Pam Rotella's Vegetarian FUN page -- News on health, nutrition, the environment, politics, and more!
NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012
News from the Week of 6th to 12th of May 2012
Plume-gate: Secret documents prove global cover-up of continued Fukushima radiation pollution (12 May 2012)
A situation that is now being dubbed "Plume-gate," this massive cover-up of critical information about Fukushima could have saved thousands of lives, including the more than 14,000 individuals, many of whom were babies, that died in the weeks following the disaster (http://www.naturalnews.com/034586_Fukushima_USA_fatalities.html). And yet to this very day, the federal government's cozy relationship with the nuclear industry has allowed the injustice to continue, as no proper investigation into this dastardly crime has yet taken place.
"The executive branch and multiple federal agencies, agencies tasked with keeping the American public safe, did their best to hide and to cover-up information about a deadly radioactive plume and ensuing fallout that was headed for the West Coast of the United States from Japan," writes Tony Muga from The Intel Hub about the situation.
Not only did these government agencies hide the truth and deliberately deceive the public, they also used other events, including the infamous Qur'an burning in Afghanistan, as a distraction to divert public attention away from Fukushima, and away from the 104 nuclear reactors in the U.S. that are of a similar age and vulnerability as Fukushima.
So why is the federal government getting away with all this? It is for the same reason that it gets away with most of its other crimes against humanity: corporate fascism. And sadly, corporate fascism is a bipartisan problem, as both Republicans and Democrats today are slaves to it, representing opposite but identical sides of the same coin.
Madison, Milwaukee sue state for raiding landfill fees used for recycling programs (11 May 2012)
The cities of Madison and Milwaukee on Friday sued two state agencies administering a budget mechanism that severely reduced funding for solid waste recycling by diverting landfill tipping fees away from a grant program.
According to the lawsuit filed in Dane County Circuit Court, Madison claims it lost $405,102 last year because a program that helps municipalities pay for recycling was raided for other purposes.
The lawsuit names the Department of Administration, the Department of Natural Resources and the agencies' secretaries.
It claims the diversion of about $13.1 million from the recycling grant program is unconstitutional because those agencies had no authority to do so.
PAM COMMENTARY: That and the mortgage settlement money, meant for homeowners who were wronged, but grabbed by Wisconsin's embattled governor to "balance the budget" instead.
The Evil of Monsanto (12 May 2012) [AJ]
It is no secret that Monsanto's GMO crops are threatening to both public health and the environment as a whole, but the depth of Monsanto's corruption is often a less covered topic. It was previously revealed by WikiLeaks that Monsanto has key figureheads in powerful government positions inside the United States, but what's more interesting is that Monsanto has many -- if not all -- U.S. diplomats on their payroll.
In addition, Monsanto has also been busted for forcing workers into 'slave-like' conditions. Forcing slave workers to work the cornfields for 14 hours per day and buy their food at incredibly inflated prices from the company store, Monsanto has had these slave rings for an unknown number of years. It wasn't until Argentina's tax agency, known as AFIP, raided the Monsanto corn field did the operation become unveiled.
Monsanto's corruption has never been more obvious, with many political figureheads in the U.S. government spearheading the initiative to spread Monsanto's GMO crops far and wide. Even billionaire celebrities like Monsanto shareholder Bill Gates have been pushing GMOs as the answer to everything from starvation to sustainable agriculture.
But despite claims of GMOs amazing ability, it has been shown time and time again that GMO crops are not an effective way to fight starvation. In addition, scientists have shown that GMOs are damaging to your health. A prominent review of 19 studies examining the safety of these crops found that consumption of GMO corn or soybeans can lead to significant organ disruptions in rats and mice -- particularly in the liver and kidneys.
2000 birds found dead on Chile beaches (11 May 2012)
SANTIAGO -- About 2,000 birds were found dead on beaches in central Chile, a natural history museum director said Friday, accusing fishermen of snagging them in their nets and letting them drown.
"It's a horrible scene. They are spread across some six kilometers (four miles) of beach" around the coastal city of Santo Domingo, San Antonio natural history and archeology museum director Jose Luis Brito told UCV radio.
Most of the birds are gray petrels, but there are also pelicans, gannets and Guanay cormorants.
Brito accused fishermen of "doing nothing" when birds get caught up in their nets, and leaving them "to drown before throwing the bodies back into the sea."
Va. utility cancels solar energy test project (12 May 2012)
Dominion Virginia Power has canceled its solar test project in Halifax County because of holdups in developing crucial technology.
The proposed 4-megawatt project would have used new-technology batteries to store electricity produced from sunlight. But "the technology just wasn't there," company spokesman Jim Norvelle said, "and we decided to cancel."
Dominion Virginia Power had spent $500,000 on the Southside Virginia solar project, which had a total estimated cost of $35 million, Norvelle said Friday.
The company was slated to receive a $5 million grant from the state tobacco commission for the research-and-development effort, he said, but the utility did not use the money.
Ancient Maya workshop for astronomers discovered (11 May 2012)
Archeologists have discovered Maya astronomical tables that are hundreds of years older than any previously discovered -- and which pour more cold water on the myth that the society predicted the world would end in 2012.
The wall markings, which date from the 9th century, were discovered in the ancient Maya city of Xultun, in the northeastern corner of Guatemala. Found in a small room, the markings include a series of Maya paintings, a chart tracking lunar cycles, and another wall that appears to track Mars and Venus.
"This particular room seems to be have been used by a scribe or astronomers in order to record this information, either copying it out of books or preparing it to be put into books, and used the wall as sort of a blackboard," excavation leader William Saturno of Boston University told CBC's Bob McDonald. The full interview can be heard on Quirks & Quarks at noon Saturday on CBC Radio One.
Saturno and others reported their discovery in Friday's issue of the journal Science.
Is Your Alarm Clock Making You Fat? (10 May 2012)
In the new study, the team measured the social jetlag of people ages 16 to 65 by calculating how offset sleep times were on workdays and non-workdays. They then constructed a mathematical model that gauged how well biological factors, such as age, gender, sleep duration, and social jet lag could predict body weight. They found that the first three factors were important predictors of body weight for all people. In addition, for people who are already on the heavy side, greater social jet lag corresponded to greater body weight. However, social jet lag was not a good predictor for people with normal body weights, the team reports online today in Current Biology.
The researchers also found that people of all ages awoke and went to bed an average of 20 minutes later between 2002 and 2010. Work and school times have remained the same, meaning that social jetlag has increased during this period. Roenneberg says people are spending much less time outside, which gives their bodies less exposure to natural light that helps set biological rhythms for an earlier sleep schedule.
He adds that our social schedules likely influence our eating schedules: on workdays, people may eat breakfast while their bodies still think it's night. "Eating at the wrong time hits your entire digestive system at the wrong time, so it cannot efficiently do its job," he says, which may explain the link with obesity. The findings have particular relevance for teenagers, who naturally sleep much longer and later than their school schedules allow, and thus suffer more social jetlag than other age groups.
While previous studies have shown a link between sleep duration and obesity, the new work highlights the importance of sleep timing, says Kristen Knutson, a sleep researcher at the University of Chicago in Illinois. "We've known for a while that shift workers are associated with increased health risks, and shift workers have extreme variability in their sleep timing between workdays and non-workdays," Knutson says. "This paper suggests it's not just the extreme cases of irregular bed times, but even a more modest difference between weekends and weekdays of an hour or two seems to be associated with health outcomes like obesity."
PAM COMMENTARY: From personal experience, I think there's more of a link to eating while tired, to boost energy levels.
Physicians group asks Obama to stop eating obesity-linked foods in public (10 May 2012)
A vegan activist group is calling on the White House to ban the president, his family, and his cabinet from eating what it calls junk food at public events -- and drawing attention to some of the more notable pictures of Barack Obama snacking on foods that don't exactly fit into his wife's anti-obesity campaign.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine mailed a petition to Mr. Obama calling on him to issue an executive order requiring official photo opportunities to feature only healthy foods, and focusing on studies linking meat and dairy foods to obesity and increased risk of some cancers.
"A typical photo op depicts a current president entertaining a foreign dignitary, with both leaders stuffing processed meats or hamburgers into their mouths for the assembled cameras," the group says. "When prominent individuals are pictured with commercial products, the prominence of those products in the marketplace is dramatically enhanced."
The group has a long list of events that it feels were inappropriate. The hit list includes Mr. Obama eating cheeseburgers with Russian then-President Dmitry Medvedev, eating a hot dog with British Prime Minister David Cameron and, on a separate event, barbecuing with him. George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan all come under attack too for a hot dog, ice cream cone, and Big Mac respectively, among other things. (The group's petition also notes a less-obvious non-vegan food choice: "During the presidency of Ronald Reagan, Jelly Belly jelly beans were served in the Oval Office and on Air Force One.")
A push from the Mississippi kept Deepwater Horizon oil slick off shore, Penn research shows (10 May 2012)
When the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded April 20, 2010, residents feared that their Gulf of Mexico shores would be inundated with oil. And while many wetland habitats and wildlife were oiled during the three-month leak, the environmental damage to coastal Louisiana was less than many expected, in part because much of the crude never made it to the coast. Research by a trio of geoscientists, including the University of Pennsylvania's Douglas Jerolmack, now offers an explanation for why some of the oil stayed out at sea. Using publicly available datasets, their study reveals that the force of the Mississippi River emptying into the Gulf of Mexico created mounds of freshwater which pushed the oil slick off shore.
"The idea is that, if the water surface is tilting a little bit, then maybe the oil will move downhill, sort of like a ball on a plate. If you tilt the plate, the ball will roll one way and then another," Jerolmack said. "Surprisingly no one had really investigated the effect that the tilting of the water surface can have on the migration of oil."
The finding, published in the journal PLoS ONE, could help make better predictions about where oil will make landfall in future oil spills, helping to direct efforts to spare fragile coastlines and wildlife.
Leaked letters suggest Maryland's governor is henpecked by the chicken industry (11 May 2012)
The Gulf of Mexico dead zone seems to get all the attention. Yes, the low-oxygen area that forms every year in the waters surrounding the Mississippi Delta is the largest dead zone -- currently around the size of Massachusetts -- but it's not the only one in U.S. waters.
The Chesapeake Bay has a dead zone, too. In fact, it covered a third of the Chesapeake last year and continues to grow. And last month, the University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science gave the Bay a D+ in its annual "health report card."
About a year and a half ago, in response to the crisis, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stepped in to put the states that surround the Chesapeake on a "pollution diet," meaning the state has to keep its "Total Maximum Daily Load" -- whether from agricultural, municipal, or private landowners -- down to a minimum.
And where the Gulf dead zone is caused by runoff from the oceans of corn grown in the Midwestern states whose waterways drain into the Mississippi, chicken farms dominate the Chesapeake's watershed. The Delmarva region (i.e. Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia) has become one of the most intensive poultry farming regions of the country. Industry behemoths Perdue and Tyson contract with operations in the area that add up to tens of millions of birds housed in enormous facilities that generate a lot of chicken crap.
Truvada for HIV prevention backed by advisory panel, FDA may decide by June (11 May 2012)
During the meeting's public comment period, FDA panelists heard from more than two dozen doctors, nurses and patients who said patients would not take the drug as recommended - every day, in addition to using condoms.
"Truvada needs to be taken every day, 100 percent of the time, and my experience as a registered nurse tells me that won't happen," Karen Haughey told the panel. "In my eight years, not one patient that I've cared for has been 100 percent adherent."
Other speakers worried that wide scale use of Truvada would divert limited funding from more cost-effective options. Truvada sells for about $900 a month, or just under $11,000 per year. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which opposes approval of Truvada, estimates that 20 HIV-positive patients could be treated for the cost of treating one patient with preventive Truvada.
"Truvada for prevention will squeeze already-constrained health care resources that can be better spent on cheaper and more effective prevention therapies," the group states in a petition to the FDA.
"Policing and evicting" Occupy L.A. cost taxpayers $4.7 million (12 May 2012)
The report presented Friday by City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana says the Los Angeles Police Department spent $1.3 million monitoring protesters during the course of their two-month demonstration outside City Hall, and another $1.3 million evicting them. An additional $500,000 was spent by the Office of Public Safety, whose security officers protect city property, according to the report.
The tally of city costs is $2 million higher than an estimate given in February. Officials say the new figure reflects recently reported police costs and the tab to rehabilitate City Hall Park and several monuments damaged by protesters. The city has received more than $400,000 in donations and rebates for the restoration project, Santana said.
The costs of the protests in Los Angeles were much lower than in New York City, which shelled out an estimated $17 million on police overtime during the Occupy Wall Street demonstration in Zuccotti Park. But City Councilman Mitchell Englander said the report should make officials think twice before they endorse similar movements in the future, especially given the city's $238-million budget deficit.
Protesters were welcomed warmly by city lawmakers when they launched their demonstration last September as part of a nationwide protest against economic inequality.
Romney's quasi-apology is far more telling than the prankster allegations (11 May 2012)
But that is not the chief concern with the Romney story. The real problem lies in the adult Romney's reaction to it -- or, more precisely, his non-reaction. Others involved in the episode told the Post's Jason Horowitz of their continuing shame and guilt. One said he apologized to Lauber years later.
Romney, judging by his own words, seems not to have given the ugly encounter a second thought. His campaign's initial response was denial. "The stories of fifty years ago seem exaggerated and off base, and Governor Romney has no memory of participating in these incidents," said spokeswoman Andrea Saul.
As it turned out, the Post story was so detailed, gripping and well-sourced that a brush-off wasn't going to suffice, so response No. 2 was to issue the classic, conditional quasi-apology. "Back in high school, I did some dumb things, and if anybody was hurt by that or offended, obviously I apologize for that," Romney said in a radio interview. "I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks during high school, and some might have gone too far, and for that I apologize."
Hijinks? Pranks? This was an assault, pure and simple. Romney says that sexual orientation had nothing to do with the incident he doesn't recall. "I certainly don't believe I thought the fellow was homosexual. That was the furthest thing from our minds back in the 1960s." But it's clear that Lauber's offense lay in his being different from the others on the island of Cranbook prep, whatever label was attached.
Dalai Lama fears Chinese poison plot (12 May 2012)
"We received some sort of information from Tibet," he said. "Some Chinese agents training some Tibetans, especially women, you see, using poison -- the hair poisoned, and the scarf poisoned -- they were supposed to seek blessing from me, and my hand touch."
Despite being one of the world's most widely revered spiritual leaders he has enemies in China and among some Buddhist sects.
The relationship between China and the Tibetan government-in-exile in India remains poor and mutual suspicion is high following more than 30 self-immolations in the last year by Tibetans in protest against Chinese moves to marginalise their language and culture.
The Dalai Lama said suspicion of Chinese interference in the search for his reincarnation after his death meant he could be the last Dalai Lama. A number of young Buddhist monks, including the Karmapa Lama, could emerge as the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, he told the paper.
In film, Walker talks of 'divide and conquer' union strategy (11 May 2012)
Madison - A filmmaker released a video Thursday that shows Gov. Scott Walker saying he would use "divide and conquer" as a strategy against unions.
Walker made the comments to Beloit billionaire Diane Hendricks, who has since given $510,000 to the governor's campaign - making her Walker's single-largest donor and the largest known donor to a candidate in state history.
The filmmaker has done work on Democratic campaigns and gave $100 in 2010 to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Walker's challenger in the June 5 recall election.
In the video shot on Jan. 18, 2011 - shortly before Walker's controversial budget-repair bill was introduced and spawned mass protests - Hendricks asked the governor whether he could make Wisconsin a "completely red state, and work on these unions, and become a right-to-work" state. The Republican donor was referring to right-to-work laws, which prohibit private-sector unions from compelling workers to pay union dues if the workers choose not to belong to the union.
Walker replied that his "first step" would be "to divide and conquer" through his budget-adjustment bill, which curtailed most collective bargaining for most public employee unions.
PAM COMMENTARY: From the front page of Milwaukee's largest newspaper, and its top feature article online... I'm sure Barrett's already preparing his victory speech.
Civil rights icon shames Republican into dropping anti-voting rights measure (11 May 2012)
"Maybe some of us need to study a little contemporary history dealing with the question of voting rights. Just think, before the Voting Rights Act of 1965, it was almost impossible for many people in the state of Georgia, in Alabama, in Virginia, in Texas, to register to vote, to participate in the democratic process. The state of Mississippi, for example, had a black voting-age population of more than 450,000, and only about 16,000 were registered to vote. One county in Alabama, there was more than 80 percent not a single registered African-American voter."
"It's shameful that you would come here tonight and say to the Department of Justice that you must not use one penny, one cent, one dime, one dollar to carry out the mandate of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act," he said. "We should be opening up the political process, letting all our citizens come in and participate. People died for the right to vote! Friends of mine, colleagues of mine! I speak out against this amendment. It doesn't have a place. This is not the place."
Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) rose next to agree with Lewis, lecturing other members that "both Democrats and Republicans throughout history have used race to try to draw congressional districts and legislative districts," and citing currently ongoing disputes over voting maps in New Mexico and Texas.
Soon thereafter, Broun then withdrew his amendment and apologized.
Chicago police bulk up with $1m in controversial riot gear for May 20th Nato summit protests (11 May 2012)
Police in Chicago have spent $1m on riot-control equipment in the last few months ahead of next month's Nato summit, which is expected to attract thousands of anti-war protesters.
Protesters from a coalition of organisations including unions, anti-war and Occupy groups are expected to descend on the city. National Nurses United, the largest nurses' union in the US, is providing free buses to Chicago for activists from across the country even as its own plans to demonstrate were vetoed by the city of Chicago on Tuesday.
While protesters insist demonstrations during the Nato conference -- the main action is planned for Sunday 20 May -- will be peaceful, police appear to be leaving nothing to chance. Records show that since it was announced the Nato conference would be held in Chicago, police have purchased improved riot gear for both officers and horses. Officers are also preparing to use the controversial long-range acoustic device, or LRAD, during the operation.
Both the G8 and Nato conferences were originally to be held in Chicago, but the White House announced in March that the G8 summit would be moved to Camp David, the heavily guarded presidential country retreat in Maryland. The splitting of the events has led to two separate protests, with some activists planning to protest close to the G8 meeting in Maryland before making the 11-hour journey to Chicago for the Nato conference.
Special Report: The long, lethal shadow of asbestos (11 May 2012)
Mesothelioma is a particularly lethal cancer. It arises in the delicate tissue that lines body cavities, most often around the lungs, but also in the abdomen and elsewhere.
Years of research have shown that exposure to asbestos -- defined roughly as two weeks of constant contact, usually in the air in a workplace -- is a primary cause of mesothelioma. (Exposure also causes asbestosis, a chronic, potentially life-shortening lung disease.)
Once exposed, a person has a one-in-20 chance of developing mesothelioma. The average patient is dead within two years of diagnosis, and more than 90 percent are dead within five years, according to the National Cancer Institute.
The reason people who were exposed in the 1960s and 1970s are still being diagnosed is mesothelioma's long latency period --- the time between exposure and manifestation of disease --- of between 30 and 50 years. Thus people who worked in tainted industrial settings in the 1960s are still getting ill, as are some family members.
Whooping cough epidemic declared in Wash. state (10 May 2012)
Patti emphasized that pertussis isn't spreading because of an anti-vaccine movement. Among possible reasons for the recent spike are that diagnoses in teens and adults are getting better and doctors are doing a better job with reporting, she added.
Health officials say the disease tends to return in three-to-five-year cycles.
"The incidents tend to oscillate," said Herbert Hethcote, a professor emeritus from the University of Iowa who is a specialist in mathematical modeling of the spread of infectious diseases,
He said the growth of pertussis in Washington state has followed a pattern: As the population ages, the immunity level goes down because the vaccine is wearing off. The disease spreads and the cases grow until more people get the vaccine and the numbers go down again.
PAM COMMENTARY: If the vaccines actually worked, I doubt they'd have an "epidemic." Most vaccines were introduced when pandemic diseases were already on the decline due to the rise of hand-washing, flush toilets, and general hygiene improvements, and so it's impossible to tell how much of the decrease, if any, was due to the vaccines. There were also cases like polio, where less severe forms of the disease were reclassified as something else.
These days, the risks of autism and other lifetime brain injuries (despite denials that deliberately ignore evidence) must be weighed against any possible benefits of childhood vaccines.
Vaccines have been based on medical fraud for over a hundred years (FLASHBACK) (29 April 2012)
A 2012 study led by Dr. David Witt, an infectious disease specialist at the San Rafael, California Kaiser Permanente Medical Center concluded that whooping cough occurs more among vaccinated children than children not vaccinated.
In 2010, a mumps outbreak occurred among 1000 children in upper New Jersey and lower New York. Almost 80% of them had been vaccinated with the MMR (measles, mumps & rubella) vaccine.
Throughout the 1980s, official agencies reported several outbreaks of measles occurring among children who had been vaccinated in various locations including an Illinois junior high and high school, a Massachusetts high school, a region in France, and a rural area near Helisinki, Finland.
Both USA schools had well over 90% vaccinated against measles. The vaccinators claim a 90% vaccination rate among any specific population guarantees herd immunity for that population. This bogus claim serves to create more revenue while blaming non-vaccinators for endangering humanity.
Meanwhile, despite the fact that only five percent of vaccine adverse events get reported to the "voluntary" FDA's vaccine adverse event reporting system (VAERS), there are many serious adverse events recorded and many more that seep through the cracks to vaccine concerned internet sites.
Webb seeks bigger role for Congress on military (10 May 2012)
U.S. Sen. Jim Webb said Wednesday he will introduce legislation requiring congressional approval before the president can take military action when U.S. interests are not directly threatened.
In a speech on the Senate floor, the Virginia Democrat called Congress' diminished role in committing U.S. military forces abroad "the most important constitutional challenge facing the balance of power between the presidency and the Congress in modern times."
"Year by year, skirmish by skirmish," since the 2001 terrorist attacks, "Congress seems to have faded into operational irrelevance," Webb said.
"What has happened to reduce the role of the Congress from the body which once clearly decided whether or not the nation would go to war, to the point that we are viewed as little more than a rather mindless conduit that collects taxpayer dollars and dispenses them to the president for whatever military functions he decides to undertake?"
Corexit chemical dispersant used by BP during Gulf oil disaster linked to horrific human injuries (10 May 2012)
(NaturalNews) A man who is now a paraplegic and who is also going blind has filed a lawsuit against British Petroleum (BP) and its related companies; Halliburton; Transocean; NALCO; ConocoPhilips and several other companies involved with the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster that began on April 20, 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico. According to the suit, BP officials lied about the safety of Corexit, an oil dispersant sprayed throughout the Gulf, which resulted in serious and permanent injuries for a dive team that helped with cleanup efforts.
David Hogan first began helping with Gulf cleanup efforts on June 1, 2010. But almost immediately, he noticed that something was off with the way oil was sinking below the surface, and how it was sticking to his and his team's wetsuits. But after bringing this anomaly to the attention of a BP "health and safety" officer, he was reassured that everything was just fine, and that there was absolutely no health risk from exposure to the oil and any related chemicals that might accompany it.
But it turns out that this was completely false information, as the Corexit dispersant chemicals sprayed in the Gulf after the disaster began -- reports says more than 1.8 million gallons of Corexit were dumped into the Gulf -- are known to be severely neurotoxic. But this information was deliberately withheld from Hogan and his team upon inquiry, which reassured them that their several months of diving work was going to be problem-free.
In the end, Hogan and his team ended up with permanent injuries that left several of them, including Hogan, completely unable to walk. They also developed neurological problems, as well as vision problems that gradually resulted in permanent blindness. Several members of the team became so injured and hopeless that they actually committed suicide.
Two million settlement for 2009 San Francisco Bay oil spill (10 May 2012)
The owners of a tanker ship that spilled more than 400 gallons of bunker fuel into San Francisco Bay in 2009, polluting 6 miles of Alameda County shoreline, agreed Wednesday to pay nearly $2 million in a settlement with local governments.
The agreement was announced by the district attorneys of San Francisco and Alameda counties, who had sued the owner and operator of the Dubai Star. The 600-foot vessel was taking on fuel from a barge south of the Bay Bridge on Oct. 30, 2009, when oil poured from a tank, onto the deck and into the bay.
State investigators attributed the spill to the failure of a valve that a crew member tried unsuccessfully to shut off when one of the fuel tanks reached capacity.
One crew member failed to notice that the tank level was continuing to rise, another failed to detect oil that was starting to pool on deck, and two overflow alarms failed to sound, investigators said. They said the ship's captain took 28 minutes to notify federal or state authorities - and then told them that a "little bit" of oil had been spilled on the deck and that "nothing is going overboard."
The oil washed ashore from Alameda Point to the Oakland airport, affecting more than 200 acres of beaches, marshland, mudflats and eelgrass habitat, according to a report by the state Department of Fish and Game. It said 113 seabirds died, including grebes, brown pelicans and coots.
FDA warns about multiple sclerosis vein procedure (10 May 2012)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning today about a controversial and experimental vein procedure for people with multiple sclerosis.
The regulator warned health-care professionals and patients that injuries and death have been associated with use of the procedure for what is known as chronic cerebro-spinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI).
CCSVI is a hypothesis put forward by Italian vascular surgeon Dr. Paolo Zamboni. His theory is that narrowed neck veins create a backup of blood that can lead to lesions in the brain and inflammation.
The treatment, which involves opening blocked neck veins with balloons, is not offered in Canada.
The idea that the condition might be linked to MS, a progressive neurological disease, has divided the medical community.
PAM COMMENTARY: Problem is, mainstream medicine doesn't offer very effective options for MS patients, and some patients have claimed good results from Zamboni's procedures. People aren't going to stay away if they're desperate and they hear good news.
I covered a few of the most common alternative treatments for MS in a past article. With those models of the disease in mind, I have to wonder if the chelation used in the mercury/parasites model of the disease (in the famous case of Ken Presner and others) also helps those who suffer with the model of MS discovered by Zamboni.
India's wheat left to rot due to lack of storage (10 May 2012)
NEW DELHI--In fields along a northern Indian highway, mountains of grain have turned black with mildew after getting soaked in the rain.
The millions of tons of wheat rotting because India ran out of warehouse space to hold another bumper crop illustrate a core problem of the nation's food crisis: India can grow plenty of food but cannot store or transport it well enough to nourish its 1.2 billion people.
Warehouses are overflowing and huge quantities of wheat and rice are stored in fields under tarpaulins and thin plastic sheets, risking decay.
Food Minister K.V. Thomas said Thursday the government was taking "all necessary steps" to increase its storage capacities.
The government had partnered with the private sector to attract investment in building warehouses and new storage spaces would be available by the end of the year, Thomas said.
Holding Bank of America to account (10 May 2012)
Shareholder meetings can be routine, unless you are Bank of America, in which case it may be declared an "extraordinary event". That is what the city of Charlotte, North Carolina called the bank's shareholder meeting this week. Bank of America is currently the second largest bank in the US (after JP Morgan Chase), claiming more than $2tn in assets. It is also the "too big to fail" poster child of Occupy Wall Street, a speculative banking monstrosity that profits from, among other things, the ongoing foreclosure crisis and the exploitation of dirty coal.
North Carolina, which went for Barack Obama in 2008, is a swing state in this year's presidential election. Current polls indicate the Tar Heel State is a toss-up. To boost its chances there, the Democratic party has chosen Charlotte to host this summer's Democratic National Convention. In preparation, the Charlotte city council passed an amendment to the city code allowing the city manager to declare so-called extraordinary events.
The ordinance is clearly structured to grant police extra powers to detain, search and arrest people who are within the arbitrarily defined "extraordinary event" zone. The ordinance reads, in part, "It shall be unlawful for any person ... to willfully or intentionally possess, carry, control, or have immediate access to any of the following" and then lists a page of items, including scarves, backpacks, duffel bags, satchels and coolers.
Wednesday's protest outside the Bank of America headquarters, with hundreds marching, was peaceful and spirited. The colorful array of creative signs was complemented by activists inside the meeting, who, as shareholders, were entitled to address the meeting. George Goehl of National People's Action, who was inside, told CNN about Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan's reaction:
"Dozens of us were able to speak, but Moynihan mostly dodged, deflected and denied. He looked visibly uncomfortable the entire time."
Wisconsin Democrats Select Recall Challenger to Take On Gov. Scott Walker's "Ideological Civil War" (9 May 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, it's interesting that they're even right now in the polls, given the amount of money that Governor Walker has raised. Can you talk about where the money is coming from and how much it is?
MATTHEW ROTHSCHILD: Well, it's an astronomical amount of money, Amy. I mean, he's raised $25 million over the last year, $13 million over the last couple months. He was raising it in just bushel loads--$500,000 from Bob Perry of the Swift Boaters, $250,000 from Foster Friess, the guy who was funneling money to Rick Santorum, $250,000 from Sheldon Adelson, the guy who was funneling money to Newt Gingrich. And, you know, the Koch brothers are pouring money into Americans for Prosperity and the Republican Governors Association, which are spending millions on these ads for Scott Walker.
Actually, one of the reasons he's still popular is they inundated the airwaves from November to today, and they were unchallenged by any Democratic Party or progressive ads countering against Walker. So he had just kind of free sailing there. And now, during the primary, finally, there were some ads up criticizing Walker for all the things he's done. And in the next four weeks--that's all we got, is 27 days now--in the next four weeks, there's going to just be a barrage of ads, both positive and negative, on both sides.
AMY GOODMAN: But the rules around recall elections are different in terms of how much the candidates can raise from outside the state?
MATTHEW ROTHSCHILD: Well, there is a real peculiarity in Wisconsin state law. So when the recall was called up to the time that the recall election process really began, there was a window of time here where Walker could raise unlimited amounts from individuals. Then, in the last few weeks, he could only raise $10,000 each from individuals, which is the standard limit here in Wisconsin. But before that, in the months before that, when it looked like there was a recall coming, he was able to raise unlimited amounts, so people were giving literally checks of $250,000, $500,000, $100,000. Look, Walker is the darling of the vicious business class in America. He's a hero to every boss who wants to put his boot on the throat of labor. And these people, these vicious right-wingers, have just been opening their wallets.
Pedophilia Groups Invade Facebook (VIDEO) (10 May 2012) [AJ]
Chelsea Schilling of World Net Daily covers Facebook's selective censorship and their inability to stop pedophilia groups.
Report: Romney bullied 'presumed' gay student in 1965 (10 May 2012)
A high school friend of Mitt Romney recently recalled to The Washington Post that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee once bullied a fellow student who was thought to be gay.
Matthew Friedemann, who described himself as a "close" friend when Romney attended the prestigious Cranbrook School in 1965, said that the future Massachusetts governor picked on John Lauber. The Post described Lauber as a "a soft-spoken new student" who was "perpetually teased for his nonconformity and presumed homosexuality."
But it was Lauber's long bleached-blonde hair that really set Romney off.
"Friedemann entered Stevens Hall off the school's collegiate quad to find Romney marching out of his own room ahead of a prep school posse shouting about their plan to cut Lauber's hair," the Post's Jason Horowitz wrote. "Friedemann followed them to a nearby room where they came upon Lauber, tackled him and pinned him to the ground. As Lauber, his eyes filling with tears, screamed for help, Romney repeatedly clipped his hair with a pair of scissors."
In addition to Friedemann, Horowitz spoke to at least four other of Romney's classmates who confirmed the incident.
PAM COMMENTARY: The original Washington Post article is much longer, and an interesting read, but this story gets to the point faster.
Three DeKalb cops indicted in teens' alleged beatings (10 May 2012)
Three DeKalb County police officers were charged Thursday with beating teenage suspects in custody, some of them while handcuffed, as part of what prosecutors are calling a criminal conspiracy.
A DeKalb County grand jury indicted Blake Andrew Norwood, Arthur Parker III and Sgt. Anthony Remone Robinson on a total of 15 counts including aggravated assault, battery, violating their oaths as police officers, making false statements and racketeering.
Three of the four teens the officers were alleged to have beaten were juveniles, and the one who was an adult at the time of his attack has sued two of the officers. The alleged incidents took place Dec. 23, 2010, and Nov. 15, 2011.
The officers were given until 4 p.m. Thursday to surrender.
PAM COMMENTARY: Wow, that's a twist -- two of the cops are black. You'd think they'd remember how the black community has suffered with police brutality, and try to avoid doing the same.
Government Job Cuts Threaten Black Middle Class (9 May 2012)
The planned downsizing of the U.S. Postal Service, which wants to shed thousands of jobs and reduce hours at post offices, struck Baltimore native Eric Easter at his core.
For him, it will mark the end of an era in which a post office job has meant stability and a path to a better life, as it did for him and his six siblings living in public housing in the 1960s.
"You hate to see that disappear," says the 49-year-old Easter, now a documentary filmmaker and producer, who describes his mother's hiring at the post office as a defining moment in his childhood.
"It meant moving to a nicer neighborhood, sort of establishing that I have a place in the world," Easter says. "I remember my mom having cocktail parties, and she and her co-workers could hold their heads up among teachers and other folks as people who had taken solid positions in the middle class."
Milwaukee mayor earns a do-over with convincing win in recall primary (9 May 2012)
MILWAUKEE -- The rematch is on between Tom Barrett and Gov. Scott Walker, after the Milwaukee mayor coasted to victory over former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk on Tuesday in the 2012 recall primary.
Barrett, 58, now faces a 28-day sprint to the finish in a historic recall election June 5 against the embattled Republican governor.
"As the governor of this state, I will end Scott Walker's ideological civil war," Barrett told jubilant supporters gathered at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Milwaukee.
"Do we want a governor who will divide this state like it's never been divided before?" Barrett asked to shouts of "No!" from the crowd.
Barrett said that, unlike Walker, he would stay in Wisconsin and work to create jobs, rather than travel around the country trying to raise money and be a "rock star to the far right." Barrett predicted Walker would flood Wisconsin with out-of-state money over the next four weeks but said Walker's opponents have the people on their side.
Former Labor Sec. Robert Reich on Clinton's Errors of Crippling Welfare to Repealing Glass-Steagall (8 May 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Some call it "welfare reform"; others, "welfare deform."
ROBERT REICH: Yeah, that so-called reform provided a maximum of five years in somebody's life on, essentially, welfare. The assumption was that you would not have a deep recession or a depression that would go on nearly that long, and so that five years in a lifetime was about right. Well, what happened in 2007, 2008? We had a severe downturn. Who got caught in that downturn worse than anybody else? It was people at the bottom, in the bottom 20 percent, a lot of them minorities, a lot of them women. They are still caught in the downturn. Where is most of our unemployment? The welfare law, that maximum--gave them a maximum of five years, many of those people do not--are no longer eligible for anything. Their families are no longer eligible for anything. I mean, we, in signing--Bill Clinton, in signing that law, essentially condemned a substantial number of our most vulnerable people in this country to hardships that should never, in a civilized society, be imposed on anyone.
AMY GOODMAN: Bill Clinton did.
ROBERT REICH: Bill Clinton did. Now, again, the economy at that time was buoyant. We created--or at least presided over an economy, by then, that was down to 4 percent unemployment. But there was no guarantee that 4 percent unemployment would be the norm. I mean, on the inside--and then, subsequently, I said, we might have recessions, we might have 6 or 7 or 8 percent unemployment. You know, now, among the very poor, we have 20 percent or 25 percent high school dropouts, almost 30 percent unemployment. If we don't have any safety net, it's not only bad for them, it's bad for the economy, because it means that we have a lot of people who have no money in their pockets at all. Only 40 percent of people who have lost their jobs now are eligible for unemployment benefits. I mean, not just welfare--I mean, we haven't just slashed the welfare safety net, we don't even have much of an unemployment benefit safety net left. For people who--you know, last night, I was talking with people who said, "The reason that Americans who are unemployed are not getting jobs is because their lives are too cushy. We've made it too easy for them. They get a lot of unemployment benefits." You know, where--what planet are these people on? I mean, 40 percent are eligible, and the average welfare--the average unemployment benefit is only about 20 to 30 percent of previous--your previous job compensation, in any event.
FBI urges renewal of surveillance measures after foiled al-Qaida plot (9 May 2012)
Robert Mueller told a congressional hearing in Washington on Wednesday that the supposed plot, revealed by the Associated Press on Monday, demonstrated the need to renew surveillance provisions that expire at the end of the year.
Details of the plot have been unfolding in the past few days. A sting operation in Yemen involving an undercover agent working for Saudi Arabian intelligence and the CIA ended with the sophisticated bomb being handed over to Western intelligence. It is now being examined by FBI experts at its forensic labs in Quantico, Virginia.
It is believed the device was likely made by al-Qaida master bomb-maker Ibrahim Hassan al Asiri, who is the assumed bomb-making chief for al-Qaida's offshoot, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Al Asiri is believed to have been the creator of an underwear bomb used in an attempt to blow up an airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, as well as explosives that were packed into printer cartridges bound for Chicago in 2010.
In a hearing of the House judiciary committee, Mueller said the new bomb was similar to previous AQAP devices. "We are currently exploiting an IED (improvised explosive device) seized overseas which is similar to devices used by AQAP in the past," he said. The bomb is believed to have had no metallic parts and used explosive chemicals designed to evade modern airport security. However, US security officials have insisted that it could still have been detected by scanners and security agents following correct procedures in airports.
PAM COMMENTARY: My my, how convenient for the CIA double agent to find the bomb just in time to exploit it for political purposes...
Twitter protects Occupy protestor's tweets from US court (9 May 2012)
Twitter moved to quash the court order in a motion filed on Monday -- saying its terms of service "make absolutely clear that its users own their content", giving tweeters the right to try and quash court orders of this nature themselves.
Prior to Twitter's 10-page memo, a US judge had ruled that Harris did not have the legal right to challenge the court's request for his Twitter history, as Twitter owned the rights to his tweets.
Twitter's response says: "[Twitter's]Terms of service expressly state: 'You retain your rights to any content you submit, post or display on or through the services'."
Furthermore, Ben Lee, legal counsel for Twitter, said in a statement: "As we said in our brief, Twitter's terms of service make absolutely clear that its users own their content. Our filing with the court reaffirms our steadfast commitment to defending those rights for our users."
50,000 Twitter usernames and passwords leaked in apparent hacking (9 May 2012)
Twitter is looking into how an apparent hacker accessed 50,000 account usernames and passwords and published them online Tuesday.
The company also downplayed the security breach, saying in a statement that about 20,000 login credentials were redundancies, suspended spam accounts or mismatched account information.
"We are currently looking into the situation," a Twitter spokeswoman said in an email to the Daily News. "In the meantime, we have pushed out password resets to accounts that may have been affected."
Five long lists of usernames and passwords were posted on the file-sharing site Pastebin Tuesday by an anonymous user. The hactivist news aggregator Air Demon published the news of the leak, and it quickly spread through the Web.
"This hack is just an alert to other millions of Twitter users that they could be hacked anytime," Air Demon warned.
Twitter has about 140 million active users.
Anti-wind activists want to create fake grassroots campaign against industry (9 May 2012)
Last February, a group of anti-wind activists gathered in Washington, D.C. Their goal: establish a coordinated, nationwide program of "wind warriors" who could be dispatched to fight the industry anywhere, anytime.
The organization would combine efforts and create "what should appear as a 'groundswell' among grass roots" to counter legislation supporting wind energy on the federal, state, and local levels.
The leader of the group was John Droz, Jr., a longtime wind opponent and a senior fellow at the ultra-conservative American Tradition Institute (ATI). ATI calls itself an "environmental" think tank. The organization, known best for suing climate scientist Michael Mann, is devoted to spreading doubt about climate change, opposing state-level renewable energy targets, and stripping away environmental regulations.
ATI is so extreme that it was denounced by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for contributing to an "environment that inhibits the free exchange of scientific findings and ideas."
The Revolution Against Medical Tryanny with Dr. Joel Wallach (VIDEO) (9 May 2012) [AJ]
A biomedical research pioneer, Dr. Joel D. Wallach, DVM, ND spent more than 40 years in the field of Veterinary Medicine, observing and researching the effects of individual nutrients on animal health, before becoming a Naturopathic Physician in 1982. Today, Dr. Wallach is renowned for his groundbreaking research on the health benefits of selenium and other minerals. He currently dedicates his time to lecturing throughout the world on the therapeutic benefits of vitamins and minerals, and on lobbying the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on behalf of the dietary supplement industry.
Probe finds collusion between India's drug regulator, pharma firms (9 May 2012)
Instead, the panel catalogued a series of procedural failures that it said raised questions about how some of the drugs, including those made by pharmaceutical giants, were allowed to be sold in India.
Thirteen drugs scrutinized by the panel are not allowed to be sold in the United States, Canada, Britain, European Union and Australia, it said.
The Indian pharmaceutical market is the fourth largest in the world in terms of volume, according to the Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI). It generates $12 billion in sales every year.
International drug companies whose profits are being squeezed by patent expiries in the developed world are investing heavily in emerging markets, which are expected to account for 29 percent of global pharmaceuticals sales by 2015, up from just 12 percent in 2005, according to IMS Health.
Big rise in North Pacific plastic waste (9 May 2012)
An obvious concern is that this micro-material could be ingested by marine organisms, but the Scripps team has noted another, perhaps unexpected, consequence.
The fragments make it easier for the marine insect Halobates sericeus to lay its eggs out over the ocean.
These "sea skaters" or "water striders" - relatives of pond water skaters - need a platform for the task.
Normally, this might be seabird feathers, tar lumps or even pieces of pumice rock. But it is clear from the trawl results that H. sericeus has been greatly aided by the numerous plastic surfaces now available to it in the Pacific.
$1 billion 'ghost town' to be built in New Mexico (9 May 2012)
A $1 billion (£620 million) 'ghost town' is to be built in the United States in the name of scientific research.
The town, which will be modelled on a town of 35,000 people, will have roads, houses and commercial buildings, but will have no residents.
It will be built in New Mexico about 15 miles west of the nearest town, Hobbs, which has a population of about 40,000.
Scientists hope to use the new 'town' to research innovations in renewable energy as well as intelligent traffic systems and next generation wireless networks.
The investors developing the Centre for Innovation, Technology and Testing (Cite) say they wanted to test the effects of such innovations on a town but without inconveniencing any residents.
Orangutans learn to communicate via iPad (9 May 2012)
Ape trainers at Miami's Jungle Island are using a unique new approach to communicating with their favorite captives, helping orangutans learn to say what they mean using a special piece of software for Apple's iPad.
Linda Jacobs, a volunteer trainer, told The Associated Press this week that apes enjoy communicating with humans but simply do not have the biological equipment to speak up for themselves.
"So, this gives them a way of letting us know what they know, what they're capable of, what they'd like to have," Jacobs said, adding that one day she hopes to have a more sturdy tablet the apes can use without assistance to interact with zoo visitors.
A similar project at the Bonobo Hope Great Ape Trust Sanctuary in Des Moines, Iowa hopes to accomplish the same feat by using robotic ape surrogates that can be controlled from a touch-screen device.
Democrats Picking Governor Candidate in Wisconsin Recall (8 May 2012)
Last year, tens of thousands of protesters swarmed the state capital after Mr. Walker, a Republican in his first term, stripped collective bargaining rights from most of the state's public workers. In the months that followed, critics collected more than 900,000 signatures on recall papers -- almost double the amount needed to trigger a new election.
Five names appeared on Democratic ballots for governor across the state in a hurried recall campaign season that one candidate compared to "political speed dating."
The choice was not easy for some voters.
"People are obviously torn because we have such good candidates," said John Heckenively, 48, about the Democratic field, which has had many divided between front-runners Tom Barrett and Kathleen Falk.
PAM COMMENTARY: Wow... A political wonk I knew in college, quoted by the New York Times. Only the Times spelled his name wrong! It's John HeckenLIVELY, with TWO L's. Not HeckenIVELY. Get it right, Times! I might expect that from smaller papers, but the Times? What, no budget for the biggest story of the day?
He also ran against Paul Ryan in the past election, but I guess you can't look that up in your files if you do a search with the WRONG SPELLING...
A vegan diet offers relief from inflammatory disease and reduces heart disease risk (8 May 2012)
(NaturalNews) The claims of the anti-inflammatory properties of various berries and dark leafy greens have been purported for decades, but the main cause of an ever-increasing list of chronic illnesses continues to be inflammation. While at first glance the shared territory between diseases may not be apparent, the correlation is so strong that the physicians can use a diagnosis of arthritis as a risk factor predicting cardiovascular disease. Minimizing inflammation is a matter of defensive maneuvering.
Having a healed cut isn't the same as never having been cut
While these dietary novelties have demonstrated ability to mediate the overall immune response, many physicians feel that it doesn't make sense to keep healing a recurrent injury instead of avoiding its infliction. Researchers tested a gluten-free vegan diet and found it to lower a selection of inflammatory compounds in the bloodstream, as well as the expected behavior of reinforcing the immune system.
Inflammation is the cause and main symptom of many diseases, but is a healthy response to a bad stimuli
Inflammation is a biological response that fills an area with blood in order deliver aid to the area as well as scrap and remove damaged tissue for recycling. The body has a security system in place that creates chemical profiles in the same way that police collect data on dangerous criminal offenders. These cells carry a field guide to recognizing threatening chemicals it has encountered before. This may include molecular irritants, bacteria, viruses, or physical trauma. Trauma is communicated chemically even though a new chemical has not been detected. Since cells communicate with each other chemically, a failure of that system will indicate a problem in the same manner. The cells put in a relay call for reinforcements from the immune system.
Inflammation forces cells to work an overtime emergency shift. When the inflammation is chronic, the increased stain can manifest in subtle ways, like increased blood flow. In surface tissue, this increase will often generate a noticeable heat flush. It causes blood cells to dilate, which increases blood pressure and the workload of the heart, making the most common signs of immune response elevated body temperature and heart rate.
Federal appeals court: Illinois cannot enforce ban on recording police officers (8 May 2012)
A federal appeals court on Tuesday barred the enforcement of a controversial law that allowed for the arrest and prosecution of individuals who made audio recordings of police officers without their consent.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that the Illinois' Eavesdropping Act "likely violates" the First Amendment, according to the Associated Press.
"The Illinois eavesdropping statute restricts far more speech than necessary to protect legitimate privacy interests; as applied to the facts alleged here, it likely violates the First Amendment's free speech and free-press guarantees," the court held (PDF).
The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois challenged the law in 2010 on behalf of organizations that wished to monitor police activity to uncover misconduct.
This 93-Year-Old Grandmother Is Suing Pennsylvania Over Voter ID Laws (7 May 2012)
The first time Viviette Applewhite went to the polls, she cast her vote for John F. Kennedy. But this year, a strict new voter identification law will likely prevent the now-93-year old woman and many others in Pennsylvania from participating in their country's democratic process. And Applewhite won't stand for it.
She will be the plaintiff in the voter identification lawsuit being filed by the ACLU and the NAACP in the state, which claims that "the state's voter photo ID law violates the Pennsylvania Constitution by depriving citizens of their most fundamental constitutional right -- the right to vote."
Applewhite no longer has a copy of her birth certificate, and she does not have a drivers' license. Without either of these things, the new Pennsylvania restrictions say that she is ineligible to vote.
But her circumstances are not at all uncommon. African Americans, especially elderly African Americans, are disproportionately less likely to have a birth certificate.
Police seek Twitter data in beating of Pilot journalists (8 May 2012)
Police have issued search warrants for four Twitter accounts seeking information about an April assault of two Virginian-Pilot reporters.
The warrants request personal information, including all tweets, email addresses and locations of users, from Twitter, according to court records. Messages on the online accounts mention the assault.
In one tweet written about 90 minutes after the attack, a user wrote that she feels sorry "for the white man who got beat up at the light." Another user responded that he did not feel bad, writing "do it for trayvon martin."
Other comments posted on the accounts joked about the assault and mocked police for their response.
Bald eagles recover from eating euthanized cats (7 May 2012)
Seven bald eagles arrived at the northern Wisconsin wildlife rescue center in the back of a truck, under blankets and assumed dead - or soon to be.
The birds were found scattered on the ground at a landfill near Eagle River, chunks of partially digested meat lying just outside their beaks.
It was soon learned the eagles had been feeding on cats euthanized by the Vilas County Humane Society. The pentobarbital that killed the cats quickly ravaged the eagles.
Despite the poison, the eagles were alive - just barely - when they reached the Raptor Education Group in Antigo.
Marge Gibson and her small staff worked around the clock for three days, giving the birds oxygen, moving their wings and warming them with heated blankets.
Smartphones top computers for U.S. Facebook time (7 May 2012)
(Reuters) - The average time spent accessing Facebook via smartphone in the United States was 441 minutes in March, compared with 391 minutes via computer, according to comScore, underscoring the increasingly high-profile role of mobile in social networking.
comScore's new Mobile Metrix 2.0 report showed U.S. smartphone users spent 441 minutes per month, or 7 hours and 21 minutes, on Facebook in March. That compares with 391 minutes, or 6 hours and 31 minutes, for people who tapped into Facebook via a computer.
In filing documents for its initial public offering, Facebook highlighted the importance of mobile while noting it does not generate meaningful revenue from mobile users.
"If users increasingly access mobile products as a substitute for access through personal computers and if we are unable to successfully implement monetization strategies for our mobile users," the company writes in its filing documents, "our financial performance and ability to grow revenue would be negatively affected."
"A Political Implosion": Anti-Austerity Parties Win Historic French and Greek Elections (7 May 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Professor Varoufakis, let's move to Greece. What happened?
YANIS VAROUFAKIS: Greece is going through its Great Depression, something akin to what the United States went through in the 1930s. This is not just a change of government. It's a social economy that has entered into a deep coma. It's a country that is effectively verging to the status of a failed state. Greece is going through an existentialist crisis. And just look at the numbers. The Socialist Party had 44 percent of the vote only two short years ago. It went down to 13 percent. The opposition, conservatives, they were at the low tide mark of 35 percent, 35 percent in 2009. They would have been in a position they should be picking up votes. They went down below 20 percent. The political class of Greece, effectively, has been thrown out by the electorate. This is very exciting and very worrying at the same time. The rise of the Nazis is something to be lamented.
AMY GOODMAN: The Guardian reports today Greek TV channels are reporting the country's electoral earthquake has been met with stunned silence by officials at the International Monetary Fund in Washington.
YANIS VAROUFAKIS: It's their week of discontent, because, for the second time around, the International Monetary Fund has fomented--first time was in Latin America, and perhaps Southeast Asia in the late 1990s. Now it's the second time their policies and their heavy-handed approach to a failing economy has created a spectacular failure in their own hands.
BP Oil Spill Photos Posted By Greenpeace Following Freedom Of Information Request (7 May 2012)
The Greenpeace press release states that the photos, many focused on oil-covered sea turtles, "appear to be part of the effort to collect evidence for the prosecution of BP and others."
The trial to assign damages for the oil spill has been delayed until January 2013. Last month, former BP engineer Kurt Mix became the first to face criminal charges from the disaster. HuffPost's John Rudolf reported that more arrests related to spill estimates are likely, according to legal experts.
The Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Trustee Council recently announced that they were kicking off a $60 million series of early restoration projects along the Gulf Coast.
Of the five turtle species in the Gulf of Mexico, four are endangered and the fifth species is threatened.
Greenpeace's John Hocevar stated in the organization's press release, "While the White House was trying to keep the emphasis on rosy stories of rescued animals being released back into the wild, they were sitting on these images of garbage bags full of Kemp's Ridley sea turtles."
ExxonMobil's Dirty Secrets, from Indonesia to Nigeria to Washington: Steve Coll on "Private Empire" (7 May 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Steve Coll, talk about the "God pod" at the corporate headquarters in Irving, Texas. And also, you spend a great deal of time looking at Lee Raymond, the former ExxonMobil chief executive, a close relationship with Dick Cheney, and what all this means, what you were most surprised by in writing Private Empire?
STEVE COLL: Yeah, so I think the thing that surprised me most--I mean, the God pod is a reference to their corporate headquarters, which is just on a kind of bland campus outside the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, and it's the worldwide headquarters of ExxonMobil. It's a relatively small group that works there, but a very elite group. And it has the kind of sort of slightly empty and eerie feel inside. The halls echo, and it's a very formal place. It almost feels like a Hollywood version of what the corporate headquarters of a worldwide corporation like ExxonMobil would be like.
But I think, to answer your question about what was surprising, you know, I sort of assumed that the relationship between ExxonMobil and the United States government would be more complicated than I thought or that it wouldn't be easy to just sort of describe it in one sentence, but what surprised me was the extent to which ExxonMobil really sees itself, proudly, as an independent sovereign, as its own government, in effect, and that it has its own foreign policies, its own economic policies. And I came to sort of think of them as sort of like France, in the sense that they were aligned with the United States sometimes, they were opposed other times, but mostly they were just trying to run their own global system without necessarily worrying too much about what the government in Washington wanted.
But the exception to that was the very personal relationship between Lee Raymond, the chairman of ExxonMobil, and Dick Cheney, the vice president. They were friends and neighbors in Dallas before Cheney went to Washington. When Cheney ran Halliburton and Raymond ran ExxonMobil, they were business partners. But more important, they were hunting friends, and they came from a similar background in the Midwest, and they sort of saw the world--they had the same kind of outlook on the world. And so, when Cheney was in Washington, Raymond had his own channel to the U.S. government that was very efficient. He found lobbying at the State Department or going through the bureaucracy very frustrating, and he tried to stay away. And he could afford to stay away, because he had a one-call relationship with the Vice President, where they could exchange views about what was happening in the world. And on occasion, he asked Cheney to intervene to support ExxonMobil's, you know, oil deal making in the Middle East.
Deer with chronic wasting disease came from north, DNR says (7 May 2012)
A genetic test of a deer that tested positive for chronic wasting disease in northern Wisconsin - 186 miles from the closest known outbreak in the wild - shows the deer came from the north and not from an area where the deadly disease is currently found.
The state Department of Natural Resources said Monday that a lymph node from the female deer came from the same genetic stock tissue taken from other northern Wisconsin deer, including the Shell Lake area of Washburn County.
The DNR announced April 2 that a deer, a 3½-year-old doe from Washburn County that was shot last fall, had tested positive for the wildlife disease.
The genetic findings, the DNR says, means the deer did not inexplicably find its way to the north.
Tami Ryan, wildlife health section chief with the DNR, said it also confirmed there wasn't a mix-up at some point in the testing process - the deer wasn't a positive from southern Wisconsin, where the disease has been known to persist since 2002.
Mark Purdey's Organophosphate Model of Mad Cow Disease (FLASHBACK) (3 January 2003)
In the case of Wisconsin, Purdey's soil samples showed a natural high-manganese, low-copper content in the CWD/Mount Horeb area. Further evidence of high manganese soil can be seen underground a few miles from Mount Horeb, in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin. Cave of the Mounds has a number of purple and black formations which they'll tell you are colored by manganese leached from the soil above. In contrast, Kickapoo Indian Caverns in Western Wisconsin has no CWD in the area, and the cave has patches of blue-green copper-rich areas on its walls, indicating the copper-rich soil above.
If Purdey's theory is correct, organophosphate pesticides and herbicides are of particular interest to vegetarians. This would put vegetarians at risk for contracting a prion disease from foods treated with organophosphate pesticides and/or herbicides. Of particular interest are soy products, specifically Roundup-Ready soybeans.
Roundup-ready soy is a GMO (genetically modified organism, a/k/a "Franken-food") specifically developed to tolerate higher levels of Roundup herbicide. Farmers who grow Roundup-ready soy are required by contract to use Roundup herbicide on their soy fields. Roundup is in the glyphosate class of herbicides, a type of organophosphate. I drove to Mount Horeb, a small town only two hours away from my mother's home in Wisconsin, and asked some of the locals if soy is grown in the area. The answer was yes, but I really didn't have to ask -- I could see the soy fields myself. How much of that soy is Roundup-ready? I haven't been able to obtain this information specifically on Mount Horeb, but there is plenty of information verifying that Roundup-ready soy is commonly grown on Wisconsin farms.
"A lobby group that includes Bayer, Monsanto, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche and Schering-Plough was behind the effort to discredit Purdey... Purdey has been consistently denied even exploratory funding to extend his privately supported research. Yet the Purdey/Brown chemical poisoning model matches with the epidemiological spread of CJD clusters in humans. It also predicts the incidence of BSE-type diseases in animals. The accepted infectious model fits neither." (Fintan Dunne, "Insecticide Causes Mad Cow Disease")
Vaccine bombshell: Baby monkeys given standard doses of popular vaccines develop autism symptoms (6 May 2012)
For their analysis, Laura Hewitson and her colleagues at UP conducted the type of proper safety research on typical childhood vaccination schedules that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) should have conducted -- but never has -- for such regimens. And what this brave team discovered was groundbreaking, as it completely deconstructs the mainstream myth that vaccines are safe and pose no risk of autism.
Presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) in London, England, the findings revealed that young macaque monkeys given the typical CDC-recommended vaccination schedule from the 1990s, and in appropriate doses for the monkeys' sizes and ages, tended to develop autism symptoms. Their unvaccinated counterparts, on the other hand, developed no such symptoms, which points to a strong connection between vaccines and autism spectrum disorders.
Included in the mix were several vaccines containing the toxic additive Thimerosal, a mercury-based compound that has been phased out of some vaccines, but is still present in batch-size influenza vaccines and a few others. Also administered was the controversial measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, which has been linked time and time again to causing autism and various other serious, and often irreversible, health problems in children (http://www.greenhealthwatch.com)
"This research underscores the critical need for more investigation into immunizations, mercury, and the alterations seen in autistic children," said Lyn Redwood, director of SafeMinds, a public safety group working to expose the truth about vaccines and autism. "SafeMinds calls for large scale, unbiased studies that look at autism medical conditions and the effects of vaccines given as a regimen."
Colombian prostitute: Secret Service agents were 'stupid brutes' (7 May 2012)
After returning to his room and having "normal sex," she said the agent fell asleep and she could have stolen sensitive documents.
And the next morning the agent became "very angry" because she refused to stay longer and asked for her money. He gave her $50 and told her to leave.
When police got involved, other agents came up with about $250 and she left.
"I think it's fair they lost their jobs and can never have their badges again," Londono said.
"The way they approached us, it seems obvious that they were used to doing it because people that do this for the first time are very shy," she added. "I'm not to blame for being attractive, they are to blame for leaving their duty behind."
Zinc may cut common cold symptoms (7 May 2012)
A new Canadian review concludes that taking certain zinc products may help cut the duration of common cold symptoms such as a runny nose in an adult, but there remains "weak rationale" for recommending it as a treatment.
Researchers looked at 17 randomized controlled trials with 2,121 participants aged one to 65 to assess the safety of zinc lozenges and syrup for treating the common cold.
Colds are benign for most people, but can lead to substantial illness resulting in workplace absenteeism and lost productivity, said Dr. Michelle Science of the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and her team.
"We found moderate quality of evidence to suggest that orally administered zinc reduces the duration of symptoms of the common cold," Science and her co-authors from McMaster University in Hamilton concluded.
Ron Paul continues delegate offensive, wins big in Nevada, Maine (7 May 2012)
WASHINGTON -- Intent on taking his presidential campaign all the way to the GOP convention this summer, Texas Rep. Ron Paul has mounted an offensive in key caucus states, swiping would-be delegates from presumed nominee Mitt Romney in an effort to gain relevance in a race that is generally considered over.
While there does not appear to be a path for Paul to win the nomination -- or to halt Romney from gaining the delegates he would need to clinch it -- that isn't stopping the Texas congressman's fervent supporters, who see the state delegate selection processes as a do-over opportunity to load state delegations with Paul supporters who could give voice to his message at the convention.
The strategy appears to be working in some states. Paul's supporters were able to override the popular vote by working the arcane rules at state conventions in Nevada and Maine last weekend.
In Nevada, Paul supporters claimed 22 of the 25 delegate seats that the state will occupy at the national convention in Tampa. The other three delegates were automatically designated. Since Romney won 50% of the vote at the state's Feb. 4 caucuses -- Paul came in third with 19% -- 20 of the elected delegates will be bound to vote for Romney on the first round of balloting in Tampa. But they will be able to cheer for Paul and join others in disrupting what will otherwise be a highly scripted convention.
Don't call me an environmentalist (7 May 2012)
Over the past decade, the number of Americans who support the environmental movement has declined, with supporters increasingly split along partisan lines. On the other hand, most Americans strongly support developing clean energy, believe that global warming is an important issue, and regularly engage in behaviors that are good for the environment. At least that's what we've told the researchers.
Gallup recently found that 83 percent of Americans want more government support for clean energy. Yale and George Mason University researchers found [PDF] that 72 percent of Americans believe that global warming should be a government priority. And another Gallup poll found that three out of four Americans regularly engage in environmentally friendly behaviors.
Apparently, many Americans are aligned with the environmental movement's goals. We just don't align ourselves with the movement itself.
So what's wrong with the environmental movement? According to its more morose critics (who include a few of its former leaders), it's dead. In my mind, it just hasn't changed to fit the times.
Abbott to pay $1.6B to settle Depakote claims (7 May 2012)
Abbott Laboratories will pay $1.6 billion to settle federal and state claims that it improperly marketed the neurologic medication Depakote for off-label uses, the company said Monday.
Abbott will pay $800 million to resolve civil allegations split among federal and state governments, $700 million in criminal penalties and $100 million to states to resolve consumer protection matters, the North Chicago-based company said.
Abbott said in previous filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it had earmarked $1.5 billion for a potential settlement.
Shares of Abbott were up 30 cents, at $62.71, in mid-day trading.
My day doing everything the internet told me to (7 May 2012)
So, yes, I do want to read more like this. I click the link and am taken to a sign-up page for a $24, six-month subscription to Intelligent Life. I begin typing my name into the info boxes, but I am only at "Be ..." when it completes my details for me. And so, for the next six months, a copy of Intelligent Life will be delivered to my ex-girlfriend in the flat we used to share. Bad start.
I go to Amazon in search of reading material that knows where I live, but the first 10 items it suggests are all Lego Star Wars figures. First up is a miniature Sandtrooper. Amazon, it seems, has never got over the fact that I bought my nephew some Star Wars Lego for his sixth birthday last summer. I drop it in my basket, grit my teeth and within three clicks have handed over £12.99. I email my sister to show off my act of unprovoked generosity and Gmail tells me to "consider including" my mum and my other sister. So I do. Mum, a psychotherapist, emails back. She thinks if I do everything the internet tells me to, it will "probably do your head in".
My mobile hums at me as the confirmation email duly arrives. Two emails later, I see a recent arrival from a dating site I am on, offering people "to suit me". Match 1 likes chillout music, chick flicks, rugby and chocolate. Match 2 keeps her cards close to her chest, but is "spiritual, not religious". Match 3 is very pretty -- well played, the internet -- but, oh, describes her sense of humour as "goofy".
I start composing emails to them. I am on good form, listening to a tasteful playlist that Spotify has constructed for me by scraping my playlists for musical themes. This yields Fleetwood Mac, with a little bit of hip-hop and indie sprinkled in. I'm feeling cool and confident. "Hi! I'm Benji and I like Fleetwood Mac, how about you?" Send.
Parents aren't destined to be unhappy (6 May 2012)
SAN FRANCISCO (USA TODAY) -- Having kids may not make us miserable after all.
The conventional wisdom over the past few decades -- based on early research -- has said parents are less happy, more depressed and have less satisfying marriages than their childless counterparts.
But two new studies presented at the Population Association of America's annual meeting, which ended here Sunday, suggest that earlier findings may be flawed. The newer analyses use methods based on data from almost 130,000 adults around the globe, including more than 52,000 parents. Findings suggest parents today may indeed be happier than non-parents, and though parental happiness levels do drop, they don't dip below the levels they were before having children.
"We find no evidence that parental well-being decreases after a child is born to levels preceding the children, but we find strong evidence that well-being is elevated when people are planning and waiting for the child, and in the year when the child is born," notes the study, presented by co-author Mikko Myrskylä of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany.
Greek voters reject austerity, turn to radical parties of left and right (6 May 2012)
Governing parties backing EU-mandated austerity in Greece are on course for a major drubbing as hard-hit voters, venting their fury in elections, defected in droves, according to exit polls.
In a major upset that will not be welcomed by the crisis-plagued country's eurozone partners, the two forces that had agreed to enact unpopular belt-tightening in return for rescue funds appeared headed for a beating, with none being able to form a government.
After nearly 40 years of dominating the Greek political scene, the centre-right New Democracy and socialist Pasok saw support drop dramatically in favour of parties that had virulently opposed the tough austerity dictated by international creditors.
The latest figures showed New Democracy leading with between 19 -- 20.5% of the vote, followed by the radical leftist party, Syriza, with as much as 17% and socialist party Pasok with between 13 -- 14 %. And for the first time since the collapse of military rule, ultra-nationalists were also set to enter parliament with polls showing the neo-Nazi Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) capturing as much as 8%.
Burma's hardline VP resigns (6 May 2012)
The vice-president of Burma, a military hardliner who also served under the brutal regime of dictator Than Shwe, has stepped down from his post, according to news reports.
Tin Aung Myint Oo, 61, is said to have submitted his resignation May 3 for health reasons. Reuters says the Burmese branch of the Voice of America reported the resignation on Sunday but it could not confirm the news.
A former general, Tin Aung Myint Oo, was considered a guiding force among hardliners in the military-backed government that replaced the regime of Than Shwe a year ago. He had been a military advisor to Than Shwe.
News of the resignation comes on the heels of Wednesday's landmark swearing-in ceremony of pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi and fellow new parliamentarians after the April 1 byelections in Burma, also known as Myanmar.
Fear fans flames for chemical makers (6 May 2012)
People might be willing to accept the health risks if the flame retardants packed into sofas and easy chairs worked as promised. But they don't.
The chemical industry often points to a government study from the 1980s as proof that flame retardants save lives. But the study's lead author, Vytenis Babrauskas, said in an interview that the industry has grossly distorted his findings and that the amount of retardants used in household furniture doesn't work.
"The fire just laughs at it," he said.
Other government scientists subsequently found that the flame retardants in household furniture don't protect consumers from fire in any meaningful way.
What is happening to the world's vanilla trade? (5 May 2012)
Is the world losing its taste for real vanilla?
Poor weather in Mexico and India and the emergence of natural and synthetic vanilla substitutes are creating an uncertain outlook for one of the world's oldest spices.
Vanilla is still one of the most highly sought after commodities in the world, with Madagascar responsible for 70 to 80 per cent of the world's crop, while smaller crops come from countries like Mexico, India and Indonesia.
But any civil unrest in Madagascar -- as seen with the country's 2009 coup d'état --could spell disaster for the vanilla trade.
As well, poor weather conditions in Mexico, India and Indonesia are decreasing the quality of the world's crop.
Keep off beaches, Peru warns after pelican deaths (5 May 2012)
At least 1,200 birds, mostly pelicans, washed up dead along a stretch of Peru's northern Pacific coastline in recent weeks, health officials said, after an estimated 800 dolphins died in the same area in recent months.
The Health Ministry recommended staying away from beaches, although it stopped short of a ban, and called on health officials to use gloves, masks and other protective gear when collecting dead birds.
The peak tourism season around Lima's beaches is over, although many surfers are still venturing into the waters near the capital.
The Agriculture Ministry said preliminary tests on some dead pelicans pointed to malnourishment. Oscar Dominguez, head of the ministry's health department, said experts had ruled out bird flu.
Crop yields are only part of the organic vs. conventional farming debate (3 May 2012)
But environmentalists discussing conventional agriculture should also remember several key themes.
Not all productive technology improves the environment. Many technologies used in conventional agriculture are designed to save labor, not to save land. In Walsh's quote above, huge mechanized combines elevate the number of people fed per American farmer, but they make little difference to yields per unit of land (the key environmental issue addressed by the Nature study). From one sentence to the next, Walsh conflates food per American farmer with efficiency "on a simple land to food basis."
Yield is not the same as efficiency. Organic agriculture commonly requires a trade-off, giving up some yield and undertaking some additional labor and management cost in order to gain something of value for the producer and for the environment. Advocates for organic agriculture say the trade-off is efficient -- getting the most output for the lowest resource cost when all environmental costs are accounted. Walsh's first sentence boasts of the "efficiency" of industrial agriculture, but the following argument fails to support the boast.
Producing more grain is not the same as feeding the world. Any time the high yields of U.S. corn production are mentioned, it should be noted that most U.S. corn goes to ethanol and animal feed. Walsh seems to think that Iowa corn farmers do well at feeding the most people possible for the least land, which is false. If the goal is to feed the world, then most of the calories produced in Iowa corn fields are squandered already, and this loss matters more than the organic yield penalty matters.
The Dinosaurs' Nemeses: Giant, Jurassic Fleas (6 May 2012)
Fossil-hunting scientists are coming to grips with a new discovery that could change forever how we think of dinosaurs. What they've found is that dinosaurs may well have been tortured by large, flealike bloodsucking insects.
Yes, it appears that the greatest predators that ever roamed Earth suffered just as we mammals did -- and as we still do. Fleas were thought to have evolved along with mammals -- they like our soft skins and a diet of warm blood.
But now scientists in China have discovered Pseudopulex jurassicus and its equally tyrannical cousin, Pseudopulex magnus -- magnus as in "great."
Indeed, they were big -- several times as big as current fleas -- and equipped to feed. "They have this large beak," says zoologist George Poinar Jr. "Oh, it looks horrible. It looks like a syringe when you go to the doctor to get a shot or something."
Alameda Navy base now a much-sought wildlife Eden (6 May 2012)
California least terns are small and endangered, but they're not afraid of mayhem. After all, they nest on airport runways.
But in Alameda, the brave little birds have brought chaos to a whole new level. No fewer than five public agencies are haggling over the birds and the thriving habitat that has sprung up around them, in a fight that's likely to reshape several hundred acres of the Bay Area's most picturesque real estate.
"These birds migrate thousands of miles every year, but they always choose to come back to Alameda. They're ours," said Leora Feeney, an Alameda resident and retired biologist who has spent more than 20 years monitoring the terns. "Now we need to show them that Alameda knows how to take care of them."
The terns spend every spring and summer mating and raising babies on the old runway at the Naval Air Station. They've been there since at least the early 1970s, seemingly oblivious to the monstrous warplanes thundering by just a few feet away.
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Sources (if found on major news boards):
[AJ] - InfoWars.com, PrisonPlanet.com, or other Alex Jones-affiliated sites
[BF] - BuzzFlash.com
[DN] - DemocracyNow.org
[R] - Rense.com
[WRH] - WhatReallyHappened.com