Pam Rotella's Vegetarian FUN page -- News on health, nutrition, the environment, politics, and more!
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News from the Week of 12th to 18th of June 2011
Cancer death rates continue drop-report (18 June 2011)
Death rates for all cancer types fell by 1.9 percent a year from 2001 to 2007 in men and by 1.5 percent a year in women from 2002 through 2007.
Steady overall declines in cancer death rates have meant about 898,000 who would have died prematurely from cancer in the past 17 years did not, the organization said.
Americans with the least education are more than twice as likely to die from cancer as those with the most education, according to the group's annual cancer report.
Death rates for all cancer types have fallen in all racial and ethnic groups among both men and women since 1998 with the exception of American Indian/Alaska Native women, among whom rates were stable.
Black and Hispanic men have had the largest annual decreases in cancer death rates since 1998, falling by 2.6 percent among blacks and 2.5 percent among Hispanics.
PAM COMMENTARY: What would people with a good education have that people without one would not? Maybe more money? Or is it the ability to read and easily understand articles about cancer that might improve their survival odds? Perhaps articles on ALTERNATIVE cancer treatments?
For Want of a Word, Arizona's Jobless Lose Checks (18 June 2011)
Arizona's legislature has resisted making a small word change, from "two" to "three," in its statutes. Only if it does will Mr. Ballesteros continue to receive jobless benefits through November, allowing him to pay his mortgage and medical bills.
Otherwise, his checks stop next week.
"It is almost 100 degrees out there, and I am walking door to door handing out r�m�" said Mr. Ballesteros, who worked for 21 years at a nonprofit group in Tucson before getting laid off when funding dried up. "Now Arizona decided to kill the benefits extension from the federal government because some legislator decided we're just sitting around on our butts waiting for a check."
That last extension of unemployment benefits -- typically received in weeks 80 through 99 of unemployment -- is paid for entirely with federal money and does not affect state budgets. But because of ideological opposition and other legislative priorities, Arizona and a handful of other states, like Wisconsin and Alaska, have not made the one-word change necessary to keep the program going.
Right now about 640,000 jobless Americans are receiving this last tier of benefits, according to the National Employment Law Project. The money, appropriated in the 2009 federal stimulus package, was initially intended for states with jobless rates higher than they were two years earlier. Since the recovery has been much slower than predicted, though, Congress decided last December to allow states to continue receiving the money if their unemployment rates were higher than they were three years earlier. States simply needed to change "two" to "three" in the relevant state law.
PAM COMMENTARY: People rarely pay attention to their state elections -- this is a harsh lesson in learning to elect the right people.
US orders news blackout over crippled Nebraska Nuclear Plant: report (18 June 2011)
A shocking report prepared by Russia's Federal Atomic Energy Agency (FAAE) on information provided to them by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) states that the Obama regime has ordered a "total and complete" news blackout relating to any information regarding the near catastrophic meltdown of the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant located in Nebraska.
According to this report, the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant suffered a "catastrophic loss of cooling" to one of its idle spent fuel rod pools on 7 June after this plant was deluged with water caused by the historic flooding of the Missouri River which resulted in a fire causing the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) to issue a "no-fly ban" over the area.
Located about 20 minutes outside downtown Omaha, the largest city in Nebraska, the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant is owned by Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) who on their website denies their plant is at a "Level 4" emergency by stating: "This terminology is not accurate, and is not how emergencies at nuclear power plants are classified."
Russian atomic scientists in this FAAE report, however, say that this OPPD statement is an "outright falsehood" as all nuclear plants in the world operate under the guidelines of the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) which clearly states the "events" occurring at the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant do, indeed, put it in the "Level 4" emergency category of an "accident with local consequences" thus making this one of the worst nuclear accidents in US history.
Though this report confirms independent readings in the United States of "negligible release of nuclear gasses" related to this accident it warns that by the Obama regimes censoring of this event for "political purposes" it risks a "serious blowback" from the American public should they gain knowledge of this being hidden from them.
Interesting to note about this event was the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chief, Gregory B. Jaczko, blasting the Obama regime just days before the near meltdown of the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant by declaring that "the policy of not enforcing most fire code violations at dozens of nuclear plants is 'unacceptable' and has tied the hands of NRC inspectors."
OPPD Says Fort Calhoun Station Rumors Untrue (17 June 2011)
He said he installed the 'no fly zone' when he saw four low flying planes over the plant.
"I can ill afford at a time when I've got already a natural disaster going on to have an aircraft crash on site that could potentially affect one of my power sources," he said.
A lack of on-site power was one problem confronting Japan's Fuku Shima plant that was damaged by a tsunami.
OPPD President and CEO Gary Gates said lines powering the Fort Calhoun plant are secure.
"That single piece of the Fuku Shima event...losing power...really is what made the event to the level it is today," he said. "So I can assure all of you, Fuku Shima level will not occur at the Fort Calhoun station."
PAM COMMENTARY: Either that or there was a radiation release that they're not going to admit until later, as happens all too often with nuclear accidents.
Program Offering Waivers for Health Law Is Ending (18 June 2011)
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration said Friday that it was shutting down a program that had provided exemptions from the new health care law for many employers and labor unions offering bare-bones insurance coverage to workers.
No more applications will be accepted after Sept. 22, federal health officials said.
Steven B. Larsen, director of the federal Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, said employers and labor unions had until that date to seek exemptions or request the extension of waivers already granted.
The new health care law generally requires employers to provide at least $750,000 in coverage to each person in their health insurance plans this year. Many restaurants, retailers and small businesses do not meet the standard. Some provide "mini-med" coverage with annual limits that may be as low as $10,000.
Health worries mount over smoke from N.C. blaze (18 June 2011)
Health concerns are mounting as the 70-square-mile Pains Bay fire that's been burning for six weeks shows no immediate sign of relenting its smoky assault on nearby communities.
Forecasters are predicting that wind will push smoke to the northeast again this weekend, and the North Carolina Division of Air Quality has issued "unhealthy" and "very unhealthy" air advisories to people from mainland Dare County to Manteo, Elizabeth City and the northern Outer Banks through Monday. They advise people to reduce or avoid outdoor activities when smoke is present.
Officials plan to hold public meetings next week at several locations about the wildfire that's been burning since early May and has sent occasional plumes into Hampton Roads.
The meetings, scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, will be held in Rodanthe, Roanoke Island, Southern Shores and Kill Devil Hills, according to a news release from Dare County. Officials from the North Carolina Division of Forest Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Dare County and health agencies will discuss the firefighting progress and health issues.
More than 45,000 acres have burned since lightning ignited the blaze May 5. Firefighters are pumping millions of gallons of water every day onto the fire's perimeter to prevent it from spreading further - an operation that goes on around the clock.
Especially challenging are the 12,000 acres of ground fire, where stubborn pockets of peat burn 6 feet deep in some places. At least 6 inches of rain is needed to extinguish the burning peat, officials have said.
Antibiotics: Feinstein bill seeks to protect humans (18 June 2011)
Feinstein's legislation, opposed by the National Pork Producers Council, would phase out the use of antibiotics considered "medically important" to humans and require new applications for animal antibiotics to prove that they do not endanger human health. The bill would permit antibiotics to treat sick animals.
The California Democrat's bill is an identical version of a House bill, HR965, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act, by Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., a microbiologist on a crusade to eliminate low-dose antibiotic use in livestock.
Feinstein cited the case of Carlos Don, 12, of Ramona (San Diego County), who took ill at a summer camp last summer, was treated with antibiotics and told he would get well shortly.
He was rehospitalized within a day, and it took doctors 48 hours to find an antibiotic that could kill the bug that had infected him, known as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, the same bug found in dairy milk in Britain. But the boy's vital organs had failed and he died.
Two million Americans acquire bacterial infections during hospital stays each year, and 70 percent of those infections are resistant to antibiotics, causing 38 deaths a day, Feinstein said.
OBAMA ADMINISTRATION EMBRACES GE CROPS ON WILDLIFE REFUGES -- Plans Issued to Green-Light Genetically Engineered Agriculture on Scores of Refuges (FLASHBACK) (14 February 2011) [R]
The proposal for the Midwestern Refuges would allow more than 20,000 acres to be cultivated with no limits on how many acres could be GE crops. The public comment deadline for that plan is today. In its comments, PEER argues that the GE operations risk harm to wildlife, refuge plants and soil, while contending that there is no refuge purpose for which GE crops are essential, as required by FWS policy.
"These plans are based on the curious notion that wildlife benefit from having the small slivers of habitat set aside for them covered by genetically engineered soybeans," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting the Midwest refuges are already surrounded by row crops, most of which are now GE. "To boost U.S. exports, the Obama administration is forcing wildlife refuges into political prostitution."
In 2010, PEER, the Center for Food Safety and Delaware Audubon brought successful litigation charging that GE agriculture on refuges in the Northeast violated the Refuge Improvement Act as incompatible with refuge purposes and lacked reviews required by the National Environmental Policy Act. That suit was settled when FWS agreed to stop commercial agriculture operations on all refuges within the region. These latest filings are supposed to shield refuges in other regions from similar suits based on failing to meet procedural requirements of environmental statutes. Future challenges would have to show that these new eco-reviews are impermissibly defective -- a higher legal hurdle.
"The Obama administration says that it is devoted to scientific integrity but these new reviews are scientific travesties," added Ruch, pointing to new Interior Department (which includes FWS) rules requiring that scientific information in decision- making "must be robust, of the highest quality, and the result of the most rigorous scientific processes as can be achieved." "The sole document assessing the environmental impacts of genetically engineered planting in 25 Southeastern refuges is only six pages long."
Increasingly the only seed available to U.S. farmers, especially for corn and soybeans, is GE. Ironically, it is the ubiquity of GE agriculture that FWS offers as the main reason it must allow these crops on refuges.
AARP slammed for not fighting Social Security cuts (17 June 2011)
In the midst of that, The Wall Street Journal quoted AARP's longtime policy chief, John Rother, saying the agency was dropping its longstanding opposition to cutting Social Security benefits.
"The ship was sailing. I wanted to be at the wheel when that happens," The Journal quoted Rother as saying.
Certner said the story was inaccurate, that AARP's views were long held. Nevertheless, the story set off a firestorm among Social Security advocates, who roundly criticized AARP as selling out seniors. Most advocacy groups oppose all cuts to Social Security benefits, even those that would affect only future generations, such as an increase in the retirement age.
"AARP is losing the confidence of seniors around the country, and not just seniors but people of every age group," said Max Richtman, acting CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. "I hope the ship that he wants to be steer isn't the Titanic filled with seniors."
Bin Laden court case dismissed (17 June 2011)
U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan in New York on Friday granted a request from prosecutors to drop the terrorism counts against the slain al-Qaeda leader. Bin Laden had been charged in a series of indictments between 1998 and 2000. They accused him of plotting to attack the United States and kill U.S. citizens and committing various crimes related to the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
The filing from prosecutors in the office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara lacked the drama of the daring raid in which U.S. Special Operations Forces shot and killed bin Laden in a compound in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad in the early hours of May 2 local time (afternoon of May 1 in Washington). The U.S. Navy later buried bin Laden at an undisclosed location in the northern Arabian Sea.
The government filing lists bin Laden's alleged crimes, and then states: "On or about May 1, 2011, while this case was still pending, defendant Usama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in the course of an operation conducted by the United States."
It also contains a declaration from George Z. Toscas, deputy assistant attorney general for counterterrorism and counterespionage in the Justice Department's National Security Division. He certifies that the CIA and U.S. military personnel confirmed bin Laden's death through DNA tests, facial recognition analysis and an identification of the body by one of his wives.
The dismissal marked a quiet end to one phase of a long-standing debate over whether bin Laden and other terrorism suspects should be tried in federal courts or before the military.
PAM COMMENTARY: As usual, they'd rather find ways to evade and deny Bush's war crimes than confront them. Claiming bin Laden was responsible for 9/11 and then claiming to kill him allowed them to run away from difficult legal realities yet again.
Nebraska nuclear reactor dry though surrounded by flood (17 June 2011)
(Reuters) - The Fort Calhoun nuclear power station in Nebraska remains shut down due to Missouri River flooding, but the plant itself has not flooded and is expected to remain safe, the federal government said Friday.
The rising river "has certainly affected the site, but the plant itself, the actual reactor is still dry," said Scott Burnell, Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman.
The 478-megawatt plant north of Omaha shut April 9 to refuel, and has remained shut because of the flooding, said Omaha Public Power District spokesman Jeff Hanson.
"When the river reaches 1,004 feet above mean sea level, we shut down," said Hanson. "We don't have any idea when we'll be able to start again."
The Missouri River, swollen by heavy rains and melting snow, has been flooding areas from Montana through Missouri. Residents have been shoring up levees around towns as federal officials widen flood gates to allow record or near-record water releases to ease pressure on reservoirs.
The Fort Calhoun station is owned and operated by the Omaha Public Power District and supplies power to Nebraska's largest city. Contractors at the plant have completed construction of an earthen berm around the plant's switch yard and are protecting the plant and other facilities with large temporary structures filled with water.
Electrical Fire Knocks Out Spent Fuel Cooling at Nebraska Nuke Plant (FLASHBACK) (9 June 2011)
A fire  in an electrical switch room on Tuesday briefly knocked out cooling for a pool holding spent nuclear fuel at the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant  outside Omaha, Neb., plant officials said.
The safety of deep pools used to store used radioactive fuel at nuclear plants has been an issue since the accident at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant in March. If the cooling water a pool is lost, the used nuclear fuel could catch fire and release radiation.
As ProPublica reported earlier, fire safety is a continuing concern  at the country's 104 commercial reactors, as is the volume of spent fuel  piling up at plants.
Officials at Fort Calhoun said the situation at their plant came nowhere near to Fukushima's. They said it would have taken 88 hours for the heat produced by the fuel to boil away the cooling water.
Dirty Electricity (VIDEO, FLASHBACK) (17 June 2011)
PAM COMMENTARY: The date of this video isn't shown, but I thought my readers might enjoy the flashback.
Sameul Milham Electrification's Tragic Legacy (VIDEO, FLASHBACK) (17 June 2011)
PAM COMMENTARY: The date of this video is unknown.
Aerial View Of Destroyed Fukushima Nuclear Plant (17 June 2011) [R]
PAM COMMENTARY: Jeff Rense has been good about covering the Japanese nuclear disaster while the rest of the press rarely follows-up. Here's an aerial view without much of an explanation.
Three earless rabbits born in China -- Mother used to give normal birth, only this time the newborns were different (VIDEO) (17 June 2011) [R]
These rabbits have recently been found in a villager's home in Chengkou County of Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality.
The earless rabbits have bald heads and gray eyes instead of hairy heads and red eyes.
The owner of the rabbits said that the mother rabbit used to give normal birth and only this time the new-born were different.
Microsoft's takeover of Skype approved by FTC (17 June 2011)
Microsoft Corp.'s purchase of Internet calling service Skype has been approved by the Federal Trade Commission's antitrust authority, according to a report.
The approval will allow the Redmond, Wash., company to go through with its $8.5 billion all-cash takeover of Skype, which is Microsoft's largest acquisition and one of the most massive deals in recent years for the tech industry.
Reuters reported the FCC approval Friday. Skype's software, which is used by 170 million people each month on personal computers, smartphones and some home television sets, enables users to talk by voice or video online for free. There is a fee for calling mobile phones and land lines.
Microsoft has said it will integrate Skype into its other products, such as its Xbox 360 video gaming console and Outlook, its email software. Google and Facebook also considered buying Skype before Microsoft announced its purchase of the Luxembourg Web calling firm, reports said.
FOX: Is Iodine-131 from Japan Killing Babies In Philadelphia? Deaths up 48 percent since radiation levels spiked in tap water (VIDEO) (16 June 2011)
A researcher says the death rate among babies is up 48 percent since Iodine-131 was found in Philadelphia's drinking water [...]
Joseph Mangano is is the executive director of the Radiation And Public Health Project in New York, which is made of up scientists and health professionals. [...]
Mangano said radiation combined with higher levels of iodine the EPAQ found in Philadelphia's water two months ago may be killing young babies here. [...]
[CDC data] shows an average of five infant deaths a week in the five weeks leading up to the fallout in Japan.
Then, for the 10 weeks after Japan, there was an average of 7. 5. [...]
PAM COMMENTARY: Aha! I knew that Japan's nuke plant would kills us all!
Source of iodine in Philadelphia's water still unclear (16 June 2011)
Though officials say the iodine found in Philadelphia's water isn't at harmful levels, there is no clear indication of where the radioactive material is coming from.
Iodine-131 was found in the city's drinking water more than two months ago, but the Environmental Protection Agency Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection and the Philadelphia Water Department have not been able to pinpoint the source, as WHYY's Carolyn Beeler reports.
Hospitals and nuclear energy plants have been ruled out, but Lisa Daniels of the DEP says there are still more questions than answers about the origin of the substance.
Hospital Practices For Emergency At Nuclear Power Plant (16 June 2011)
The intricate "dance" is just a drill, should something go wrong at the Limerick nuclear power plant in Montgomery County.
Lehigh Valley Hospital is one of 16 "MS-1" hospitals in Pennsylvania. That means, if something happens at the plant, patients could be transported to the hospital to be decontaminated and cared for.
The hospital must hold the drill once a year. It involves anyone and everyone who might come in contact with the patient.
Sometimes, federal and state officials will drop in just to make sure the hospital is getting it right.
Victor Wilson, an emergency management specialist with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, said the major concern is making sure the hospital knows how to decontaminate a patient.
Pa. nuclear plant has 3rd shutdown in 1 week (FLASHBACK) (4 June 2011)
POTTSTOWN, Pa. (AP) - June 4, 2011 (WPVI) -- Reactors at an eastern Pennsylvania nuclear plant have shut down unexpectedly three times in the past week, but regulatory authorities say no safety problems have been reported.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says Unit 1 of Exelon Nuclear's Limerick Generating Station shut down at 10:15 a.m. Friday. Commission spokesman Neil Sheehan said there were no complications and safety systems responded as expected.
Sheehan says investigators are trying to determine the cause of the latest shutdown, which occurred as operators were doing a test involving the turbine.
The shutdown came less than a day after the plant put the Unit 2 reactor back online following unplanned shutdowns Sunday and Monday.
PAM COMMENTARY: Note they say that no safety problems have been REPORTED. That's different than saying that they don't exist.
Exelon nuclear reactor shuts down unexpectedly in Limerick (FLASHBACK) (31 May 2011)
A malfunction led to the sudden shutdown of one of the nuclear reactors at Exelon's Limerick Nuclear Generation Station early Sunday morning.
Exelon said in a press release that Unit 2 shut down Sunday at 5:02 a.m. "after the turbine tripped following scheduled testing and maintenance on an electrical system in the non-nuclear section of the plant."
The company also said no one is hurt and the public should not be worried. Exelon is still determining the cause of the issue.
While Unit 2 is down, about 1,200 megawatts of power won't be attainable for the region's electrical grid, according to April Schilpp, senior communications manager for Exelon Nuclear.
Unit 2 also shut down in February because of problems with systems related to recirculating pumps, and remained down for more than 2 days, as reported in The Mercury.
PAM COMMENTARY: That Limerick plant is one of the scariest-looking reactors I've ever seen.
Longest lunar eclipse for a decade for stargazers
(16 June 2011)
DESPITE heavy cloud cover WA stargazers had the best view of a total lunar eclipse early this morning.
The eclipse began at 1.25am, but the event became obvious to viewers after 2.23am, as the Earth's shadow slowly ate away at the moon.
Not only did the eclipse see the moon entirely in shadow by 3.22am, but it also appeared blood-red - a spectacle enhanced by the volcanic ash cloud sweeping over WA.
The total eclipse ended at 5.03am, with the moon fully visible again by 6.02am.
PAM COMMENTARY: This article is from Australia -- the "WA" does not refer to Washington state, but probably Western Australia (the side of Australia with the city of Perth on it). According to other articles, this particular eclipse wasn't visible from North America.
Volcano ash turns Asian eclipse blood red (15 June 2011)
SYDNEY (AP) -- Asian and African night owls were treated to a lunar eclipse, and ash in the atmosphere from a Chilean volcano turned it blood red for some viewers.
The Sydney Observatory said the eclipse was to begin at 3:25 a.m. Thursday (1:25 p.m. EDT, 5:25 p.m. GMT Wednesday) and last until after 5 a.m.
Scientists said the specific phenomenon happening Thursday -- known as a "deep lunar eclipse" -- often exudes a coppery color. But the intensity of the color depends on the amount of ash and dust in the atmosphere.
Luckily for moon-gazers, there was plenty of ash in the air so the moon appeared orange or red, especially in Asia. Air travelers haven't been so lucky: The ash has grounded hundreds of flights around the region.
PAM COMMENTARY: Very nice slide show.
Life expectancy in the U.S. varies widely by region and in some places is decreasing (15 June 2011)
Large swaths of the United States are showing decreasing or stagnating life expectancy even as the nation's overall longevity trend has continued upwards, according to a county-by-county study of life expectancy over two decades.
In one-quarter of the country, girls born today may live shorter lives than their mothers, and the country as a whole is falling behind other industrialized nations in the march toward longer life, according to the study.
Those are among the conclusions of the study by a team of researchers that has spent years teasing apart the regional and demographic differences in longevity in the United States. It sketches a picture of widening inequality among regions and is likely to add urgency to the debate over health-care reform and spending.
Led by Christopher J. L. Murray and Sandeep C. Kulkarni of the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, the study covers the years 1987 to 2007 and updates an earlier analysis of U.S. life expectancy through the 1990s. That study identified areas of the country where life expectancy was stagnant or declining; this report found that not only was that still the case, but more places are experiencing a decline. The study will be published Wednesday in the journal Population Health Metrics.
Philly officials still don't know where iodine in water coming from (15 June 2011)
DEP found elevated levels of Iodine-131 flowing from waste-water treatment plants in Ambler and Abington in April. Daniels said nuclear power plants and hospitals have been ruled out as sources of the contamination. Waste-water from patients taking iodine as treatment for hyperactive thyroid or thyroid cancer is the likely cause, but that makes it hard to prevent.
"If it is coming from individual folks, what do you do about that?" Daniels asked. "There's not a building or facility that you can point to to say 'Ok, you guys need to lower you levels.'"
Officials said they will continue to try to determine the source of the iodine, ramping up efforts in the dry summer months when they expect concentrations may grow higher.
The elevated levels of iodine were documented by the federal program RadNet, which for three decades has been used to track environmental releases of radioactivity from nuclear weapons tests and nuclear accidents. The data has been posted online for years, but was never formally given to local water officials because it was not intended to be used for public health purposes. The Environmental Protection Agency said now a policy is in place to share the data with local authorities as soon as it is gathered.
"There was this question of well, why didn't drinking water folks know about it?" said the EPA's Bill Arguto. "Part of it was that the information wasn't intended for drinking water compliance issues, but I think we've come to realize that the information's important for everyone now."
PAM COMMENTARY: Notice that the word "Japan" doesn't appear even once in this article.
Cesium found in green tea from Shizuoka at French airport (FLASHBACK) (10 June 2011)
PARIS - The French government has decided to dispose of green tea shipped from Japan's Shizuoka Prefecture after detecting radioactive cesium above the European Union's limit at Charles de Gaulle airport, its official said Friday.
It is the first item to have surpassed the EU limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram in food imported from Japan since the nuclear crisis erupted March 11 at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, with 1,038 becquerels per kg measured in the 162 kg green tea, they said.
Cesium detected in Shizuoka tea (FLASHBACK) (10 June 2011)
Radioactive cesium exceeding the legal limit was detected in tea made in a factory in Shizuoka City, more than 300 kilometers away from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Shizuoka Prefecture is one of the most famous tea producing areas in Japan.
A tea distributor in Tokyo reported to the prefecture that it detected high levels of radioactivity in the tea shipped from the city. The prefectural government confirmed the contamination on Thursday, detecting 679 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium. The legal limit is 500 becquerels.
The prefecture ordered the factory to refrain from shipping out the product.
After the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, radioactive contamination of tea leaves and processed tea has been found over a wide area around Tokyo.
Starting last month in Shizuoka Prefecture radioactive cesium has been detected in tea leaves and processed tea from many production areas, including Shizuoka city, up to the level of about 460 becquerels per kilogram. This is the first time that cesium beyond the legal limit was found in tea leaves picked in the prefecture.
Airspace Over Flooded Nebraska Nuclear Power Plant Still Closed (15 June 2011)
On June 6th, the Federal Administration Aviation (FAA) issued a directive banning aircraft from entering the airspace within a two-mile radius of the plant.
"No pilots may operate an aircraft in the areas covered by this NOTAM," referring to the "notice to airmen," effective immediately.
Since last week, the plant has been under a "notification of unusual event" classification, becausing of the rising Missouri River. That is the lowest level of emergency alert.
The OPPD claims the FAA closed airspace over the plant because of the Missouri River flooding. But the FAA ban specifically lists the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant as the location for the flight ban.
CIA website hacked by Lulz Security (15 June 2011)
Lulz Security has claimed responsibility for recent attacks on the Senate, Sony Corp, News Corp and the US Public Broadcasting System television network.
The CIA site initially could not be accessed from New York to San Francisco, and Bangalore to London. Later in the evening service was sporadic.
"We are looking into these reports," a CIA spokesman said.
Lulz Security has defaced websites, posted personal information about customers and site administrators, and disclosed the network configurations of some sites.
Security analysts have downplayed the significance of these attacks, saying the hackers are just looking to show off and get as much attention as possible.
FBI to Expand Domestic Surveillance Powers as Details Emerge of Its Spy Campaign Targeting Activists (14 June 2011) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Some of the redacted FBI documents that show the surveillance of you, Scott, have been posted on the New York Times website. One FBI report describes the meeting of an activist group that you were a part of, saying, quote, "Most attendees dressed like hippies, had [dreadlocks] (both men and women), and smelled of bad odor." Another report has the extensive details on the contents of your trash.
SCOTT CROW: I mean, those two incidences just scratch the surface. The infiltration happened over and over again in different groups, in different events. There would be law enforcement and informants and people gathering information at all different levels -- city, county, state and federal authorities -- and private security, too. It's a revolving door between that sharing information and all of these things. Going through the trash was part of it.
But really, what was -- to me, what I think we should talk about is that -- how much money they spent investigating me, and not charging me with anything. You know, like, if I'm the tip of the iceberg and there's other people in other communities that they're doing this with, how much is the government spending to do something like this? And what kind of chilling effect does it have on activist communities and on us as citizens in this country?
AMY GOODMAN: How extensive, in terms of throughout the United States, was the monitoring of you, Scott? What have you figured out at this point?
SCOTT CROW: Well, they investigated me in nine states, like I said, in 12 field offices. There was five informants. There was one in Austin, two in Houston, one in Dallas and one in Detroit. I could only identify three of those people. The other ones I can't even identify who they are, people I might have come in contact with over and over again. But they're targeting -- but what we found out through these FOIAs--
PAM COMMENTARY: Yeah, a good whiff of body odor is what they get for spending time on these guys while serial killers are on the loose. I've always thought that Federal agents prefer to harass peaceniks because they're easier targets and less dangerous to the agents themselves. But in the end we don't pay the FBI to sit around and sing peace songs with the do-gooder community.
From Scott Crow's F.B.I. File (FLASHBACK) (28 May 2011)
These documents are among 440 pages that Scott Crow, an Austin, Tex., activist, received under the Freedom of Information Act. The Federal Bureau of Investigation wielded an impressive array of tools, the documents show, to monitor Mr. Crow, who has been arrested a dozen times during demonstrations but never convicted of anything more serious than trespassing.
Explosion rocks New Iberia chemical plant (14 June 2011)
Explosions rocked a Multi-Chem Corp. chemical plant in a New Iberia industrial park on Tuesday afternoon.
State Police said a one-mile area around the plant has been ordered to evacuate and Iberia Parish sheriff's deputies have closed Louisiana 182 on the western side of the town, about 75 miles west of New Orleans.
An official of Iberia Medical Center said four injured workers were being flown to a burn unit. It was unclear whether there were more injuries.
The Daily Iberian newspaper reported the first explosion occurred about 4 p.m. and explosions could still be heard 20 minutes later.
Nuclear waste dump is mired in inertia (14 June 2011)
In the desert of Nevada, a hundred miles from Las Vegas, engineers have drilled a tunnel through the heart of Yucca Mountain. The hole is 25 feet wide and five miles long. It's dark in there. The light bulbs have been removed. The ventilation has been turned off. There's nothing inside but some rusting rails that were supposed to carry 70,000 tons of nuclear waste to a permanent grave.
Outside, the gates are locked. When three U.S. congressmen visited in March, the federal government spent $15,000 just to reopen the place for a few hours.
Yucca Mountain is a case study in government dysfunction and bureaucratic inertia. The project dates back three decades. It has not solved the problem of nuclear waste, but has succeeded in keeping fully employed large numbers of litigators. As it now stands, the Yucca Mountain tunnel is likely to turn into a $15 billion Hole to Nowhere.
PAM COMMENTARY: Good news!
Airlines ground Melbourne, Tasmania and NZ flights over Chile volcano ash (12 June 2011)
With thousands of passengers stranded on both sides of the Tasman, Air Services Australia said the cloud had already reached Australian airspace and could affect air traffic for the next few days.
"While the main ash cloud is expected to pass to the south of the Australian mainland it has reached airspace in southern Tasmania and the south island of New Zealand," the authority said in a statement.
"The northern edge of the cloud is expected to reach Victoria, southern NSW and the Australian Capital Territory (Canberra), but it is also diffusing.
"This part of the ash cloud is not expected to impact south-east Australia beyond a day, but other parts of the ash cloud are being closely watched in case they move over Australia."
Andrew Tupper, head of Australia's Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre, said he expected the ash cloud to move towards Australia's east coast over the next day, although the plumes were breaking apart.
Chilean volcano - pix from space and earth (7 June 2011)
This towering plume of brown ash is clearly visible from space as a Chilean volcano continues to violently erupt.
Captured by specialist equipment on the Aqua satellite, the image was taken shortly after the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle exploded into life after decades of lying dormant in south-central Chile.
A three-mile long fissure has opened up in the Andes as toxic gases and ash belched a cloud more than six miles high across Chile and Argentina.
Authorities in the country have been going house to house, trying to persuade stragglers near the volcano to leave because of an increasing danger of toxic gas and flash floods in Saturday's eruption.
Around 4,000 people have already been evacuated from 22 communities. They began fleeing as earthquakes hit the South American country on Saturday.
McCain's son transferred to Guam (12 June 2011)
The son of former presidential candidate Sen. John McCain will be relocating to Guam for a three-year tour as a Navy helicopter pilot later this year.
Jack McCain, 25, is scheduled to arrive on Guam to join the Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 in September, after completing more training in San Diego, Calif., HSC-25 spokesman Lt. Josh Magder confirmed yesterday.
McCain will receive no special treatment, despite his father's position and his family's extensive military legacy, Magder wrote in an email.
"He, like anyone else, will be treated equally," Magder wrote. "... He and any other child of a VIP shouldn't expect special treatment because they won't get it."
Jack McCain's transfer to Guam was first published by the website Politico.com, which took information from the blog of Jack McCain's former girlfriend, Julia Allison, a media personality. Allison wrote on her blog in May that she had ended her relationship with Jack McCain because of his transfer to "half a world away."
Magder said yesterday that he was only able to confirm Jack McCain's tour because the information had already leaked through Politico and other websites.
PAM COMMENTARY: This article is from a foreign news service, and sometimes foreign papers don't have the best grasp of the U.S. political system. It mentions that Senator John McCain is the "leader" of the Senate Armed Services Committee. McCain may be the ranking Republican on the committee, but the chair of that committee is actually Senator Carl Levin of Michigan. The Senate is still controlled by Democrats, and so the committee chairs are Democrats. Senator McCain is a Republican.
U.S. Underwrites Internet Detour Around Censors (12 June 2011)
The Obama administration is leading a global effort to deploy "shadow" Internet and mobile phone systems that dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments that seek to silence them by censoring or shutting down telecommunications networks.
The effort includes secretive projects to create independent cellphone networks inside foreign countries, as well as one operation out of a spy novel in a fifth-floor shop on L Street in Washington, where a group of young entrepreneurs who look as if they could be in a garage band are fitting deceptively innocent-looking hardware into a prototype "Internet in a suitcase."
Financed with a $2 million State Department grant, the suitcase could be secreted across a border and quickly set up to allow wireless communication over a wide area with a link to the global Internet.
The American effort, revealed in dozens of interviews, planning documents and classified diplomatic cables obtained by The New York Times, ranges in scale, cost and sophistication.
Some projects involve technology that the United States is developing; others pull together tools that have already been created by hackers in a so-called liberation-technology movement sweeping the globe.
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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