Pam Rotella's Vegetarian FUN page -- News on health, nutrition, the environment, politics, and more!
NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012
News from the Week of 27th of May to 2nd of June 2012
Clinton rallies Wisconsin Democrats, urges them to oust Walker (1 June 2012)
Clinton told the crowd at a downtown riverfront park that the states recovering from the economic downturn are those in which members of both parties are working together.
"They are involved in creative cooperation, not constant conflict," he said, later adding, "Cooperation works. Constant conflict is a dead-bang loser."
Clinton's comments were a clear dig at Walker after the state divided last year over the governor's push to effectively end collective bargaining for most public workers. Walker and Republican leaders rammed his proposal through the state Legislature despite weeks of protests at the state Capitol and Senate Democrats fleeing to Illinois in an ultimately futile effort to block a vote.
That's no way to govern, Clinton said. Real leaders get stakeholders together, listen to their concerns, treat them with respect and make sure everyone moves forward together, he said.
Wisconsin teachers at the center of fight over collective bargaining (2 June 2012)
In Milwaukee, many teachers are angry with Governor Scott Walker's Act 10 budget-repair bill that he passed with fellow legislative Republicans last year. The collective bargaining restrictions imposed by the bill mean a larger chunk of teacher paychecks in the future will go toward health insurance and pension payments -- equivalent to a significant cut in pay.
But Bond says he's most concerned for his students. Wisconsin's education system also took an $800 million cut in state aid. Act 10's policies should eventually offset some of those cuts, but because Milwaukee teachers renegotiated their contract with the school district just before the law took effect, the classrooms in Milwaukee have taken the hardest initial hits.
The lack of funding means enrichment programs such as art and music are often being cut, and class sizes have progressively gotten larger. Bond says his classes next year will average 45 students.
Kathy Vincent is a specialist instructor at Merton Community School District in Milwaukee, where outcomes of the new law have already occurred. Vincent says she feels more vulnerable without the protection of a union for collective bargaining purposes.
PAM COMMENTARY: It's hard to stomach Scott Walker bragging about a budget "surplus" when you know where it came from -- cutting school funding and seizing the mortgage settlement meant for wronged homeowners.
Lawsuit alleges state is illegally denying BadgerCare coverage (1 June 2012)
Legal Action of Wisconsin filed a lawsuit Friday against the state Department of Health Services, alleging the state is illegally denying BadgerCare coverage to people on a waiting list.
The suit, filed in Dane County Circuit Court on behalf of two women from Milwaukee, says the women should be enrolled in the BadgerCare Plus Core Plan.
The Medicaid program for childless adults, which started in January 2009, capped enrollment that October because demand exceeded the budgeted participation of about 54,000 people. A waiting list was started, which now has more than 130,000 names.
Only 26,000 people remain in the program, as enrollment has dropped through attrition. People on the waiting list should be enrolled, advocates say.
Cuba-trained doctors making difference around the world (2 June 2012)
SANTA CLARA, CUBA--Every morning, on the edge of town, you can witness a spectacular migration. Hundreds of students in white lab coats pour from a squat university building on to the street, around the line of horse-drawn wagons, and into nearby hospitals.
You can play a game, watching from your perch beneath a flowering flamboyant tree: where do you think the guy with dreadlocks is from? What about the girl with a hijab? Some have telltale signs -- an Argentinean or Angolan flag stitched over their medical uniforms.
They are international students at the world's largest medical school, the Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina -- ELAM.
To put the school's size in perspective: the University of Toronto has 850 medical students and Harvard University has 735. ELAM has twelve times more students than those two schools combined: 19,550. And, despite being a poor country, every single one of those students is on full scholarship.
Justice Department Orders Florida to Stop Voter Purge Targeting Latino, Democratic Voters (1 June 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: How long have you been voting?
MAUREEN RUSSO: I've been voting for 40 years.
AMY GOODMAN: Forty years. So, what happened? Can you describe the letter you received?
MAUREEN RUSSO: I received a letter asking me to prove that I'm a U.S. citizen. I've sent my passport, and I did receive a phone call saying that it was a mistake that they sent the letter, but I did ask for something in writing, so when I go to the polls--when I go to the polls in November, I'll go there confidently, knowing that I have some sort of proof that I am a U.S. citizen and that I've proved that.
Greek experts find Roman shipwrecks nearly a mile deep (2 June 2012)
Two Roman-era shipwrecks have been found in deep water off a western Greek island, challenging the conventional theory that ancient shipmasters stuck to coastal routes rather than risking the open sea, an official said Tuesday. Greece's culture ministry said the two third-century wrecks were discovered earlier this month during a survey of an area where a Greek-Italian gas pipeline is to be sunk. They lay between 0.7 and 0.9 mile deep in the sea between Corfu and Italy.
That would place them among the deepest known ancient wrecks in the Mediterranean, apart from remains found in 1999 of an older vessel some 1.8 miles deep off Cyprus.
Angeliki Simossi, head of Greece's underwater antiquities department, said sunken ancient ships are generally found 100-130 feet deep.
Most scholars believe that ancient traders were unwilling to veer far offshore, unlike warships which were unburdened by ballast and cargo.
Additional Whooping Crane Habitat now under conservation protection (1 June 2012)
More than 170 acres of undeveloped whooping crane habitat is now under conservation protection in Lamar Peninsula, north of Rockport, in a property purchase coordinated by Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program, Whooping Crane Conservation Association and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, according to a news release issued Friday.
The groups partnered to purchase the privately-owned 178 acres in the Holiday Beach area. Sale of the property closed last week.
The endangered species spend the winter in the area, and have been seen on this property.
"The acquisition of this property is important to Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program because it is occupied whooping crane habitat," Jake Herring, the group's property manager, said in the release.
Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program received the funds for the purchase through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Endangered Species Recovery Land Acquisition Grant Program, administered by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Matching funds were provided by the Whooping Crane Conservation Association. The Nature Conservancy also assisted in the property purchase.
Barrett to Walker: 'You should be ashamed' of 'dead baby' commercial (1 June 2012)
"You should be ashamed of that commercial, Scott Walker," the Democrat added.
An ominous attack ad created by the Walker campaign late last month shows a blurred image of a dead child and charges: "This 2-year-old spent six days in intensive care after being severely beaten, but Tom Barrett's police didn't consider it a violent crime."
Barrett, who is mayor of Milwaukee, explained that the city's police department made a "bureaucratic mistake" by not changing a code in the computer system, but the baby's killer was brought to justice.
"And you're running a commercial attacking my integrity, claiming I did something to do this," Barrett told Walker. "And you know that's false. You know that's false. You tell me whether you think I had anything to do with that. I'll tell you right now, I had nothing to do with that."
World War II Vet Caught Up In Florida's Voter Purge Controversy (31 May 2012)
Bill Internicola, a 91-yar-old World War II veteran, was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., and now lives in Florida's Broward County. He recently received a letter from county elections officials asking him to show proof he was a U.S. citizen or be removed from the voting rolls.
Internicola says he was "flabbergasted."
"To me, it's like an insult," he says. "They sent me a form to fill out. And I filled out the form and I sent it back to them with a copy of my discharge paper and a copy of my tour of duty in the ETO, which is the European Theater of Operations."
Internicola's was one of more than 180,000 names Florida's secretary of state identified from motor vehicle records as possible noncitizens. Several weeks ago, the secretary's office sent county elections supervisors a first batch of some 2,600 names. County officials, who are also preparing for the state's August primary, started sending out letters to suspected noncitizens, saying they had 30 days to prove their citizenship or be removed from the voting rolls.
AP 'napalm girl' photo from Vietnam War turns 40 (31 May 2012)
She will always be a victim without a name.
It only took a second for Associated Press photographer Huynh Cong "Nick" Ut to snap the iconic black-and-white image 40 years ago. It communicated the horrors of the Vietnam War in a way words could never describe, helping to end one of the most divisive wars in American history.
But beneath the photo lies a lesser-known story. It's the tale of a dying child brought together by chance with a young photographer. A moment captured in the chaos of war that would serve as both her savior and her curse on a journey to understand life's plan for her.
"I really wanted to escape from that little girl," says Kim Phuc, now 49. "But it seems to me that the picture didn't let me go."
3 Years After George Tiller's Murder, Reproductive Rights Face New Legislative Attacks, Hate Crimes (31 May 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: That's Scott Roeder. In fact, he had tried to go after another clinic, and a clinic worker there had reported what he had done, gumming up the locks. And yet, he wasn't stopped. Scott Roeder didn't just do this for the first time there at the Wichita church, murdering George Tiller, Vicki.
VICKI SAPORTA: Oftentimes these extremists start with lower-level criminal activity, and that activity escalates, which is why law enforcement response to clinic violence is so very, very important. Roeder tried to justify his actions, tried to put forward a justifiable homicide defense, which was not allowed, as it should not have been. There is no justification for murdering an abortion provider or any other healthcare professional. And in a civilized society, we can't allow people to settle political differences by murdering one another. And this was an abhorrent act. And he will spend the rest of his life in jail.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the void left by Dr. Tiller, the closing of the clinic, and access to abortion in Kansas now?
VICKI SAPORTA: There is no abortion provider currently in Wichita, Kansas, so women have to travel some distance in order to obtain the abortion care they need if they live in Kansas. But Dr. Tiller cared for women from all over the world. Genetic counselors, perinatologists referred to his practice, because they knew that their patients would receive excellent and compassionate care. And others have extended their practices and have tried to fill the void by the closing of his clinic, and so we are able to refer women to obtain quality care later in pregnancy.
But Dr. Tiller and his staff and his facility were unique, and we, as a community, still miss him every day. Just listening to his voice reminded me of the many times that he came to our meetings and we spoke. And others were happy to be able to talk to him, to thank him and to get his advice on different cases in patient care. And he was equally generous with his colleagues as he was to his patients. He was a revered, respected and beloved physician.
Wisconsin recall tests conservatives' ground game (1 June 2012)
American Majority Action is one of several national groups that specialize in working with grassroots activists and are campaigning on Walker's behalf in the special election. The vote, which could oust the governor from office, follows a petition backed by Democrats and labor unions opposing a law passed soon after Walker took office in 2011 that curtails the power of public-sector unions.
Grassroots organizing has often been neglected by the Republican Party establishment, which has traditionally relied more on advertising to reach voters. But the Internet and social media like Facebook have enabled individualistic conservatives to link up with politically like-minded people, and a thriving industry of volunteer political groups has arisen in recent years.
The organizations that cater to this new class of conservative activists will have seen their funding grow at least sevenfold since 2008, to $140 million, if 2012 fundraising estimates from conservative groups such as Americans for Prosperity (AFP) provided to Reuters prove accurate.
Re-electing Walker is a crucial test for them in a presidential and congressional election year.
PAM COMMENTARY: They might do better with an easier product to sell...
Manson follower's tapes may yield new clues, LAPD says (1 June 2012)
The official record says that Charles Manson and his cult followers murdered eight people during their reign of terror across Los Angeles more than 40 years ago.
But for those involved in bringing members of the Manson family to justice, there has always been the lingering suspicion that their trail of death was longer. Over the years, questions have persisted about a man's apparent suicide in England, the drowning of an attorney and whether bodies are buried under the California ranches the cult called home.
Now, Los Angeles police hope that they have stumbled on a trove of new clues that could shed more light on the Manson murders.
A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge in Texas this week granted a request from the LAPD to review eight cassette tapes containing hours of conversations between one of Manson's most fervent followers and his late attorney. The lawyer made the recording while interviewing Charles "Tex" Watson after he and other Manson family members had been arrested in 1969.
New Wisconsin study on viruses in drinking water could have national impact (1 June 2012)
A Wisconsin study that shows a connection between viruses in drinking water and human illness is likely to have a national impact and could eventually lead to federal rules requiring treatment of all public water systems, according to experts.
The research, published online Friday by the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, was conducted in 14 Wisconsin communities by Mark Borchardt and Susan K. Spencer, microbiologists with the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation. Both Borchardt and Spencer now work at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service in Marshfield.
The two-year study was among the first to closely link the presence of viruses in tap water to sickness in people drinking that water. The evidence in the study was so powerful that it resulted, even before its formal publication, in a state law in Wisconsin that required treatment of all municipal drinking water systems in the state.
That law was rescinded by the Republican-controlled state Legislature a year ago. State Rep. Erik Severson, R-Star Prairie, sponsored an amendment that removed the requirement, arguing that the rule was an unnecessary financial and bureaucratic burden on communities with already strong water standards.
Report: Salaries surging in oil and gas industry (1 June 2012)
The U.S. oil boom is driving a surge in salaries in the energy industry, with average pay packages growing 5 percent over the past year, according to a report released by CSI Recruiting.
Drilling engineers, who design and manage well drilling plans, saw their average salaries grow more than 9 percent to $159,127, the biggest jump in annual salary, according to the report. Production and operations engineers, who oversee field operations when wells start producing oil and gas, also saw a 9 percent salary jump, earning $163,748.
The average annual salary for reservoir engineers, who are often the highest paid in the industry, jumped a meager 1 percent to $168,722 in 2012, following a 20 percent jump the year before.
CSI Recruiting, a Denver-based staffing agency, analyzed the salaries and bonuses of more than 2,400 workers in the U.S. oil and gas exploration and production industry, including engineers, geologists and technicians. Skilled workers have been in short supply during the drilling boom, causing salaries to grow higher in many fields.
Jobs data point to loss of momentum in recovery (31 May 2012)
(Reuters) - Private payroll growth accelerated only slightly last month and claims for jobless benefits rose last week, suggesting the labor market recovery was stalling after a strong performance early in the year.
Other data on Thursday showed economic growth in the first quarter was a bit softer than initially estimated, with businesses restocking shelves more slowly than previously thought and government spending declining more sharply.
"It shows we're in a lackluster period in the economy right now," said Wayne Kaufman, chief market analyst at John Thomas Financial in New York.
Private employers created 133,000 jobs in May, payrolls processor ADP said. That was below economists' expectations for 148,000 jobs.
Kucinich: Citizens United ruling would have staggered our Founding Fathers (30 May 2012)
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) said Wednesday that the Founding Fathers of the United States would not have supported the U.S. Supreme Court's controversial decision in Citizens United.
"Money is destroying our politics and our political system," he said in a video uploaded to YouTube. "Our electoral system has become such a joke that two late-night comedians created their own Super PAC and generated great laughter just by showing how one operates."
The ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission held that limiting corporate campaign spending violated the First Amendment, because political contributions were a form of political speech and corporations were legally persons. The ruling gave rise to Super PACS, which can raise an unlimited amount of money to influence federal elections.
"This would have staggered our Founding Fathers," Kucinich said.
PAM COMMENTARY: Actually, there's a question of whether the original ruling really said that corporations have the same legal rights as persons -- but that's the way it's interpreted these days.
Ecuadorans seek $18.2 billion damage judgment against Chevron in Ontario courts (31 May 2012)
A group of 30,000 Ecuadorans who won an $18.3 (U.S.) billion judgment against the oil giant Chevron in Ecuador for polluting the rainforest are asking Ontario's courts to help them collect.
But the company is not yielding quietly in the two-decades-old case, claiming that the legal actions against it are a "multi-billion-dollar scam."
A Chevron executive has accused lawyers and consultants for the plaintiffs of trying to "extort a multi-billion dollar payment from Chevron through fabricated evidence and a campaign to incite public outrage."
The Ecuadorans' Canadian lawyer Alan Lenczner says he's not re-trying a case that's already been decided, however -- he's simply trying to enforce a judgment rendered in Ecuador.
Minority voting rights under threat from ID laws, attorney general warns (30 May 2012)
The US attorney general, Eric Holder, has warned that gains of the civil rights struggle hang in the balance in the face of a determined effort by many states to roll back laws ensuring the right to vote.
Holder told a Washington conference on Wednesday that there is a "growing need to protect the voting rights of every eligible citizen" amid a flurry of legislation and executive orders in US states ostensibly to prevent election fraud with measures such as requiring proof of identity in order to vote.
The meeting was told the laws are intended to prevent African Americans in particular from voting because because nearly one in four black people lack photo identification.
A Congressman from North Carolina, GK Butterfield, said that if new requirements for voter identification and proof of citizenship in many states, and restrictions on groups mobilising people to vote, had been in place four years ago they would have been likely to cost Barack Obama the presidency.
Glenn Greenwald: Obama's Secret Kill List "The Most Radical Power a Government Can Seize" (30 May 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: And your response to William Daley, the White House Chief of staff and the Times saying that called the decision to strike the U.S. born cleric Anwar Awlaki and easy one?
GLENN GREENWALD: Well, this is why I wrote yesterday, I think one of the things that the New York Times article did was shed light on President Obama's character. We can talk a lot about his policies, and that usually is what's most important, and we've known that he's has been embracing these radical theories of executive power that even George Bush's former former CIA and NSA chief General Michael Haden has lavishly praised and other Bush officials are over the moon about in terms of President Obama endorsing them. So, we know his policies have been extremist and radical, but here you have one of the most controversial things that a president can do -- ordering an American citizen assassinated by the CIA in total secrecy with no due process, never been charged with a crime, even though they could have charged him if they really had evidence as they claim, that he was guilty of plotting terrorist attacks. Instead of charging him, they simply secretly ordered his assassination, and it turns out there was no struggling in terms of the difficult constitutional and ethical and legal issues this a obviously presents. According to the President's own aides, they're boasting to the New York Times that he has declared that this was an "Easy" decision, not anything that he struggled with, something that he made quite easily. So, we find out that not only is exercising this radical power, he is not even having any struggles with conscience or constitutional questions or legal or intellectual quandaries about it. It's something that his national-security adviser, Tom Donilon, also bragged to the New York Times about. It shows how "Comfortable" he is using force, even against American citizens. That I think reflects really on the type of person that occupies the Oval Office.
Five-year-olds treated for depression and anxiety (30 May 2012)
Prescriptions for Fluoxetine, more commonly known as Prozac, have risen 26% in Oxfordshire and 13% in Berkshire from April to September last year.
MPs recently announced an extra £22m to tackle child mental health treatment.
Experts said children are coming under increasing stress because of unemployment, financial problems and substance abuse among their parents.
In February, the NHS Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) in Sussex estimated it was working with about 330 under-11s and about 830 12 to 18-year-olds with anxiety and/or depression.
While in Dorset, 212 young people were diagnosed with depression and/or anxiety disorder with 118 of them being under 16 at the date of referral.
Eating This Could Turn Your Gut into a Living Pesticide Factory (29 May 2012)
A new generation of insect larvae is eating the roots of genetically engineered corn intended to be resistant to such pests. The failure of Monsanto's genetically modified Bt corn could be the most serious threat ever to a genetically modified crop in the U.S.
And the economic impact could be huge. Billions of dollars are at stake, as Bt corn accounts for 65 percent of all corn grown in the US.
The strain of corn, engineered to kill the larvae of beetles, such as the corn rootworm, contains a gene copied from an insect-killing bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt.
But even though a scientific advisory panel warned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the threat of insects developing resistance was high, Monsanto argued that the steps necessary to prevent such an occurrence -- which would have entailed less of the corn being planted -- were an unnecessary precaution, and the EPA naively agreed.
PAM COMMENTARY: BT is a poison naturally produced by a specific type of bacteria, and engineering the bacterial gene into a corn variety that can manufacture the poison on its own means that every bite of BT corn has some BT poison in it. You can't rinse that type of pesticide off before eating the corn -- it's designed into the food.
Because BT is natural, organic farmers are allowed to use BT as a spray on their crops, but they only use it as needed, sprayed externally -- that's what gave Monsanto the idea of using BT originally. However, by making BT pervasive in the environment and creating resistance to the poison by insects, Monsanto has ensured that Organic farmers will eventually have one less natural spray to control pests. At the same time, we now have BT poison contaminating large parts of our food supply.
How the "Job Creators" Really Spend Their Money (29 May 2012) [BF]
In his "Gospel of Wealth," Andrew Carnegie argued that average Americans should welcome the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, because the "superior wisdom, experience, and ability" of the rich would ensure benefits for all of us. More recently, Edward Conard, the author of "Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You've Been Told About the Economy Is Wrong, said: "As a society, we're not offering our talented few large enough rewards. We're underpaying our 'risk takers.'"
Does wealthy America have a point, that giving them all the money will ensure it's disbursed properly, and that it will create jobs and stimulate small business investment while ultimately benefiting society? Big business CEOs certainly think so, claiming in a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner that an increase in the capital gains tax would reduce investment "when we need capital formation here in America to create jobs and expand our economy."
They don't cite evidence for their claims, because the evidence proves them wrong. Here are the facts:
1. The Very Rich Don't Like Making Risky Investments
Marketwatch estimates that over 90% of the assets owned by millionaires are held in a combination of low-risk investments (bonds and cash), the stock market, and real estate. According to economist Richard Wolff, about half of the assets of the richest 1% are held in unincorporated business equity (personal business accounts). The Wall Street Journal notes that over three-quarters of individuals worth over $20 million are invested in hedge funds.
Angel investing (capital provided by affluent individuals for business start-ups) accounted for less than 1% of the investable assets of high net worth individuals in North America in 2011.
"Inside Job" Director Charles Ferguson: Wall Street Has Turned the U.S. into a "Predatory Nation" (29 May 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about--what is so fascinating in Predator Nation is looking at the academic part of the network that you talk about misleading us, the ivory tower.
CHARLES FERGUSON: Yes, this is a problem that I think many Americans remain unaware of. I was quite struck when my film was released that most people who saw the film and spoke with me afterwards commented that the section on the economics discipline was the most surprising and shocking to them. What has happened is that over the same period of time, roughly the last 30 years, that money has become so much more important in American politics, it has also become more important in American academia. And the same interest groups, companies, industries, that began contributing to political campaigns and building up lobbying organizations and engaging in revolving-door hiring in the political sphere also began doing the same thing in American academia, to the point that now there is actually an industry, an industry that's probably a couple of billion dollars a year, of selling academic expertise for people who have public policy or legal or law enforcement problems.
AMY GOODMAN: Charles, let's go to a clip of Inside Job that deals with this, the links between academics at elite institutions in the U.S. and the financial industry. Here you talk to economics professors at Columbia as well as at Harvard.
CHARLES FERGUSON: Over the last decade, the financial services industries made about $5 billion worth of political contributions in the United States. That's kind of a lot of money. That doesn't bother you?
MARTIN FELDSTEIN: No.
MATT DAMON: Martin Feldstein is a professor at Harvard and one of the world's most prominent economists. As President Reagan's chief economic adviser, he was a major architect of deregulation. And from 1988 until 2009, he was on the board of directors of both AIG and AIG Financial Products, which paid him millions of dollars.
Wisconsin Recall Election: More revealed about John Doe investigation (29 May 2012)
Today, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Dan Bice revealed the existence of potentially explosive emails uncovered as part of the John Doe criminal investigation of Governor Scott Walker's former staff during the time that he served as Milwaukee County Executive. The paper had previously reported that as part of the wide-ranging secret investigation, the Milwaukee District Attorney was looking into "bid rigging" allegations related to the county's efforts to find private or public office space for its Department on Aging. The paper is now revealing that this aspect of the investigation involves emails between Walker and a long-time campaign advisor that have been described as everything from "legally inconclusive" to "a bombshell." Because of the strict secrecy rules governing the case, the sources refused to release the documents to the newspaper. Anyone divulging information from the John Doe proceedings, which take place in closed court before a single judge, could face criminal charges.
The emails reportedly involve a 2010 exchange between Walker and his longtime campaign treasurer John Hiller. Hiller is a realtor and was reportedly involved in the Department of Aging moves in 2005 and 2010. CMD has previously reported that Hiller has been president of Hiller Realty for over 21 years. He was Scott Walker's campaign treasurer for 13 of those years. He also led the transition team when Walker became governor. Yet in May of 2011, as news of the John Doe investigation was breaking, Hiller inexplicably left his post as Walker's treasurer.
The Journal Sentinel article concludes that District Attorney John Chisholm is not likely to be filing any additional charges as part of the John Doe probe or closing the investigation before the June 5 recall election. While Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has repeatedly called upon Walker to release all emails he turned over as part of the investigation, it is unlikely that the public will see any of these documents before the election. The wide-ranging secret investigation has already netted 15 felony indictments for illegal campaigning on the county payroll, for embezzlement of veterans funds, and child enticement. Learn more here.
Walker Closely Involved with Previous Recall Campaigns. Governor Scott Walker and his supporters say that recalls should be reserved for high crimes and misdemeanors, but Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has charged that Walker was involved in a 1997 effort to recall U.S. Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold, due to their pro-choice positions on legislation. New information released by Jud Lounsbury at the blog Uppity Wisconsin suggests that Walker was integrally involved in those recall efforts. According to Lounsbury, Walker was not only a major champion of the pro-life movement in Wisconsin speaking at recall events, but "First Breath Alliance," the group that organized the attempted recalls, gave Walker the money left over from the failed effort. Walker also sang a different tune on recalls when he made this video back in 2010.
PAM COMMENTARY: Walker is confusing recall with impeachment. Impeachment is the remedy reserved for crimes in office. Recalls can be used for anything, including a candidate who poses as moderate to get elected, but then pushes an extreme radical agenda after he's in office.
RECALL ELECTION: Hundreds wait in line to vote early (28 May 2012)
On a day when mail carriers didn't deliver and mourners packed cemeteries for solemn tributes to the dead, hundreds of others stood in long lines outside the Madison city clerk's office, showing that in this hypercharged election season voting takes no holiday.
"I'm amazed," said voter Allan Wessel of Madison of the turnout, which hit 379 people in four hours and produced 45-minute waits. "We thought there might be a short little line."
The clerk's office took the unusual step of opening for a half-day on Memorial Day, a federal holiday, to allow people to cast early ballots for the June 5 gubernatorial recall election, the first in state history. The line snaked around the corner to the City Hall entrance and, at times, got so long it turned again at the Parks Department office, creating a J-shaped line of voters who weren't prepared for the wait.
"Welcome to the party!" a woman said to a man as he took position as the caboose, a look of shock on his face.
Radioactive bluefin tuna from Japan found in U.S. waters (28 May 2012)
For the first time, scientists have discovered that tuna contaminated by last year's radiation leak from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant have crossed the Pacific Ocean into U.S. waters, according to the Associated Press. Scientists have been startled to discover the radioactive fish some 6,000 miles from their place of origin, the first time that large, migrating fish have been shown to carry contaminants over such a great distance.
Normally, radiation and other contaminants are found in smaller fish and plankton, and only in waters close to the source of contamination. However, levels of radioactive cesium have been found at ten times the normal levels in fish off of the coast of California. The current levels, say officials, are still below the levels considered unsafe by the U.S. and Japanese governments.
In March of 2011, a massive earthquake and devastating tsunami struck northeastern Japan, killing thousands and reducing entire towns to mud and rubble. The Fukushima nuclear plant was caught unprepared for the disaster, and subsequently multiple reactors at the plant melted down, spewing radioactive materials into the air and water and triggering mass evacuations.
Bluefin tuna are large, fast-swimming fish, growing up to ten feet in length and weighing up to half a ton. The fish swim at "breakneck" speeds and cross the oceans to feed and mate.
Farmers scrambling to find harvest labor (27 May 2012)
Skip Foppiano of Morada Produce is praying for cool weather. The San Joaquin County grower and packer is thick into cherry harvest season and is short on labor - 20 to 30 percent fewer pickers than he had last year.
If it gets too hot, his smaller-than-usual workforce won't have time to get all the cherries off the trees before they rot. Farmers across California are experiencing the same problem: Seasonal workers who have been coming for decades to help with the harvest, planting and pruning have dropped off in recent years. With immigration crackdowns, an aging Mexican population, drug wars at the border and a weakened job market in the United States, the flow of migrants has stopped and may actually have reversed, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research firm that has been studying the trend.
"We're scrambling," Foppiano said, adding that he's also experiencing a labor shortage in Fresno, where he owns additional cherry orchards. "It's a hard time. And I'm hearing lots of other growers complaining about it."
After cherries, Foppiano will move into onion season and then bell peppers, all of which need to be hand-harvested. A third-generation farmer whose success has always depended on the whims of Mother Nature, he's not ready to panic over a shortage of workers - yet.
Oregon pharmacists say: We're not burger flippers (27 May 2012)
Oregon pharmacists are fed up.
They say they're overwhelmed with the crush of prescriptions totaling hundreds per day. They're tired of long days with rare bathroom or meal breaks. Mostly, they're worn down by the stress that comes with dispensing life-or-death medicines in a burger-flipping environment.
So they're fighting back through the board that licenses their employers. Last week, the Oregon State Board of Pharmacy approved new rules governing working conditions in pharmacies. These rules may compel some of the big chain stores, which are coming to dominate the pharmacy world, to adopt more patient-centered business practices.
This is good news for people in Oregon who regularly get prescriptions for themselves, their children or elderly parents: The status quo simply isn't safe enough.
Struggling to appear normal; Scott Walker and Memorial Day
(28 May 2012)
The big TV stations' video cameras taped most of the ceremony -- in prior years they didn't even bother coming -- and then left without an attempt to ask any questions of the governor.
I decided to stay after the event, to see whether the governor would be willing to talk with people who stayed late to see him.
What I saw was a man desperate to keep his job. He stayed after the event and shook every hand, posed for every picture, and signed every program requested of him -- although listening appeared to be limited to a few seconds per individual. Earlier, during the service, Walker had done everything that he thought was expected of him. He sat quietly behind other speakers during the ceremony. He tried to show respect for the military dead. He gave a speech that focused on the state's military and not his own political problems.
Walker was supposedly so dedicated to his extremist agenda that several state senators' political careers were worth sacrificing in recall elections prior to his own, along with millions in donor contributions. Yet at the event, he worked very hard to avoid becoming his own next victim, despite Van Wanggaard's apparent fate. Scott Walker wasn't going to miss an opportunity to keep or win a vote.
But finally it was too much. The man just couldn't keep himself together until the end.
Scott Walker's campaign hasn't ended, review finds (27 May 2012)
MADISON -- Gov. Scott Walker never stopped running.
Three days after the Republican leader moved into the governor's office in January 2011, his campaign staff was writing checks to consultants, TV stations and fundraisers. And they haven't stopped.
With a historic recall election against Democratic challenger Tom Barrett set for June 5, Walker's campaign has spent more than $20 million since he took office, nearly double the amount spent to get him elected, a Gannett Wisconsin Media review has found.
The spending has happened during a time when governors typically shut down most of their campaign operations.
"We don't usually see this kind of money being spent on consultants and campaign staff and campaign activity in the year right after an election. But then, it was pretty clear early on that (Walker) was likely going to face a recall election," said Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a nonpartisan group that tracks spending on political campaigns.
Florida GOP Gov has staff tell hundreds of eligible voters they can't vote (27 May 2012)
Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) is facing major criticism for his administration ruling many eligible citizens in the state ineligible to vote, according to an exclusive report from Think Progress.
Scott's plan calls for the state to purge all "non-citizens" from the voting rolls before the November election. However, his administration's list is filled with a myriad of mistakes that deny a large number of eligible voters the chance to cast a ballot.
One area serving as the prime example of the Scott administration's mistakes is Miami Dade County, a predominantly Democratic area. 1638 people in the county were flagged as "non-citizens" by the state. However, at least 359 people already provided information proving their citizenship. An additional 26 people were identified as citizens by the county itself. The remaining 1,200 people have yet to respond to a letter sent by Florida's Supervisor of Elections.
The Miami Herald found that "Hispanic, Democratic and independent-minded voters are the most likely to be targeted" to likely be considered ineligible to vote.
Bradley Manning defence team says US military is withholding key evidence (27 May 2012)
Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of being behind the biggest leak of state secrets in US history, is being denied a fair trial because the army is withholding from him crucial information that might prove his innocence or reduce his sentence, his defence team is arguing.
With Manning's court-martial approaching in September, his legal team has released details of what they claim is a shocking lack of diligence on the part of the military prosecutors in affording him his basic constitutional rights.
The stakes are high, with Manning facing possible life imprisonment for a raft of charges that include "aiding the enemy".
Manning's main civilian lawyer, David Coombs, has filed a motion with the military court in Fort Meade, Maryland, that sets out a catalogue of delays and inconsistencies in the army's handling of the case.
Illegal kidney trade booms as new organ is 'sold every hour' (27 May 2012)
Patients, many of whom will go to China, India or Pakistan for surgery, can pay up to $200,000 (nearly £128,000) for a kidney to gangs who harvest organs from vulnerable, desperate people, sometimes for as little as $5,000.
The vast sums to be made by both traffickers and surgeons have been underlined by the arrest by Israeli police last week of 10 people, including a doctor, suspected of belonging to an international organ trafficking ring and of committing extortion, tax fraud and grievous bodily harm. Other illicit organ trafficking rings have been uncovered in India and Pakistan.
The Guardian contacted an organ broker in China who advertised his services under the slogan, "Donate a kidney, buy the new iPad!" He offered £2,500 for a kidney and said the operation could be performed within 10 days.
The resurgence of trafficking has prompted the WHO to suggest that humanity itself is being undermined by the vast profits involved and the division between poor people who undergo "amputation" for cash and the wealthy sick who sustain the body parts trade.
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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