Pam Rotella's Vegetarian FUN page -- News on health, nutrition, the environment, politics, and more!
NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012
News from the Week of 13th to 19th of May 2012
Milwaukee's newspaper promotes misleading claim that Republican governor's recall is based on one issue (19 May 2012)
Whether any amount of explaining would have made a difference is questionable considering the breadth of Walker's vision. We think his limits on collective bargaining went too far. We think Republicans generally took an unfortunate sharp turn to the right on social issues. That led to bills in the Legislature promoting abstinence-only education, limiting women's health options and creating a concealed-carry law with insufficient training requirements.
At the same time, legislators couldn't build consensus on far more important legislation, including a bill to allow additional mining in northern Wisconsin and another to create a pool of funds for promising start-up companies. Both bills were casualties of legislative arrogance by the party Walker leads.
Walker came to office promising that 250,000 new private-sector jobs would be created on his watch. But even considering the more favorable statistics released by the Walker administration last week, job creation has been sluggish.
There are several possible reasons for this: 1) Walker overpromised, forgetting that there is only so much that any one politician can do to promote private-sector job growth; 2) the political turmoil in the state is inhibiting job creation (Walker's argument); or 3) Walker's policies are killing job growth (Democrats' argument).
PAM COMMENTARY: Collective bargaining rights were only one of many Republican extremist pieces of legislation that energized the recall base, including attacks on voters, labor, educators, women, the poor, the injured, and pretty much every group other than out-of-state billionaires. To say it's a one issue recall is a complete fabrication by the Journal, very iffy journalism. Walker had the chance to work on jobs as he promised, but instead chose to spend his time and the state's money on harming working people.
Virginia's governor tries to rescue new Voter ID law from likely rejection by Feds (19 May 2012)
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) on Friday issued an executive order requiring the State Board of Elections to issue voter cards to every eligible Virginian voter.
Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin have all passed laws requiring voters to present a government-issued photo identification before casting a ballot. The voter ID laws have recently come under fire from civil rights groups and Democrats, who claim the laws make it harder for poor and minority voters to cast a ballot.
McDonnell said the executive order would "ensure that no voter is overly burdened" by Virginia's voter ID law.
PAM COMMENTARY: He's just trying to kiss up to the Feds, because it's unlikely that they'll approve the commonwealth's Voter ID law -- it's a violation of the Voting Rights Act. Even Wisconsin's new Voter ID law (passed under the same Walker administration facing the recall election, of course) is blocked by a court order during the recall election -- judges said that lawsuits against it are likely to succeed.
Donna Summer: 9/11 Gave Me Cancer (19 May 2012)
Donna Summer was convinced -- inhaling toxic air after 9/11 gave her the lung cancer that eventually killed her ... TMZ has learned.
Sources close to the singer tell TMZ what we were hearing this morning -- that Donna was in New York City during 9/11, living at an apartment near Ground Zero.
Donna became almost paranoid about breathing the air, which was heavy with a rancid odor.
In the months and years following 9/11, Donna's feelings intensified. One source tells us when he was around Donna, she would constantly spray some sort of disinfectant in the air. Deney Terrio, the host of "Dance Fever," tells us ... when he was around Donna post 9/11, she would hang silk sheets in her dressing room to prevent dust from coming in.
PAM COMMENTARY: Her friends may have thought that she was being paranoid, but it's very possible that her lungs were sensitive to dust after the initial injury -- caused by the same asbestos-laden toxic air mix that killed so many 9/11 first responders. Her dust avoidance also could have been some form of PTSD -- perhaps dust triggered the memory of feeling ill.
I don't question her belief that 9/11 gave her cancer -- people are much more likely to get cancer when asbestos exposure is combined with cigarette smoke (although CNN reported that she was NOT a smoker, and so the exposure would have been in clubs and public places). If she felt her health suddenly deteriorate after 9/11, that would be a good reason to think that that 9/11 was responsible.
Obama, other G-8 leaders push economic growth over austerity (19 May 2012)
CAMP DAVID, Md. -- President Obama and leaders of the world's other leading economies Saturday embraced a policy of growth over austerity in Europe as they met on the cloistered grounds of Camp David to talk about fending off a spread of the Eurozone crisis.
The leaders agreed that the region should still work to bring down deficits through fiscal consolidation and that each country must decide for itself the best mix for promoting economic recovery.
In a group statement they put together during a round-table session in the morning, they said they hope Greece will remain part of the Eurozone as it climbs its way out of a crippling sovereign debt crisis.
They also signaled that they may find it necessary to tap the world's strategic oil reserves in the coming months to keep oil flowing during an Iranian embargo.
Historic Facebook debut falls flat (18 May 2012)
(Reuters) - The historic initial public offering of Facebook Inc did not go as planned on Friday, as the social networking company's sky-high valuation combined with trading glitches left the stock languishing near its offering price at the market close.
Facebook shares began trading late Friday morning and opened 11 percent above the $38 offering price, but after peaking at about $45 slid rapidly at the end of the day to close at $38.23. The IPO was the third-largest in U.S. history and valued eight-year-old Facebook at $104 billion.
The surprisingly weak debut of a stock that analysts had predicted would climb between 10 and 50 percent is not likely to dent the business prospects of Facebook, which boasts 900 million users and is upending business practices and social relationships around the world.
But the unexpected developments were a clear setback for Morgan Stanley, the lead underwriter on the deal, which sources said was forced to defend the $38 price level by buying shares on the open market. Many market participants said they expected the stock to remain under pressure next week.
Global warming makes syrup taste gross (18 May 2012)
We've known for a while that climate change will threaten supplies of our favorite foods, like wine and bourbon. (Oh, and bacon, coffee, chocolate, oysters, and pecan pie.) But the optimists among us took this news with good humor. "Oh sure, our favorite foods and intoxicants might be a little scarcer," these imaginary chirpy little shits said, "but that will make every mouthful more precious." Well, not when it comes to maple syrup, sucker! Climate change isn't just making it scarcer -- it's making it taste way worse.
The mild winter played hell with maple syrup production, and a lot of what was produced is only good for off-the-table uses like flavoring chewing tobacco. U.S. production dropped from 30 million pounds of syrup to 18 million pounds of yucky goo.
"You take 80 degrees in March by golly it don't help nothing," said Alfred Carrier, a sugarmaker in Glover, Vt. "We had quite a lot of off-flavored syrup. I don't think you'd want to put it on a pancake."
You said it, Alfred. By golly.
Donations to Scott Walker Flagged as Potential Fraud (18 May 2012)
When MaryAnn Nellis tried to pay for groceries on April 14, her credit card was declined. Later, she said, she found out why: Her credit card company, Capital One, had flagged an earlier purchase as potentially fraudulent. The problem? A $5 donation to Friends of Scott Walker , the Wisconsin governor's campaign committee, Nellis said.
Nellis told a Capital One representative she had not made the donation to Walker, who is fighting an effort to recall him as governor in a closely watched, expensive election set for June 5.
"Over my dead body," said Nellis, a potter and retired teacher in upstate New York who describes herself as "adamantly angry and upset" at Republicans such as Walker. Nellis disputed the charge and she was issued a new card.
Though the amount of money was small, ProPublica decided Nellis' complaint was worth following up. There have been other reports recently about insecure campaign-donation websites and the potential for fraud. Earlier this month, The Washington Times reported that Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting Republican Mitt Romney, was using a collection system that made online donors' credit card information  accessible to even amateur snoopers.
PAM COMMENTARY: That's really odd, because they wouldn't have targeted his campaign site specifically unless they'd found evidence that his site was the problem and not just one person's account being hacked.
But Walker gets big bucks from out-of-state, right-wing-nuts like the Koch brothers. He doesn't need to steal five bucks from people here and there, although one of his former aides was put in jail for stealing from a Veterans fund years ago. Maybe it's another one of his "people"...
Timing of Wisconsin's recall election not good for the student vote (18 May 2012)
On a warm, sun-splashed evening during final exams week, senior Matt Hochhauser knocks on doors on UW-Madison's fraternity row.
His mission: To get students who are preoccupied with studying and summer plans to think about an election that is just weeks away.
"It's very difficult because we have such a short amount of time to get people to vote," said the English and history major from Long Island, N.Y., who was canvassing Langdon Street for the Democratic Party on Monday night.
The timing of Wisconsin's historic gubernatorial recall election couldn't be worse for college students. Many will leave campus for the summer after exams end this week or graduation this weekend.
Experts say the June 5 election between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Tom Barrett could result in lower turnout for a population that already votes in small numbers.
PAM COMMENTARY: Maybe his time would be better spent looking for local students. There are still plenty of state residents who commute to the UW campuses, and they can vote in the big recall election after they return to their homes in the state. In Wisconsin, voters can register or change their addresses right at the polls before they vote, and there's a court injunction against the recent Republican "Voter ID Act," so ID requirements aren't very hard to meet.
Facebook users file class action lawsuit over online tracking (18 May 2012)
Facebook's first day of trading following its $100bn flotation has been gate-crashed by a $15bn class action against the social network.
Users of the service have filed an "amended consolidated class action complaint" in federal court in San Jose, California, relating to allegations that Facebook has been "improperly tracking the internet use of its members even after they logged out of their accounts".
The class action is being brought by law firms Stewarts Law US and Bartimus, Frickleton, Robertson & Gorny.
David Straite, a partner at Stewarts Law, said: "This is not just a damages action, but a ground-breaking digital privacy rights case that could have wide and significant legal and business implications."
Charges recommended in whooping crane shooting (18 May 2012)
VINCENNES, Ind. (AP) - State and federal officials are recommending charges against two southwestern Indiana men in the killing of an endangered whooping crane.
The whooping crane was found fatally shot in January in Knox County. The male bird was part of a nesting pair of cranes taught their migratory path by following ultra-light aircraft.
Indiana conservation officers and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service agents found evidence the crane was killed at night with a high-powered rifle guided by a spotlight. Prosecutors are reviewing their recommendations that two men be charged in the killing.
Whooping cranes are North America's largest birds, standing over 5 feet tall. Their numbers dwindled to only 15 birds in 1941, but conservation efforts have boosted their numbers to about 600 birds.
Denmark aims low with green energy policy (17 May 2012)
(Reuters) - Over a beer or two, Danes like to tell a story that goes like this: One night the energy ministers of the countries around the North Sea got together to divide up its oil and gas wealth. The Danish minister got very drunk, but the Norwegian managed to stay sober. As a result, Norway carved out a jagged shape that included Ekofisk, which has proved to be a major field, and Denmark was left with the dregs.
Regarded as a model of how to spend oil and gas wealth wisely, Norway has stashed away surplus revenues from exports while hydropower caters for the bulk of its domestic electricity needs.
But Denmark has also found its own path to energy pragmatism, supplementing its relatively few oil rigs with wind turbines and a deep commitment to energy saving.
As awareness has grown, cities like Copenhagen and some of the nation's hundreds of islands are vying for the accolade of "zero carbon" while Danes from across the social spectrum can tell you how much energy they use to the kilowatt.
Keeping up with the Joneses - or in this case Christensens - is all about using less fuel and having better solar panels.
Chinese communist leaders denounce U.S. values but send children to U.S. colleges (18 May 2012)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- When scholars gathered at Harvard last month to discuss the political tumult convulsing China's ruling Communist Party, a demure female undergraduate with a direct stake in the outcome was listening intently from the top row of the lecture hall. She was the daughter of Xi Jinping, China's vice president and heir apparent for the party's top job.
Xi's daughter, Xi Mingze, enrolled at Harvard University in 2010, under what people who know her there say was a fake name, joining a long line of Chinese "princelings," as the offspring of senior party officials are known, who have come to the United States to study.
In some ways, the rush to U.S. campuses by the party's "red nobility" simply reflects China's national infatuation with American education. China has more students at U.S. colleges than in any other foreign country. They numbered 157,558 in the 2010-11 academic year, according to data compiled by the Institute of International Education -- up nearly fourfold in 15 years.
But the kin of senior party officials are a special case: They rarely attend state schools but congregate instead at top-tier -- and very expensive -- private colleges, a stark rejection of the egalitarian ideals that brought the Communist Party to power in 1949. Of the nine members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the supreme decision-making body of a Communist Party steeped in anti-American rhetoric, at least five have children or grandchildren who have studied or are studying in the United States.
Helping to foster growing perceptions that the party is corrupt is a big, unanswered question raised by the foreign studies of its leaders' children: Who pays their bills? Harvard, which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition and living expenses over four years, refuses to discuss the funding or admission of individual students.
PAM COMMENTARY: The Chinese have been in American universities for a long time, even before the rise of Wal-Mart. In the 80s when I went to UW-Milwaukee, most of the Teaching Assistants (TAs) in the Physics Department were Chinese. Problem was, they didn't speak English very well, and so too many students would show up at the office of the lonely American TA, asking him for help with their assignments. Problem is, he only had so much time in the day, and couldn't be the one TA for all of the physics students at the university. He was a friend of a friend, and that mutual friend brought him among others to my apartment in River West one evening, where I heard all about it.
Jobs reports take forefront of Barrett-Walker recall race (17 May 2012)
Tom Barrett sought to regain the offensive in the recall race Thursday as Gov. Scott Walker faced another month of disappointing jobs numbers.
But unlike past jobs reports, much of the debate on this one centered not on the two candidates' records on jobs - or their plans to increase them - but on the right way to count the number that has been gained or lost in Wisconsin.
Monthly jobs data gathered from a small survey of businesses in the state showed Wisconsin lost 6,200 private-sector jobs in April - a report that would normally provide a heady boost to a challenger in a governor's race.
Barrett, the Milwaukee mayor and Democrat, sought to use Thursday's numbers to move up from behind in the gubernatorial recall election polls and press an argument that has been getting traction in public surveys - that the state's jobs picture is getting worse.
U.S. orders tariffs on Chinese solar panels (18 May 2012)
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration ordered tariffs of 31% and higher on solar panels imported from China, escalating a simmering trade dispute with China over a case that has sharply divided American interests in the growing clean-energy industry.
The Commerce Department announced the stiff duties Thursday after making a preliminary finding that Chinese solar panel manufacturers "dumped" their goods -- that is, sold them at below fair-market value.
The widely anticipated ruling, if affirmed by U.S. trade officials this fall, is expected to have significant implications for both the global production of solar cells, now largely in China, and the growth of the solar energy industry in the U.S., which employs about 100,000 people in manufacturing, installation and services.
More than 60 Chinese firms, includingSuntech Power Holdings Co., the world's largest solar panel maker, and Trina Solar Ltd., face a 31% duty on their exports to the U.S., retroactive to shipments made in February. All other Chinese exporters of solar cells will be hit with a tariff of 250%.
Hewlett-Packard to axe up to 30,000 jobs (18 May 2012)
Hewlett-Packard is planning to cut as many as 30,000 jobs, in one of the world's biggest redundancy programmes in recent years.
The computer and software company, which employs 324,600 people worldwide, is expected to announce it is cutting 8% of its workforce when it updates shareholders on its latest financial results on Wednesday.
The cuts come as HP's new chief executive, Meg Whitman, gets to grips with the company's recent fall from grace as consumers ditch bulky PCs in favour of tablets, such as Apple's iPad. Analyst say it has also failed to keep pace with the switch to cloud computing.
HP has suffered from a lack of clear leadership, with two chief executives forced out in the last two years.
Race is on to save Tasmanian devil down under (17 May 2012)
It's been hundreds of years since the Tasmanian devil last lived on the Australian mainland but, in the misty hills of Barrington Tops, a pioneering group is being bred for survival.
Rat-like in appearance but with a marsupial pouch and carnivorous jaws that can crack bone, Tasmanian devils are an enigmatic Australian species.
They are reclusive creatures who sleep by day and forage by night, and are best known for the guttural cries which saw the early British settlers call them "devils" and inspired a Warner Bros. cartoon character.
But the burrowing, tree-climbing animals are in a battle for survival against an aggressive and contagious facial cancer which experts fear could see them become extinct in the wild in as little as five years.
Mysterious illness strikes hundreds of flight attendants, causes rashes and hair loss - 'toxic uniforms' or Fukushima? (16 May 2012)
(NaturalNews) Hundreds of Alaska Airlines flight attendants have filed a formal complaint about uniforms they suspect might be causing their skin to rash and develop lesions, and their hair to fall out. But based on the timing of the symptoms and their relation to similar symptoms in local marine life and polar bear populations, it appears as though radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster may also be a potential culprit.
KING 5 News in Seattle, Wash., first broke the news about the "mystery illness" that has reportedly affected at least 280 flight attendants thus far. According to accounts, those afflicted by the condition say they have developed persistently itchy skin, skin lesions, and hair loss, all of which they suspect may have to do with newer flight uniforms that allegedly contain tributyl phosphate, a toxic organophosphorus compound linked to skin problems (http://www.rightdiagnosis.com).
But not everyone is convinced that the uniforms are to blame, including Alexander Higgins who recently connected the dots to discover a potential link to the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. After comparing the flight attendants' symptoms to those reported on polar bears and marine life from the northwest U.S. throughout the past year, the timing and correlation of the two is highly suspect.
Are Alaska Airlines flight attendants suffering the effects of nuclear radiation fallout?
Back in April, AlaskaPublic.org reported that an alarming number of polar bears living in the Beaufort Sea, which is located just north of Alaska and Canada's Yukon and Northwest Territories, were turning up with skin lesions and Alopecia, which is another name for hair loss. And before the polar bears, it was apparently ice seals and walruses living in the arctic that were suffering similar symptoms (http://www.alaskapublic.org).
No tears as Ga. woman sees bacteria-ravaged hands (16 May 2012)
Copeland's father said she was still unaware of plans to amputate her fingers, an emotional disclosure that will likely require a counselor's help.
"We don't know if she's aware of her (amputated) leg yet," he said. "We're in a don't ask, don't tell policy."
The flesh-eating bacteria, Aeromonas hydrophila, emit toxins that cut off blood flow to parts of the body. The affliction can destroy muscle, fat and skin tissue.
Copeland contracted the infection days after she suffered the deep cut May 1 when the zip line snapped over rocks in the Little Tallapoosa River near the University of West Georgia, where she studies psychology.
PAM COMMENTARY: Has anyone ever tried a zapper on that strain?
Masked student protesters storm Montreal classrooms (16 May 2012)
Administrators at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQÀM) are suspending classes in the undergraduate law program, after an attempt to resume classes Wednesday morning ended in chaos.
Hundreds of protesters, many of them masked, stormed the downtown university's buildings around 9:30 a.m. ET, just as undergraduate law students with a court injunction were set to resume their courses.
The mayhem ended with classes being cancelled for the day.
Administrators later decided to suspend classes in the BA law program until Friday, inclusively, "out of prevention and security" concerns, said UQÀM media relations director Jenny Desrochers.
Watchdog blasts 'excessive' policing at G20 Toronto summit (16 May 2012)
OTTAWA -- Canadian police used "excessive force," ignored civil rights and made "unlawful" mass arrests in cracking down on unruly protests at a G20 summit in Toronto two years ago, a watchdog said Wednesday.
Gerry McNeilly, head of the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, in a scathing 300-page report blamed poor planning for widespread breaches of civil liberties at the back-to-back June 25-27, 2010 summits of the Group of Eight and G20 nations in the Toronto region.
Authorities had been extra vigilant ahead of summits, with some 20,000 policemen from across Canada securing summit sites in Toronto and Huntsville, north of the metropolis.
But once it began, things quickly spun out of control in the streets as leaders of the world's top economies gathered in Toronto.
As NATO Meets in Chicago, Bill Ayers & Bernardine Dohrn Condemn "Militarized Arm of the 1 Percent" (16 May 2012) [DN]
BERNARDINE DOHRN: Good morning, Amy.
We're deeply involved because NATO is a global secret cabal. It is the military arm of the global 1 percent. And really, I think NATO has become background to how we hear the news: "NATO forces, NATO bombings." And when you try to find out what NATO is, you realize that it is the largest global military alliance in human history and that its key elements are that it is about permanent war, it is about dirty war, it is about nuclear war, and it is about hot wars--really four of them right now. So we don't really know what it is. They are secretive. And when I first went to look at a NATO website to see what it was, a dove floats across the screen on the first page of the official NATO website. By the end of the NATO website, it's helicopters, fighter planes and drones. So, we, I think, are not made safer by NATO. It is secretive. And it is opposed to peace and to our future.
So, a wide array of Chicagoans have come together in a coalition, meeting really for nine months, to stand up and ask for peace, to really say, "We don't need NATO. We need an end to the war in Afghanistan. We need a complete end to the war in Iraq. We need to rethink what just happened in Libya and what's going on every day in Pakistan." So there's an array of events happening, beginning with a National Nurses Association rally, a permitted rally on Friday. I think the support of unions and workers, the support of African-American activists in the city and Latino and immigrant groups, a wide array of women's and activist groups and Occupy and students, and, in a way, most importantly, the Iraqi and Afghan vets against the war, who will be leading the big demonstration on Sunday when NATO opens its meeting here.
Facebook IPO: analysts warn investors away as more shares hit the market (16 May 2012)
Analysts have warned small investors to steer clear of the $100bn Facebook sale after some of the social network's biggest shareholders ramped up the number of shares they intend to offload.
The size of Facebook's stock exchange listing ballooned by a quarter after Goldman Sachs and other backers decided to cash in on the demand for the shares by increasing the amount of stock they plan to sell in the public offering on Friday.
Goldman announced it would sell 29m shares, more than double its previous 13m ceiling. Peter Thiel, legendary Silicon Valley investor who was one of the firm's first big backers, will sell 17m shares, up from 8m.
Hedge fund Tiger Global, run by 36-year-old New Yorker Chase Coleman, increased its selloff from 3m to 23m shares. DST Group, which represents Russian investors such as Yuri Milner, will now offload a quarter of its holding.
"People who invested early have done very, very well out of Facebook," said Sam Hamadeh, chief executive of PrivCo, a private company analyst in the US. But at $100bn, he thinks it is overvalued. "You can still believe in social media without buying into Facebook at this price. This company has been priced for perfection and then some. It's going to be very difficult for them to live up to that."
House bill aims to curb Pentagon's power to buy alternative fuels (16 May 2012)
The White House is threatening to veto a defense spending bill after complaining that the measure would limit the military's ability to power its planes, ships and tanks with alternative fuels.
At issue are provisions in the defense spending bill set to be debated by the House of Representatives this week that take aim at the Pentagon's use of alternative fuels.
The measure would block the military from buying alternative fuels that cost more than their conventional counterparts.
A separate provision would waive a 2007 ban on the government buying alternative or synthetic transportation fuels that would produce more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional petroleum-based options (when measured over their entire life cycle, from production to combustion).
Scientists study oil's impact on birds (15 May 2012)
It's hard to say if the birds that are breeding on barrier islands in Louisiana now are birds that experienced the Gulf spill because there aren't good numbers of bird populations across the Gulf Coast, Driscoll said. Birds who were here during the spill could have recovered and are now happily nesting, or birds from Texas and other neighboring states could have taken their place.
Beaches preferred by birds are also still seeing heavy amounts of tar balls washing up, and some oil remains below the surface, Driscoll said. Marshes are still oiled, and that oil can reliquify in the warm weather and contaminate the environment.
About 200 miles of shoreline remains oiled in Louisiana.
In addition, it can be hard to tell if Louisiana bird populations that are being monitored have dropped because of the spill or coastal erosion, Nicholls State University Biology Professor Aaron Pierce said.
Conservationists knocking on wood that birds thrive (15 May 2012)
Pink, featherless and just 4 days old, the newest addition to a wildlife recovery experiment here in the pine woods of Virginia was definitely not ready for the media on Monday.
The baby red-cockaded woodpecker, still blind and barely able to lift its head, seemed more ready for a nap or another snack of ants and tree roaches.
But the chick played along and posed for the cameras, sitting up and letting its swollen belly sag in the hand of a scientist who had just retrieved the newborn from its nest some 35 feet up a nearby pine tree.
"At this stage, they look almost prehistoric," said Bryan Watts, the retrieving scientist, who also is director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William & Mary. "But they change pretty quick. Give it a few days."
Export-Import Bank reauthorized by Senate (15 May 2012)
Tuesday's bill was the rarest of breeds: a lasting compromise on an issue of substance. It renewed the charter of what is commonly referred to as the Ex-Im bank for three years and will over that time raise the cap on the total financing the bank can guarantee from $100 billion to $140 billion.
The House agreed to the same measure by a similarly broad 330-to-93 vote last week.
Depending who you talk to, the fact that it was the Ex-Im bank that provided the opportunity for election year cooperation was a sign either that occasional bouts of bipartisanship are still possible in Washington -- or a symbol of the enduring power of corporate influence over both parties.
The measure was approved over the objections of some tea party conservatives who argued that the bank distorts the global marketplace and that propping up U.S. exporters is an improper role for government. But the measure had the backing of business and labor groups.
Over 55 and jobless, Americans face tough hunt
(15 May 2012)
The number of long-term unemployed workers aged 55 and older has more than doubled since the recession began in late 2007, and getting back to work is increasingly difficult, according to a government report being released on Tuesday.
For unemployed seniors, the chances of reentering the workforce are grim.
Experts worry that unemployed seniors face a long-term threat as the impact of lost wages compounds.
In what should there be prime earning years, these older workers rely on savings, miss out on potential wages and prematurely tap into Social Security - all at a time when Americans live longer and health care and other living costs are rising.
Pickering nuclear units among the most expensive, least reliable in the world (15 May 2012)
The economic performance of Ontario Power Generation's Pickering nuclear stations is among the worst in the world, says a report prepared for the Ontario Energy Board.
Not only is it the most expensive to operate, it lags at the far end of the pack in terms of reliability, with some units shut down almost 40 per cent of the time.
The report recommends an incentive system that would base OPG's payments for nuclear power on future improvements.
But the company says it is well aware of the benchmarks used in the energy board report, and is already taking steps to improve performance.
Wisconsin Dems furious with DNC for refusing to invest big money in Walker recall (14 May 2012)
Top Wisconsin Democrats are furious with the national party -- and the Democratic National Committee in particular -- for refusing their request for a major investment in the battle to recall Scott Walker, I'm told.
The failure to put up the money Wisconsin Dems need to execute their recall plan comes at a time when the national Republican Party is sinking big money into defending Walker, raising fears that the DNC's reluctance could help tip the race his way.
"We are frustrated by the lack of support from the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Governors Association," a top Wisconsin Democratic Party official tells me. "Scott Walker has the full support and backing of the Republican Party and all its tentacles. We are not getting similar support."
"Considering that Scott Walker has already spent $30 million and we're even in the polls, this is a winnable race," the Wisconsin Dem continues. "We can get outspent two to one or five to one. We can't get spent 20 to one."
According to the Wisconsin Dem, the party has asked the DNC for $500,000 to help with its massive field operation. While the DNC has made generally supportive noises, the money has not been forthcoming, the official says -- with less than a month until the June 5th recall election. The DNC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Big Pharma wants you hooked on these six pharmaceuticals for life (14 May 2012)
(NaturalNews) It is a known fact that the drug industry makes a whole lot more money on pharmaceuticals that patients must take perpetually for chronic conditions, rather than on those they take occasionally for isolated illnesses. This is why Big Pharma has worked hard over the years to get as many people as possible hooked on drugs that must essentially be taken for life, including six classes of drugs in particular that you or someone you know is probably already taking.
Ever since direct-to-consumer drug advertising became commonplace on television, in magazines and even on billboards starting in the 1990s, more Americans than ever become convinced that they have some novel new disease that requires ongoing treatment with medication. And these conditions include things like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, asthma, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) and many others.
But many of these conditions have essentially been made up, or at least grossly overblown, for the purpose of selling new drugs. Individuals are made to feel as though they must take a drug for the rest of their lives in order to mitigate the symptoms of these new and novel conditions. And the consequence of this has been a massive upswing in the number of pharmaceutical drug addicts in America today, conveniently making Big Pharma very rich in the process.
The big three - behavioral drugs, statins, and antidepressants
Writing for AlterNet.org, Martha Rosenberg recently outlined six types of drugs that drug companies hope you and your family will get suckered into taking for the rest of your lives. And rounding out the top three, though not in this particular order in Rosenberg's piece, are behavioral drugs, statin drugs and antidepressants.
Toxic substances of everyday life reach Columbia River, study finds (14 May 2012)
A federal study has found more than 100 toxic substances from everyday life are making their way through wastewater-treatment plants into the Columbia River.
"In the past, people thought of pollution in the river in terms of smokestack industry on the river or dirty pipes," said Jennifer Morace, a U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist who was lead investigator. "This links it back to what we do in our everyday lives, what goes down the drain and to the wastewater-treatment plant, and the fact they were not designed to remove the new or emerging contaminants."
The study, released last week, looked at discharges from water-treatment plants in nine cities, from Wenatchee downstream to Longview. They included Richland and Vancouver in Washington and Umatilla, The Dalles, Hood River, Portland and St. Helens in Oregon.
A total of 112 toxic materials were found, 53 percent of those that were tested for, including flame retardants, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, personal-care products, mercury and cleaning products.
All nine sites showed the compound diphenhydramine, a component of Benadryl and Tylenol PM that makes people drowsy, and carbamazepine, a compound found in mood stabilizers, Morace said.
Chomsky: Occupy Wall Street "Has Created Something That Didn't Really Exist" in U.S. -- Solidarity (14 May 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: And yet, it's under President Obama, or you might say because of President Obama, that the Occupy movement has blossomed in this country. Talk about the significance of Occupy.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, the Occupy movement is--it was a big surprise. You know, if anybody asked me a year ago, "Is this possible?" I would have said, "It's crazy. Don't even try." But it lit a spark, took off. There are now Occupy movements in thousands of American cities, spread overseas. I was in Australia recently, went to the Occupy movement in Sydney, in Melbourne. There's one in Hong Kong. You know, everywhere. And there are parallel movements in Europe.
It's the first--and it's very significant, I think. Already in--it's only been around for a couple of months, so, you know, you can't talk about huge achievements. But there are two kinds of the achievements which I think are--have already had an effect that probably is permanent, but anyway significant. One is, they just changed the national discourse. So, issues that had been, you know, marginalized--they're familiar, but you didn't talk about them--like inequality, shredding of the democratic process, you know, financial corruption, environmental issues, all these things, they became--they moved to the center of discussion. In fact, you can even see it from the imagery that's used. You read about the 99 percent and the 1 percent in the considerable press of the business press. That's just changed the way lots of people are looking at things. In fact, the polls show that concern over inequality among the general public rose pretty sharply after the Occupy movement started, very probably as a consequence. And there are other policy issues that came to the fore, which are significant.
The other aspect, which in my estimation may be more significant, is that the Occupy movement spontaneously created something that doesn't really exist in the country: communities of mutual support, cooperation, open spaces for discussion. They just developed a health system, a library, a common kitchen--just people doing things and helping each other. That's very much missing. There is a massive propaganda--it's been going on for a century, but picking up enormously--that you really shouldn't care about anyone else, you should just care about yourself. You pay attention to yourself; we don't want anything else. You take a look at the attitudes among young people, that's--it's polled, it's studied. It's remarkably high. So, there was just a study that came out from the Harvard Public Policy Institute, found that--pretty scary results, I thought. Less than--this is kids 18 to 24, you know, college students, basically. Less than half of them think that the government has a responsibility to deal with things like healthcare or food, and so on. When they say the government doesn't have a responsibility, that's kind of an interesting concept. If people thought they were living in a democracy, they would say--they would ask the question whether it's a public responsibility. But again, the propaganda system is designed to make you feel that the government is some alien force, and it's against you. You know, you want to keep it away from your affairs.
In a democratic society, it would be quite different. Like, you can see it on April 15th. And a good measure of the extent to which a democratic system is functioning is how people feel about taxes. If you had a functioning democratic society, April 15th would be a day of celebration. It's the day on which we get together and fund the policies that we've decided on and that we've gotten our representatives to approve of. It's not what it is here. It's a day of mourning, because this alien force is coming to steal things from you. Well, that's the kind of thing that the Occupy movement began to break. It said, "Yeah, we're in it together." That's what the old labor movement used to be. I mean, I can remember, as a kid in the '30s, when the situation was objectively much worse. But then, my family was mostly unemployed working-class here in New York. But there was a sense of hopefulness, largely because of labor organizing, which not only provided benefits to the people involved, but also made them part of something in which we can work together. The term "solidarity" wasn't just a vacuous term. And to rebuild that kind of thing, even if it's in small pieces of the society, can become very important, can change the conception of how a society ought to function.
Chomsky: Bush kidnapped and tortured, Obama murders (14 May 2012)
MIT professor Noam Chomsky on Monday decried the use of drones against suspected terrorists, saying that it was murder and violated due process.
"If Bush, the Bush Administration, didn't like somebody, they'd kidnap them and send them to torture chambers," he said on Democracy Now. "If the Obama Administration decides they don't like somebody, they murder them, so you don't have to have torture chambers all over."
In late April, White House counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan gave a detailed justification and description of U.S. drone strikes against Taliban and al Qaeda militants. The Obama Administration had been notably silent on using drones to target suspected terrorists until then.
"You know, this American cleric in Yemen who was killed by drones," Chomsky said in reference to Anwar al-Awlaki, a leader in al Qaeda's outpost in Yemen. "He was killed. The guy next to him was killed. Shortly after, his son was killed. Now, there was a little talk about the fact that he was an American citizen: you shouldn't just murder American citizens."
"But, you know, the New York Times headline, for example, when he was killed, said something like 'West celebrates death of radical cleric,'" he continued. "First of all, it wasn't death, it was murder. And the West celebrates the murder of a suspect. He's a suspect, after all. There was something done almost 800 years ago called the Magna Carta, which is the foundation of Anglo-American law, that says that no one shall be subjected to a violation of rights without due process of law and a fair and speedy trial. It doesn't say, if you think somebody's a suspect, you should kill them."
Elephants hold vigil for human friend (14 May 2012)
In case you needed another reason to care about wildlife, here's one: If you devote your life to elephants, they might come to your funeral. Or anyway that seems to be what happened for conservationist and "elephant whisperer" Lawrence Anthony, who died in March. A few days after his death, two herds of elephants filed through the bush to their friend's home, where they appeared to stand vigil for two days, according to Anthony's family.
Anthony had spent time living with the elephants, in order to care for traumatized animals who were considered violent and unruly. But at the time of his death, of a heart attack, Anthony was living in a house on the Thula Thula game reserve in South Africa. The park's elephants hadn't visited the house in a year and a half, but Anthony's son Dylan says that the herds traveled 12 hours to arrive shortly after his father's death.
If you're scoffing instead of sniffling right now (BECAUSE YOU HAVE NO SOUL I GUESS) consider this: Elephants are well-known for their grieving rituals when family members die. If they thought of Anthony as a sort of tiny, weird-nosed cousin -- and why wouldn't they, since he lived with and cared for them? -- then it makes sense that they would give him the same treatment. And if animals can truly consider us a part of their family, it can mean only one thing: We owe a lot of elephants a lot of birthday gifts.
The wrong Carlos: how Texas sent an innocent man to his death (14 May 2012) [DN]
At the trial, DeLuna's defence team told the jury that Carlos Hernandez, not DeLuna, was the murderer. But the prosecutors ridiculed that suggestion. They told the jury that police had looked for a "Carlos Hernandez" after his name had been passed to them by DeLuna's lawyers, without success. They had concluded that Hernandez was a fabrication, a "phantom" who simply did not exist. The chief prosecutor said in summing up that Hernandez was a "figment of DeLuna's imagination".
Four years after DeLuna was executed, Liebman decided to look into the DeLuna case as part of a project he was undertaking into the fallibility of the death penalty. He asked a private investigator to spend one day -- just one day -- looking for signs of the elusive Carlos Hernandez.
By the end of that single day the investigator had uncovered evidence that had eluded scores of Texan police officers, prosecutors, defense lawyers and judges over the six years between DeLuna's arrest and execution. Carlos Hernandez did indeed exist.
Liebman's investigator tracked down within a few hours a woman who was related to both the Carloses. She supplied Hernandez's date of birth, which in turn allowed the unlocking of Hernandez's criminal past as the case rapidly unravelled.
GM super-bugs mutate in India, rendering antibiotics impotent - and they are spreading (13 May 2012)
(NaturalNews) It is no longer a secret that drug-resistant bacteria are rapidly emerging and spreading all around the world as a result of the continued overuse and abuse of antibiotic drugs in both conventional medicine and industrial agriculture. But now it appears that the genes responsible for spawning these so-called "superbugs" are also spreading, and turning otherwise mild conditions such as throat infections into deadly killers.
Known as NDM-1, or New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase-1, these genes basically hitch a ride on mobile DNA loops known as plasmids, and latch themselves onto various bacteria whenever and wherever they find an opportunity. The end result of this parasite-like invasion into bacteria is that even largely innocuous microbes can become extremely virulent and fully able to outsmart even the strongest antibiotic drugs available.
"Things as common as strep throat or a child's scratched knee could once again kill," said Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) at a recent meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, about the phenomenon. "Hip replacements, organ transplants, cancer chemotherapy and care of preterm infants would become far more difficult or even too dangerous to undertake."
According to a recent report by Bloomberg, the spread of NDM-1 and antibiotic-resistant superbugs has become so extreme that even beneficial bacterial, also commonly referred to as "probiotics" or "gut microflora," are being affected as well. And as long as antibiotics continue to be abused in the careless way that they now are globally, the situation will only worsen over time until eventually even the most minor infections and injuries become fatal.
EPA Grossly Misrepresents The Toxicity Of Corexit Used In Gulf Of Mexico (13 May 2012)
The same report went on to say that "dispersant-oil mixtures were generally no more toxic to the aquatic test species than oil alone."
The first question that jumps out for those who have researched this subject with any degree of thoroughness is how this recent report fails to reconcile with previous studies performed by the EPA.
Here is some test data retrieved from the EPA website that was posted previous to the BP Gulf Oil Spill.
The dispersant (Corexit 9500) and dispersed oil have demonstrated the following levels of toxicity per the EPA website link that follows:
(1) 10.72 parts per million (ppm) of oil alone will kill 50% of the fish test species in a normal aquatic environment within 96 hours.
(2) 25.20 parts per million of dispersant (Corexit 9500) alone will kill 50% of the fish test species in a normal aquatic environment within 96 hours.
(3) 2.61 parts per million of dispersed oil (Corexit-laden) alone will kill 50% of the fish test species in a normal aquatic environment within 96 hours.
PAM COMMENTARY: The key to understanding the point made in this article is to notice the parts per million. It takes a lot less oil and Corexit mixed to cause the same amount of damage as oil or Corexit separately, according to their EPA source.
Sun exposure lowers cancer risk (13 May 2012)
(NaturalNews) A study that correlated exposure to sunlight with cancer risk found that people exposed to more sunlight had a significantly lower risk of many types of cancer (Lin, 2012). This study followed more than 450,000 white, non-Hispanic subjects aged 50-71 years from diverse geographic areas in the US. Researchers correlated the calculated ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure in these different areas with the incidence of a variety of cancers. The diverse sites included six states (California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina), and the metropolitan areas of Atlanta and Detroit. They followed these subjects over a period of nine years in the study and eliminated other known risk factors for cancer such as smoking, body mass index, and physical activity. This was the first prospective study (participants were actively observed for the duration of the study) to look at the relationship of sunlight to cancer.
A total of 75,000 participants In the study contracted cancer. The study found that 12 types of cancer were reduced in those subjects exposed to more sunlight. These included cancers of the lungs, prostate, pancreas, colon, thyroid and many other types. As expected melanoma and other skin cancers occurred more often in the participants exposed to more sunlight. The incidence of cancers of female organs including the ovaries, breast, and uterus were not reduced in this study, possibly because men spend more time outdoors than women. This confirmed a previous study that showed a decreased incidence of cancer in men but not women in relation to sun exposure (Grant, 2012).
This research confirms the protective effect of Vitamin D for many types of cancer. No other known factors in sun exposure would account for these findings. This provides more evidence that sun exposure is protective and that the routine use of sunscreens is counterproductive. Sunscreen should be used to prevent sunburn during prolonged exposure to bright sun at midday. Otherwise sun exposure and ultraviolet radiation promote health. Similarly, in parts of the world and times of the year with limited sun exposure taking a vitamin D supplement in adequate amounts is beneficial to the immune system, promotes bone growth, prevents cardiovascular disease, and reduces the incidence of cancer.
A primer for recall elections: 10 questions and answers (13 May 2012)
Wisconsin's recall elections are unexplored territory -- after all, only two U.S. governors have ever been ousted that way. That means there's plenty to learn ahead of the June 5 elections.
Here are 10 questions and answers -- a how-to guide to the details, quirks and oddities of the state's recall process as Democrats upset over Republican Gov. Scott Walker's law stripping public workers of their union rights push to remove the governor and four other Republicans from office.
1. When does absentee voting start and end? Technically, it's already begun. People can request ballots by mail from their municipal clerks anytime until May 30. Military voters, shut-ins and nursing home residents can request them through May 31. It may be a couple weeks before anyone receives ballots, though. Clerks can't start printing them until the state Government Accountability Board certifies county results from this week's primaries, a process the board hopes to complete by Friday, May 18. That means requestors probably will receive their ballots during the week of May 21. People also can walk into their clerk's office and vote absentee in person between May 21 and June 1.
2. Will I need to have photo identification to vote in the June 5 recall? As things stand right now, no. Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess has issued a permanent injunction blocking Wisconsin's voter photo identification requirements in response to a League of Women Voters lawsuit challenging the mandate. State attorneys have appealed that ruling, though, and it's unclear when a state appeals court might issue a decision.
Another Dane County judge, David Flanagan, has put the voter ID law on hold, too, while he considers a separate legal challenge. He's not expected to rule until well after the June 5 recall election. State attorneys have appealed Flanagan's injunction as well, but the 2nd District Court of Appeals has said it won't take the case because the judge hasn't issued a decision.
War Powers Reconsidered (10 May 2012)
Jim Webb, the one-term (by choice) senior U.S. senator for Virginia, has been able to observe from several vantage points the multiple issues involved in going to war. He is a Marine veteran of the Vietnam War, father of a Marine who served in the Iraq War, observer as an embedded journalist of the Afghanistan War, a former assistant secretary of defense and secretary of the navy, and currently a member of the Senate committees on armed services and foreign relations. This week he spoke on the floor of the Senate about the executive branch's appropriation for itself of decisions to go to war, notwithstanding the U.S. Constitution's assignment to Congress of the power to declare war. "What has happened," asked Webb,
"...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?"
Webb acknowledged that the military's role in national security since World War II has been more continuous, with more need to operate on short notice, than warfare as the Founding Fathers knew it. But "the fact that some military situations have required our Presidents to act immediately before then reporting to the Congress," Webb said,
"...does not in and of itself give the President a blanket authority to use military force whenever and wherever he decides to, even where Americans are not personally at risk and even where the vital interests of our country have not been debated and clearly defined. This is the ridiculous extreme that we have now reached."
Romney defends marriage as 'enduring institution' between man and woman (13 May 2012)
Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney has reaffirmed his staunch opposition to gay marriage just a few days after President Barack Obama's historic statement in support of it.
Speaking on Saturday as a guest at a graduation ceremony at Liberty University, America's largest college for evangelical Christians, Romney used the occasion to reiterate his belief that marriage could only exist between a man and a woman.
"Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman," Romney said to a large cheer from the crowd of students, parents and faculty at the Virginia-based college.
The private university, which was founded by leading conservative evangelical Jerry Falwell, is a powerful institution among America's social conservatives and fundamentalist Christians.
PAM COMMENTARY: The college where Romney made his announcement was founded by the late Jerry Falwell, the controversial right-wing preacher who accused the children's TV show character "Tinky Winky" of being gay. Saying that a Teletubby had sexuality and was gay was ridiculous -- the show was popular with babies who were just learning to talk. In fact the show created a generation of children who knew how to ask for more of something they liked because all of them knew how to say "again" from hearing the word repeated frequently on the show. Teletubby children also knew what a "big hug" meant, among other things. The show was colorful and cheerful, and seemed to hold the interest of babies and toddlers very well.
Falwell was also the preacher who went on his own TV show (famous for shamelessly begging money from viewers through the years) and accused the "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians," along with the ACLU and anyone who he didn't like personally, of causing the WTC attacks on 9/11. Again, a ridiculous statement that added to Falwell's reputation of being a crazy old fear-mongering TV preacher who incited people to hatred for "fundraising" purposes. Even if 9/11 hadn't been carried out by the Bush administration to justify pre-planned oil wars, which it was, then the cause would have been a failure of Middle Eastern policy, especially the support of Israel without addressing its human rights violations.
Falwell had such a long, colorful history that it really requires a Google search. He finally died of a heart attack, and so apparently Falwell didn't think that overindulging in fatty foods was a sin.
These days, the chancellor of Liberty University is Jerry Falwell, Jr. That seems to be common among TV evangelicals -- they run their "churches" like a family business, unlike most other churches and religious schools.
The school isn't very well-respected academically, of course, but it does make quite a lot of money from its online degree programs. I once met a woman from the Midwest who told me that once you have a degree from Liberty, they don't tell people whether it was earned online or on campus, and Liberty offered the cheapest per-credit-hour coursework that she could find online. In other words, they've found another source of financial gain, and not for their academics. But I guess that goes without saying -- its founder wasn't exactly a big scholar, other than with marketing, namely turning his television audience into his own personal gold mine.
Monsanto WISHES it could make corn this cool (11 May 2012)
"Glass Gem" corn looks almost CGI, but it actually comes out of the ground that way. It's the product of a small farm and a retro, handcrafted approach to agriculture -- "genetic modification" from back when genetic modification meant painstaking generations of selective breeding.
The corn was grown at Seeds Trust, a small family-owned Arizona seed company that's committed to sustainable agriculture. Seeds Trust's seeds are mostly open-pollinated, non-hybrid crops (thoroughly checked for contamination by GMO pollen), which they say is better for sustainable agriculture. The Glass Gem seeds were just brought in for babysitting, according to Seeds Trust president Bill McDorman:
Seedsman Greg Schoen got the seed from Carl Barnes, a part-Cherokee man, now in his 80s, in Oklahoma. He was Greg's "corn-teacher". Greg was in the process of moving last year and wanted someone else to store and protect some of his seeds. He left samples of several corn varieties, including glass gem. I grew out a small handful this past summer just to see. The rest, as they say is history. I got so excited, I posted a picture on Facebook. We have never seen anything like this.
Of course, like most of us, Glass Gem corn looks better when moodily lit, but in the light of day it's still pretty fly:
Effort to streamline enforcement of licensed professionals worries some (13 May 2012)
The chairman of the department's Medical Examining Board said he's concerned public safety will be compromised if fewer complaints are evaluated by professionals with specialized knowledge about those they regulate.
"I don't want this decided by a bureaucrat," Dr. Sheldon Wasserman said. "They don't know medicine."
Wasserman said department staff assured him nothing will change for his board, but he doesn't know how that squares with the new policy, which he didn't see until Tuesday when the State Journal provided him with a copy.
"I don't want complaints screened out because someone says we don't have the time to look at this," Wasserman said. "If you start screening too much, you cut holes in the safety net."
Even before the policy was in place, physicians on the medical board have had to correct staff attorneys who wanted to close complaints because they didn't recognize serious unprofessional behavior, Wasserman said.
Ancient skulls found in Winter Garden puzzle experts (13 May 2012)
The bones held clues about their origin. An extra bone present in the back of one of the craniums is known as the "Inca bone."
The smaller cranium had bits of mummified tissue affixed to it. Both pieces of evidence pointed to South America.
After X-rays were taken, Schultz and Garavaglia determined the skulls belonged to an older man and a child who was about 10 years old.
The textiles -- an intricately woven purse, a sling and a netted carrying bag -- and the pottery are consistent with the Chancay culture of coastal Peru and date back to between 1200 to 1470 A.D., Schultz said.
A discovery like this is rare, said Dr. Daniel Seinfield, with the Bureau of Archaeological Research.
"It's clear that these bones are not from Florida" and are not related to the state's native ancient peoples, Seinfield said. "These were placed here by modern people who somehow acquired them."
PAM COMMENTARY: Watch out for audible ads that play without the reader taking any action.
Crushed by college debt: Massive loan bills hang over graduates, derail life plans (13 May 2012)
Sean Doerr, like thousands of Michigan college graduates this spring, is trapped between a rock and a hard place.
To get a good job, he knew he needed a college degree. But getting it cost the 22-year-old Detroiter dearly. He graduated Thursday from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit with more than $85,000 in debt.
He's far from alone: 130,000-plus Michigan residents are trying to repay school loans, and 10,711 are in default. Their average debt in 2010: $25,675. But many, like Doerr, have bills approaching $100,000 or more.
The debts, already at historical highs, will climb even higher if Congress can't agree to hold down interest rates on federally subsidized loans. But even if it does, Doerr still faces years of college bills.
California's lone wolf seen mingling with coyotes (13 May 2012)
Kovacs said two of the three coyotes came up right next to the 90- to 100-pound wolf.
"They were in very close proximity to OR7," she said. "I think it was kind of a mutual thing. Maybe there had been some prior contact. They did go off in the same direction together, but shortly after that OR7 went off by himself and then disappeared out of view."
Biologist Richard Shinn snapped only the second known photograph of OR7 before he vanished into the woods. The consensus was that he looked healthy.
The odd flirtation with the coyotes was a surprise considering that wolves and coyotes are normally rivals. Wolf packs in Yellowstone National Park and other locations where the two species intermingle will attack and kill any coyotes seen on their territory.
Department experts said, however, that it is not unheard of for transient gray wolves to befriend coyotes or domestic dogs on their journeys, apparently just for the company.
Sipping, not guzzling, fuel on Afghanistan's frontlines (10 May 2012)
(Reuters) - To sustain themselves on Afghanistan's rugged frontlines, U.S. Army troops have learned to sip, not guzzle.
The liquid they must conserve is JP-8, a kerosene-based, all-purpose fuel the Army uses in aircraft and Humvees and to generate power for computers, lights and heat. Consumption of JP-8 - short for Jet Propellant-8 - often comes at a grim cost.
The fuel arrives by tanker trucks dispatched in heavily guarded convoys that are frequently attacked by insurgents. For every 20 convoys that roll across the harsh terrain, one U.S. soldier dies, said Colonel Peter Newell, head of the Army's Rapid Equipping Force (REF) at Fort Belvoir in Virginia.
Newell's operation keeps that statistic in mind as it aims to make troops more sustainable - meaning that as they live and work on isolated bases they consume an absolute minimum of fuel. It also means they spend less time guarding fuel convoy routes and more time on tasks like combat, security and communications.
Aging wind farms in need of a modern makeover (13 May 2012)
For the past 30 years, the windmills of the San Gorgonio Pass have spun out a living history of the wind industry's increasingly efficient and skyscraping abilities to turn the region's brisk breezes into electricity.
Today, vintage 65-kilowatt machines from the early 1980s -- blades still turning on spindly, lattice-work towers -- bump up against 3-megawatt giants topping out at more than 400 feet.
The area is also dotted with rows of towers now bare and bladeless -- the sign of a wind farm no longer in operation but not yet replaced.
And they may not be.
The end of a key federal tax incentive for the wind industry could put a damper on much-needed wind turbine replacement efforts -- known as repowering -- just as many of the region's iconic windmills are hitting the upper limit of their 30-year lifespan.
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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