Pam Rotella's Vegetarian FUN page -- News on health, nutrition, the environment, politics, and more!
NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012
News from the Week of 29th of April to 5th of May 2012
Fertility injections linked to birth defects (5 May 2012)
Research on more than 300,000 babies found those born following a fertility treatment used when men have low sperm counts or motility problems had a significantly higher risk of developing abnormalities than those conceived naturally.
Babies born as a result of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) - where a single sperm is injected directly into the egg - were more likely to suffer abnormalities.
Researchers were unable to establish whether this was because the ICSI technique itself increases the risks of abnormality or because men suffering from extreme sperm damage were more likely to pass on genetic anomalies.
The method has been in widespread use since the early 1990s, and is now used in around half of fertility treatments in the UK.
PAM COMMENTARY: Joel Wallach, the famous "Dead Doctors Don't Lie" vitamin doctor, has said that dietary deficiencies are often the root cause of infertility, and that he has probably made more women pregnant than any other man -- by encouraging them to take vitamin and mineral supplements.
The People vs. Monsanto: How the lying giant prevailed (opinion) (5 May 2012)
(NaturalNews) On Wednesday, April 25th, the hearing was held to label GMOs on Oahu. I had the rare privilege to be the first testifier. My points were simple and to the point.
1. The Monsanto people will blatantly lie about no testing ever being done or any reports showing adverse health effects of GMOs being sprayed with Monsanto's Roundup.
2. That we are a government of, for and by the people. Not the Corporation.
3. That all the members of the County Council had in their possession the 52 page, 356 referenced report compiled by Antoniou et al, in 2011, indicating that Monsanto's herbicide Roundup, with glyphosate as its active ingredient, caused birth defects, embryonic deaths, lung, kidney, heart and skeletal malformations, endocrine disruptions, human cell death, DNA damage, cancer, and Parkinson-related brain damage.
Endangered Whooping Crane Fatally Shot in South Dakota (30 April 2012)
ICF is saddened to report on the fatal shooting of a Whooping Crane in South Dakota. The migrating adult crane was from the Aransas/Wood Buffalo population and was traveling with two Whooping Cranes when it was shot with a rifle while standing in a corn field. Law enforcement officers with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) and the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks are investigating the shooting which took place on April 20, 2012, along 354th Avenue, approximately 17 miles southwest of Miller, South Dakota.
A reward has been offered by FWS for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for the shooting. An additional $10,000 reward is being offered by the Whooping Crane Conservation Association. Anyone with information should call the "Turn in a Poacher" 24-hour hotline at: 888-OVERBAG (888-683-7224), or the FWS at: 605-224-9045. Callers can remain anonymous. Click here for more information, or to make a donation to the reward fund.
At least nine other Whooping Cranes have been fatally shot during the past two years--seven in the reintroduced eastern migratory population and two in the non-migratory Louisiana population. To address this continued threat, ICF and our partners are expanding our educational outreach to students, hunters and the general public across the Whooping Cranes' range. Our goal is to increase awareness, understanding and appreciation for these natural treasures. Learn more about ICF's ongoing conservation efforts for these birds.
Share this video with your friends and help us spread the word that disturbing, harassing or killing Whooping Cranes is a crime.
Northern California fishermen free entangled whale (5 May 2012)
As Anello, a fourth-generation fisherman, and two others on his boat the Point Ommaney moved closer, they found the orange and white buoys connected to the whale that measured close to the length of his vessel, said Tony Anello, Mark's father.
"They come up slowly alongside the whale, and the whale started fighting at first," the elder Anello said. "Then the whale decided to calm down."
Using 12-foot, bamboo poles with hooks on the end, Mark Anello and his crew spent 90 minutes freeing the 40-ton mammal, which had been nicknamed "June" by rescuers who had earlier tried to free it.
Once the creature was free from the ropes, nets and buoys it took a lap around the vessel.
"The whale circled the boat, surfaced and took off," Tony Anello said. "It was like it was saying thank you."
Asian carp barrier near Chicago had power outage (5 May 2012)
Traverse City, Mich. - An electric barrier network near Chicago designed to prevent Asian carp and other species from migrating between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River systems had a 13-minute power outage this week, officials said Friday.
The outage began at 12:58 p.m. CDT Wednesday, said Lt. Col. James Schreiner, deputy commander of the Army Corps of Engineers' Chicago district. Two of three barriers were operating at the time and both failed. Backup generators were activated, but a power surge prevented them from immediately delivering electricity to the barriers. Personnel at the site manually reset a circuit breaker to get the generators working.
The barriers emit rapid pulses to scare away fish and jolt those that don't turn back. They are located in the man-made Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal about 37 miles by water from Lake Michigan. There's no immediate indication that Asian carp or other fish advanced past the barrier during the outage, but experts are still looking into that, Schreiner said.
Officials with the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee, which includes state, federal and local agencies, are investigating what caused the outage and the initial problem with the generators, he said. Also participating are representatives of ComEd - the utility that supplies electricity to the barrier - and the company that manufactured the generators.
TransCanada proposes new oil pipeline through Nebraska (4 May 2012)
A Canadian firm has reapplied for a US permit to build a multi-billion dollar Canada-US oil pipeline, after its first proposal was rejected over environmental concerns, both sides said Friday.
The US State Department said it is "committed to conducting a rigorous, transparent and thorough review" of the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline that would connect to an existing pipeline in Steele City, Nebraska.
It said the new application from TransCanada Corporation "includes proposed new routes through the state of Nebraska," where environmental groups had raised concerns about the pipeline's potential danger to a major aquifer.
Yogurt diet leads to 'swaggering' mice with larger testicles (5 May 2012)
Researchers who recently undertook a study with mice in hopes of confirming earlier reports that eating yogurt can help prevent age-related weight gain have discovered a number of unexpected side-effects in their rodent subjects.
First, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists realized that the yogurt-eating mice had shinier, silkier, and thicker coats than the non-yogurt-eating control mice. Then they noticed that the male mice were walking with a "mouse swagger," which turned out to be due to testicles that were 5% heavier than those of mice fed a standard mouse diet and a full 15% heavier than those of mice forced to live on high-fat, low-nutrient junk food.
And finally they conducted mating experiments and found that yogurt-eating males "inseminated their partners faster and produced more offspring," while yogurt-eating females gave birth to larger litters and were more successful in raising them to the age of weaning.
Researchers Susan Erdman and Eric Alm have not yet determined the source of yogurt's ability to enhance rodent sexuality, but they told Scientific American that they "think that the probiotic microbes in the yogurt help to make the animals leaner and healthier, which indirectly improves sexual machismo."
Secret Service scandal: Colombian woman describes night of carousing with agents (4 May 2012)
A 24-year-old woman who says she is the prostitute at the center of a Secret Service scandal gave the most complete account yet of her alleged dispute over payment with an agent that led to revelations about nine Secret Service members bringing prostitutes to their rooms on a presidential business trip to Colombia.
In an interview on Caracol News in Cartagena, Dania Suarez said she and some girlfriends had met for a drink April 11 when they encountered an American man out carousing and drinking vodka in a Cartagena bar with other Americans. Appearing composed as she spoke, Suarez said in the interview that she agreed to go back to the agent's hotel room -- not realizing he worked for the Secret Service -- and they negotiated ahead of time that he would pay her what she called a "little gift" of $800.
When she asked for the money the next morning, Suarez said, the agent's pleasant personality from the night before had disappeared and he told her : "Let's go, b----. I'm not going to pay you."
She said he pushed her out of his room and into the hallway.
9/11 trial begins at Guantanamo with protest by defendants (5 May 2012)
U.S. NAVAL BASE GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba -- The arraignment of accused Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four top Al Qaeda lieutenants opened Saturday in a heavily guarded island courtroom with the so-called "Gitmo 5"" launching a silent protest, refusing to cooperate, listen to translations or even answer fundamental questions about a process that could end their lives.
The long-awaited trial began with defense lawyers speaking for the alleged terrorists and arguing that the protest was over their clients' anger about alleged CIA torture and mistreatment at the prison on the southern rim of Cuba.
One of the lawyers, a woman wrapped in a black Islamic abaya, warned the judge that the protest represented the detainees' response to "these past eight years" and demonstrated their refusal to acknowledge American military law.
"What happened to these men has affected their ability to focus on these proceedings," said civilian attorney Cheryl Borman.
Fast food diet increases risk of depression by more than fifty percent (5 May 2012)
(NaturalNews) Providing more evidence to the motif 'you are what you eat', scientists have found that eating a fast food diet increases the risk for depression by more than fifty percent. The food we eat today will provide the structural network for the cellular matrix that we need to support basic metabolism, cellular regeneration and repair. This is especially pronounced in brain neurons, as grey matter is largely composed of the omega-3 fats, DHA and EPA. When we don't provide these basic building blocks, especially in the early formative years, the body is forced to use inferior fats such as those provided by hydrogenation, most frequently found in fast and processed foods.
Scientists from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the University of Granada, publishing in the Public Health Nutrition journal have determined that eating commercially baked goods (cakes, croissants, and doughnuts) and fast food (hamburgers, hotdogs, and pizza) is linked to a 51 percent increase in the incidence of depression, compared to those who eat little or none of these foods.
Consumption of fast foods and baked goods doubles risk of depression
Researchers conducting the study found that risk of depression could be predicted in a dose-dependent manner. Lead study author, Dr. Almudena Sanchez-Villegas commented "the more fast food you consume, the greater the risk of depression." The study found that those participants eating the largest amount of fast food and commercially baked goods are more likely to be single, physically inactive and generally exhibit poor dietary habits. Typically these individuals consumed less fruit, nuts, fish, vegetables, and olive oil, and were more likely to smoke or work more than 45 hours per week.
High consumption of commercially baked goods or fried foods subjected to the oil degradation process known as hydrogenation results in trans-fats that have been shown to dramatically increase heart disease risk in past studies. This current research demonstrates that these misshapen and synthetically processed trans-fats interfere with the proper function of chemical neurotransmitters in the brain and alter normal electrical activity necessary for intercellular signaling.
Energy drinks: Bad for the teeth? (4 May 2012)
Energy and sports drinks can damage tooth enamel, boosting the risk of cavities, according to a new study.
"The big misconception is that energy drinks and sports drinks are healthier than soda for oral health," says researcher Poonam Jain, BDS, MPH, associate professor and director of community dentistry at the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine.
"This study completely disproves that, because they erode or thin out the enamel of the teeth, leaving them more susceptible to decay and sensitivity."
The American Beverage Association takes issue with the study, says Tracey Halliday, a spokesperson. An ABA statement reads, in part: "This study was not conducted on humans and in no way mirrors reality."
Flooding hits nesting wading birds in the U.K. (5 May 2012)
The recent flooding has hit hundreds of nesting wading birds at nature reserves, the RSPB has said.
The wildlife charity said several of its 206 nature reserves had been flooded, including the Ouse Washes in East Anglia, which is under 6ft of water after the wettest April on record.
An estimated 600 wading birds on the reserve have seen their nests and breeding attempts destroyed, including almost two-fifths (37 per cent) of England and Wales's lowland snipe, as well as redshank, lapwing and rare black-tailed godwits.
The RSPB said it could take three to six weeks to get the water back down, even if it stops raining, potentially too late for the birds to attempt to nest again.
Tagged cuckoos complete migration and return to the UK (5 May 2012)
Tracking devices fitted to five cuckoos have revealed the remarkable annual journey of a bird that heralds the arrival of the UK's spring.
The male birds were fitted with the satellite tags last May by scientists from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).
Two cuckoos, Lyster and Chris arrived back in the UK this week - the first to have their African migration mapped.
After a 10,000 mile trip, Lyster was seen 10 miles from where he was tagged.
Japan shuts down last working nuclear reactor (5 May 2012)
Japan is shutting down its last working nuclear reactor as part of the safety drive imposed after the March 2011 tsunami triggered a meltdown at the Fukushima plant.
The closure of the third reactor at the Tomari plant in Hokkaido prefecture, northern Japan, means all of the country's 50 nuclear reactors have been taken offline, leaving the country with no nuclear-derived electricity for the first time since 1970.
Hokkaido Electric said it started lowering output from the reactor at 5pm (8am GMT). The unit should be shut down completely by the early hours of Sunday.
Hundreds of people marched through Tokyo waving banners to celebrate what they hope will be the end of nuclear power in Japan.
Feds set new rules for hydraulic fracturing
(4 May 2012)
The Obama administration on Friday unveiled a proposed rule that would force companies to reveal the chemicals they use when drilling for oil and natural gas on public lands.
But the long-anticipated regulation includes a major concession to oil and gas companies, by allowing those disclosures to happen after a well is drilled and the chemicals are pumped underground -- not a month beforehand, as federal regulators had originally considered.
The result is a proposal that angers environmental advocates as well as the oil and gas industry.
Even with the softened approach, energy industry leaders and their congressional allies complained that the mandate would add unnecessary bureaucratic red tape that could discourage oil and gas production.
Wind farms may have warming effect: research (29 April 2012)
Researchers at the State University of New York at Albany analysed the satellite data of areas around large wind farms in Texas, where four of the world's largest farms are located, over the period 2003 to 2011.
The results, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, showed a warming trend of up to 0.72 degrees Celsius per decade in areas over the farms, compared with nearby regions without the farms.
"We attribute this warming primarily to wind farms," the study said. The temperature change could be due to the effects of the energy expelled by farms and the movement and turbulence generated by turbine rotors, it said.
"These changes, if spatially large enough, may have noticeable impacts on local to regional weather and climate," the authors said.
"Private Empire": Author Steve Coll on the State-Like Powers, Influence of Oil Giant ExxonMobil (5 May 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: That's President Obama. Steve Coll, talk about the relationship of ExxonMobil with the Democrats and with the Republicans and the level to which they're involved in U.S. politics and elections today.
STEVE COLL: Well, they're very involved with U.S. politics. They run a Washington office that between roughly 1998 and 2011 spent $169 million on lobbying. That was the third most among American-headquartered corporations over that period. And in some years, they were extremely active on Capitol Hill and at the White House lobbying for their positions. They also run a political action committee that makes contributions to candidates for office.
What was interesting about digging into the records of the political action committee is that ExxonMobil, really alone among large American corporations that has a political action committee strategy, is--gives almost all of its money to Republicans. Ninety percent of their contributions in the 2010 cycle went to Republican candidates. And in 2012, this cycle, they've been even more extreme in that way. It was interesting. You know, a lot of companies that you might think of as parts of the Republican Party or aligned with the Republican Party--Wal-Mart or Dow Chemical--they split their money pretty evenly between the two parties. So ExxonMobil, you know, they say that this is a result of scientific analysis of where their interests lie in Washington, but it's unusual, I think, for--in a democracy, for such a large and important institution to throw its weight on one side of the partisan divide.
I think the example you gave about those oil subsidies is a pretty good case study of how ExxonMobil works in Washington. They are unpopular. You know, they don't have so many friends that they can enact any bill they want. But what they're great at is blocking things. And so, that 51-47 vote you described is typical of the results they can achieve.
Getting to the bottom of Deepwater Horizon spill (5 May 2012)
Federal authorities charged Mix with two counts of obstruction of justice, the first criminal charges stemming from the Deepwater Horizon disaster. As a drilling engineer, Mix was involved with several attempts to stop the leak, including the "top kill," which called for pumping mud and other materials into the broken wellhead in an attempt to cap the flow of oil.
Prosecutors allege that in October 2010, after being told by BP to retain his electronic files related to the spill, Mix deleted more than 200 text messages with a BP supervisor. The texts included information collected in real time that indicated the top kill procedure was failing, according to the complaint. One deleted text declared: "Too much flowrate -- over 15,000." Before top kill commenced, engineers said the procedure would likely not work if the flow exceeded 13,000 to 15,000 barrels a day. Mix's text not only put the flow rate above that threshold. It was three times higher than the 5,000 daily barrels BP publicly acknowledged was leaking.
Mix's attorney downplayed the charges, saying he had retained the same information on emails obtained by the government. But the issue isn't whether Mix's text is a smoking gun. The question is whether BP lowballed the flow rate all along, and whether those low estimates caused emergency workers to waste time on futile responses that allowed more oil to leak, worsening the damage and prolonging the cleanup.
Who knew what about the flow rate is central to parsing out responsibility for this disaster. The estimates of the leak ranged from zero in the first days -- "We do not see a major spill emanating from this incident," the Coast Guard on-scene commander declared -- to later estimates of 1,000, 5,000 and 12,000 barrels a day. The actual flow was far greater -- about 60,000 barrels a day -- which helps explain why BP halted the top kill after three failed attempts. But by then, the company had delayed other containment efforts that could have captured many thousands of barrels of oil. "In retrospect," investigators for the National Spill Commission appointed by President Barack Obama found, "if BP had devoted a fraction of the resources it expended on the top kill to obtaining a more accurate early estimate of the flow rate, it might have better focused its efforts on the containment strategies that were more likely to succeed."
Canada's last penny minted (5 May 2012)
The penny's days are numbered in Canada, as the Royal Canadian Mint has made its final one-cent coin.
Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and other government officials took part in a ceremonial coin strike Friday at the mint's coin production facility in Winnipeg, to mark the end of production of the penny.
"The humble one-cent circulation coin was a workhorse of Canadian commerce," Flaherty said, recalling the penny's introduction over 100 years ago. "Unfortunately...over time inflation eroded the purchasing power of the penny and multiplied its manufacturing cost.
"The time has come to make the sensible decision to end production of the coin which is underused by Canadians, no longer vital to commerce and ultimately a burden on Canada's balance sheet."
DSK denies fresh claim he joined gang rape of call-girl (5 May 2012)
The state prosecutor is considering opening an inquiry into the allegations by a 25-year-old Belgian call girl, known as Marie-Anne S, over her treatment at the hands of Mr Strauss-Kahn in a Washington hotel in December 2010, according to French media.
Mr Strauss-Kahn is under investigation for "aggravated pimping in an organised gang" as French judges try to ascertain whether he knew the women he had sex with in various orgies were prostitutes. He denies any wrongdoing.
During questioning in the so-called Carlton case, Marie-Anne S described a "violent scene" in the upmarket W hotel, near the White House.
She said Mr Strauss-Kahn "used force" against her. "He held my hands. He pulled my hair, he hurt me," she told judges, adding that the former French finance minister tried to sodomise her.
"I refused, saying, 'No, I don't want to'. I clearly said I didn't want to several times, out loud," she reportedly told the judges.
She said three of Mr Strauss-Kahn's friends did nothing to intervene, and one even grabbed her hands.
US should return stolen land to Indian tribes, says United Nations (4 May 2012)
Close to a million people live on the US's 310 Native American reservations. Some tribes have done well from a boom in casinos on reservations but most have not.
Anaya visited an Oglala Sioux reservation where the per capita income is around $7,000 a year, less than one-sixth of the national average, and life expectancy is about 50 years.
The two Sioux reservations in South Dakota -- Rosebud and Pine Ridge -- have some of the country's poorest living conditions, including mass unemployment and the highest suicide rate in the western hemisphere with an epidemic of teenagers killing themselves.
"You can see they're in a somewhat precarious situation in terms of their basic existence and the stability of their communities given that precarious land tenure situation. It's not like they have large fisheries as a resource base to sustain them. In basic economic terms it's a very difficult situation. You have upwards of 70% unemployment on the reservation and all kinds of social ills accompanying that. Very tough conditions," he said.
Science says: Cut that steak in half to keep the climate in check (4 May 2012)
Eric Davidson has no grand plan to turn you into a vegetarian.
But in order for us to avoid catastrophic climate change, this senior scientist and executive director at Woods Hole Research Center says people in developed nations may need to eat half as much meat. Yep -- you heard that right. This isn't about the way animals are treated, nor is it about reducing heart disease. For the sake of the climate alone, we -- as a culture -- need to eat half as many burgers, and half as much bacon.
According to a recent study from Davidson, this controversial dietary shift is crucial if we want to get serious about reducing emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O), a potent greenhouse gas.
We've long known that eating animals (who eat grains) requires a great deal more agricultural production than eating those grains ourselves. And since farming involves fertilizers and animal manure -- two factors that have recently been pinpointed as major contributors of atmospheric N20 -- we need to use much less of them. Oh, and while we're at it, the way we farm also has to change, to the tune of 50 percent fewer N2O emissions.
America's long-term unemployed: 'For those looking for work, it's very bleak' (3 May 2012)
When the US Labor Department releases its latest monthly jobs figures on Friday morning, all eyes will be on the headline number. Rightly or wrongly, with the 2012 election looming the jobs figures have become a monthly report card on Obama's economic policy. Last month they were disappointing, but still positive. With the focus on jobs growth, or the lack of it, the plight of the long-term unemployed is getting ignored.
According to the official measures in March there were 5.3 million long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) -- essentially unchanged from February and accounting for 42.5% of the unemployed.
But that figure under-represents what is going on in the labour market. Another 7.7 million people were working part-time because they couldn't find full-time work, and another 2.4 million didn't count because they had stopped looking for work.
Stock markets are recovering. After two years of pay cuts, America's CEOs are back in the money. Meanwhile, life for those at the bottom of the pay scale has just gotten steadily worse. And for Obama, the sense that the recovery is not reaching ordinary Americans could prove the strongest challenge to his chances of a second term in the White House.
Chick found in nest of previously infertile whooping crane pair (3 May 2012)
BARABOO -- Supporters of the return of whooping cranes to Wisconsin unexpectedly found the first wild-hatched chick of the year in the care of a previously infertile crane pair.
On Monday, a chick was found in the nest of a pair of whoopers living on private land in Wood County, north of the Necedah Wildlife Refuge, said Joan Garland, spokeswoman for Baraboo's International Crane Foundation. The parents are cranes released in 2002 and 2004 which were led to the wintering grounds in Florida by an ultra-light aircraft and have since returned to Wisconsin for the breeding season.
The crane pair have been producing eggs together since 2008, but all past ones have been infertile, said Barry Hartup, ICF veterinarian and a member of the team working to establish an eastern whooping crane flock. Because the pair show good nesting and parenting behavior, they have been used to foster eggs laid by other cranes and raise those young.
"Colleagues of mine went to the nest planning to put a fertile egg into what they expected to be an empty nest," he said. "Lo and behold, this pair had their own chick, a newly hatched chick, just sitting on the nest."
The good news/bad news for Gov. Scott Walker (3 May 2012)
Compared to the average incumbent, his public standing is almost impervious to news events, political developments and multi-million-dollar ad campaigns.
The good news for Walker is that he isn't hurt that much by bad news. The bad news is that he isn't helped that much by good news.
Yes, his spending advantage hasn't boosted his numbers in the polls (NBC News reported the pro-Walker side has outspent the anti-Walker side $16.6 million to $6.3 million on TV so far).
On the other hand, bad publicity hasn't really depressed his numbers either, whether it's the Milwaukee John Doe investigation of former Walker aides or Wisconsin's lagging job growth.
'Robocall' documents detail alleged plan to suppress black votes (3 May 2012)
One document proposed a deliberate plan to suppress black votes: "The first and most desired outcome is voter suppression."
Another depicted the campaign of former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. promising a bonus to consultant Julius Henson if he made "the city turnout stay low" on Election Day 2010.
A third document contained notes from a Henson employee that said: "Suppress turnout in black communities," next to the words: "Obama, O'Malley, Oh No!"
The materials, all seized during state prosecutors and FBI raids of properties associated with Henson companies Politics Today and Universal Elections, have been used as evidence in the ongoing trial against Henson, as well as an earlier case against Ehrlich campaign manager Paul Schurick. Schurick was convicted of four charges in the matter in December.
The men were accused of orchestrating a "robocall" in attempt to trick black voters by telling them to "relax" and stay home from the voting booths before the polls were closed, as Ehrlich tried unsuccessfully to unseat Gov. Martin O'Malley.
U.S. Media Giants Reel as FCC Orders Disclosure of Rates for Billion-Dollar TV Campaign Advertising (3 May 2012) [DN]
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Because it will actually show the rates that they're charging?
JUSTIN ELLIOTT: Yeah, it shows, on an ad-by-ad level, you know, whether, say, the Obama campaign bought an ad during Judge Judy, how much they paid for it. These files are updated immediately. So, I mean, we hear a lot about how much money the campaigns are raising, who's giving them money. This is really where the majority of the money is going, towards campaign advertising, which right now is kind of in the dark.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But now this will only affect the broadcast networks, not cable television at all, right?
JUSTIN ELLIOTT: Right, this is only for the broadcast networks, though that is where the majority of ad dollars are spent on--for campaigns.
Former 'Guns & Ammo' editor charged in Arizona slaying (4 May 2012)
The former editor of Guns & Ammo magazine was accused of murdering a friend with a gun and ammo in Golden Valley, Arizona on Wednesday.
Mohave County sheriff's charged 53-year-old Richard Erick Venola with second-degree murder for the killing 39-year-old James Patrick O'Neill, who was found dead at the scene.
Sheriff department spokeswoman Trish Carter told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Venola shot O'Neill in the chest with a "high-caliber" rifle and at least three weapons were removed from the scene. O'Neill was visiting the former Guns & Ammo editor's house at the time.
Detective Larry Matthews wrote in his report that Venola seemed to be intoxicated by the time he talked to officers. Neighbors told deputies that the the suspect was having "heavy words" with O'Neill.
Aspirin is as safe and just as effective as warfarin: research (4 May 2012)
ASPIRIN may be safer than a blood thinner taken by hundreds of thousands of people to reduce the risk of stroke because it has fewer side effects a major study has found.
Researchers have found that aspirin and warfarin, a drug also used as rat poison, are equally effective at preventing strokes in people with heart failure.
However aspirin was safer because fewer patients suffered bleeds, brought on by their blood being thinned too much.
The researchers concluded that for most patients with heart failure, who do not have other problems such as rhythm disturbances or narrowing of the arteries, then aspirin would be a better choice.
Portland-area Native Americans burdened by health hurdles generation after generation (2 May 2012)
Her baby is up against higher risks not only getting into the world, but also surviving in it as a Native American. Compared to the average American, the child is twice as likely to be diabetic, get asthma, smoke, develop liver disease or become pregnant as a teen. She also is more likely to be injured in an accident; drink and use drugs; become obese; or commit suicide. She is more likely to live a shorter life.
By most measures, Native Americans' health problems exceed the average, and it's even worse for urban Indians who can't tap social and health services available on distant reservations.
The problem's not new, but some of the solutions are.
Native Americans have built their own health organizations that mix Native traditions and Western medicine. They have acted on a fundamental truth -- what people do at home with diet, exercise, conflict and lifestyle more profoundly affects health than what a doctor prescribes in the clinic. Their innovative practices have produced successes, gained wide admiration and are reflected in the prevention-oriented team approach at the heart of Oregon's health reforms.
Burma rebels killed in clashes with government troops (3 May 2012)
Recent battles between Burmese government troops and Kachin ethnic rebels have killed 31 people, according to a state-run newspaper.
The New Light of Myanmar reported on Friday that there had been 11 clashes in the last week of April, including what it said was an attack by rebels of the Kachin Independence Army on border guards. It accused the rebel group of trying to seize the base "to save face for its declining military prestige".
The paper said 29 of the 31 dead were Kachin rebels, while government forces suffered two dead and 15 wounded. A separate report said rebels had blown up three bridges on Wednesday and Thursday.
Kachin spokesmen were not immediately available to comment on the reports, which also claimed the guerrillas had forced 345 villagers to serve as porters.
The 8,000-strong Kachin militia is one of several minority ethnic rebel armies in Burma who say they are fighting for greater autonomy from central government.
Burma Still Needs To Improve Free Press -- OpEd (3 May 2012)
Burma's Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi was sworn in to military-dominated parliament Wednesday, taking public office for the first time since starting her great challenges against military-backed regimes more than two decades in the past. But, it seems just a first step to go ahead in the course of a long democracy journey.
Seeing Aung San Suu Kyi's pragmatic political move, people believe that Burma (Myanmar) is currently struggling at an intersection in order to start a political restructuring. The quasi-civilian government led by President Thein Sein wants to maintain the country under limited or guided democracy while the majority population wishes a genuine chapter of democratic changes. Especially, citizens are demanding freedom of expression and association while the Union Government is dogmatically vetoing the basic rights of the citizens.
If the government is sincere enough concerning democratic reforms, the media must be free at the outset since free speech plus access to information is fundamental to a healthy democracy. But, free press has no chance to play independently so far in Burma. The political opposition as well as journalists and media personnel are under the strictest rules and regulations by the successive military regimes including the present so-called civilian government.
In the 1950s, Burma was at the vanguard of press freedom in Southeast Asia. The country had the benefit of a free press without censorship office. As many as three dozen newspapers, including English and Chinese dailies, existed between 1948 and 1962 under the civilian government. Even the prime minister's office was never closed to journalists in those days. They were also free to set up relations with international news agencies.
The situation changed in 1962, when the military seized power. All newspapers were nationalized by the then junta led by Gen. Ne Win. The junta established a Press Scrutiny Board to enforce strict censorship practices on all forms of printed matter, including advertisements and obituaries. Since then, the military junta's censorship and self-censorship are commonplace, and have severely restricted political rights and civil liberties.
Northern BC oil spill: Coast Guard's alleged 'gone fishing' response sparks outrage (3 May 2012)
On Wednesday, the community demanded an immediate cleanup response from federal agencies, and sent out a number of Gitga'at Guardians to assess the situation and take samples of their own.
"When they got there, they found the Coast Guard fishing," said Clifton, describing the government's oil spill response as "disgraceful".
"[The wreck] is still leaking. Every day she's burping up fuel, and the Coast Guard is aware of all this...It seems like they don't care," he told the Observer.
Despite complaints about the agency's slow response, Coast Guard spokesperson Dan Bate confirmed that multiple actions had been taken since the spill was reported.
Capone's weekend retreat up for sale on eBay (3 May 2012)
A historic hotel in Fox Lake that once served as mobster Al Capone's weekend retreat is up for sale on eBay.
The owners of the Mineola Lounge and Marina listed the property in Fox Lake on eBay Monday with a starting bid of $2 million.
Owner Pete Jakstas says the property includes the hotel, 17 acres of lake-front land, the marina and his former home. He says he's been trying to sell the Mineola for a couple of years and he decided to try eBay so he'd reach a national market.
The president of the Grant Township Historical Society says the Mineola has fallen into disrepair in recent years but has the potential to be beautiful.
Border militia founder reportedly shot dead in Arizona (3 May 2012)
Five people were shot to death, including a toddler, at a house in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert on Wednesday, and a white supremacist border militiaman apparently was among them.
Authorities have not released the victims' identities, but the private militia group U.S. Border Guard reported that one of the dead was Jason "J.T." Ready, its founder. Members of the organization say they arm themselves and patrol the border with Mexico to try to combat "narco-terrorists." Ready also advocated putting a minefield on the border.
"The U.S. Border Guard is extremely saddened by the untimely loss of our founder, J.T. Ready, and the other souls lost in such a senseless act of violence.... You will be fiercely missed," the militia said on its website.
Police initially described the incident as a murder-suicide but later backed away from that characterization. Sgt. Bill Balafas said Gilbert police had responded to reports of a domestic dispute and shots fired. When officers arrived, he said, they found four bodies and a mortally wounded young girl. The child died later at a local hospital, he said.
Oakland police tone down response to Occupy protest (3 May 2012)
Facing criticism from a federal court monitor for using "military-type" tactics against Occupy activists, Oakland police changed their strategy during Tuesday's May Day protests - swooping in on individual suspects instead of making mass arrests, keeping their beanbag guns holstered and using tear gas sparingly.
"This was our attempt to handle things on a smaller scale, in hopes of facilitating the majority's freedom to assemble," said Sgt. Christopher Bolton, chief of staff to Police Chief Howard Jordan.
On some levels, the effort appeared to succeed - 39 people were arrested, compared with more than 400 during a January protest, and vandalism was not as widespread as in other large Occupy actions.
Some critics, though, said that the effort fell short and that police had provoked protesters.
The Blue Heron Nest Cam from Cornell (I'm considering this for the "fun link of the month"):
Lawsuit against wind energy project near Steens Mountain pits green groups against green project (3 May 2012)
BURNS -- In a green vs. green federal lawsuit, two environmental groups are challenging what they call an "industrial-scale" wind project on the north end of ruggedly beautiful Steens Mountain in southeastern Oregon.
"Of all the places in Oregon's high desert, this is perhaps the worst place for wind development," said Brent Fenty, executive director of the 1,200-member Oregon Natural Desert Association based in Bend.
His group has mapped out numerous areas on eastern Oregon's high desert where wind development could occur without the negative social and environmental consequences of the Steens Mountain site, Fenty said.
Bob Sallinger, conservation director for Portland Audubon, concedes going against the project in court puts his group in a new and uncomfortable role.
Portland Audubon supports "responsible renewable energy development, but this is the antithesis," he said. "If you can go into Steens Mountain, what is next? Mount Hood? Crater Lake?"
TransCanada expected to reapply for Keystone pipeline permit as soon as Friday (3 May 2012)
The Canadian firm behind the controversial Keystone XL pipeline will reapply as early as Friday for a federal permit to ship carbon-intense crude oil from Alberta to the United States, according to people familiar with the company's plans.
In January, the Obama administration denied a permit for TransCanada, the firm hoping to build the project, on the grounds that a congressionally-mandated deadline of Feb. 21 did not give officials enough time to evaluate the pipeline's impact. Since then TransCanada has said it would proceed with plans to construct the segment running from Cushing, Okla., to Port Arthur, Texas, and unveiled a new route for in Nebraska.
President Obama, environmentalists and many Nebraskans--including the state's Republican governor Dave Heineman--had raised concerns that the project's original Nebraska route could imperil the ecologically-sensitive Sandhills region, as well as the Ogallala aquifer, a major source of drinking water for the state's residents.
The move will revive one of the year's most contentious political issues--which has divided the Democratic base between environmentalists and some unions, and has unified Republicans in support of what they view as a critical source of energy supply for the U.S.--just months before the November elections.
PAM COMMENTARY: Actually, the pipeline providing a "critical source of energy supply for the U.S." is a complete lie. The pipeline will carry the oil to a warm water port, where it'll most likely be shipped to Asia. Pipelines already exist to carry tarsands oil into the United States, just not to a place where it's easily shipped abroad.
Life-saving defibrillators can fail unexpectedly (3 May 2012)
Automated external defibrillators can save a life after cardiac arrest, but documents obtained by CBC News show there have been hundreds of cases of the devices failing, with sometimes deadly results.
During the past five years, there have been 562 reports to Health Canada of defibrillators failing when a patient was involved.
Nine patients died when a defibrillator did not work, the documents show.
In 102 cases, the devices wouldn't power on or turned off unexpectedly.
Boeing shows radical design for 737 MAX winglets (3 May 2012)
Boeing gave a new twist Wednesday to its design for the forthcoming 737 MAX jet: a raked, "dual feather" winglet it says will provide an extra 1.5 percent gain in fuel efficiency.
That's on top of the 10 to 12 percent fuel-burn improvement over the current 737 that Boeing already has claimed for the MAX with new engines and small aerodynamic improvements.
Renderings provided by Boeing show the wingtip swept slightly backward and with a tip that splits in two, one longer end pointing up and the other shorter one down.
In a conference call with journalists, Michael Teal, chief project engineer for the 737 MAX, called the concept "the most advanced wingtip technology in the single-aisle market."
The Scream sells for record $120m at auction (3 May 2012)
This version is the only one whose frame was hand-painted by the artist to include his poem explaining the work's inspiration. Munch described himself "shivering with anxiety" and feeling "the great scream in nature".
It was sold by Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, whose father was a friend and patron of the artist. Proceeds of the sale will fund a new museum, art centre and hotel in Hvitsten, Norway, where Olsen's father and Munch were neighbours.
"It is a unique chance for someone to acquire this version. It is the crown jewel of the four but you really need a national budget to buy it. And not the budget of a small country either," said Winter.
The Scream will join a select group of works that have sold for more than $100m, including Picasso's Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust, which sold in 2010 for $106.5m.
Major GOP donor arrested in $100 million veteran charity scam (2 May 2012)
The U.S. Marshal Service announced Tuesday that it had captured one of America's Most Wanted fugitives who is accused of creating a fake charity for Navy veterans that funneled some of the $100 million collected to Republican candidates.
Between the early 2000s and 2010, a man using the alias "Bobby Thompson" collected millions from unsuspecting donors for the charity U.S. Navy Veterans Association (USNVA), which claimed to provide support for members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Officials believe that very little, if any, of the money was ever used as intended, according to the U.S. Marshal Service.
To help legitimize his charity, Thompson allegedly donated part of the ill-gotten funds to Republican candidates like former President George W. Bush, former Republican presidential candidate John McCain and House Speaker John Boehner.
Republican Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli reportedly personally pleaded with Thompson for donations and received $55,000 for his effort, making Thompson Cuccinelli's second-largest donor. Cuccinelli was eventually forced to turn over the tainted money to veterans support groups.
Report: Virginia roads are busier, but expansion lags (3 May 2012)
Virginia ranks next-to-last in the country for percentage of state transportation money used to build new highways.
Oh, and we're driving a lot more, even though construction of more roads has not kept pace.
These and other numbers were revealed in a report Wednesday by the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization.
Virginia ranks behind only California for new construction, spending about 30 percent of available funding on new roads while the bulk of the money goes toward maintaining what's already in place. Louisiana is No. 1.
China steel mills too big to fail - or succeed (3 May 2012)
(Reuters) - In a ramshackle township in northwest China's Shaanxi province, red Communist Party banners call on a nearby steel mill's workers to seek "progress" and avoid making "backward steps".
The slogans demonstrate the hybrid nature of China's floundering steel sector, which as it tries to serve the twin masters of the state and the market has seen margins plummet and racked up a mountain of debt.
Beijing's attempts to tackle the problems by forcing lumbering state-owned mills to consolidate or push up the value chain look likely to aggravate rather than solve the problems of a sector that accounts for 3-4 percent of China's GDP.
An obvious solution - to allow the worst performers to go out of business - seems unlikely in an industry identified by Chairman Mao Zedong nearly half a decade ago as a key symbol of the country's economic and political prowess.
Lost parakeet tells Tokyo police its address (3 May 2012)
A lost pet parakeet has been returned safely to its owner in the Japanese capital Tokyo after it told the police its home address.
The bird's owner, a 64-year-old woman, said she taught the address to her pet after she bought him two years ago.
She had lost another parakeet previously and wanted to ensure that did not happen again, police said.
The male bird was handed to local authorities on Sunday, and took two days to tell the police its address.
Just before the recall primaries, Walker hits the poor again (2 May 2012)
The Walker Administration is moving forward with a revamp of BadgerCare - the state's healthcare program for the poor. The changes could leave 17,000 adults without insurance. Late Friday, the federal government notified Gov. Walker that he could enact new rules, if he deems them necessary to keep the program viable. As Erin Toner reports, opponents are asking state leaders to take another look at ways to cut costs, without cutting enrollment.
Initially, Gov. Walker sought sweeping cuts in state health programs that would have affected coverage for nearly 65,000 people, including children. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services struck down the plan, but last week told Wisconsin it could proceed with some changes.
State Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith was not available for comment Tuesday. His spokesperson, Stephanie Smiley, said Wisconsin must cut costs to keep its Medicaid program solvent.
"The Department of Health Services faced a budgetary shortfall of approximately $1.8 billion for this biennial budget. And most of that shortfall could be attributed to the loss of federal funding, and we had projected that there would be a decline in enrollment in Medicaid, but that projection had been proven to be unrealistic," Smiley says.
As Students Revolt over Cutbacks and Debt, NYC Occupy Stages May Day "Free University" for the 99% (2 May 2012) [DN]
AMIN HUSAIN: My name is Amin Husain, and I'm with the direct action working group. And I'm on Occupy Theory, too, and Tidal, the magazine that gets issued, and other stuff. But I'm here because, you know, it's a free university. I think this movement is all about building community and sharing and coming up with alternatives to the economic system that's so pervasive in our lives in everything that we do. These are cracks in capitalism, where we can actually give and take on our terms. And it's in a way where we--where people generally could be loving and sharing. And you don't have to, you know--if you don't have a cent, and you're at the store, you feel like you can't buy stuff. Here you can get the type of education that costs thousands and thousands of dollars. And I think that exposes the valuation thing in our society. Everything is commodified. Education, knowledge is commodified. And I love the fact that this is free and not that way, and people can learn from each other on a horizontal level.
RUTHIE WILSON GILMORE: My name is Ruthie Wilson Gilmore. I'm a professor at the Grad Center at CUNY. I'm also the co-founder of a number of prison abolitionist organizations, most famously, I guess, Critical Resistance: Beyond the Prison Industrial Complex.
MIKE BURKE: And why are you out today here on May Day?
RUTHIE WILSON GILMORE: Well, I support the strike, power to the people. And also, I brought my class down here, my grad seminar, to conduct our discussion today. We're studying "Policed," with a capital P, the condition of being policed, the history of policing in the modern world, its relationship to things like slavery, inequality, migration, jobs, labor, you name it.
Chomsky: U.S. and Europe 'committing suicide in different ways' (2 May 2012)
In an interview with GritTV's Laura Flanders, author and MIT professor Noam Chomsky discussed the potentially bleak future facing both the United States and the European Union. Both, he said, are facing historic crises and are going about trying to resolve them in exactly the wrong ways.
According to Chomsky, we are currently living in a period of "pretty close to global stagnation" but that the world's great powers are reacting to the lack of growth in exactly the wrong manner. "The United States and Europe are committing suicide in different ways, but both doing it."
He called European austerity measures "a disaster" and indicated that he expects them to fail, the question being more about how long it will take. The spending cuts and slashing of benefits to workers are ultimately part of a plan designed to dismantle the social contract, he said, although some governmental leaders are more willing than others to call it that.
The U.S., Chomsky believes, has failed in that our electoral system has been "shredded" by the introduction of private money. Our nation has shipped production and manufacturing offshore and concentrated on the "financialization" of our economy. The social safety net has essentially been replaced by the prison system, he said, with the U.S. "getting rid of the superfluous population through incarceration."
Human genes engineered into experimental GMO rice being grown in Kansas (2 May 2012)
(NaturalNews) Unless the rice you buy is certified organic, or comes specifically from a farm that tests its rice crops for genetically modified (GM) traits, you could be eating rice tainted with actual human genes. The only known GMO with inbred human traits in cultivation today, a GM rice product made by biotechnology company Ventria Bioscience is currently being grown on 3,200 acres in Junction City, Kansas -- and possibly elsewhere -- and most people have no idea about it.
Since about 2006, Ventria has been quietly cultivating rice that has been genetically modified (GM) with genes from the human liver for the purpose of taking the artificial proteins produced by this "Frankenrice" and using them in pharmaceuticals. With approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Ventria has taken one of the most widely cultivated grain crops in the world today, and essentially turned it into a catalyst for producing new drugs.
Originally, the cultivation of this GM rice, which comes in three approved varieties (http://www.aphis.usda.gov/brs/biotech_ea_permits.html), was limited to the laboratory setting. But in 2007, Ventria decided to bring the rice outdoors. The company initially tried to plant the crops in Missouri, but met resistance from Anheuser-Busch and others, which threatened to boycott all rice from the state in the event that Ventria began planting its rice within state borders (http://todayyesterdayandtomorrow.wordpress.com).
So Ventria's GM rice eventually ended up in Kansas, where it is presumably still being grown for the purpose of manufacturing drugs on 3,200 acres in Junction City. And while this GM rice with added human traits has never been approved for human consumption, it is now being cultivated in open fields where the potential for unrestrained contamination and spread of its unwanted, dangerous GM traits is virtually a given.
Dolphins that help humans to catch fish form tighter social networks (2 May 2012)
In the coastal waters of Laguna, Brazil, a shoal of mullet is in serious trouble. Two of the most intelligent species on the planet -- humans and bottlenose dolphins -- are conspiring to kill them. The dolphins drive the mullet towards the fishermen, who stand waist-deep in water holding nets. The humans cannot see the fish through the turbid water. They must wait for their accomplices.
As the fish approach, the dolphins signal to the humans by rolling at the surface, or slapping the water with their heads or tails. The nets are cast, and the mullet are snared. Some manage to escape, but in breaking formation, they are easy prey for the dolphins.
According to town records, this alliance began in 1847, and involves at least three generations of both humans and dolphins. Today, there are around 55 dolphins in the neighbourhood, and around 45 per cent of them interact with the fishermen.
Now, Fabio Daura-Jorge from the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil studied Laguna's dolphins to learn how their unusual collaboration has shaped their social networks. He spent two years taking photographs of the local dolphins, and noting where they travelled and who they were associated with. As is typical for bottlenose dolphins, the Laguna individuals formed a 'fission-fusion' society -- they all belonged to the same large group, but they had specific 'friends' whom they would spend more time with.
Following controversy, UW researcher's findings on bird flu virus published (2 May 2012)
Four mutations in a bird flu virus enabled the virus to spread among ferrets in a lab, UW-Madison researcher Yoshihiro Kawaoka reported Wednesday in the journal Nature.
The study, which identifies the mutations, was published after months of international controversy that delayed public release of the findings.
Critics said the potentially deadly altered virus could be accidentally released from the lab or replicated by terrorists. Kawaoka and his supporters said the study shows how H5N1 bird flu, frequently fatal in people but rarely spread among them, could cause a human pandemic -- or massive outbreak of disease.
Identifying mutations that could make the virus more transmissible in people should help health authorities better monitor bird flu and prepare drugs and vaccines, Kawaoka said. The H5N1 virus has been circulating in Asia and the Middle East since 2003.
PAM COMMENTARY: The Guardian also mentioned swine flu on its article about the study.
Slackers' brains 'are wired to under-achieve' (2 May 2012)
People prepared to work hard for rewards had more of the nerve signalling chemical dopamine in two brain regions called the striatum and ventromedial prefrontal cortex.
Both are known to play an important role in behaviour-changing reward sensations and motivation.
But ''slackers'', who were less willing to work hard for reward, had higher dopamine levels in the anterior insula. This is a brain region involved in emotion and risk perception.
Dopamine is a ''neurotransmitter'' that helps nerves ''talk'' to each other by sending chemical signals across connection points called synapses.
Psychologist Michael Treadway, from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, US, who co-led the research, said: ''Past studies in rats have shown that dopamine is crucial for reward motivation. But this study provides new information about how dopamine determines individual differences in the behaviour of human reward-seekers.''
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales to take part in scheme to make research freely available online (2 May 2012)
British Government initiative to make all taxpayer-funded research in Britain freely available online.
The scheme is set to be announced in a speech to the Publishers Association today by universities and science minister David Willetts.
It comes in the wake of a growing campaign for open access in academic publishing, as cash-strapped universities face millions of pounds' costs each year to subscribe to research journals.
Mr Willetts wrote in a newspaper: "Giving people the right to roam freely over publicly funded research will usher in a new era of academic discovery and collaboration, and will put the UK at the very forefront of open research."
PAM COMMENTARY: Maybe that'll help 'em find the next grad student's paper to plagiarize...
Israel closes inquiry into Palestinian family killed during Gaza war (2 May 2012)
The Israeli military has closed its file on the killing of 21 members of a Palestinian family during the Gaza war in 2009, saying there were no grounds for criminal or disciplinary action against those responsible for the shelling of the house in which civilians were sheltering.
"None of the persons involved ... acted negligently in a manner giving rise to criminal responsibility," concluded the military advocate general following an internal investigation. The decisions of the brigade commander "did not deviate from the boundaries of discretion that a 'reasonable military commander' operating in similar circumstances possesses".
The investigation "comprehensively refuted" claims that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) had intentionally targeted civilians or had acted in a reckless manner, it said.
Twenty-one members of the extended Samouni family were killed on 5 January 2009, nine days after Israel's onslaught on Gaza began. About 100 members of the family, including women, children, babies and the elderly, had been ordered by the IDF to crowd into a house amid fierce fighting.
Shale causes rise in waste gas pollution (2 May 2012)
(Reuters) - The shale energy boom is fuelling a rise in the burning of waste gas after years of decline, a World Bank source told Reuters ahead of the release of new data, giving environmentalists more ammunition against the industry.
Global gas flaring crept up by 4.5 percent in 2011, the first rise since 2008 and equivalent to the annual gas use of Denmark, preliminary data from the World Bank shows.
The increase is mostly due to the rise in shale oil exploration in North Dakota, propelling the United States into the top 10 gas flaring countries along with Russia, Nigeria and Iraq.
The preliminary data - which will be released in detail later in May - shows that global gas flaring crept up to around 140 billion cubic meters (bcm) in 2011, up from 134 bcm the previous year.
Flaring is used to eliminate gas at mineral exploration sites, and is released via pressure relief valves to ease the strain on equipment.
Oil Spill Reported in the Great Bear Rainforest, BC (2 May 2012)
HARTLEY BAY, BRITISH COLUMBIA, May 02, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- The Gitga'at Nation of Hartley Bay is reporting an oil spill, between two and five miles long and 200 feet wide inside the Grenville Channel, not far from the proposed tanker route for the Enbridge Gateway pipeline. The spill was spotted by a commercial pilot and reported to the Gitga'at Nation and the Canadian Coast Guard yesterday evening.
A Coast Guard landing craft from Prince Rupert is on its way to the spill, and expected to arrive by 12pm. The Gitga'at are sending their own Guardians to take samples and have chartered a plane to take aerial photos of the spill.
"If this spill is as big as the pilots are reporting, then we're looking at serious environmental impacts, including threats to our traditional shellfish harvesting areas," says Arnold Clifton, Chief Councillor of the Gitga'at Nation. "We need an immediate and full clean-up response from the federal government ASAP."
Heavy oil, known as "bunker c" is thought to be upwelling from the USAT Brigadier General M.G. Zalinski, a U.S. army transport ship that sank in 1946 with 700 tonnes of bunker fuel on board. The Canadian government has been saying it would remove the oil and munitions from the ship since 2006, but with no results.
80,000 gal. oil spill cleanup continues in Louisiana (2 May 2012)
TORBERT, LA (WAFB) - Exxon Mobil Corp. says it is cleaning up about 80,000 gallons of oil that spilled from a pipeline in rural Louisiana on April 28, 2012.
The company says the pipeline was shut down Saturday night after a loss of pressure. The spilled oil was discovered on Sunday near Torbert in Pointe Coupee Parish, northwest of Baton Rouge.
Officials with Exxon Mobil say responders are making significant progress as cleanup operations continue.
No injuries were reported. The company doesn't yet know what caused the pipeline to break.
Exxon Mobil says vacuum trucks are cleaning up the site, and air is being monitored for quality. For the purposes of the response, the area surrounding the site of the spill has been organized into three zones. They are assessing the data on a daily basis and sending responders where they can safely recover oil.
Fukushima still spewing massive radiation plumes; America in 'huge trouble,' says nuclear expert (2 May 2012)
(NaturalNews) During a recent Congressional delegation trip to Japan, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden witnessed with his own eyes the horrific aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, which we have heard very little about from the media in recent months. The damage situation was apparently so severe, according to his account, that he has now written a letter to Ichiro Fujisaki, Ambassador of Japan, petitioning for more to be done, and offering any additional support and assistance that might help contain and resolve the situation as quickly as possible.
The letter, which many experts see as the ominous writing on the wall for the grave severity of the circumstances, offers a disturbing glimpse into what is really going on across the Pacific Ocean that the mainstream media is apparently ignoring. While referencing the fact that all four of the affected reactors are still "badly damaged," Sen. Wyden seems to hint in his letter that Reactor 4, which has reportedly been on the verge of collapse for many months now, could be nearing catastrophic implosion.
Imminent collapse of Reactor 4 could create a mass extinction event of both humans and animals
According to Christina Consolo, an award-winning biomedical photographer and host of Nuked Radio, Reactor 4 has remained in such bad shape that even a very small earthquake could quickly level the building, sending the fuel from more than 1,500 unused fuel rods into the environment. And with Reactor 4 still filled with the highest levels of radioactive MOX and other fuels, the consequences of this potential collapse could be far worse than anything that has happened thus far as a result of the earthquake and tsunami.
"[S]itting at the top of [Reactor 4], in a pool that is cracked, leaking, and precarious even without an earthquake, are 1,565 fuel rods (give or take a few), some of them 'fresh fuel' that was ready to go into the reactor on the morning of March 11 when the earthquake and tsunami hit," writes Consolo. "If they are MOX fuel, containing six percent plutonium, one fuel rod has the potential to kill 2.89 billion people."
BP Oil Spill Judge Tentatively Approves $7.8 Billion Pact (2 May 2012)
BP Plc (BP/) and lawyers suing the company over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill won preliminary approval of their proposed settlement from the federal judge in New Orleans overseeing the litigation.
BP in March agreed to pay an estimated $7.8 billion to resolve most private plaintiffs' claims for economic loss, property damage and spill and cleanup-related injuries. The settlement establishes two separate classes, one for economic loss and the other for any physical injuries related to the spill or the cleanup.
The proposed settlement is "fair, reasonable, adequate, entered in good faith, free of collusion, and within the range of possible judicial approval," U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier said in granting preliminary approval of the agreement today.
Barbier set a fairness hearing where he will consider final settlement approval for Nov. 8. He didn't act on a BP request to postpone any trial on liability for the incident until after the fairness hearing.
Indictment returned in NYC computer hacking case (2 May 2012)
The name of a Chicago man already charged in a computer hacking case aimed at taking out key players in the worldwide group Anonymous was added to an indictment Wednesday, boosting the accusations against him by including him in much of the wider conspiracy to hack into corporations and government agencies worldwide.
Jeremy Hammond, 27, joined four other defendants named in the indictment in federal court in Manhattan in a prosecution revealed in March. Hammond is being held at a lower Manhattan lockup after initially appearing in a Chicago court.
Authorities said the prosecution marks the first time core members of the loosely organized worldwide hacking group Anonymous have been identified and charged in the U.S.
Prosecutors said the defendants and others hacked into companies and government agencies worldwide, including the U.S. Senate. They say they also stole confidential information, defaced websites and temporarily put some victims out of business. Authorities say their crimes affected more than 1 million people.
"No Work, No Shopping, Occupy Everywhere": May Day Special on OWS, Immigration, Labor Protests (1 May 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Marina Sitrin, the last decade has been major on this day.
MARINA SITRIN: It has been the kind of--what we see now happening in New York today, you can actually go back for the last decade and see the roots of it. But I do want to say just--not just "Happy May Day," but that today is already a success--I mean, that people all over the country are talking about May Day as our day, whether you want to call it workers' holiday or immigrant rights or the 99 percent, but that it's already part of our vocabulary again, that we've taken this really important holiday.
But going back to what Teresa was saying, in 2006 millions of the immigrant workers organizing in the streets throughout the entire country, demanding and then continuing to organize for rights--and then that also goes back even earlier in Europe, and coming out of the globalization movement, the kind of post-Seattle-1999 movements where people began to organize Euro May Day. I mean, Euro May Day was a linking of immigrant rights with precarious workers. So, as more and more jobs are not unionized, and workers face uneven, precarious situations of work, people started to talk about precarious work and organizing workers not just in the formal, traditional trade unions. And then also injecting some of what we saw in the global justice movement, of theater and play as a part of protests. So now what we're seeing planned for today is a combination of the immigrant rights movement working with the traditional labor movement, which is a part of May Day today--and, in fact, in some places there are strikes organized around the country called by unions--and then there are radical caucuses of unions that are participating, and then Occupy organizing direct actions and using theater. So we kind of see the play and the immigrant rights and precarious labor kind of redefining what May Day is, particularly over these last 10 years.
AMY GOODMAN: Chris Hedges, you'll be speaking today on the issue of war?
CHRIS HEDGES: Yeah, I mean, I look at what's happened since September 17th, when Zuccotti Park was taken, as the launching of a process that's probably quite long. I think of where we're headed as a revolution. And all revolutions begin long before their ostensible date. The stamp Act of 1765 was sort of the dress rehearsal for the uprising against the British a decade later. The uprising in 1905 in Russia was the precursor, sort of created the system by which eventually the czar would be overthrown. And I think that it's unfair to sort of pin this movement on a particular day or a particular action. I think it's begun. I think it's going forward. I think it could be years in the process. But I think that the power elite, the oligarchic corporate class, is as corrupt, as fragile, and as decayed as bankrupt regimes in the past. 1789 in France was ungovernable. You know, the elite had retreated into Versailles as our elites have retreated into their gated compounds, utterly out of touch with the suffering of the ordinary American. And so, I think that what's today is momentous, not because of the numbers they may get or not get, but because this isn't going away.
May Day Occupy protests - live coverage (1 May 2012)
1.14pm: A quick overview of the Occupy protests in NYC at the moment. Observers report large crowds of protesters, numbering in the hundreds, on Fifth Ave. in Midtown and on Houston Street.
A large number of protesters remains in Bryant Park. The protesters also have a permit to gather at 4pm in Union Square, which may bring together the largest crowd of the day as rallies uptown and downtown converge.
PAM COMMENTARY: Click on the original article's link for the latest updates.
LAPD will be out in force during May Day protests (1 May 2012)
The Los Angeles Police Department will be out in force Tuesday as four May Day marches are planned for downtown L.A., with more around the area.
Cmdr. Andy Smith said hundreds of officers have been deployed to maintain the peace during the marches, which will jam traffic in downtown for much of the day.
He said he didn't expect problems and described the police presence as heavy but comparable with some previous events.
The main May Day march will move along Broadway, but many other streets will be affected, officials said.
Protesters trash Mission District businesses, cars (1 May 2012)
(05-01) 06:46 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- Broken glass littered several streets in San Francisco's Mission District after protesters vandalized cars and buildings Monday night, including a police station.
The vandals were in a group that marched from Dolores Park shortly after 9 p.m., following a rally in advance of Tuesday's planned Occupy general strike, police said. Traveling down 18th Street and onto Valencia Street, the black-clad, masked protesters smashed windows with crowbars and signs, threw paint on buildings and spray-painted anarchy symbols on the hoods of parked cars.
"All I heard was, 'bang, bang, bang,' and some dude had the valet sign, trying to break our window," said Adam Koskoff, manager of the Locanda restaurant on Valencia. "I didn't even see the crowd, and I ran outside and got egged."
The vandals threw paint and eggs and smashed windows at more than 30 businesses, including Tartine Bakery at 18th and Guerrero streets and clothing store Weston Wear on Valencia.
PAM COMMENTARY: They do like throwing eggs in San Francisco. My car caught an egg during a drive through the city in the 90s, and for no apparent reason. I didn't know anyone there, and they didn't know me -- they just wanted to throw an egg at my car for some reason.
Judge rejects immunity for Strauss-Kahn in civil suit (1 May 2012)
(Reuters) - A New York judge rejected former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn's claim of diplomatic immunity on Tuesday, ruling a lawsuit filed by the hotel maid who accused him of sexual assault can move forward.
Bronx Supreme Court Justice Douglas McKeon's decision ensures accuser Nafissatou Diallo can continue to press claims for monetary damages and prevents Strauss-Kahn from putting the May 14 incident fully behind him, even as he attempts to relaunch his career by giving speeches on the world conference circuit.
Diallo, a maid at the Sofitel Hotel in midtown Manhattan, accused Strauss-Kahn of forcing her to perform oral sex in his luxury suit. Strauss-Kahn has said the incident was consensual.
Prosecutors dropped the criminal case against Strauss-Kahn in August because they had concerns about Diallo's credibility as a witness.
Fewer Americans form households after recession, hampering economic recovery (30 April 2012)
It had been a long road, but when Sabrina Torres received her master's degree in 2010, she was sure it would eventually pay off in a good job that would allow her to afford an apartment.
She is still waiting. The American University graduate's financial struggles have prevented her from living on her own, making her part of a dramatic slowdown in household formation that is both a consequence of the economic downturn and a continued obstacle to overcoming it.
The recession reduced the rate at which Americans set up new homes or apartments by at least half. Although the number of new households has begun to recover over the past year, its growth rate continues to lag behind its historic pace, according to Census Bureau statistics.
More than one in five adults between ages 25 and 34 live with their parents or in other "multi-generational" living arrangements, the highest level since the 1950s, according to the Pew Research Center.
Here's Why Google and Facebook Might Completely Disappear in the Next 5 Years (30 April 2012)
In the tech world, we've really had 3 generations:
Web 1.0 (companies founded from 1994 -- 2001, including Netscape, Yahoo! (YHOO), AOL (AOL), Google (GOOG), Amazon (AMZN) and eBay (EBAY)),
Web 2.0 or Social (companies founded from 2002 -- 2009, including Facebook (FB), LinkedIn (LNKD), and Groupon (GRPN)),
and now Mobile (from 2010 -- present, including Instagram).
With each succeeding generation in tech, it seems the prior generation can't quite wrap its head around the subtle changes that the next generation brings. Web 1.0 companies did a great job of aggregating data and presenting it in an easy to digest portal fashion. Google did a good job organizing the chaos of the Web better than AltaVista, Excite, Lycos and all the other search engines that preceded it. Amazon did a great job of centralizing the chaos of e-commerce shopping and putting all you needed in one place.
PAM COMMENTARY: If the author makes a good case, it's worth consideration, but I don't necessarily believe all of the predictions that I link to here.
Occupy May Day protesters sense chance to regain autumn momentum (30 April 2012)
About 80 Occupy Wall Street organisers are gathered in the stuffy basement of a lower Manhattan office building to discuss the final stages of the movement's most anticipated action this year.
On a pair of tables in the corner of the room sit stacks of Occupy literature -- magazines and newspapers produced by protesters -- as well as stickers, posters and fliers: all propaganda for May Day, a nationwide day of action calling on the public to abstain from work, school, shopping, banking and household chores.
Large strips of paper are tacked to the walls, listing tasks to be done, needs to be met, along with an hour-by-hour schedule of the events taking place on Tuesday. "College walkout", "picnic" and "wildcat march" are just some activities corresponding to times on the schedule. At the bottom of the lengthy page, in all capital letters, are the words: "SHIT HAS GOT TO GO".
The May 1 "general strike", the result of months of planning and coordination between groups across the US, is Occupy's big chance to regain the momentum lost when a combination of police crackdowns and the harsh winter weather shut down the protest at the end of last year.
Report: Laws needed to protect Great Lakes from oil spills such as 2010 release in Michigan (30 April 2012)
DETROIT - A report written in response to a massive oil spill from an Enbridge pipeline into a Michigan river concludes U.S. federal laws are inadequate to protect the Great Lakes basin from oil pollution and states should fill the gaps.
The report released Monday by the National Wildlife Federation and University of Michigan Law School finds there's no review of long-term risks related to oil-pipeline routing decisions. It says states have a "critical opportunity" to minimize impact before construction.
The authors say stronger rules are needed to prevent spills such as the July 2010 accident near Marshall that released more than 800,000 gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River and Talmadge Creek. Cleanup continues and the pipeline rupture's cause isn't known.
The pipeline is operated by Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB) of Calgary. It runs from Griffith, Ind., to Sarnia, Ont.
Breakthrough wind turbine produces drinking water (30 April 2012)
What if your source of electricity also gave you clean drinking water?
That's the promise of new technology developed by the French engineering firm Eole Water, first conceived in the late 90s by a man who collected water from his air conditioner. He reasoned that if an air conditioner could help him accumulate water, so could other types of machines, so he set about merging the production of electricity and water.
Today, that dream is alive and well. Eole's turbines are currently undergoing rigorous tests in Abu Dhabi following months of development and fine tuning in France. The company says that each turbine is capable of producing up to 1,000 liters of clean drinking water per day, or about 62 per hour, simply by filtering moisture out of the air and funneling it to a storage tank below.
Thibault Janin, Eole's director of marketing, told CNN reporter Eoghan Macguire that the turbines can cost up to $790,000, and that the company is targeting poor, water-starved regions like Africa, South America and Indonesia first.
This time-lapse video of Yosemite is beyond beautiful (30 April 2012)
Stars stream across the night sky, shadows fall across the mountains, and water waves endlessly through lakes. It's a wonderful reminder of how awesome -- in the proper sense of the word -- the world is and what's out there that's worth protecting.
RFK assassination witness tells CNN: There was a second shooter (30 April 2012)
Los Angeles (CNN) -- As a federal court prepares to rule on a challenge to Sirhan Sirhan's conviction in the Robert F. Kennedy assassination, a long overlooked witness to the murder is telling her story: She heard two guns firing during the 1968 shooting and authorities altered her account of the crime.
Nina Rhodes-Hughes wants the world to know that, despite what history says, Sirhan was not the only gunman firing shots when Kennedy was murdered a few feet away from her at a Los Angeles hotel.
"What has to come out is that there was another shooter to my right," Rhodes-Hughes said in an exclusive interview with CNN. "The truth has got to be told. No more cover-ups."
Her voice at times becoming emotional, Rhodes-Hughes described for CNN various details of the assassination, her long frustration with the official reporting of her account and her reasons for speaking out: "I think to assist me in healing -- although you're never 100% healed from that. But more important to bring justice."
Barnes & Noble Surges After Microsoft Invests $300 Million (30 April 2012)
April 30 (Bloomberg) -- Barnes & Noble Inc. surged in New York after saying that Microsoft Corp. will invest $300 million in a new subsidiary that combines the bookseller's Nook digital reader and college businesses.
The shares almost doubled to $27.20 at 8:24 a.m. Barnes & Noble had declined 5.5 percent this year before today.
The investment will give Microsoft about 18 percent of the unit, which has yet to be named, New York-based Barnes & Noble said today in a statement. The bookseller will own the remainder of the business, which has a valuation of $1.7 billion.
Barnes & Noble is working to bolster its Nook unit to focus on the growing demand for digital books and compete with Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., whose Kindle device is the best- selling e-reader in the U.S. The venture will develop a Nook application for Windows 8, the newest version of Microsoft's operating system that's scheduled for release this year, expanding Barnes & Noble's digital bookstore to hundreds of millions of customers.
U.S. military's war with drugs: Drugs issued by military led to assaults, murders, doctors say (29 April 2012)
SEATTLE--U.S. Air Force pilot Patrick Burke's day started in the cockpit of a B-1 bomber near the Persian Gulf and proceeded across nine time zones as he ferried the aircraft home to South Dakota.
Every four hours during the 19-hour flight, Burke swallowed a tablet of Dexedrine, the prescribed amphetamine known as "go pills." After landing, he went out for dinner and drinks with a fellow crewman. They were driving back to Ellsworth Air Force Base when Burke began striking his friend about the head.
"Jack Bauer told me this was going to happen! You guys are trying to kidnap me!" he yelled, as if he were a character in the TV drama 24.
When the woman giving them a lift pulled the car over, Burke leapt on her and wrestled her to the ground.
"Me and my platoon are looking for terrorists," he told her before grabbing her keys, driving away and crashing into a guardrail.
Slaughter of rhinos at record high (29 April 2012)
Rhinos are being killed in such unprecedented numbers that there are realistic fears they could be wiped from the face of the planet within a generation. If this happens, it will be the first major extinction of an animal in the wild since the worldwide conservation movement began.
The bare statistics are horrifying. In South Africa, more rhinos are being slaughtered for their horns in a single week than were killed in a whole year a decade ago. And the death toll is fast accelerating. In 2007, a mere 13 were killed. In 2008, it was 83, and, a year later, 122. Last year it was 448, and this year, by 19 April, it was 181. That is equivalent to 600 a year in a country which is home to 93 per cent of all white rhinos. One expert thinks that at this rate the species could be wiped out by 2025. Others think it could take longer. Patrick Bergin, chief executive of African Wildlife Foundation, said: "If the poaching of rhino continues at current rates, we could see their extinction within our lifetime. The situation is absolutely at crisis levels."
This attrition is being driven by the astonishing street value for rhino horn, which fetches £40,000 a kilo, more even than gold. Chinese medicine and jewellery are the main markets, but, in recent years, widespread rumours in Vietnam that rhino horn can cure cancer has seen demand there rocket. As a result, the Javan rhino became extinct in that country in November, the last known animal being found dead with its horn hacked off.
There has also been a huge and sharp rise in elephants being killed for their ivory. Mozambique reports that in just one reserve the number of elephant carcasses found in 2011 is nearly 25 times greater than 10 years before. And the wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic said that 2011 was by far the worst year for ivory seizures since the group's records began more than 20 years ago. The amount of ivory seized last year probably equates to some 2,500 dead elephants, according to Traffic.
PAM COMMENTARY: If the horns actually do help with cancer, I'd suspect that keratin and calcium supplements would help just as much -- and without the high cost of procuring those substances in the form of endangered animal tissues. Calcium is already known as somewhat effective against cancer, as calcium helps to fight the acidity that encourages cancer growth.
Gulf seafood deformities alarm scientists (20 April 2012)
New Orleans, LA - "The fishermen have never seen anything like this," Dr Jim Cowan told Al Jazeera. "And in my 20 years working on red snapper, looking at somewhere between 20 and 30,000 fish, I've never seen anything like this either."
Dr Cowan, with Louisiana State University's Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences started hearing about fish with sores and lesions from fishermen in November 2010.
Cowan's findings replicate those of others living along vast areas of the Gulf Coast that have been impacted by BP's oil and dispersants.
Gulf of Mexico fishermen, scientists and seafood processors have told Al Jazeera they are finding disturbing numbers of mutated shrimp, crab and fish that they believe are deformed by chemicals released during BP's 2010 oil disaster.
Along with collapsing fisheries, signs of malignant impact on the regional ecosystem are ominous: horribly mutated shrimp, fish with oozing sores, underdeveloped blue crabs lacking claws, eyeless crabs and shrimp - and interviewees' fingers point towards BP's oil pollution disaster as being the cause.
Plastic garbage in oceans 'vastly' underestimated (27 April 2012)
For years scientists have been trying to figure out how much plastic trash may be adrift in the planet's oceans, but new research suggests their estimates may have drastically underestimated the problem.
Oceanographer Giora Proskurowski ventured into the North Atlantic with a group of researchers last year, and took water samples from the surface and from depths as far as 33 metres.
The results were unexpected.
"Almost every tow we did contained plastic regardless of the depth," Proskurowski said in a press release.
Their data, published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, found that tiny bits of plastic suspended across large tracts of the North Atlantic have "emerged as a major open ocean pollutant."
Storage wars: Google, Dropbox and Microsoft fight for your files (28 April 2012)
In the same way that people rarely change banks or e-mail accounts -- mainly because it is too much trouble -- we may soon see lock-in loyalty for the scurry of cloud storage services now appearing. That may be the idea: you deposit files and the storage provider hopes to interest you in its other services.
Google Drive, launched on Tuesday, is a long-awaited service from the company that stores all types of files in its cloud as well as copying them to all your devices. If you already use Google Docs for creating and editing documents in the cloud, the conversion to Drive is fairly painless. The Docs label is replaced in the top menu bar in Google by Drive, and all your files are stored under MyDrive.
Google also prompts you to install a program on your laptop or desktop PC. This creates a local Google Drive folder where sub-folders can be created and any type of file dragged in. They are automatically synced with the cloud and other devices. This is the approach used by the start-up Dropbox (see below). I tried dragging a photo on my desktop into the folder and saw it in MyDrive in my browser within seconds, either in full size or with other images in a new grid view.
Police who lie: For hollering at police, a man was beaten and Tasered (29 April 2012)
Judge Harris said two of the officers "lost recollection" of certain events that night "for their own convenience." He again used the words "pure fiction" to characterize Tallevi's testimony that he felt threatened by an object concealed in Parsons' hand.
After reviewing all of the evidence, Judge Harris found the officers had no reason to stop the Jeep. The judge also found Tallevi put a choke-hold on Parsons. Judge Harris found Woodfine used is Taser without justification and shocked Parsons after he was handcuffed.
"None of those officers was threatened by him, nor were any of them in any danger from him," Judge Harris wrote in his ruling. "It was in fact Mr. Parsons who was in danger from them."
Their "troubling and offensive" conduct, the judge said, should shock and sadden the community.
The court awarded Parsons and Ryckman $70,000 in damages.
None of the officers faced an internal disciplinary investigation into the assault, false arrest, false prosecution or courtroom conduct found by the civil court. The force said the officers underwent ethics re-training.
Researchers break record for deep-sea drill depth (29 April 2012)
A Japanese research institute says its deep-sea drilling probe has set a new record for depth, reaching 25,400ft -- almost five miles -- below the Pacific Ocean's surface.
The Chikyu, operated by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, was digging the seabed off Japan's north coast to take fault samples to study last year's earthquake and tsunami.
Maritime organisations say the US vessel Glomar Challenger set the previous record of 23,130ft below sea surface in the Mariana Trench in 1978.
Colombia's prison turned paradise (27 April 2012)
But before it was a wildlife mecca, this 24sqkm volcanic island served as a formidable fortress that housed Colombia's most violent criminals, with stone walls, barbed wire and prison guards acting as only the first line of defence. The 56km of rough, shark-infested waters and the venomous snakes for which the island is named usually put an end to any hope of escape.
Like the gorgons -- the demons in Greek mythology whose hair of venomous snakes turned witnesses to stone -- the serpents that slither on land and sea can be deadly (it is still forbidden to go anywhere on the island alone or after dark, and visitors are given gumboots to walk around). Still, the conditions in this zoo, where the humans were caged and the animals ran wild, were so miserable that there are stories of desperate prisoners seeking poisonous bites just to receive some tender nurse care and a short reprieve from the overcrowded cells and torture chambers.
The nurses, along with scuba divers who long ago discovered the island's world-class marine life, helped transform the penal colony into a national park by spreading word of its atrocious conditions.
Only 30 years after the prison's closing in 1982, verdant foliage twists itself around the crumbling ruins that have become one with the jungle. And since becoming a national park in 1985, wildlife enthusiasts have enjoyed greater access to the 147 species of birds, 100--plus species of insects and hundreds of species of terrestrial and marine fauna and flora.
U.S. anti-cocaine push embitters Peru chocolate makers (25 April 2012)
(Reuters) - Connoisseurs who take chocolate as seriously as sommeliers study wine are challenging the widespread use of an inferior cocoa pushed by the U.S. government in its war against drugs in Peru, considered by many to be the birthplace of cocoa.
The U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, introduced the high-yielding but acidic tasting CCN-51 cocoa hybrid to Peru in 2002 to offer farmers an alternative to planting coca - the key ingredient in cocaine.
The program has had some success but chocolate makers are encouraging farmers to instead cultivate smaller amounts of rare, native cocoa that fetches higher prices from buyers who value complex and subtle flavors and judge chocolate by the personality of its cocoa, like the nose of a fine wine.
"I don't understand why USAID is here, in a country so rich in diversity, where everything is virgin. What need is there to introduce new varieties?" said Mariella Balbi, owner of the tiny firm Guanni Chocolates, which sells in California and in Lima.
She sells boxes of 12 dark chocolate truffles made from Peru's native white cocoa and filled with local ingredients like pisco brandy and Amazonian fruits for $40.
Back to Pam's NEWS ARCHIVES
Back to Pam's vegan vegetarian FUN page
Pam's vegan vegetarian cookbook, with vegan vegetarian recipes
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