Pam Rotella's Vegetarian FUN page -- News on health, nutrition, the environment, politics, and more!
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News from the Week of 11th to 17th of July 2010
Note to readers: This site went down for a few hours on Tuesday, 6 July 2010, due to web hosting service changes. I am currently in the process of verifying that all files transferred successfully, and on Monday I restored 3 news articles and an Eagle, WI tornado damage photo that were missing. This process of verification and restoration will probably continue until the end of this week. If you can't find a file or picture listed here, please check again on Wednesday or Thursday. Sorry for any inconvenience. - PR
Widespread oyster deaths found on Louisiana reefs (17 July 2010)
Surveys of coastal oyster grounds have discovered extensive deaths of the shellfish, further threatening an industry already in free-fall because of BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The deaths are blamed on the opening of release valves on the Mississippi River in an attempt to use fresh water to flush oil out to sea. Giant diversion structures at Caernarvon and Davis Pond have been running since April 25 on the orders of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and local officials with the consent of the Army Corps of Engineers.
For the past 82 days, about 30,000 cubic feet of water per second has flowed into coastal Louisiana, enough to fill the Louisiana Superdome, home to the New Orleans Saints football team, nearly once an hour.
"What I saw does not look good," Patrick Banks, oyster manager for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said in an e-mail. He said he found no evidence of oil on the reefs east of the Mississippi River, but he said they "looked to be fallow reef."
Feds Ignore Due Process, First Amendment, Shut Down Thousands of Blogs (17 July 2010)
Once again, the Obama administration has violated the Bill of Rights. Earlier this month, the feds took down a free WordPress blogging platform and disabled more than 73,000 blogs. The action was completely ignored by the corporate media. The site, Blogetery.com, was told by its hosting service that the government had issued orders to shut down the site due to a �a history of abuse� related to copyrighted material.
In late June, Joe Biden and Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel said the government would move to take down sites offering unauthorized movies and music. �Criminal copyright infringement occurs on a massive scale over the Internet, reportedly resulting in billions of dollars in losses to the U.S. economy,� said Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Bharara's office and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement launched "Operation In Our Sites" and executed seizure warrants against nine domain names.
Blogetery.com claimed the shut down of 73,000 blogs �was not a typical case, in which suspension and notification would be the norm. This was a critical matter brought to our attention by law enforcement officials. We had to immediately remove the server.�
"That seems odd," notes Techdirt, a website that covers government policy, technology and legal issues. "If there was problematic content from some users, why not just take down that content or suspend those users. Taking down all 73,000 blogs seems� excessive."
PAM COMMENTARY: Is it coincidence that both the US and China took down popular blogs around the same time? I still recommend that those with good web design skills create their very own web sites, like mine. Problems with hosting companies are bad enough, but if you use corporate sites, you're totally at their mercy, and the "content police" will get you every time.
Seaport, the engine of Haiti's recovery, is sputtering (17 July 2010)
PORT-AU-PRINCE -- The day the ground buckled, a $3.2 million crane crashed into the water off this country's main seaport, the pier crumbled and cracked containers spilled into the sea.
Six months later, the crane and containers remain in the water and two floating barges have temporarily replaced the pier.
The Port-au-Prince seaport, a main economic driver of Haiti's economy, is critical to the country's recovery from the worst natural disaster in the Western Hemisphere. But six months since the Jan. 12 catastrophic earthquake, the facility remains crippled.
The international community and aid groups complain bitterly that Haiti's government has failed to present a master plan to revive the port sector -- criticized as a pocket of government neglect, cronyism and fierce rivalries even before the disaster.
Scientists prove that women are better at multitasking than men (17 July 2010)
Researchers decided to test the truth of the commonly held belief after discovering that no scientific research had ever been done into it.
They found that when women and men work on a number of simple tasks - such as searching for a key or doing easy maths problems - at the same time, the women significantly outperformed the men.
Scientists believe that the results show that females are better able to reflect upon a problem, while continuing to juggle their other commitments, than men.
Professor Keith Laws, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire, who led the research, said: "We have all heard stories that either men can't multitask or that women are exceptionally good at multitasking.
Face painting, dancing, bubbles � at G20 protest (17 July 2010)
Some 300 protesters attended a peaceful companion march in Montreal, to add to the pressure on governments for a full public inquiry into police actions at the G20.
�Politicians like (Dalton) McGuinty, (Stephen) Harper, (David) Miller are refusing a real independent civil inquiry,� said march organizer Mathieu Francoeur.
�For us, that would be a minimum. We want it to go further: Who gave the orders? Why so much oppression? Why did the police react that way? Why $1 billion in costs?�
A march was also held in Quebec City.
At Toronto�s gathering a street theatre act kept people amused as it threaded through the crowd. It featured a cop on stilts harassing another actor playing a granny who was carrying knitting needles � dangerous weapons according to the police officer.
San Francisco considers nets under Golden Gate Bridge for suicide prevention (17 July 2010)
A suicide barrier - a net, dangling beneath the Golden Gate Bridge sidewalks, actually - could move a step closer to reality at the end of this month.
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area's regional transportation planning and financing agency, will consider allotting $5 million to the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District to complete the final design for the barrier. The agency's Programming and Allocations Committee recommended approval last week after hearing emotional testimony from barrier backers, including suicide experts and parents of people who have jumped to their deaths from the landmark bridge.
Rise in African children accused of witchcraft (17 July 2010)
Most of those accused of witchcraft are boys aged between eight to 14 - who often end up being attacked, tortured and sometimes killed.
Also, children have had petrol poured into their eyes or ears as a way of trying to exorcise "evil spirits" that healers believe have possessed them.
It is reported that some evangelical preachers have added to the problem by charging large sums for exorcisms. One was recently arrested in Nigeria after charging more than $250 for each procedure.
There has been no comprehensive study to suggest how widespread child witchcraft allegations are.
However Unicef's Regional Child Protection officer for West and Central Africa told the BBC more than 20,000 streetchildren had been accused of witchcraft in the DR Congo capital Kinshasa.
Insurers Push Plans That Limit Choice of Doctor (17 July 2010)
As the Obama administration begins to enact the new national health care law, the country�s biggest insurers are promoting affordable plans with reduced premiums that require participants to use a narrower selection of doctors or hospitals.
The plans, being tested in places like San Diego, New York and Chicago, are likely to appeal especially to small businesses that already provide insurance to their employees, but are concerned about the ever-spiraling cost of coverage.
But large employers, as well, are starting to show some interest, and insurers and consultants expect that, over time, businesses of all sizes will gravitate toward these plans in an effort to cut costs.
The tradeoff, they say, is that more Americans will be asked to pay higher prices for the privilege of choosing or keeping their own doctors if they are outside the new networks. That could come as a surprise to many who remember the repeated assurances from President Obama and other officials that consumers would retain a variety of health-care choices.
PAM COMMENTARY: Very few of my past employers provided health insurance where the employee really had a choice of doctors. They'd give you a book listing doctors covered by their plan, and you had to choose a doctor from that book. Although the lists appeared to offer at least some choice, usually calls to their offices would reveal that only one or two doctors were taking new patients.
NASA appears to no longer be shooting for the stars (17 July 2010)
President Obama in January proposed cancelling the troubled moon program, and a key Senate committee voted this week to kill Constellation.
Despite the apparent kiss of death, construction continues at Plum Brook Station and other NASA centers and at private aerospace companies across the nation, where more than 14,000 people are still working on Constellation. Under pressure from Congress, NASA has been spending an average of about $9 million a day on the project.
After accomplishing so much in space for half a century, the nation now appears to lack not only the resources to mount a major human space program, but also the political will to eliminate the thousands of jobs connected with it.
"It is a sad spectacle," said Loren Thompson, a longtime aerospace policy expert in Washington, referring to the dual-edged political sword that has constrained the once ambitious U.S. space program. "It is devolving into everybody trying to protect their home turf."
Idaho leads nation in business spam (17 July 2010)
THE SPAM ASSAULT
Symantec Hosted Services, a computer security company, says 95 percent of e-mails directed to Idaho business are spam. You probably don't see most of it because it's diverted by software or other security programs.
THE TREND PERSISTS
Idaho is the leader for the second year in a row.
Meth supply links Mexico to Alaska; Mat-Su labs down (17 July 2010)
The once severe problem of methamphetamine manufacturing labs in Alaska has diminished greatly because of a 2006 state law targeting them, but that doesn't mean addicts can't get meth, state officials told legislators recently.
Meth now is being supplied mainly by Mexican drug traffickers, and it's a much higher grade than that made by Alaskans, most of whom operated out of homes and apartments in the Mat-Su Borough, officials said last week in giving a status report on methamphetamine to the House Judiciary Committee.
About 45 pounds of meth were seized in Alaska last year by the Alaska Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Enforcement, a part of Alaska State Troopers, and other agencies that it works with, including the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, according to the bureau. That was a record amount, more than five times the nearly 8 pounds seized in 2007 and again in 2008, bureau statistics show.
It's also more than what authorities were finding in raids before 2006, when in-state meth makers faced lighter sentences and had an easier time acquiring ingredients, according to bureau statistics.
Hospitals beef up equipment for obese (17 July 2010)
From hamburgers to houses, it seems everything is getting supersized.
Hospitals are no exception. Around the country, medical facilities are buying equipment to accommodate the increase in obese patients.
In Milwaukee, several local hospitals have beefed up their beds, rooms and medical devices to accommodate larger patients.
The shift to the XXL-equipped hospital is eating into capital budgets and driving growth in the plus-sized medical equipment market.
From 1990 to 2006, the proportion of obese Wisconsin residents ballooned from 11.3% to 26.7%, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. That compares with 25.1% for the U.S. population as a whole. In Milwaukee, 28.6% of people were obese in 2004 to 2006, according to the report.
Midway ride crash probe could take up to two months; Girl, 13, 'in rough shape' in hospital (17 July 2010)
While victims recover from their various injuries, witnesses who saw the pod break apart from the base, sending its passengers crashing to the ground, are still in shock. One said the car "broke apart and spun out like a bike tire."
Ensconced in the car behind one that was flung from its hinges, Alex Bilton, 16, witnessed the event.
"I'm still shaking," he said.
After the car broke off, the ride continued, slamming his car into the broken pod at least twice. On the second impact, Bilton said he saw "a kid face down with blood coming out of his head. We knocked him over."
Meanwhile, the show went on at the Stampede grounds, with the company that operates the rides -- North American Midway Entertainment -- and other officials calling the catastrophe "unprecedented."
Eugenics Alert: UN�s Agenda of Population Control Accelerating (17 July 2010)
Although the UN in the west have learned to speak of �sustainable development� when speaking of population control, their puppets in developing countries have been less successful: they continue to speak in the original eugenic tongue: the language used of old to describe how best to keep the population in check, by whatever means necessary.
In the context of the UN�s World Population Day (last July 11), several developing nations were quick to pledge allegiance to the eugenic deity. In the east-Indian state of Bihar, officials put out the announcement that:
�The Bihar government will soon formulate a new population control policy. The policy will be framed in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF).�
Another Indian state, Karnataka, had President Gladys Almeida �observe World Population Day� at which event she told local government employees:
�There is a need to create an awareness on the need for population control.�
Mexican drug cartels' newest weapon: Cold War-era grenades made in U.S. (17 July 2010)
MEXICO CITY -- Grenades made in the United States and sent to Central America during the Cold War have resurfaced as terrifying new weapons in almost weekly attacks by Mexican drug cartels.
Sent a generation ago to battle communist revolutionaries in the jungles of Central America, U.S. grenades are being diverted from dusty old armories and sold to criminal mafias, who are using them to destabilize the Mexican government and terrorize civilians, according to U.S. and Mexican law enforcement officials.
The redeployment of U.S.-made grenades by Mexican drug lords underscores the increasingly intertwined nature of the conflict, as President Felipe Calder�ends his soldiers out to confront gangs armed with a deadly combination of brand-new military-style assault rifles purchased in the United States and munitions left over from the Cold War.
Grenades have killed a relatively small number of the 25,000 people who have died since Calder�aunched his U.S.-backed offensive against the cartels. But the grenades pack a far greater psychological punch than the ubiquitous AK-47s and AR-15 rifles -- they can overwhelm and intimidate outgunned soldiers and police while reminding ordinary Mexicans that the country is literally at war.
GE asks Congress for engine that Obama opposes (17 July 2010)
The Fairfield, Conn.-based company, which makes everything from refrigerators to water heaters to X-ray machines and jet engines, says the loss of federal funding would effectively end the alternate engine's development - and throw the money that has already gone into the program down the drain. The joint venture between GE and Rolls Royce has received at least $2 billion to date from the federal government to develop the alternate engine.
Manufacturer Pratt & Whitney has received at least $6 billion to develop the main engine for the joint strike fighter, which is expected to be used by the Air Force, the Navy and the Marine Corps as well as eight international allies. The strike fighter program means big money for the company or companies that eventually manufacture the engines. The federal government alone is expected to procure more than 2,400 joint strike fighter aircraft over the next 25 years.
Citing budgetary constraints, President Barack Obama and the military say they want to stop funding the alternate engine, arguing that the project has become too costly and that any savings from the competition that an alternate engine would bring isn't worth the initial federal investment. Obama is threatening to veto any congressional spending bills that include funding for the program.
But GE executives are hoping their ad and lobbying campaign will help persuade Congress to continue funding the project over the administration's objections, as lawmakers have done for the past several years. A defense authorization bill in the House now includes $485 million to continue developing the alternate engine; the Senate version does not include funding for the program.
Court clears Guantanamo captives for return to Algeria (17 July 2010)
The U.S. Supreme Court late Friday cleared the way for the repatriations from Guantanamo of two Algerian men who argued they'd be in danger if they were sent home.
Farhi Saeed bin Mohammed, 49, ordered freed by a federal judge in November, and Abdul Aziz Naji, 35, could be sent home at any time after the high court refused to block their transfers.
Both have been held at Guant�mo since 2002 and neither were ever charged with a crime. Each had argued that, because of the stigma of having done time at Guant�mo, even cleared, they could face repression if not death in their homeland.
In Naji's case, his Boston lawyer, Ellen Lubell, said by email Saturday that ``he fears extremists will try to recruit him -- associating him with Guant�mo -- and will torture or kill him if he resists.''
Guantanamo Inmate Database (17 July 2010)
An eight-month McClatchy investigation of the detention system created after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks has found that the U.S. imprisoned innocent men, subjected them to abuse, stripped them of their legal rights and allowed Islamic militants to turn the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba into a school for jihad.
Darkness In America - Lynne
Stewart's Re-Sentencing (16 July 2010)
On July 16, New York Law Journal's Mark Hamblett headlined, "Lynne Stewart Gets a New 10-Year Prison Sentence," saying:
Koeltl imposed a longer sentence, saying "comments by Stewart in 2006, including a statement in a television interview that she would do 'it' again and would not 'do anything differently' influenced his decision....indicat(ing) the original sentence 'was not sufficient' to reflect the goals of sentencing guidelines."
Forgotten were Koeltl's October 2006 comment, calling Lynne's character "extraordinary," saying she was "a credit to her profession," and that a long imprisonment would be "an unreasonable result," citing "the somewhat atypical nature of her case (and) lack of evidence that any victim was harmed...."
Calling terrorism enhancement "dramatically unreasonable (because it grossly) overstate(d) the seriousness of (her) conduct (and would equate her with) repeat felony offenders for the most serious offenses including murder and drug trafficking."
He did consider Stewart's age (70), her health (poor), her distinguished career representing society's disadvantaged and unwanted, and the unlikelihood she'd commit another "crime."
"But (he) clearly got the message from the 2nd Circuit," and complied, his own career perhaps on the line otherwise.
"Macaca Man" threatens to return (16 July 2010)
He may not be formally running for office at the moment, but former Sen. George Allen (R) posted impressive fundraising totals for the reporting period ending June 30.
According to records filed with the Federal Election Commission, Allen's political action committee Good Government for America collected $314,595 from April 1 to June 30. After spending $86,458 during the period, the committee ended the period with $252,074 in the bank.
The number is especially striking since donors to federal committees face a $5,000 limit on the size of their donations. Donors to state committees, which also faced reporting deadlines this week, give as much as they'd like.
Allen's political future is the focus of intense speculation in Virginia. Asked whether he might challenge Sen. Jim Webb (D) to regain the Senate seat Webb won from him in 2006, Alllen has repeatedly said "perhaps." He gave that answer as recently as Wednesday.
Be Aware of Former FEMA Trailers (FLASHBACK) (16 July 2010)
To support the need for immediate housing after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, FEMA purchased upwards around 100,000 travel trailers, park models, and mobile homes. Most were rented for a short period of time by displaced evacuees and then returned to FEMA. Many thousand were not ever deployed and were left at the airport in Hope, Arkansas.
Whereas many of these trailers are in acceptable 2nd hand condition, many are not. Some units may be in esthetically pleasing condition but due to harsh storage conditions could contain damage not readily noticed. Many of these units are being auctioned by FEMA and resold without advising the consumer.
In addition, due to the time crunch to manufacture the units, many were built using non-standard methods by subcontractors to the major RV Manufacturers.
Here are some things to be aware of and to watch for when purchasing ANY travel trailer built in 2004-2006...
PAM COMMENTARY: A large number of old FEMA trailers are listed on EBay lately, and so I'm flashing back to this old article. A lot of people got sick from staying in FEMA trailers, so buyer beware!
Survivor, descendants dancing at Auschwitz: "tasteless" or triumphant? (17 July 2010)
WARSAW, Poland � Who has the right to dance at Auschwitz, to make light of the Holocaust, to shoot videos set amid cattle cars and gas chambers?
A home video that has gone viral on the Internet showing a Holocaust survivor dancing at Auschwitz and other Holocaust sites to the disco classic "I Will Survive" with his daughter and grandchildren has brought such questions to the fore.
To some, images of Adolek Kohn and his family shuffling offbeat at such hallowed places is an insult to those who perished; to others a defiant celebration of survival. The juxtapositions have struck many viewers as funny and chilling at the same time.
Whether the comedic effects were intentional or not, they bring a new dimension to questions about how far taboos can be tested in an age when comedians like Larry David and Sacha Baron Cohen find rich fodder for their jokes in the Holocaust.
Senate to Probe BP-Libya Deal (16 July 2010)
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee says it will probe the role BP played in freeing convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi. Megrahi, the only person who has been convicted of the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing that killed 270 people in 1988, was released last August from a Scottish prison. It has since come to light that BP may have lobbied for his release in order to secure a $900 million deal to drill in the Gulf of Sidra.
BP has admitted that it lobbied the British government in late 2007 on a prisoner transfer agreement. "BP told the UK government that we were concerned about the slow progress that was being made in concluding a Prisoner Transfer Agreement with Libya," the company said in a statement yesterday. "We were aware that this could have a negative impact on UK commercial interests, including the ratification by the Libyan government of BP's exploration agreement." The oil giant says it was not involved in discussions about Megrahi specifically, however.
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) announced late yesterday that the panel will hold a hearing on the issue on July 29. "I opposed Megrahi�s release on medical grounds last year as a travesty and the details that have emerged in recent days in the press have raised new concerns," said Kerry in a statement. "On behalf of those victims and their families, we must get to the bottom of what led to the mistaken release of the only person ever convicted for that terrible crime." New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez will chair the hearing.
Megrahi was sentenced to life in prison in 2001, but was released last August after a Scottish court granted him freedom on compassionate grounds. Doctors told the court that he was facing terminal prostate cancer and only had three months to live; now one of those doctors says he was paid by the Libyan government to make that determination, and he could live another ten years as a free man.
PAM COMMENTARY: Oh, please! As if anyone believes the government's story on Lockerbie...
Coleman Testimony On
CIA's PAN AM 103 Drug Smuggling Corroborated (FLASHBACK) (16 July 2010)
Mr. Coleman said: "Individuals involved in drug sting operations would arrive at Larnaca (in Cyprus) on the ferry from Jounich (in Lebanon) and be escorted by officers of the Cypriot national police to the offices of Eurame Trading Company in Nicosia, a DEA proprietory company." Mr. Coleman saw Khaled Jaafar on at least three occasions in the Eurame offices and knew him to be a DEA courier.
The DEA has denied it was involved in a drugs sting operation at any time around the Lockerbie incident. But James Shaughnessy, lead counsel for Pan Am, said in his latest affidavit dated May 3 : "The DEA's denial is incredulous....simply false." Pan Am's affidavit refers to a telephone conversation between a senior officer of British customs' investigations branch and Michael Jones of Pan Am Corporate Security in London in which he asked: "Have you considered a bag switch in Frankfurt due to the large amounts of Turkish workers?"
The Beirut end of MC10 had been "blown". There were five key members of the MC10 cell in Cyprus and Beirut, according to Mr. Coleman. Apart from Mr. Coleman there were Werner Tony Asmar, a German Lebanese, Charlie Frezeli, a Lebanese army officer, and two more Lebanese who worked with Asmar. Asmar was killed in a bomb explosion at his office in east Beirut on May 26, 1988. Frezeli was shot dead at his home in east Beirut in November 1989. When Asmar was killed, the DIA ordered Mr. Coleman home.
Those, like Mr. Coleman and the Pan Am lawyers who are convinced there is a link between the Lockerbie bomb and "Operation Khourah" were not helped by the so-called Aviv report, which claimed that a rogue CIA unit permitted the bags switch, knowing it contained a bomb. The report, produced by Isaeli investigator Juval Aviv was discredited. Now, however, a judge in a US court has ruled that the US government must produce all relevant documents relating to the practice of drugs sting operations through Frankfurt and elsewhere in Europe.
PAM COMMENTARY: Just reminding everyone of only ONE story of hundreds conflicting with the government's version of events on Lockerbie.
Pan Am 103 & 9/11 Connection (16 July 2010)
"Robert Mueller was nominated by President George W. Bush and became the sixth Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on September 4, 2001". (2)
"After spending 1988 and 1989 in private practice, he joined the staff of Attorney-General Richard Thornburgh, and his star rose at the Justice Department as the head of the criminal division under President George Bush's father from 1990 to 1993.
And he led the investigations of the 1991 collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International banking and the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103." (3)
Here is a link about Pan Am 103 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pan_Am_Flight_103 ) - note the part about the Intelligence Officers on board.
I tried to find out more at the George Bush Sr. Presidential Library since Pan Am sued the US government and, "In its suit, Pan Am alleged that the United States Government had prior knowledge of an impending terrorist attack on a Pan Am airliner". But as luck would have it the, ".....court transcripts, affidavits, depositions, motions, objections, reports, and news clippings.....in addition [to] the remaining NSC files deal[ing] specifically with the Lockerbie bombing and the subsequent investigation which led to the indictment of two Libyan nationals..... are closed because of various security classifications". (4)
PAM COMMENTARY: I could keep posting these all day, but we'll leave it there... for now...
25,000 new asteroids found by NASA's sky mapping (16 July 2010)
LOS ANGELES�Worried about Earth-threatening asteroids? One of NASA's newest space telescopes has spotted 25,000 never-before-seen asteroids in just six months.
Ninety-five of those are considered "near Earth," but in the language of astronomy that means within 30 million miles. Luckily for us, none poses any threat to Earth anytime soon.
Called WISE for Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, the telescope completes its first full scan of the sky on Saturday and then begins another round of imaging.
What's special about WISE is its ability to see through impenetrable veils of dust, picking up the heat glow of objects that are invisible to regular telescopes.
Nasa's Hubble Space Telescope discovers 'superheated planet with comet tail' (16 July 2010)
The planet, nicknamed Osiris, is 153 light-years from Earth and is only slightly smaller than Jupiter, our solar system�s biggest planet.
It was first detected in 1999 when scientists noticed a minute reduction in the brightness of its star, caused by the planet passing in front of it.
But astronomers at the space agency have only just found that powerful stellar winds are sweeping the "superheated" planet�s atmosphere out behind it.
Experts say this has led to the tail-like effect being captured by the Hubble. The "tail" theory had been hinted at previously but not confirmed until now.
FDA says breast cancer drug did not extend lives (16 July 2010)
WASHINGTON�Federal health scientists said Friday that follow-up studies of a Roche breast cancer drug showed that it failed extend patient lives, opening the door for it to be potentially withdrawal for use in treating that disease.
The Food and Drug Administration approved Roche's blockbuster Avastin in 2008 based on a trial showing it slowed growth of tumors caused by breast cancer. The decision was controversial because drugs for cancer patients who have never been treated before must usually show evidence they extend lives.
Avastin's so-called "accelerated approval" was based on the condition that later studies would show a survival benefit.
But in briefing documents posted online, FDA reviewers said two follow-up studies recently submitted by Roche failed to show that Avastin significantly extended lives compared to chemotherapy alone.
Additionally, the FDA said that in followup studies the drug did not slow tumor growth to the same degree as in earlier studies.
Civil Rights Attorney Lynne Stewart Resentenced to 10-Year Term�Nearly Five Times Her Original Sentence (16 July 2010)
PETRA BARTOSIEWICZ: I was not in the courtroom, because there were so many people who came out for this day that there was no room. Almost no members of the public, relative to how many who were there, actually made it in, though I think the judge did try to accommodate about fifty people who went in. So, the vast majority, though, about 300 of us, were in a jury assembly room where the proceedings were broadcast on two giant video screens, and we could hear everything that was going. We were sort of looking from above, as it were, on what was happening.
And when Lynne came in, there was applause in the courtroom upstairs, where everything was actually happening, and there was�there were cheers and whistles downstairs in the jury assembly room. People were yelling at the screen and saying that they supported her.
The proceedings were quite lengthy. Both the defense and prosecution made statements on�about the resentencing, and then the judge read a very lengthy report that he prepared for the resentencing, which sounded incredibly technical. One lawyer I spoke to later said sort of�describes this process as "two plus two plus two equals blue." And blue was ten years. She�s going to serve ten years. And when she heard the sentence, we didn�t see very well, you know, the immediate reaction, but I could see she was wiping away tears, and she was really barely able to speak later when the judge gave her the opportunity. And people downstairs were very emotional. Some were crying. Some shouted things that we probably can�t repeat on the air here. But people seemed stunned and very disappointed, because they thought that this sentence would not be as high.
And the judge specifically did point to some of the things that she said after the initial sentencing outside the courthouse, and then later on this program, as evidence that she was not as remorseful as she should be and that he should increase the sentence. There were, of course, other factors, but I think that certainly played a part in it, since he pointed it out.
PAM COMMENTARY: At least the audience knew what was going on.
A New Senator for West Virginia (16 July 2010)
Gov. Joe Manchin of West Virginia named his former general counsel, Carte Goodwin, to temporarily fill the United States Senate seat of the late Robert Byrd.
Governor Manchin made the announcement on Friday afternoon in Charleston, the state capital. Mr. Goodwin will hold the seat until November, when a special election for the post will be held. The governor is expected to be a candidate.
Mr. Goodwin, who served as Governor Manchin�s general counsel from 2005 to 2009, is now a lawyer at his family�s firm in Charleston. According to a profile on his firm�s Web site, he once clerked for Judge Robert B. King on the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Local news reports say that Mr. Goodwin worked for Mr. Manchin�s 2004 campaign, when the governor won his first term, and that Mr. Goodwin�s wife, Rochelle, currently works as state director for the other West Virginia senator, John D. Rockefeller IV, a Democrat.
Should food dyes be banned? (16 July 2010)
A new report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest argues that synthetic dyes should be banned because they pose "A Rainbow of Risks" without any real benefits.
Every year, manufactures pour about 15 million pounds of eight common synthetic dyes into Americans' food. Yet, tests have shown that a number of these compounds have health risks ranging from powerful allergic reactions and hyperactivity in children to cancer.
Evidence suggests, but does not prove, that Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Red 40, and Yellow 6 cause cancer in animals. The three most widely used dyes � Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 � are contaminated with known carcinogens.
The granddaddy of them all, Red 3, is recognized by the Food and Drug Administration as a carcinogen. The law requires it to be illegal, but pressure from Ronald Reagan's Secretary of Agriculture, John R. Block, scuttled the required ban. About 200,000 pounds annually of Red 3 go into foods including Betty Crocker's Fruit Roll-Ups and ConAgra's Kid Cuisine frozen meals.
Iran accuses US and UK of supporting group behind mosque attacks (16 July 2010)
Iran is vowing to hunt down a Sunni separatist group which claimed responsibility for a double suicide bombing that killed 28 people at a mosque in the south-eastern city of Zahedan.
Jundullah � Arabic for "the soldiers of God" � said it carried out the twin attacks yesterday at Zahedan's grand mosque in retaliation for the execution of the group's captured leader. Provincial officials said a further 167 people were injured, some of them critically. Three days of mourning were declared. General Hossein Salami, deputy commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, claimed in Tehran today that the victims "were martyred by the hands of mercenaries of the US and UK". Ali Mohammad Azad, governor of Sistan-Baluchestan province, blamed "the intelligence services of arrogant powers."
The US and Britain � which are at odds with Iran over its controversial nuclear programme � issued statements condemning the attacks.
Shia worshippers were celebrating the birthday of the prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein when the first bomb detonated, according to reports from the scene. A second explosion took place 15 minutes later as people rushed to help � a technique used by Sunni groups in Iraq to maximise casualties. The dead reportedly included several Revolutionary Guards.
USGS: Magnitude 3.6 - POTOMAC-SHENANDOAH REGION (16 July 2010)
Magnitude (from Details tab): 3.6
Felt Reports (from Summary tab): Felt (IV) at Cooksville, Maryland; (III) throughout Montgomery County and in much of central Maryland, in northern District of Columbia and in much of Loudoun County, Virginia. Felt (II) from Charlottesville, Virginia to Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Newark, Delaware and from Martinsburg, West Virginia into the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Also felt in parts of Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Ohio with isolated felt reports as far away as Indiana, Massachusetts and South Carolina.
3.6-magnitude earthquake wakes Md. residents; Temblor centered beneath Germantown felt by as many as 3 million people in Mid-Atlantic region (16 July 2010)
A 3.6-magnitude earthquake that startled Marylanders from their slumbers early Friday morning might have been the strongest measured tremor on record for the state.
With its epicenter near Germantown in Montgomery County, the quake was felt by as many as 3 million people in the Mid-Atlantic region, according to the United States Geological Survey.
The 5 a.m. earthquake was felt as far away as south-central New Jersey, as well as in Washington, Northern Virginia, southeastern Pennsylvania and Delaware. People in Columbia, Owings Mills, Carroll County and Odenton reported the quake was enough to rattle household items and send pets into a tizzy.
Odenton resident Paul Muirhead said the temblor woke him up about 5:05 a.m. "I was startled from my sleep as if being shaken," he wrote in an e-mail. "Though there was hardly any light by which to see, I could hear items of mine � large and small � rattling on glass shelves."
New Zealand inventors reveal bionic legs to help paraplegics (16 July 2010)
WELLINGTON - Two New Zealand inventors have produced what they claim are the world's first robotic legs to help paraplegics walk again.
The bionic legs were road-tested publicly for the first time Thursday by 23-year-old Hayden Allen who was told five years ago he would never walk again after being paralyzed from the chest down in a motorcycle accident.
Allen said the experience of being able to stand up and walk when strapped into his robotic legs was fantastic and he felt like a normal human being again.
"It will be a big benefit from a social aspect, being able to talk to someone at the same eye level," he told reporters.
Man who ran animal-sex operation sentenced for probation violation (16 July 2010)
Had it not been for evidence of the seven large-breed male dogs, the four stallions and the bestiality tapes found at his house, the sentencing of Douglas Spink before a federal court judge on Friday would have likely been a dry affair.
After all, it's not that unusual for a convict to go before the judge on a probation violation.
But the animal aspects of the case and the plain old "ew" factor, even his own attorney concedes, were hard to ignore.
Spink, who was charged with violating the terms of his probation that followed a 2005 drug-trafficking conviction, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo S. Martinez Friday to three years in federal prison and two years of probation.
BP whistleblower: oil clean-up effort is in disarray (16 July 2010)
The Climate DeskBut while Dillon says the company is bungling many aspects of the spill response, he notes that it has done a reasonably good job in one area: blocking the media from seeing the worst of the disaster in Grand Isle, a beach on a barrier island off Louisiana's coast. "There was all kinds of stuff they didn't want the media to see," he says, describing areas thick with oil that were off-limits to journalists. "They kept it very strict what they wanted the media not to see, and what they wanted them to see. Where the media was actually given access to really was kind of mundane."
While BP has insisted publicly that it has not prevented spill workers from talking to the press, Dillon says company officials made it perfectly clear to contractors that they would lose their jobs if they spoke to reporters. "There are people down on that beach that are begging to talk to reporters, because they're having pay issues, having problems," says Dillon of the workers in Grand Isle. "Any of those laborers that are down there are being told behind closed doors that if they talk to the media, they'll be fired."
To enforce its media blockade, Dillon says, the company turned to its security force, largely made up of guys like him, ex-military and law enforcement personnel. "They were given orders to herd the media away," he says, and they followed those instructions just like he did. "They didn't know the reason behind it -- they were just told keep the media away from [the cleanup workers]." He adds, "That's a First Amendment violation ... You can't keep the media away. It's a public beach. We weren't under Martial Law."
After working on Grand Isle, Dillon was transferred to the Unified Command Center in Houma, La., the hub of BP and federal response activities, to work on cleanup logistics. He claims he was fired last week "because he was seen as a threat to superiors." (Stephanie Hebert, a spokeswoman at the Unified Command Center, confirms he was a contractor there but declined to comment on his dismissal.) Specifically, he says BP axed him after taking photos of what he described as "equations on dispersants" and calling these pictures to the attention of his bosses. He says he was "confined and interrogated for almost an hour" about what he saw, and within 12 hours was dismissed from the command center. Dillon declined to elaborate on the dispersant issue when we spoke, but pledged to avenge his termination by calling attention to BP's mishandling of the response.
Giant oil skimmer 'A Whale' deemed a bust for Gulf of Mexico spill (16 July 2010)
The massive "A Whale" oil skimmer has effectively been beached after it proved inefficient in sucking up oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill.
The oil is too dispersed to take advantage of the converted Taiwanese supertanker's enormous capacity, said Bob Grantham, a spokesman for shipowner TMT.
He said BP's use of chemical dispersants prevented A Whale, billed as the world's largest skimmer, from collecting a "significant amount" of oil during a week of testing that ended Friday.
"When dispersants are used in high volume virtually from the point that oil leaves the well, it presents real challenges for high-volume skimming," Grantham said in a written statement that did not include oil-collection figures from the test.
BP, scientists try to make sense of well puzzle (16 July 2010)
Engineers are keeping watch over the well for a two-day period in a scientific, round-the-clock vigil to see if the well's temporary cap is strong enough to hold back the oil, or if there are leaks either in the well itself or the sea floor. One mysterious development was that the pressure readings were not rising as high as expected, said retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government's point man on the crisis.
Allen said two possible reasons were being debated by scientists: The reservoir that is the source of the oil could be running lower three months into the spill. Or there could be an undiscovered leak somewhere down in the well. Allen ordered further study but remained confident.
"This is generally good news," he said. But he cautioned, "We need to be careful not to do any harm or create a situation that cannot be reversed."
He said the testing would go on into the night, at which point BP may decide whether to reopen the cap and allow some oil to spill into the sea again.
Toronto's 'Officer Bubbles,' the new Drama Queen (16 July 2010)
He's now known as �Officer Bubbles.�
Const. Adam Josephs has gained considerable notoriety after being caught on tape threatening to arrest a G20 protester for blowing bubbles.
In a viral Internet video, the 52 Division officer tells protester Courtney Winkels she will be arrested for assault because she is blowing bubbles in front of officers.
The video � shown on the website therealnews.com and this week on American network Fox News � shows Winkels, orange bubble wand in hand, interacting with Josephs and a female officer.
�You touch me with that bubble you're going into custody,� he tells her in a video entitled �Booked for Bubbles� that was shot June 27 near Queen St. W. and Dufferin St.
PAM COMMENTARY: The old 2004 Drama Queen.
Obama's Gitmo by the Numbers (16 July 2010)
As of July 16, it's been 166 days since the Obama administration missed its self-imposed deadline to close Guantanamo Bay. The first detainees arrived at the notorious prison camp over eight and a half years ago. With little public support for closing the base, and no political will to bring the most infamous detainees to trial, there doesn't seem to be any end in sight. Here's a by-the-numbers look at what has become Obama's Gitmo.
PAM COMMENTARY: This is a little statistical slide show -- click on the little pie chart buttons to read each slide.
French scientists crack secrets of Mona Lisa (16 July 2010)
PARIS�The enigmatic smile remains a mystery, but French scientists say they have cracked a few secrets of the "Mona Lisa." French researchers studied seven of the Louvre Museum's Leonardo da Vinci paintings, including the "Mona Lisa," to analyze the master's use of successive ultrathin layers of paint and glaze - a technique that gave his works their dreamy quality.
Specialists from the Center for Research and Restoration of the Museums of France found that da Vinci painted up to 30 layers of paint on his works to meet his standards of subtlety. Added up, all the layers are less than 40 micrometers, or about half the thickness of a human hair, researcher Philippe Walter said Friday.
The technique, called "sfumato," allowed da Vinci to give outlines and contours a hazy quality and create an illusion of depth and shadow. His use of the technique is well-known, but scientific study on it has been limited because tests often required samples from the paintings.
The French researchers used a noninvasive technique called X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy to study the paint layers and their chemical composition.
Wasilla teen dies in ATV rollover (16 July 2010)
WASILLA -- A 17-year-old Wasilla girl has died of injuries suffered when the all-terrain vehicle she was driving overturned.
Alaska State Troopers say Cheyanne M. Jorge was driving the ATV south on a trail along Lucille Street and was carrying a passenger, 17-year-old Zackery S. Potteiger of Wasilla, late Thursday afternoon.
Troopers say the ATV crossed a driveway and turned over, injuring both teens. Neither wore a helmet.
Jorge and Potteiger were rushed to Mat-Su Regional Medical Center. Jorge died at the hospital. Potteiger was treated and released.
PAM COMMENTARY: I still don't understand why parents allow kids on those things by themselves, often miles away from home. They're so dangerous, and kids are inexperienced drivers.
Along the Gulf: Spill puts tribal fisherman out of work (16 July 2010)
Whitney Dardar wishes he could be out on his boat, The Golden Eagle, hauling in fish. Dardar is a commercial fisherman, but the oil spill has put him out of work for now � even though the state reopened waters to recreational fishing this week. He says he doesn't understand that decision.
So this week Dardar, 74, a member of the United Houma Nation, is working on a landlocked task. He's carefully moving medicinal herbs from his garden near the bayou to higher ground in Raceland, La.
"I'm trying to protect them from the oil," he says. "In case it comes here." It's not far away � there's oil from the spill in Little Lake to the east of Golden Meadow and in the complex network of bayous and marshland to the west, says tribe member Kirk Cheramie.
The Houma tribe is hurting. Many of its 17,000 members, most of whom live in the Golden Meadow, La., area, work on fishing boats. The fish, shrimp, crab and oysters that flourish here give them their livelihoods and have a deeper connection to the tribe.
Engulfed: Spill represents new kind of tragedy for marina's owners (16 July 2010)
GRAND ISLE, La.--A day after Hurricane Katrina leveled the Bridge Side Marina, owner Buggie Vegas and his wife, Dodie, were out in the rubble swinging hammers and putting things right.
The powerful 2005 hurricane leveled the marina, but Vegas now sounds nostalgic for such a simple kind of disaster.
"We knew what we had to do," he said. "There was light at the end of the tunnel. We worked so hard to get this place like it is now."
The BP oil spill is a new kind of hardship.
Oregon man sues over rodent blasting (16 July 2010)
A man filed a $146,000 lawsuit against a pest control company, claiming he suffered hearing loss when a worker used explosives to remove rodents on his neighbor's property.
Michael Lester's complaint alleges the unnamed Cynergy Pest Control worker was negligent in failing to warn neighbors and then disregarded Lester's warning to stop the blasts that were rattling his doors and windows.
Cynergy spokesman Ben Johnson declined comment when contacted by The Register-Guard newspaper of Eugene, saying he was unaware a suit had been filed.
Scott Brown and the DISCLOSE Act (16 July 2010)
You can read the rest of the letter here. I don't expect Brown to change his mind without significant public pressure from constituents back home in Massachusetts. Blocking DISCLOSE and other campaign finance laws is a top priority of Brown's party boss, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. (McConnell has a history of filing lawsuits to block campaign finance laws.) Brown's votes so far show that he clearly has an interest in being reelected�he's tried to make some compromises with Dems. In this case, pressure from other Republicans probably outweighs letters from reform groups. Without massive public outcry in Massachusetts, DISCLOSE could be done for.
Over at HuffPo, Sam Stein reports that Dems still plan to bring DISCLOSE to the floor of the Senate this month because "it is too important not to." But the same piece also notes earlier comments from Dem aides saying they had put all of their eggs "in the Brown basket," and acknowledges that there's been "little indication" that either Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins of Maine might support the law.
The only solace for Brown haters, really, is that he probably won't be in this powerful Ben-Nelson-on-health-care-like position for long. After the November elections, it's almost certain that some other senator (Charlie Crist? Mark Kirk? Linda McMahon?) will represent the 60th person the Dems need to convince if they want to pass any legislation. Brown won't be the center of attention forever.
Zephyr solar plane flies 7 days non-stop (16 July 2010)
The UK-built Zephyr solar-powered plane has smashed the endurance record for an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
The craft took off from the US Army's Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona at 1440 BST (0640 local time) last Friday and is still in the air.
Its non-stop operation, day and night, means it has now gone four times longer than the official mark recognised by the world air sports federation.
The plane has been developed by the defence and research company Qinetiq.
Its project manager, Jon Saltmarsh, said Zephyr would be brought down once it had flown non-stop for a fortnight.
Elevated levels of uranium discovered in Wales water supply (16 July 2010)
At the clinic. The Post Office. The washeteria. You'll see these signs posted across the village of Wales this weekend warning that elevated levels of uranium have been found in the city water supply.
The problem, discovered by routine testing of the village's 500,000-gallon water tank, was discovered this summer. While some people gather water in buckets from local waterways, the tank is the official public water source for the Bering Strait village of roughly 150 people. Uranium is a weakly radioactive heavy metal that occurs naturally in Alaska.
"This is not an immediate risk," says the public notice to Wales residents. "However, some people who drink water containing uranium in excess of the (maximum contaminent level) over many years may have an increased risk of getting cancer and kidney toxicity."
The discovery is the talk of the town, said Mayor Frank Crisci. "What are we going to do about it? What can we do about? And is anybody going to help us do this?"
Court halts city raids on homeless camps (15 July 2010)
The ACLU requested a temporary restraining order because it maintains that the raids violate constitutional property rights of the homeless. The Superior Court granted the request and issued an order to remain effective for at least 10 days. A hearing on the matter will be held Monday.
Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of ACLU in Alaska, said there are numerous problems with the municipal ordinance passed in June, including the immediate destruction of property seized in raids.
"The way the ordinance is written now everything is thrown out," Mittman said Thursday.
But even the homeless have property rights, he said.
FDA rejects Vivus' fat pill sending shares down (15 July 2010)
Maryland (Reuters) - The first new prescription weight-loss pill in more than a decade failed to win backing from U.S. health advisers, who said safety concerns about the drug outweighed its ability to help obese patients shed pounds.
Shares of Vivus Inc's sank 62 percent on Thursday after U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisers expressed concern the once-a-day pill could cause depression, memory-loss and potential birth defects if used among millions of overweight or obese Americans.
Their decision stunned investors, who had more than doubled the share price of the California biotech in the last year on hopes that safety woes would not keep the drug from market.
Dozens of outspoken, popular blogs shut in China (15 July 2010)
BEIJING � Dozens of blogs by some of China's most outspoken users have been abruptly shut down while popular Twitter-like services appear to be the newest target in government efforts to control social networking.
More and more Chinese bloggers are using the newer microblogs as their primary publishing tool, using their brief, punchy message format to chat with one another and promote their longer blog posts. But one of the country's top four microblog sites is now down for maintenance, and the other three show a "beta" tag as if they are in testing, though they have been operating for months. The companies that run the websites aren't saying why.
"I was writing a new post and suddenly my blog couldn't open," lawyer Pu Zhiqiang told The Associated Press. Legal expert Xu Zhiyong said his blog on the popular Sohu Inc. portal was also shut down Wednesday, a day after his Sohu microblog was closed. Both men are well-known for taking on sensitive issues.
Chinese officials fear that public opinion might spiral out of control as social networking � and social unrest � boom among its 420 million Internet users. China maintains the world's most extensive Internet monitoring and filtering system, and it unplugged Twitter and Facebook last year.
U.S. man stuck in Egypt on no-fly list allowed to return home (15 July 2010)
A call to the FBI seeking comment was not immediately returned Thursday.
While Yemen has attracted attention in recent months as a hot spot in the war on terror, Wehelie's family said it was natural for the family to send him there to study. Many Somalis live in Yemen, and educational opportunities there are cheaper than in other parts of the Middle East. Wehelie was studying information technology at the Lebanese International University.
While in Yemen, Wehelie married a Somali woman whose family had close ties to his own. Wehelie said he does not consider himself an especially observant Muslim and that he only visited a mosque a handful of times.
Wehelie's mother, Shamsa Noor, said in an e-mail that while she is happy, she won't be completely relieved "until I see Yahye with my own eyes."
Fairfax, Virginia Man Stuck In Egypt Due To No-Fly List (15 July 2010)
Yusuf Wehelie, 19, was released and spoke at a press conference Wednesday.
He says he endured a form of Hell when he says he was shackled to the wall for four days with only bread to eat and subjected to sleep deprivation.
Wehelie says, "I was put in an Egyptian police car, handcuffed and blindfolded. I would not wish that on anyone. Whenever I tried to sleep, I was kicked by guards."
Yusuf and his brother were on their way home, May 4th, and had a layover in Egypt.
Yusuf was released May 11th, but his older brother, 26-year-old Yahya, has been in Egypt for the last 6 weeks. The elder Wehelie was told he was put on the no-fly list and not allowed to return home because of people he met with suspected ties to al Qaeda.
Clean, Green, Safe and Smart (15 July 2010)
If the ecological catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico tells us anything, it is that we need a new national energy policy�a comprehensive plan for escaping our dangerous reliance on fossil fuels and creating a new energy system based on climate-safe alternatives. Without such a plan, the response to the disaster will be a hodgepodge of regulatory reforms and toughened environmental safeguards but not a fundamental shift in behavior. Because our current energy path leads toward greater reliance on fuels acquired from environmentally and politically hazardous locations, no amount of enhanced oversight or stiffened regulations can avert future disasters like that unfolding in the gulf. Only a dramatic change in course�governed by an entirely new policy framework�can reduce the risk of catastrophe and set the nation on a wise energy trajectory.
By far the most important part of this strategy must be a change in the overarching philosophy that steers decisions on how much energy the United States should seek to produce, of what sorts and under what conditions. It may not seem as if we operate under such a philosophy today, but we do�one that extols growth over all other considerations, that privileges existing fuels over renewables and that ranks environmental concerns below corporate profit. Until we replace this outlook with one that places innovation and the environment ahead of the status quo, we will face more ecological devastation and slower economic dynamism. Only with a new governing philosophy�one that views the development of climate-friendly energy systems as the engine of economic growth�can we move from our current predicament to a brighter future.
One way to appreciate the importance of this shift is to consider the guiding policies of other countries. In March, I had the privilege of attending an international energy conference at Fuenlabrada, just outside Madrid. I sat transfixed as one top official after another of Spain's socialist government spelled out their vision of the future�one in which wind and solar power would provide an ever increasing share of the nation's energy supply and make Spain a leader in renewable energy technology. Other speakers described strategies for "greening" old cities�adding parks, farms, canals and pedestrian plazas in neglected neighborhoods. Around me were a thousand university students�enthralled by the prospect of creative and rewarding jobs in architecture, engineering, technology and the sciences. This, I thought, is what our own young people need to look forward to.
Instead, we are governed by an obsolete, nihilistic energy philosophy. To fully comprehend the nature of our dilemma, it is important to recognize that the gulf disaster is a direct result of the last governing blueprint adopted by this country: the National Energy Policy of May 17, 2001, better known as the Cheney plan. This framework, of which the former vice president was the lead author, called for increased drilling in wilderness areas, such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, as well as in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Congress did not permit drilling in ANWR, but it wholeheartedly embraced wider exploitation of the deepwater gulf. To speed these efforts, the Bush administration encouraged the Minerals Management Service to streamline the issuing of permits to giant oil firms like BP to operate in these waters. BP clearly took shortcuts when drilling offshore�thus inviting the blowout on April 20�but it did so in a permissive atmosphere established by the 2001 policy framework.
Himalayan Glaciers Melting Faster Than Anywhere Else in World; Impact Could Devastate Over 1 Billion People (15 July 2010)
SYED IQBAL HASNAIN: And they have to be very serious about it. Simply with not talk that will do this, but has to come out with a certain cuts, globally and regionally. These countries, the South Asian countries, including China, has to cut down on the black carbon emission, which is coming from the diesel and from the biomass burning. So they have to change that, cooking stoves and things like that, over millions of people, to reduce the black carbon emissions and similarly put up the filters on their trucking, which is the huge problem in the Himalaya because of the army prisons of the China, India and Pakistan. And that somehow have to be reduced, and then we�ll see some changes occurring in the cryosphere of the South Asia.
PAM COMMENTARY: Interesting statement near the end -- "...put up the filters on their trucking, which is the huge problem in the Himalaya because of the army prisons of the China, India and Pakistan." There are THAT MANY prison trucks in the area?
Plan for British university system -- highest-earning graduates would pay extra taxes to fund degrees (15 July 2010)
The government signalled the biggest shakeup of Britain's universities in a generation today, with a blueprint for higher education in which the highest-earning graduates would pay extra taxes to fund degrees, private universities would flourish and struggling institutions would be allowed to fail.
Vince Cable, the cabinet minister responsible for higher education, also raised the prospect of quotas to ensure state school pupils were guaranteed places at Britain's best universities, breaking the private school stranglehold on Oxbridge.
Comparing the existing system of tuition fees to a "poll tax" that graduates paid regardless of their income, the skills secretary argued it was fairer for people to pay according to their earning power.
He said: "It surely can't be right that a teacher or care worker or research scientist is expected to pay the same graduate contribution as a top commercial lawyer or surgeon or City analyst whose graduate premium is so much bigger."
PAM COMMENTARY: Aren't Britons with higher salaries already taxed at a greater rate?
British officials recommend vaccinating all babies born in London for TB (15 July 2010)
All babies born in London should be vaccinated against tuberculosis to protect them against the growing threat from the disease, public health specialists say.
Almost 45 per cent of all childhood TB cases in the UK occur in the capital and the rising incidence has now passed the threshold where routine immunisation should be introduced, according to experts from the Health Protection Agency.
Tuberculosis is often thought to be a disease of the past. It was a major killer until the early 20th century, but the introduction of powerful drugs in the mid -20th century was thought to have beaten it, and by the late 1980s cases had fallen to an all-time low of 5,000 a year. But since then there has been a resurgence and the incidence has steadily increased. There were 9,153 cases among adults and children recorded in the UK in 2009, the largest annual increase (5.5 per cent) since 2005.
Nine out of 10 cases occur in ethnic minorities, and routine BCG vaccination of school age children against TB was abandoned in 2005 in favour of a more focused campaign on children of immigrants. Current policy is to offer vaccination to children born abroad or with parents born abroad. Immunisation is also recommended for all children living in areas where the incidence of TB exceeds 40 cases per 100,000.
PAM COMMENTARY: Another vaccine forced on BABIES?
Suspected dengue fever case found in Miami-Dade (15 July 2010)
The first suspected locally acquired case of dengue fever in Miami-Dade County was reported Thursday by county health officials. A viral disease that afflicts 100 million worldwide every year, it hadn't been seen in Florida since 1934.
``Dengue is a viral disease transmitted by a breed of mosquito common to the southeastern United States and the tropics,'' the Miami-Dade Health Department said in a news release. ``It is not spread from person to person. More than 100 million cases of dengue occur every year worldwide.''
Symptoms include a high fever, severe headache with pain behind the eyes, a rash and pain in bones and joints, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There is no vaccine, and doctors treat mainly symptoms. It is seldom fatal except to the very young and elderly with other health conditions.
Health workers urged residents to protect themselves by avoiding the outdoors at dusk and dawn, wearing clothing that protects the body, applying mosquito repellent that contains DEET and draining all open containers of water from porches and patios.
The Miami-Dade announcement came as Key West health officials also found a second small outbreak in Key West.
PAM COMMENTARY: I wonder if anyone has tried a zapper on that.
Deficits of Mass Destruction (15 July 2010)
If you've been paying attention this past decade, it won't surprise you to learn that the country's policy elites are in the midst of a destructive, well-nigh unhinged discussion about the future of the nation. But even by the degraded standards of the Washington establishment, the growing panic over government debt is shocking.
First, the facts. Nearly the entire deficit for this year and those projected into the near and medium terms are the result of three things: the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush tax cuts and the recession. The solution to our fiscal situation is: end the wars, allow the tax cuts to expire and restore robust growth. Our long-term structural deficits will require us to control healthcare inflation the way countries with single-payer systems do.
But right now we face a joblessness crisis that threatens to pitch us into a long, ugly period of low growth, the kind of lost decade that will cause tremendous misery, degrade the nation's human capital, undermine an entire cohort of young workers for years and blow a hole in the government's bank sheet. The best chance we have to stave off this scenario is more government spending to nurse the economy back to health. The economy may be alive, but that doesn't mean it's healthy. There's a reason you keep taking antibiotics even after you start to feel better.
And yet: the drumbeat of deficit hysterics thumping in self-righteous panic grows louder by the day. Judging by its schedule and online video, this year's Aspen Ideas Festival was an open-air orgy of anti-deficit moaning. The festival is a good window into elite preoccupations, and that its opening forum featured ominous warnings of future bankruptcy from Niall Ferguson, Mort Zuckerman and David Gergen does not bode well. Nor does the fact that there was a panel called "America's Looming Fiscal Emergency: How to Balance the Books." This attitude isn't confined to pundits. The heads of Obama's fiscal commission have called projected deficits a "cancer."
400% rise in painkiller drug abuse: U.S. officials (15 July 2010)
(Reuters) - U.S. officials reported a 400 percent increase over 10 years in the proportion of Americans treated for prescription painkiller abuse and said on Thursday the problem cut across age groups, geography and income.
The dramatic jump was higher than treatment admission rates for methamphetamine abuse, which doubled, and marijuana, which increased by almost half, according to figures from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
They said 9.8 percent of hospital admissions for substance abuse in 2008 involved painkillers, up from 2.2 percent in 1998. The percentage of people admitted to treatment for alcohol dropped by 5 percent and for cocaine dropped by 16 percent over the same period.
"The spikes in prescription drug abuse rates captured by this study are dramatic, pervasive, and deeply disturbing," said Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Tobacco giant Philip Morris sold cigarettes made using child labour (15 July 2010)
tobacco giant Philip Morris has been forced to admit that child workers as young as 10 have been subjected to long hours working on tobacco farms with which it has contracts in the Central Asian state of Kazakhstan.
According to a report by Human Rights Watch, migrant workers at the farms, mostly from neighbouring Kyrgyzstan, were subjected to conditions that often amounted to forced labour, as employers contracted by tobacco farms that sold their produce to Philip Morris International had their passports confiscated and were often made to do additional work for no pay. The company, which sources tobacco from Kazakhstan for cigarette brands sold in Russia and other former Soviet states, said it was taking "immediate action" to stop the abuses.
In many cases families were expected to pay back unrealistic debts to intermediaries who had arranged for their journeys to Kazakhstan, in schemes that bear all the hallmarks of people trafficking. The report also documented 72 cases of children working on the farms.
Philip Morris produces brands such as Marlboro and Chesterfield in over 150 countries around the world, and purchased 1,500 tonnes of tobacco from Kazakh farms in 2009. The company issued a statement yesterday saying it is "grateful" to Human Rights Watch for raising the issues, and "is firmly opposed to child labour and all other labour abuses". The company says it is implementing a range of measures to ensure the abuses end, such as working with local government and NGOs to ensure school access for children of migrant workers, and implementing a system of third party monitoring to ensure tobacco farms comply with strict guidelines.
U.S. homes repossessed by banks set to hit record 1 million this year (15 July 2010)
The number of American homes repossessed by banks hit a record high in the second quarter of the year, putting the number of foreclosures on track to hit a record 1 million by the end of 2010.
Bank repossessions increased 5 percent from the previous quarter and 38 percent from the second quarter of 2009 to 268,962, according to data released early Thursday by RealtyTrac, an Irvine, Calif., firm that tracks the foreclosure market.
But while the number of homes in the final stage of the foreclosure process increased, the number of new filings fell. Both default and auction notices were down on a month-over-month and year-over-year basis.
The combination of bad news and good news can be explained by two seemingly contradictory trends that are the result of Obama administration efforts to encourage with lenders to help homeowners in distresss.
Hudson Bay polar bears 'could soon be extinct' (15 July 2010)
But the ice has been melting earlier in the spring and forming later in the autumn, so that the bears are now spending on average three more weeks on land per year, without food, than they did three decades ago, the researchers say. As a consequence, their body weight in that time has dropped by 60lb, females have lost 10 per cent of their body length, and the west Hudson Bay population has declined from 1,200 animals to 900.
If the decline in the sea ice continues � as predictions of global warming suggest it will � it is feared that the bears could die out in 25 to 30 years, or perhaps in as few as 10, if there are a succession of years with very low sea ice cover. The Hudson Bay group of bears is the second-most southerly population and might be expected to feel the effects of climate change early. The Arctic sea ice as a whole reached its lowest-ever recorded extent in September, 2007. In the last two years it has recovered, but it is once again declining rapidly this year.
The dependency of the bears on the ice has long been known, and the animals have become an iconic species in terms of being used to promote awareness of global warming. But predictions of how long they may survive have until now been little more than educated guesses.
The significance of the new study is that it is based on a mathematical model which matches the weight and energy-storing capacity of the bears, which are known � the west Hudson Bay animals are the most closely observed of all polar bear populations � against the annual ice shrinkage and the time they have to spend on land without food.
Are you an �influencer�? Employers want to meet you (15 July 2010)
And this, Mr. Chapman believes, is what differentiates his mid-sized firm in an industry more often known for its brashness and oversized egos. Employees are far more likely to devise campaigns with intelligence and insight when they work in collaborative environments that respect their contributions.
Mr. Chapman said the autonomy with which his employees conduct themselves also frees him to do what he loves best: �I spend 90 per cent of my time practising my craft, not managing.�
Industrial psychologist Guy Beaudin, Toronto-based managing director of the Canadian operations of RHR International, said helping people learn how to influence others forms a critical component of his firm�s coaching practice.
Flat organizational structures require different managing skills, and �people who enter into these situations thinking that authority is only wielded by making demands and giving orders are not going to succeed,� Dr. Beaudin said.
Goldman Sachs admits it misled investors, pays $550M fine (15 July 2010)
Goldman Sachs (GS) ended one of the most painfully embarrassing episodes of its 141-year history on Thursday by striking a deal with the Securities and Exchange Commission to resolve its fraud complaint against the Wall Street power.
Goldman agreed to pay a $550 million fine and admitted that it failed to provide vital information to investors in a 2007 deal involving a contract it sold called Abacus 2007-AC1. That was a bet on whether the value of securities based on subprime mortgages would rise or fall, a controversial type of investment known as a collateralized debt obligation.
"This settlement is a stark lesson to Wall Street firms that no product is too complex, and no investor too sophisticated, to avoid a heavy price if a firm violates the fundamental principles of honest treatment and fair dealing," Robert Khuzami, who directs the SEC's Division of Enforcement, said in a statement.
He called the $550 million fine "the largest penalty ever assessed against a financial services firm in the history of the SEC."
Report: BP near selling half of Slope stake to Apache (15 July 2010)
Unnamed insiders have told Bloomberg News that BP Plc. will announce as early as next week that it's selling $10 billion to $11 billion in assets to Apache Corp., including half of BP's holdings in the Prudhoe Bay oil field. The sources say BP wants the deal done before its second-quarter earnings are reported in late July. The company needs cash to repair and clean up after its broken wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico, and to compensate Gulf residents for damages. BP owns 26 percent of Prudhoe Bay and nearby fields.
BP says oil has stopped leaking into Gulf of Mexico (15 July 2010)
The cap, installed on Monday, is a crucial step toward a four-vessel oil capture system that is hurricane-ready and can collect up to 80,000 barrels a day. The first of two relief wells is expected to intercept and plug the leak by mid-August.
It represents the best hope yet of stopping the oil from leaking into the sea since the 20 April Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 people.
A BP spokeswoman said: "Information gathered during the test will be reviewed with the relevant government agencies, including the federal science team, to determine next steps.
"The sealing cap system never before has been deployed at these depths or under these conditions, and its efficiency and ability to contain the oil and gas cannot be assured."
PAM COMMENTARY: Notice the quote later in the article from the Obama administration, mentioning the supposed Lockerbie bomber -- as if that case were ever really proven. It's disappointing that Obama is continuing with the same old cover-ups from previous administrations. Americans already know what happened -- can't we finally be honest about that and other obvious government operations -- like 9/11, the Oklahoma City bombing, the JFK/MLK assassinations, and everything else that was really planned by certain government officials?
Real BP Gulf oil disaster is still to come (15 July 2010)
BP doesn't actually know how big the oil field they drilled into is. They're drilling into lower tertiary (Paleogene) rock that was laid down at the same time mammals and birds were coming into being: 65-23m years ago. It is one of the deepest wells ever drilled by the oil and gas industry, so as you can imagine, they're feeling their way in all this.
Appearing before a House subcommittee in Washington, Tony Hayward, the CEO of BP, estimated that there might be a modest 2bn gallons down there, which could mean it could go on belching out oil for another four years. On the other hand, when BP originally announced their discovery of the "giant" find at its Tiber Prospect, experts estimated the size at 42bn gallons. And since they were talking about "recoverable oil" (which could be only 20% of the actual oil in the site) it would mean the site may hold as much as 210bn gallons. In other words, it could go on belching out oil for another hundred years.
Could that be enough time for the oil slick to reach the Mediterranean? Or, heaven forbid, Brighton?
But we shouldn't blame poor old BP. After all BP didn't know the Deepwater Horizon was going to explode, otherwise there would be 11 oil workers who would still be alive today. And it didn't know (apparently) that it was unsafe to replace the heavy drilling mud in the pipes with lighter seawater, as the rig's chief driller advised them.
12 horses now dead from Nev. roundup; hearing set (15 July 2010)
Two more animals died Monday and two others were euthanized "because of complications related to water starvation and water intoxication," the agency said.
Horse protection groups have voiced outrage, saying the deaths were predictable, given sweltering summer temperatures and the weakened state of colts and mares that recently gave or were about to give birth.
Heather Emmons, a BLM spokeswoman in Reno, said the mustangs otherwise looked healthy and dehydration is difficult to detect. Water intoxication that can cause colic and brain swelling occurs when dehydrated animals drink excessive quantities of water.
The BLM blames the fatal outcome on drought conditions that have weakened the animals, and said aerial surveys showed two large bands of mustangs. One group of about 400 horses congregated around a dry reservoir and made no attempt to move to other water sources.
Ten grizzly bears die so far this year in Yellowstone ecosystem (15 July 2010)
JACKSON, Wyo. - Ten grizzly bear deaths have been documented in the Yellowstone ecosystem so far this year, a rate comparable to past years.
One other grizzly death is suspected. Of the 11 deaths, humans caused eight.
The count was seven at this time last year and 13 at this point in 2008.
Biologists keep close track of grizzly bear deaths because the Yellowstone population is classified as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
Scientists discover prehistoric fish under Great Barrier Reef (15 July 2010)
Ancient sharks, giant oil fish, swarms of crustaceans and a primitive shell-dwelling squid species called the Nautilus were among the astonishing life captured by remote controlled cameras at Osprey Reef.
Justin Marshall, the lead researcher, said his team had also found several unidentified fish species, including "prehistoric six-gilled sharks" using special lowlight sensitive cameras which were custom designed to trawl the ocean floor, 4,593ft (1,400m) below sea level.
"Some of the creatures that we've seen we were sort of expecting, some of them we weren't expecting, and some of them we haven't identified yet," said Mr Marshall, from the University of Queensland, Australia.
"There was a shark that I really wasn't expecting, which was a false cat shark, which has a really odd dorsal fin."
Ship junked 200 years ago uncovered at WTC site (15 July 2010)
The ship was buried as junk two centuries ago � landfill to expand a bustling little island of commerce called Manhattan. When it re-emerged this week, surrounded by skyscrapers, it was an instant treasure that popped up from the mud near ground zero.
A 32-foot piece of the vessel was found in soil 20 feet under street level, amid noisy bulldozers excavating a parking garage for the future World Trade Center. Near the site of so many grim finds � Sept. 11 victims' remains, twisted steel � this discovery was as unexpected as it was thrilling.
Historians say the ship, believed to date to the 1700s, was defunct by the time it was used around 1810 to extend the shores of lower Manhattan.
"A ship is the summit of what you might find under the World Trade Center � it's exciting!" said Molly McDonald, an archaeologist who first spotted two pieces of hewn, curved timber � part of the frame of the ship � peeking out of the muddy soil at dawn on Tuesday.
GOP lawmaker: VIP loans given to Senate staff too (15 July 2010)
A Republican lawmaker says documents show more senators and staff members than previously known received sweetheart mortgages from the former Countrywide Financial Corp., based on their perceived ability to help the company.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said after reviewing Countrywide loan documents that the former lender's VIP mortgage program was not limited to the two senators whose discounted loans were well publicized: Chris Dodd, D-Conn. and Kent Conrad, D-N.D.
"Several unidentified senators and Senate employees received benefits through Countrywide's VIP program," Issa wrote the Senate ethics committee this week. The lender was looking for officials "positioned to advance Countrywide's business interests," Issa said.
The ethics committee a year ago scolded both Dodd and Conrad for not being more careful to avoid the appearance of favoritism from Countrywide. The committee cleared both senators of any rules violations. Dodd is not running for re-election.
David Letterman's blackmailer nominated for another Emmy (15 July 2010)
There was a notoriously familiar name on the list when the nominations were unveiled today for the news and documentary Emmys: Joe Halderman.
On one hand, Halderman won many Emmys in the past. On the other, he was recently in the headlines as David Letterman's blackmailer.
Halderman is serving a six-month jail sentence after pleading guilty to attempting to extort money from Letterman. Halderman had threatened to reveal a sexual liaison Letterman had with a staff aide who was also linked romantically to Halderman.
Halderman's work for CBS News won seven Emmys. Now he's among the nominees for "American Girl, Italian Nightmare," a CBS "48 Hours Mystery" about the case of Amanda Knox, an American imprisoned in Italy for the murder of a British student.
See the full list of Emmy nominees here. Winners will be announced Sept. 27 at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center.
PAM COMMENTARY: You can google that special and watch all or part of it online -- music had been added, as well as special screen techniques, to increase the drama. The show was produced too early for its producers to know the full scope of evidence acquired by the police in Italy, and so that may account for its seemed bias toward innocence of Knox. Even so, because it wasn't just straight reporting on the case, and soap opera-like music and camera angles/wiggles were added, I'd consider it to be maybe 25% journalism, 75% entertainment.
Cashew extract may treat diabetes: study (15 July 2010)
Cashew seed extract may play an important role in preventing and treating diabetes, new research suggests.
Scientists at the University of Montreal and the University of Yaound�n Cameroon studied how cashew products affected the responses of rat liver cells to insulin. They looked at cashew tree leaves, bark, seeds and apples.
They found that only the cashew seed extract increased the absorption of blood sugar by the cells.
"Extracts of other plant parts had no such effect, indicating that cashew seed extract likely contains active compounds, which can have potential anti-diabetic properties," senior author Pierre Haddad, a pharmacology professor at the University of Montreal's Faculty of Medicine, said in a release.
Health Plans Must Provide Some Tests at No Cost (15 July 2010)
WASHINGTON � The White House on Wednesday issued new rules requiring health insurance companies to provide free coverage for dozens of screenings, laboratory tests and other types of preventive care.
The new requirements promise significant benefits for consumers � if they take advantage of the services that should now be more readily available and affordable.
In general, the government said, Americans use preventive services at about half the rate recommended by doctors and public health experts.
The rules will eliminate co-payments, deductibles and other charges for blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol tests; many cancer screenings; routine vaccinations; prenatal care; and regular wellness visits for infants and children.
PAM COMMENTARY: Notice that the tests mentioned are for several of medicine's big money-makers.
The Breakdown: What Is The True Cost Of Gas? (Audio) (15 July 2010)
Each summer, drivers across the nation seem to suffer a collective anxiety attack about the rising cost of gas. Now imagine that the cost you pay at the pump reflected not only the cost of gas without all of the government tax breaks and subsidies to the oil industry, but also the environmental costs of drilling for oil, and the political costs, and the health costs of all that oil. With these factors in place, what would be the real price of gas? The Nation's Washington, DC Editor Christopher Hayes and energy expert and author Terry Tamminen try to answer this question on this week's edition of The Breakdown.
PAM COMMENTARY: This is an audio interview; click the "play" button to start it.
So Did Congress Actually Reform Wall Street? (15 July 2010)
On Thursday afternoon, the Senate passed the sprawling Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, the culmination of more than year of hearings, debates, negotiations, backroom deals, bickering, and an onslaught of lobbying by everyone from consumer advocates to the world's biggest banks. But despite the bill's 2,300-page length, Dodd-Frank leaves huge questions unanswered in the future of financial markets in the US. Here are five of the biggest unknowns in the bill, which now heads to President Obama's desk for signing next week.
1) Who Will Lead The CFPB?
The Dodd-Frank bill will create a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, housed in the Federal Reserve, solely devoted to combating consumer abuses in the marketplace. Think predatory mortgage lending, payday lenders, check cashers, and so on. (But not auto dealers.) The independent bureau will have a budget of around $450 million to $500 million, and more importantly, will be led by a presidential-appointee confirmed by the Senate. The first leader of the CFPB is crucial: It's could mean the difference between a tough, successful agency and a dud.
The creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission, in the 1930s, offers a telling example. President Franklin D. Roosevelt chose Joseph Kennedy as the SEC's first chairman, and while the two men weren't exactly friends, FDR couldn't have made a better choice. Kennedy quickly established the SEC as a regulatory force to be reckoned with, and set up the SEC for decades of success. (At least until that Madoff guy came along...)
If Obama chooses someone like Elizabeth Warren, the Congressionally-appointed bailout watchdog who's a tenacious consumer advocate, then the CFPB will likely emerge as a powerful ally for average Americans. However, should Obama choose to go the easy route, choosing someone less committed to consumer protection and tough regulation, then the new CFPB could very well be dead on arrival.
The price of defending terrorists (15 July 2010)
Ever since her indictment in 2002, Stewart's case has captured the attention of defense attorneys and the support of groups such as the National Assn. of Criminal Defense Lawyers, which filed amicus briefs on her behalf, and George Soros' Open Society Institute, which donated $20,000 to her defense. Supporters believe the government's dogged pursuit of Stewart � whose legal odyssey has now spanned three presidents and five attorneys general � is meant to have a chilling effect. The Center for Constitutional Rights said the case represents "an attack on attorneys who defend controversial figures and an attempt to deprive these clients of the zealous representation that may be required."
But Stewart's plight has larger implications for us all: It is a bellwether of the increasingly stringent secrecy and security measures imposed in federal courts, particularly in terrorism trials � all part of the systemic erosion of due process that reformers expected would end with the election of Barack Obama, but which has been only further institutionalized. Stewart's case has come to symbolize the increasing difficulty attorneys face in zealously advocating for politically unpopular clients � a necessary component of due process in an adversary legal system.
Critics say SAMs, which, along with a handful of other secrecy measures, have been commonly invoked since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, can cripple an effective defense and violate a defendant's right to confront the evidence against him. Defendants with no prior criminal record are in some cases kept in prolonged solitary confinement for years before reaching trial. In April, Syed Hashmi, a U.S. citizen charged with aiding a terrorist (who later turned out to be a government informant) pleaded guilty on the eve of trial, in part, his attorney later said, because of his nearly four years of pretrial solitary confinement.
Meanwhile attorneys are severely limited in the evidence they can share with outside investigators who are part of the trial team, or even with their own clients. The measures are largely invoked in the name of national security with minimal public scrutiny, and include a near-total ban on information that can be shared with the media, sometimes encompassing material already in the public sphere.
PAM COMMENTARY: Attorneys should be able to band together, pool their money, and get rid of BOTH judges who let this unconstitutional case go forward.
U.S. senators call for Afghanistan exit plan (14 July 2010)
The Obama administration has not done enough to explain its goals for the war in Afghanistan, including what its exit strategy will be, U.S. senators said on Wednesday.
Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, that the American public needs better answers as the nine-year-old U.S.-led war shows few immediate signs of success against the resurgent Taliban.
"There are a lot of people in this country who are very confused. ... There's a real need here in my view for clarity in terms of what actually can be accomplished," Democratic Senator Jim Webb said at the committee hearing.
F.D.A. Panel Votes to Restrict Avandia (14 July 2010)
GAITHERSBURG, Md. � A federal medical advisory panel recommended Wednesday that Avandia, a controversial diabetes drug, should either be withdrawn from the market or have sales severely restricted because it increases the risks of heart attacks.
The panel�s votes, taken after two days of intensive scientific discussions, were a blow to GlaxoSmithKline, which makes Avandia. The company argued that Avandia is a safe and needed option in treating diabetes.
But panel members voiced great skepticism about the company�s trustworthiness after questions were raised about its clinical trials. And internal company documents showed that the company for years kept crucial safety information about Avandia from the public.
The panel took six votes on a variety of issues, but its most important came near the end of the meeting when asked what the Food and Drug Administration should do. Of the panel�s 33 members, 12 voted that Avandia should be withdrawn; 10 voted that its sales should be restricted and the warnings on its label enhanced; 7 voted only to support enhanced warnings on the drug�s label; and 3 voted that the drug should continue to be sold with its present warnings unchanged. One member abstained, and no one voted for a final option, to weaken the label�s present heart warnings.
Controversial nasal vaccines approved in Canada (14 July 2010)
For the first time in Canada, being vaccinated against the flu won�t necessarily require the prick of a needle.
Health Canada has granted approval for a nasal vaccine designed to protect against seasonal flu, the first vaccine administered through the nose that�s been authorized for use in this country.
The vaccine, called FluMist and marketed in Canada by AstraZeneca Canada Inc., protects by using a live but severely weakened or attenuated form of the virus to bolster an immune response.
Now it will be up to provinces to decide whether they want to purchase the new vaccine for use in the coming flu season.
PAM COMMENTARY: From what I've read, health care providers don't want the stuff. The patient is exposed to only one dose, but a provider who has to administer several doses a day, especially those working at "vaccination centers" with high traffic, are exposed to traces of every vaccine they administer. And so all of those controversial ingredients like mercury and aluminum accumulate at higher concentrations in the health care workers' bodies.
Webb announces nuclear initiative (14 July 2010)
U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., joined Virginia-based Babcock & Wilcox Nuclear Energy Inc. and Bechtel Power Corporation on Wednesday to announce a formal alliance to design, license and deploy the world�s first commercially viable Generation III++ small modular nuclear power plant.
Design work for the small modular reactors will take place in Lynchburg, Virginia, where Babcock & Wilcox�s nuclear operations are headquartered.
�I cannot be more enthusiastic about the development of these small modular nuclear reactors, and the incredible potential that this technology holds worldwide,� Webb said. �Investing in nuclear technology will move the United States toward clean, carbon-free sources of energy, bolster our energy independence, invigorate our economy, and strengthen our workforce with high-paying jobs on U.S. soil. Small modular reactors offer a solution to our nation�s energy needs with a very small physical footprint. The development of these reactors offers great promise for the United States to reassert its competitiveness and position as a world leader in the field.�
Sen. Webb has a long history with nuclear power, dating back to his days in the Naval Academy and as Secretary of the U.S. Navy. In November 2009, Webb introduced the Clean Energy Act of 2009 with Sen. Lamar Alexander. This bipartisan bill would invest $20 billion over 10 years to fund loan guarantees, nuclear education and workforce training, nuclear reactor lifetime-extension, and incentives for the development of solar power, biofuels, and alternative power technologies.
Webb�s legislation directs the Department of Energy to conduct five �Mini-Manhattan Projects� to study carbon capture technologies, non-ethanol biofuels, electric vehicles and electricity storage, cost-competitive solar power, and Generation IV reactors and technologies that will ultimately reduce nuclear waste. The initiative is designed to keep the United States competitive in a global marketplace that has accelerated the development of nuclear power.
After the Gulf, an oil sands debate looms (14 July 2010)
By any measure, TransCanada Corp.�s proposed $7-billion Keystone XL pipeline was never going to arrive quietly. If approved, Keystone XL will become the single largest conveyor of Alberta bitumen to the U.S. � a 2,700-kilometre, metre-thick, 900,000 bbl/day behemoth running all the way to the refineries of Houston with the potential to about double stateside consumption of Canadian crude.
But with decision-time overlapping on what is now the worst oil disaster in history, environmentalists in Washington are working overtime to leverage public frustrations into unprecedented scrutiny of America�s increasing dependence on Canadian oil.
�The disaster in the Gulf has totally primed the debate over Canadian tar sands,� said Liz Barratt-Brown, senior attorney with the Washington-based Natural Resources Defense Council.
�The public outrage is just beginning to translate to the political side. But with the Keystone pipeline proposal providing a decision-point, the United States is approaching a debate we�ve never before had before � do we really want increase our reliance on the planet�s dirtiest oil?�
Companies pile up cash but remain hesitant to add jobs (14 July 2010)
Corporate America is hoarding a massive pile of cash. It just doesn't want to spend it hiring anyone.
Nonfinancial companies are sitting on $1.8 trillion in cash, roughly one-quarter more than at the beginning of the recession. And as several major firms report impressive earnings this week, the money continues to flow into firms' coffers.
Yet all the good news from big business hasn't translated into much promise for jobless Americans, leading many to wonder: If corporations are sitting on so much money, why aren't they hiring more workers?
The answer to that question has become a political flash point between the White House and big business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which held a jobs summit Wednesday and accused the Obama administration of dumping onerous regulations on businesses. That has created an environment of "uncertainty," which is causing firms to hold back on hiring as the unemployment rate has hovered near 10 percent, the Chamber said.
Oil hits Louisiana's largest pelican-nesting area, on Raccoon Island (14 July 2010)
The government counts only oiled birds collected for rehabilitation or found dead, for use as evidence in the spill investigation. Oiled birds in the many nesting areas that dot the Gulf coast typically are left in place and not counted in official tallies.
Researchers from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology said Wednesday that they had spotted the oiled pelicans on Raccoon Island over the past several days. The spit of land lines the Gulf outside the state's coastal marshes. An estimated 10,000 birds nest on the island in Terrebonne Parish.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Lisa Williams said state and federal observers had documented only 68 oiled pelicans on Raccoon Island.
Biologist Marc Dantzker with Cornell -- considered one of the nation's premier institutions for bird research -- said about 30 to 40 of the pelicans spotted by his group were oiled "head-to-tail." Many more had visible blotches of oil.
High number of dead animals in Gulf after oil rig explosion are studied (14 July 2010)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. � The Kemp�s ridley sea turtle lay belly-up on the metal autopsy table, as pallid as split-pea soup but for the bright orange X spray-painted on its shell, proof that it had been counted as part of the Gulf of Mexico�s continuing �unusual mortality event.�
Under the practiced knife of Dr. Brian Stacy, a veterinary pathologist who estimates that he has dissected close to 1,000 turtles over the course of his career, the specimen began to reveal its secrets: First, as the breastplate was lifted away, a mass of shriveled organs in the puddle of stinking red liquid that is produced as decomposition advances. Next, the fat reserves indicating good health. Then, as Dr. Stacy sliced open the esophagus, the most revealing clue: a morsel of shrimp, the last thing the turtle ate.
�You don�t see shrimp consumed as part of the normal diet� of Kemp�s ridleys, Dr. Stacy said.
This turtle, found floating in the Mississippi Sound on June 18, is one of hundreds of dead creatures collected along the Gulf Coast since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded. Swabbed for oil, tagged and wrapped in plastic �body bags� sealed with evidence tape, the carcasses � many times the number normally found at this time of year � are piling up in freezer trucks stationed along the coast, waiting for scientists like Dr. Stacy, who works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to begin the process of determining what killed them.
Dick Cheney has heart pump implant (14 July 2010)
Former vice president Dick Cheney, 69, announced Wednesday that doctors implanted a small pump in his chest last week to support his failing heart.
Cheney, who has suffered five heart attacks since the age of 37, says doctors at Inova Heart and Vascular Institute in Northern Virginia implanted the pump to remedy his "increasing congestive heart failure."
"The operation went very well and I am now recuperating," Cheney said in a statement released by his office. He said the pump will allow him to resume an active life.
About 5 million people in the U.S. suffer from congestive heart failure, a chronic progressive weakening of the heart muscle that results mainly from heart attacks or infections. Over time, the heart expands and grows so thin that it can no longer pump blood.
PAM COMMENTARY: Dick Cheney, America's heart attack magnet. His mass-murderer-of-history karma tracks him down again.
US claims it paid Iranian scientist for Iran's nuclear secrets; scientist accuses CIA of kidnapping (14 July 2010)
The Iranian nuclear scientist who claimed to have been abducted by the CIA before departing for his homeland Wednesday was paid more than $5 million by the agency to provide intelligence on Iran's nuclear program, U.S. officials said.
Shahram Amiri is not obligated to return the money but might be unable to access it after breaking off what U.S. officials described as significant cooperation with the CIA and abruptly returning to Iran. Officials said he might have left out of concern that the Tehran government would harm his family.
"Anything he got is now beyond his reach, thanks to the financial sanctions on Iran," a U.S. official said. "He's gone, but his money's not. We have his information, and the Iranians have him."
Amiri arrived in Tehran early Thursday to a hero's welcome, including personal greetings from several senior government officials. His 7-year-old son broke down in tears as Amiri held him for the first time since his mysterious disappearance in Saudi Arabia 14 months ago.
Robbing New Orleans to Pay for BP's Spill (14 July 2010)
Now a supplemental appropriations bill that passed the House earlier this month would take $400 million from post-Katrina recovery programs like Road Home in order to fund other projects, including $304 million for Deepwater Horizon-related remediation and investigation. To some Louisiana residents, using any taxpayer money, much less hurricane-relief money, to clean up BP's oil just adds insult to injury. "Any provisions related to the spill should be paid for by the responsible party," says Monika Gerhart, director of policy and government relations for the Equity and Inclusion Campaign, a nonpartisan advocacy organization. "We're not yet recovered. So don't take our housing money."
For anyone who hasn't been to New Orleans lately, here's an update: It still needs so much work that visitors pay to take "disaster tours." In a June 7 letter to the House Committee on Appropriations, Louisiana Recovery Authority Chairman David Voelker pleaded that the rescission of already-dedicated rebuilding funds be stricken from the bill. Without them, Voelker estimates, 19,000 homes statewide will go unrestored, nearly 7,000 of them in Orleans Parish. "If you just drive around, you can see the people need it," says Taylor Henry, communications director for Republican Congressman Anh "Joseph" Cao, whose district includes New Orleans.
The appropriations bill does provide $5.1 billion to FEMA, which could theoretically pay for projects such as rebuilding New Orleans' Charity Hospital or go to city schools that are still waiting for their disaster-relief funds. Or the money could go elsewhere. An executive summary from appropriations chairman Rep. David Obey (D-Wisc.) notes that the FEMA funds might go toward efforts to clean up after Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike, and Gustav, as well as the Midwest floods of 2008 and California wildfires. "The way the money will be used will be up to FEMA's discretion," says House appropriations committee representative Ellis Brachman.
Rep. Cao, like every other member of Congress from Louisiana but one, voted nay on the appropriations bill. (Cao also has the distinction of basically telling the president of BP America that he should have to stab himself to death during a congressional hearing last month.) Democrat Charlie Melancon was the only rep who voted for it. Though he argued against the cutting the rebuilding funds, according to a statement on his website, he supports spending for other provisions in the bill, like funding the Afghanistan surge and assisting those impacted by the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Blumenauer demands that Pentagon explain KBR immunity deal (14 July 2010)
U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer is demanding that the Pentagon explain how war contractor Kellogg, Brown and Root may have been granted immunity from harming any soldier or civilian in Iraq.
In a sharply worded letter Wednesday, Blumenauer gave the secretary of defense five days to produce details of KBR's claims of indemnification. The details of a secret agreement have emerged in a U.S. District Court case in Portland and were reported Tuesday in The Oregonian. Blumenauer said he plans to take his concerns to colleagues on the House Armed Services Committee.
"I find this mind-numbing," Blumenauer said after sending the letter to Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates.
Twenty-six Oregon Army National Guard veterans who guarded KBR employees restoring Iraqi oil production in 2003 are suing the contractor, claiming the contractor knowingly or negligently exposed them to a cancer-causing chemical. Another 140 Indiana National Guard veterans have filed a similar suit.
Police release G20 photos of �most wanted' (14 July 2010)
While the bulk of images and video have come from the public, some were taken by undercover officers who were in the G20 crowds.
The 22-member G20 investigative team is using facial recognition software supplied by the banking industry in an attempt to identify suspects in poorer quality images. Police say even a face partially hidden by a bandana can be identified by the technology that can match a person's eyes with someone on file.
Last week, after police issued a series of images of six men, three were identified the same day with help from the public. Accompanied by a lawyer, another man turned himself in at 7 a.m. Wednesday.
PAM COMMENTARY: Everyone suspected that the police had agents provocateur in the crowd; the "undercover officers" admission seems to support that view.
Friends say accused serial killer dropped hints (14 July 2010)
No one suspected Franklin, despite billboards being put up across the area where the killer struck, advertising a $500,000 reward.
In a neighborhood where helping police is often frowned upon, it was easy for people to dismiss his stories as the fantasies of an unhappily married man who could get them cheap used car parts.
"This man was an A-1 mechanic," said Kam, who has known Franklin for about a decade. "He didn't make mistakes on how he fixed cars. He was a good man to know."
Franklin, 57, was arrested after his son was arrested and swabbed for DNA. Using a controversial technique known as a familial DNA search, the sample came back as similar to evidence in the serial killings, ultimately leading police to Franklin.
Rape in the Camps: Lacking Security, Women Organize to Protect Themselves (14 July 2010)
AMY GOODMAN: So you�re living in the offices of your lawyers?
MALIA VILLARD APPOLON: [translated] Yes, I live in the office of my lawyer, while I wait.
AMY GOODMAN: So, tell us how women can protect themselves.
MALIA VILLARD APPOLON: [translated] There really is no protection today. What we do only, we can say, so many women we saw being victims, there was only the bureau of international lawyers who took the initiative to put in place a system of whistles, which they gave to KOFAVIV. And the KOFAVIV gave these whistles to the women in the camp in Champ de Mars, and not only in the Champ de Mars, but all the other camps where our community agents are. And there was a little information that had been given even before these little whistles were given. The action call is for when you hear a whistle, everybody knows the sound, and after�and you hear the whistle, everybody comes to their aid, to where it�s whistled. This is even if somebody is armed, they�ll run away. And with the committees we formed with some of the men who were conscious of this problem, they offered to not sleep at night so that they could provide civilian protection for women at night. And we don�t do that just in the Champ de Mars camp, but in other camps, as well. And Sainte Anne�s is one example. They also have a committee formed for that. We have to do that, because we have no government, basically. It doesn�t have any responsibility to anybody. Maybe for the people who voted to put it in power and also the police. Even here in the office of international lawyers, we brought a lot of cases, but until now, they haven�t apprehended any of these people who are in fact escaped convicts. The police are supposed to be there to serve and protect. And when I brought them for a warrant, they said I had to accompany them, for me to go look for this escaped convict who pulled a gun on me in the camp. That means the government has no responsibility. So it means the people have to give themselves security. And this is after a lot of violence. Because if I had partisans who would come there, they would have killed them, too. And this country, this is where human rights are not respected, and that�s why the situation is like that. The criminals know that whatever they do, there�s no justice system which will judge them and pursue them.
Yukon-Kuskokwim villages see 9 suicides in two months (14 July 2010)
As many as 9 teenagers and young men from Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta villages have killed themselves over the past two months, Alaska state troopers say.
Western Alaska is home to one of the highest suicide rates in the state, but the pace of more than one death per week has some village leaders on alert.
"There�s something different going on this year. Here in Scammon Bay we�ve had three suicides. Maybe two or three attempts," said Brandon Aguchak, executive director for the tribal council.
The council is offering a free drum of gasoline -- fuel is $5.89 a gallon in the village -- as a door prize tomorrow afternoon at a meeting inviting parents and kids to talk about drugs, alcohol and suicide.
Rules Seek to Expand Diagnosis of Alzheimer�s (13 July 2010)
For the first time in 25 years, medical experts are proposing a major change in the criteria for Alzheimer�s disease, part of a new movement to diagnose and, eventually, treat the disease earlier.
The new diagnostic guidelines, presented Tuesday at an international Alzheimer�s meeting in Hawaii, would mean that new technology like brain scans would be used to detect the disease even before there are evident memory problems or other symptoms.
If the guidelines are adopted in the fall, as expected, some experts predict a two- to threefold increase in the number of people with Alzheimer�s disease. Many more people would be told they probably are on their way to getting it. The Alzheimer�s Association says 5.3 million Americans now have the disease.
The changes could also help drug companies that are, for the first time, developing new drugs to try to attack the disease earlier. So far, there are no drugs that alter the course of the disease.
PAM COMMENTARY: Seems like another ploy to create a new drug market.
Big chunk of Greenland glacier breaks off (13 July 2010)
Seven-square miles of a Greenland glacier broke up on July 6 and 7, moving the edge of the glacier a mile inland in one day, the furthest inland it has ever been observed. While such calving of glaciers isn't rare, seeing it happen at high resolution by satellite in almost real time is.
NASA-funded researchers have been monitoring Greenland's Jakobshavn Isbrae using satellite images from the Landsat, Terra, Aqua and DigitalGlobe's WorldView 2 satellites. The breakup was detected hours after it happened by Ian Howat of the Byrd Polar Research Center at Ohio State University and Paul Morin, director of the Antarctic Geospatial Information Center at the University of Minnesota.
"This event is unusual because it occurs on the heels of a warm winter that saw no sea ice form in the surrounding bay," Thomas Wagner, cryospheric program scientist at NASA Headquarters, said in a release. "While the exact relationship between these events is being determined, it lends credence to the theory that warming of the oceans is responsible for the ice loss observed throughout Greenland and Antarctica."
Jakobshavn Isbrae is located on the west coast of Greenland. It has retreated more than 27 miles since 1850, six of them in the last decade. Jakobshavn is also believed to be the single largest contributor to sea level rise in the northern hemisphere.
Roman Polanski ruling could have ramifications beyond Switzerland (13 July 2010)
The Swiss government�s decision not to extradite Roman Polanski to Los Angeles means the famed director can now travel freely in Switzerland as well as France, where he has citizenship protections, and Poland and other countries that don't have extradition agreements with U.S.
But some legal experts said the Swiss justice ministry�s legal rationale for rejecting the extradition request could make other countries -- even those with extradition treaties -- think twice before arresting Polanski.
The Swiss government cited problems in the way Polanski�s case was handled in 1977 when he pleaded guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl. The Swiss argue that Polanski served 42 days -- and that it�s unclear whether that fulfilled his full sentence. Polanski fled the U.S. after the judge in case demanded that the director spend more time in prison.
Experts say the Swiss raise a number of issues about how Polanski was treated three decades ago by the U.S. justice system, and those issues could easily be cited if U.S. authorities ask another country to arrest and extradite Polanski.
PAM COMMENTARY: The Swiss ignored the issue that he fled the country and chose to become an international fugitive to avoid the anticipated decision. If the original case had been handled improperly, he could have fought it in court decades ago.
L.A. District Attorney says Polanski case is not closed (13 July 2010)
The victim, who is now a mother of three in her 40s, said: "I am satisfied with this decision and I hope that the district attorney will now close the case and get it over once and for all." However, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley said the case was not closed and he would continue to pursue Polanski if he is arrested again in another country from where he can be extradited. A U.S. arrest warrant remains active.
Mr Cooley said he was "deeply disappointed" with the Swiss decision not to send the director to the U.S. and it was a "disservice to justice and other victims as a whole." Polanski was convicted of having unlawful sex with his then 13-year-old victim in 1977, having plied her with drink and drugs at Jack Nicholson's Hollywood house. He had initially faced even more serious charges.
He fled to Europe before being sentenced and has been a fugitive from the U.S. ever since. He was unable to return to accept an Oscar for his 2002 film The Pianist.
Emergent set to announce anthrax vaccine contract (13 July 2010)
Rockville-based Emergent BioSolutions is set to announce Wednesday that it has received a contract worth up to $107 million to ready its anthrax vaccine for large-scale manufacture.
Emergent said the award will help add up to $10 million in additional revenue -- and pretax profit of up to $5 million -- in the second half of 2010.
The Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) awarded the contract, which funds two years for a total of nearly $55 million and includes three additional, optional years.
According to Emergent, the contract will pay for the company to develop and obtain regulatory approval for large-scale manufacture of the vaccine, called BioThrax. BioThrax is the only vaccine licensed by the Food and Drug Administration to prevent anthrax infection.
PAM COMMENTARY: Is that the same anthrax vaccine that many health providers refused to take, because the side effects were so bad?
Lessons from Exxon Valdez spill have gone unheeded (13 July 2010)
But the full story of the Exxon Valdez wreck is far more complex, and it offers striking parallels to today's events in the Gulf of Mexico -- including a central role played by a consortium led by British Petroleum, now known as BP.
A commission that investigated the Alaska spill found that oil companies cut corners to maximize profits. Systems intended to prevent disaster failed, and no backups were in place. Regulators were too close to the oil industry and approved woefully inadequate accident response and cleanup plans.
History is repeating, say officials who investigated the Valdez, because the lessons of two decades ago remain unheeded.
"It's disappointing," said 84-year-old Walt Parker, chairman of the Alaska Oil Spill Commission, which made dozens of recommendations for preventing a recurrence. "It's almost as though we had never written the report."
Birds flying right into oily morass of Gulf (13 July 2010)
The piping plovers already are flying toward peril. The endangered birds are among the first of millions that will migrate this fall to the Gulf of Mexico� and the oil leak that could kill them.
Some birds, including the common loon and lesser scaup, spend winters along the Gulf Coast. Others, such as the blue winged teal, use the Gulf as a staging area where they stock up on food before flying to Latin America.
"There are millions of birds at risk," says Ken Rosenberg, conservation science director at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. "It's safe to say thousands will die."
He fears the BP oil spill, which began April 20, "could erupt into a much bigger disaster as oil continues to come to the surface."
Dog trapped in car honks horn until rescued by his owner (13 July 2010)
MACUNGIE, PA.�A veterinarian says a dog trapped in a car on a 90-degree day in eastern Pennsylvania honked the horn until he was rescued.
Nancy Soares says the chocolate Labrador was brought to her Macungie Animal Hospital last month after he had been in the car for about an hour.
She says Max�s owner had gone shopping and was unloading packages when she returned but forgot that Max was still in the car. She later heard the horn honking and looked outside several times but saw nothing amiss. Finally, she went outside and saw Max sitting in the driver�s seat, honking the horn.
Soares says the owner immediately gave Max cold water to drink and wet him down with towels before rushing him to the clinic.
PAM COMMENTARY: Locals tell me that the name "Macungie" means "bear swamp."
$3 billion gas pipeline from Wyoming to Oregon wins federal OK (13 July 2010)
The pipeline will begin in western Wyoming and cross northern Utah and Nevada before ending at Malin in Oregon near Klamath Falls just north of the California border. There, it links up to a major north-south pipeline that feeds California.
Up to 5,000 workers will work on the project, which will begin in seven locations along the pipeline route.
El Paso expects the pipeline, which will be 42 inches wide, to become operational in March 2011. It would be capable of delivering 1.5 billion cubic feet a day of gas to Malin. That's more than the combined daily demand in Oregon and Washington.
Ruby is a project primarily designed to deliver gas into California, though the operators of the main interstate pipeline through Central Oregon could conceivably backhaul gas northward by putting more compression stations on the line.
Intel posts biggest profit in a decade (13 July 2010)
Intel (INTC-Q20.60-0.43-2.04%) has posted its biggest profit in a decade as the company benefits from a strengthening computer market and more sophisticated factories.
The results topped Wall Street's forecasts but may not be enough to quell fears about cracks in the computer industry's recovery amid fresh economic worries.
Intel Corp. reported after the market closed Tuesday that net income was $2.89-billion (U.S.), or 51 cents per share, in the quarter ended June 26. That compares with a loss of $398-million, or 7 cents per share, a year ago.
Analysts have expected a profit of 43 cents per share.
Italian police arrest 300 in raids on Calabrian mafia (13 July 2010)
Italian police mounted one of the biggest crackdowns ever on the shadowy 'Ndrangheta mafia today, seizing assets worth millions of euros and arresting 300 people including the organisation's alleged boss of bosses.
The raids, in which 3,000 officers took part, were part of an investigation which has allowed a glimpse of the Calabrian mafia's new pyramid power structure and exposed its creeping control over businesses and politicians in northern Italy, where 160 of the arrests were carried out.
The Italian senate stood to applaud the arrests, which were described by the interior minister, Roberto Maroni, as "absolutely the most important operation against the 'Ndrangheta in recent years".
The arrests of leading members of many of the group's 150 clans, on charges ranging from murder to drugs and arms trafficking to loan sharking, was a blow "to the heart of the 'Ndrangheta's organisational and financial structure," added Maroni.
The Debate Is Heated on a Drug for Diabetes (13 July 2010)
GAITHERSBURG, Md. � Government experts and a panel of medical advisers repeatedly voiced skepticism on Tuesday about the trustworthiness of GlaxoSmithKline, which makes the controversial diabetes drug Avandia.
The committee is to vote Wednesday to advise the Food and Drug Administration on whether the drug, Avandia, which is widely used despite persistent concerns about its safety, should remain on the market. In recent days, internal company documents have shown that Glaxo hid important safety data from the public. A federal medical officer�s review of a major clinical trial, nicknamed Record, found multiple instances of heart attacks that were not included in the study�s final tally.
And on Tuesday, the company settled a lawsuit with plaintiffs who claimed that Avandia caused heart attacks and strokes, lawyers for the plaintiffs said. J. Paul Sizemore, a California lawyer for 2,132 people who had filed suit over Avandia, said his cases were settled on Friday for �a substantial portion� of the $460 million company lawyers told him was being paid in total. The company had no comment.
Dr. Nancy L. Geller, a committee member who is director of the Office of Biostatistics Research at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, said she was �concerned about data quality over all.� Told that death estimates can usually be trusted in clinical trials, she quickly retorted, �Not if you report the wrong follow-up date and not if you withdraw someone from a trial just before their death.�
Iranian nuclear scientist heads homeward in anger (13 July 2010)
An Iranian nuclear scientist who had disappeared in Saudi Arabia last summer stepped out of a cab in front of Iran's diplomatic mission in Washington on Monday, asking for a ticket back to his homeland. Shahram Amiri told officials that he had been abducted by U.S. intelligence operatives and had spent much of the past year in Tucson being questioned about Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Amiri's reappearance was as mysterious as his disappearance and came just weeks after a series of Internet videos added to the intrigue surrounding the case. In the videos, Amiri claimed alternately to have been kidnapped by the CIA and to have come to this country on his own accord to pursue a PhD.
The case has emerged as a source of embarrassment for both governments. The Obama administration faces the departure of someone whose defection had been considered an intelligence coup. Iran described Amiri's desire to the leave the United States as a setback for American efforts, but Amiri may have compromised the secrecy of Iran's nuclear endeavors.
According to an official familiar with the account Amiri gave at the mission, his pleas to be released were finally granted when he was brought to Washington and sent to a nondescript storefront on Wisconsin Avenue, where Iranian representatives work in a space officially operated by Pakistan's embassy.
FCC indecency rule struck down by appeals court (13 July 2010)
Reporting from Washington and Los Angeles � In a sharp rebuke of the Bush-era crackdown on foul language on broadcast television and radio, a federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down the government's near-zero-tolerance indecency policy as a violation of the 1st Amendment protection of free speech.
The ruling is a major victory for the broadcast TV networks, which jointly sued the Federal Communications Commission in 2006.
The case was triggered by unscripted expletives uttered by Bono, Cher and Nicole Richie on awards shows earlier in the decade, and the court's decision calls into question the FCC's regulation of foul language and other indecent content on the public airwaves.
"It does make it much harder for the FCC to regulate this area," said Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor who specializes in 1st Amendment law. He called the ruling "a very important decision" whose ultimate fate could rest with the U.S. Supreme Court.
Judge extends ban of Alaska Railroad weed killer (13 July 2010)
Environmental groups are fighting the permit, saying regulators failed to consider the herbicide's harmful effects on drinking water and salmon streams. The permit would have allowed spraying to begin last week, but the groups were granted a temporary stay.
On Monday, Superior Judge William Morse extended the stay until Friday to allow the state Supreme Court to review the issue.
"The railroad is disappointed we can't take any action until Friday," said Phyllis Johnson, representing the railroad.
Johnson said the railroad has been seeking permission since 2006 to use herbicides to combat weeds along its tracks. She said weeds can force apart tracks, cause railroad ties to decay more quickly and conceal problems with fasteners during safety inspections.
PAM COMMENTARY: I apologize for the pop-up ads that some newspapers use, and the extra work required to close them. PamRotella.com never uses pop-up ads, and the ads from mainstream papers have a very low chance of harmful code.
China seeks to reduce Internet users' anonymity (13 July 2010)
BEIJING � A leading Chinese Internet regulator has vowed to reduce anonymity in China's portion of cyberspace, calling for new rules to require people to use their real names when buying a mobile phone or going online, according to a human rights group.
In an address to the national legislature in April, Wang Chen, director of the State Council Information Office, called for perfecting the extensive system of censorship the government uses to manage the fast-evolving Internet, according to a text of the speech obtained by New York-based Human Rights in China.
China's regime has a complicated relationship with the freewheeling Internet, reflected in its recent standoff with Google over censorship of search results.
China this week confirmed it had renewed Google's license to operate, after it agreed to stop automatically rerouting users to its Hong Kong site, which is not subject to China's online censorship.
Julian Assange: the whistleblower (13 July 2010)
Is WikiLeaks the journalistic model for the future? He gives a characteristically lateral answer. "All over the world the barriers between what is inside an organisation and outside an organisation are being smoothed out. In the military, the use of contractors means that what is the military and what is not the military is smoothed out. Newswise, you see the same trend � what is the newspaper and what is not the newspaper? Comments on websites from the general public and supporters . . . " His point trails away, so I press him to make a prediction about the shape of the media in a decade or so from now. "For the financial and specialist press, it'll still look mostly the same � your daily briefing about what you need to know to run your business. But for political and social analysis, that's going to be movements and networks. You can already see this happening."
Assange has to be careful about his personal security. Bradley Manning, a 22-year-old US army intelligence analyst, has been arrested and charged with allegedly giving WikiLeaks the footage of the Baghdad attack, and the US authorities believe the organisation has another video of an attack on the Afghan village of Granai in which many civilians were killed. There have also been disputed reports that WikiLeaks may be holding 260,000 classified diplomatic cables, and the US authorities have been quoted as saying they want to interview Assange about all this material, publication of which would they say breach national security. Some sources with links in the intelligence agencies have warned him he is in danger and advised him not to travel to the US. He refuses to confirm that Manning was the source of the Baghdad video, but says whoever did leak it was "a hero".
At the talk I heard a man close to me say to his neighbour: "Do you think there'll be spooks here? The US are after him, you know." And of course it's possible. But giving a public talk to 200 students in the centre of London does not suggest someone who is in fear of extraordinary rendition. On the other hand, the organiser of the lecture tells me Assange tends not to stay in the same place two nights in a row. So is he taking the threats seriously? "When you first get them, you must take them quite seriously. Some very senior people advised me that there were significant problems, but there's a clarity now. The public statements from the [US] state department have mostly been reasonable. Some statements made in private have not been reasonable, but the demeanour of those private statements has changed over the past month and have become more positive."
Assange, despite his faltering manner, exudes self-confidence, immodesty even. When I ask him whether the rapid growth and increasing significance of WikiLeaks surprises him, he says no. "I was always confident the idea would succeed, otherwise I wouldn't have spent my time on it or asked other people to spend their time on it." He has spent a good deal of that time recently in Iceland, where freedom of information is protected and he has high-level supporters. It was here that the complex work of decrypting the video of the Baghdad attack was done. But he says he has no real base. "It's just like a war correspondent, I'm everywhere," he says. "Or like anyone setting up a multinational corporation, where you go visit all the regional offices. We have supporters in many countries."
Standards Issued for Electronic Health Records (13 July 2010)
The Department of Health and Human Services said doctors and hospitals could receive as much as $27 billion over the next 10 years to buy equipment to computerize patients� medical records. A doctor can receive up to $44,000 under Medicare and $63,750 under Medicaid, while a hospital can receive millions of dollars, depending on its size.
Starting in 2015, hospitals and doctors will be subject to financial penalties under Medicare if they are not using electronic health records.
Dr. Donald M. Berwick, who was sworn in Monday as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said electronic health records would lead to �better, smoother care, more reliable care.�
Even though American health care is known for the use of advanced technology in treating patients, doctors and hospitals have been slow to replace paper records with electronic records.
�Only 20 percent of doctors and 10 percent of hospitals use even basic electronic health records,� said Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of health and human services.
PAM COMMENTARY: There are pros and cons to this -- obviously computerized records provide a convenience for health corporations and patients, but of course every time anything is computerized, large scale invasion of privacy and theft of data become easier.
Security contractor: BP fired me for taking photos of dispersants (13 July 2010)
Adam Dillon claims he was fired by the oil company after he took pictures showing how dispersants were being used in the Gulf.
WDSU anchor Scott Walker first met Dillon in June while trying to report on cleanup efforts on Grand Isle, Louisiana.
"When you met me, and you were straight with me and I saw the way that you were being treated, I told you I wished I could tell you more," Dillon told Walker in an interview Friday. "And after the way BP treated me, I'm telling you now that you deserve an answer, and that's why you're getting an answer."
Dillon maintains that he was fired several weeks later. "I took pictures of something and I brought it to the attention of the command structure and whatever I took pictures of, 12 hours later I was gone," he said.
Toxic pollutants rise in North America (13 July 2010)
North American industrial facilities released or transferred more than 5.7 billion kilograms of toxic pollutants in 2006, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation said in its annual report released Tuesday.
That's up from 5.5 billion kilograms reported in 2005.
The figures exclude greenhouse gases and criteria air contaminants, such as carbon monoxide and other pollutants that contribute to smog, acid rain and haze.
The pollutants were released in the air, water and on land, dumped or taken to recycling sites, the report said.
GE offers $200M fund for power projects (13 July 2010)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) � General Electric said Tuesday it will pledge $200 million to fund new projects meant to create a more energy efficient and environmentally friendly power grid. GE and three venture capital funds will solicit ideas from entrepreneurs, researchers and start-ups over the next 10 weeks. Awards will be announced in November.
The fund will focus on smart-grid technology designed to improve the nation's energy network from the power plant to the home.
That includes using alternative energies like wind power and developing new products that cut down on energy waste in houses.
GE has made a big push into the sector, which CEO Jeffrey Immelt estimated is worth up to $20 billion but could grow to $120 billion by 2020.
Tiny mushrooms blamed for 400 deaths in SW China (13 July 2010)
A public information campaign to warn against eating the mushrooms has dramatically reduced the number of deaths. Only a handful have been reported in the last couple of years, and none so far this year.
However, the mystery has not yet been definitively solved.
Testing found the mushroom contained some toxins, though not enough to be deadly. Chinese scientists need to isolate the toxin and test whether it triggers cardiac arrests.
Researchers have hypothesized that there is a second agent. Many of the victims showed high levels of barium, a heavy metal in the soil that seeps into mushrooms.
Libyan ship with Gaza aid arrives in Egyptian port (13 July 2010)
A ship loaded with aid supplies for Gaza has docked in an Egyptian port, ending the latest attempt by activists to break Israel's Gaza blockade.
The vessel was intercepted by Israeli naval ships off the coast of Gaza and forced to head south, the charity which chartered the ship said.
The charity, headed by Col Muammar Gaddafi's son, said it wanted to reach Gaza, but would not risk violence.
In May, Israeli forces clashed with another convoy, killing nine on board.
PAM COMMENTARY: The writing could be clearer, but the article does provide some good detail.
Palestinian homes bulldozed as Israeli freeze on demolitions appears to end (13 July 2010)
Israeli bulldozers destroyed at least three Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem yesterday, breaking an unofficial moratorium on such demolitions since the end of 2009.
At least one of the homes was occupied by a family of seven, who removed their belongings shortly before it was razed.
Jerusalem city authorities said the homes were built without proper planning permission, which Palestinians say is almost impossible to obtain.
Basem Isawi, 48, a contractor, said he built his home illegally for about $25,000 because he was convinced the municipality would deny him a permit. He had been notified of the impending demolition.
Under pressure from Washington, Israel has largely refrained from demolitions since November, when a temporary, partial freeze on settlement construction was agreed.
Rare dark jellyfish showing up in San Diego Bay (13 July 2010)
Scientists say a rare species of dark purple jellyfish is showing up in San Diego Bay and washing ashore on beaches.
Dr. Nigella Hillgarth of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography said Tuesday that the Birch Aquarium has four of the jellies for display.
Hillgarth says the black sea nettle has turned up in coastal waters more frequently in recent years. Oceanographers don't know why but guess that it could be due to warmer oceans or changes in the plankton populations that they eat.
The jellyfish can grow up to three feet across with 30 foot long tentacles.
Hillgarth says they sting, so boaters and beachgoers should admire them without touching.
Hospital infection deaths caused by ignorance and neglect, survey finds (13 July 2010)
Deadly yet easily preventable bloodstream infections continue to plague American hospitals because facility administrators fail to commit resources and attention to the problem, according to a survey of medical professionals released Monday.
An estimated 80,000 patients per year develop catheter-related bloodstream infections, or CRBSIs -- which can occur when tubes that are inserted into a vein to monitor blood flow or deliver medication and nutrients are improperly prepared or left in longer than necessary. About 30,000 patients die as a result, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accounting for nearly a third of annual deaths from hospital-acquired infections in the United States.
Yet evidence suggests hospital workers could all but eliminate CRBSIs by following a five-step checklist that is stunningly basic: (1) Wash hands with soap; (2) clean patient's skin with an effective antiseptic; (3) put sterile drapes over the entire patient; (4) wear a sterile mask, hat, gown and gloves; (5) put a sterile dressing over the catheter site.
The approach also calls for clinicians to continually reconsider whether the benefits of keeping the catheter in for another day outweigh the risks and to use electronic monitoring systems that allow them to spot infections quickly and assemble a rapid response team to treat them.
Scientists create cloth that listens (13 July 2010)
NEW YORK - This could give a whole new meaning to the phrase power dressing. Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created a cloth that can hear and emit noise.
The team, led by MIT professor Yoel Fink, has reached "a new milestone on the path to functional fibers: fibers that can detect and produce sound," MIT said in a statement.
The development, described in the August issue of Nature Materials, transforms the usual passive nature of textiles into a virtually all-singing, all-dancing version.
According to MIT, "applications could include clothes that are themselves sensitive microphones, for capturing speech or monitoring bodily functions, and tiny filaments that could measure blood flow in capillaries or pressure in the brain."
The decade-old research project aims to "develop fibers with ever more sophisticated properties, to enable fabrics that can interact with their environment," MIT said.
Safety of diabetes drug Avandia remains contentious (13 July 2010)
GAITHERSBURG, Md. � Presenters and panelists spent much of Tuesday, the first day of a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee meeting here on the heart safety of Avandia, discussing the value of research conducted since the last such gathering three years ago.
At that 2007 meeting, committee members voted overwhelmingly that the diabetes drug raised heart attack risk, but they also voted overwhelmingly to recommend keeping the drug on the market. Although their terms have expired, the panelists have been invited back to vote alongside their successors, making for a 33-member advisory committee. The FDA usually, but not always, follows its advisers' recommendations.
Questions about Avandia's safety were first raised in a 2007 study in The New England Journal of Medicine. Steven Nissen, chair of cardiovascular medicine, and co-author Kathy Wolski pooled the results of 42 Avandia studies, an approach called a meta-analysis, and concluded that the drug raised heart attack risk.
Only one randomized controlled trial � considered the gold standard for testing medications � has been completed since 2007, and even FDA reviewers were divided on its value.
Sean Penn on Haiti Six Months After the Earthquake, Recovery Efforts, and Why He Decided to Manage a Tent Camp of 55,000 Displaced Haitians (13 July 2010)
AMY GOODMAN: $11 billion promised. Where is it?
SEAN PENN: I don�t think about $11 billion. I don�t believe in $11 billion. I think that pledge money is smoke and mirrors that evaporates as the years go on. The way it�s going to happen, is if bold organizations come in here, create manufacturing� I�d like to see them start as co-ops with philanthropic commitment to that for a period of time with a kind of sunset and then they can participate in the profit.
But right now, the donor�s conference, I think, was completely misconceived. And the way that it should have been done is somebody should have raised their hand and said, �I�m gonna rebuild every school in Haiti.� Somebody else should have raised their hand and said, �I�m gonna rebuild the hospitals and we�re gonna do it right now.�
�And instead, what happened was one after another, in Port-au-Prince � the biggest city in the biggest natural disaster in human history �systematically hospitals closed following the earthquake because money was not available and not coming in to those hospitals. The money exists and existed.
I think the culture of aid is so paranoid about the siphoning of aid and the history related to other administrations and other times and places, that while those kinds of concerns are responsible considerations, they have, I think, largely crippled a lot of the motion here.
Each year, dozens of children die of heat-related injuries after being left in cars (12 July 2010)
Every year, dozens of children die because of heat-related injuries after being left in unattended in vehicles, according to Jan Null, a certified meterologist and adjunct professor at San Francisco State University who has studied child deaths from hyperthermia. Null said media reports put this year's tally at 20 so far and 33 died in 2009. But he warned his statistics may be lower than actual numbers because some deaths are not reported by the news media.
In Louisiana children, 16 children have died of hyperthermia from being left in cars since 1989, according to the Louisiana Department of Social Services.
And in Louisiana, leaving a child unattended in a vehicle is a crime. It can net a fine of up to $500 or up to six months for a first offense. Future offenses carry penalties of $1,000 to $5,000 in fines and a year in jail. The state is one of 14 with such a law on the books.
Null said that vehicles in direct sunlight turn into miniature greenhouses, where temperatures can increase by roughly 45 degrees an hour, said Null, who co-published a study on the phenomenon in Pediatrics magazine in 2005.
PAM COMMENTARY: I wonder if the example of a mother visiting a casino was carefully selected to avoid the uncomfortable discussion of "workfare" programs, famous for paying women so little that they can't afford child care or other necessities. Years ago when workfare programs were fashionable (the unfortunate legacy of Tommy Thompson, a former Wisconsin governor and Health and Human Services Secretary under Bush Jr.), the press would report on children left in cars while their mothers were forced to work. Sometimes children were left in the only family residence that their family could afford on such low wages -- a hot storage bin.
Wisconsin 'workfare' a total failure, report finds (FLASHBACK) (2005)
After consistently gloating about the overturning of Aid to Families with Dependent children (AFDC) former Governor Tommy Thompson and his corporate bosses were nowhere to be seen or heard from when the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau issued its 272-page W-2 or "Wisconsin Works" evaluation April 7, the most comprehensive to date.
But many politicians who clamoured to dismantle AFDC and usher in W-2-Democrats and Republicans alike-are now doing an about-face in an effort to either distance themselves from the report's conclusion which calls for a virtual overhaul of this failed social policy, or are lying to the public by saying they actually care for W-2 recipients by supporting the report's conclusions.
After the untold human misery and suffering as a result of W-2 detailed in the report, Thompson and his accomplices should be tried by a people�s commission led by current and former W-2 recipients for crimes against humanity among others.
Those fighting the attempted privatization of Social Security might want to study this report closely.
Letter from the US: welfare to work by Sharon Smith (FLASHBACK) (March 1998)
Gloria Jimenez, aged 51, had worked for 22 years in a belt factory, but became unemployed after the factory closed down. Now she suffers from severe arthritis in her hands. After a brief physical examination conducted in English - a language she cannot speak - HS Systems deemed her able to work at a job sweeping streets. 'I had worked all my life, and then I was forced to do something I couldn't do. The doctor never even looked at my hands,' she said. Jiminez missed work one day when her arthritis flared up and lost all of her welfare benefits.
Furthermore, as WEP workers in New York have discovered, workfare rarely leads to a permanent job. Most welfare recipients find that, after their six month assignment ends, they are no closer to earning a pay cheque than before. For example, Linda Bailey, a mother of three, was a WEP worker at the Department of Transportation for six months. When her assignment ended, she was turned down for a permanent job there. She ended up back on welfare, still looking for a job. She had to pay her babysitter in milk and eggs while she searched for work.
In many states welfare recipients can lose their cash benefits and food stamps for offences as minor as missing a single appointment or refusing a work assignment with late night hours. In Mississippi a recent study showed that the number of families cut off welfare for violating one of the many rules of the workfare programme outnumbered those placed in jobs by a margin of almost two to one. The jobs simply do not exist for welfare recipients to enter the workforce. Even with record low unemployment across the US over the last year, the unemployment rate for black women who have not completed high school is still 21 percent. In the Midwest there are on average 22 workers for every job paying a poverty level wage, and 97 workers for each job paying a livable wage.
To add insult to injury, New York City's WEP workers are classified as 'trainees' who are exempt from the basic protections which apply to other workers. They are also denied the right to organise into unions. WEP workers assigned to clerical jobs are often told they must clean toilets. Others have been ordered to handle dangerous chemicals without protective gear, or are denied access to drinking water or toilets. 'It's like a chain gang,' said Wayne Gargrove, a former lab technician who is now a WEP worker picking up garbage.
Another scientist urges population reduction, rather than changes in the politics of greed (12 July 2010)
Britain's premier scientific organisation has launched a two-year study into global population levels. A growing body of scientists believe the time has come for politicians to confront the problems posed by the future increase in human numbers.
The Royal Society has established a working group of leading experts to draw up a comprehensive set of recommendations on human population that could set the agenda for tackling the environmental stress caused by billions of extra people on the planet.
Sir John Sulston, the Nobel laureate who took a leading role in decoding the human genome, will lead the study. A failure to be open about the problems caused by the global population explosion would set back human development, he warned.
"We really do have to look at where we are going in relation to population. If we don't do it, we may survive but we won't flourish," Sir John said. "We will be examining the extent to which population is a significant factor in the momentous international challenge of securing global sustainable development, considering not just the scientific elements but encompassing the wider issues including culture, gender, economics and law."
The working group includes the naturalist Sir David Attenborough, the environmentalist Sir Jonathon Porritt, who co-founded Forum for the Future, the Cambridge economist Sir Partha Dasgupta and the president of the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences, Professor Demissie Habte.
PAM COMMENTARY: Another "expert" whose answer to everything is killing off everyone but his own family. People like this will never mention the role of merciless profiteering in earth's problems -- the thwarting of responsible large-scale investments in green technology, the advances in science and medicine banished to the field of "alternative medicine" because they're not big profit makers, the scarcity of equitable land distribution, or the corruption that often thwarts fair public policy. "Leaders" (e.g. Bush and Blair) prefer to squander resources on oil wars rather than technologies to create clean water and energy both here and abroad. And the assumption that a lower population means the human race would "flourish" somehow? I've never seen such advances in technology or creativity as in the current era -- with a large enough population to create a market for the stuff, and available talent to meet the challenge.
Swiss refuse extradition, free Polanski (12 July 2010)
Reporting from London and Los Angeles � The Swiss government's decision Monday to free Roman Polanski outraged Los Angeles prosecutors and U.S. officials but effectively ended a legal odyssey that has lurched along with periodic eruptions of public furor since 1977, when the famed director was accused of raping a 13-year-old girl.
Polanski will not be extradited to the United States to face sentencing for having unlawful sex with the girl , allowing him to live freely in Switzerland and France, where he has resided since he fled the United States 32 years ago.
Swiss justice officials said the U.S. failed to turn over documents they had requested. They also said Polanski, who has a vacation home in Switzerland, would not have expected to be arrested and deported because American officials knew of his frequent presence there in recent years but never acted on it.
In Los Angeles and Washington, officials vowed to continue their pursuit of Polanski, though their options are now significantly limited.
PAM COMMENTARY: Switzerland -- the new haven for sexual predators.
Burma's dictator plots his dignified exit (12 July 2010)
In the run-up to a long promised but still unscheduled general election, the first for 20 years, Burma's military dictator, Senior-General Than Shwe, has taken a step full of peril: he has ordered his uniformed cabinet ministers to resign from the army.
Those faceless generals who adorn the front page of the New Light of Myanmar, the regime's daily paper, inspecting fish-packing factories and barrages, will still be running the country, and anything resembling democratic governance will be as far away as ever.
But the look of things will have changed. The ministers will wear longyi, the traditional Burmese sarong-like garment. And crucially for them, they will no longer enjoy the status and respect which, in a country ruled with an iron fist by the military for half a century, is the army's prerogative.
Irrawaddy, the expatriate Burmese news website, predicts trouble. "Senior-General Than Shwe is facing a mutiny among his subordinates," it claimed last week. "There are growing signs of discontent among his cabinet ministers... They have been betrayed by their boss.
Former Contractor: BP Not Interested In Cleaning Up Oil Spill (12 July 2010)
Former high-level BP contractor and Army Special Operations soldier Adam Dillon told a New Orleans television station that British Petroleum is not interested in cleaning up the oil spill because the company is run by �cutthroat individuals� who only care about money.
Dillon was fired by BP �after taking photos that he believes were related to the use of dispersants and to the cleanup of the oil.� Before his dismissal, Dillon was �confined and interrogated for almost an hour,� by BP officials.
�There are some very great, hardworking individuals in there. But the bottom line is just about money. There are some very cutthroat individuals. They�re not worried about cleaning up that spill as it is,� said Dillon, adding that he has �lost faith� in BP�s response.
Dillon was one of BP�s hired goons used to keep reporters from asking questions of cleanup workers on beaches in Houma, but turned whistleblower after he was fired for taking photos of the consequences of chemicals used by BP to clean up the spill.
Democracy Now! in Port-Au-Prince: Patrick Elie on Haiti Six Months After the Earthquake (12 July 2010)
AMY GOODMAN: It wasn�t long after the Haitian earthquake there was an earthquake in Chile. It was hundreds of times stronger than the Haitian earthquake and yet hundreds of times fewer people died, less than 300 people died. In Haiti it was close to 300,000. Now I want to ask you about the aid. There has been close to $11 billion promised. Haiti hasn�t seen even 10% of that. Why is that?
PATRICK ELIE: Well, you might point to the bureaucracy of, you know, the international donors; but also I think that the weakness of the Haitian state also explains that. You see, it is a vicious circle. The powers that be�and I mean by that, the U.S., France, and Canada�but mostly the U.S., have worked over decades to weaken the Haitian state. And then now they are using this weakness as a pretense, not to free the aid or have it go through Haitian authorities. So, that 10% of aid that has been released actually, most of it did not go through the Haitian state. And I can say, even though I am not a specialist, that a lot of it went into things that were not indispensable for reconstruction. As you know, in the beginning we have 82nd Airborne being deployed around Haiti and in Haiti. These cost a lot of money and all this money, if you want to count it, is money that went to help Haiti. So, it gives you a false sense that, you know, already a lot had been done and we are not seeing the result on the ground.
AMY GOODMAN: So, you�re saying, less than 10% of the money was released and much of that was actually to the U.S. military?
PATRICK ELIE: A lot to the U.S. military and to the NGO�s. And this is not to disparage what the NGO�s have done here. But the lack of coordination explains a lot of the slowness of the process. Mind you, I don�t want to be too severe in my judgment, and especially I have been reading the U.S. press and as always, they�re clobbering the Haitian authorities. I am not at all saying that we have the best government. I have always said we have a state that is not only weak but apart with the nation. But on top of that, the government�or the State was weakened more by the earthquake itself because the earthquake hit not a remote part of Haiti but right smack in the middle of the administrative, political, and economic center of the country. As a result, about 17% of public servants died, ministries collapsed with all of their memory, their archives, their computers, etc. So, we are facing a pharaonic task of rebuilding. Besides, everybody in Haiti seems to agree we cannot actually rebuild Port-au-Prince as it was. So, aside from building, you have to plan again differently. This involves some heart wrenching decisions that have to be made.
Beverly Bell: There is No Plan For Permanently Housing the 1.9 Million Haitians Who Lost Their Homes in the Quake (12 July 2010)
AMY GOODMAN: We�re here in Haiti, on the six month anniversary of the January 12th earthquake. It�s July 12th and we�ve gone out about 7 miles from Port-au-Prince, between Morne Cabrit and Titanyen. These are two famous dumping grounds, killing grounds, that through the Duvalier years and then again during the first coup against President Aristide, 1991 to 1994, people�s bodies would be dumped, between the mountains and a ways down the road. I am joined by Beverly Bell, she�s taken us here. She�s with "Another World" and she is a fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies. Beverly, tell us about where we are right now.
BEVERLY BELL: We are in one of the hottest parts of this whole side of Haiti. I was here today at high noon and the crushed white gravel that is underfoot in this camp is just blinding and the heat is shocking. And this is where about 10,000 people have been relocated after they were sent away from another camp in Port-au-Prince. About one in seven has been left homeless and displaced from the January 12th earthquake, and most of them have created temporary housing. Now, six months later, in the middle of earthquake season, the government�s response, that is, the Haitian government and the U.S. government as well as the United Nations, has been this�has been to move people from one set of temporary housing, plastic tarps that are damaged in the wind and the rains, to another set of temporary housing. And there is absolutely no plan anywhere in the country for permanent housing for the 1.9 million people who are left victims.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about where the camps are? We just passed, well, the palace that�s crumbling. They haven�t brought it down in six months, the earthquake started the process. But there are thousands of people in the plaza outside the palace.
BEVERLY BELL: People are living in almost every nook in a country that is densely populated and that has very little open space. People are living in ravines, they are living on sidewalks jammed up against other houses. They are creating structures out of any temporary material they can find. A lot of them, no more than four sticks and bedsheets. And they have set themselves up in impromptu camps as well, such as the one that you mentioned, down in the National Park, they�re called shomas. They are all over the country looking for any lodging they can find, including out in the countryside, many have gone to the countryside and have been taken in through the kindness of strangers, small farmers. But this is the solution. These people now are two hours away from the center of town, where schools are, where health care is, where jobs are, where their family and communities are. It costs about a quarter for them to go round trip and it takes four hours round-trip. No one is providing transportation. A quarter for these folks is huge.
And no one has informed them of any plan of permanent relocation. President Preval has said that a Korean assembly shop is going to come in here as part of the U.S. and U.N. plan to expand the sweatshop industry. But this is all that people have been told about their future. If you ask them where they�re going or what their future will be, they will make the Haitian sign a resignation with their hands and say we have no idea, no one�s told us anything.
Displaced Haitians: "We Can�t Continue In This Situation Anymore" (12 July 2010)
ROMAIN ARIUS: My name is Romain Arius. This camp, what I think about it, according to the information they gave us� they told us when we were coming here, that we would live well. But what we saw when we got here and the way we lived here, it�s the contrary. The place where we are here when it�s hot, the sun makes the tents hot, very hot. And also the wind comes and blows the tents and wrecks them. The people who were responsible for the last camp where we were, when they brought us here, they said we would be here for three months under these tents. Three months has already passed. We have not yet gotten to the definitive houses that they said they were going to give us.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you want to happen now?
ROMAIN ARIUS: What do I want to happen now? All the information that they�we would like to benefit from them, to see them. In the situation we�re living here in the tents, we can�t continue like that anymore. We would ask them as soon as possible to give us the real houses that they said they were going to give us so that our situation could improve. Because the tents are torn, when it rains, rain comes in. We have very exemplary or a very indicative block, Block 6. It�s a zone which is completely unpassable when it rains. The people who are in charge of that should take some action to improve the life of us here in Corail.
American Idolatry Intensifies as Nation Sinks into Depression (12 July 2010)
The sight of American citizens gathering to protest basketball player LeBron James� decision to join Miami Heat last week, after Ohio Governor Ted Strickland joined celebrities to serenade James in a bizarre appeal video entitled �We are LeBron,� was a shocking reminder of how millions of Americans are more concerned about sports teams than the fact that their country is collapsing around them, and how potent a threat such wanton delusion is to the survival of freedom and prosperity in the United States.
In a You Tube clip that went viral after appearing on the Drudge Report website, Alex Jones explained how ominous it was to see Americans transfixed by bread and circuses while at the same time the New York Times reports on how the country is sinking into another depression.
But how did we reach the stage where scenes from Idiocracy, a satirical movie set 500 years in the future where humanity has �degenerated into into a dystopia where advertising, commercialism, and cultural anti-intellectualism run rampant and dysgenic pressure has resulted in a uniformly stupid human society devoid of individual responsibility or consequences,� seem eerily contemporary in 2010?
Americans are watching more television than ever before, both through conventional TV sets and on the web, as the range of channels continues to expand, the screens get bigger and the quality of the picture increases as new hi-definition and 3D technologies arrest and shorten attention spans to a greater and greater degree.
Americans are now a nation of spectators, watching a shocking average of nearly 5 hours of TV a day, up 20% from just 10 years ago.
State Police pull over another pretend police officer (12 July 2010)
"I would venture to say it was probably an old police vehicle that he bought at auction," she said.
At about 9:40 p.m., troopers received a complaint of a car acting as if it were a police vehicle on westbound I-10 in Metairie. The unidentified victim told investigators the Crown Victoria flashed its headlights and continued to follow him despite several lane changes, Matey said.
The victim pulled over on I-10 in Kenner after the driver shined a mounted spotlight, which is illegal on any car other than a law enforcement vehicle, according to Matey. The victim waited several minutes, then got out of the car to approach the "patrol unit." But the driver of the Crown Victoria drove around the victim's vehicle on the highway shoulder and took off.
The victim got back into his own car, sped after the Crown Victoria and managed to get the license plate number, which he gave to authorities. State Police troopers caught the Crown Victoria at about 10:05 p.m. in St. John the Baptist Parish on Interstate 55 at about milepost 9, according to an arrest report.
Chinese Officials Must Report Personal Assets (12 July 2010)
The regulations went into effect Sunday and expand on similar guidelines released in April governing senior Communist Party officials. Now mid-level officials and nonparty members must comply, reporting even on changes in marital status and the whereabouts of relatives living abroad.
Punishment for failing to do so can range from a public reprimand to dismissal.
Ordinary Chinese frequently complain about official corruption and the Communist leadership recognizes it is a major threat to political stability. The regulation appears designed to prevent officials from hiding illicit income under the names of spouses, former spouses or other close family members.
Critics say graft is too deeply ingrained in the system and can't be solved with regulations. Some have called for independent bodies to fight graft.
Which Infant Formulas Contain Secret Toxic Chemicals? (12 July 2010)
Infant formula has come a long way since chemist Justus von Liebig first patented a commercial cocktail of cow's milk, wheat flour, malt flour, and potassium bicarbonate in 1865. Today, Similac, Enfamil, Earth's Best, and other brands are fortified with everything from iron to the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, and most brands attempt to chemically match human milk as closely as possible. But even though artificial human milk is regulated by the FDA, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found last year that a thyroid-affecting chemical used in rocket fuel contaminates 15 brands of powdered infant formula, including two that accounted for 87 percent of market share in 2000. The CDC study omits the names of the top offenders, but a little sleuthing reveals (PDF) that they are referring to Similac and Enfamil, produced by Ross (now Abbott Nutrition) and Mead Johnson Nutrition respectively. (The Environmental Working Group handily includes phone numbers here for those and other infant formula companies if you're interested in questioning the makers of your child's brand.)
Not surprisingly, the International Formula Council blames any perchlorate in their formulas on the water used to make them. Unfortunately, pre-mixed liquid formulas come with their own potential toxins, as the chemical BPA can leach out of plastic bottles or cans into the formula they contain. But at least we're not in China, where 76 tons of melamine-tainted milk products were seized on Friday, just two years after melamine-adulterated formula killed 6 infants and hospitalized thousands more in 2008. The FDA assures that levels of melamine in US infant formulas are "extremely low" (PDF). Feel better yet?
For all these reasons the American Academy of Pediatrics remains less than sanguine about infant formula, recommending exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continued nursing "until at least the baby's first birthday." Indeed, they credit mother's milk with everything from breast cancer risk reduction to obesity prevention�though not, as attachment parenting guru Dr. Sears does, with higher IQ. [Read Hanna Rosin's excellent Atlantic article here for an overview of the conflicting studies around breast milk's unicorn-like magical properties.]
Frankly, if I'd done this research a month ago, I doubt I would ever have handed my (until then) exclusively breastfed six-month-old son a bottle of this to scarf down one night before bed. (He loved it, by the way. It tastes exactly like Ensure, which is made by the same company.)
Shopping bags a bacteria hazard (12 July 2010)
Those handy woven polypropylene bags that can be squeezed small and tucked into a purse can become a comfy home for coliform bacteria and even e-coli, according to researchers in California and Arizona.
Coliform bacteria occur in fecal material and raw meat, toilet bowls, kitchen sinks where raw meat is cleaned and in sink sponges, according to researcher Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona at Tucson. An indicator of unsanitary conditions, coliform bacteria was found in half of the bags tested. E-coli were found in 12 per cent of the bags.
�You�re always gambling with germs and the whole idea is to keep the odds in your favour and not in the germs� favour. If you don�t maintain these bags, you�re giving the germs a chance to get exposure,� says Gerba.
A simple wash with soap after use is all that�s needed to maintain the bags, but only three per cent of people reported ever cleaning them, according to the study, which examined 84 bags collected at three locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Tucson.
Only 25 per cent of people reported separating vegetables from raw meat when they fill their bags. Thirty per cent used the bags for other purposes, including books, clothes, snacks, biking supplies and books.
Israel warns it will stop ship heading for Gaza (12 July 2010)
Israel warned yesterday that a ship sponsored by a group headed by the son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and currently crossing the Mediterranean would not be allowed to reach its stated destination of Gaza.
The Moldovan-registered ship � renamed Hope for the voyage � left Greece on Saturday night for a trip intended to take between 70 and 80 hours. The organisers, the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, say the ship, with a crew of 12 and ten passengers on board, is carrying 2,000 tonnes of food and medicine.
Israel's defence minister, Ehud Barak, has described the dispatch of the vessel as a "provocation" and its foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, told Army Radio yesterday: "I say very clearly, no ship will arrive in Gaza. We will not permit our sovereignty to be harmed."
The Libyan organisers have sought to play down expectations of a repeat of the violent confrontation aboard the Turkish Mavi Marmara last month, which resulted in the loss of nine Turkish lives when Israeli commandos boarded the ship.
Surry nuclear reactor shut down for water-leak fix (12 July 2010)
One of two nuclear reactors at Dominion Virginia Power�s plant in Surry was shut down Sunday night after a water leak was discovered, the company said.
Shortly before 9 p.m. a plant employee spotted a leak in a 96-inch pipe that carries James River water to a condenser that cools steam at the plant, said Jim Norvelle, director of media relations for Dominion.
�The condenser cools the steam that has been used to generate electricity,� Norvelle said this morning. �We determined that we could not isolate the water line to do the repair while the reactor is operating.�
Employees shut down Surry 2 in order to make the repair, which is under way, Norvelle said. A dam around the pipe was catching the leak, estimated at less than 100 gallons per minute.
West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin hopes to name Senator Byrd's replacement by weekend (12 July 2010)
Once the succession bill is passed, Manchin said he will act quickly to name a temporary appointee to fill the Senate seat. That appointee would serve in the U.S. Senate for a period of roughly four months, until the winner of the special election is certified.
"I'm hopeful that by Sunday, I'll be able to name somebody," said Manchin, who said he has a short-list of fewer than a half-dozen candidates for the appointment.
Once the law is clarified and an appointee is named, Manchin said he will announce his plans regarding running in the special election for U.S. Senate.
"I will make my intentions known as quickly as possible," he said.
Manchin said on Friday that it is "highly likely" he will run for the unexpired term.
PAM COMMENTARY: Meanwhile, the unemployed are held hostage because the Senate is one vote short of passing another Unemployment Compensation extension. Good thing he's at least trying to deliver someone within the week.
Baby animals caught in Gulf oil spill face uncertain future (12 July 2010)
There's no way to know how many chicks have been killed by the oil, or starved because their parents died struggling in a slick or were rescued and taken away.
"There are plenty of oiled babies out there," said Rebecca Dmytryk of the International Bird Rescue Research Center, one of the groups working to clean oiled animals.
The lucky ones end up in a cleaning center at Fort Jackson, a pre-Civil War historic site on the Mississippi River delta south of New Orleans.
Pelican chicks often come in cold because oil has matted down the fluffy down that's meant to keep them warm. They must be warmed quickly just to survive long enough to be cleaned. And the youngest must be taught to eat.
For Iraq veteran with post-traumatic stress, help never came (12 July 2010)
Ozawa blames the Army for the fact that Daryl, now 26, will probably spend the better portion of a decade in prison. To anyone who will listen, she explains that her son�s story goes more like this: Yes, he was a good boy before Iraq. Yes, he came home someone else. And yes, she recognized the seriousness of his troubles. But when she begged the military to treat him, her son�s superiors dismissed her, leaving Daryl to languish until he became so ill that he was getting drunk every day just to cope, starting fights and failing to show up for formation.
Then they deemed his behavior a discipline problem, called him a bad soldier and kicked him out for misconduct. A few weeks after Daryl was told that he would be �other than honorably� discharged, possibly leaving him ineligible for veterans benefits, he committed a crime that he now struggles to remember.
Before he went to war, Daryl had never been in any serious trouble � not with the military or with the law. He says armed robbery isn�t something he would do, and yet he admits he did it. He can�t explain the contradiction.
�I don�t know what to tell you, ma�am,� he says, speaking by phone from the jail in Anchorage, Alaska, where he is confined. �It just sort of happened. It wasn�t that I needed the money or anything.� Daryl�s words begin to trail off into mumbling. �I just, it � I don�t ��
Hearings set for Massey workers in W.Va. fire (12 July 2010)
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Guilty plea hearings are set for later this month for four Massey Energy supervisors charged with federal crimes related to a coal mine fire that killed two West Virginians in 2006.
Prosecutors say the men are accused of failing to conduct mandatory safety drills at Massey's Aracoma Alma No. 1 mine in 2005 and 2006. Two men died trying to escape a conveyer-belt fire at the Logan County mine on Jan. 19, 2006, after getting lost in thick smoke.
According to court filings, guilty plea hearings are scheduled for July 20.
A slideshow memorial to the miners (FLASHBACK) (15 April 2010)
PAM COMMENTARY: These aren't the same miners killed in the 2006 fire mentioned in the above article, but rather the miners killed in the explosion earlier this year (same company operating the mine, though).
Community colleges cash in on foreign students (12 July 2010)
Homegrown students may have trouble getting into classes, but community colleges in California are having no problem finding room for foreign students who pay top dollar to come here - and provide millions of dollars for the schools.
Take the Peralta Community College District in the East Bay, which recruits an estimated 800 to 1,000 students from Europe, Asia, Africa and Israel each year, according to a new Alameda County civil grand jury report.
Foreign students pay $5,332 apiece for 12 units per year - compared with $624 for students who come from in state. The foreign aid translated to more than $4 million this year for Peralta.
"It's not just Peralta - the jury found that everybody does it. It's a real moneymaker," said Jeff Stark, the Alameda County prosecutor who advised the investigation into the program's costs.
PAM COMMENTARY: University of Wisconsin did the same thing in the 1980s. The middle class state residents whose taxes funded the school suddenly saw their children unable to afford or attend college, as the university implemented new policies in favor of foreign students who paid more. One of the reasons that I never liked President Clinton's Health and Human Services Secretary, Donna Shalala, was that she was an advocate of that policy change while an administrator at UW. (I'm not a fan Bush's Tommy Thompson either, another political wingnut from Wisconsin, but that's another story.)
To this day, I remember the one American teaching assistant in the physics department ("Nick") telling me that almost all of the TAs in UW's physics department were from China, and that students had trouble understanding them in class. Some TAs couldn't speak English at all, most spoke it poorly. He said he was tired of every student in physics showing up at his office because they couldn't get their assignments or understand their own TAs in class. The system seemed design to encourage them to fail, and desperate to get through, students tracked him down and asked him for the help promised by the university but not really delivered. That was in the 80s. I have yet to hear what's happening there today.
Food Poisoning? Holy Guacamole! And Salsa, Too. (12 July 2010)
Salsa and guacamole are chock-full of raw vegetables, such as hot peppers, tomatoes and cilantro, all of which have been implicated in outbreaks over the years.
The analysis of 25 years worth of foodborne outbreaks reported to the CDC found 136 linked to salsa or guacamole or both. The researchers dubbed them SGA � short for salsa- and guacamole-associated � outbreaks. Nice. (For more info, search for "Board 12" in this PDF from the meeting.)
When big batches of salsa or guac aren't kept cold, contaminating microbes can grow like wild. Most of the outbreaks came from restaurant food, and hygiene, or lack of it for workers, was a big issue.
Before 1984, there were no reports of SGA outbreaks. But for the decade ending in 2008, the SGA outbreaks constituted nearly 4 percent of those tied to restaurants.
UK Food Standards Agency to be abolished by health secretary (12 July 2010)
Andrew Burnham, Labour's health spokesman, said: "Getting rid of the FSA is the latest in a number of worrying steps that show Andrew Lansley caving in to the food industry. It does raise the question whether the health secretary wants to protect the public health or promote food companies."
Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum, said it was "crazy" to dismember the FSA. "It had a hugely important role in improving the quality of foodstuffs in Britain and it was vital to have at the centre of government a body that championed healthy food. This appears just the old Conservative party being the political wing of business," Fry said.
Tom MacMillan of the Food Ethics Council, said: "The agency was set up to earn public trust after a succession of food scares. Its wobbles, like the latest row over GM foods, have come when that commitment has wavered. Any departments absorbing the FSA's role should heed that lesson carefully, doing even more to invite scrutiny and banish the slightest whiff of secrecy, or the new government could face another BSE."
Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association, the organic food standard-bearer, which had several run-ins with the first FSA chair Lord Krebs on the issue, said: "Many NGOs campaigning on food thought for a long time the food industry has an unhealthy degree of influence over the Department of Health so the great risk is the corporate vested interests of the food industry will have too strong an influence on future policy."
Mark Purdey's Organophosphate Model of Mad Cow Disease (FLASHBACK) (3 January 2003)
Somerset farmer Mark Purdey observed that the UK's Mad Cow outbreak immediately followed the government's attempt to eradicate the parasite warble fly from cattle. Most farmers were required to treat their cows' spines and skulls with Phosmet, an organophosphate pesticide. Because Purdey was an organic farmer, he obtained special permission to avoid treating his cattle. He then observed that his neighbors' treated herds went on to contract Mad Cow Disease (BSE), whereas Purdey's untreated herds did not. Purdey also had purchased a non-organic herd which had been treated with Phosmet before he acquired it. That particular herd also went on to develop Mad Cow Disease.
The bacterial model of Mad Cow Disease (FLASHBACK) (26 September 2004)
Broxmeyer, a doctor who has treated TB in patients and studied it extensively, cites symptoms of TB which match the encephalopathy and neurological damage seen in Mad Cow Disease (BSE), Scrapie in sheep, and CJD in humans. He explains that Tuberculosis often assumes "L-forms," or cell-wall deficient forms, which are hard for researchers to detect using standard methods, and evade the animal's immune system. (This is also related to the bacterium's pleomorphic nature.) Mad Cow tissue was shown to be infectious in experimentation even without "prions" present, which could indicate that an agent like L-forms are at work. Bovine TB can also cause "downer cows" and both meningitis and encephalitis in cattle and humans.
"Current mad cow diagnosis lies solely in the detection of late appearing 'prions', an acronym for hypothesized, gene-less, misfolded proteins, somehow claimed to cause the disease. Yet laboratory preparations of prions contain other things, which could include unidentified bacteria or viruses. Furthermore, the rigors of prion purification alone, might, in and of themselves, have killed the causative virus or bacteria. Therefore, even if samples appear to infect animals, it is impossible to prove that prions are causative." - Lawrence Broxmeyer, M.D., Is mad cow disease caused by a bacteria?
I asked Dr. Broxmeyer about Mark Purdey's theory of Mad Cow Disease, the organophosphate/manganese poisoning model. Purdey's theory of an organophosphate-Mad Cow link started with the very compelling observation that Purdey's organic herd, untreated with organophosphate pesticides, did not contract Mad Cow Disease, whereas a non-organic herd of his own which had been treated and his neighbors' treated herds all contracted Mad Cow Disease. Also, the Mad Cow epidemic immediately followed the British government's mandatory treatment of cattle with organophosphate pesticides in order to "eradicate" the warble fly parasite. This was a very strong observation, and usually such observations are eventually proven correct by science.
Although Broxmeyer doesn't think that the actual cause of Mad Cow goes beyond Bovine tuberculosis, and that blaming disease on agents such as organophosphates was a traditional flaw even in the history of discovering the real cause for tuberculosis, he admitted that there could be an indirect linkage with not only organophosphates but a host of other chemical and physical irritants. According to Broxmeyer, "Mankiewicz and Livingston's colleague Alexander-Jackson (1965) established that bacteriophages (also called phages), the viruses which live inside pathogens such as bovine and human tuberculosis could in and of themselves cause cytopathogenic change, even pre-malignancy in otherwise normal healthy mammalian tissue. Lwoff (1962) and early phage masters showed how the phages inside Mankiewicz's mycobacteria could be activated by a host of chemical and other agents, some pesticide-like, including organophosphates. Organophosphates therefore could be one of many irritants causing Mad Cow clinically in bovine tuberculosis infected cattle by causing them to activate the phage viruses within this disease. And since Nelson and Pickett (1951) showed that it was attack by these very same phage viruses which seemed to cause the majority of Klieneberger's cell-wall-deficient (pleomorphic) forms thru breech of the cell wall, organophosphates would indirectly cause them to propagate and the underlying disease in Mad Cow, central nervous system bovine tuberculosis would become aggravated."
Broxmeyer however, because of the intricacies of such an organophosphate relationship and the fact that he felt Bovine TB itself, and not organophosphates, causes Mad Cow, chose not to cover that particular issue in his article. On the other hand, he draws freely from the "concept of Klieneberger and Livingston's viral (pleomorphic) forms of Bovine tuberculosis" to explain why some investigators might interpret that a virus is behind Mad Cow. "Of all the pathogens," he relates, "the preferred form of any tuberculosis or the mycobacteria is the cell-wall-deficient or pleomorphic state, a strategy they [the bacteria] have devised to create dormant forms which both go beneath the body's radar of detection and mean guaranteed survival." Obviously, with pleomorphism a forbidden yet well-known secret in the scientific community, little research would be funded or published to back such claims. Broxmeyer is one of the few researchers brave enough to cite Virginia Livingston as it is. (See my article on the Genetic Fad for a brief explanation of pleomorphism.)
PAM COMMENTARY: It seems that everyone who knows about pleomorphism is familiar with the TB and cancer relationship. (A lesser known pleomorphic relationship, for example, is that between polio and streptococcus bacteria, discovered by a prestigious scientist working with Dr. Rife,
Dr. Edward Rosenow. Rosenow was fired from Mayo Clinic for his scientific discoveries.)
Many believe that the cancer virus discovered by Rife in the 1930s is in fact SV-40, the virus also discovered by Hulda Clark to be involved in her patients� cancer. Numerous opinions have been published online claiming that AIDS is a mutated form of cancer developed from the SV-40 virus in biowarfare labs. (See Dr. Len Horowitz� prolific work on this topic .) The TB/cancer organism is apparently very popular among biowarfare labs specifically because of its dormant forms and pleomorphic nature, making the organism hard for a patient to purge completely.
BP asset sale would include part of Prudhoe, report says (12 July 2010)
London's Sunday Times said Houston-based Apache was discussing the possibility of acquiring BP assets. The newspaper did not cite a source for its report. BP spokesman Robert Wine and Apache spokesman Bob Dye both said their companies would not comment on "speculation."
Natalie Loman, an Alaska-based spokeswoman for ConocoPhillips, which owns about 36 percent of the Prudhoe Bay field, also declined to comment on the "market rumors." BP owns 26 percent of the field and ExxonMobil Corp. holds a stake of about 36 percent.
Apache's exploration and production interests include the Gulf of Mexico, Western sedimentary basin of Canada, Egypt, western Australia, the North Sea and South America.
The Sunday Times separately said that ExxonMobil is considering a bid for BP. Citing oil industry sources, the paper said ExxonMobil had approached the Obama administration for clearance to make a takeover offer.
Coca Cola Commercial: A Closer Look (12 July 2010)
PAM COMMENTARY: Alex Jones is posting this old news report on Aspartame.
Gov Joe Manchin Holds the Fate of the Unemployment Extension Bill (11 July 2010)
The West Virginian Governor [sought] legal advice from his Attorney General Darrell McGraw last week as to the legality of holding an early election, ahead of the one scheduled by state law for 2012. The advice he received back from McGraw was that an early election could be held this November.
As of early Monday July 12th, with the Democrats still requiring that one vote in the senate, Gov Manchin has not made clear his intentions for the senate seat. It�s thought by many political observers that Manchin will seek the seat himself. If he does so, the political pundits said it would be most unlikely that he would to appoint a �temporary successor� in the interim.
This would mean the senate seat would remain vacant until after the November election, leaving the Democrat�s one vote shy of having the numbers to pass the Extenders bill, which includes the unemployment insurance extension.
This would be a social disaster for the unemployed Americans already without any source of income. And it�s expected that 200,000 jobless will lose [their] unemployment benefits every week after July 10th.
Whales shout to be heard over oceanic noise pollution (11 July 2010)
This is also one of the first studies to assess changes in whale calls as a response to increases in ambient noise, rather than increases in single-source noises.
The North Atlantic right whale is a type of baleen whale that is listed as an endangered species. Its primary habitat is in the coastal waters of the eastern United States and Canada, an area with high levels of commercial, naval and recreational shipping traffic, said Susan Parks, lead author of the study and assistant professor of acoustics at Pennsylvania State University.
Further, the noise generated from the commercial ships has the same pitch as a right whale's call, Parks said. "This is a problem because its noise source overlaps the frequency range of the whales' calls," she added.
Said Stephanie Watwood, a visiting biologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who was not involved in the study: "Most of the focus previously has been on the effect of noise from intense sounds, like military testing or underwater construction, and this study focuses on the effects of lower, ambient level noises, which can affect a greater number of individuals in the environment for longer periods of time."
Sound is an important aspect of the right whales' survival because they rely on it for vital life functions, such as communication, navigation and feeding. "All of these whales live in the world of Stevie Wonder," Gaydos said. "It's all about acoustics for them. Seeing is more difficult, so it's all about sound."
FDA nears approval of genetically engineered salmon (11 July 2010)
Aquaculture is already an $86 billion-a-year business, with nearly half of all fish consumed globally farm raised. As wild stocks dwindle and the world's population heads toward 9 billion, fish farmers will be looking for fish that will be market-ready quicker.
Even so, skeptics abound.
Fears persist about possible health risks from genetically modified food in general, but concerns about bioengineered salmon also extend to the environment.
Farmed salmon are raised in net pens in coastal waters along Washington state, Maine and British Columbia. Most commonly, the fish being raised are Atlantic salmon, and the fear is they'll escape and compete with endangered native stocks. By some estimates, between 400,000 and 1 million Atlantic salmon have escaped into the wild from the 75 or so net-pen operations in British Columbia.
A Purdue University study using a computer model, widely criticized by the biotechnology industry, showed that if 60 transgenic fish bred in a population of 60,000 wild fish, the wild fish would be extinct in 40 generations.
Solar energy takes off in U.S. as cost declines (11 June 2010)
Indeed, the biggest obstacle to the growth of solar energy�its cost�has started to decline. The price of photovoltaic solar panels dropped more than 40 per cent last year due to a glut in global supply, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.
The drop in price is driving renewed interest in solar energy, said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center.
Last month, Illinois lawmakers passed legislation that will double the state�s solar power supply each year and create an estimated 5,000 �green� jobs by 2014. Meanwhile, at least three solar developers have plans to build solar projects of 10 to 20 megawatts in Illinois, Learner said.
To be sure, Illinois is not quite the solar-powered mecca of California or Florida. But the potential is there: The sun in Illinois is more intense than in Japan or Germany, the world�s two largest solar markets.
Stimulus money coming in mostly goes elsewhere (11 July 2010)
The largest business recipient of federal stimulus dollars in Virginia is located on the 16th floor of a downtown office building where it employs no one.
It exists primarily on paper, a shell to act as a conduit for defense contracts for its owners.
Atlantic Contingency Constructors LLC was created in April 2006 and registered in Louisiana, a joint venture between The Shaw Group Inc., a large national construction firm based in Baton Rouge, La., and the Los Angeles-based engineering giant AECOM. Shaw Environmental & Infrastructure, a unit of Shaw Group, is Atlantic Contingency's managing partner.
Such arrangements are not uncommon in defense contracting. Shaw Environmental Inc. pays the rent and employs the workers in the office on the 16th floor of the BB&T building in Norfolk.
Atlantic Contingency became Hampton Roads' largest recipient of stimulus dollars last summer when it was awarded $101.3 million to install solar-energy systems at Navy facilities around the country. The money came from the Defense Department's share of the $787 billion federal stimulus package approved by Congress in early 2009.
Secret gold swap has spooked the market (11 July 2010)
Concerns hinged on whether the BIS could potentially sell on this vast cache of bullion in the event of a default, flooding the market with liquidity. It appears to have raised $14bn for whoever's been doing the swapping � small fry on the currency markets, but serious liquidity in the gold market.
Denominated in euros, gold has fallen 8pc since the beginning of the month and is now trading at a seven-week low of �937 per troy ounce.
The big gold exchange traded funds (ETFs) � having peaked at record inflows in May � have also been showing net outflows over the past few days.
Meanwhile, economists and gold market-watchers were determined to hunt down which bank is short of cash � curious about who is using their stash of precious metal for what looks suspiciously like a secret bailout.
Microscope allows a sharper look at molecules (11 June 2010)
The resolution improvement was achieved by ridding existing technology of two errors. First, the team found that light detectors on microscopes are not perfectly consistent in the way they handle light rays that hit them at different points; this results in fuzzy images that make it difficult to distinguish two spots that lie within a few nanometers of each other. The researchers developed software to fix this problem. They also used a laser to stabilize the microscope stage, further sharpening the images.
The researchers said they were working toward experiments in an even more realistic environment: a living cell. Previous studies using this and related technologies to study biological molecules in action were done under conditions thought to mimic a cell, but whole cells are much more complex and delicate.
Chu said running a lab didn't affect his work as secretary of Energy. He takes care of his research in his leisure time, he said.
PAM COMMENTARY: Sounds a little like Royal Rife's microscopes of the 1930s, although Rife solved the resolution problem (80 years earlier) by not allowing light beams to cross and diffract.
Health industry workers die, get cancer from chemo drugs (11 July 2010)
Crump, who died of pancreatic cancer last September at age 55, was one of thousands of health care workers who were chronically exposed to chemotherapy agents on the job for years before there were any safety guidelines in place.
Now, some of those workers, like Crump, are being diagnosed with cancers that occupational health specialists say could be linked to that exposure.
Their ranks include Bruce Harrison of St. Louis, Karen Lewis of Baltimore � both pharmacists �and Brett Cordes, a veterinarian from Scottsdale, Ariz. All, like Crump, worked extensively with or around chemotherapy. (See profiles below.) All of them eventually got cancer, or in Lewis� case a pre-cancerous condition. All believed their disease was linked to workplace exposures and became symbols for increased safety. Cordes, who was diagnosed four years ago at age 35, and Lewis, who was diagnosed in her 50s, are both undergoing treatment. Harrison died at age 59.
Tracing an individual�s cancer to a particular exposure is difficult. It�s one of the main reasons safety advocates have been thwarted in their efforts to get stricter regulations. But many who study these agents fear lax safety standards are resulting in ongoing exposures that continue to put current workers at future risk.
A just-completed study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 10 years in the making and the largest to date, confirms that chemo continues to contaminate the workspaces where it�s used, and in some cases is still being found in the urine of those who handle it, despite knowledge of safety precautions.
PAM COMMENTARY: This article refers to chemo drugs as "life saving" and makes claims that they have saved lives. I don't endorse or agree with any of those statements -- people in the alternative health field would say that patients survive cancer DESPITE chemo drugs, not because of them. Even doctors know that chemo drugs can and do cause death and cancer in many cases -- it's a "side effect." This is why Lorraine Day, M.D., Chief of Orthopedic Surgery at San Francisco General Hospital at the time of her cancer diagnosis, refused chemo and went on to cure her own cancer using dietary and lifestyle changes. (Note that I prefer to include more than just Dr. Day's protocols in an alternative cancer regimen, for example a zapper and the flaxseed oil portion of the Budwig diet -- see below for links to YouTube videos that I made on cancer protocols. Dietary changes are important though, which is why I included them.) However, this article does have good information on risks to health industry workers who handle chemo drugs, and so I'm including it here.
End of Census, and for Many, End of Job (11 July 2010)
When the Census Bureau hired upward of 700,000 Americans over the last two years � most in the last six months � it landed more experienced workers with more sophisticated skills than any time in recent memory. This was the unintended upside of the nastiest recession of the last 70 years.
Now, its decennial work largely done, the Census Bureau is shedding hundreds of thousands of workers � about 225,000 in just the last few weeks, enough to account for a jot or two in the unemployment rate, say federal economists. Most of those remaining will be gone by August; a few will last into September.
In past decades, the bureau faced a challenge just keeping workers around to close up shop, as most dashed for new jobs that might pay better. Not this time around. Jobs remain scarce. In Rhode Island, the unemployment rate stands at 12.3 percent, higher than a year ago. The national rate, too, has not budged.
As most census workers have nowhere to go, rushed farewells are rare. Self-reflection, and a touch of anxiety, mark the mood.
White House: Republicans could win control of House (11 July 2010)
In the run-up to the vote, Obama is trying to convince impatient Americans that his economic policies are working and that improvements will take time.
"We understand people are frustrated, everybody is frustrated," Gibbs said. "Look, the president is frustrated that we haven't seen greater recovery efforts, but that doesn't stop us from doing what we know is right, instituting the policies that we know will bring the country back," he added.
Obama and his fellow Democrats are grappling with a range of problems and many political analysts see the election as a national referendum on his policies.
The economy is struggling and unemployment has hovered at just below 10 percent. The war in Afghanistan is not going well. And the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has prompted criticism that Obama's response was slow, disorganized and too easy on BP Plc.
PAM COMMENTARY: Everyone seems to forget the health care "reform" vote. Why did Scott Brown win Massachusetts -- Ted Kennedy's old seat, of all things? People hated that health care legislation, but they voted for it anyway, didn't they? The Wall Street bailouts, the wimpy "reform" now before Congress, stalls in extending Unemployment Compensation during times of severe hardship, among other things -- it's as though they never intended to be reelected.
Six months after the quake, Haitians homeless, still live in squalor (11 July 2010)
As Haitians commemorate the six-month anniversary on Monday of the 7.0 earthquake that killed up to 300,000 people, the Corail camp has become a symbol of how the nation's once-promising reconstruction effort has gone off the rails.
Set on a treeless flood plain 16 kilometres north of Port-au-Prince, the camp is home to about 10,000 Haitians who lost their homes on Jan. 12.
The tents here are laid out in a neat grid with ample space between lodgings. Outdoor toilets are set in the middle of wide dirt thoroughfares, well away from the living quarters. United Nations troops and Haiti's national police conduct regular patrols.
But the camp is utterly without shade from the relentless Caribbean sun, which pushes daily temperatures near 40 C. The tallest green, living things are the cacti that stand sentry outside the camp's perimeter. The tents themselves rest on a vast bed of gravel, which is necessary for stability and drainage but gives the camp the barren look of base camp at Mount Everest.
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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