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Click to visit VeggieCooking.com NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012

News from the Week of 26th of February to 3rd of March 2012

Storms demolish small towns in Ind., Ky.; Dozens killed (3 March 2012)
HENRYVILLE, Ind. -- A string of violent storms demolished small towns in Indiana and cut off rural communities in Kentucky as an early season tornado outbreak killed more than 30 people, and the death toll rose as daylight broke on Saturday's search for survivors.

Massive thunderstorms, predicted by forecasters for days, threw off dozens of tornadoes as they raced Friday from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes. Twisters crushed blocks of homes, knocked out cellphones and landlines, ripped power lines from broken poles and tossed cars, school buses and tractor-trailers onto roads made impassable by debris.

Weather that put millions of people at risk killed at least 37 in four states -- Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio -- but both the scale of the devastation and the breadth of the storms made an immediate assessment of the havoc's full extent all but impossible.

In Kentucky, the National Guard and state police headed out to search wreckage for an unknown number of missing. In Indiana, authorities searched dark county roads connecting rural communities that officials said "are completely gone."
[Read more...]

Doctors on call: Cholesterol drugs linked to brain damage (3 March 2012)
New health warnings have been added to the statin group such as muscle pain, memory loss and diabetes. These damaging side effects have been known long-term but pharmaceutical companies and healthcare officialshave simply turned their backs and ignored this growing concern in the past.

The United States Food and Drug Administration has now linked the use of cholesterol lowering medications with cognitive brain dysfunction.

Symptoms of statin induced brain damage include memory loss and mental confusion. The statins that have been identified as the culprits include Lipitor, Crestor, Vytornin and Zocor.

Doctor induced dementia
Cholesterol lowering medications targets and attempts to lower all fat and cholesterol in the body.

There are many areas that require a high density of fat and cholesterol to function properly including your brain. The ingestion of statin medications effect the amount of cholesterol in ones brain and will cause memory loss and mental confusion.

Statin medication specifically destroys Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). CoQ10 damage directly impacts the heart, skeletal muscle and the brain. Studies have confirmed CoQ10 depletion to cause further memory loss as well.The destruction of this enzyme by statins also causes weakness and muscle pain.
[Read more...]

Company sued over Calif bone cement surgery deaths (2 March 2012)
A medical firm and former executives convicted of running unauthorized clinical tests of bone cement are blamed in a lawsuit for contributing to the deaths of two elderly California women.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Contra Costa County Superior Court. It alleges 83-year-olds Ryoichi Kikuchi and Barbara Marcelino died after receiving bone cement injections during surgeries at a Walnut Creek hospital in 2003 and 2004.

The product was manufactured by Pennsylvania-based Synthes (SIN-theez) North America.

Bone cement often is used to keep bone implants in place. Synthes' product was approved for use in arms but not in the spine.
[Read more...]

Attending meetings lowers IQ, makes you stupid -- scientific research (1 March 2012)
MEETINGS make people stupid because they impair their ability to think for themselves, scientists have found.

The performance of people in IQ tests after meetings is significantly lower than if they are left on their own, with women more likely to perform worse than men.

Researchers at the Virginia Tech Crilion Research institute in the US said people's performance dropped when they were judged against their peers.

Read Montague, who led the study, said: "You may joke about how committee meetings make you feel brain-dead, but our findings suggest that they may make you act brain-dead as well.
[Read more...]

Would you use a speech-jamming gun? (1 March 2012)
Tired of those people who won't stop talking in inappropriate places, like cinemas and libraries?

Two researchers from Japan may have a solution for those chatterboxes - a speech-jamming gun.

Kazutaka Kurihara, of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, and Koji Tsukada, of Ochanomizu University, have developed a device that replays a person's words back to them almost immediately after they're spoken.

The effect is similar to feedback on a cell phone, which makes it very difficult for the person speaking to continue their conversation.

"Human speech is jammed by giving back to the speakers their own utterances at a delay of a few milliseconds," the pair said, in a paper based on their preliminary research. "This effect can disturb people without any physical discomfort, and disappears immediately" when they stop speaking.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: How long would it take people to get used to the effect and ignore it -- a few seconds?

Smear tests raise chances of beating cervical cancer to 9 in 10 (3 March 2012)
REGULARLY undergoing smear tests dramatically increases a woman's chance of beating cervical cancer, a study shows.

Those who were diagnosed with the cancer via screening had a 92 per cent chance of complete recovery, found Swedish researchers, while only 66 per cent those diagnosed after going to the doctor with symptoms did so.

The smear test does not diagnose cervical cancer; it checks for changes in cells that might indicate the disease.

However, those identified with cancer thanks to the test tend to be diagnosed at an earlier stage, when it has not spread.
[Read more...]

Tanning bed risk pales in comparison to lure of warm glow for teens (3 March 2012)
The BC Cancer Agency and the Canadian Pediatric Association, the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Dermatology Association all support a legislated ban on teens using artificial tanning beds.

"To be blunt, there is no safe level of exposure to UV rays," says Dr. David McLean, Head of Cancer prevention at the BC Cancer Agency and a professor in the department of dermatology at the University of British Columbia.

The age at which skin is exposed, whether in a tanning bed or outdoors, is a factor in later development of skin cancers, says McLean.

"It takes time to develop cancer and it is the cumulative amount of ultra violet light that is the major factor. The higher the dose early on, the greater the risk of developing cancer later."
[Read more...]

Cold comfort: Doctors use deep cold to save oxygen-deprived babies (3 March 2012)
MONTREAL -- Erika Nordby, 13 months old, wandered out of her Edmonton house in the middle of a winter night and fell face down in the snow where she nearly froze to death. Several hours later she was brought back to life with no injury more serious than severe frostbite -- despite having no pulse when found.

Now, the science behind the medical miracle of Erika's survival is being used to treat babies who have suffered trauma at birth.

Even before Erika's recovery, it had been established already that hypothermia protects against brain injury in animals deprived of oxygen.

But would it be safe and effective for humans? As Erika was fighting back to health in 2001, British doctors were already experimenting with a new ice therapy.
[Read more...]

Brutal Serbian dictator ordered hitmen to kill my husband... and Jill Dando (3 March 2012)
BBC golden girl Jill Dando was killed by a Serb hitman, it was claimed last night.

Widow Branka Prpa, whose journalist husband was shot dead just days earlier in 1999, believes both he and Jill were targeted after angering brutal dictator Slobodan Milosevic.

The brutal killing of Jill, 37 sparked the biggest murder investigation in British police history but her assassin has never been brought to justice.

Now fresh light has been thrown on the case after sensational new claims by the Serbian widow whose husband was murdered in almost identical circumstances.

Branka Prpa was with Slavko Curuvija when he was shot dead outside their Belgrade home on April 11, 1999 -- just 15 days before Jill, 37, was murdered in West London.

And in an exclusive interview with the Mirror, respected historian Mrs Prpa yesterday said she was convinced the Crimewatch host was executed by the same Serbian hitmen acting on the orders of the brutal late dictator Slobodan Milosevic.
[Read more...]

What You Don't Know About Wind Power (2 March 2012)
Did you know that wind power has installed 35% of all new American electric generation in the last five years? Are you aware that wind's affordability is driving it into new electric markets, even in the Deep South? That in a divided Washington, wind power is one of the few issues with broad, bipartisan support? How about the fact that wind power is one of the fastest growing new sources of made-in-the-USA manufacturing jobs?

All of the above are undoubtedly true. Wind energy is an American success story and the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind is driving this success. But we need Congress to extend the PTC and keep taxes stable and low on wind in order to keep this success story going.

The PTC has driven tremendous growth in wind's manufacturing sector. American wind power accounts for 75,000 American jobs today, and can grow to almost 100,000 jobs four years from now and support 500,000 American jobs less than 20 years from now according to a Bush Administration study.

The U.S. now has over 400 manufacturing facilities in 43 states involved in wind turbine manufacturing -- 12-fold growth in domestic manufacturing over the last six years. As the non-partisan Congressional Research Service notes, "Wind turbine manufacturing is at the core of the multifaceted wind power industry. Because of the use of castings, forgings, and machining, turbine manufacturing is a significant contributor to U.S. heavy manufacturing."
[Read more...]

Activists: Most trash picked from Mexican beach is from elsewhere (3 March 2012)
REPORTING FROM MEXICO CITY -- A recent cleanup of trash on a scenic Mexican beach seemed to confirm what many there thought: Most of the plastic garbage comes from outside Mexico.

The Times recently highlighted the plastics pollution that plagues Mahahual, a beach town that sits on a largely undeveloped and ecologically rich stretch of Mexico's Caribbean coast. Debris is washed up by currents that carry floating garbage like a giant conveyor, reflecting a much bigger phenomenon of ocean-borne plastic trash around the world.

The Feb. 25 cleanup, a one-day event organized by a green-marketing firm in Mexico City called Sustenta.com, collected more than 6 tons of trash and allowed participants to examine pieces for signs of where it came from.

The answer: all over. Cuba. Venezuela. Honduras. China. Brazil.The United States. Haiti. Jamaica. The Netherlands. Pretty much everywhere but Mexico.
[Read more...]

Final bill paid for Yellowstone River oil spill (3 March 2012)
HELENA- The final bill is in for the cleanup of the Yellowstone River. ExxonMobil paid $1,060,390 to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality after its oil pipeline burst and oil spilled into the river.

"This document (Administrative Order on Consent or AOC) legally binds ExxonMobil Pipeline to conduct pollution monitoring, continued remediation and reclamation, and payment of penalties and costs to the state," said DEQ Director Richard Opper.

The total includes past state cleanup costs of $760,390 and a cash penalty of $300,000. There is an additional penalty of $1.3 million worth of DEQ-approved supplemental environmental projects to be completed by ExxonMobil. The AOC also requires ExxonMobil to pay future state costs.

An estimated 63,300 gallons of crude oil spilled into the Yellowstone River on July 1, 2011, when the company's Silvertip Pipeline broke near Laurel. The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is still trying to determine exactly what caused the 12-inch pipeline to rupture.
[Read more...]

Gulf oil spill settlement reached; BP expected to pay out $7.8 billion (3 March 2012)
BP and the private plaintiffs in the massive Gulf oil spill litigation have reached a settlement that BP estimates will cost $7.8 billion. But that is an uncapped amount, an the court still must supervise the payment of damages. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier also issued an order delaying the trial for a second time in light of the settlement.

In a statement released late Friday, BP said its settlement with private individual and business claimants includes $2.3 billion specifically for Gulf seafood industry claimants.

An uncapped settlement means a new claims administrator, similar to Kenneth Feinberg who handled claims out of court for the last year and a half, will have to determine payments. But BP put out a statement that emphasized the certainty of the payment amount and that it would not exceed what BP has long reported it had set aside to pay such claims.

Stephen Herman and James Roy, leads for the plaintiffs steering committee, said the process would be transparent and will address economic loss claims, loss of subsistence claims and, in a separate agreement that breaks significant new ground, compensation for medical claims and payment for periodic medical care over the next 21 years.
[Read more...]

'People keep falling sick': How poor Indians are recruited for clinical drug trials (2 March 2012)
"I don't feel guilty," Nadia said. "I believe conducting these studies is a humanitarian effort. So many people benefit from (the) advancement of medicine."

Drug trial outsourcing to foreign countries is rapidly becoming an attractive alternative for U.S. pharmaceutical companies looking to save millions of dollars, avoid regulatory scrutiny and tap into a seemingly endless supply of drug study participants.

But a year-long Dateline investigation into one of the preferred destinations for overseas drug trials, India, raises questions about lax regulatory oversight in these studies, the integrity of some of the companies contracted to run them and the reliability of the data they produce.

Whether the studies are for birth control, diabetes, migraines or high blood pressure, money often draws volunteers into Indian drug trials. And Nadia said that many of his desperately poor recruits are so eager to enroll that they disregard potential risks.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: MS-NBC's site is very slow-loading, which is why I rarely link to it -- but this one seems worth it. Although this article covers the same concerns mentioned by several other investigators through the years, its focus on India as a case study provides more evidence and specific details than I've seen elsewhere.

General Motors halts production of hybrid Volt as sales flatline (2 March 2012)
General Motors will suspend production of the Chevrolet Volt for five weeks this spring, a spokesman said on Friday.

Disappointing sales of the award-winning plug-in hybrid electric car have left the car firm with too many Volts. Production of the US car and its European version, the Opel Ampera, will be on hold starting 19 March and 1,300 workers will be temporarily laid off. They are expected to return to work on 23 April.

Last month at the United Auto Workers conference Obama told car workers that he intended to buy a Volt when he leaves office.

"Volt sales increased in February as compared to January, but we still need to maintain our inventory levels and so we're taking this action," GM spokesman Chris Lee said. "We're going to build to market demand."
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Maybe if they'd kept more jobs in the United States, then people could afford to buy them...

Super-human brain technology sparks ethics debate (3 March 2012)
But they also have huge potential outside the health context. In military applications, BCIs are being used to develop weapons or vehicles controlled remotely by brain signals, and there is big commercial scope in the gaming industry with the development of computer games controlled by people's thoughts.

Speaking at a briefing to launch the consultation, Baldwin said the estimated total global market for all neurotechnologies - including pharmaceuticals for the treatment of brain disorders - is around $150 billion.

"Setting pharmaceuticals aside, the value of the market for the devices and technologies we are dealing with is something in the region of $8 billion, and growing fast," he said.

Kevin Warwick, a professor of Cybernetics at the University of Reading and a supporter of more neurotechnology research, said some experimental brain technologies had great potential in medicine.
[Read more...]

Tornadoes sweep across Alabama, Tennessee, Ohio and Indiana (2 March 2012)
At least a dozen tornadoes have been reported cutting through the nation's midsection. Apparent tornadoes destroyed houses, sent people to hospitals and tore up the roof of a maximum security prison in northern Alabama as bad weather threatened more twisters across the region Friday, two days after storms killed 13 people in the Midwest and South.

There are reports that Clark County Indiana was hit by a large tornado, and that the high school in Henryville, Ind., was struck. The school was closed. There are no reports yet on the scale of damage or injuries in Clark County.

The National Weather Service has issued severe weather and tornado warnings from Georgia to southern Ohio across a wide swath where forecasters said strong storms are sweeping across the nation's mid-section. Thousands of schoolchildren in several states were sent home as a precaution. Meanwhile, residents in parts of Illinois hit hard by the twisters earlier in the week were salvaging what they could from splintered homes.

RECOMMENDED: How to survive a tornado

Tornado warnings are currently up for counties in northeast Georgia, South Carolina, and parts of Indiana and Ohio.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Also metro Atlanta is under tornado watch tonight.

Guatemala's Former Leader Charged with Genocide. Pat Robertson Enabled It. (2 March 2012) [BF]
Nearly thirty years ago, Guatemala's ruthless dictator, José Efraín Ríos Montt and televangelist Pat Robertson were practically tied at the hip. Now, Guatemala's judicial system is debating how to handle charges of genocide against the former military dictator, while Robertson, who had praised Ríos Montt for his 'enlightened leadership,' appears to have turned his back on his old friend.

In the early 1980s, José Efraín Ríos Montt, a military general was a favorite of the Reagan Administration and U.S. Christian conservative evangelical leaders - particularly televangelist Pat Robertson -- and organizations. Ríos Montt was one of a series of military dictators that masterminded the murders of perhaps as many as 200,000 Guatemalans -- including tens of thousands of Mayan people -- as well as the destruction of a numerous Mayan villages.

Now, some thirty years later, Ríos Montt, whose rule as de-facto president lasted for seventeen months in 1982 and 1983 -- taking over in a military coup before being ousted by a subsequent military coup - has been ordered "to stand trial on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity," the New York Time recently reported.

Ríos Montt is accused of being responsible for at least 1,770 deaths, 1,400 human rights violations, and the displacement of nearly 30,000 indigenous Guatemalans.

This is the first time a Latin American court has charged a former president with genocide.
[Read more...]

Hackers winning security war: executives (2 March 2012)
(Reuters) - Technology security professionals seeking wisdom from industry leaders in San Francisco this week saw more of the dark side than they had expected: a procession of CEO speakers whose companies have been hacked.

"It's pretty discouraging," said Gregory Roll, who came for advice and to consider buying security software for his employer, a large bank which he declined to name because he was not authorized to speak on its behalf. "It's a constant battle, and we're losing."

The annual RSA Conference, which draws to a close on Friday, brought a record crowd of more than 20,000 as Congress weighs new legislation aimed at better protecting U.S. companies from cyber attacks by spies, criminals and activists.

If the bills suggest that hackers are so far having their way with all manner of companies, the procession of speakers brought it home in a personal way.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: When I hear how some of them are hacked, I can't believe it -- pure carelessness. Just look at the earlier article on NASA not encrypting devices that leave the site. NASA -- aren't they supposed to be really SMART? Also notice that the article on medical records theft posted here on an earlier date said that the patients couldn't sue for damages because they had "failed to show that stolen information was used or even viewed by a third party." Why is that? Could it be because HIPAA law requires ENCRYPTION on portable devices with medical records that leave the company? I guess unless there's a law telling people how to do security, then some companies feel it's OK to not bother with security at all. And so... they're hacked.

NASA says it was hacked 13 times last year (2 March 2012)
NASA said hackers broke into its computer systems 13 times last year, stealing employee credentials and gaining access to mission-critical projects in breaches that could compromise U.S. national security.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration spends only $58 million of its $1.5 billion annual IT budget on cyber security, Paul Martin, the agency's inspector general, told a Congressional panel on NASA security earlier this week.

"Some NASA systems house sensitive information which, if lost or stolen, could result in significant financial loss, adversely affect national security, or significantly impair our nation's competitive technological advantage," Martin said in testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, released on Wednesday.

He said the agency discovered in November that hackers working through a Chinese-based IP address broke into the network of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

He said they gained full system access, which allowed them to modify, copy, or delete sensitive files, create user accounts for mission-critical JPL systems and upload hacking tools to steal user credentials and compromise other NASA systems. They were also able to modify system logs to conceal their actions, he said.
[Read more...]

Vitamin D may be used to treat common fibroids (2 March 2012)
Surgery is generally the only treatment for uterine fibroids, the most common noncancerous tumors in women of childbearing age. Some 200,000 U.S. women have the procedure every year, at a cost $34 billion a year.

But a new study funded by the National Institutes of Health show that vitamin D may be an effective new treatment.

About thirty percent of women 25-44 have fibroid-related symptoms including lower back pain, heavy vaginal bleeding and painful menstrual periods. The fibroids can cause infertility, miscarriage and pre-term labor.

But fibroids are three to four times more common in African-American women, who are also about 10 times more likely to be deficient in vitamin D than white women, according to NIH researchers.

The researchers had found in previous studies that vitamin D inhibited the growth of fibroid cells in lab cultures. So, they decided to do more research.
[Read more...]

Hepatitis C in baby boomers remains silent epidemic (2 March 2012)
A rise in deaths among baby boomers unknowingly infected with hepatitis C in the U.S. is driving a Canadian emphasis on detecting and treating the liver disease.

Baby boomers who grew up during the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll culture of the 1960s may also now have the highly infectious disease, and Canadians in general may have contracted hepatitis C from transfusions in the 1980s before the blood supply was tested for the virus.

Hepatitis C is most commonly spread through infected needles.

Chronic infection can cause inflammation of the liver, scarring of the organ, cirrhosis and other complications, including liver cancer.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Has anyone tried a Clark zapper on that?

Chocolate may be good for your heart: Study (2 March 2012)
Eating chocolate is not only a treat for the tongue -- it may also have some tangible benefits for heart health, such as lowering blood pressure slightly, according to a study involving more than a thousand people.

The study, which combined the results of 42 smaller studies and was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, also found that participants had small improvements in blood vessel function and a dip in their insulin levels.

A number of past studies have found that chocolate lovers seem to have lower rates of certain heart risks, such as high blood pressure.

"My take-away message would be that if people like dark chocolate, then eating a little in place of other 'treat' foods is fine, and may be beneficial," said study leader Lee Hooper, at Norwich Medical School in the UK.
[Read more...]

Pediatrics group reaffirms position on breastfeeding (27 February 2012)
The American Academy of Pediatrics today reaffirmed its position that women should breast feed for at least a year to get the best health benefits for their babies.

The group said in a paper published in the March issue of Pediatrics that women should breast feed exclusively for six months and compliment breast milk with food for another six months.

Breast feeding promotes both health benefits and bonding between mother and baby, the AAP said.

Research has found that breastfeeding helps protect against respiratory illnesses, ear infections, asthma and other allergies, the AAP said. Breastfed babies are also less likely to become obese as adults.

But breastfeeding may not be as easy as it looks. While 75 percent of moms nationwide initiate breastfeeding, many don't continue for the full year. Babies may not latch properly or mothers may find it hard to balance pumping and work, among other reasons.
[Read more...]

High health care costs: It's all in the pricing (2 March 2012)
There is a simple reason health care in the United States costs more than it does anywhere else: The prices are higher.

That may sound obvious. But it is, in fact, key to understanding one of the most pressing problems facing our economy. In 2009, Americans spent $7,960 per person on health care. Our neighbors in Canada spent $4,808. The Germans spent $4,218. The French, $3,978. If we had the per person costs of any of those countries, America's deficits would vanish. Workers would have much more money in their pockets. Our economy would grow more quickly, as our exports would be more competitive.

There are many possible explanations for why Americans pay so much more. It could be that we're sicker. Or that we go to the doctor more frequently. But health researchers have largely discarded these theories. As Gerard Anderson, Uwe Reinhardt, Peter Hussey and Varduhi Petrosyan put it in the title of their influential 2003 study on international health-care costs, "it's the prices, stupid."

As it's difficult to get good data on prices, that paper blamed prices largely by eliminating the other possible culprits. They authors considered, for instance, the idea that Americans were simply using more health-care services, but on close inspection, found that Americans don't see the doctor more often or stay longer in the hospital than residents of other countries. Quite the opposite, actually. We spend less time in the hospital than Germans and see the doctor less often than the Canadians.
[Read more...]

Navy thinning forcing out thousands of sailors (2 March 2012)
The day that Amanda Humburg's husband found out he would be involuntarily discharged from the Navy, his command sent him home early to give him time to absorb the shock. He walked through the door of their house in Chesapeake with a blank expression on his face and a pile of papers in his arms that explained what came next - severance pay, six months of health coverage, free advice on how to write the first resume of his life.

"He was almost emotionless," Humburg recently recalled. "He looked at me and he said, 'I have bad news.' And then he just dropped all the papers on the floor and went to the bedroom. He wouldn't come out for the next two hours."

Humburg's husband had been in the Navy all of his adult life. He joined right after high school, and over the course of the next 14 years, he made every sacrifice the job required: half a dozen deployments, four missed wedding anniversaries, countless nights spent away from his two little girls. It wasn't easy on their family, but the Humburgs thought it would be worth it, said Amanda, a stay-at-home mom; they figured he'd put in six more years, and then he'd be eligible for retirement.

Now, though, they are facing an entirely different reality, and his Navy career will be over by September, even before the end of his current enlistment contract.

Humburg's husband, who chose not to be interviewed for this story, is one of about 3,000 sailors who will lose their jobs in the coming months as part of an unprecedented and drastic effort to thin the Navy's ranks in overcrowded job fields. It marks the first time the service will lay off thousands of sailors who are in the middle of enlistment contracts, including hundreds in Hampton Roads. In the months since the move was announced, it has become widely unpopular and controversial.
[Read more...]

California's lone wild wolf crosses back into Oregon (2 March 2012)
California has lost its wandering wolf.

The gray wolf known as OR7 crossed back into Oregon around noon Thursday, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, which has been monitoring its GPS collar along with the California Department of Fish and Game.

For two weeks, OR7 had lingered near the Oregon border in Siskiyou County, closely retracing the route that brought him into California on Dec. 28. He had traveled south as far as the outskirts of Susanville over the past two months.

"It's possible OR7 will cross back into California and be using areas in both states," Russ Morgan, Oregon's wolf coordinator, said in a statement.
[Read more...]

Stratfor, WikiLeaks and the Obama administration's war against truth (1 March 2012)
WikiLeaks, the whistleblower website, has again published a massive trove of documents, this time from a private intelligence firm known as Stratfor. The source of the leak was the hacker group Anonymous, which took credit for obtaining more than 5m emails from Stratfor's servers. Anonymous obtained the material on 24 December 2011, and provided it to WikiLeaks, which, in turn, partnered with 25 media organizations globally to analyze the emails and publish them.

Among the emails was a short one-liner that suggested the US government has produced, through a secret grand jury, a sealed indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. In addition to painting a picture of Stratfor as a runaway, rogue private intelligence firm with close ties to government-intelligence agencies serving both corporate and US military clients, the emails support the growing awareness that the Obama administration, far from diverging from the secrecy of the Bush/Cheney era, is obsessed with secrecy, and is aggressively opposed to transparency.

I travelled to London last Independence Day weekend to interview Assange. When I asked him about the grand jury investigation, he responded:

"There is no judge, there is no defense counsel, and there are four prosecutors. So, that is why people that are familiar with grand-jury inquiries in the United States say that a grand jury would not only indict a ham sandwich, it would indict the ham and the sandwich."
[Read more...]

Stolen NASA laptop contained space station control codes (1 March 2012)
A laptop stolen from NASA last year was unencrypted and contained command and control codes for the International Space Station on it, the agency's inspector general told a House subcommittee Wednesday.

In his testimony before a House Science, Space and Technology subcommittee, NASA Inspector General Paul Martin said the notebook computer stolen in March 2011 "resulted in the loss of the algorithms" used to control the space station. This particular laptop, Martin said, was one of 48 NASA notebooks or mobile devices stolen between April 2009 and April 2011.

Some of these thefts resulted in the leak of sensitive data "including export-controlled, Personally Identifiable Information, and third-party intellectual property," as well as Social Security numbers and data on NASA's Constellation and Orion programs, Martin said. [NASA Computer Hacked, Satellite Data Accessed]

The actual number of stolen and compromised devices could be much higher because NASA relies on employees to self-report incidents.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Unencrypted? One of 48 stolen? How does that even happen?

Obama calls Sandra Fluke, Georgetown law student assailed by Rush Limbaugh (2 March 2012)
But Republicans had said at the time that Fluke's name had been submitted too late to appear at the hearing; they also argued that the hearing was about religious freedom more broadly and that Fluke could not testify because she was not a member of the clergy.

Last week, Fluke delivered testimony before a House Democratic-convened panel on Capitol Hill on the cost to female students of birth control that is not covered by health plans provided by some religious-affiliated institutions.

Fluke said in her testimony that some students at Georgetown spend as much as $1,000 per year out-of-pocket on contraception since birth control is not covered by the university's health care plan.

Then, on his radio show, Limbaugh took aim at Fluke, who he called a "feminazi" and a "slut."

"If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it," Limbaugh had said. "We want you post the videos online so we can all watch."
[Read more...]

Man sues after Google Street View snaps him urinating in yard (2 March 2012)
Can a man no longer go to the bathroom on his own property without Google knowing?

On Thursday, a Frenchman took the Internet giant to court for publishing a photo of him peeing in his own front yard, Reuters reports.

Back in November of 2010 the Frenchman decided to relieve himself in his front yard, thinking he was hidden by the garden gate.

As it turned he wasn't obscured as much as he thought, and at the same time that he was "draining the tank" (as they say), a Google Street View car happened by and snapped a photo that landed on Google's Street View site.
[Read more...]

Even after backlash, banks quietly pursuing fees (1 March 2012)
Bank of America was shouted down by angry customers last fall when it tried to impose a $5 monthly fee for using a debit card. JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo backed off plans to impose their own fees.

But the major banks have imposed or are testing other fees:

- Since November, Wells Fargo has charged $15 a month for some checking accounts unless customers have three accounts with the bank, maintain a minimum balance of $7,500 or have a Wells Fargo mortgage.

- Some Citibank customers are being charged $20 a month unless they keep $15,000 in their accounts, up from $6,000 before December. They're also being dinged with a $2 fee for using non-Citi ATMs if their balance falls below the minimum.

- Bank of America, even after a backlash last fall when it tried to impose a $5 monthly fee for debit card transactions, is testing a menu of checking accounts in Georgia, Massachusetts and Arizona with monthly fees of $6 to $25.
[Read more...]

Help for fish ordered on Yuba River (2 March 2012)
Federal wildlife officials have ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that salmon, steelhead and green sturgeon are able to surmount its two dams on the Yuba River.

The National Marine Fisheries Service, in a biological opinion released late Wednesday, concludes that Daguerre Point and Englebright dams threaten the survival of the fish species. The order does not require dam removal, but that is one potential outcome.

"This is a big step forward for Yuba salmon recovery," said Steve Rothert, California director of American Rivers, a group that has been involved in salmon restoration efforts on the river. "The idea of getting fish past Englebright Dam opens up many possibilities."

The two dams provide no water supply or flood control benefits. Their primary purpose is a historical one: to store erosion and other debris washed downstream by long-ceased gold mining practices.

Englebright Dam, the larger of the two, was built in 1941. It is a sheer wall of concrete, 270 feet high, without fish ladders. It blocks fish access to all three forks of the Yuba River, including hundreds of miles of salmon and steelhead habitat.
[Read more...]

Enbridge Pipeline: First Nation Says An Oil Spill Is Inevitable And Would Wipe-Out Their Food Supply and Way of Life (2 March 2012)
HARTLEY BAY, BRITISH COLUMBIA, Mar 02, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- The Gitga'at Nation of Hartley Bay says an oil spill is inevitable if the Enbridge Northern Gateway oil tankers and pipeline project is ever approved, and would wipe out their food supply and way of life, which depends heavily on traditional foods from the ocean.

Hartley Bay is ground zero for the threat of an oil spill in BC's coastal waters. Located at the mouth of the Douglas Channel and the crossroads of the proposed North and South tanker routes, the community was the first on the scene when the Queen of the North ferry sank in 2006.

Diesel from the wreckage continues to pollute shellfish beds in the area, and many residents see it as a warning about tankers.

For their efforts saving passengers from the ferry, the Gitga'at received the Governor General's Commendation for Outstanding Service for "initiative, selflessness and an extraordinary commitment to the well-being of others."

40% of the Gitga'at diet is sourced directly from the ocean, and harvesting and sharing traditional food is at the core of who they are.
[Read more...]

Cuba drills for oil, but U.S. unprepared for spill (2 March 2012)
"This is a case of Cold War ideology colliding with 21st-century environmental policy, and it is the environment that is at risk," said Lee Hunt, president of the International Association of Drilling Contractors.

The need to plan a detailed response for a possible spill in Cuban waters -- including who pays for what -- is driven by memories of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, where close to 5 million barrels of crude flowed unabated for three months off the Louisiana coast.

The Deepwater Horizon accident, the largest maritime spill ever, involved a massive response by the U.S. government to contain what experts concluded was a preventable disaster caused by misjudgments by three major oil drilling companies: BP, Halliburton and Transocean.

"Now imagine something like that happening in the waters between two countries that don't even talk to each other," said Jorge Pinon, a former president of Amoco Oil Latin America and now a research fellow at the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Texas.

The Deepwater Horizon liabilities could exceed $43 billion. Containing the oil in Louisiana employed 5,000 vessels. Cuba's total gross domestic product is $50 billion. Pinon said that Cuba, with a tiny navy and a thin coast guard, has only 5 percent of the resources needed to contain a spill approaching the size of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
[Read more...]

Buried secrets: The REAL story of the Nazi warplanes found in an Indiana field (2 March 2012)
In the battle to stay ahead of the enemy in World War II, American engineers were willing to employ any trick - including stealing the ideas from their Nazi counterparts.

So they shipped hundreds of German aircraft to a field in Seymour, Indiana, where they proceeded to take apart the machines to learn how they were built - and then buried any evidence of doing so.

Now recovery teams at Freeman Field are unearthing hundreds of plane parts and piecing them back together, much like their ancestors attempted to nearly seven decades ago.

At the end of World War II, the field was used as a bustling Army base by hundreds of soldiers and civilians keen to study Germany's airplanes and rockets, WDRB.com reported.
[Read more...]

Cheap acne antibiotic could alleviate symptoms of schizophrenia (2 March 2012)
Scientists believe schizophrenia and other mental illnesses including depression and Alzheimer's disease may result from inflammation in the brain.

Minocycline has anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects which could account for the positive findings.

The first account of the antibiotic's positive effects appeared in 2007, when a 23-year-old Japanese man was admitted to hospital suffering from persecutory delusions and paranoid ideas.

The subject had no psychiatric history and blood tests and brain scans showed nothing unusual.

He was started on halperidol a powerful anti-psychotic drug, but it had no effect. However when he developed severe pneumonia a week later and was prescribed the antibiotic the infection was cleared and the psychosis resolved within two months.

However, minocycline does not work as a cure.

When the patient stopped taking the drug, his psychiatric symptoms got worse again. But another treatment with minocyline made him better again.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Interesting take on the problem. Dr. Abram Hoffer had good success in treating schizophrenia with Vitamin B-3, and Dr. Andrew Stoll had some success in treating it with Omega-3 fatty acids. Note that Omega-3 fatty acids are good at relieving inflammation.

Execs are just like you: They don't like their jobs, either (2 March 2012)
If you feel stuck in a job you don't like, maybe you can take comfort in the fact that the big boss may well be in the same boat.

A new global survey of business executives finds that less than half like their jobs, although most don't plan on leaving.

The Path Forward, a survey of 3,900 business executives from around the world conducted by consulting firm Accenture, found that only 42 percent said they were satisfied with their jobs. That's down slightly from 2010.

Despite such widespread unhappiness, only 24 percent the respondents said they were looking for a new job outside their company, while 8 percent said they planned to start their own business. The rest were either staying put or planning to look for another position in the same company.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Note that stories on MS-NBC are slow-loading, probably from all of the ads.

Coffee drinking not linked to chronic illness: study (1 March 2012)
(Reuters) -- Coffee drinkers have no more risk of getting illnesses such as heart disease or cancer, and are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, according to a German study involving more than 40,000 people over nearly a decade.

The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, came in the wake of many previous studies that produced conflicting results, with some tying coffee drinking to an increase in heart disease, cancer, stroke and more.

"Our results suggest that coffee consumption is not harmful for healthy adults in respect of risk of major chronic disease," said Anna Floegel, lead author of the study and an epidemiologist at the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke.

The researchers collected information at the beginning of the study on coffee drinking habits, diet, exercise and health from more than 42,000 German adults without any chronic conditions.
[Read more...]

Why parents should care about Vitamin D (1 March 2012)
"The basic purpose of Vitamin D is that it's important in the metabolism of calcium and bone growth," Neuman says.

Without sufficient Vitamin D, bones get weak and bowed -- in extreme cases, a child can develop the condition known as rickets. "It's very possible for kids still today to get rickets," Neuman says. And if left untreated, rickets can lead to skeletal deformities, bone fractures, dental problems, breathing problems and seizures, according to the Mayo Clinic's website.

On top of that, Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with some types of cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure, Neuman says.

Neuman says there aren't obvious symptoms when a child is lacking in Vitamin D. There is a blood test that can be done, but Neuman says her colleagues in the pediatric endocrinology department don't recommend it -- in a northern city like Portland, it's cheaper and less traumatic for the kids to just assume that they're Vitamin D-deficient. (Neuman says one endocrinologist told her, "I used to test all these kids and they all came back below the recommended range.")

"The reality is, in Portland, except for maybe in the summer and even then, we are so far north and people get so little sunshine that the vast majority of us are on the deficient side of vitamin D," Neuman says.
[Read more...]

Shell launches legal strike against foes of Arctic drilling (1 March 2012)
Royal Dutch Shell launched an extraordinary pre-emptive legal strike Wednesday against opponents of offshore oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean, filing suit against more than a dozen environmental organizations likely to challenge its plan for drilling exploratory wells in the Chukchi Sea this summer.

In a petition for declaratory relief filed in U.S. District Court in Anchorage, the oil giant seeks to have the court rule that the U.S. government complied with federal law when it approved Shell's oil spill response plan for upcoming exploratory well-drilling in the Arctic.

The move is a clear attempt to beat environmental organizations to court and avert potentially costly delays for a project on which Shell has already spent $4 billion without drilling a single well.

The oil company launched a separate petition against Greenpeace, whose activists last week boarded the drilling rig now moored in New Zealand and scheduled to begin drilling in the Arctic in July. Six activists, including television actress Lucy Lawless, climbed the rig before being arrested.
[Read more...]

EPA to Test San Fernando Valley Groundwater for Cancer-Causing Toxin (1 March 2012)
BURBANK (KTLA) -- The EPA has announced it is going to start drilling new test wells in Burbank and Glendale for the cancer-causing chemical made famous in the movie "Erin Brockovich."

Residents say the toxic chemical, hexavalent chromium, has been spotted in the groundwater below the area for decades.

While doctors are concerned, the EPA insists the public is not in danger, but still wants to find the source.

"There is a whole series of manufacturing that had occurred near the Golden State (5) Freeway in the Burbank/Glendale area," EPA project manager Lisa Hanusiak told KTLA. "Those areas had the highest concentration."

At this week's Glendale city council meeting, the EPA announced it's conducting new groundwater tests along the interstate, work that will involve drilling up to 30 monitoring wells.
[Read more...]

Pentagon pulls the plug on airborne missile defense system (28 February 2012)
Work has ended on a futuristic airborne missile defense system built mostly in Southern California after more than 15 years of development and $5 billion in federal funding.

In what was once considered the stuff of science fiction, the airborne laser program involved a Boeing 747 jumbo jet equipped with an advanced tracking system and a massive laser gun on its nose to identify and obliterate enemy missiles as they blast off.

It was conceived as part of a multibillion-dollar defense system that would shield the U.S. from missile attacks. But the program experienced a series of cost overruns and delays. It never went beyond testing.

The program began in 1996 and was a major economic boost for Southern California, where much of the high-tech system was developed and tested. At its peak, the program employed hundreds of physicists, chemists, computer scientists, aerodynamicists and engineers across the Southland.

But after years of development and testing, funding dried up, and the Air Force has confirmed that the 747 took off from a runway at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert for the last time. The jumbo jet was sent to the military aircraft "boneyard" at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, where it will be kept in storage.
[Read more...]

Andrew Breitbart dead in Los Angeles at 43 (1 March 2012)
Breitbart helped launch the Huffington Post. He has worked for the Drudge Report and wrote several books, including "Hollywood Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon -- the Case Against Celebrity." He launched Breitbart.com in 2005, later adding a series of "subsites," including BigGovernment.com, to counter what he saw as liberal bias in the media.

In 2010, Shirley Sherrod filed a defamation suit against Breitbart, alleging that the conservative gadfly triggered her firing from the Agriculture Department by the Obama administration and ignited a national debate on race and reverse discrimination.

The Times' Robin Abcarian visited his office in West Los Angeles in 2010. "The command center of Andrew Breitbart's growing media empire is a suite of offices on Sawtelle Boulevard in West Los Angeles with the temporary feel of a campaign office. Only the computers seem firmly anchored."

According to that profile, Breitbart lived in Westwood with his wife, Susie, and their four young children. He was adopted by moderately conservative Jewish parents and attended two of L.A.'s most exclusive private schools -- Carlthorp and Brentwood.
[Read more...]

Andrew Breitbart Dead at 43, suffered from heart problems (1 March 2012)
Andrew Breitbart -- founder of the popular news website Breitbart.com -- died early this morning at the age of 43.

According to his website, Breitbart -- the political journalist who broke the Anthony Weiner penis pic story -- died "unexpectedly from natural causes" shortly after midnight this morning in L.A.

A statement on Breitbart reads, "We have lost a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a dear friend, a patriot and a happy warrior."

Andrew is survived by his wife and 4 children.
[Read more...]

Tornado aftermath: Son tells of finding parents in rubble (1 March 2012)
Three people were reported killed in eastern Tennessee -- two in Cumberland County and another in DeKalb County.

And in Kansas, much of tiny Harveyville was in shambles from what state officials said was an EF2 tornado packing wind speeds of 120 to 130 mph.

At least 16 tornadoes were reported from Nebraska and Kansas across southern Missouri to Illinois and Kentucky, according to the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., an arm of the National Weather Service.

In Harrisburg, which has a rich coal-mining history, Mayor Eric Gregg called the tornado strike "heartbreaking." The National Weather Service preliminarily listed the tornado as an EF4, the second-highest rating given to twisters based on damage. Scientists said the tornado was 200 yards wide with winds up to 170 mph.
[Read more...]

Ohio school shooting: Drills, cell phone use paid off (28 February 2012)
Cellphone calls and texts enabled Chardon students to contact parents after Monday's shootings and let them know they were safe. In addition, many of the early 9-1-1 calls to police came through cellphones'

The value of cellphones is a crisis is partly why most districts now allow high school and middle school students to carry their phones, although they were banned in some places just a few years ago.

A sampling of districts around Northeast Ohio shows that students can usually carry cellphones in pockets, purses or backpacks, but generally must silence them during class. Some districts require younger students to put their cellphones in lockers during the day.

"The novelty of cellphones has worn off and students are a little more reasonable in how and when they use their phones," said Shaker's Caldwell, where all students are permitted to have the phones, but must keep them stowed and silent during class.
[Read more...]

Rare snow leopards filmed in war-torn area (1 March 2012)
Conservationists have caught a pair of rare and reclusive snow leopards on camera wandering a remote, mountain region once ravaged by conflict between India and Pakistan.

Infrared camera traps set up months ago by World Wildlife Fund-India filmed the adult snow leopards in Kargil district just a few kilometres from the heavily militarized Line of Control that runs through the disputed territory of Kashmir.

WWF-India says it is the second photo sighting of endangered snow leopards in Kargil, after one was photographed hunting a herd of Asiatic Ibex in 2009.

The recent sighting has encouraged environmentalists as it suggests the big cats were not scared away from the Kargil mountains by the 1999 India-Pakistan conflict that killed hundreds of soldiers on both sides before a ceasefire was established with U.S. mediation.

Snow leopards are considered the most endangered of big cats and face threats from poaching and habitat loss in Afghanistan through northern India and Mongolia.
[Read more...]

For Purim, honor Queen Esther by going vegan (1 March 2012)
You may know that Queen Esther is the heroine of the joyful holiday of Purim, which begins Wednesday evening. She was the beautiful Jewish woman selected by the King of Persia to be his wife. After she became queen, she begged the king to save her people from Haman's wicked plan to destroy them. He did, and thus the Jews were saved.

But did you know that Esther might have been a vegan?

When the rabbi at Hebrew school taught our class that Queen Esther was said to have lived on seeds and nuts because she could not get kosher food at the king's palace, I couldn't imagine anyone eating like that. In our home, seeds appeared as the poppy seeds on challah and the caraway seeds in rye bread, and the most familiar nuts were the bits of walnuts that my mother sometimes added to brownies.

Yet seeds and nuts have countless uses beyond their most familiar roles as snacks and garnishes. They are made into a variety of sauces and dips, like Middle Eastern tahini, or sesame sauce, the Persian walnut pomegranate sauce called fesenjan and Mexican pipian sauce made from pumpkin seeds.

Some say Queen Esther's diet also included legumes, the "seeds" of bean pods. Today we would call Queen Esther a vegan, the term for vegetarians who avoid all animal products, including dairy foods and eggs.
[Read more...]

"He saw a tiny hand reaching up from the track": Tube driver saves child's life as unions fight driverless trains (1 March 2012)
A tube driver saved the life of a little boy who fell between the platform and the train after spotting his tiny hand reaching up from the track.

Just days after London Mayor Boris Johnson pledged to introduce driverless tube trains within two years, unions have highlighted the near-miss incident to stress the need for staff.

Driver's union Aslef said the automatic devices in place showed the platform was clear and it was safe for the Tube train to depart.

But, as the driver took a last look back along the platform, he saw the little boy's hand outstretched from under the train.
[Read more...]

Bank of America considers checking account fee revamp: report (1 March 2012)
(Reuters) - Bank of America Corp is planning to introduce a monthly fee for its customers holding checking accounts unless they agree to bank online, buy more products or maintain certain balances, the Wall Street Journal said.

The report on the new fee initiative at the nation's second-largest bank comes after it had faced a major consumer backlash last year when it disclosed plans for a $5-per-month debit card fee, forcing the bank to drop the plan.

Bank of America pilot programs in Arizona, Georgia and Massachusetts now are experimenting with charging $6 to $9 a month for an "Essentials" account, the paper said.

The options being tested include monthly charges of $9, $12, $15 and $25 but give customers opportunities to avoid the payments by maintaining minimum balances, using a credit card or taking a mortgage with the bank, the Journal said, citing a memo distributed to employees.
[Read more...]

Number of poor people in developing countries dropped to record low levels: study (1 March 2012)
The number of poor people in developing countries dropped to record low levels between 2005 and 2008, the World Bank said in a report out Wednesday.

"This across-the-board reduction... marks a first since the bank began monitoring extreme poverty," the global institution said.

The study, based on some 850 household surveys in nearly 130 countries, defines "poor" as living with less than $1.25 a day.

Some 1.29 billion people, or 22 percent of the developing world's population, were poor in 2008, down from 1.94 billion people in 1981, the Bank said.
[Read more...]

Browne's BP cost-cutting led to Gulf spill, book says (29 February 2012)
(Reuters) - The public image of oil giant BP Plc has taken some huge hits since the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill but a new book purporting to look inside BP may open up a whole new set of thorny questions about the company.

"Run to Failure: BP and the Making of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster," by ProPublica investigative reporter Abrahm Lustgarten, offers a detailed portrait of a corporate culture that seemed to value controlling costs above human life.

Lustgarten argues that the culture had been spreading like a cancer through the British oil company for years, culminating in the April 2010 tragedy that killed 11, seriously injured 16 and spewed crude oil into the Gulf for 87 days.

"The roots of the story . concern corporate responsibility, business ethics, and leadership and go back at least two decades, to a point at which BP executives sought to redefine the company and reposition it as one of the great corporations of our time," writes Lustgarten, who won a 2009 George Polk award for environmental reporting.

The book, to be published March 26, is timely: a federal judge has delayed until March 5 a trial to decide who should pay for the oil spill damage so BP can continue negotiating a settlement with Gulf fishermen, restaurant owners and other plaintiffs whose livelihoods the oil spill affected.
[Read more...]

Utilities announce closure of 10 aging power plants in Midwest, East (29 February 2012)
Two utility companies announced the closure of 10 aging U.S. power plants Wednesday, a move environmental groups hailed as a major victory even as critics warned it could raise the price of electricity.

Midwest Generation, which had come under intense pressure from environmental activists, Chicago residents and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, said it will retire its Fisk Generating Station in 2012 and Crawford Generating Station in 2014. Both have been operating for decades in the middle of the city's southwest side.

Pedro Pizarro, president of Midwest Generation's parent company, Edison Mission Group, issued a statement saying that in light of environmental rules being phased in over the next three years, "unfortunately, conditions in the wholesale power market simply do not give us a path for continuing to invest in further retrofits at these two facilities."

The Environmental Protection Agency finalized rules in December that require utilities for the first time to curb the amount of mercury and other airborne toxins they release.
[Read more...]

Arguments preview fight on EPA greenhouse gas rules (28 February 2012)
The three judges hearing the case appeared to resist deciding on whether the EPA's science was sufficient, with U.S. Circuit Judge David Tatel pointing out the agency had found the science certain enough.

"To win here, you have to make an argument that EPA's decision is actually arbitrary and capricious," Tatel said.

The coalition of power plants, business groups and 37 states also said a rule limiting carbon emissions from vehicles led to improper rules for power plants and other stationary sources.

The case stems from a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that greenhouse gases should be regulated under the U.S. Clean Air Act if the EPA determined them to be harmful to public health.
[Read more...]

All you need to know about TransCanada's new plan for Keystone XL (28 February 2012)
Keystone XL lives! On Monday, TransCanada announced its next two moves in its fight to get the tar-sands pumping pipeline built, and its strategy now involves splitting the project into two parts. Because it stands to reason that if people object to one pipeline, they'll have no problem with TWO pipelines!

Part No. 1: Cushing, Okla., to Texas refineries
Cushing, Okla., a small town smack dab in the middle of nowhere, plays an outsize role in global oil markets. There's a huge oil storage facility there, and oil sold in Cushing helps determine world oil prices. TransCanada wants to forge ahead with building the segment of Keystone XL that will bring oil from Cushing to Texas' hungry oil refineries, which process crude and ship it off. (That crude doesn't necessarily help to meet U.S. oil demands: fuel was America's largest export last year.)

Because this segment of the pipeline doesn't cross any international borders, the State Department doesn't have a say in its construction. So Keystone Jr. could skip right over the approval bottleneck that sunk its big brother. The White House, speaking via Press Secretary Jay Carney, is supportive of this pipeline segment: "We look forward to working with TransCanada to ensure that it is built in a safe, responsible and timely manner, and we commit to take every step possible to expedite the necessary federal permits," Carney said in a statement Monday.

The anti-Keystone XL coalition doesn't exactly feel the same way. "Even though this doesn't bring new oil in from the tar sands, we stand with our allies across the region who are fighting to keep giant multinational corporations from condemning their lands," 350.org's Bill McKibben said.
[Read more...]

Secret files reveal Henry VIII's 'extreme' threats over marriage (1 March 2012)
One of the largest and most unusual documents in the exhibition, in Rome's Capitoline Museums, is a 180ft-long parchment scroll from the trials of the Knights Templar in Paris in 1309-1311.

It contains the depositions of 231 knights from the order of warrior monks, who were accused by the church and King Philip IV of France of heresy, idolatry and sodomy.

The latter charge was based on accusations of sexual "obscenities" during secret initiation rites.

More than 50 knights were executed and Pope Clement V dissolved the order by apostolic decree in 1312.
[Read more...]

Interpol website suffers 'Anonymous cyber-attack' (29 February 2012)
Interpol's website appears to have been the victim of a cyber-attack after the international police agency announced the arrests of 25 suspected members of the hacking activist group Anonymous in Europe and South America.

The website went down briefly on Tuesday as supporters of Anonymous made online claims that it had been targeted following the arrests in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Spain. It was quickly back up and running but was loading slowly.

Interpol announced that the arrests had been made under the umbrella of Operation Unmask, which it said was launched in mid-February in the wake of a series of coordinated cyber-attacks originating from the four countries against targets including the Colombian defence ministry and presidential websites, a Chilean electricity company and Chile's national library.

It added that the operation was carried out by authorities in the four countries under the aegis of Interpol's Latin American Working Group of Experts on Information Technology (IT) Crime, which facilitates the sharing of intelligence between the states involved.
[Read more...]

County-by-county Michigan primary results; Romney wins, with little difference as delegates are split in Michigan (29 February 2012)
Hover over the counties to see live Michigan Republican Primary results this evening. [Read more...]

Japan tsunami debris: First wave approaches West Coast (28 February 2012)
Reporting from Seattle -- Almost a year after an earthquake sent 130-foot tsunami waves sweeping over the coast of Japan, the debris from ruined fishing boats and washed-out villages is creeping toward the U.S., with the first wave expected to hit northwestern Hawaii any day now.

Between 1 million and 2 million tons of debris generated by the March 11, 2011, tsunami is still crawling across the North Pacific and is likely to hit the coastline of Washington, Oregon and Alaska in 2013, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Hawaii said Tuesday.

Though up to 8 million tons of debris washed out to sea as large floating islands of lumber, rooftops and pieces of twisted metal and plastic, much of it sank near shore. Most of what remains has dispersed into isolated floating remnants of the tragedy that killed 15,844 people and left more than 3,400 others missing.

"Typically, people see one object at a time," said Nikolai Maximenko, a senior researcher at the University of Hawaii's International Pacific Research Center. He spoke with reporters in a conference call organized by the marine stewardship group Ocean Conservancy.
[Read more...]

Hip replacement toxic risk could affect 50,000 in U.K. (29 February 2012)
The regulator said it had received 370 "adverse incident" reports involving metal-on-metal implants, though the actual number is likely to be much higher because the majority of adverse reactions are never reported.

The new guidance came only hours before the British Medical Journal published an investigation that alleges systematic failure in the regulation of medical devices which has left hundreds of thousands of patients with potentially dangerous implants. The beleaguered regulator, already under fire for its response to faulty PIP breast implants, has again been accused of putting industry interests above patient safety.

Possible dangers associated with the cobalt-chrome alloy used to make metal-on-metal hips have been documented since the mid-1970s. Tiny metal ions appear to break off from the implants and leak into the blood, causing local reactions that destroy muscle and bone, cause severe pain and even long-term disability. Studies have shown that the metal particles can seep into the bloodstream spreading to the lymph nodes, spleen, liver and kidneys before being excreted in urine. There are also concerns about damage to chromosomes, leading to genetic changes which could increase the risk of cancers.

Hip implants, like breast implants, have traditionally not had to pass any clinical trials before being used in patients. Instead, the manufacturer is only required to obtain a CE manufacturing mark from a "notified body" that assesses medical devices for European regulation. In America, total hip implants were previously "fast-tracked" for approval, however, all hip implants are now considered "high risk" and undergo greater scrutiny.
[Read more...]

Sleeping pills quadruple death risk (27 February 2012)
In 2010 in England, there were 2.8 million prescriptions dispensed for temazepam and almost 5.3 million for another common sleeping pill called zopiclone.

There were also more than 725,000 prescriptions dispensed for zolpidem and more than 9,400 for zaleplon, two other drugs in this same family.

The latest study looked at a wide range of sleeping pills, including drugs used in the UK, such as benzodiazepines (temazepam and diazepam), non-benzodiazepines (zolpidem, zopiclone and zaleplon), barbiturates and sedative antihistamines.

The investigators, from the Jackson Hole Centre for Preventive Medicine in Wyoming and the Scripps Clinic Viterbi Family Sleep Centre in California, found that people prescribed these pills were 4.6 times more likely to die during a 2.5-year period compared to those not on the drugs.
[Read more...]

Oldbury nuclear power station stops electricity generation (29 February 2012)
The world's oldest operating nuclear power station, Oldbury near Bristol, stopped producing electricity today after 44 years of generation.

The closure marks the start of the decommissioning process over the next few decades, which will include removal of the spent fuel, management of the waste and eventual demolition of the buildings.

The shutdown of the site's reactor one follows the closure last June of reactor two.

The shutdown was originally scheduled for 2008, but the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) decided to extend Oldbury's operating life following reviews with the regulators.
[Read more...]

The happy whistle that's a dolphin saying hello: Animal uses signature sounds to greet other pods (29 February 2012)
Dolphins use signature whistles, or name calls, to introduce themselves, research shows.

One member of a pod will emit its unique high-pitched 'greeting' while hundreds of feet away from another group.

The activity is likened to people introducing themselves by name -- further proof of the marine mammals' intelligence.

Researcher Vincent Janik said the second group of dolphins will respond to this greeting, and the pods merge before swimming off together.
[Read more...]

Third student dies after Ohio school shooting (28 February 2012)
CHARDON, Ohio -- A third Chardon High School student who was shot Monday morning has died.

Demetrius Hewlin, a junior, died today at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.

"We are very saddened by the loss of our son and others in our Chardon community," his family said in a statement released by the hospital. "Demetrius was a happy young man who loved life and his family and friends. We will miss him very much but we are proud that he will be able to help others through organ donation. We ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time."

Demetrius was one of three students taken by helicopter to MetroHealth following the shooting. Russell King Jr., 17, was pronounced brain dead late Monday and died early this morning. Daniel Parmertor, 16, died Monday.
[Read more...]

Many Democrats voting for Santorum, Paul to deny Romney a Michigan win (28 February 2012)
If Mitt Romney loses Michigan tonight, it could be because of people like Dennis Budziszewski, 63, of Canton.

A diehard Democrat and retired autoworker, Budziszewski REALLY doesn't like Romney, and instead cast a ballot for former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. Come November, he will vote for President Barack Obama.

But today, he just wants to embarrass Romney.

"I've been pushing this on Facebook for days," he said. "There's a very real possibility we can pull this off."

Some Democrats have put together a fairly organized effort to get Democrats to vote for Santorum or Ron Paul in order to rob victory from Romney. The Santorum campaign joined the effort Monday with a robocall aimed at Democrats urging them to vote for him because Romney opposed the bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler. The call didn't note that Santorum also opposed the bailout.
[Read more...]

Florida man charged with Obama threat on Facebook (28 February 2012)
According to the affidavit, Serrapio posted the threatening comments under the Facebook name "Jay Valor" during Obama's visit to the University of Miami last Thursday. There's no indication that Serrapio took any steps to carry out the threat or that the president was ever in any danger. The Secret Service did not immediately respond Tuesday to a telephone call seeking additional comment.

In the first posting on Feb. 21, Serrapio as "Jay Valor" allegedly said this: "Who wants to help me assassinate Obummer while hes at UM this week?"

Then on Thursday, the day of Obama's visit, the Secret Service affidavit said Serrapio made another posting. "If anyones going to UM to see obama today, get ur phones out and record. Cause at any moment im gonna put a bullet through his head and u don't wanna miss that! Youtube!"

Later that day, Secret Service agents went to Serrapio's home, where he and his mother agreed to allow a search. The agents found an iPad showing the initial Facebook post about assassinating Obama. They also found a sniper-style pellet rifle and a pellet handgun in Serrapio's bedroom.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: I could flash back to my own detention by the Secret Service for trying to take a picture of the Clintons' house (after getting their address from a public news board online, with the photos taken from the street, from inside of my own car, with just the house's roof and an orange tree visible over the walled fence) again, but I'm sure everyone's tired of seeing that old thing by now, and also tired of hearing about the Secret Service's REALLY CHEAP settlement with the journalists from Democracy Now!.

So here's another Secret Service story from Pam, never told before on this web site (although told elsewhere privately).

Among the Secret Service agents at the Clintons' house was an attractive redhead. Months or years later, I was watching the news on TV, and then-president George W. Bush was visiting New York. I swear I saw "Agent Redhead" on TV, standing on a lawn somewhere, doing that awful Secret Service job of his -- being a security guard for the worst president in our country's history.

But then, I saw something even more disturbing -- George W. Bush following Agent Redhead around, trying to get a better look at him, basically STALKING his own employee. Bush was known to tell other men how attractive they are, and we've all heard the rumors about Bush and his "girlfriend" Victor. (Not that I have a problem with gay guys in general -- just the kind who go into politics and grandstand against gay people, and of course the kind who sexually harass their own employees.)

Anyway, I've looked for footage of the old incident on YouTube in order to post it here, but was never able to locate even a portion of it. Google brings up millions of hits when combining terms like George Bush, the Secret Service, and other common terms like a visit to New York. But if anyone else finds an old YouTube link to that news clip, send me an e-mail! I'll post it here.

FDA revises labeling of Statin drugs to include memory loss, diabetes (28 February 2012)
The FDA today announced important new changes to the safety language on the labels of statins:

Routine periodic monitoring of liver enzymes is no longer recommended. Serious liver injury associated with statins is "rare and unpredictable in individual patients" and "routine periodic monitoring of liver enzymes does not appear to be effective in detecting or preventing this rare side effect," according to the FDA. The FDA now says that liver enzyme tests only need to be performed before starting statin therapy and "as clinically indicated thereafter."

Memory loss and confusion will now be included in the label. But, the FDA notes, reports about the cognitive effects of statins have usually "not been serious and the patients' symptoms were reversed by stopping the statin." In a story published on Forbes, Matt Herper writes that the "new labeling will lead patients and doctors to take memory issues on the drugs more seriously, and it will also lead patients to link normal lapses of memory to their drugs."

The increased risk of hyperglycemia and type 2 diabetes will be mentioned in the label. The label will now reflect data showing the small increased risk for type 2 diabetes in people taking statins.

The FDA is also making specific recommendations about lovastatin, noting that when used with some other drugs lovastatin can increase the risk of muscle injury.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: I remember an old study that said most people stop taking statin drugs because of side effects like severe muscle weakness.

Toxic compounds from fried foods cause cancer and deteriorate brain health (28 February 2012)
Prior studies have identified the health degrading nature of aldehydes, where their presence in organisms is linked to different types of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Researchers also know that these compounds remain in vegetable oils after they have been used to fry foods and wanted to determine how they interact with proteins, hormones and enzymes in the body to impede its correct functioning.

Many common vegetable oils produce dangerous aldehydes when heated
The study team heated three types of oil (olive, sunflower and flaxseeds) in an industrial deep fryer at 190 degrees Celsius for a period of forty hours (twenty hours was used for the flaxseed oil). This length of time was used to approximate oils used commercially at a restaurant where fryers remain heated for extended periods of time. The oils were then analyzed using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry techniques.

Researchers found that the sunflower and flaxseed oils degraded significantly and are the ones that create the most toxic aldehydes in the least amount of frying time. These oils are high in polyunsaturated fats (linoleic and linolenic) and breakdown quickly to form the health-demoting aldehyde compounds that permeate the air and penetrate into the food. Olive oil, known to be high in monounsaturated fat, generates aldehydes to a lesser degree and after cooking much longer.

The research team concluded "The fact that significant concentrations of these toxic compounds were found in some oils ... is a cause of concern for human health." Although the scientists did not use coconut oil in their tests, studies have shown that the medium-chain fatty acid does not rapidly convert to deadly trans fats when heated, and may be less likely to produce aldehydes when compared to other vegetable oils. While fried foods are not part of a healthy eating plan, it is important to avoid cooking with low flash-point oils that produce aldehydes and increase the risk of neurologic disorders and cancer.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: This seems to confirm other sources I've read that say olive oil is one of the best oils for frying. They didn't study grapeseed oil here, but some claim it's a preferred frying oil among chefs.

It's already well-known that flaxseed oil shouldn't be heated to high temperatures, although this study heated all oils so long that I doubt it's representative of someone only making a meal at home, with a cooking time of maybe 20 minutes. This study was meant to replicate deep-fried food in restaurants, which is usually cooked in peanut oil, lard, or cheaper oils due to cost and taste considerations. I don't know of any restaurant willing to pay for flaxseed oil or olive oil in its deep fryers.

N.Y. Threatens to Remove License of Anti-Vaccine Attorney (28 February 2012)
Patricia Finn (left), a vaccine rights attorney in New York, is being targeted by the Ninth Judicial District, which is threatening to strip her license to practice law and file criminal charges against her.

Finn has garnered a reputation for helping parents to protect their children from vaccines that are viewed as potentially dangerous, and also represents families of victims who have suffered adverse reactions to vaccinations. Among the anti-vaccine community Finn is touted as a hero, but those in favor of vaccinations view her as a villain.

According to Finn's website, her law office "focuses on protecting clients' First Amendment rights," and that the attorneys are "especially dedicated to the rights of parents and individuals who have religious beliefs in conflict with mandated vaccines." Those clients in particular require help to receive exemptions relating to school, immigration, adoption, and the workplace.

Finn has now come under the scrutiny of the NYS Ninth Judicial District Grievance Committee. She contends that the she has been harassed by the New York State Judiciary after insisting that parents have constitutional rights regarding vaccine decisions for their children, particularly after she represented health care workers in New York regarding the H1N1 (swine flu) mandatory vaccination policy. New York was the first state to require mandatory flu shots for healthcare workers.
[Read more...]

Portions of 9/11 victims' remains taken to landfill, report says (28 February 2012)
Some human remains recovered from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pa., were incinerated and dumped in a landfill, the Defense Department said Tuesday in the latest revelation about mishandled body parts at the Dover Air Force Base mortuary.

A new Pentagon review of the troubled mortuary disclosed several other problems -- including fresh allegations of fraud and misplaced remains -- over the past decade despite previous assurances by Air Force officials that they had adequately investigated operations at the base.

The revelation that "several portions of remains" recovered from the Pentagon and Shanksville ended up in a landfill was mentioned briefly on the latter pages of a report released Tuesday after an investigation led by retired Army Gen. John P. Abizaid.

The report said that the Sept. 11 remains in question "could not be tested or identified," apparently because they were too small or charred to allow for DNA analysis. The remains were cremated and then mixed with biomedical waste at the Dover mortuary, where they were given to a contractor who incinerated them and dumped the residue in a landfill.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: The Post's pages are always slow-loading...

Texas court releases new set of redistricting maps (28 February 2012)
After a months-long set of legal battles spanning three courtrooms in two cities, Texas may finally have a set of interim redistricting maps that could keep the primary election on May 29.

The new maps, released by the San Antonio federal court today, appear to be nearly identical to the compromise maps negotiated between Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and the Latino Redistricting Task Force, which were rejected by other minority and Democratic groups.

"This map is considerably better than the state-enacted map," said Matt Angle, a longtime Democratic strategist, who has advised minority groups suing the state. "Clearly minority voters won something important today. It's just not as good of a map as many of us had hoped."

He added that the state's Republican leadership had put Texans "through hell."

Like that compromise, the court's congressional map would create two new minority congressional seats and preserves the Republican-dominated Legislature's decision to split Austin into five districts, forcing U.S. Rep Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, to run in a new, heavily Hispanic district that stretches from San Antonio to Austin.
[Read more...]

Chevron reports oil spill in Marcellus Shale: Pennsylvania (28 February 2012)
On Dec. 20, Chevron reported to regulators that it has discovered a leak from a pipe joint weld buried four feet under the well pad in Robinson, Washington County [Pennsylvania]. Initially, the broken pipe was estimated to have spilled two barrels of oil condensate, but Chevron reported to regulators by the end of December that the spill was greater than anticipated, said John Poister, community relations coordinator for the DEP. "As of today they believe as much of 80 barrels of condensate were lost between Nov. 8, when they begun their fracking operation, and Dec. 18, when they discovered the break in the pipe," Poister said.

Chevron didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The news was first reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Tuesday.

The company is working on determine the extent of the contamination of the soil at the site, Poister said, adding that the DEP has collected soil and water samples that are being tested for contamination.
[Read more...]

FirstEnergy: Ohio nuclear plant's cracks caused by 1978 blizzard (28 February 2012)
FirstEnergy announced today it has found the root cause of the cracks in its Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Facility shield building. The culprit is the blizzard of January 1978.

In a press release issued Tuesday by FirstEnergy, the company states, "Moisture in the outer layers of the Shield Building's concrete from driving rain preceding the blizzard froze during the historic storm. The stress of the ice caused portions of the building to develop tight cracks beneath the surface of the concrete."

Davis-Besse Site Vice President Barry Allen said in a statement, "Analysis conducted as part of the root cause investigation confirms that the Shield Building is a robustly designed and reinforced structure that continues to perform its safety function with significant margin."

The company outlined a number of actions it will take to ensure the shield building's safety, including weatherproofing, additional inspections and a long-term monitoring plan.
[Read more...]

DOJ refuses to confirm Assange indictment revealed by Stratfor leak (28 February 2012)
AUSTIN, TEXAS -- The U.S. Department of Justice is refusing to comment on whether it has prepared espionage charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, even after emails allegedly stolen from the Austin, Texas firm Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor) and published Tuesday revealed that the company claims to have a sealed indictment against him.

In an email published by WikiLeaks on Tuesday morning, Stratfor vice president Fred Burton writes that his firm has "a sealed indictment on Assange," and asks subordinates to "Pls protect" the document, which was labeled "Not for Pub[lication]." In another email, Burton suggests that authorities could "lock him up" by having Assange detained as a material witness.

Burton's email was sent in response to a discussion about reports that U.S. prosecutors have not been able to hang the case against Pvt. Bradley Manning on any direct contact with Assange.

Speaking to Raw Story Tuesday morning, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Dean Boyd said that they cannot comment "on whether anyone has been charged in a sealed indictment."
[Read more...]

Occupy London protesters accuse St Paul's of betrayal (28 February 2012)
St Paul's Cathedral has been accused of "betraying" Occupy London activists after giving the City of London police permission to remove protesters from its steps and end the four-and-a-half month camp.

The cathedral's decision, coupled with a previous high court decision obtained by the City of London, meant police successfully removed the entire Occupy London Stock Exchange camp from the square outside St Paul's.

Police said 20 people had been arrested by 4.30am in the "largely peaceful" operation.

Police and bailiffs moved in to begin clearing the Occupy London encampment in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Activists protesting against the financial and banking elite were told by bailiffs that they had five minutes to pack their tents and leave or they would be obstructing a court order.
[Read more...]

2nd Chardon High School student dies of gunshot wound (28 February 2012)
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A second Chardon High School student who was shot Monday morning has died.

Russell King Jr., 17, was pronounced brain dead Monday at MetroHealth Medical Center.

The hospital notified the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office of the death at 12:42 a.m. today.

Russell was described by students as a sociable kid who got along well with people.

Enrolled at both Chardon High School and at the Auburn Career Center in Concord Township, the junior studied technologies of alternative energies like solar and wind power while at the career center.
[Read more...]

Pasteurized Milk Linked to Cancer: Infowars Nightly News (28 February 2012) [AJ]
A new study out of Harvard University shows that pasteurized milk product from factory farms is linked to causing hormone-dependent cancers. [Embedded video included.] [Read more...]

Dogs hit hard by recession, too (28 February 2012)
Feb. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Liz Harper's dog once dined on bowls of Mars Inc.'s Royal Canin tailored to the Boxer breed and packed with the heart-healthy amino acid L-carnitine. She'd wash it down with Bowser Beer, a dog drink brewed from malt barley and salt-free chicken stock. Today, Billie Holiday has to settle for kibble from the local Target Corp. store.

"It's probably worse than toxic waste, but she loves it," said Harper, a 36-year-old attorney from Pelham, New York. "It's cheap and way easier to buy than anything else. She's a dog -- she eats out of the garbage can and drinks out of the sewer. She doesn't need organic dog food."

Harper is among a growing proportion of pet owners who are seeking bargains and shunning more opulent items such as $600 Swarovski crystal dog collars, according to researchers Packaged Facts and Mintel. The $87 billion pet-product market, once deemed recession-proof, is starting to show cracks as owners struggle to make ends meet.

Nearly four out of 10 U.S. pet owners in a September Packaged Facts survey said they're spending less on pet products, up from 27 percent in February 2010. Three-quarters of them are looking for deals, particularly on non-food items like apparel and toys. The U.S. is the world's largest pet product market, according to researcher Euromonitor International.
[Read more...]

Chardon high school shooting - Latest updates from Cleveland's "Plain Dealer" (27 February 2012)
CHARDON, Ohio - The chilling actions of a teenager as he systematically shot Chardon High School students sitting at a cafeteria table were captured by surveillance video at Chardon High School, which also showed the chaos afterward.

According to a source who viewed the video, the student -- identified by fellow students as T.J. Lane -- sat down by himself at a table in the cafeteria around 7:30 a.m. Within moments he reached into a pack or a bag. He pulled out a .22-caliber handgun.

Lane walked around his table and stood behind students identified by classmates as Russell King, Demetrius Hewlin and Nick Walczak, all juniors and friends. Russell and Nick were waiting there before catching a bus to Auburn Career Center.

The video shows Lane raising his gun and shooting, the source said. Russell, who students say was shot in the back, is at MetroHealth Medical Center. Demetrius, who students say was shot in the back of the head, is also at MetroHealth. Nick, who was shot numerous times, is in stable condition at Hillcrest Hospital.
[Read more...]

PETA 'killed more than 95 per cent of adoptable dogs and cats in its care last year' shocking new report says (26 February 2012) [R]
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals killed more than 95 per cent of animals in its care last year at a Virginia shelter, a shocking new report states.

The report, released by non-profit consumer group, claims that PETA - which is known for its outspoken stance on animal rights - were responsible for the deaths of nearly 2,000 adoptable animals last year alone.

The records also show that the animal-rights organization has killed more than 27,000 animals at its headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia since 1998.

Only 3,159 animals, mostly dogs and cats, were adopted in that time.
[Read more...]

Scott Walker allows recall challenge to move ahead in Wisconsin (27 February 2012)
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) declined to challenge any signatures ahead of the Monday afternoon deadline to prevent a recall election against him, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Walker's decision leaves only state election officials to determine whether the recall's signatures are valid by March 19. Walker previously sought for a later deadline to challenge the petitions, but was denied.

"We are not filing any specific challenges to any specific signatures today," Walker campaign spokeswoman Ciara Matthews told The Sentinel. "We simply ran out of time."

Organizers gathered over one million signatures in just 60 days, almost doubling the number of signatures required for a recall election (540,000).
[Read more...]

Effort to undo HPV vaccine mandate stalls in Va. Senate (27 February 2012)
For the second year in a row, the Virginia Senate defeated a proposal to repeal a state mandate that girls be vaccinated before entering sixth grade against a virus that can cause cervical cancer.

The Senate voted 22-17 to affirm a motion by Richard L. Saslaw, D-Fairfax County, that the bill be sent back to the Senate Education and Health Committee and be passed by for the year. That means it can't be resurrected until next year.

Republican Sens. Frank Wagner of Virginia Beach and John C. Watkins of Powhatan County crossed party lines to send the bill back to committee.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Of course. Regardless of what their supporters want, Republicans won't back down when big pharma's money is at stake.

Dr. Vandana Shiva: Occupy our food supply! (27 February 2012)
The biggest corporate takeover on the planet is the hijacking of the food system, the cost of which has had huge and irreversible consequences for the Earth and people everywhere.

From the seed to the farm to the store to your table, corporations are seeking total control over biodiversity, land, and water. They are seeking control over how food is grown, processed, and distributed. And in seeking this total control, they are destroying the Earth's ecological processes, our farmers, our health, and our freedoms.

It starts with seeds. Monsanto and a few other gene giants are trying to control and own the world's seeds through genetic engineering and patents. Monsanto wrote the World Trade Organization (WTO) treaty on Intellectual Property, which forces countries to patent seeds. As a Monsanto representative once said: "In drafting these agreements, we were the patient, diagnostician [and] physician all in one."

They defined a problem, and for these corporate profiteers the problem was that farmers save seeds, making it difficult for them to continue wringing profits out of those farmers. So they offered a solution, and their solution was that seeds should be redefined as intellectual property, hence seed saving becomes theft and seed sharing is criminalized. I believe that saving seeds and protecting biodiversity is our ecological and ethical duty. That is why I started Navdanya 25 years ago.
[Read more...]

Wikileaks Pairs with Anonymous to Publish Intelligence Firm's Dirty Laundry (26 February 2012)
The first batch of leaked e-mails purport to show that Stratfor monitored the political prankster group known as The Yes Men on behalf of Dow Chemical, which has been targeted by The Yes Men over the company's handling of the Bhopal disaster. The e-mails also purport to show Stratfor's attempt to set up an investment fund with a Goldman Sachs director to trade on the intelligence Stratfor collects, as well as give insight into how the private intelligence firm acquires, and sometimes pays for, information.

Stratfor, which bills itself as a private intelligence organization, sells its analyses of global politics to major corporations and government agencies.

Members of Anonymous with direct knowledge of the hack and transfer of data to WikiLeaks told Wired that the group decided to turn the information over to WikiLeaks because the site was more capable of analyzing and spreading the leaked information than Anonymous would be.

"WikiLeaks has great means to publish and disclose," the anon told Wired. "Also, they work together with media in a way we don't."
[Read more...]

Coca-Cola had PETA jitters on eve of Vancouver Olympics: WikiLeaks (27 February 2012)
In the lead-up to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Coca-Cola asked a private U.S. intelligence firm to dig up information on the activities of the animal-activist group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and disruptions they could be planning, according to internal emails released Monday from the WikiLeaks whistleblower website.

Coca-Cola wanted the Texas-based company, Stratfor, to find out what kind of support PETA had in Canada, what its methods were for carrying out protests and the extent to which PETA might be connected to anarchist groups.

The emails reportedly were obtained by the online hacker collective known as Anonymous -- the same group that recently hacked into the website for the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police -- and then passed on to WikiLeaks.

In a statement Monday, Stratfor, which provides analysis of international affairs to its subscribers, confirmed that thieves had stolen a large number of company emails and other private information from the company's data systems in December.
[Read more...]

Moose feed stations open in Mat-Su, but not everyone approves (27 February 2012)
This winter will likely be remembered as a pretty bad one for Mat-Su moose.
Struggling with deep snow, the animals are starving and getting hit in such high numbers that the state of Alaska has taken the unprecedented step of allowing a private group to feed them in an effort to keep them away from roads.

The Alaska Moose Federation, a private nonprofit that operates under a "grow more moose" philosophy, finished the second of 20 planned feeding stations on Sunday between Big Lake and Willow near Houston.

The group hopes to create a connected trail of "diversionary" feeding stations well away from rail and road corridors.
The federation uses heavy equipment purchased with state grant money to groom rink-sized areas. Five-hundred-pound bales of fermented grasses grown at Point MacKenzie are trucked in. The grasses, unlike hay, are thought to be digestible by moose, which are usually twig and bark eaters. Then volunteers use snowcats to move the bales, six at a time, to the feeding areas, where they are spread so moose won't crowd one another.
[Read more...]

Officers hurt in Occupy clash in Calif. Capitol (27 February 2012)
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- At least two law enforcement officers were injured Monday during a clash with members of the Occupy movement who were at the state Capitol to protest a rally by a pro-white group.

The clash erupted in the afternoon as California Highway Patrol and Sacramento city police officers were escorting about 35 members of the South Africa Project to a parking garage following their protest outside the Capitol building.

About 50 members of Occupy Oakland began throwing cans and bottles at the South Africa group and at the officers. The Occupy members then rushed the officers as people with the pro-whites group rushed into the parking garage.

A city police officer was injured when a member of the Occupy group jumped on him, and a CHP officer was hurt after being struck by an object. Both were taken from the scene by ambulance.

At least two Occupy members were arrested.
[Read more...]

Facebook ad turns user into a personal lubricant pitchman (27 February 2012)
It all started when he favorited a tweet on Stellar (a service that aggregates "favorites" on social networks) that linked to a 55-gallon drum of Passion Natural water-based lubricant being sold on Amazon.com for $1,495. (For interested buyers, that's 46% off the list price for the kind of supply better suited to Mark Wahlberg's character in "Boogie Nights" than mere mortals).

Bergus saw the humor right away, and noted that while it was not eligible for Amazon Prime, shipping was a "reasonable" $20.95.

So he posted it on Facebook: "A 55-gallon drum of lube on Amazon. For Valentine's Day. And every day. For the rest of your life."

Fast forward a week. Friends began reporting that the humorous Facebook post had taken on a whole new life and was showing up in their News Feed as a "sponsored story," a new form of Facebook advertising that can turn anyone who "likes" or posts about a product or service on Facebook into an instant pitchman or woman.
[Read more...]

Federal Agents Seize Drugs Sent By Bear In Cave (27 February 2012)
FEBRUARY 27--When shipping illegal narcotics via the United States Postal Service, traffickers are advised to exert care when fabricating a phony return name and address for packages--or their stash may be intercepted by suspicious federal agents.

Over the past two months, federal court records show, investigators in Minnesota made a pair of drug seizures that were aided by patently phony mailing information contained on Express Mail parcels containing cocaine and marijuana.

In late-December, postal inspectors learned of a suspicious Express Mail piece that was addressed to an individual at a post office box in Taconite, a small city (pop. 360) in northern Minnesota. The package contained a return name of "Billy Bear," who purportedly lived at "1 Cave Drive" in DeBary, Florida.

A "routine inquiry" by a federal agent determined "the return address to be fictitious." So there was no Bear living on Cave. Additionally, a narcotics dog alerted to the parcel's contents.
[Read more...]

Speed Freak Killer: I know where more bodies are (27 February 2012)
Convicted California serial killer Wesley Shermantine says he knows where additional victims are buried, while also apologizing for taking years to reveal where he disposed of the bodies of two of his victims.

During an interview Saturday at San Quentin State Prison's Death Row with a reporter for the Stockton Record, Shermantine said he was sorry it took so long for authorities to find the remains of 25-year-old Cyndi Vanderheiden and 16-year-old Chevelle Wheeler. Shermantine continued to deny that he killed them, saying he had only helped their killer bury them.

During the interview, Shermantine also said that additional victims were killed and buried in Modesto, Stockton, Ripon and Milton.

Vanderheiden disappeared in 1998, while Wheeler disappeared in 1985. Their remains were found earlier this month after Shermantine provided a map showing the location of a grave site in Calaveras County to authorities.
[Read more...]

For survivors, spill trial falls short of justice (27 February 2012)
The percentages won't mean much to Stephen Stone.

Whether a federal judge presiding over a court proceeding -- which was set to begin Monday but has been delayed a week -- in New Orleans finds BP 50 percent liable for the Deepwater Horizon disaster or 65 percent or whatever doesn't matter to him. Almost two years after the disaster that unleashed the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, BP, Transocean and Halliburton each will attempt to convince a judge that the other companies bear more responsibility.

But for Stone, a Katy resident who spent two years working on the rig before the April 20, 2010, blowout that killed 11 of his co-workers, the blame is clear.

"I think they're all at fault," Stone, 25, told me last week, speaking publicly about the ordeal for the first time since testifying before Congress in 2010. "It's frustrating to see them try to skirt responsibility."
[Read more...]

VIA identifies engineers killed in Canadian derailment (27 February 2012)
Two very experienced railway engineers from Toronto died in the VIA Rail derailment in Burlington yesterday, VIA told the Star this morning.

The third person killed, a student engineer, was 40-year-old Patrick Robinson of Cornwall, Ont.

Robinson was being trained by longtime railway employees Peter Snarr of Etobicoke and Ken Simmonds of Toronto, VIA spokeswoman Michelle LaMarche said.

Snarr was "a very experienced engineer" who started his rail career in 1978, she said. Simmonds started in 1979. Both had worked for CN before joining VIA.

Of the 45 passengers and another VIA employee treated for injuries from the derailment, nine remain in hospital on Monday, LaMarche said.
[Read more...]

Medical records theft: Providence patients can't sue for damages, Oregon Supreme Court rules (27 February 2012)
Oregon's Supreme Court upheld the dismissal of lawsuit seeking compensation for tens of thousands of people whose confidential records were stolen from Providence Health & Services in 2006.

The breach occurred when a car prowler broke into a van parked overnight at the home of a Providence employee who left computer disks and data tapes in the van. The records, some going back 20 years, contained Social Security numbers and medical information for 365,000 people. The ensuing uproar triggered a state and federal investigations and helped convince lawmakers to enact stronger privacy protections in Oregon.

The court said the civil lawsuit failed to show that stolen information was used or even viewed by a third party, and thus failed to substantiate a negligence claim. A Multnomah County judge struck claims for damages in 2007, concluding that the nonprofit hospital corporation had already reasonably compensated the affected patients and employees and corrected the security problems. Providence provided two-years of credit-protection services to all whose records were stolen and paid more than $195,000 to settle state and federal investigations of security lapses.
[Read more...]

Portland Walgreens shopper awarded $35,000 after wrongful strip search (26 February 2012)
A Multnomah County jury has awarded a North Portland man $35,000 after a Walgreens employee who wrongly suspected him of shoplifting ordered him to strip down to his bare chest in the middle of the store.

Henry Peth was overcome with embarrassment and shame on the busiest shopping day of the year -- the day after Thanksgiving 2010 -- when employees confronted with their suspicions that he was stealing batteries at the Walgreens at 2829 N. Lombard St. Peth, an immigrant from Ghana, thinks he was targeted because he is black, and he told the employees so.

During a three-day trial last week, Peth testified that he was shopping for Christmas lights. When the store's assistant manager, Daniel Martinez, approached him, saying someone had seen Peth put something in his pocket. Peth responded that he had nothing but his cell phone. Peth then testified that a clerk declared that Peth was lying and that the merchandise must be under his sweatshirt.

About that time Jeffrey Biesenthal, the store's manager, arrived and, according to Peth, the three men boxed him in, in a narrow aisle. Peth said the assistant manager told him that if he didn't have anything, he needed to "take it off." After Peth shed all three layers and shook them out, the employees found no merchandise.
[Read more...]

At least 4 students hurt in shooting at Ohio High School, shooter still at large (27 February 2012)
Little information has been made available. Chardon police and sheriff's officials said the school was on lockdown. Parents are crowding just off school grounds.

The shooting happened in the cafeteria, according to a waiting parent, Jessica Bryant, whose freshman daughter, Allison, had seen it and texted her.

A city official said they don't know where the shooter is, and parents were being told at 8:21 that it might not be safe to remain near the school. Maple Elementary school across the street was being evacuated.

Police are blocking streets near the school as they go through the building in search of the shooter. A teacher saw the shooting and chased the gun-wielder, who escaped.

At 8:30, students were being evacuated from the school and are going to Maple Elementary. Many, scared, could be seen holding hands and crying.
[Read more...]

WikiLeaks publishes Stratfor emails linked to Anonymous attack (27 February 2012)
WikiLeaks has begun releasing a cache of what it says are 5.5m emails obtained from the servers of Stratfor, a US-based intelligence gathering firm with about 300,000 subscribers.

The whistleblowing site has published 167 emails in its initial release. WikiLeaks says it has partnered with 25 media organisations around the world, including Rolling Stone, McClatchey, the Hindu and Russia Reporter.

Unlike previous WikiLeaks releases, this latest email cache was apparently obtained through a hacking attack on Stratfor by Anonymous in December 2011 rather than through a whistleblower.

Anonymous published contact and credit card details from Stratfor and said at the time it had also obtained a large volume of emails for which it would arrange publication.
[Read more...]

Bill Clinton and Bradley Manning nominated for Nobel Peace Prize (27 February 2012)
A total of 231 nominees are up for the Nobel Peace Prize this year, the Nobel Institute said on Monday, with Bill Clinton, Helmut Kohl, the EU and US soldier and WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning known to be on the list.

"As always, there are the usual 'nominees' and some newcomers, some famous and some unknowns, hailing from the four corners of the world," the head of the Nobel Institute, Geir Lundestad, told AFP.

With 188 individuals and 43 organisations, the number of candidates comes close to last year's record of 241, when the award went to Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee, and Yemeni "Arab Spring" activist Tawakkol Karman.

Thousands of people are eligible to submit nominations, including members of parliaments and governments worldwide, university professors, past laureates and members of several international institutes, who had until February 1 to propose candidates.

The Nobel Institute keeps the names of nominees secret for 50 years, but those who are entitled to nominate are allowed to reveal the name of the person or organisation they have proposed.
[Read more...]

Everest could soon become impossible to climb because of global warming, says top Sherpa (27 February 2012)
One of the most prolific climbers of all time, who has conquered Everest a record 21 times, says he may not be able to do it again.

Why? Because climate change is making the world's highest and most treacherous peak unclimbable, Asa Sherpa contends.

Apa, popularly known as the 'Super Sherpa,' who first conquered Everest in 1989, told AFP that the absence of snow on the mountain concerns him greatly.

He said: 'In 1989 when I first climbed Everest there was a lot of snow and ice but now most of it has just become bare rock. That, as a result, is causing more rockfalls which is a danger to the climbers'.

Apa added: 'Also, climbing is becoming more difficult because when you are on a mountain you can wear crampons [spiked footwear designed for climbing on ice] but it's very dangerous and very slippery to walk on bare rock with crampons'.
[Read more...]

Seven things your psychiatrist doesn't want you to know (26 February 2012)
(NaturalNews) The information in this article comes from my personal experience as a licensed mental health counselor. One of my missions as a member of the mental health underground, a secret society of rogue mental health types, was to infiltrate the massive system created by the managed care industry.

I was out to crack their code and bring home the details about 1) how mental health patients are treated 2) who is really in charge and 3) why typical psychiatrists and psychotherapists seemed so boring and incompetent.

It took me two years to complete the assignment. I secured a position at the largest agency in town, carried a caseload that included 25 billable hours weekly, dutifully completed mountains of paperwork, and received direct oversight and clinical supervision from a psychiatrist and a clinical psychologist. It was perfect! I had direct access to the inner workings of the managed care machine. We decided against secretly recording my weekly supervision meetings on ethical grounds (patient confidentiality). Yet, I almost wish I had. You wouldn't believe what went on.

Today's report includes seven things your psychiatrist would never want you to know.
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Virginia Tech vctims' families want 1-gun-a-month law to stay (26 February 2012)
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Parents of Virginia Tech survivors and victims of the 2007 campus massacre urged Gov. Bob McDonnell on Saturday to keep in place a law that allows the purchase of only one handgun a month.

A bill repealing the law is likely headed to the governor's desk, and McDonnell has previously said he would sign it. The one-gun-a-month-law has been in place since the early 1990s.

A parent of a wounded student at Virginia Tech said he's hopeful the Republican governor will change his mind about signing the legislation.

"I hold out hope that he will take into account the 66 percent of the people in the polls who want to keep this thing," said Andrew Goddard, whose son Colin was wounded in the campus April 16, 2007, rampage that left 33 dead, including the gunman.
[Read more...]

ACLU urges court to block South Carolina's voter ID law (26 February 2012)
The American Civil Liberties Union has urged a federal court to block a South Carolina voter ID law from taking effect because of concerns that it would have a disproportionate effect on minority voters.

"South Carolina's voter ID law is a prime example why the Voting Rights Act is necessary and relevant today," said Nancy Abudu, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Voting Rights Project. "If it were not for the protections that the Voting Rights Act provides, South Carolina and many other states would enact discriminatory voting laws that make it harder for minorities to vote."

The law, which was passed last spring by the South Carolina state legislature and signed by Gov. Nikki Haley (R), requires voters to present a government-issued photo ID before casting a ballot. Under the law, the Department of Motor Vehicles is required to issue free photo ID cards to voters.

Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the U.S. Department of Justice or a federal court is required to pre-clear laws affecting voters in jurisdictions with a history of voting discrimination, including South Carolina. The Justice Department blocked the law in December after finding over a third of the state's minorities who are registered voters did not have the proper photo ID. South Carolina took the issue to court in February.
[Read more...]

The Health Benefits Of Being A Vegetarian (26 February 2012)
If you have decided to become a vegetarian, or have been thinking about going "vegan" either for the health benefits or as a stand against the cruelty of animals, then you're making a smart choice. Most people don't realize that a lot of their health issues stem from what they put inside their bodies.Being a vegetarian results in becoming more conscientious about the foods and products you buy and consume. Vegetarians are often healthier eaters and their diets are hydrophilic and rich in antioxidants. A vegetarian diet can help to lower your risks for heart disease, cancer (ovarian and breast cancer, among other forms), diabetes and high blood pressure. A vegetarian diet can also improve your skin complexion, and the condition of your hair and nails. Since most vegetarian diets are full of fiber, vegetarians usually have a more efficient digestive system. A high fiber diet has many holistic health benefits, including regular elimination, detoxification, and decreased risk of colon and rectal cancers. Lowering your cholesterol helps reduce weight gain, obesity and helps prevent heart and kidney diseases. [Read more...]

Study: Combination tetanus, whooping cough vaccine linked to seizures in babies (26 February 2012)
(NaturalNews) If you choose to have your baby vaccinated with the combination diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis), polio and Haemophilus influenzae type 2 vaccine, a mega-jab collectively known as the DTap-IPV-Hib, your child may be at an increased risk of having a vaccine-induced seizure. A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has identified a clear link between the vaccine and the onset of fever-related seizures, which the authors claim will not cause long-term damage.

Yuelian Sun from Aarhus University in Denmark and her colleagues evaluated data on roughly 380,000 babies born in Denmark between 2003 and 2008. Children in that country are recommended to get the vaccine at three different times -- once when they are three months old, again when they are five months old, and a third time on their first birthday. Upon analysis, the researchers determined that about 7,800 of these children, or just over two percent, had been diagnosed with a fever-related seizure by the time they reach one-and-a-half years old.

The risk of having a fever-related seizure appears to increase after each subsequent jab with the vaccine, and particularly on the same day that it is administered. And yet the study authors and others insist the DTap-IPV-Hib vaccine is safe because such seizures allegedly do not cause brain damage or other permanent harm. Dr. Eugene Shapiro, a pediatrics and infectious diseases researcher at Yale University, actually purports that these findings are "reassuring," and that parents should not be concerned.
[Read more...]

Not just horsing around ... psychologists put their faith in equine therapies (26 February 2012)
In a Sussex field, a large bay horse is galloping around, tail held high. This magnificent creature is one of a new army of animals that is helping therapists to treat everything from addiction to autism to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Reports last week showed that dogs, already known to be invaluable helpmates for blind, deaf, diabetic and epileptic owners, were also being trained to help dementia patients.

Now the psychological benefits of working with horses are being recognised by growing numbers of therapists who work with autistic children, young people with behavioural problems, adults with depression or celebrities with addictions.

"The horse is the perfect mirror, they are very emotional beings; we're only starting to realise how intelligent they are," said therapy counsellor Gabrielle Gardner, of Shine For Life, watching the horse dance around his pen at a farm in Blackstone, a village a few miles north of Brighton.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: "...Only starting to realise how intelligent they are?"

Says who?

Eavesdropping on the squid world (25 February 2012)
Marine biologists are starting to get a good idea now of how squid hear and how they react to sounds in the ocean.

It is only recently that scientists have come to accept that cephalopods have any auditory capability at all.

But new experiments show noises of varying loudness and frequency will elicit a range of behaviours in the animals - such as jetting or inking, and even a change of colour.

The research has been featured at the biennial Ocean Sciences Meeting.
[Read more...]

Arizona governor endorses Mitt Romney days before state primary (26 February 2012)
Reporting from Tempe, Ariz.-- Mitt Romney picked up the endorsement Sunday of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, as the state's Republican Party establishment closed ranks ahead of Tuesday's presidential primary. [Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: I doubt that the endorsement matters -- I'm only linking to this one for the button picture.

Hackers attack Ontario police chiefs' website to protest support for Internet bill (25 February 2012)
A cyber attack on the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police's website has only bolstered the organization's support for the government's controversial online surveillance bill, a spokesman said Saturday.

The association took down the site after it was hacked late Friday afternoon by people claiming to be linked to the group Anonymous, association spokesman Joe Couto said.

The identity of those responsible for the attack has not been confirmed, but activists allied to the loose-knit Anonymous movement had threatened to target federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and others over the Harper government's surveillance bill.The chiefs had supported the legislation.

"What this does is demonstrate quite clearly to Canadians the type of cyber crimes perpetuated every day," Couto said Saturday.
[Read more...]

Occupy activists rally outside home of Wells CEO (26 February 2012)
The setting was the base of the 14-story tower where one of the residents is John Stumpf, chief executive officer of Wells Fargo. The cast included people who say they are in danger of losing their homes, veteran housing activists and younger protesters loosely aligned with the almost 6-month-old Occupy movement.

Some people wore black shrouds or held cut-out figures depicting Stumpf; two carried an enormous "notice of default" aimed at Stumpf because of Wells Fargo's alleged "record profits at the expense of low-income communities." In an era when protests are plentiful, one organizer explained, it doesn't hurt to shake up the repertoire every now and then.

"We're trying to be different," said Buck Bagot, a longtime Bernal Heights activist who has spent recent months assisting neighborhood residents whose homes have been foreclosed. "I've been to too many demonstrations where 30 people you know say the same thing 30 times."

The hour-long protest at Chestnut and Larkin streets brought out more than 50 people. A few were off-message, such as the pair displaying a banner critical of PG&E's SmartMeters. Most, though, homed in on the community turmoil caused by the loose lending policies of large banks in the years leading up to the recession's start in 2008 and the wave of foreclosures that has followed.
[Read more...]

Malaysian protest over rare earths refinery plan (26 February 2012)
People living near a planned refinery for rare earth elements in Malaysia have held a demonstration to try to halt its construction.

The protesters in the eastern city of Kuantan say there is a risk of dangerous radiation from the plant.

The refinery will process precious metals used in the production of mobile phones and flat-screen TVs.

Regulators insist that the plant will pose no health risk to people living in the area, in Pahang state.

However the BBC's Jennifer Pak in Pahang says few people believe the Malaysian government could handle a radioactive disaster.

[Read more...]

'Human safaris' pose threat to uncontacted Amazon tribe (25 February 2012)
Growing concerns over "human safaris" caused a scandal in India after the Observer revealed how tour operators in the Andaman Islands are colluding with police to offer sightings of an indigenous group, the Jarawa, who have only had contact with the outside world since the late 1990s.

In Peru, the Mashco-Piro live in the Manú national park of the Madre de Dios region, near the Brazilian border. More than a century ago the Mashco-Piro were driven off their land in the upper Manú river by rubber tappers supplying the American and European car and bicycle industries. The tribe was forced to retreat to more remote jungle areas.

After Survival International published photographs of the tribe last month to publicise the need to leave it in peace, a spokesman for Peru's national protected areas department (Sernanp) urged people to steer clear of "communities trying to remain apart from the outside world". However, independent research by the Observer has confirmed that unscrupulous tour guides are flouting that advice.

"The uncontacted peoples have been sighted on the Madre de Dios river in Manú. Let me know how many days you want and I'll suggest a tailor-made programme for your party," said one, contacted anonymously by the Observer with a specific request to seek out the tribe. "We can't be 100% sure we can see the uncontacted. If we are lucky we can see. In 2011 they came out in the months of May and October," said another.
[Read more...]

Bin Laden's last refuge is razed in the dead of night (26 February 2012)
Residents in the Bilal Town neighbourhood of Abbottabad said troops brought in three bulldozers and started to demolish the outer walls as sunset fell. Floodlights were brought in to allow the work to continue.

Ten days ago, when The Independent on Sunday visited Abbottabad, those living close to House No 3, Street No 8-A, Garga Road, said they believed the building could be turned into a clinic, a school, or a mosque. Only a few thought it would be better knocked down and the area turned into a children's park.

"I think they should build a mosque. If you build a school there, people will just associate it with Bin Laden," said one man, Shah Mohammad.

Another, Yasir Svati, who was standing outside the shop where two men who turned out to be bodyguards and couriers for Bin Laden used to buy single John Player Gold Leaf cigarettes, believed a school or college should be set up there. "They should give it to a charitable organisation. It could be used for computer training or English language training," he said. "We don't have anything like that."
[Read more...]

Bob McDonnell: Mitt Romney has a 'CEO' problem (26 February 2012)
Reporting from Washington-- Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a rising Republican star, is as enthusiastic as ever about Mitt Romney's candidacy for president.

But he offered a candid take Saturday as to why the man long considered the party's front-runner has failed to lock up the GOP nomination despite his best efforts to convince voters he's the strongest, most electable candidate.

In short, the man running in part on his business expertise is seen too much as a businessman.

"I think some people look at him as a CEO," McDonnell told reporters in between meetings at the National Governors Assn. winter gathering in Washington. "People right now want to have somebody that truly just feels their pain and empathizes with what they're going through in this horrible, horrible economy."
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: You're so funny, Bob, pretending to be a credible critic after your "trans-vaginal ultrasound" flap.

Now for some real commentary on Romney...

Credit for auto industry recovery debated (26 February 2012)
At the same rally, UAW President Bob King said General Motors and Chrysler would have been liquidated but for the federal rescue because no private lenders were willing or able to assist at the time.

"We all would have been out of a job if it were not for who?" King asked about 200 union members at the rally.

"Obama," the crowd yelled back.

Meanwhile, inside the stadium Friday, Romney took shots at the UAW and federal regulators, saying they caused the auto industry's problems in the first place.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Romney tells the crowds that the UAW is the problem? Was he aware of which state he was visiting?

Supertankers shipping Alta. oil to Asia fuel fears on B.C. coast (26 February 2012)
VANCOUVER -- Bigger oil tankers, and more of them, may be headed to B.C.'s coast as companies plan to greatly expand shipments in local waters.

The plans, which include a proposal for monster Suezmax-sized tankers to pass under the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver, have led to fears over an increased risk of oil spills.

"Alberta oil may mean jobs, but we're the ones absorbing the risk," says Vancouver Coun. Andrea Reimer, who chairs the city's environment committee.

Ben West of the Wilderness Committee says Vancouver was never a major oil exporting facility until recently.
[Read more...]

B.C. ecstasy bust a 'chemistry experiment waiting to go bad' (26 February 2012)
Health Canada chemists and Burnaby Fire Department will oversee the lab takedown, he said. "It is essentially a big chemistry experiment waiting to go bad."

Drug labs like this tend to involve fuel tanks and plastic containers full of hazardous material, Pound said. "For every one kilogram of finished product, you get about five kg of toxic waste," he said.

In this case, police stormed the lab before an accident happened, he said, explaining that odours from labs like this vary, sometimes giving off a strong glue-like smell, or wafting weird sweet odours. "You'd know it was out of the ordinary for a nice residential neighbourhood," he said, referring to the lab which was in Burnaby's Capi-tol Hill area.

Home-drug chemists use "very cheap and dirty methods," Pound said. "They really don't care what happens to their waste product and they really don't care what happens to their customers."

Potential ecstasy users shouldn't perceive batches of synthetic drugs as "good" or "bad," the officer said, stressing that of the 18 ecstasy related deaths in B.C. in 2011, 13 of them had no traces of paramethoxymethamphetamine (PMMA) - a toxic compound appearing increasingly in the street drug.
[Read more...]

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


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All original content including photographs © 2012 by Pam Rotella. (News excerpts copyright by their corresponding authors, news organizations, or other copyright holders, and quoted here typically as "fair use" or "teaser" paragraphs to generate interest in the full articles.)