about why rig's shut off valve not activated before gas shot up well
Drillers on the Deepwater Horizon began having trouble with pressure from the well about 20 minutes before the fatal explosions that destroyed the rig and eventually caused the largest oil spill in U.S. history. But nobody tried to shut off the well until after the fire erupted, according to testimony from several survivors at hearings Thursday in Kenner.

The new testimony from Chief Mate David Young raises questions about why nobody tried to shut off the well before a kick of gas shot up the well and the rig's riser, spewing mud and seawater on the deck and taking the vessel's senior officers by surprise. The two top Transocean officers testified Thursday that anyone who had a concern about safety could call a "time out" to shut off a well that might go out of control.

Young, whose job included providing cement slurry for Halliburton contractors to apply the final plug to abandon the well, said he stopped by the rig's drill floor at 9:30 p.m. on April 20 to see when they would need the cement. He said he found drilling supervisor Jason Anderson and chief driller Dewey Revette there, trying to figure out some problematic pressure readings from down in the well. Anderson and Revette were among the 11 workers killed in the accident.

"They had a concern with differential pressure," Young said. "They said it would be a little longer to figure it out, for the cement job meeting. They were seeing a differential pressure. I didn't ask any questions about it."

Seven Gulf oil spill cleanup workers hospitalized
Seven workers helping to clean up the Gulf oil spill were hospitalized after they reported dizziness, headaches and nausea while working on boats off the Louisiana coast, though most of them were later released.

West Jefferson Medical Center spokeswoman Taslin Alfonzo said Thursday that doctors believe the likely cause is chemical irritation and dehydration from long hours working in the heat.

Alfonzo said the workers told doctors they believe chemicals used to break up the oil made them sick.

Authorities say the workers became ill Wednesday while cleaning up oil in Breton Sound, southeast of New Orleans.

Officials ordered all 125 commercial boats working the cleanup there to leave the area.

PAM COMMENTARY: The oil itself can cause those types of symptoms.

Obama defends response as BP spill likely exceeds Exxon Valdez
The U.S. Geological Survey estimated Thursday that between 12,000 and 25,000 barrels of oil a day have been gushing from ruptured pipes 1.6 kilometres below the surface of the Gulf.

The revised estimate shattered BP's long-standing claim that 5,000 barrels a day were spewing from the deepwater well, prompting Obama to question whether the company was deliberately providing false information to protect their financial interests.

If the government figures are accurate, the total amount of oil spilled would be at least twice as much as the 11 million U.S. gallons � or 40 million litres � that filled Alaska's Prince William Sound after the Exxon Valdez sank in 1989.

"Every day I see this leak continue I am angry and frustrated," Obama told reporters. "My job is to get this fixed. And in case anybody wonders who is responsible, I take responsibility. It is my job to make sure that everything is done to shut this down."

Gulf oil spill: Companies were 'rushing to make money faster,' survivor says
"I was certain I was going to die.�� So it seemed to Stephen Stone, a survivor of the Deepwater Horizon explosion who on Thursday recounted his experience on the deadly night, the first by a drilling-rig worker before a congressional committee.

Putting a human face to highly technical Capitol Hill hearings, Stone told the House Judiciary Committee that the April 20 blast was "hardly the first thing to go wrong.�� "This event was set in motion years ago by these companies needlessly rushing to make money faster, while cutting corners to save money,�� he testified.

Keith D. Jones, whose 28-year-old son, Gordon, was among 11 workers who died in the explosion, told the committee, his voice breaking with emotion, "Please believe me, no amount of money will ever compensate us for Gordon�s loss. ... But reckless acts by employees of corporations, performed to try to make the most money the fastest, will never be deterred by the payment of mere compensatory damages.��

Wind-power developer asks PSC to set rate on NorthWestern contract
HELENA - The developer of two small wind-power projects near Chester said Wednesday he hopes state regulators set a higher rate for the projects' power, after NorthWestern Energy refused to negotiate what he felt was a reasonable purchase price.

"They gave us take-it-or-leave-it proposals that made it impossible for us to build the project," said Bret Kenfield, an Oregon accountant who's originally from Chester. "I either had to walk away or go to the Public Service Commission for help."

The PSC, which regulates utilities and enforces state and federal law on small renewable-power contracts, wrapped up a three-day hearing Wednesday on Kenfield's request to set a price NorthWestern should pay for his projects' power.

Kenfield is asking that NorthWestern pay about $92 per megawatt hour for the power, or about 30 percent higher than offered by NorthWestern. He said Wednesday he believes that NorthWestern would have to pay close to that amount if it were to develop renewable power on its own or buy similar power on the market.

PAM COMMENTARY: It's great to see more wind energy going forward, but there are struggles as with any other regulated power company.

Wind farm near Boardman has six months to quiet down, Morrow County planners say
HEPPNER -- The Morrow County Planning Commission voted to give the owners of a wind farm six months to comply with state noise regulations.

The county approved the 72-megawatt Willow Creek farm in 2005, and turbines began operating in December 2008.

Neighbors have complained about the noise and vibrations. They asked the county to enforce state noise laws or revoke Willow Creek's land-use permit.

The commission decided Tuesday night that Willow Creek is too loud, but gave its owner time to find a solution, the East Oregonian reported.

The wind farm was built near Boardman by Invenergy. A company representative declined comment.

PAM COMMENTARY: That's odd -- I've never been to a wind farm that wasn't silent.

BP Played Central Role in Botched Containment of 1989 Exxon Valdez Disaster [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: We are talking about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, what the biologist Rick Steiner now calls the Gulf of Oil. Our guests are Abrahm Lustgarten, reporter with ProPublica, and Zygmunt Plater, an environmental law professor at Boston College. But more relevant to this discussion is he headed the legal team that investigated the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill.

What does the Exxon Valdez spill, Zyg Plater, have to do with BP?

ZYGMUNT PLATER: It�s so damnably frustrating to see this happening again, because BP dominated the Alyeska consortium, that our commission said, "Don�t just look at the aftermath. The preconditions were created by the Alyeska company, not just by Exxon." And BP got no notice. In retrospect, our commission report should have mentioned BP by name. We just said Alyeska, Alyeska which was the entity that made all those decisions, but BP dominated Alyeska with a majority holding.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain, though, what Alyeska had to do with Exxon Valdez?

ZYGMUNT PLATER: Well, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System was organized by a consortium of seven companies, not one company. It was more like a partnership, and it ran everything, from the North Slope through the pipeline 800 miles down to Valdez to the tank loading areas and then the system of getting tankers down to California. It was a mega-system, we talked about. And the frustrating thing we found is that the same kind of mega-system problems that we learned lessons from then continued for twenty years with the lessons unlearned. And BP was there in the beginning of Exxon Valdez by creating the preconditions that had hazards. It wasn�t a question of if there would be a spill, but only when it would happen. And it was Exxon. We were happy it wasn�t Amerada Hess, because Amerada didn�t have any money. But the point was that this was not just a problem of an intoxicated captain, it was not just a problem of Exxon; it was through the mega-system. And the same problems we see in the Gulf now, twenty years later, lessons unlearned.

Unemployment extensions expiring | 2010 not looking good for millions
Recent highly regarded economists predict no improvement in the jobless finding jobs, as both parties hope, sending a gloomy forecast well into November 2010.

Individuals seeking redress need to turn their attention to the minority leadership in this country who currently stand firmly as roadblocks to extensions others have received yet those still receiving unemployment benefits may not.

With several key players, particularly within the GOP, not seeking re-election the concerns of the unemployed appear to be bothersome. The perceived attitude is that of wishing the whole thing will just go away. This means action on the part of the American citizens impacted by deregulation that started in the Reagan administration and hit an all-time �high� during the Bush era enabling those within the financial sector to mismanage (and in some instances defraud) to such an extent that the �Wall Street crisis� was born. Through no doing of their own millions have been forced onto the unemployment rolls, many after decades of hard work supporting the disappearing industries within this country.

On May 22, 2010, President Obama issued a statement specific to the historic Wall Street Reform. However, a portion from that statement certainly applies to all wondering what happens next in terms of their current unemployment benefits. On Wall Street reform, the President stated, �When opponents in Congress tried to block the legislation altogether, you stood up � and they backed down. When the lobbyists pushed for loopholes and exemptions just before a final vote, you did not relent � and we fought them off.�

CIA's secret Iraq weapon revealed: a Saddam gay sex tape
In their time, America's secret agencies have tried some outlandish schemes to attack their country's enemies, including, most famously, an attempt to do away with Cuba's Fidel Castro by using an exploding cigar.

But in a scenario more the preserve of careless Hollywood starlets such as Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, the CIA appears to have plotted to undermine Saddam Hussein with a gay sex tape.

According to the Washington Post's security blog, some of America's spooks believed that shooting a fake video of Saddam cavorting with a teenage boy might destabilise his regime in the runup to the US-led invasion in 2003. "It would look like it was taken by a hidden camera. Very grainy, like it was a secret videotaping of a sex session," the Washington Post quoted one former CIA official as saying.

Nor was the Saddam sex tape the only idea floating around the more bizarre corners of the CIA's Iraq Operations Group. Other ploys involved interrupting Iraqi television with a false newsflash that would announce Saddam was handing over power to his hated and feared son Uday. The presumed idea was to shock the Iraqi people into rising up against their leaders and thus make the invasion a lot easier.

PAM COMMENTARY: Notice that they admit considering a fake video tape.

The dig dividing Jerusalem
To help "the Jewish people to return to Zion", in 1991 Be'eri started to acquire Palestinian property (supported by Ariel Sharon, then minister of construction and housing). His target was principally two Silwan neighbourhoods: Wadi Helweh and al-Bustan (the Garden).

The Abbasi family's home, with its nine apartments and two warehouses, was Be'eri's first target. Be'eri's wife, Michal, has described how he acquired it: "Davida'leh took a tour guide card and put in his picture, and for a long time he would take bogus tourists on a tour . . . and slowly he befriended Abbasi . . . Of course, it was all staged." In 1987, Elad pressured the government to declare the Abbasi house "absentee property" and in October 1991, Be'eri led a settler invasion of the house with the intruders singing and dancing and waving the Israeli flag on the roof at daybreak. The Abbasi family went to court and the Jerusalem district judge found "no factual or legal basis" for the takeover; indeed, he found it characterised by "an extreme lack of good faith". Yet still the property continues to be caught up in legal proceedings and Elad people continue to live in it � and to acquire more Palestinian property: to date Elad has gained control of a quarter of Wadi Helweh.

What is happening in Silwan is not unique; it is part and parcel of what is happening across Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Only the specific tactics are different. Before I came to Silwan, I had been travelling in the West Bank for a week, noting how every Palestinian community has its appointed settlement, its stalking "other". There is hardly anywhere you can look up and not see a settlement lowering at you: bristling with barbed wire and flags and antennae and cameras and floodlights and � although you can't see them � arms.

Most scholars agree that, to this day, no evidence of the presence of Kings David or Solomon has been found at the site. But our group of elderly American tourists are spellbound by the stories they are hearing from Elad's guides, stories which are conjecture, projection and myth.

After Over 14 Years in Peruvian Prison, Jailed US Activist Lori Berenson Ordered Freed on Parole [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about what happened fifteen, fourteen years ago, which is not where you want to be right now, since you�re thinking of her freedom. But for people who are hearing about Lori Berenson�s case for the first time, how she ended up in prison.

MARK BERENSON: She was a human rights activist who cared about humanity, had a strong concern for social justice, left MIT in good standing during a time when there was a crisis in El Salvador, and she felt that she had to contribute to working for freedom. She worked for CISPES, the committee for El Salvador in Washington�s office, and then, from there, went to El Salvador and Nicaragua while the war was going on and worked as a secretary for the leader of the FMLN, Salvador S�hez Cer� who is now the vice president of the Republic of El Salvador. And Lori named her child after him. She can�t wait to call him on the phone. He has offered her a job in the educational ministry of El Salvador.

She wants to come to the United States. She has had health problems. The baby has health problems. And it�s important that they start their life together in freedom and make sure that they�re taken care of health-wise.

AMY GOODMAN: What was the change on the part of the Peruvian government? It�s very interesting that the man who went after her most fiercely was the former president of Peru, Fujimori, called her "terrorista feminista" and would constantly hold up her passport wherever he went. Now he is in prison, and she will be set free.

MARK BERENSON: Wonderful. Isn�t it amazing that Lori will be free, while Alberto Fujimori, one of the scoundrels of this earth, in jail for human rights violations, murder, corruption, kidnapping, torture, he faces a twenty-five-year sentence, although 40 percent of the public would like to see this man free. And his daughter Keiko is running for president on really one item: free my father. She called in the paper today for Lori to go back to jail. It�s sad that that happened.

I have�I feel, at this point, perhaps the best thing for Peruvian society�it�s a Christian country�would be for general amnesty for all. Lori is free. Fujimori is seventy-five years old or whatever; he�s not a healthy man. So many prisoners that we know should be free, people I have seen, as I go to Peru all the time over these years, who have certainly paid their debts to society and would like to have a life and really could contribute to society.

Peru judge paroles New York woman who aided rebels
LIMA, Peru -- A judge granted parole Tuesday to Lori Berenson, the 40-year-old New York activist who has spent 15 years in Peruvian prisons on a conviction of aiding leftist rebels.

Judge Jessica Leon granted a request by Berenson, who gave birth a year ago, for conditional release at a hearing at the Lima prison where the American has been held since January 2009.

She said, however, that Berenson cannot leave Peru until her sentence for terrorist collaboration ends in November 2015.

Major Change Down Below... [R]
I've been watching the live Spillcam, and discussing it with folks, here all day long. About 5pm last night, we all started taking note of gas bubbling out of the seabed floor. It started earlier than that, actually-- see pic a few posts down. About 1am this morning, the eruptions began to increase in spew volume.

At about 8am, CDT, as I watched, things started changing rapidly. Where the water around the two major gush points used to be very clear, it is now super turbid, and detritus is flying everywhere in a chaotic manner. seabed venting is obvious to see when ROV cameras pan around.

Yet-to-be-confirmed rumors are that the casing wall has finally worn through, about 300 feet below seabed, at an annulus (coupling), and the gas and oil are now finding a new way out to the seabed.

Not good news, as it will make the Top-Kill/Junk Shot nearly ineffectual... At the least, it means that more pressure and mud/cement is going to be required.

Live SpillCam Feeds... [R]
Flow from the Macondo well is not travelling up the main well bore, BP operations boss Doug Suttles said Tuesday, a revelation that supports theories that a cement failure played a part in the blowout.

�We actually believe the flow path is between two strings of the casing and not up the main wellbore,� Suttles said.

Suttles said BP could not be certain of the flow path but diagnostic tests on the well seem to indicate the flow is not coming up main bore.

A veteran industry source told UpstreamOnline that the news about the flow path �almost certainly confirms� what many suspected, that problems with the annular cement around the production casing played a part in the blowout.

In its internal investigation, BP also flags up cement problems, adding that the float collar initially did not operate as intended - it appears it took nine attempts with higher than usual pressures to get the float to bump.

PAM COMMENTARY: This blog changes frequently, but lately it has a good collection of images and video on the oil spill.

Jamaica violence: 30 dead in street battles
A string of police stations have been firebombed, some of them outside the capital, and gunmen even attacked the central police headquarters in Kingston.

The fighting has not yet spread into the city�s wealthier neighbourhoods but it has broken out in other slum areas.

In Spanish Town, west of Kingston, police said two people, including a little boy, had been killed in fighting.

In Portmore, another poor town, gunmen sprayed bullets at a minivan full of local people.

The violence was sparked by the Jamaican government�s belated decision to agree to US demands for Mr Coke�s extradition to New York to face drug and gun trafficking charges.

States hit by oil spill prepare to seize control of botched clean-up
Fury over the handling of the BP oil disaster intensified yesterday as state officials challenged federal authorities, accusing them of bureaucratic fumbling and betrayal as the slick took over 65 miles of Louisiana coastline.

Even as the oil company continued to empty toxic dispersant into the Gulf of Mexico � defying an order by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop, and using data protection regulations to keep details of its content secret � those fighting the spill complained that they were being made to seek formal permission for their efforts, resulting in critical delays.

Millions of feet of protective boom requested weeks ago have not arrived. Fishing boats commissioned by BP to help to set up defences remain idle, prompting parish officials in Louisiana to commandeer 30.

In the absence of a long-awaited permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers to start creating offshore sand barriers, the mayor of one city said he had even contemplated resorting to piracy.

7 Greenpeace Protesters Against Offshore Drilling Treated Like Heinous Criminals for Protesting Against BP and Shell [BF]
7 Greenpeace protestors were arrested in Louisiana for an act of civil disobedience: painting an offshore drilling message on the side of a ship that will assist Shell Oil in drilling in the Arctic. They should have been given a parade and welcomed as heroes instead of being charged with "crimes" that could net them up to 7 years in prison.

The "Lafourche Parish sheriff�s Office, Sgt. Lesley Hill Peters, suggested that the protesters could also face terrorism-related charges. The New Orleans Joint Terrorism Task Force 'is looking into the matter,. she said."

This is an unconscionable action on the part of local law enforcement in a parish directly impacted by the negligent and proscutable behavior of BP:

A Greenpeace representative argued that the charges were disproportionate. �It is outrageous that prosecutors would confront peaceful protesters with such a heavy hand while not a single BP executive has been charged for the devastation they have wrought on the Gulf of Mexico and the people and animals that depend on it,� Phil Radford, the group�s executive director, said in a statement.

PAM COMMENTARY: Any charges above petty vandalism are nothing more than violations of freedom of speech.

Antitumor Effects of THC [WRH]
Our 2-year studies (3,4) showed that the observed THC antitumor effects are not confined to the site of injection or administration, and these antitumor effects seem to affect a range of "spontaneous" tumors commonly found in rats and mice. Consequently, the THC-associated antitumor effects are systemically active and are applicable to different tumor types at different organ sites. Again, this lack of specificity might lend credence to the notion that these effects are hormonally mediated and likely related to the observed decreases in body weights. Nonetheless, there were significant reductions in total benign and malignant tumors in all organs combined for both species after THC exposure: in male rats, tumors were found in 98% of controls versus 98, 92, and 90% of groups treated with 12.5, 25, and 50 mg THC/kg bw, respectively; in female rats, tumors were found in 88% of controls versus 82, 86, and 70% of treated groups. Most strikingly, in male mice tumors were found in 73% of controls versus 55, 44, and 30% of male mice treated with 0, 125,250, and 500 mg THC/kg bw, respectively, and in female mice, tumors were found in 77% of controls versus 52, 43, and 27% of treated groups (3,4).

Interestingly, the dose levels used by Galve-Roperh et al. (1) were similar to those used in our studies (3,4). Their findings also agreed with ours in that THC administration did not affect either food or water intake or hematologic profiles and general clinical chemistry of the animals. Perhaps further animal bioassay studies should be done to learn more about the anti-tumor effects of THC. For example, animals could be exposed to known carcinogens (e.g., 9,10-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene anthracene (an`thr?sen), C14H10, solid organic compound derived from coal tar. It melts at 218�C; and boils at 354�C;. exposure resulting in mammary gland tumors) to determine if THC would block this carcinogenic activity, or transgenic animals (12,13) could be used in an attempt to better clarify the mechanism(s) of THC anticarcinogenic activity. More definition of dose-response--antitumor activity relations would be useful, as would studies using paired feeding, to better define the influence of reduced body weight on tumor incidences.

Sens. John McCain and Tom Coburn propose cuts to offset war spending
Republican senators on Tuesday unveiled two $60 billion proposals that cut government salaries and operational costs to help pay for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and for earthquake relief for Haiti.

Sens. Tom Coburn (Okla.) and John McCain (Ariz.) said they will not vote for the $59 billion war spending bill unless lawmakers come up with ways to offset its costs.

Their first proposal would cap the number of workers at each federal agency and implement a one-year freeze on pay raises, bonuses and other salary increases for civilian federal workers, saving $2.6 billion.

It would also cancel $1.8 million in expenses for a commission reviewing the financial crisis, eliminate $68 million in foreign aid, cancel a $500 million State Department training facility planned for a Maryland community that opposes its construction and collect more than $3 billion in unpaid taxes from federal workers by including a House bill sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).

Obama orders 1,200 Guard troops to border
TUCSON, Ariz. - President Barack Obama on Tuesday ordered 1,200 National Guard troops to boost security along the U.S.-Mexico border, pre-empting Republican plans to try to force votes on such a deployment.

Obama will also request $500 million for border protection and law enforcement activities, according to lawmakers and administration officials.

The president announced the deployment shortly after he returned from lunch with the 41-member Senate Republican Caucus, who told him that U.S. borders first need to be secured before work could start on a sweeping overhaul of U.S. immigration laws. Arizona's two Republican senators said the deployment wasn't enough.

A military official said Tuesday that details were still being worked out on the troops' orders and destinations, adding that the timing of their deployment was not yet clear. Also undetermined was which units from which states would deploy.

Louisiana Fishermen Helping in Spill Cleanup Report Getting Sick [WRH]
Some Louisiana fishermen affected by the massive oil spill in the Gulf � including some hired by BP to help in the cleanup � are reporting cases of debilitating headaches, burning eyes and nausea, and some industry and public officials are pointing the finger at chemical dispersants as the cause.

Gary Burris, a fisherman who works along the Gulf Coast, said he has observed planes spraying dispersants into the water, a chemical rain meant to stop oil slicks from forming and break down the crude more quickly.

Now Burris says that after breathing in the dispersants he grew ill and disoriented, confining himself to bed for days and ultimately going to a doctor for treatment and antibiotics.

"It filled my lungs with fluid," he said. "I'm hurting � I'm sore from coughing."

The Oil Belongs to Us, Not British Petroleum: Let the Revolution Begin Here (Opinion) [BF]
But the oil is ours, and British Petroleum has no more right to be overseeing the ruin it has caused than Wall Street had in cleaning up an economic casino implosion of its own making.

It is way past time that we stop bowing to the mantra of property rights over the rights of people. British Petroleum is making hundreds of billions of dollars off of oil that belongs to the people of the earth, not to a corporation that is above the law and is a predatory profiteer and polluter. This applies equally to all oil companies, since all oil companies are chronic polluters, profiteers, and scar the earth with impunity.

It's odd that Christians have played such a strong role in promoting the privatizing of natural resources that they believe a God created for men and women. Wouldn't God have created these natural resources for the common good and not for some multi-billionaire corporations to own what belongs to nature and the people of our planet?

These are not revolutionary words; they are common sense. They are the words that the revolutionary founders of America used to throw off the chains of despotism of tyrannical rule.

Adm. Thad Allen cedes command of Coast Guard
Adm. Robert Papp took over Tuesday as commandant of the Coast Guard in a ceremony at Fort McNair in Washington.

Papp replaces, Adm. Thad Allen, who has been the top federal officer overseeing the response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Allen will continue to be the national incident commander in the Gulf, even though he�s scheduled to retire from the Coast Guard July 1. At that time, he could either be recalled to active duty or keep doing the same job as a civilian.

Study Finds Supplements Contain Contaminants
Nearly all of the herbal dietary supplements tested in a Congressional investigation contained trace amounts of lead and other contaminants, and some supplement sellers made illegal claims that their products can cure cancer and other diseases, investigators found.

The levels of heavy metals � including mercury, cadmium and arsenic � did not exceed thresholds considered dangerous, the investigators found. However, 16 of the 40 supplements tested contained pesticide residues that appeared to exceed legal limits, the investigators found. In some cases, the government has not set allowable levels of these pesticides because of a paucity of scientific research.

Investigators found at least nine products that made apparently illegal health claims, including a product containing ginkgo biloba that was labeled as a treatment for Alzheimer�s disease and a product containing ginseng labeled as a treatment to prevent diabetes and cancer. They also described a salesperson at a supplement specialty store who claimed that a garlic supplement could be taken instead of blood pressure medication.

Any product that claims to treat, cure, prevent or mitigate a disease is considered a drug and must go through strict regulatory reviews.

PAM COMMENTARY: If someone asks a store clerk for supplement advice, they understand they're not asking a doctor. I have heard a few outrageous claims from certain MLM marketers, but those claims weren't anything other than transparent and annoying.

The contaminants seem a little troubling, until you consider similar problems with regular food products. Unless a product is labeled as certified organic, of course pesticides will often be present, same as with food that most people eat every day.

Pharmaceutical companies want to take over the supplement industry because it's so profitable. Drug companies continue to have tremendous influence over Congress with their army of lobbyists and bountiful campaign contributions. The regular person or supplement producer can't begin to compete with that purchasing power, and the press is also largely controlled by drug companies because of advertising revenue from drug ads. It certainly seems that these hearings were heavily slanted toward pharmaceutical interests.

Welfare group: Hidden video shows Ohio cows beaten
CLEVELAND -- An animal welfare group said Tuesday that a graphic video it secretly recorded shows workers at a dairy farm beating cows with crowbars, stabbing them with pitchforks and punching them in their heads.

The video was recorded in an undercover investigation at Conklin Dairy Farms Inc., said Mercy For Animals, a not-for-profit group that publicizes what it calls cruel practices in the dairy, meat and egg industries and promotes a vegan diet.

The video shows workers holding down newborn calves and stomping on their heads. It shows one worker wiring a cow's nose to a metal bar near the ground and repeatedly beating it with another bar while it bleeds.

Conklin Dairy Farms, a fourth-generation family operation based in Plain City, said it takes the care of its cows and calves very seriously and had reviewed the video.

Top 10 new species: fanged minnow and carnivorous sponge
The list of newly described or named species is compiled every year by the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University and an international committee of taxonomists � scientists responsible for species exploration and classification.

Also in the top 10 were a freshwater minnow with fangs found in Burma, the first new golden orb spider found since 1879, a deep-sea worm that releases green luminescent "bombs" when threatened, and a sea slug that eats insects found in Pak Phanang Bay in the Gulf of Thailand.

City threatens to take land from 94-year-old farmer
Oak Creek � Earl Giefer has lived all of his 94 years on his farm at 10523 S. Howell Ave.

The 25-acre property, south of Oakwood Road across from First Baptist Church, has been in the family for even longer than that. Relatives believe the family purchased the land in the mid- to late-1800s, possibly around the time of the Civil War.

During that period and for the decades that followed, the farm was just one of many in a bustling agricultural area. Now, Giefer's farm is one of the last remaining in the city.

But its demise could be soon approaching at the hands of eminent domain.

PAM COMMENTARY: I feel sorry for this farmer, another victim of urban sprawl in that area. Howell Avenue south of Milwaukee is mostly shopping plazas and big chain stores, with horrible traffic. I try to avoid it when I'm in town, but apparently planners want the "industrial look" to continue its march south to Racine.

Pledges on protest rights overshadowed by moves against 'peace camp' (UK)
A pledge to safeguard the right to protest as part of the "new politics" promised by the coalition Government will be undermined today as a legal challenge begins to remove peace protesters camping outside Parliament.

As part of a Queen's Speech that vowed to restore lost freedoms and civil liberties, David Cameron's administration said it would allow "members of the public to protest peacefully without fear of being criminalised". However, The Independent understands that No 10 was aware of a plan by Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, to use the courts to remove protesters from Parliament Square.

Legal papers are expected to be delivered to the High Court today as the bid to remove the protesters formally begins. The first hearing looks set for next week. Mr Johnson signed a mayoral decree at 5.30pm on Monday, allowing officers from the Greater London Authority (GLA) to begin civil proceedings against the protesters for trespassing on the land, which the authority controls.

The camp, made up of dozens of small tents, was set up by anti-Iraq war protesters in 2001. It is occupied by climate change activists, anarchists and opponents of the Afghanistan war.

Turning all cars electric in Britain needs boost in power supply
The Royal Academy of Engineering said that to convert the countries fleet of 30 million vehicles would increase current demand by 16 per cent or an extra 10 gigawatts of power.

With the 70 GW grid currently running at near full capacity that would mean building the equivalent of six large nuclear power stations or 2,000 wind turbines to meet demand.

It would also mean that it will have to be controlled by a "smart grid" of millions of charging points in order to deal with increase and wild fluctuations in demand.

The findings came from the academy's latest report titled Electric Vehicles: charged with potential which outlines what needs to be done if our cars are to go green.

Panel Suggests Signs of Trouble Before Rig Explosion
In the hours before the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded last month in the Gulf of Mexico, there were strong warning signs that something was terribly wrong with the well, according to a Congressional committee that was briefed on the accident by executives from BP.

Among the red flags, the panel said, were several equipment readings suggesting that gas was bubbling into the well, a potential sign of an impending blowout. Investigators also noted �other events in the 24 hours before the explosion that require further inquiry,� including a critical decision to replace heavy mud in the pipe rising from the seabed with seawater, possibly increasing the risk of an explosion.

The new information, released Tuesday night in a memorandum addressed to members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, confirmed many of the committee�s own findings from a review of documents and from statements and testimony given at Congressional hearings over the last two weeks.

The memorandum provides the most detailed accounting of the events and decisions made aboard the Deepwater Horizon before the accident on April 20 that took 11 lives and caused a so-far unchecked torrent of oil to pour into the gulf, and comes as BP prepared an ambitious �top kill� procedure in a new effort to stop the leak.

Memorial Day weekend card to readers (previous week) 2010

Gulf oil plume darker; not good news, expert says
WASHINGTON � Live video of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill shows the underwater plume getting significantly darker. A top oil engineering expert says that suggests heavier, more-polluting oil is spewing out.

The color of the oil gushing from the main pipe has changed in color from medium gray to black. Two scientists noticed the change, which oil company BP downplayed as a natural fluctuation that is not likely permanent.

But engineering professor Bob Bea at the University of California at Berkeley says the color change may indicate the BP leak has hit a reservoir of more oil and less gas. Gas is less polluting because it evaporates. Bea has spent more than 55 years working and studying oil rigs.

Tenth worker at iPad factory commits suicide
The Foxconn factory in the southern Chinese boom town of Shenzhen is so vast that walking around its outer perimeter takes two hours. Its workers turn out components that are supplied to big Western electronics brands including Nokia, Hewlett-Packard and Dell. And it is here that most of the parts for Apple's iPhone, and the much-awaited iPad, which goes on sale in the UK this week, are manufactured.

Yesterday, Li Hai, a 19-year-old employee of the firm, jumped from the top of the building in Shenzhen to his death. It brought the number of suspected suicides at the factory this year to 10. There have been another two attempted suicides.

All of the deaths have been of youngsters between 18 and 25 years old. Li Hai had only been working at the plant for 42 days. The incidents have prompted intense soul-searching in China, about conditions in its factories and the social cost of breakneck economic development.

Foxconn, one of the world's largest manufacturers of electronic equipment, is huge. The chefs slaughter 6,000 pigs a day to feed the company's nearly 400,000 workers in this giant industrial complex, spread over 1.2 square miles.

But the Taiwanese owners now face a major problem. Li Hai's death, and those of his colleagues, have raised questions about working conditions in Chinese factories, with labour activists alleging that long hours, low pay and high pressure make for an unbearable working environment.

"The Unspoken Alliance": New Book Documents Arms, Nuclear and Diplomatic Ties Between Israel and Apartheid South Africa [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about these documents.

SASHA POLAKOW-SURANSKY: Well, there are four key documents involved in the Guardian story, and let me explain just a little bit about what each says.

The first is minutes from a meeting between high-level defense officials from Israel and South Africa on March 31st, 1975, during which they discuss several things, including the possible transfer of Jericho missiles. And they use vague language to discuss warheads in three different sizes. Now, the Israeli government is denying that its signature or any Israeli signature is on that first document. This is actually true. It�s minutes from a meeting between high-level officials. However, the second document, the same day, from the chief of staff of the South African Defense Force, he sends a memo to his superiors talking about how wonderful Jericho missiles armed with nuclear warheads would be for South Africa�s defense strategy. And if you look through the archives, as I did, it�s the first time that you actually see this issue discussed. And it happens to occur on the same day. Then, four days later, Shimon Peres and P.W. Botha sign a secrecy agreement governing all transactions in the military sphere between the two countries. Shimon Peres�s signature is on that document, dated April 3rd, 1975.

And finally, if you follow the story on through the late '70s and the early �80s, you see that South Africa was only ever interested in Jericho missiles if they had a nuclear warhead on them. Various documents later on, as the two countries continued to cooperate in the sphere of medium-range missiles, show that South Africa only thought it was economical and useful for their defense force if these missiles were armed with nuclear warheads.

So, you put this all together the way that any journalist or any historian would, and it's very difficult to come to any other conclusion. It is an interpretation, but based on these four documents, you connect the dots, and it�s quite clear that the South Africans perceived that there was a nuclear offer on the table. As I say in the book and as the Guardian says, this deal never went through. However, the offer was perceived to be on the table, and the South Africans took it seriously enough to write a memo to the top officials in the military arguing how nuclear-armed Jerichos could help them.

New Orleans murder rate remains highest in the nation
Using the recently revised U.S. census population estimate of 336,425, the city had a per-capita murder rate of about 52 per 100,000 people in 2009. That's down from the two previous years, where rates ranged from 57 to 71 per 100,000 people, depending on which population estimates were used.

A shifting populace has made crime rates difficult to nail down, but even using the most generous estimates, New Orleans has ranked among the nation's most murderous cities for several years.

Richmond, Calif., a city of nearly 103,000 that sits north of Oakland, has the second-highest per-capita rate at 46 murders per 100,000 residents. Next are St. Louis and Detroit, both of which have a per-capita rate of about 40. Baltimore is fifth on the list with 37.

Baton Rouge, with a rate of 34 murders per 100,000 people, has the sixth-highest rate in the country.

Man shot with blowgun dart outside Missoula homeless shelter
A 32-year-old homeless man was shot in the cheek with a blowgun dart early Monday morning and police are looking for a suspect who drove away in a white Lexus.

According to Missoula Police Sgt. Bob Bouchee, the victim was standing outside the Poverello Center at 535 Ryman St. around 5 a.m. when the Lexus slowed to a stop and the male driver, who wore his long hair in a ponytail, shouted something at the victim. The driver then shot the victim in the cheek with a needle-point blowgun dart and drove away.

The victim did not know the driver and was not seriously injured, but he did suffer a needle-sized puncture wound through his cheek, Bouchee said.

"It's very odd. I don't know that I've ever heard of a blow dart being used," he said.

Electric car travels record 1,000km on single charge
The customised Mira EV travelled at speeds of around 40kph as it drove non-stop around a car racing course in Shimotsuma in Ibaraki Prefecture.

The red and white vehicle, fitted with a special lithium ion battery created by the Japanese company Sanyo, ran for 27.5 hours covering a distance of 1,003km without being recharged.

A total of 17 different people took turns at the wheel of the electric car as it circled repeatedly around the racecourse during the experiment.

The test run was organised by the Japan Electric Vehicle Club, which plans to request that the Guinness World Records officially recognise it as the world's longest electric car journey, according to media reports.

End of Alaotra grebe is further evidence of Sixth Great Extinction
Researchers now recognise five earlier cataclysmic events in the earth's prehistory when most species on the planet died out, the last being the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event of 65 million years ago, which may have been caused by a giant meteorite striking the earth, and which saw the disappearance of the dinosaurs.

But the rate at which species are now disappearing makes many biologists consider we are living in a sixth major extinction comparable in scale to the others � except that this one has been caused by humans. In essence, we are driving plants and animals over the abyss faster than new species can evolve.

Birds species alone now seem to be disappearing at the rate of about one per decade, and the extinction of the Alaotra grebe is announced in the BirdLife-produced update to the Red List of threatened bird species maintained by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

A handsome bird not dissimilar to our own little grebe or dabchick, it inhabited a tiny area in the east of Madagascar, and declined after carnivorous fish were introduced into the freshwater lakes where it lived, and fishermen began using nylon gillnets which caught and drowned the birds. Its demise brings the total number of bird species thought to have become extinct since 1600 to 132.

Moreover, the new edition of the Red List shows that 1,240 species of birds (around an eighth of the 10,027 total) are themselves now in danger of disappearance � which is a rise of 21 from last year's assessment.

USDA fails to crack down on puppy mills, details horrific conditions and lax enforcement
WASHINGTON - Federal investigators have uncovered grisly conditions at puppy mills around the country where dogs were infested with ticks, living with gaping wounds and in pools of feces, according to a disturbing new report that placed the blame on lax enforcement.

Investigators say the Agriculture Department agency in charge of enforcing the Animal Welfare Act often ignores repeat violations, waives penalties and doesn't adequately document inhumane treatment of dogs.

In one case cited by the department's inspector general, 27 dogs died at an Oklahoma breeding facility after inspectors had visited the facility several times and cited it for violations.

The review, conducted between 2006 and 2008, found more than half of those large kennels � known as puppy mills � had already been cited for violations flouted the law again.

Bias Payments Come Too Late for Some Farmers
On a recent Sunday in rural Macon, N.C., John W. Boyd Jr., the president of the National Black Farmers Association, went to his fourth funeral in a week.

Mr. Boyd has been burying his group�s members with bitter frequency, attending two or three funerals most weeks. Each death makes him feel as if he is running out of time.

Wrangling over the federal budget in Washington has delayed payouts from a $1.25 billion settlement that Mr. Boyd and several others helped negotiate with the federal government to compensate black farmers who claimed that the Agriculture Department had discriminated against them in making loans.

�I thought that the elderly farmers would get their money and get to live a few happy days of their lives,� Mr. Boyd, a Virginia farmer who is not a plaintiff in the settlement, said in an interview. �They deserve the money before they leave God�s earth.�

Colonial Williamsburg to build armory replica
After a $4.5 million donation from the former CEO of the candy and pet food company Mars Inc., Colonial Williamsburg is planning to construct a replica of the blacksmith shop and armory that was used in 1776.

The foundation will build the new armory on the present site of the blacksmith shop, which was built in the 1980s, said Jim Bradley, a spokesman for Colonial Williamsburg.

The donation from Forrest E. Mars Jr. will help pay for the construction of a new blacksmith shop, a separate kitchen, privy, two storage buildings and a tinsmith's shop.

Mars, who was elected to Colonial Williamsburg's board of trustees this spring, also donated $5 million in recent years to build a historic coffeehouse.

Author writing about Palin moves next door to her
Sarah Palin has taken to her Facebook page to complain about her new neighbor -- a writer penning a book about her.

Author Joe McGinniss has taken up residence in a house next to Palin's lakeside home in Wasilla.

McGinniss previously wrote a critical expose on Palin and her natural gas pipeline plan for the Conde Nast publication Port- folio last year, and is planning a book about the former Alaska governor and GOP vice presidential candidate. It's tentatively titled "Sarah Palin's Year of Living Dangerously" and could be on the shelves in the fall of 2011.

"Yes, that Joe McGinniss. Here he is about 15 feet away on the neighbor's rented deck overlooking my children's play area and my kitchen window," Palin posted on Facebook late Monday, hours after returning from a trip to the Lower 48 and learning of McGinniss' presence.

ICANN head warns against putting Internet addresses under UN control
The head of the U.S.-monitored organization in charge of assigning global internet addresses such as .com and .net has cautioned against proposals to put the group under UN or other international control.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), at the heart of global debate over who should run the Internet, is the closest thing the vast system of intertwined computer networks has to any central authority.

Countries such as Iran and Brazil have argued ICANN, which was founded in 1998 under the aegis of the U.S. Department of Commerce and still reports partly to the U.S. government, should cede its authority to a global body such as the United Nations.

�If you think of that rate, or pace, in technology, it�s just a lot more rapid than most traditional forms of policy development would be suited to,� Rod Beckstrom, the organisation�s chief executive, told Reuters on Monday.

Private pay shrinks to historic lows as gov't payouts rise
Paychecks from private business shrank to their smallest share of personal income in U.S. history during the first quarter of this year, a USA TODAY analysis of government data finds.

At the same time, government-provided benefits � from Social Security, unemployment insurance, food stamps and other programs � rose to a record high during the first three months of 2010.

Those records reflect a long-term trend accelerated by the recession and the federal stimulus program to counteract the downturn. The result is a major shift in the source of personal income from private wages to government programs.

The trend is not sustainable, says University of Michigan economist Donald Grimes. Reason: The federal government depends on private wages to generate income taxes to pay for its ever-more-expensive programs. Government-generated income is taxed at lower rates or not at all, he says. "This is really important," Grimes says.

Big Corporations Lobby Against Bill Extending Jobless Benefits Because It Closes Their Tax Loopholes
This week, the House of Representatives is trying to pull together a package extending several popular tax breaks as well as important social safety net provisions like unemployment benefits and health insurance subsidies for laid-off workers. The bill costs about $200 billion, but is partially offset by a few tax changes, including the closing of a loophole that allow corporations to claim U.S. tax credits on profits earned overseas.

These unjustified tax breaks have been on the radar of Congress� tax writers for the last few years, but so far they�ve remained in the tax code due to the pressure of big corporations, which obviously want to preserve their ability to exploit the tax code�s quirks. This time, even though the bill before Congress extends some of their favored tax provisions, like the Research and Development tax credit, the Big Business lobby is at it again, fighting to preserve its ability to use tax loopholes, at the expense of its own tax credits and the extension of unemployment benefits:

"International Business Machines Corp. and trade groups for major U.S. companies are pressing Congress to defeat a jobs bill containing billions of dollars in taxes on their global operations�In a letter to lawmakers yesterday, Armonk, New York-based IBM, the world�s biggest computer-services provider, told lawmakers it 'strongly opposes' the legislation and would rather do without the research credit than face new taxes on overseas profits."

The Chamber of Commerce has, of course, weighed in on behalf of big business, claiming that the legislation is a �job killer.� Closing the loophole in question would raise about $14.5 billion over ten years, or about $1.5 billion per year from the entire multinational corporation community.

Oil Spill to Wipe Out Gulf's Sperm Whales?
If the Gulf of Mexico oil spill kills just three sperm whales, it could seriously endanger the long-term survival of the Gulf's native whale population, scientists say.

Right now between 1,400 and 1,660 sperm whales live year-round in the Gulf of Mexico, making up a distinct population from other Atlantic Ocean groups, in which males make yearly migrations.

All sperm whales are considered endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. But the Gulf of Mexico population is thought to be especially vulnerable due to its relatively small size.

The whales are now at risk from the ongoing Deepwater Horizon oil spill, because they are likely to ingest or inhale toxic crude and noxious oil fumes.

Gulf oil spill barrier built up sandbag by sandbag
PELICAN ISLAND, La. -- The brown pelicans that once populated this small sliver of a barrier island were long gone by Tuesday, scared away more than a week ago by slightly bigger birds -- Blackhawk helicopters.

The wildlife here on Pelican Island has been replaced by a strong sense of urgency and members of the Louisiana National Guard.

The Guard's mission: to extend this tiny barrier island -- about 20 yards wide and a hundred yards long -- in an attempt to fortify Louisiana's fragmented and ever-eroding coastline.

The goal: to protect the expansive and delicate marshes behind the island from oil. The tools: thousand-pound sandbags dropped from helicopters -- and manpower.

Mauling victim gives chilling account of bear attack
Gerald Marois heard the bear before he saw it.

�I turned around and he was about 50 feet away � one of the biggest bears I had ever seen in my life.

�He looked at me and moved sideways a bit, I start backing up and he just charged me. He came full blast, man.�

Marois, 47, a retired steelworker and experienced hunter from Waubaushene, was mauled by a large black bear last Tuesday evening in a remote wooded area about 30 km northwest of Orillia.

PAM COMMENTARY: It's best to be armed while hiking through bear country.

Obama to send 1,200 additional National Guard troops to the border
Reporting from WashingtonPresident Obama will send up to 1,200 additional National Guard troops � and request $500 million in additional funds � to support law enforcement efforts along the Southwest border, the White House said Tuesday.

The move was widely seen as offering the president political cover for his pursuit of immigration reform.

The National Guard will target the trafficking of people, money, drugs and weapons, national security advisor James L. Jones and counterterrorism advisor John Brennan said in a letter to Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), noting that more than 300 troops were already on the ground. The troops won't make arrests or otherwise intervene directly, according to an administration official who was not authorized to speak publicly.

The White House said the money would allow the U.S. Border Patrol to zero in on more smuggling routes, and it would fund more prosecutions in overstretched federal courts along the border.

IG report: Meth, porn use by drilling agency staff
Staff members at an agency that oversees offshore drilling accepted tickets to sports events, lunches and other gifts from oil and gas companies and used government computers to view pornography, according to an Interior Department report alleging a culture of cronyism between regulators and the industry.

In at least one case, an inspector for the Minerals Management Service admitted using crystal methamphetamine and said he might have been under the influence of the drug the next day at work, according to the report by the acting inspector general of the Interior Department.

The report cites a variety of violations of federal regulations and ethics rules at the agency's Louisiana office. Previous inspector general investigations have focused on inappropriate behavior by the royalty-collection staff in the agency's Denver office.

The report adds to the climate of frustration and criticism facing the Obama administration in the monthlong oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, although it covers actions before the spill. Millions of gallons of oil are gushing into the Gulf, endangering wildlife and the livelihoods of fishermen, as scrutiny intensifies on a lax regulatory climate.

Researchers alarmed at bacteria in Canadian bottled water
More than 70 per cent of popular brands they tested did not meet the standards set out by the United States Pharmacopeia, a non-governmental agency that sets safety standards for medications and health-care products.

No more than 500 colony forming units (cfu) of bacteria per millilitre should be present in drinking water, according to the USP.

"Heterotrophic bacteria counts in some of the bottles were found to be in revolting figures of (100) times more than the permitted limit," said Sonish Azam, a researcher on the study, in a news release.

Some brands had as much as 70,000 cfu per millilitre, said Azam.

Mt. Everest is reduced to dangerous rubble as ice melts
Everest is becoming increasingly dangerous to climb because global warming is melting glacier ice along its slopes, claims a Sherpa who has conquered the mountain 20 times.

Rising temperatures have melted much of the ice on the climb to the summit and mountaineers are struggling to get traction on the exposed rock surface, according to the 49 year-old Sherpa, known only as Apa.

The melting ice has also exposed deep crevasses into which climbers could fall.

Experts have warned that people scaling the mountain risk being swept away by "outburst floods" from the rising volumes of glacial meltwater.

Divers explore Cleopatra�s palace; Team excavating sunken ruins in Alexandria�s harbor
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt - Plunging into the waters off Alexandria Tuesday, divers explored the submerged ruins of a palace and temple complex from which Cleopatra ruled, swimming over heaps of limestone blocks hammered into the sea by earthquakes and tsunamis more than 1,600 years ago.

The international team is painstakingly excavating one of the richest underwater archaeological sites in the world and retrieving stunning artifacts from the last dynasty to rule over ancient Egypt before the Roman Empire annexed it in 30 B.C.

Using advanced technology, the team is surveying ancient Alexandria's Royal Quarters, encased deep below the harbor sediment, and confirming the accuracy of descriptions of the city left by Greek geographers and historians more than 2,000 years ago.

Since the early 1990s, the topographical surveys have allowed the team, led by French underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio, to conquer the harbor's extremely poor visibility and excavate below the seabed. They are discovering everything from coins and everyday objects to colossal granite statues of Egypt's rulers and sunken temples dedicated to their gods.

One of the last members of extinct Druid wolf pack killed near Butte
BUTTE - Wolf No. 690 from Yellowstone National Park had seen her pack ravaged by disease and attacks by other wolf packs before she wandered south of Butte and started attacking cattle.

Herself stricken with mange, the 2-year-old female was shot recently by a rancher when he spotted the black wolf attacking cattle. State wildlife officials inspected the collared wolf and found she was from the former Druid Peak pack, which no longer exists after members caught mange and then dispersed into the hostile territory of other packs.

"We had the last location with her in March, then she disappeared," said Erin Albers, a biologist with the Yellowstone wolf project. "We were searching for her and we were just assuming that she had left the park, but we didn't expect her to go to Butte."

The Druid Peak pack was well known and a favorite of wolf watchers in the park's Lamar Valley. It was also the subject of several documentaries about Yellowstone's wolves.

Haiti's elderly earthquake victims struggle to survive with little help
PORT-AU-PRINCE -- Flies swarmed around Christiane Carystil's inflamed leg, yet despite her moans for help, there wasn't much the 87-year-old could do to get anyone's attention.

Even outside the crumbled remains of the Asile Communale -- the city's main senior nursing home -- personal attention is hard to come by for many elderly trying to survive in a post-earthquake society.

``The needs are many, but the people are few,'' said Andree Devilas, one of the workers at the nursing home.

Haiti's elderly have had to make do with aid efforts primarily geared toward children and adults. Elders without teeth must try to eat hard protein biscuits distributed by United Nations relief workers or whole-grain cereals that their bodies no longer digest properly. ``In the rush to distribute help as quickly as possible, these details can sadly get lost,'' said Cynthia Powell, spokeswoman for HelpAge, an international group that provides aid to seniors throughout the world.

Police storm Kingston enclave in hunt for alleged drug lord
Dozens of people were killed in fierce street battles today when Jamaican security forces stormed the stronghold of an alleged drug lord wanted for extradition to the United States.

In the third day of violence, at least 30 civilians were killed and 25 injured during battles with police and soldiers on the streets of Tivoli Gardens, an inner city community of West Kingston where the reputed kingpin Christopher "Dudus" Coke is believed to be hiding, the Jamaica Constabulary Force said.

Hundreds of heavily armed troops and police poured into two of the capital's most volatile neighbourhoods in the hunt for the gang leader, who faces drugs and gun-running charges in the US.

Police said today that those killed during the Tivoli Gardens raid are mostly men, their bodies recovered close to barricades, building entrances and gullies. A total of 211 people, including six women, have so far been detained.

Police identify body in the barrel
In the words of his old associates, Greater Toronto Area mobster Quang Lu was �planted lotus.�

That refers to the Asian gangland practice of murdering someone, then dropping the body at the bottom of a deep body of water, far from the light of day.

Lu, 47 � his nicknames included �The Black Ghost� and �The Bad Luck Guy� � was found encased in concrete in a barrel by police divers on Sunday in the waters of Lake Ontario off Queens Quay E. near the foot of Jarvis St.

Lu, a divorced father of two from Thornhill, went missing on Oct. 30, 2007, shortly after returning from one of his many business trips to China.

BP had a key role in the Exxon Valdez disaster
Since a busted oil well began spewing crude into the Gulf of Mexico a month ago, the catastrophe has constantly been measured against the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster. The Alaska spill leaked nearly 11 million gallons of crude, killed countless animals and tarnished the owner of the damaged tanker, Exxon.

Yet the leader of botched containment efforts in the critical hours after the tanker ran aground wasn't Exxon Mobil Corp. It was BP PLC, the same firm now fighting to plug the Gulf leak.

BP owned a controlling interest in the Alaska oil industry consortium that was required to write a cleanup plan and respond to the spill two decades ago. It also supplied the top executive of the consortium, Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. Lawsuits and investigations that followed the Valdez disaster blamed both Exxon and Alyeska for a response that was bungled on many levels.

People who had a front row seat to the Alaska spill tell The Associated Press that BP's actions in the Gulf suggest it hasn't changed much at all.

Oil spills at pipeline pump station
The trans-Alaska oil pipeline shut down Tuesday after as much as several thousand barrels of oil overflowed a storage tank into a containment area at Pump Station 9 near Delta Junction, state and pipeline officials said.

The tank continued to leak oil Tuesday night at a rate of about five gallons per minute but the oil was not threatening to escape the containment area, which can hold millions of gallons, officials said.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is investigating the spill. DEC on-site coordinator Tom DeRuyter said the priority is making sure the site is safe before the pipeline is restarted and before workers begin cleaning up the oil. The concerns are toxic fumes and potential fire, he said.

"You don't want to bring power in that could act as a combustion source," he said.

A spill of several thousand barrels would be one of the largest ever for the 33-year-old pipeline. A barrel is 42 gallons.

PAM COMMENTARY: Note that this is a different oil spill than the one going on in Louisiana.

Sour gas strike by Calgary company causes month-long evacuation of Iraqi village
CALGARY - A village of about 100 men, women and children in northern Iraq, evacuated after a Calgary company struck a pocket of high-pressure and highly poisonous sour gas 10 days ago, will likely remain off-limits for another month.

In a news release Tuesday, Calgary junior WesternZagros Resources Ltd. said specialists from Boots & Coots International Well Control Inc. are assessing its problematic wildcat exploration well called Kurdamir-1, about one kilometre away from the village in the Kurdistan region.

Repairs are expected to take about 30 days.

�Many of the people in the village actually work at the rig site so they�re quite familiar with our operations,� said WesternZagros chief executive Simon Hatfield in an interview.

Bear visits Waunakee
Black bear activity continues on the upswing in southern Wisconsin this spring, with at least five bear sightings recorded in April and several in May.

One of the latest sightings occurred Saturday in Waunakee. Kimberly Arneson of KJAY Photos contributed the image below of the bear ambling through a Waunakee backyard with two human inhabitants nearby.

Owner of chimpanzee that mauled Stamford woman, dies
STAMFORD -- Sandra "Sandy" Herold, the owner of Travis, the chimpanzee that mauled and nearly killed Charla Nash, died Monday night, her attorney said.

Fairfield attorney Robert Golger said Herold, 72, died unexpectedly at her Rockrimmon Road home in North Stamford when an artery ruptured. Golger said the near-death of her friend Nash in February 2009, the resulting lawsuit and the death of her husband, Jerome, in 2004 all played a part in Herold's death.

"Ms. Herold had suffered a series of heart-breaking losses over the last several years, beginning with the death of her only child, then her husband, then her beloved chimp Travis, as well as the tragic maiming of friend and employee Charla Nash," Golger said in a statement to The Advocate. "Sandy was a tremendously warm hearted individual who was always giving and anyone who knew her could vouch for her generosity."

When first contacted about her sister-in-law's death, Stamford resident Ann Clumax said she was too upset to speak

"I think Travis had a lot to do with it. She was very depressed about losing everything she and Jerry worked so hard for. I just cannot talk about it anymore. I am too upset," said Clumax, who said she was very friendly with Herold.

Breakthrough in study of motor neurone disease
Research into motor neurone disease, a paralysis of the nervous system leading to the wasting of the muscles controlling breathing and swallowing, has been severely hampered by the lack of a good laboratory "model" of the disease.

Growing human motor nerves � the cells that conduct messages from the brain and spinal cord to the muscles � carrying a mutation known as TDP-43 could open the way to finding the precise cause of the disorder as well as possible therapies that could prevent or slow damage to the nervous system, scientists said.

"Being pragmatic, slowing down the disease is the first aim, stopping the disease the second, and the home run is to restore function," said Professor Siddharthan Chandran of the University of Edinburgh, the principal investigator on a new �800,000 research project. The team also includes Sir Ian Wilmut, the scientist who cloned Dolly the sheep.

Life expectancy for people diagnosed with motor neurone disease is short, around two to five years, and about half of those newly diagnosed die within 14 months.

FDIC Insurance Fund Still $20 Billion in the Hole
While the stock market was beginning its 376 point plunge yesterday, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation was quietly putting the best face it could on a banking system in serious trouble. In a press release to update the status of the insurance fund, the big positive headline was, �FDIC-Insured Institutions Earned $18 Billion in the First Quarter of 2010�Net Income Highest in Two Years.� FDIC Chairman Sheila C. Bair said, �There are encouraging signs in the first-quarter numbers . . . Industry earnings are up. More banks reported higher earnings, and fewer lost money.� (Click here for the complete FDIC press release.)

I can appreciate Chairman Bair�s positive attitude, but �encouraging signs� do not mean we have turned the corner and brighter days are ahead. The Deposit Insurance Fund, or DIF, has a negative balance of -$20.7 billion. That is just a $200 million improvement from the all time record deficit of -$20.9 billion at the end of 2009. I don�t see how these numbers are �encouraging.�

I talked with FDIC spokesman David Barr yesterday about the shortfall in the DIF. He said, �The FDIC is not broke.� It has an additional �$63 billion in cash.� He told me there is about $46 billion in three years of prepaid deposit insurance premiums and an additional $17 billion in cash for a grand total of $63 billion in �liquid resources� to close insolvent banks. Let me get this straight�nearly 75% of the FDIC�s bailout money is from fees collected up front. What happens when the FDIC burns through that? Will they collect another 3 years of fees?

Patrol issues thousands of summonses on I-95, I-81 - Virginia
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- A two-day enforcement effort along Interstates 95 and 81 resulted in 21 drug and felony arrests and more than 6,000 summonses.

The Virginia State Police's Operation Air, Land and Speed was conducted Sunday and Monday along Virginia's north-south interstates.

Troopers stopped a total of 3,263 speeders, 557 reckless drivers and 16 drunken drivers. There also were 252 seat belt violations.

PAM COMMENTARY: This is where fantasy campaign promises meet reality. Virginia's governor McDonnell won on promising that he wouldn't raise the gasoline tax, rather he'd generate revenue from oil drilling royalties and new toll money. Neither was realistic -- even if he could drill for oil, royalties were unlikely to come until after he leaves office. New tolls on existing roads are also a stretch. So instead, Virginians can enjoy more traffic tickets! Just a friendly reminder of where voting for fantasies tends to lead.

Get a Grip: Austerity Does Not Produce Prosperity
Austerity has suddenly become the universally prescribed cure for the fallout from the financial collapse. If widely adopted, it will prove worse than the disease.

The price of the rescues of Greece, Spain and Portugal will be brutal deflation. The International Monetary Fund, which supposedly learned from its earlier mistakes of imposing austerity on already damaged economies, is back in cold-bath mode, demanding higher taxes and dramatically reduced spending as its pound of flesh.

The European Central Bank and key leaders of the E.U. are promoting economic pain as the price of relief. Here at home, President Obama has sworn off serious new outlays for jobs or aid to the states, and is using his fiscal commission to pursue a bipartisan consensus on spending cuts and higher taxes.

The nations of the European Union are being treated as the object lesson in the costs of profligacy. This is supposedly what happens when you provide decent social benefits to regular people. In fact, most of Europe had reasonably well-disciplined budgets until a made-on-Wall-Street economic crisis took down their economies.

The budget deficit here and overseas does need to return to a more moderate level -- after we get an economic recovery. But the problem with the austerity treatment during a recession is that if everyone tightens their belts at once, there is nobody to buy the products; the economy shrinks and repayment of debt is even more arduous. As John Maynard Keynes famously wrote, "The patient does not need rest. He needs exercise."

Britain bans doctor who linked autism to vaccine
LONDON (AP) -- The doctor whose research linking autism and the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella influenced millions of parents to refuse the shot for their children was banned Monday from practicing medicine in his native Britain.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield's 1998 study was discredited - but vaccination rates have never fully recovered and he continues to enjoy a vocal following, helped in the U.S. by endorsements from celebrities like Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy

Wakefield was the first researcher to publish a peer-reviewed study suggesting a connection between autism and the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella. Legions of parents abandoned the vaccine, leading to a resurgence of measles in Western countries where it had been mostly stamped out. There are outbreaks across Europe every year and sporadic outbreaks in the U.S.

"That is Andrew Wakefield's legacy," said Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "The hospitalizations and deaths of children from measles who could have easily avoided the disease."

PAM COMMENTARY: Notice that this article is heavily slanted against the doctor's findings, and so it isn't objective reporting. There are reasons Wakefield enjoys solid popularity and endorsements from a few brave celebrities. Too many parents have noticed that their children suffered autism, death, or "shaken baby syndrome" right after getting vaccines.

I had measles and survived it as a child, as did most of the kids at my school, but some children don't survive. I'd like to see the numbers comparing measles deaths with vaccine deaths and autism. (Autism is at 1% officially, probably higher in reality. I haven't seen an honest statistic on deaths from vaccines, as they're almost never attributed to the vaccines.) But that's the type of statistic that would cost the pharmaceutical industry billions of dollars, and so we'll never see it.

Novavax Names Former FDA Officer as Medical Chief
ROCKVILLE, Md. � Drug developer Novavax Inc. said Monday it has named former FDA officer Mark Thornton as its new head of development and chief medical officer.

The positions had been open since Penny Heaton left Novavax in October.

Thornton has served as a medical officer in the U.S. Navy and the Food and Drug Administration's immunology and infectious diseases branch. He also was chief medical officer of ZioPharm Oncology Inc., managing director of clinical and regulatory affairs at Angiotech Pharmaceuticals Inc. and, most recently, senior vice president of product development at GenVec Inc.

Shares rose 6 cents to $2.37 in morning trading.

PAM COMMENTARY: The revolving door between regulated and regulator at work.

FDA considers endorsement of drug that some call a Viagra for women
A panel of federal advisers will soon wrestle with a question that has bedeviled poets, philosophers and generations of frustrated men: What do women want?

That enigma will be part of a Food and Drug Administration committee's deliberations next month when it considers endorsing the first pill designed to do for women what Viagra did for men: boost their sex lives. A German pharmaceutical giant wants to sell a drug with the decidedly unsexy name "flibanserin," which has shown prowess for sparking a woman's sexual desire by fiddling with her brain chemicals.

Even before the FDA's Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee meets June 18 to consider the request, the prospect of the drug's approval has triggered debate over whether the medication, like others in the pipeline, represents a long-sought step toward equity for women's health or the latest example of the pharmaceutical industry fabricating a questionable disorder to sell unnecessary -- and potentially dangerous -- drugs.

"Achieving a happy and healthy sex life can be a real and important problem for some women," said Amy Allina of the National Women's Health Network, a Washington-based advocacy group. "But we have lots of questions about the 'pink Viagra.' "

Scientists create world's smallest electronic switch
The transistor, measuring four-billionths of a metre and embedded in a single silicone crystal, is the first step in a "quantum computer" which will make calculations millions of times faster than existing devices.

Michelle Simmons, the lead researcher, said the technology has major implications for code-breaking, financial transactions and weather forecasting, which involve testing enormous numbers of possible scenarios.

"You'll be able to solve problems that would take longer than the life of the universe with a classical computer," she said.

The University of New South Wales' Centre for Quantum Computer Technology (CQCT) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison created the transistor by manipulating atoms using a special microscope.

DiManno: Body in barrel among grim discoveries on long weekend
It could have been a scene from The Sopranos and certainly had the fingerprints of mob body disposal all over it, though homicide detectives refused to speculate on their gruesome discovery, lassoed up from some 20 feet down in the murk of Lake Ontario.

There were definitely human remains inside, as police later confirmed, after the haul was moved to the Marine detachment and from there transferred to the coroner�s office. The body is believed to be encased in cement.

The 45-gallon barrel was fished out from just alongside the retaining wall at the foot of Jarvis Street around 1 p.m., after police received specific information that kicked the search and retrieval operation into full throttle on a sun-dappled Sunday morning in the city. Cops knew exactly where to look.

Cyclists and promenaders enjoying the holiday weekend hardly cast a curious eye toward the odd activity along a stretch of the lake�s shoreline that will soon open to the public as Canada�s Sugar Beach, landscaping almost completed just east of the sickly-sweet smelling Redpath sugar refinery, long a waterfront industrial behemoth.

Environmental cancer risks may be more dangerous than you think
According to the National Cancer Institute, tobacco accounts for 29% to 31% of cancer deaths, diet for 20% to 50%, infectious disease for 10% to 20%, ionizing and ultraviolet light for 5% to 7%, occupational exposure for 2% to 4%, and pollution for 1% to 5%. Zahm notes, however, that these numbers are from a 1981 paper reviewing studies from the 1970s, which probably studied exposures dating back to the 1960s and earlier.

Since then, no one has tried to revise the estimates, in large part because determining causative factors in cancer is a very difficult job.

For one thing, a cancer usually results from more than one cause. These insults may include genetic predisposition, immune status, lifestyle factors, other disease conditions and environmental exposures. Light-skinned people, for example, are more susceptible to sunlight-triggered skin damage that can lead to skin cancer, and asbestos exposure is more likely to cause lung cancer in pack-a-day smokers.

Another difficulty in investigating cancer risk factors is that people must be followed long enough in studies for cancers to develop � which can often take decades � or histories of cancer patients must reliably report the presence or absence of a risk factor decades earlier. (Often, such histories are sketchy and unreliable.)

PAM COMMENTARY: I liked the book The Secret History of the War on Cancer by environmental cancer expert Devra Davis.

Kids who beat cancer face a greater health burden as adults
More children are beating cancer than in past decades, thanks to better and more widespread cancer care in the United States. But even after living years free from cancers, new research says many of those kids don't escape added health problems.

To see what happens to kids that beat cancer, National Cancer Institute scientists compared health surveys completed by 410 adults who had childhood cancers and close to 300,000 other adults. Almost a quarter of the adults who had childhood cancer said their health was fair or poor, compared with close to 11 percent of other adults. Childhood cancer survivors were between three and four times more likely to say that their health limited their ability to work or lead normal lives.

The biggest difference in health seemed to hit within the four years after cancer treatment and decades later, at least 30 years after treatment. Health problems in the latter group might partly be related to older, more toxic chemotherapy drugs used when those people had cancer decades ago, the scientists said.

Regenerative medicine: the body is expert at repairing itself
The most astonishing property of the human body is its capacity for self-renewal � not just the repair of fractured bones, torn muscles and the like, but over a lifetime replacing each of its 60 trillion cells several times over.

This has inspired researchers in "regenerative medicine" to try to programme progenitor "stem" cells into becoming, say, nerve or heart cells that might take over the function of those damaged by disease.

Regrettably, as so often nowadays, the extravagant claims made on behalf of this type of speculative experimental therapy � that it will permit the blind to see and the lame to walk � fail to acknowledge the hurdles that must be overcome before there is any hope of it becoming a practical proposition.

Still, it is good to report that a much simplified version reported in the journal Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics a fortnight ago shows "promising" results. The bone marrow is a particularly versatile source of these stem cells, which animal experiments have shown are attracted to, and facilitate the healing of, nerves damaged in a similar way to those in patients with multiple sclerosis.

PAM COMMENTARY: Multiple sclerosis and other "incurable" diseases often respond well to less expensive alternatives, for example people interested in alternative protocols for MS may be interested in the case of Ken Pressner from Canada. He successfully treated himself using the mercury/parasite model of the disease. Some claim that their MS followed the aspartame poisoning model, and their symptoms were relieved by quitting diet soda. Other models of the disease include viruses and narrow arteries/oxygen deficiency.

Preschools in forests take root in the US
When they're outside, the children in Erin Kenny's class don't head for cover if it rains or snows. They stay right where they are _ in a private five-acre forest. It's their classroom.

They spend three hours a day, four days a week here, a free-flowing romp through cedar and Douglas fir on Vashon Island in Puget Sound.

The unique "forest kindergarten" at Cedarsong Nature School is among several that have opened in recent years in the U.S., part of movement that originated in Europe to get kids out from in front of televisions and into the natural world.

"American children do not spend much time outdoors anymore," Kenny says. "There's a growing need and an awareness on parents' part that their children really need to do more connecting with nature."

Obama seeks to force votes on spending cuts
The legislation would award Obama and his successors the ability to take two months or more to scrutinize spending bills that have already been signed into law for pork barrel projects and other dubious programs. He could then send Congress a package of spending cuts for a mandatory up-or-down vote on whether to accept or reject them.

White House Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag said that while the new presidential power would not be a panacea for the government's spending excesses, it would "add to the arsenal of tools" available to reduce spending.

In a phone conference with reporters Monday, he said the legislation was crafted to avoid constitutional hurdles. Past efforts "gave the knife to the president" to make the cuts, he said, while the Obama administration's bill would give it back to Congress to make the final decision on cuts.

Senate Democrats filibustered the idea to death just three years ago, and so Obama's move would seem like a long shot. But the plan could pick up traction in the current anti-Washington political environment in which lawmakers are desperate to demonstrate they are tough on spending.

In Mexico, Gulf oil spill draws parallels to worst case ever
COATZACOALCOS, Mexico � Here on Mexico's Gulf Coast, the Deepwater Horizon disaster has revived memories of the world's worst accidental oil spill, a 1979 blowout that spewed oil for nine months, devastated marine life and covered the Texas and Mexican coasts with gobs of crude. Now, people here are worried they may be in for a repeat of that disaster as ocean currents begin to catch oil from the Deepwater Horizon well and the Atlantic hurricane season gets underway June 1.

There are strong parallels between the two spills. Like the Deepwater Horizon spill, the Ixtoc 1 spill on June 3, 1979, involved the failure of a blowout preventer device, a kind of emergency shutoff valve. In both cases, metal domes put over the well failed to stop the leaks.

And in both cases, crews turned to something called relief wells dug horizontally through the seafloor to stop the spills, a technique that can take months.

The Ixtoc I was an exploratory well being drilled in 160 feet of water about 60 miles northwest of Ciudad del Carmen on Mexico's Gulf coast. By comparison, the Deepwater Horizon well is 5,000 feet deep. The Ixtoc 1 well was owned by Petroleos Mexicanos, Mexico's state oil company, known as Pemex. But it was being drilled by Sedco, a predecessor to Transocean, owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig.

Attorney General Buddy Caldwell tells Corps of Engineers state has emergency powers to build barrier islands
Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sundayadvising them that the State of Louisiana was within its rights to rebuild barrier islands in order to combat the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Caldwell advised Lt. Gen. Robert L. Van Antwerp, commanding general of the Corps, that under the U.S. constitution the federal government does not have the legal authority to deny a state the right to conduct such emergency operations to protect its citizens and territory.

The letter cites recent interpretations of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which reserves to the states those powers not specifically granted to the federal government. Caldwell contends that the statues governing fill permits usually required for such construction lack the necessary "clear statement" from Congress that the laws were intended to divest the states of their traditional emergency powers.

Caldwell ends by saying advising Antwerp to direct the New Orleans District of the Corps of Engineers to issue emergency permits. He also warns that if the district office "persists in its illegal and ill-advised efforts" to block the construction of the barriers, he will advise Gov. Bobby Jindal to go forward with the plans and challenge the Corps authority in court.

Leaking gas may give clue to size of gulf oil spill
A Santa Barbara scientist has proposed computing the size of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by measuring its cousin, natural gas, which is spewing into the gulf along with it.

In an article published in the British journal Nature this week, UC Santa Barbara geochemist David Valentine said that dragging gas sensors through the waters near the spill could provide data on how much methane was lurking in the ocean. From that figure, the volume of oil could be derived, he said.

The leaking oil has high concentrations of methane, perhaps as much as 40% by mass, he said. But unlike oil, methane dissolves in water and can be measured empirically, Valentine said. Once the level of methane is determined, the amount of oil can be calculated, he said.

"What it gives you is a very good lower limit" on how much oil is flowing, said Valentine, whose research focuses in part on how methane behaves in the ocean.

Feds step up role in oil spill cleanup
�We are 33 days into this effort and deadline after deadline has been missed,� Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in front of BP's U.S. headquarters in Houston on Sunday.

He said he had no doubt the company was �throwing everything at the problem to try and resolve it,� but added:

�Do I have confidence they know exactly what they're doing? No, not completely.�

Federal officials have been part of the spill response and well-capping efforts from its earliest days, but the pace of involvement is stepping up.

Environmentalists try to ban release of synthetic life forms into the wild
The moratorium on any release of synthetic life-forms is likened to the earlier moratoria on "terminator technology", a suicide gene that prevents GM seeds from being fertile after they are harvested, and ocean fertilisation, an attempt to spread iron into the sea to stimulate the absorption of carbon dioxide from the air.

The Etc Group, composed of a handful of activists, has been a thorn in the side of Dr Venter. They have opposed his attempts to patent genes and have been highly critical of his claims that synthetic life-forms could help to solve major environmental problems, such as global warming.

"Synthetic biology is a high-risk, profit-driven field, building organisms out of parts that are still poorly understood," said Jim Thomas, a member of the Etc Group.

"We know that lab-created life-forms can escape and become biological weapons, and that their use threatens existing natural biodiversity," Mr Thomas said.

"Most worrying of all, Craig Venter is handing this powerful technology to the likes of BP and Exxon to hasten the commercialisation of synthetic life-forms."

The ethics of veggie cats and dogs
Of course, I should say the vegetarian owner of a cat or dog. Even my preternaturally clever Border collie, Charlie � a dog perfectly capable of expressing disdain � doesn't have the intelligence to base his culinary choices on a critique of the industrialised system of meat production. So is it ethical to impose a vegetarian diet on your pet? And for a start, is it healthy?

The health issue is simpler for dogs than cats, as dogs in the wild are omnivores whereas cats are obligate 'true' carnivores, getting all of their nutrition from meat.

But cats require specific nutrients, not specific foodstuffs. A 2006 study (pdf), carried out somewhat bizarrely by Nestl�found that the 34 vegetarian cats it examined were healthy. One of the biggest concerns for cats is the risk of taurine deficiency, which can lead to blindness and death if not treated. Most meaty cat food has taurine added back, because the processing of meats removes it. Another essential for cats is arachidonic acid. Both these substances are available as supplements.

There are commercially available veggie options. Ethical Consumer's recent pet food report (pdf) gave 'best buys' for vegetarian dog food to brands Ami, Benevo, Yarrah and Wackidog and for vegetarian cat food, to Ami and Benevo (both of which contain taurine and arachidonic acid). Yarrah, which is organic, is currently investigating bringing out a vegan cat food too.

But even among animal rights organisations the jury is still out on the health implications feeding cats a veggie diet. Some, such as the Vegetarian Society, are equivocal, while others are keen backers of such a switch. A sensible compromise might be to feed your cat half vegetarian biscuits and half organic wet meaty food. Even dogs may struggle to get the nutrients they need from commercial vegetarian pet food. Some dogs require extra taurine and L-Carnitine, not usually added to commercial dog food (Ami dog food contains L-Carnitine).

Canadian tracks down secret U.S. space plane
�I saw it by pure luck, just because I was aimed at a certain area of sky,� Mr. Fetter said.

U.S. officials have said little about the 5.5-ton space plane, the next generation of space shuttle and a craft that is believed to be part of a program developing a new brand of spy satellites.

A U.S. Air Force official told The New York Times on Friday that the mission has �no offensive capabilities.�

But Ted Molczan, a Toronto satellite watcher who has been featured in The New York Times and Wired magazine, said the plane�s orbit, which was kept secret by military officials, is following a pattern commonly used by spy satellites.

Japan PM Hatoyama apologises over Okinawa U-turn; US military base will stay on Okinawa
Like many locals, the governor is opposed to the US presence and said the prime minister's decision would be "difficult to accept".

Japan and the US, allies since the end of World War II, say the base is needed to guarantee regional security.

The prime minister promised to move the base off the island during the campaign for last year's election which swept his Democratic Party of Japan to power.

But he said that after holding talks within Japan and with the US, the Futenma base had to remain on Okinawa although it would move to the less populated coastal district of Henoko - in line with a plan announced in 2006.

From Japan to Guam to Hawai�i, Activists Resist Expansion of US Military Presence in the Pacific [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Why are Japanese in Okinawa so opposed to the base there?

KOZUE AKIBAYASHI: The live very close�in Okinawa, they live very, very close to the military base. It�s not an isolated location. The military base is here, and they have to find places where they could build their houses. It affects in many ways of their lives. Noise pollution is one of them. Environmental pollution is one of them.

AMY GOODMAN: The issue of rape?

KOZUE AKIBAYASHI: Yes, yes. That�s more pervasive, but deep-rooted problem that women and children, girls, face in the vicinity. Not only the close vicinity, but the entire island of Okinawa face danger of sexual violence by US soldiers.

Gulf oil leak seeps deeper into La. marshes; government questions if BP can plug blown well
Press secretary Robert Gibbs didn't say whether the department has opened a criminal investigation. He would only tell CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday that department representatives have been to the Gulf as part of the response to the BP oil leak.

Salazar and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano were to lead a Senate delegation to the region Monday to fly over affected areas.

BP is getting barges and other equipment ready to prepare for a risky procedure midweek that the company hopes will finally halt the gusher.

But the "top kill" maneuver, which shoots heavy mud and then cement into the blown well, has never been tried at 5,000 feet underwater and BP officials caution they are working on a range of backup plans.

Young coral 'threatened by noise pollution'
As if it's not bad enough for them with pollution, fishing by dynamiting, global warming and ocean acidification, the world's coral reefs face a new threat � from noise.

Scientists have discovered that baby corals, in their first days as free-swimming larvae in the ocean, find their way home by listening to the noise of animals on the reef, and actively swimming towards it.

But the findings raise new concerns for the future of coral reefs, as increasing human noise pollution in the world's oceans, from ships' engines to drilling to seismic exploration, is masking reef sounds.

Sometimes referred to as "the rainforests of the sea", coral reefs are among the world's richest ecosystems, holding a quarter of all marine species, from brilliantly coloured fish to sponges, although they occupy less than 1 per cent of the total ocean surface. Their economic value in terms of tourism, fishing and protection of shorelines has been estimated at greater than �20bn annually.

Sunscreen or smoke screen?
The EWG, an advocacy group that has waged a four-year campaign promoting strict sun-safety standards, slammed the majority of the 1,400 products it tested. It recommends only 39 of 500 beach and sport sunscreens, primarily because of what it called "a surge in exaggerated SPF claims above 50" and concerns about ingredients in the products.

"Hats, clothing and shade are still the only completely reliable sun protection," said Jane Houlihan, EWG's vice president for research.

In fact, the long-delayed FDA rules would update labels to stress the importance of a comprehensive approach to sun protection that encourages seeking shade and covering up.

Sunscreen can help protect against sunburn, but contrary to what many people think, it hasn't yet been shown to prevent skin cancer or premature skin aging, according to the FDA.

HIPAA Law allows hospitals to use patient records for fundraising
Finn, a 62-year-old retired CPA who lives on Queen Anne Hill, a one-time patient at the UW, knew that a broad federal law known as HIPAA protects patient privacy. So he was astounded when the caller told him the information had come from patient records.

It seemed logical to Finn that the law, which bars patient information from being used for commercial purposes, would also bar its use for fundraising. He also wanted to know: What did the caller know about him? Was the caller a "qualified health professional" entitled to his information under the law?

And how could he get off the list?

In fact, HIPAA specifically allows medical centers to use patient information for fundraising activities, explained Richard Meeks, director of the UW's privacy program.

Trial Begins for Ex-Chicago Police Lt. Accused of Torturing More than 100 African American Men [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Michael McDermott, explain who he is, one of the chief prosecution witnesses.

FLINT TAYLOR: Well, all these years, the first time that anyone who worked with Burge came forward in any form was in 1989. And they�a detective anonymously wrote me and my partners, while we were on trial in a civil torture case, and told us about other victims of torture and told us that other men, including those who tortured Darrell, were participants in this ring of torture. That started our investigation, and it started us to unpeel the 110 victims of torture that we know about today. But no one�that man or woman didn�t come forward publicly. It was an anonymous contact. It was anonymous letters. And we never knew who that person was.

It wasn�t until 2004, after the men were pardoned and we had lawsuits for them, that we were able to go out and talk to retired detectives who were black, and they told us, now that they had retired, that they knew certain things. They had seen the torture box. They knew it was an open secret. They heard screaming. But Burge kept them out of the loop, because he knew�because they were African American, he didn�t trust them with the secret of the torture.

However, when the government investigated the case recently, with the power of immunity, the grant of immunity, they were able to get this white detective, who had been involved in several cases of where torture was alleged, including one that�of a victim who was going to testify for the government, and they gave him immunity, and apparently, although we haven�t seen the transcript, he reluctantly told what he knew about this incident of torture and perhaps others. Now, he is not a voluntary witness. He is not a happy witness. He is very scared. But we�re have hopeful that his testimony will be significant in terms of finally revealing at least one instance of torture from the inside and breaking the code of silence in that way. And if it is, and that�s what his testimony is, then it�s going to be obviously a significant crack in the conspiracy or code of silence.

Some Harlem Churches in Fight for Survival
All Souls� Church, on St. Nicholas Avenue, and any number of the traditional neighborhood churches in Harlem that had for generations boasted strong memberships � built on and sustained by familial loyalty and neighborhood ties � are now struggling to hold on to their congregations.

The gentrification of Harlem has helped deplete their ranks, as younger residents, black and white, have arrived but not taken up places in their pews. Longtime Harlem families, either cashing in on the real estate boom over the past decade or simply opting to head south for their retirement, have left the neighborhood and its churches. Then there are the deaths, as year by year, whole age bands are chipped away.

Without a sustainable membership, and with no fresh wave of tithe-paying, collection-plate-filling young members, these churches have struggled to keep their doors open, to maintain repairs and to extend their reach in the community.

Some, like All Souls�, cannot afford a full-time minister, let alone operate a soup kitchen or clothes pantry.

Oil soaks deeper into delicate marshes
BARATARIA BAY, La. -- As officials approached to survey the damage the Gulf oil spill caused in coastal marshes, some brown pelicans couldn't fly away Sunday. All they could do was hobble.

Several pelicans were coated in oil on Barataria Bay off Louisiana, their usually brown and white feathers now jet black. Pelican eggs were glazed with rust-colored gunk, and new hatchlings and nests were also coated with crude.

It is unclear if the area can even be cleaned, or if the birds can be saved. It is also unknown how much of the Gulf Coast will end up looking the same way because of a well that has spewed untold millions of gallons of oil since an offshore rig exploded more than a month ago.

"As we talk, a total of more than 65 miles of our shoreline now has been oiled," said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who announced new efforts to keep the spill from spreading.

As oil washes ashore on West Ship Island, a Northwest call to action
WEST SHIP ISLAND, Miss. -- Hop on a ferry in Gulfport, and less than an hour later, 12 miles offshore, you'll see a sand strip so sugary white it looks like frosting on a cake.

Disembark on West Ship Island and you'll find Roger Christophersen, who traveled more than 2,000 miles from Washington state's North Cascades National Park to help protect this fragile gem from the gargantuan Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The wildlife biologist typically works in the steep, snowy backcountry studying grizzly bears, wolves, picas and other species that roam the Cascades' northern reaches. But when Jon Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, issued a "calling all hands" plea for help in the Gulf, Christophersen was among park employees across the country who jumped at the chance.

"I had to do something," Christophersen says simply.

The slick's leading edge appeared headed directly at West Ship, part of Gulf Islands National Seashore. Encompassing six barrier islands, it stretches 160 miles from nearby Cat Island, Miss., to the eastern tip of Santa Rosa Island, Fla. More than 80 percent of the park is underwater and all of it teems with life threatened not only by BP's uncontrolled spill, but also by the hundreds of thousands of gallons of chemicals dumped in the Gulf to try to break up the oil.

Calving season: Alaska moose population doubles in a month
The monthlong moose calving season began almost two weeks ago. State wildlife biologists say approximately 120,000 moose calves will be born by the first week of June.

Fairbanks moose research biologist Rod Boertje said of that number only about 30,000 will survive a year. Most of the calves that perish will be killed by black bears, grizzly bears or wolves soon after they are born.

"Over 40,000 will be killed in the first six weeks," Boertje said.

According to state studies, the average mortality rate for moose calves 1 year old or less in Interior Alaska is 65 to 70 percent.

Cuts to Child Care Subsidy Thwart More Job Seekers
TUCSON � Able-bodied, outgoing and accustomed to working, Alexandria Wallace wants to earn a paycheck. But that requires someone to look after her 3-year-old daughter, and Ms. Wallace, a 22-year-old single mother, cannot afford child care.

Last month, she lost her job as a hair stylist after her improvised network of baby sitters frequently failed her, forcing her to miss shifts. She qualifies for a state-run subsidized child care program. But like many other states, Arizona has slashed that program over the last year, relegating Ms. Wallace�s daughter, Alaya, to a waiting list of nearly 11,000 eligible children.

Despite a substantial increase in federal support for subsidized child care, which has enabled some states to stave off cuts, others have trimmed support, and most have failed to keep pace with rising demand, according to poverty experts and federal officials.

That has left swelling numbers of low-income families struggling to reconcile the demands of work and parenting, just as they confront one of the toughest job markets in decades.

Icelandic volcano now appears to be dormant, say scientists
There has been a marked drop in the volcanic activity in Iceland that has disrupted flights across Europe for more than a month, and observers say the volcano "appears to be dormant".

Icelandic scientists said that their latest readings at Eyjafjallaj�l found little eruption activity, although they warned it was too early to say it was completely over.

Heat camera footage from early indicated that the temperature inside the crater had dropped to 100C, meaning the volcano is now producing steam rather than magma and ash, according to the status report issued by the Icelandic Met Office and Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Iceland.

Tremors inside the volcano are also decreasing and approaching the level before the eruption.

Vietnam, US still in conflict over Agent Orange
Thirty-five years after the end of the Vietnam War, its most contentious remaining legacy is Agent Orange. Eighty-two percent of Vietnamese surveyed in a recent Associated Press-GfK Poll said the United States should be doing more to help people suffering from illnesses associated with the herbicide, including children born with birth defects.

After President George W. Bush pledged to work on the issue on a Hanoi visit in 2006, the U.S. Congress has approved $9 million mostly to address environmental cleanup of Agent Orange. But while the U.S. has provided assistance to Vietnamese with disabilities - regardless of their cause - it maintains that there is no clear link between Agent Orange and health problems.

Vietnamese officials say the U.S. needs to make a much bigger financial commitment - $6 million has been allocated so far - to adequately address the environmental and health problems unleashed by Agent Orange.

"Six million dollars is nothing compared to the consequences left behind by Agent Orange," said Le Ke Son, deputy general administrator of Vietnam's Environmental Administration. "How much does one Tomahawk missile cost?"

For asbestos-ravaged Libby, questions persist
The sisters' town, Libby, population 3,000 along the Kootenai River, has emerged as the deadliest Superfund site in the nation's history.

Health workers tracking Libby's plight estimate at least 400 people have died of asbestos-related illnesses - from W.R. Grace mine workers and family members who breathed in the dust they brought home in their clothes, to those who played as kids in waste piles dumped by the company behind the community baseball field. Some 1,500 locals and others who were exposed have chest X-rays revealing the faint, cloudy shadows of asbestos scarring on their lungs.

Even though research long showed cause for concern - up to 70 percent of miners in a 1980s study had fibers in their lungs - it took news reports about the deaths to drive officials to action, beginning a decade ago. After the cleanup began, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency confidently predicted it would be done in two years at a cost of $5.8 million. Ten years on, the price tag has exceeded $333 million, the deaths continue, and more asbestos keeps showing up - in schools, in businesses, in hundreds of houses.

The scope of contamination has at times overwhelmed environmental regulators, dragging out the cleanup, an Associated Press review of hundreds of pages of government documents and interviews with current and former agency officials revealed.

57 ancient tombs with mummies unearthed in Egypt
Archeologists have unearthed 57 ancient Egyptian tombs, most of which hold an ornately painted wooden sarcophagus with a mummy inside, Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities said Sunday.

The oldest tombs date back to around 2750 B.C. during the period of Egypt's first and second dynasties, the council said in a statement. Twelve of the tombs belong the 18th dynasty which ruled Egypt during the second millennium B.C.

The discovery throws new light on Egypt's ancient religions, the council said.

Egypt's archaeology chief, Zahi Hawass, said the mummies dating to the 18th dynasty are covered in linen decorated with religious texts from the Book of the Dead and scenes featuring ancient Egyptian deities.

Boy Scouts lagged in efforts to protect children from molesters
The Boy Scouts' effort to protect their young members from sexual abuse had large gaps from the start and has significantly fallen behind modern practices.

Videos intended to alert youth about potential abuse don't warn that Scout leaders could be molesters, despite an 80-year record of just such scenarios.

Few of the 1.2 million adults volunteering in Scouts have been required to take training that the Boy Scouts offer.

Checking those volunteers for past criminal conduct wasn't started until 2003, and each person is checked only once. Thousands who started before then weren't included. Finally, in 2008, the Scouts required checks on everyone renewing their annual registration as a Scout volunteer.

The Scouts ignored their own experts' advice to study and learn from thousands of confidential files on abusers.

Papers, experts: BP used cheaper, riskier drill plan
ORLANDO, Fla. � Oil company BP used a cheaper, quicker but potentially less dependable method to complete the drilling of the Deepwater Horizon well, according to several experts and documents.

"There are clear alternatives to the methods BP used that most engineers in the drilling business would consider much more reliable and safer," said F.E. Beck, a Texas A&M University petroleum-engineering professor who testified recently before a Senate committee investigating BP's blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico.

He and other petroleum and drilling engineers who reviewed a log of the Deepwater Horizon's activities described BP's choice of well design as one in which the final phase called for a 13,293-foot length of permanent pipe, called "casing," to be locked in place with a single injection of cement that often can turn out to be problematic.

A different approach more commonly used in the hazardous geology of the Gulf involves installing a section of what the industry calls a "liner," then locking both the liner and a length of casing in place with one or, often, two cement jobs that are less prone to failure.

Alaska schools better off without D.C. money
Alaska's Commissioner of Education, Larry LeDoux, with a half dozen other states, has informed the federal government that we will not be competing to win up to $75 million in the Race to the Top sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. LeDoux is to be commended for his position.

The U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, has roughly $4.5 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to give to states that will jump through the required hoops to "Race to the Top."

Dispersing the funds outside the intent of the law, President Obama can take over a large part of the nation's educational system without passing enabling legislation as required for health care reform.

To compete and win, a state must turn over its education system to the feds. The feds will control the school's standards, charter schools, teacher and principal evaluation and the careers that students are educated to enter.

Millions were spent by the various states to prepare for the first round in the race yet only two states won. School Reform News quoted Eric Fry, a spokesman for Alaska's Department of Education, "It's also quite expensive to apply." He said, " -- it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to apply. We didn't want to spend a lot of money on a losing battle."

Hazy results: Officials disagree on whether program to keep park�s bison from spreading brucellosis has been successful
GARDINER � In the decade since five state and federal agencies came up with a plan to manage bison in and around Yellowstone National Park, no confirmed cases of cattle being infected with brucellosis from bison carrying the disease have been reported.

Many people involved in the effort say that�s proof the Interagency Bison Management Plan, or IBMP, is a success.

However, that success has come at a cost. Since the agreement was signed in 2000, more than 3,500 bison have been killed to stop the potential transmission of the disease.

It�s estimated that more than $20 million has been spent on bison management by the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Montana Department of Livestock and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. That doesn�t include a 30-year, $3.3 million lease agreement for private land north of Yellowstone that removed cattle and allowed some bison to graze there.

Disgraced former Ohio congressman dies at 79
DALLAS -- Former U.S. Rep. Donald "Buz" Lukens of Ohio, once a rising conservative star in state politics before a string of scandals abruptly ended his career, has died. He was 79.

Lukens died of cancer at a Dallas nursing home Saturday, said his sister, Lois Short of Springfield, Ohio.

Lukens was convicted in 1989 of paying a 16-year-old girl from Columbus for sex. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail fined $500.

The scandal cost him the 1990 Republican primary, where he lost to then-state Rep. John Boehner, now the House minority leader in Congress.

Van carrying former Pres. Bill Clinton to Yale involved in fender bender; no injuries reported
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Connecticut state police say a van carrying former President Bill Clinton was hit from behind on the Merritt Parkway while he was on his way to deliver the Class Day speech at Yale University.

Clinton told WTIC-TV on Sunday that the accident was "just a fluke" and that he is fine.

State police Lt. J. Paul Vance says traffic was nearly at a standstill just north of New Haven because of another accident when a civilian vehicle struck the Secret Service van carrying Clinton at a very low rate of speed.

The van continued on to Yale, where Clinton gave his address to Yale seniors. He made no mention of the accident during his speech.

Despite Moratorium, Drilling Projects Move Ahead
WASHINGTON � In the days since President Obama announced a moratorium on permits for drilling new offshore oil wells and a halt to a controversial type of environmental waiver that was given to the Deepwater Horizon rig, at least seven new permits for various types of drilling and five environmental waivers have been granted, according to records.

The records also indicate that since the April 20 explosion on the rig, federal regulators have granted at least 19 environmental waivers for gulf drilling projects and at least 17 drilling permits, most of which were for types of work like that on the Deepwater Horizon shortly before it exploded, pouring a ceaseless current of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Asked about the permits and waivers, officials at the Department of the Interior and the Minerals Management Service, which regulates drilling, pointed to public statements by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, reiterating that the agency had no intention of stopping all new oil and gas production in the gulf.

Department of the Interior officials said in a statement that the moratorium was meant only to halt permits for the drilling of new wells. It was not meant to stop permits for new work on existing drilling projects like the Deepwater Horizon.

Gulf oil spill has 'perfect precedence' in 1979 disaster
The exploratory oil well two miles below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico exploded in a ball of fire, spurting millions of gallons of crude into the sea. As weeks turned to months, oil executives grappled with capping the well. The growing slick turned into an immediate ecological nightmare.

The year was 1979. The blowout of the Ixtoc I, drilled by the Mexican-run Pemex, retains the dubious record of causing the world's largest accidental oil spill, dumping an estimated 138 million gallons over nine months. Eventually, Pemex cut off Ixtoc I with two relief wells and a cement seal.

With top BP executives, scientists and Obama administration officials searching for a solution to capping the Deepwater Horizon blowout off the Louisiana coast, perhaps they could find a blueprint in the Ixtoc I experience, observers say. They also may find lessons from the Montara oil spill last August off the northern coast of Australia, where it took five tries and nearly three months to stop the flow of as many as 84,000 gallons a day into the Timor Sea.

If some scientists, who say BP and the U.S. Coast Guard are underestimating how much oil is leaking now, are right, the current gusher could easily eclipse the demise of Ixtoc I in the Bay of Campeche. By their count, instead of the 210,000 gallons leaking per day, it's more like 4 million.

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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.)