Pam Rotella's Vegetarian FUN page -- News on health, nutrition, the environment, politics, and more!
NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012
News from the Week of 20th to 26th of May 2012
In Wisconsin recall, Governor Walker struggles to avoid humiliation (26 May 2012)
With that, he dashes to his next campaign stop, where he'll pitch more hope while defending his tumultuous 18-month run as Wisconsin's chief executive.
In a state deeply divided over his conservative politics and polarizing leadership, Walker isn't backing down.
As Wisconsin's historic June 5 gubernatorial recall election closes in, the embattled Republican is working long days crisscrossing his state, rallying support in a final push to avoid the humiliation of becoming only the third governor in U.S. history to be removed from office mid-term.
Even as partisan anger across the state escalates, the 44-year-old drives on, knowing the outcome will not only determine his political fate and the direction of his state, but possibly, serve as a harbinger for national elections this November.
"We know what's at stake," Walker told supporters at a recent rally in La Crosse. "And we've got a great story to tell."
Maple Spring: Nearly 1,000 Arrested as Mass Quebec Student Strike Passes 100th Day (25 May 2012) [DN]
AARON MATÉ: I want ask Anna Kruzynski--now, this started out as a protest against a tuition increase, 75 percent over five years, but it seems now, with so many people in the streets, and you have this emergency law that's attracting international attention, that this has grown much bigger. Can you talk about what's at stake here?
ANNA KRUZYNSKI: Sure. I mean, the tuition hike is part and parcel of a neoliberal agenda of this government, so it does--it's not isolated from other measures that aim to privatize public services. So we--you're talking about the notion of user fees for public services as opposed to free and accessible services through progressive taxation. So this is part of a larger--a larger issue, so this has been touching also health and hydro and other public services.
So, this has been going on for several years, but what the student movement has managed to do is to bring this debate into the forefront, beyond the question of tuition fees. And this--we saw, over the three months of the student movement, more and more community organizations and mainstream social movements, unions, professionals from all walks of life, citizens, ordinary folks joining into the struggle. But when the government passed Bill 78 on May 18th, there was an explosion of support for the student movement, but also a real questioning of the legitimacy of this government, this government that is trying to push through austerity measures that the majority of the population do not want to see. And this government is illegitimate and needs to take the back seat now. There's a clear movement, and people--we can see this actually happening in the last few days in many neighborhoods in Montreal, but also outside of Montreal in the regions, in the rural areas. There has been spontaneous demonstrations of elderly people, families, children, with pots and pans, doing spontaneous demonstrations in their neighborhood in support of the student movement against Bill 78. So this is becoming much bigger than what it was originally.
GABRIEL NADEAU-DUBOIS: In fact, the adoption of the law was one of the thing that helped the most our movement since the beginning. It like--it drew so much support to our movement. And the objective of the law was to stop the movement. In fact, it had the exact opposite effect. We have seen more protests than ever and the biggest protest since the hundred days of strike.
Hundreds of words to avoid using online if you don't want the government spying on you (26 May 2012) [AJ]
The Department of Homeland Security has been forced to release a list of keywords and phrases it uses to monitor social networking sites and online media for signs of terrorist or other threats against the U.S.
The intriguing the list includes obvious choices such as 'attack', 'Al Qaeda', 'terrorism' and 'dirty bomb' alongside dozens of seemingly innocent words like 'pork', 'cloud', 'team' and 'Mexico'.
Released under a freedom of information request, the information sheds new light on how government analysts are instructed to patrol the internet searching for domestic and external threats.
The words are included in the department's 2011 'Analyst's Desktop Binder' used by workers at their National Operations Center which instructs workers to identify 'media reports that reflect adversely on DHS and response activities'.
PAM COMMENTARY: Amazing what they have time to do, when we have so many violent crimes unsolved in this country -- crimes that have actually happened, unlike the fantasy possibilities these guys are chasing...
Typical CEO in U.S. made $9.6 million last year (25 May 2012)
NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Profits at big U.S. companies broke records last year, and so did pay for CEOs.
The head of a typical public company made $9.6 million in 2011, according to an analysis by The Associated Press using data from Equilar, an executive pay research firm.
That was up more than 6 per cent from the previous year, and is the second year in a row of increases. The figure is also the highest since the AP began tracking executive compensation in 2006.
Companies trimmed cash bonuses but handed out more in stock awards. For shareholder activists who have long decried CEO pay as exorbitant, that was a victory of sorts.
That's because the stock awards are being tied more often to company performance. In those instances, CEOs can't cash in the shares right away: They have to meet goals first, like boosting profit to a certain level.
Sea lions stage hostile takeover of Ventura Harbor docks (25 May 2012)
A large gang of sea lions has taken over three docks at Ventura Harbor in California, and the National Park Service isn't sure how to tell them delicately that their presence is unwanted.
The animals have previously been a common sight on the large buoys that lead out of the harbor, but this is the first time they have appropriated real estate within the harbor itself.
They have quickly become a popular attraction for locals and visitors. They even appear to enjoy the attention, putting on a show of barking and frolicking in the water for spectators.
However, their presence poses potential safety hazards for viewers who get too close. In addition, the weight of the appealingly pudgy creatures may also be overloading the docks, one of which is starting to list.
The sea lions, who are protected against harassment under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, appear to be unafraid of human passers-by. And no one is eager to tell an 860 pound animal with sharp teeth where it can sleep.
New hope that whooping cranes could return to the prairies (21 May 2012)
But attempts to establish a second migrating flock has failed a number of times since 1975 when the first of 85 chicks from 289 eggs taken from Wood Buffalo National Park were transplanted into the nests of Sandhill Cranes in Grays Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Idaho. Those birds did learn how to migrate, but because they were imprinted on their surrogate parents, they never mated with other whooping cranes. As a result, that program was stopped in 1989 and none of those birds are alive today.
In spite of that setback, the Wood Buffalo-Texas flock has been growing steadily. Parks Canada biologist Rhona Kindopp says she won't be surprised if the population reaches 300 this summer as long as nesting conditions in Alberta and the Northwest Territories are good.
Kindopp has seen a lot of positive developments since graduating from the University of Lethbridge and joining Parks Canada in Wood Buffalo in 2007. There were 65 nests back then. Last year, she and her colleagues counted 75, ten of which were located on the Alberta side of the border. A record 279 birds migrated from Wood Buffalo to Texas last year.
Kindopp says the news gets even better when you consider that the whooping cranes are expanding their range in and around Wood Buffalo. Whooping cranes, for example, are now nesting on the Salt River First Nation Reserve along the northeastern boundary of the park,
The big concern for the future is not so much in Wood Buffalo as it is in the United States. A Texas-based coalition of conservationists, tourism-dependent businesses and local governments has gone to court to force the state's Commission on Environmental Quality to allow more water from the Guadalupe and San Antonio rivers to flow into watershed that feeds the wetland habitat of the whooping cranes on the coast. The region has been suffering from a drought that is killing the crane's primary source of food.
Barack Obama: the college years (26 May 2012)
He had turned 18 a few weeks earlier. The afro he started at Punahou School had grown a bit fuller, but was under control. He was Barry Obama, freshman, from Honolulu. The name, along with those of his two new roommates, was typed on the index card that had been slotted on to the door of Room A104 of Haines Hall annexe in preparation for his arrival. Maybe his face didn't look Hawaiian at first glance, thought Jeff Yamaguchi, who lived down the hall and whose family was from the islands, but it quickly became apparent that he had the easy-going attitude of a Hawaiian local, "that mannerism and style and personality that is very unique and identifiable from tourists... a mentality you develop over time, just 'Whatever.'"
It was autumn 1979 when Obama arrived at Occidental College, a small liberal arts college in Los Angeles. The campus was much like his school in Honolulu, with gentle slopes and flowering landscapes. Its academic expectations were equally high and the weather in southern California sunny. All so familiar, but Obama had come to college in search of something more.
In the end, his stay at Occidental would compose only half of his college experience. Just two school years, when he was 18 and 19, from August 1979 to June 1981. But in the development of the person he was to become, Occidental was significant.
Obama's roommates were Paul Carpenter, a blond southern Californian who occasionally took his friends surfing (bodysurfing, in Barry's case), and Imad Husain, an intellectual Pakistani with a droll sense of humour who grew up in Karachi (though his parents now lived in Dubai) and finished his secondary education at Bedford School in the UK. Barry Obama played a lot of Hendrix, Earth, Wind & Fire and Billie Holiday, but was known in the annexe for his wicked impression of Mick Jagger. He could do the walk, the strut, the face.
PAM COMMENTARY: Somehow people can't comprehend a president who was "cool" in his younger years. Unfortunately, we've come to expect psychopaths like George W. Bush, burning the skin of his college buddies with cigarettes for fun, or the scissors attack on a gay man's hair by Mitt Romney.
On Aid, Obama Sells Out Poor Countries to Big Ag (25 May 2012)
The "private-sector partners" in the alliance have pledged $3 billion in new investments in African ag over the next decade. And what are the companies that President Obama and his G-8 peers have tapped to lift Africa out of hunger? Their number (list here) turns out to include global agribiz giants Cargill, Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, and Yara; and junk-food behemoths Unilever, Kraft, Hershey's, and Mars.
And a whopping $2 billion of the total $3 billion in pledged investments will come in the form of a single "world-class fertilizer production facility" planned by the Norwegian company Yara, the globe's largest nitrogen-fertilizer company, according to US AID, the State Deprtment's ag-development arm.
Over on the Triple Crisis blog, Tufts researchers Sophia Murphy and Tim Wise spell out what's wrong with this picture:
"The private sector is not just like government, only a little different. It is ENTIRELY different. Corporations are accountable to their shareholders, obliged to make a profit. They are not charities. They are bound by law, but not by the public interest. They are not bound by the outcomes of the Paris and Accra Aid Effectiveness conferences, which committed donors to allow and encourage national ownership of development spending and to better coordinate their efforts. They are not bound by the five Rome Principles, agreed by over 60 Heads of State at the 2009 World Food Summit, which reinforced the aid effectiveness outcomes focused specifically on donor investments in agriculture. Corporations are not parties to the human rights covenants that oblige most governments to realize the universal human right to food."
As Murphy and Wise point out, in order to join the alliance, African governments had to agree to "refine policies in order to improve investment opportunities," which is an uncomfortable echo of the old IMF "structural adjustment" agreements that forced countries to open their food markets to foreign competition in order to qualify for loans. On Alternet, Jill Richardson has a good post on how large agribiz projects often have little relevance to Africa's small-scale farmers--the very people best positioned to solve the continent's hunger problems.
PAM COMMENTARY: That's what "free trade" has meant all along -- that Monsanto will be owning your food supply soon.
European cookie law set to come into force (26 May 2012)
The regulations say websites must get "informed consent" from users before they record any detailed information in the cookies they store on visitors' computers.
Among websites that have complied with the law, getting consent has involved a pop-up box that explains the changes. Users are then asked to click to consent to having information recorded and told what will happen if they refuse.
UK firms have had 12 months to prepare for the change and the ICO has spent much of that time reminding businesses about their obligations.
The ICO has also updated its policy to allow organisations to use "implied consent" to comply. This means users do not have to make an explicit choice. Instead, their continued use of a site would be taken to mean they are happy for information to be gathered.
Maddow: Union-busting about making Wisconsin permanently Republican (24 May 2012)
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on Thursday night explained the importance of the upcoming recall election in Wisconsin on June 5.
"Killing the unions is the strategy for turning Wisconsin red, not just for now, but for generations to come in an irreparable way," she said. "This is about partisan politics. It is about destroying Democrats' chances of competing with Republicans."
Maddow noted that while Republican candidates are disproportionately funded by corporate and pro-business groups, Democratic candidates are disproportionately funded by public service unions -- the very unions that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker targeted in his budget repair bill.
"It's not about some year's budget, it is not even about jobs," Maddow continued. "Since he wiped away union rights in Wisconsin, Scott Walker has racked up the single worst jobs records in the entire country."
Walker recall just and necessary (23 May 2012)
If the jobs are somehow not created, we are to blame "political turmoil" caused by the ungrateful un-rich. If the jobs pollute the world, we are not to care and let the taxpayers cover the damage. It is an immoral and downright criminal swindle, even if not technically against the law.
Walker represents this corrupt redistribution of wealth through his snubbing of collective bargaining as well as overseeing a general dismantling of legal protections for people and nature in Wisconsin. As displayed most blatantly in the reduction in BadgerCare access and his ongoing push to write mining laws that only a strip miner could love, Walker has proved that he is in the ideological pockets of millionaires and billionaires, who make no secret of their support for him.
Walker's promise to create 250,000 private-sector jobs in his first term was, of course, a foolhardy campaign gimmick, for one of his first actions as governor was to turn down federal funding for high-speed trains that would have created good and necessary private-sector jobs. Walker's priority is not jobs but the impoverishment of democracy and the weakening of anything that might stand in the way of full-bore capitalism.
Because one of the primary strategies of our global economy has been to reduce costs by any means we can get away with, it is hard to see how Walker's anti-public agenda, and Republican ideology in general, is ever going to lead to full employment at good wages and benefits for the doing of clean and satisfying work. (The recent state proposal to help create work in Milwaukee, while welcome, is too little too late.)
Milwaukee police lowered crime rate...by misreporting violent assaults (24 May 2012)
Earlier this year Milwaukee's police chief, Edward Flynn, proclaimed crime had gone down four years in a row under his watch-an achievement that helped him become the city's first chief in 27 years to secure a second four-year contract. An investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, however, uncovered hundreds of violent crimes that were misreported and consequently skewed the statistics touted by Flynn.
In February, Flynn announced that crime had declined 21% during his first term in office. But according to the Journal Sentinel's review of police reports filed with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), more than 500 incidents since 2009 were misreported to the FBI as minor assaults, which are not classified as violent crimes, rather than aggravated assaults or worse, and thus were not included in the city's violent crime rate.
The newspaper reported that, based on the discovery of the misreporting, Flynn should have announced in February that violent crime went up 1.1%. Instead, he told the media there had been a 2.3% decline. During the four-year period in which Flynn claimed credit for a 21% drop in crime, the Milwaukee County district attorney's office charged only 2.6% fewer felony cases.
Bradley Manning military trial: group petitions for a more open court (24 May 2012)
The military trial of the WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning is being conducted amid far more secrecy than even the prosecution of the alleged 9/11 plotters in Guantanamo, a coalition of lawyers and media outlets protest.
Led by the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, the coalition has petitioned the Army court of criminal appeals calling for the court-martial against Manning to be opened up to the press and public. The group complains that the way the trial is being handled by the trial judge Colonel Denise Lind is a violation of the First Amendment of the constitution that requires public access unless the government can specifically demonstrate the need for secrecy.
The petition lists the many ways in which the public are being kept in the dark over the prosecution of Bradley Manning, who faces 22 charges related to the leaking of a vast trove of US state secrets to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. He was arrested in May 2010 at a military base outside Baghdad where he was working as an intelligence analyst on suspicion of passing hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables as well as warlogs from Iraq and Afghanistan to the site.
The army has allowed the publication of not one single motion submitted by the prosecution to the court-martial, nor any prosecution replies to defence motions, not even in redacted form. None of the orders issued by the court have been made public, and no transcripts have been provided of any of the proceedings -- not even those that were fully open to the press.
Obama urges Congress to extend clean-energy tax credits (25 May 2012)
NEWTON, Iowa -- From a wind-power factory in this battleground state, President Obama urged Congress to extend tax credits he said would save jobs in the field of clean-energy production.
Obama said continuing the production tax credit would save 37,000 jobs that would otherwise be at risk, an estimate his aides based on reports from industry officials.
"If Congress doesn't act, companies like this one will take a hit. Jobs will be lost. That's not a guess. That's a fact," Obama said Thursday as he visited TPI Composites, a wind turbine blade manufacturer based in a town that's home to a closed Maytag factory. "We can't let that happen. We can't walk away from these jobs."
The production tax credit, created in 1992 and extended nearly continuously since then, gives wind farms a credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of energy produced. Industry advocates said it spurred $15.5 billion a year in private investment in the U.S. in the last five years. The credit is scheduled to expire at the end of the year.
Obama also is calling on Congress to extend a 30% investment tax credit for manufacturers that invest in equipment to make components for clean-energy projects in the U.S.
Politically, the production tax credit has been considered low-hanging fruit for Obama, among the items on his congressional to-do list, with a strong possibility of passing. Since its inception, the credit has had support from lawmakers in both parties, including environmental advocates on the left and conservatives from rural communities in the West and the Plains. Among those pushing for the extension of the production tax credit this time are the GOP governors of Iowa and Kansas.
Senate panel kills big Tricare fee hikes (25 May 2012)
A Pentagon plan endorsed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to raise Tricare health care fees as a way to dramatically reduce personnel costs appears dead after the Senate Armed Services Committee refused to back the proposal.
"We prevailed," said Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., chairman of the committee's personnel panel. "We did not approve their plan."
While work on the 2013 defense budget is far from over, the Senate committee's decision comes one week after the House of Representatives passed its own version of the 2013 defense authorization bill that also omits the Defense Department's proposal to raise enrollment fees and deductibles for working-age retirees, including income-based enrollment fees for the Tricare Prime and the Tricare For Life programs.
With the Defense Department plan left out of both the House and Senate versions of the defense policy bill, it would take some extraordinary reversal by lawmakers to approve the Pentagon plan as part of the final compromise legislation that will be completed later this year.
Whooping Crane Chick Cam (25 May 2012)
PAM COMMENTARY: This is a chick cam for captive-bred whooping cranes. Obviously, their living conditions are like those of a pet, but eventually they'll be living in the wild.
Tokyo keepers catch fugitive Penguin (24 May 2012)
A young penguin which escaped from a Tokyo aquarium has been caught after more than two months on the loose in the Japanese capital.
The Humboldt penguin scaled a wall and slipped though a fence at the Tokyo Sea Life Park in March.
It has since been spotted several times swimming in rivers running into Tokyo Bay, but had eluded keepers.
The one-year-old fugitive was finally recaptured on Thursday evening.
Two keepers went to a river after a sighting of the penguin was reported in the morning. They managed to catch it later that day on the river bank, a spokesman for Tokyo Sea Life Park told the BBC.
The penguin - known only as 337 - was being examined by experts but appeared to be in good condition.
Two Thousand False Convictions Documented Since 1989 (22 May 2012)
The cities with the most exonerations were Chicago and Dallas--but should not necessarily be taken as evidence of a wrongful-conviction problem in those two cities. Rather, their rankings point to the fact that special projects were launched in both cities to review dubious convictions--often making use of new DNA-evidence techniques--after scandals exposed corruption involving police and prosecutors. Similar scandals erupted in other jurisdictions, notably New Orleans, but no special review efforts took place.
CBS News legal commentator Andrew Cohen asks the obvious question prompted by the report:
How does this happen? Why are there so many wrongful convictions when there is so much at stake for both the defendants and the victims and when we pride ourselves on a legal system designed to ensure meaningful judicial review? The reasons are legion. It matters where you are convicted, for example, and the color of your skin matters too. And it matters who your police and prosecutors and judges are. The report reveals that in a whopping 56 percent of murder-case exonerations the initial convictions was based upon "official misconduct."
It isn't surprising that the system misfires--judges, prosecutors, and jurors are human, and thus fallible. Indeed, the 2,000 instances of exoneration documented by the study are undoubtedly only a sampling of the false convictions produced by the nation's criminal-justice system since 1989--they are simply the misfires the system itself has acknowledged. Unfortunately, our system is highly resistant to recognizing such misfires. The data therefore serve to highlight those judicial defenders of capital punishment who insist, as Antonin Scalia has put it, that "capital cases are given especially close scrutiny at every level"--an observation that could only be made by someone who is either woefully ignorant about the actual process or determined to shill for it.
Hundreds arrested as police use kettling in latest Montreal student protest (24 May 2012)
MONTREAL--A peaceful evening march that began with people banging pots and pans in support of protesting students ended in the early morning hours with police kettling demonstrators and arresting 400 of them after officers were pelted with projectiles.
Montreal wasn't the only city to have roundups Wednesday night. There were also mass arrests at student protests in Quebec City and Sherbrooke.
Kettling is a police tactic widely used in Europe where riot cops surround demonstrators and limit or cut off their exits. It has been widely criticized because it often results in the scooping up of innocent bystanders as well as rowdies. A recent report by Ontario's police watchdog blasted Toronto police for their use of kettling during the G20 summit two years ago, saying they violated civil rights, detained people illegally and used excessive force.
The Montreal demonstration was the 30th since the student protest against tuition fee increases began more than three months ago.
"So Rich, So Poor": Peter Edelman on Ending U.S. Poverty & Why He Left Clinton Admin over Welfare Law (23 May 2012) [DN]
PETER EDELMAN: No, I did not wait. And I just couldn't continue. I simply disagreed, as the interview with you shows.
This--it's turned out that exactly, I'm sorry to say, what I thought would happen has happened. We had 68 percent of children in poor families on the old welfare system. There was a lot wrong with the old welfare system; it needed to be fixed. It didn't help people to get off and find jobs. We had 14 million people--that's too many--on welfare. But this was a blunderbuss. This was just an axe, a hatchet, that was taken. And so, that 68 percent then, with low benefits in a lot of places, but still legally entitled, as I told you in that interview, down to 27 percent now. That's just a tremendous, tremendous drop. It's fundamentally not there. And in this recession, when you would expect that it would be helpful to people, it turned out that there were 3.9 people on welfare--3.9 million people on welfare at the beginning of the recession. It went up to 4.4 million. Now, food stamps, which worked beautifully in the recession--why? Because there's a legal right to it--went, amazingly, from 26.3 million people to 46 million now, almost 20 million more people on food stamps. Problem is, if you have no income--and now it's six million people who only have food stamps for their income, don't--can't get the cash assistance--you get so much more terrible, deep, extreme poverty.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: I mean, that's extraordinary figures that you cite. One of the things that you point out in your book is that states now practically have a disincentive to give cash assistance, to give welfare. Why is that?
PETER EDELMAN: States have complete--I'm sorry, the question is why--
NERMEEN SHAIKH: States are practically given an incentive not to give cash assistance to the poor.
PETER EDELMAN: Well, states have a block grant, so there's no legal right to it. And starting in the late 1990s, when the welfare rolls plummeted, the states actually found that they had money to spare. Instead of raising benefits or letting people who actually needed help get it, they pushed people away at the door. That's how they got the rolls down to about four million people, from 14 million. And they started spending the money in other ways. So we come to the recession, and they're spending the money on other programs. They're spending money to support the child welfare system, a number of other programs, but they're not helping families that have desperate need. And that's because it's entirely up to them what they do with the money, as long as it stays in some way that's related to the question. But they don't have to extend a dollar of benefits to low-income people. And that's why we have such a--such a tremendous diminution in the case log.
Extra Credit: Anti-teacher flier stirs tempest in Janesville (23 May 2012)
Janesville teachers and their supporters expressed outrage this week after an anonymous group distributed fliers listing their salaries and urging parents to request their child be assigned to a "non-radical teacher" next year.
The fliers, which included the names, titles and salaries of the 321 highest-paid Janesville teachers, also urged readers to go to iverifytherecall.com to determine if the teachers signed the petition to recall Gov. Scott Walker.
Orville Seymer, an open records specialist with the conservative Milwaukee-based activist organization Citizens for Responsible Government, said the group responsible for the flier has asked to remain anonymous "for obvious reasons."
On behalf of the anonymous group, Citizens for Responsible Government filed an open records request with the Janesville School District seeking teacher names, salaries and titles. Seymer provided the information to the anonymous group, but was not involved in drafting or distributing the fliers, he said. No other requests of a similar nature have been filed with other districts, Seymer added.
Madison360: On Scott Walker, an outrageous juxtaposition by the Journal Sentinel (22 May 2012)
The state's dominant newspaper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, has summarily dismissed anyone who thinks the recall campaign against Republican Gov. Scott Walker is about more than collective bargaining rights.
In re-endorsing the controversial governor Sunday, the editorial proclaimed: "Walker's rematch with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett was prompted by one issue: Walker's tough stance with the state's public-employee unions. It's inconceivable that the recall election would be occurring absent that. And a disagreement over a single policy is simply not enough to justify a vote against the governor."
Yup, it is not about anything else.
Oh, in the same newspaper was an excellent story describing how environmental inspections under Walker's radically pro-business administration have dramatically decreased.
And, coincidentally, the lead editorial of The New York Times Sunday singled out Walker under the "equal pay" subheading in a piece headlined "The Campaign Against Women."
Shareholders sue Facebook, NYSE comes calling (24 May 2012)
(Reuters) - The fallout from Facebook Inc's messy initial public offering widened on Wednesday as shareholders sued the social network and its bankers while a trading firm revealed a massive loss on the shares and threatened to seek "remedies."
The Nasdaq stock exchange also came under further pressure as a source close to the situation told Reuters that NYSE Euronext had opened discussions with Facebook about a potential stock listing there. Nasdaq also faces litigation from angry investors.
Facebook's listing, envisioned as a crowning moment for an eight-year-old company that has become a business and cultural phenomenon, has instead turned into a legal and public relations fiasco for the company and its lead underwriter, Morgan Stanley.
Serious trading glitches interfered with the stock's opening on Friday, and subsequent revelations by Reuters that analysts had quietly reduced their revenue forecasts prior to the IPO have led to accusations of selective disclosure of material information. The shares closed at $32 on Wednesday, 15 percent below the IPO price.
Feds: Eastern N.C. wind farm could kill eagles (23 May 2012)
A preliminary report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says a wind farm proposed for eastern North Carolina could kill up to 20 bald eagles each year.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reported the estimate is based on only five months of bird counts in Beaufort County. The service wants to collect data for at least a year.
The wind farm has been proposed near the Pocosin Lakes Wildlife Refuge.
Bald eagles are attracted to the area by fish breeding ponds, hog carcass disposals and other readily available food sources.
PAM COMMENTARY: Invenergy is the same company that put a large wind farm in Brownsville, Wisconsin -- near Horicon Marsh, a bird sanctuary. After it was installed, I was surprised that the birds seem to thrive just a few miles down the road. That wind farm uses the slow-turning model of wind turbine, and it is a few miles away from the marsh. I think the fast-turning turbines should be outlawed, as they're the most dangerous model for birds.
Attorney: "NATO 3" Activists Detained on Terror Charges in Chicago Are Victims of Police Entrapment (22 May 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the car that was stopped on Wednesday night with the group of people that were let go then? They actually then posted the video and the audio of their arrests online, and then their house was raided, and they ultimately were charged with terror-related offenses.
SARAH GELSOMINO: Right. These three individuals who are facing these charges were stopped the previous week by the Chicago Police Department without--again, without any justification whatsoever, a legal justification, for that stop. They were pulled over by the Chicago Police Department, surrounded by numerous police cars and multiple police officers, and were interrogated for hours about all kinds of things.
And I met with them, actually, after that video was released on the internet, and they said to us that as soon as they identified themselves as being associated with the Occupy movement--they came up from Occupy in Florida to join with Occupy here in Chicago to protest NATO this week. They said as soon as the police learned that information, they became extremely harassing and threatening. And as you may have heard in that YouTube video, the police did in fact threaten those three--those people in that car, talked about in 19--
AMY GOODMAN: On what grounds?
SARAH GELSOMINO: Well, they talked about smashing skulls in 1968, and then they said, "We'll be out there this weekend, and we'll be coming to look for you."
Facebook IPO flop drawing increased scrutiny (22 May 2012)
As Facebook shares continued their slide, regulators launched inquiries into whether privileged Wall Street insiders were alerted to the company's weakening financial projections, leading them to shun the stock or dump shares just as buying was opened to the public.
Morgan Stanley, which led the Wall Street effort to bring the social network public, came under fire following reports that the bank had told some favored clients that the bank was cutting its revenue estimates for Facebook. The lowered expectations came after the tech giant expressed caution in a public filing about its advertising sales on mobile devices.
The legal issue raised could be "securities fraud -- plain and simple," said Ernest Badway, a securities lawyer in New York and New Jersey and a former enforcement attorney at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "You can't be putting out two sets of numbers."
SEC Chairwoman Mary Schapiro said the agency will examine "issues" into the bungled Facebook public offering. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the Wall Street industry-funded watchdog, has also expressed concern, and Massachusetts securities regulators have issued subpoenas for Morgan Stanley.
Best home remedies and natural treatments for poison ivy (22 May 2012)
(NaturalNews) As summer approaches, most people spend more time outdoors; and with that comes the chance of developing a poison ivy allergy. Oils from these devilish weeds are highly noxious, causing a long list of poison ivy allergy symptoms. Contact with a poison ivy plant can produce a red, swollen rash, blisters, pain, and unbearable itching. In addition there may be intense burning, inflammation, and fever. For those unlucky enough to have a poison ivy rash in their eyes, mouths or on their genitals, the torment can be nearly intolerable.
Fortunately, nature has not only cursed us with these weeds, but also provided a list of home remedies for allergic reactions to poison ivy, oak, and sumac.
PAM COMMENTARY: According to Dr. Stafford in an interview on the documentary about Royal Rife "The Rise and Fall of a Scientific Genius," Royal Rife thought that the poison in poison ivy was a fungus. Rife even had a frequency to kill it, and Dr. Stafford said that it worked well for his daughters and her friends when they had poison ivy. If that's true, then a Clark zapper might help relieve the symptoms, too.
Fake malaria drugs hinder global health efforts (22 May 2012)
More than a third of the malaria-fighting drugs tested over the past decade in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa were either fake or bad quality, seriously undermining efforts to fight the disease, a study said Tuesday.
With up to 1 million people -- mostly children in Africa -- already dying every year from malaria, bogus drugs and those containing the wrong chemical makeup could upend a decade of progress fighting the mosquito-transmitted disease, the U.S.-funded review said.
International efforts to combat drug counterfeiting -- much of it believed to take place in China -- are urgently needed.
Fake drugs with no malaria-fighting agents can lead to deaths when patients rely on them, and those containing some active ingredients -- but not enough to fully kill all parasites -- are also problematic because they promote resistance that can eventually outsmart medicines and render them useless.
PAM COMMENTARY: Anyone tried a Clark zapper on that?
Gingrich's private ventures are going bankrupt (22 May 2012)
The Gingrich Group bankruptcy proceedings spotlight the remarkable reversal of fortune of the half-dozen organizations associated with Gingrich. The presidential contender recently ended his campaign $4.8 million in debt. A political nonprofit he headed, American Solutions for Winning the Future, which raised $52 million between its founding in 2007 and its dissolution last July, also ended in debt.
The decline of the health policy center began earlier than previously realized. When Gingrich began considering a presidential bid in early 2010, "the membership began to drop off," according to Nancy Desmond, who served as managing partner of Gingrich Group LLC, which did business as the Center for Health Transformation. She was one of three owners of the company, but as the managing partner she alone testified at the May 9 meeting of creditors on the third floor of the Richard B. Russell Federal Building.
Opened in 2003, the center pulled in $59 million over nine years from more than 300 companies, some of which paid as much as $200,000 in dues. Among its activities, the center and Gingrich helped push a mandate requiring everyone to carry health insurance. At the time, the position was beneficial to the center's healthcare industry members, but Gingrich later repudiated it as a candidate.
Desmond said revenues fell from just under $7 million in 2010 to $4 million in 2011 and then to less than $300,000 in the first quarter of this year. Some $1.2 million in dues that had been expected earlier this year never materialized because those members also decided not to renew. By March the center was no longer able to pay the rent on its suite of offices in Atlanta and Washington.
In April it declared bankruptcy, leaving almost $600,000 in debts to outside vendors, half of it to Chain Bridge Bank, a boutique lending institution in McLean, Virginia, headed by former Republican Senator Peter Fitzgerald of Illinois. The company also owes the $6.4 million to Gingrich and his wife, Callista, neither of whom could be reached for comment.
Occupy Oakland activists escape hate-crime charges (22 May 2012)
Alameda County prosecutors dropped robbery and hate-crime charges Monday that they had filed against three Occupy Oakland demonstrators who got into an ugly altercation with a woman at a rally.
The activists - Michael Davis, 33; Nneka Crawford, 23; and 25-year-old Randolph Wilkins - had been scheduled to go to trial Monday.
Instead, Crawford and Wilkins were cleared, while Davis pleaded guilty to misdemeanor vandalism in a separate case in which he was accused of using chalk to write disparaging comments about Oakland police inside a BART station.
Deputy District Attorney Teresa Drenick said the dismissal was appropriate given Davis' plea deal, which calls for three years of probation and an order for him to stay away from Oakland City Hall.
PAM COMMENTARY: These were the guys in trouble for attacking a bystander, not for any activist heroics.
Protesters on the move again on last day of NATO (VIDEO) (22 May 2012)
PAM COMMENTARY: This video starts -- with loud sound from the protest -- without the viewer taking any action.
"No NATO, No War": U.S. Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan Return War Medals at NATO Summit (21 May 2012) [DN]
JACOB CRAWFORD: I'm Jacob Crawford. I went to Iraq and Afghanistan. And when they gave me these medals, I knew they were meaningless. I only regret not starting to speak up about how silly the war is sooner. I'm giving these back. Free Bradley Manning!
JASON HURD: My name is Jason Hurd. I spent 10 years in the United States Army as a combat medic. I deployed to Baghdad in 2004. I'm here to return my Global War on Terrorism Service Medal in solidarity with the people of Iraq and the people of Afghanistan. I am deeply sorry for the destruction that we have caused in those countries and around the globe. I am proud to stand on this stage with my fellow veterans and my Afghan sisters. These were lies. I'm giving them back.
STEVEN LUNN: My name is Steven Lunn [phon.]. I'm a two-time Iraq combat veteran. This medal I'm dedicating to the children of Iraq that no longer have fathers and mothers.
SHAWNA FOSTER: My name is Shawna, and I was a nuclear biological chemical specialist for a war that didn't have any weapons of mass destruction. So I deserted. I'm one of 40,000 people that left the United States Armed Forces because this is a lie!
Chicago: Establishment Creates Police State Theater for NATO War Council (21 May 2012) [AJ]
Despite establishment media hype predicting a repeat of the violence at the 1968 Democratic convention, the anti-NATO protests in Chicago have so far been largely non-violent.
As of Sunday, a mere 45 protesters were arrested. "No details on the arrests were immediately available, but it appeared from the clashes that played out in front of television cameras that many of those arrested were taken into custody after refusing a police order to disperse," the AP reports.
Chicago and the federal government squandered millions of tax payer dollars on a not-so secret "command center" to keep a watchful electronic eye on Americans exercising the First Amendment. The proudly advertised purpose of the high-tech fusion center was to protect "foreign ministers" who arrived to plot future NATO conquests and war crimes. Of course, these bureaucrats were never really in danger.
Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel's government worked with the Secret Service to turn downtown Chicago into a ghost town and deny workers and small businesses income. Eight foot tall "security fencing" created a declared "security perimeter" around downtown, Grant Park, and McCormick Place where the NATO war council convened.
Emanuel squandered over a million bucks on "riot equipment" for riots that have not so far taken place. Instead of rounding up violent anarchists and the like, the Chicago police have shut down miles of highway and streets so cars and pedestrians are prevented from accessing the city and thus inconveniencing ministers of war and globalist chaos at McCormick.
House Democrats calls for Gov. Walker to clarify testimony in light of new video (21 May 2012)
Democrats on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform have asked Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) to obtain a clarification from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R).
During a congressional testimony last year, Walker had denied that his actions in Wisconsin were used to punish members of the Democratic Party and their donor base, namely unions. But recently released video of the governor appears to contradict his testimony.
"This new video raises serious questions about the veracity of Governor Walker's testimony before our Committee, in which he repeatedly described his decision to strip public sector union workers of collective bargaining rights in purely economic terms," Reps. Elijah Cummings, Gerald Connolly and Chris Murphy wrote in a letter. "Instead, this video suggests that his motivation was to 'divide and conquer' public sector unions in order to turn Wisconsin into a 'completely red state.'"
Before he introduced legislation to strip public employees of collective bargaining rights, he promised a billionaire donor that he would use a "divide and conquer" strategy to bust unions, a newly released video revealed.
Study: The most conservative Republicans express lowest levels of speech complexity (21 May 2012)
The most conservative Republicans in Congress tend to speak at the lowest grade level, according to an analysis by the Sunlight Foundation.
The analysis found that the more conservative a Republican was, the lower his or her speech level tended to be. But same is also partially true for lawmakers on the opposite side of the political spectrum. More progressive Democrats in Congress also tend to speak at a lower grade level. However, the decline in speech complexity is less pronounced for Democrats than it is for Republicans.
"The overall complexity of speech in the Congressional Record has dropped almost a full grade level since 2005," Lee Drutman of the Sunlight Foundation explained. "And those on the political extremes, especially those on the far right, tend to be associated with the most simple speech patterns."
US nuclear safety chief Gregory Jaczko quits after tenure dogged by criticism (21 May 2012)
An independent auditor's report a year ago criticised Jaczko's management style. But campaign groups maintained the controversy was concocted to try to block his efforts to tighten safety standards at an agency that was much too cosy with industry.
Jaczko was praised for trying to push through new safety guidelines on existing reactors following the Fukushima disaster, and to try to ensure new reactors were built to a higher safety standards.
About a quarter of America's reactors are the same model as the stricken reactors at Fukushima, and a review called for a safety overhaul.
"Greg has led a Sisphyean fight against some of the nuclear industry's most entrenched opponents of strong, lasting safety regulations, often serving as the lone voice in support of much-needed safety upgrades," the Democratic congressman Ed Markey said in a statement following the announcement.
At Harvard, Romney Wasn't Your Typical Student (21 May 2012)
When Mitt Romney attacks his Democratic opponent on the campaign trail, he often derides President Obama's Ivy League credentials.
"We have a president who I think is a nice guy, but he spent too much time at Harvard," Romney told supporters at his Pennsylvania campaign headquarters in April.
But Obama wasn't the only one in this campaign to attend Harvard. Twenty years before Obama graduated from the law school, Romney earned a joint degree from Harvard's law and business schools. While Obama spent three years studying in Cambridge, Mass., Romney spent four.
In 1971, first-year Harvard Law students were seated alphabetically. That's how Garret Rasmussen, now a partner at a Washington, D.C., law firm, found himself seated next to Romney. They were assigned a project together.
Welcome, Nato, to Chicago's police state (20 May 2012)
With Nato delegates arriving Saturday night, the City of Chicago has been turned into a police state. Courtesy of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who several months ago began implementing new draconian anti-protest measures, Chicago has gone on security lockdown. Starting early Friday night, 18 May 2012, the Chicago Police Department began shutting down -- prohibiting cars, bikes, and pedestrians -- miles and miles of highways and roads in the heart of Chicago to create a security perimeter around downtown and McCormick Place (where the Nato summit is being held).
Eight-foot tall, anti-scale security fencing went up all over that perimeter and downtown, including Grant Park; and the Chicago police -- as well as myriad other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI and the US secret service -- were out in force on riot-geared horses, bikes, and patrols -- batons at the ready. Philadelphia Police Department is sending over reinforcements to help out; Chicago has also asked for recruits from police departments in Milwaukee and Charlotte-Mecklenburg, NC. Meanwhile, F-16 warplanes "screamed through the skies as part of a pre-summit defense exercise" and helicopters hovered incessantly.
The Chicago Police Department has spent $1m in "riot-control equipment" in anticipation of the Nato summit. According to the Guardian, "The city of Chicago's procurement services website shows that in March  $757,657 was spent on 8,513 'retro-fit kits' to be fitted to police helmets. In February  673 of the same kits, which include a face shield and ear and neck protectors, were purchased for $56,632." Plus, the Chicago Police Department will be deploying its two, new, expensive long-range acoustic device (LRAD) sound cannons -- which it bought at $20,000 a pop. These are the type of devices that were used by the Pittsburgh police to deliver high-pitched alarm tones during the G20 summit meeting there in 2009.
Then, there is the "secret suburban Chicago" police control center where "officials from more than 40 different agencies sit side by side with a giant central screen before them," as reported by the Chicago Sun Times. From the multi-agency command center, all different types of federal, state and local law enforcement can "view live video feeds from security cameras that are already up and running throughout the city".
BP oil spill residue found on pelicans in Minnesota (16 May 2012)
APPLETON, Minn. -- Pollutants from the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago are showing up in Minnesota birds that migrate to the gulf.
Researchers for the state Department of Natural Resources have found evidence of petroleum compounds and the chemical used to clean up the oil in the eggs of pelicans nesting in Minnesota.
Scientists are looking for pollutants on a western Minnesota lake that is home to the largest colony of American White Pelicans in North America. About 34,000 adult pelicans will raise some 17,000 chicks this year on islands in Marsh Lake.
The area is a perfect place to look for oil spill effects. Most of the birds spend winters in the Gulf of Mexico, from Cuba to Texas. Young pelicans spend a full year on the gulf before they start breeding.
Wisconsin campaign donations: Despite rhetoric, the parties' mountains of money are about even (20 May 2012)
It found that most of the out-of-state money -- and most of the big-dollar contributions -- have gone to Republican candidates and allied groups, while donations to Democrats and unions' political action committees have come overwhelmingly from within Wisconsin.
Katherine Cramer Walsh, a UW-Madison associate professor of political science, said the relative parity in fundraising was surprising, especially in light of a provision in state law that allows the targets of a recall to raise unlimited money between the time a recall drive is initiated and the time an election is called. That provision helped Walker raise millions more than he could otherwise. Through April, his campaign had raised $23.8 million, smothering his Democratic rivals.
"The perception out there is that the Republicans are much more flush with cash, and that isn't supported here," Cramer Walsh said.
To avoid duplication, the State Journal analysis examined only the money going to political groups and excluded money those groups gave to each other. It's not yet known how much of that will be spent on recall elections and how much might ultimately go to other campaigns.
Arctic melt releasing ancient methane (20 May 2012)
Scientists have identified thousands of sites in the Arctic where methane that has been stored for many millennia is bubbling into the atmosphere.
The methane has been trapped by ice, but is able to escape as the ice melts.
Writing in the journal Nature Geoscience, the researchers say this ancient gas could have a significant impact on climate change.
Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas after CO2 and levels are rising after a few years of stability.
There are many sources of the gas around the world, some natural and some man-made, such as landfill waste disposal sites and farm animals.
B.C. forestry technicians, science officers to act as park rangers this long weekend (20 May 2012)
Provincial forestry technicians and science officers have been given authority to act as park rangers and will help patrol provincial parks this long weekend.
The deputization of staff from the Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Ministry was revealed Friday after intense criticism of government by the NDP and conservation groups for the dwindling number of park rangers.
Lack of park oversight was blamed for the illegal cutting and removal of an 800-year-old red cedar from Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park.
An unknown number of forest technicians, whose usual jobs range from planning cutblocks to reforestation, and science officers, whose usual jobs are in areas such as air and soil quality, were deputized earlier this month and given ID cards saying they have the authority of a park ranger.
Donna Summer Was 'Hot Stuff,' Indeed (20 May 2012)
Disco might have been an inherently silly genre, polyester style over organic substance, but Donna Summer flat-out owned the art form, trailblazing the way for scores of female pop stars who blend talent and sex appeal.
Summer, "the Queen of Disco," died Thursday at age 63. Her publicist said she had been battling cancer. The singer had a home in nearby Englewood with her husband, Bruce Sudano.
Brazen and beautiful, the singer leaves behind a ground-breaking legacy as the Grammy-winning belter of such dance-floor burners as "Last Dance," "MacArthur Park," "Hot Stuff" and "Bad Girls." As well as flashing that big voice, she wasn't shy about showing off her legs or cleavage, either. Madonna, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga all have Summer to thank.
"Her records sound as good today as they ever did," said Elton John in a statement. "That she has never been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a total disgrace especially when I see the second-rate talent that has been inducted."
PAM COMMENTARY: You don't like it, start your own awards! Anyone can offer awards. Start your own museum, too, as long as you have the funding. Maybe the thing would eventually turn into a good investment and make money, too.
Night herons settling down in downtown Oakland (20 May 2012)
Downtown Oakland has no shortage of wildlife. Now it even has some of the nonhuman variety.
A colony of giant, squawking, black-crowned night herons has taken up residence in the gritty urban core of Oakland, apparently thriving amid the tattoo parlors and Afghan restaurants, Occupiers and bus exhaust.
"Oh my God, I saw one walking right down 14th Street. I'm like, 'What is that?' " said Jalima Morales, 26, who saw a few more of the striking blue birds as she was walking down Jackson Street recently. "Now I see them all the time. They're so loud. It sounds like a rain forest over here."
The herons - more than 2 feet tall and deep, steely blue - apparently relocated a few years ago from their historic nesting spot at the Lake Merritt bird sanctuary. One theory is they were displaced by the booming population of double-crested cormorants. Another theory is they've taken a liking to the vast, leafy ficus trees that abound downtown. No one but the herons knows for sure.
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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