Pam Rotella's Vegetarian FUN page -- News on health, nutrition, the environment, politics, and more!
NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012
News from the Week of 3rd to 9th of June 2012
Anatomy of a grant: Emails indicate cancer agency sought to bypass scientific review (9 June 2012)
Nevertheless, by the end of March, Chin had landed her grant - approximately $18 million for a single year.
A monthlong Houston Chronicle investigation suggests that CPRIT, a 3-year-old initiative backed by $3 billion in taxpayer funds, handled the grant application in a hasty manner designed to circumvent its own scientific reviewers.
Hundreds of internal emails obtained through a public records request shed new light on the forces at work in the application process - particularly the role of a Houston venture capitalist, Charles Tate, who invests in companies that commercialize drugs and who has ties to M.D. Anderson and to CPRIT.
The emails indicate that Tate, one of 11 members of CPRIT's oversight committee, was instrumental in shepherding Chin's proposal through the review process. He denied doing so.
Oil spill worries Albertans; Red Deer River supplies thousands of Albertans with drinking water
(9 June 2012)
People living downstream from a ruptured pipeline in Alberta can only hope the spill won't seriously pollute the water they depend on for drinking and recreation.
Officials were alerted Thursday night that the 50-year-old Rangeland line owned by Plains Midstream Canada had ruptured roughly three kilometres north of Sundre, threatening the water supply for more than 100,000 Albertans who live downstream on the Red Deer River.
So far, the province says, there's no risk to human health and it will continue to monitor air and water quality. An information centre has been set up at the James River Community Hall just north of Sundre for residents.
Up to 3,000 barrels of oil leaked from beneath Jackson Creek, a tributary of the Red Deer, and the contamination spread downstream until it reached Gleniffer Lake and reservoir, where the majority of the containment efforts have been deployed.
Oil spill threatens Alberta's Red Deer River (8 June 2012)
Between 1,000 and 3,000 barrels of oil have spilled into a tributary of the Red Deer River in central Alberta.
It is the second time in four years a ruptured pipeline has leaked crude oil into the river, considered one of the province's most popular waterways.
"This is the responsibility of the oil company," Bruce Beattie, Reeve of Mountain View County, told the Toronto StarFriday, referring to Plains Midstream Canada.
The spill is about 75 kilometres upstream, from Red Deer, the third largest city in the province.
"We are extremely concerned and we're hoping that between Alberta environment and the oil companies responsible, they will be taking every method possible in order to contain the spill and mitigate the impact," he said.
HPV vaccines: Gardasil becomes a market dud in wake of informed backlash (8 June 2012)
Will the target audience of the Hellosmile Project be told the following facts about the Gardasil?
• Over 70% of the participants in Gardasil clinical trials developed new medical conditions
• The vaccine may increase chances of pre-cancerous lesions in individuals who have already been exposed to vaccine relevant HPV by 44.6%
• Clinical trials conducted by Merck in India were shut down after the deaths of 6 young women and ethics violations
• Included in a US Federal report on side-effects: seizures, anaphylactic shock, foaming at the mouth, grand mal convulsion, now paralysed, and coma are a few of the descriptions connected to the vaccine
• There is a laundry list of adverse reactions reported to VAERS on this vaccine that include MS, Guillian-Barre Syndrome, countless hormonal, neurological, immune disorders, stomach disorders, and death
House passes Homeland Security bill with meaningless anti-abortion rider (8 June 2012)
Republicans in the House of Representatives attached an anti-abortion rider to a Homeland Security spending bill Thursday. The provision would do nothing to change existing policy and is unlikely to make it past the Senate, but it is seen as sending an election-year message to the lawmakers' conservative constituents.
In what was probably not intended as a deliberate rebuke to Republican president candidate Mitt Romney, the Homeland Security bill caters to state and local governments by increasing funding for first responders like police and fire departments, while cutting funds from the widely unpopular Transportation Security Administration.
The anti-abortion rider, proposed by an Alabama Republican, would prevent Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from funding abortions for illegal immigrants in its custody, except in cases of rape, incest, or threats to the life of the mother. It passed on a party-line vote, 234 to 182.
According to an ICE spokesperson, however, the agency has never paid for abortion services.
PAM COMMENTARY: Yet another way Republicans avoid working on jobs and the economy. Anything but what people elected them to do...
Wall Street 'Mob' Bankrolls Powerful Rep. Eric Cantor (FLASHBACK) (4 November 2011)
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) captured media attention with his vocal declaration that participants in the Occupy Wall Street movement were nothing more than "mobs." His word choice was interesting since the public record indicates that Cantor does indeed know much about mobs--the Wall Street mob, in particular. If there's any one single member of Congress who can be reckoned a voice for Wall Street, it is Cantor.
Even the most cursory review of Cantor's campaign financing demonstrates that a literal handful of billionaires in the global financial plutocracy--all intimately tied to the London-based Rothschild family--have been key forces underwriting Cantor's career, a point (especially in light of his immense power) that cannot be taken lightly.
The truth is that Cantor is one of the very few in Congress-- 535 members strong--who has some of the richest and most powerful people in the world bankrolling his political endeavors.
It is for good reason that wags say Cantor is now "the cantor of the House"--a play on words. A cantor is the person in a synagogue who leads chants and prayers along with the rabbi, a major religious role.
PAM COMMENTARY: I suffered through a clip on one of the C-Span channels Saturday (6/9/2012) where Cantor was introducing someone to the American Enterprise Institute. Here's a tip for people who'd like to do a better job at introductions than Eric -- learn something about the person you're introducing, and don't use the time to talk about YOURSELF and your own family the whole time. Another tip -- don't brag about how being greedier and more ruthless makes you better than people who are too nice to be so mean.
Boehner's A 'Country Club, Cocktail-Drinking, Cigarette-Smoking Republican' (FLASHBACK) (9 September 2010)
"Boehner is an old-fashioned, small-government, country-club, cocktail-drinking, cigarette-smoking Republican. You know, there is nothing terribly radical about the guy except the fact that many of the things the president wants to do really go against the grain of his deeply seated Republican beliefs in small government. He's very much a foe of earmarks, always has been. You know, he's basically somebody who follows a kind of a corporate line. Much of what he does reflects the opinions and the preferences of the business community, both in Ohio and in the nation."
Amazon tribe appeals for eviction of loggers from its land (8 June 2012)
RIO DE JANEIRO -- A tribe that calls the Amazon rainforest home is urging the Brazilian government to stop the illegal logging of its land, a watchdog said Friday.
In a statement, Survival International said the Awa tribe has made a "desperate appeal" to Brazil's justice minister to "evict loggers from our land immediately... before they come back and destroy everything."
Consisting of just 450 people, the Awa tribe suffers the fastest rate of deforestation in the Amazon, according to the group.
The appeal is part of a campaign launched on April 25 with the help of British actor Colin Firth, who won an Academy Award in 2011 for his performance in "The King's Speech."
It calls on the public to show their support for the Awa by sending protest messages to the justice minister, Jose Eduardo Cardozo. So far, more than 27,000 people have done so, Survival said.
Vitamins more effective at Type 2 Diabetes treatment than pharmaceuticals (8 June 2012)
So what has motivated this "frustrated pharmacist" to find a cure or better treatment for diabetes?
"My interest in the lack of results from standard treatment of diabetes came into sharp focus when pain in my feet led to my being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes," he writes (Type 2 is the less serious form of diabetes and doesn't require insulin injections like the more serious Type 1, but Type 2, left untreated, can develop into Type 1). That pain, it turns out, was neuropathy, a condition caused by nerve damage - common to diabetics.
"From my observations at work, I already knew that the drug treatments for peripheral neuropathy were questionable," Stuart writes. "Introducing amitriptyline, gabapentin and Lyrica, which are sedatives and pain killers, made the people sleep a lot. Medically, it's obvious that sedating nerves doesn't solve anything. When such patients step up to daily long term narcotics and finally get some pain relief, they still haven't solved their problems."
So, Stuart was determined to find a way to mitigate his diabetes rather than just cover up the symptoms. To do so, he began studying just how blood glucose levels and blood sugar affected the diabetes-prone body. His research led him to a 2005 paper written by a researcher in the United Kingdom named Paul Thornally. His paper talked about how many diabetic patients have a deficiency of thiamine (B-1).
Halliburton gets tripped up by Indian bean farmers (8 June 2012)
Economics 101: supply and demand. The more supply in the market, the price of a product drops. The more demand, prices rise. Demand leads to sales, which reduces supply and forces prices higher and higher until either 1) supply runs out or 2) prices drop demand.
This isn't a theoretical or arcane concept. Here's how that process played out just this week.
Last month, Reuters told the story of an unexpected economic windfall for farmers in India's northern deserts. The seeds from guar beans, which look like bean/pea hybrids and for which the region is the primary source, can be processed to create a powdery gum. This gum is used in a variety of products: ice cream, sauces -- and the liquid employed in hydraulic fracturing. Guar gum is an emulsifier, a thickener. In the fracking process, it's generally combined with kerosene to create the fluid forced deep into shale deposits. (This video shows how the compound is made.)
As hydraulic fracturing has exploded (figuratively!) (so far!) in America, so has demand for guar beans. Between 2011 and 2012, prices for the beans shot up tenfold, prompting Indian authorities to investigate how the market was operating. The farmers had fewer concerns:
"Guar has changed my life," said Shivlal, a guar farmer who made 300,000 rupees ($5,400) -- five times more than his average seasonal income -- from selling the beans he planted on five acres (two hectares) of sandy soil in Rajasthan state.
CDC: Teens now favor pot over cigarettes (8 June 2012)
A study released Friday (PDF) by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that in 2011, for the first time ever, more American teens were smoking marijuana than cigarettes.
The CDC's annual Youth Risk Behavior Survey tracks drug abuse, among other potential destructive behaviors, by surveying high school students across the country. The agency said it collected data from more than 15,000 surveys taken in 43 states and 21 large urban school districts.
The result: Marijuana is officially more popular than cigarettes among U.S. teens, for the first time ever. A full 23 percent of students surveyed told the CDC they had used marijuana within the last month, whereas just 18 percent said they had smoked cigarettes.
The findings are consistent with a Raw Story analysis of the 2011 Partnership for a Drug-Free America report on teen drug abuse, which found that marijuana's popularity has exploded since 2008. By comparing the Partnership's data to prior CDC studies, Raw Story concluded that marijuana use had finally exceeded cigarette smoking among U.S. teens, which the CDC has now confirmed directly.
PAM COMMENTARY: Not smart, kids. Marijuana has its own set of bad health effects.
NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy to be reviewed by US department of justice (7 June 2012)
The department of justice is reviewing the NYPD's controversial stop-and-frisk policy, following demands by campaigners who say the tactic is unconstitutional and racially discriminatory.
The DoJ's intervention, confirmed to the Guardian, follows a meeting with New York City lawmakers in Washington on Thursday.
If justice department officials decided to launch a federal investigation or to intervene in lawsuits that are already under way, it would deal a significant blow to a policy that has been championed by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and his police chief Ray Kelly.
Last year the police department stopped close to 700,000 people on the city's streets, more than ever before. As with every year over the past decade, the vast majority of those stopped were African American or Latino and nearly nine out of 10 had committed no crime. The department is on track to make 2012 another record-setting year.
PAM COMMENTARY: I've seen the NYPD with their tables set up at train stations, making a few dark-skinned males stop here and there. That way they can violate the 4th Amendment, participate in racial profiling, and waste their time away at the same time. Meanwhile rapists and murderers are on the loose throughout that city, taking advantage of cops being M.I.A.
But what I found most disturbing was the lack of outrage. Arab-looking males were happy to help out the NYPD and hand over their bags to show that they weren't carrying anything bad -- as if it's OK to be treated like terrorists. As if the lie of Arabs perfectly imploding three buildings with a couple of planes on 9/11 wasn't a big enough attack on their reputation, as if 9/11 wasn't a government operation designed to start oil wars pre-planned by the real 9/11 criminals, Bush and Cheney...
Resistance to NYPD's Stop-and-Frisk Comes to D.C. as Lawmakers, Groups Urge Justice Dept. Probe (7 June 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about stop-and-frisk, we're joined by two guests. Ben Jealous is the president and CEO of NAACP. The NAACP is helping to organize a silent march against racial profiling in New York City on Father's Day, June 17th. And we're joined here in New York by Jamel Mims, an organizer with the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, which is working to end the practice of stop-and-frisk. He has been a victim of stop-and-frisk and has been arrested for nonviolently protesting the policy. We invited the New York Police Department to join us on the show but received no response.
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Ben Jealous, you're in Washington. Talk about what is happening in Washington today, many people coming down from New York, going to the Justice Department.
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: That's right. Folks will be here to meet with the CBC, the Congressional Black Caucus, and to meet with the U.S.--and to meet with Holder and his staff. And the reason folks are here is, quite frankly, there needs to be a pattern and practice investigation into the--into the cops.
What's going on in the city is really wholesale racial profiling. We're seeing 700,000 people stopped. Ninety percent of them have done absolutely nothing wrong. Of that 10 percent who may have done something wrong, most of them get a ticket. You know, about one out of 1,000 actually has a gun on them. Ninety percent of the people are people of color. And the stops are so frequent, as Juan said, you actually have more stops of young black men than there are young black men in the entire city. And so, you know, this is really the biggest, most aggressive racial profiling problem that we have in this country, and it just has to be stopped.
PAM COMMENTARY: NYPD never asked to frisk me, and I would have gone to another train station or taken a cab rather than enter the station if they had. I don't need unwashed hands pawing my possessions or violating my 4th amendment rights, thanks.
North Dakota's fossil fuel boom: Messy (6 June 2012)
The fossil fuels boom has brought jobs to North Dakota. And several other things!
Like much higher rents.
[School superintendent Kelly] Koppinger said every new teacher he's tried to recruit asks about housing. Most can't afford it. There's a new apartment building across from the high school, but it's too expensive.
"Right now for a two-bedroom, one-bath you're looking at $1,800-a-month rent," he said. "A teacher's take home pay is right around that $2,000 mark and for them to spend $1,800 a month on just rent, we couldn't recruit or retain some of the staff we did have, so we needed to get it to where housing was somewhat affordable."
Race back from extinction a marathon for Mexico's sea turtles (6 June 2012)
In May and June each year, thousands of sea turtles land on Mexico's beaches to lay their eggs. In the natural order of things, the eggs would incubate in the sand until hatching 40 or 50 days later. But tourists scrambling for volleyballs and tractors clearing land for new resort towers aren't compatible with hatchling survival -- which even under ideal circumstances is alarmingly low -- and adult turtles have been prized for their meat, shells, skins and eggs. Since four species nearly became extinct in recent decades, conservation projects throughout the country have been working to protect the vanishing turtles. Beach resorts, such as the Grande Luxxe, have been a major ally.
Some resorts run extensive programs that send specially trained staff out at night to protect the mother turtle until she returns to the ocean. They then collect the eggs, nests and all, to be taken to a nursery where biologists supervise the incubators and collect research data. When the hatchlings emerge, staff and volunteers take them back to their nesting sites on the beach and release them to find their way to the sea. Nesting season usually runs through September and continues through October in some years.
Guests at these resorts, are often invited to participate, usually by escorting the baby turtles safely from their nests to the sea. The Ritz-Carlton Cancún is one of the longest-running and best-known programs. The Mayakoba complex in the Riviera Maya, renowned for its environmental practices, is an important nesting site that draws four species -- the Loggerhead, the Green Turtle, the Hawskbill and the Leatherback -- to its beaches. It was also the first spot to record an Olive Ridley turtle on the Quintana Roo coast. The Fairmont Mayakoba's ecology manager supervises a beach patrol that protects mother turtles who come ashore to lay their eggs, and guests are invited to participate in baby turtle releases from July to October.
The Sea Turtle Conservancy's map of major nesting sites shows Mexico's coasts thick with turtles, especially along the central and southern Pacific and Yucatán coasts. If you're heading to any of those areas from May to October, be sure to ask your hotel about turtle programs. Many large resorts have their own; smaller hotels may be working with local conservation groups.
The Gas Station of the Future Just Opened (5 June 2012)
Matt Horton wants to solve a problem that makes alternative-fuel vehicles unappealing to would-be buyers: lack of convenient places to refuel. Last month, the chief executive officer of Propel Fuels opened the country's first station where drivers can pump gasoline, ethanol, and biodiesel, cyclists can get tune-ups, and commuters can find public transit schedules. Backed by more than $19 million in venture capital and nearly $12 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy and the California Energy Commission, the 23-person Redwood City (Calif.) startup received yesterday an additional, $10.1 million grant from the commission to help build 100 stations around the state in the next four years.
With its alternative-fuel pumps at about two dozen other stations, Propel is laying the foundation for what the 37-year-old Horton calls the "slow, but exciting" transformation of the U.S. automotive industry. Despite increased consciousness about their benefits, roughly only 3,100 of the 160,000 filling stations across the country sell alternative fuels, according to the Department of Energy. "The gasoline stations don't want a competitor but the alternative fuels industry is dependent on its largest competitor as a pathway to the market," says Geoff Cooper, vice president of research and analysis at the Renewable Fuels Association. "In many cases, you aren't going to see a retailer take a gasoline pump out of commission to put in a product that competes with gasoline."
Four-year-old Propel, which Horton says had more than $10 million in revenue last year and has been averaging 300 percent growth since 2010, is removing that obstacle by selling directly to drivers. It's using its experience pioneering the model across California and software it built to choose locations. The new filling station, near Anaheim, is in "one of the top 10 trade areas [in California] for alternative fuels, based on the customer demographics, vehicle counts, and traffic patterns," Horton says. "In this business, the vehicle drives everything. You can have all the infrastructure in the world, but if there aren't any vehicles around that use it, it's not going to make any difference."
Walker Survives Wisconsin Recall After GOP, Corporate Backers Rally and Dems Stay on Sidelines (6 June 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Tuesday's election was the most expensive in Wisconsin history, with more than $63 million spent. In a final flurry of television advertising, Walker outspent Barrett seven to one. Walker raised millions of dollars from conservative donors outside the state thanks to a clause in the state law that allowed him months of unrestrained fundraising. The recall election was also the first election since the Citizens United ruling, which opened the floodgates for unlimited corporate spending on election campaigns.
We're going directly now to Madison, Wisconsin, to John Nichols. He is at Wisconsin Public Television. He is a political writer for The Nation and the author of Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street.
John Nichols, welcome back to Democracy Now! Can you react to what happened last night?
JOHN NICHOLS: Sure. I think we had an incredible test in Wisconsin of money power versus people power. And we always like to tell ourselves that if the people get organized enough, they can offset any amount of money. But in Wisconsin, we got a pretty powerful lesson about this new era we're entering into with unlimited cash, as well as unlimited so-called "independent expenditures" that go parallel to those of a candidate. And the result in Wisconsin was an unsettling one. You saw a governor who had really put himself in a position where, I think, in most political instances, he would have been unelectable. His poll numbers last year were terrible. There was a broad sense of discomfort with him. And over the period not just of this campaign but really of the better part of a year, he used massive television advertising, as well as astounding amounts of mailings--more than $5 million worth of mailings--and huge amounts of internet and social media communication, to basically alter people's impressions of him sufficiently to win a 53-46 victory. It's something we should be taking a good look at, not merely for Wisconsin, but for the whole country.
Wisconsin recall results show power of big money in U.S. politics (6 June 2012)
When John Matthews heard the news, it was as though the room had darkened.
"It was like when the plane flew into the World Trade Center," says the four-decade head of the Madison teachers' union. "Emotions just burst. People were sobbing. I spent more than two hours patting backs, and wiping people's tears away."
After an exhausting 15-month battle to oust Wisconsin's contentious Republican Gov. Scott Walker, the toll of defeat came swiftly. Even a late-breaking win for Democrats in the state Senate could not absorb the shock.
Walker had won against challenger Tom Barrett by 53-46 per cent in a record turnout that kept the polls open for a surging overflow crowd. But it took less than an hour for the media to declare victory for the man whose union-busting agenda had outraged public-service employees -- and those who believed he was firing the starter's pistol on a wage-race for the bottom.
"There were people who worked so hard and thought they'd developed a near-perfect campaign," Matthews said. "They were running a great ground game, but they were up against Big Money. Nobody could believe it when he was declared the winner when the doors had barely closed."
Maddow doubts whether Democrats can survive flood of dark money (7 June 2012)
On her show Wednesday night, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow wondered if Democrats would be able to successfully fight back against unlimited and undisclosed contributions.
Maddow first illustrated how tobacco companies were able to successfully battle against a California ballot initiative that would have raised funds for cancer research by adding additional taxes to cigarettes. Public polling had found that 67 percent of voters approved, but the tobacco companies spent nearly $50 million to convince voters that the initiative was a bad idea.
"Fifty million well spent dollars can make 'I hate cancer' a losing idea," she quipped. "Fifty million well spent dollars could make apple pie and loving your mother a losing idea."
The Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling struck down key provisions of the federal McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law and gave rise to Super PACS, which can raise an unlimited amount of money to influence federal elections as long as they do not directly coordinate with a candidate's campaign. Super PACs have also exploited a loophole that allows them to postpone the disclosure of their donors until after the elections they participate in.
Analysis of voting across Wisconsin shows how Walker won (7 June 2012)
Vicky Burke knew they were out there: Democrats who had signed recall petitions against Gov. Scott Walker, people who supported her party's views but who didn't always turn out to vote.
So the La Crosse County Democratic Party, which Burke chairs, drew up a list of people who might be convinced -- some would say hounded -- to vote for challenger Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in Tuesday's recall election.
"We had a very concerted effort on the voter that doesn't come out except in presidential elections," said Burke, a retired teacher who serves on the La Crosse County Board. "I had very few people who we called who said they were undecided. Our calls were not to convince people. They were to get them out to vote."
La Crosse wasn't the only county getting out the vote. Statewide, turnout was 57.7 percent, the highest ever for a Wisconsin gubernatorial election. Turnout among eligible voters was up in every Wisconsin county by an average of 8 percentage points over 2010, a State Journal analysis showed.
CT scans on children 'could triple brain cancer risk' (6 June 2012)
The study estimated that the increased risk translated into one extra case of leukaemia and one extra brain tumour among 10,000 CT head scans of children aged under ten.
Dr Mark Pearce, an epidemiologist from Newcastle University who led the study, said: "We found significant increases in the risk of leukaemia and brain tumours, following CT in childhood and young adulthood.
"The immediate benefits of CT outweigh the risks in many settings.
"Doses have come down dramatically over time - but we need to do more to reduce them. This should be a priority for the clinical community and manufacturers."
US healthcare system a haven for many, but sick Americans are often jilted (5 June 2012)
The organisation backed President Obama's healthcare reforms. It took Dan Brodrick from Tennessee before Congress to tell the story of his wife Sharon, who died from cancer. Brodrick tells how they approached 300 different insurance companies for cover but were turned down because of a pre-existing condition that had nothing to do with cancer. So he called one of the country's leading cancer hospitals, which said it would cost $145,000 for her to begin treatment. "So I said 'What bank do you want me to rob?' And the lady says, 'What do you mean what bank do I want you to rob?' She said 'You don't have insurance? Well I guess she's going to die, ain't she,' and put the phone down," says Brodrick.
Even the insured have to pay a percentage of the medical bills (the co-pay) -- often around 20%, but it can be more. That puts people off going for a screening or seeing the doctor and delays diagnosis, which makes them less likely to be cured. But when it comes to treatment, many people find their insurance -- if they have any -- will not cover what they need. "A lot of insurance that is sold in this country is inadequate -- it's junk insurance," says Finan.
In Maine, he says, the most popular premium is one that has a $20,000 deductible. That means the patient pays the first $20,000 of care. "People buy it because the premiums are low, but they don't have the savings to cover it so they don't ever get to the insurance. It is catastrophic coverage but the math doesn't add up. $20,000 is an enormous amount for most Americans. We are not a savings country. They don't think it through. The level of insurance literacy is very low in this country," says Finan.
A survey ACS CAN commissioned in 2010, after the healthcare bill passed but before it took effect, found half of families dealing with cancer had problems affording the costs of insurance premiums, co-pays or drugs. Just under a quarter had been contacted by a debt collection agency. One in six had incurred thousands of dollars of medical debt.
There is a belief in some quarters, says Finan, that anybody who needs care will get it, because if you go to the emergency room, they are obliged to treat you. "It's absolutely not true. Hospitals are only required to stabilise you. Once they have, they can dismiss you," he says. That's no good for those with chronic conditions like cancer.
Capitol Report: Solid turnout in Milwaukee County not enough to push Barrett to victory (6 June 2012)
He was hoping for a change in the governor's office following Tuesday's recall election between Gov. Scott Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
The change could be possible, many predicted, if African-American voters turned out in near-record numbers they did for the Obama-McCain presidential race in 2008, or at least exceeded voter turnout from 2010 when Walker first defeated Barrett.
It didn't happen.
Roughly 450,000 votes were cast in Milwaukee County for president in 2008. On Tuesday, with 477 of 479 precincts reporting, 392,810 votes had been cast, roughly 51,810 more than in 2010, but far below the banner turnout year of 2008.
Like it always does, Milwaukee County turned out big for the Democrats in the race, with Barrett defeating Walker by a margin of 63 to 36 percent. But even combined with a big margin from Dane County, it wasn't enough to counteract the strong support Walker received from most of the rest of the state.
"When Milwaukee comes alive it changes the dynamics of the state," says the Rev. Jesse Jackson, during a campaign stop early Tuesday afternoon at Gee's Clippers. "Black voters have the power to shift this election."
Wisconsin Recall Election Results: Scott Walker and Reince Priebus Fabricate Voter Fraud Claims to Steal Election (6 June 2012)
In 1938, Kenosha, Wisconsin-born Orson Welles stoked widespread confusion and panic when he broadcast mock news reports of an extraterrestrial invasion, with his famous radio adaptation of H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds convincing some listeners that Martians were attacking the earth. In 2012, another Kenosha native, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus, is promoting similar confusion by attacking the integrity of Wisconsin's elections and stoking fears of "voter fraud" in advance of Tuesday's recall election. Does Wisconsin really have a history of "voter fraud," or are Priebus and other Republicans following in the footsteps of Welles and pulling a massive hoax?
With polls suggesting that Tuesday's recall election will be extremely close, Republican leaders and right-wing media outlets are claiming "voter fraud" is rampant in Wisconsin elections, apparently to cast doubt on a potential victory by Walker's Democratic challenger Tom Barrett in Tuesday's election.
On May 30, Priebus alleged rampant voter fraud and claimed Republican candidates "need to do a point or two better than where we think we need to be, to overcome it." Governor Walker made a nearly identical claim weeks earlier, telling the Weekly Standard that fraudulent votes account for "one or two points" in Wisconsin elections. For Priebus and Walker to be correct about fraud equaling "one or two points" in recent elections -- where 3 million people cast ballots -- there would need to have been between 30,000 and 60,000 fraudulent ballots.
"I'm always concerned about voter fraud," Priebus said. "I think it's been documented."
Actually, it has not.
In-depth investigations into election fraud in Wisconsin's 2004 and 2008 elections revealed that election fraud occurs at a rate of less than one-thousandths of a percent. Only 7 people were convicted of election fraud in 2004 and only 20 were charged in 2008.
CNN says exit polls show Wisconsin recall election tied (5 June 2012)
(Reuters) - Exit polls show the Wisconsin recall election on Tuesday is essentially tied between Republican Governor Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Tom Barrett, CNN said.
The CNN data is based on interviews with voters after they cast ballots and not on actual results.
Most polling stations closed at 8 p.m. CT (9 p.m. EDT), although voters in line to were allowed to cast ballots after the official deadline. First results were expected to begin trickling in from around the state soon after the polls closed, although the winner might not be known for hours.
Walker is only the third governor in U.S. history to face a recall from office. He angered Democrats and unions when he championed a law to severely restrict the collective bargaining of unionized state and local government workers. Walker said the changes were necessary to close a large state budget deficit.
PAM COMMENTARY: When exit polls are this different from final results, election fraud is almost always involved. In the past weeks, there were a couple of callers to Wisconsin Public Radio who claimed that "upgrades" were made to Wisconsin's voting machines prior to the election, but they weren't taken seriously by the radio hosts. Wisconsin uses optical scan machines that have already been suspected in past elections for swinging elections toward unpopular Republicans.
Wisconsin Recall: As Voters Head to Polls, a Debate on Walker's Record, Election Spending and Unions (5 June 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Robert Kraig, what about the role of the Democratic Party in this? Where was President Obama, for example? Well, we know where he was last night. He was at a major fundraiser here in New York, was with former President Clinton. But he didn't come to Wisconsin to campaign for Tom Barrett. The question of the Democratic National Committee giving money--all these questions that are being raised, why they haven't given more to support the Milwaukee mayor running for governor.
ROBERT KRAIG: Now, the Democrats in the state have been wonderful ever since the uprising began. But there's been an issue with people at the top of the party, and they either don't understand how crucial this fight is for the future of the middle class in this country, or they're simply trying to politically position themselves, they're worried about how it will turn out for the general election. I think that's the wrong call to make, because I don't think there's a real economic alternative, if you want a vibrant middle class, to having unions, having workers have a voice at the table. That's how we built this middle class in the 20th century. So I think it's problematic.
The only silver lining, though, is that this is a people movement, it's a flat movement without charismatic leaders, and that that's the new kind of social movement we need to have on the left. As you know, the Occupy movement in part was inspired by what happened on the streets of Madison. So, in a way, the movement doesn't rely upon these national leaders, but it is disappointing that they don't all seem to understand the stakes or aren't willing to take a stand.
Wis. exit polls find Walker win rests on independents, non-union voters in deeply split state (5 June 2012)
Gov. Scott Walker won Tuesday's recall election by topping his Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, among independents, according to exit poll results in the state. Voters were passionately divided on the Republican-backed law that ended collective bargaining for most public employees and teachers.
Just over half, 52 percent, said they supported the changes to the collective bargaining law, and the same share approved of Walker's handling of the issue. Views on collective bargaining were a dividing line in the electorate, with 9 in 10 who approved of the new laws backing Walker and a similar share who disapproved behind Barrett.
Walker angered Democrats and union members last year when, shortly after taking office, he signed legislation that effectively ended collective bargaining for public employees in Wisconsin. The Republican governor presented the measure as necessary to avoid wholesale layoffs, although opponents said it was simply a way of dividing public-sector unions from private unions to weaken labor's political clout in the traditionally strong union state.
Union households made up about a third of the electorate, and 62 percent of them backed Barrett, about the same level of support he received among the group in 2010. The Democratic candidate improved on his 2010 performance among African-Americans and those with incomes below $50,000.
PAM COMMENTARY: Actually, even with strong unions, teachers aren't paid very well for a job that requires a college degree -- and in Wisconsin, a lot of schools prefer advanced degrees (Masters and PhDs). This will only encourage the best candidates to seek employment elsewhere, as if the teaching profession isn't already suffering enough from wage competition with the private sector.
Blackwater guards lose bid to appeal charges in Iraqi civilian shooting case (6 June 2012)
One of the highest-profile prosecutions stemming from the Iraq war period is to go ahead after the US supreme court refused to dismiss manslaughter and weapons charges against four employees of the private security company Blackwater Worldwide.
Supreme court justices declined to review a ruling by a US appeals court that reinstated the criminal charges against the guards for their involvement in the incident, in which 17 Iraqi civilians died and 20 were wounded.
The so-called Nisour Square massacre was the single bloodiest incident involving American private security contractors during the Iraq conflict. It outraged Iraqis, put severe strain on relations between Baghdad and Washington, and served as a watershed moment in the debate surrounding private fighters in foreign war zones.
The shooting took place on September 16, 2007 at the congested Nisour Square intersection, after a convoy of four armoured vehicles manned by Blackwater guards had departed from Baghdad's heavily-fortified Green Zone.
Sheryl Crow has a benign brain tumor, which may be causing memory loss (6 June 2012)
Let's get the bad news out of the way first: Sheryl Crow has a brain tumor. Now that the initial wave of shock is over, please, don't worry about her apparent memory loss just because every single report keeps mentioning her forgetting the words to Soak Up the Sun at Taste of Pinellas in St. Petersburg on May 5.
In an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the singer tells Doug Elfman the embarrassing incident (which you can watch above) was only the latest in a long series of memory lapses, but she has seen a doctor about it.
"I worried about my memory so much that I went and got an MRI. And I found out I have a brain tumor," Crow told the newspaper. "And I was, like, 'See? I knew there was something wrong.' " But she knew long before Taste of Pinellas: "I haven't really talked about it," she said. "In November, I found out I have a brain tumor. But it's benign, so I don't have to worry about it. But it gives me a fit." Crow famously beat breast cancer in 2006, so you can understand her concern about it.
Elfman relates how she screwed up the song in May, noting Crow laughed and said onstage, "I'm 50, what can I say? My brain's gone to s---!" Her rep Christine Wolff confirmed the tumor as menigioma, a condition of the membranes of the nervous system that produces mostly benign tumors with no symptoms. Even though we don't quite have the details of her condition, USA Today decided to ask a doctor about Crow's brain.
PAM COMMENTARY: Aside from the prevalence of cell phones these days, I wonder about the effects of wireless equipment that pop stars use on stage. I'd imagine that it'd be a lot like using a wireless phone... for the length of each concert.
Honeybees add buzz to Waldorf-Astoria New York (6 June 2012)
An iconic hotel in the heart of Midtown Manhattan is buzzing with thousands of tiny new visitors. But watch out: They'll sting if you get too close.
Honeybees have taken up residence at the Waldorf-Astoria New York, one of New York City's most famous institutions and a favourite stopover for many U.S. presidents. The hotel plans to harvest its own honey and help pollinate plants in the skyscraper-heavy heart of the city, joining a mini beekeeping boom that has taken over hotel rooftops from Paris to Times Square.
"Today about half the population of each hive, the foragers, are flying mostly in the direction of Central Park," explained Andrew Cote, the Waldorf's beekeeper-in-residence, on a recent sunny afternoon as he inspected each hive. "They're plucking up pollen, nectar, water. They're bringing it back to their hives, to their homes."
Beekeeping is a natural fit for hotels trying to keep up with industry-wide pressure to "go green," whether it's retrofitting their buildings to make them energy efficient or simply adopting environmentally conscious practices. Enter urban beekeeping, a buzz-worthy pastime nowadays in light of the mysterious disappearance of honeybees in recent years, which led some state agriculture departments to encourage hobby beekeeping.
Trial opens in suit against Costner over BP deal (5 June 2012)
At the height of BP's efforts to stop the massive flow of oil from its blown-out well, the company ordered 32 of the centrifuges and deployed a few of the machines on a barge in June 2010. BP capped the well the following month and the well was permanently sealed in September 2010.
Baldwin and Contogouris claim they were deliberately excluded from a June 8 meeting between Costner, Smith and BP executive Doug Suttles, who agreed to make an $18 million deposit on a $52 million order for the 32 machines.
As the trial's first witness, Smith said Contogouris was highly involved in the efforts to secure a deal with BP and only has himself to blame for missing the June 8 meeting with Suttles.
"He exited on his own accord, prior to the meeting," Smith said.
Cobb said his clients said they didn't know about the deal when they agreed to sell their combined 38 percent ownership stake in Ocean Therapy Solutions for $1.9 million.
Canada Oil Sands Tanker Spill Could Cause Evacuation Nightmare (5 June 2012)
Stinking. Toxic. Explosive. These words could describe the cloud of fumes filling the airshed of the Lower Mainland if there was a tanker spill of diluted bitumen in Vancouver harbor. The public health emergency and potential evacuation of large parts of the city might easily overshadow the more well known consequences of an oil spill as local authorities struggle to move hundreds of thousands of people out of harm's way.
This nightmare scenario for Vancouver residents and local emergency planners has been created by a confluence of global forces, corporate decisions and lack of government oversight that may result in a steep increase in tanker shipments of hazardous cargo through the "greenest city in the world" and regional home to more than two million people.
Companies operating in the oil sands are increasingly shipping unrefined bitumen because it is more profitable for them to refine it elsewhere. This lack of value-added processing, supported by the Harper government, not only limits the long-term employment and economic benefits of bitumen extraction, it also creates enormous public safety hazards downstream.
Bitumen is too thick to pump through a pipeline so it must be diluted with a variety of volatile and toxic chemicals imported from elsewhere around the world. This mixture is called "diluted bitumen" and is more abrasive, corrosive and acidic than conventional crude, and typically must be piped under higher temperatures and pressures -- raising the risk of pipeline failures.
Devil Pyramid Rotting in Memphis (5 June 2012) [AJ]
Alex Jones reports on the failing tourist attraction admittedly set up by occultists John & Isaac Tigrett. Long after the crystal skulls and other sacraments hidden inside were exposed, the 'cursed' pyramid is once again revamping, now as a Bass Pro Shop.
RECALL ELECTION DAY: History in the making: Election Day arrives in Wisconsin's first-ever gubernatorial recall (5 June 2012)
Regardless of the outcome, Wisconsin voters will make history today. Either Gov. Scott Walker will become only the third governor in U.S. history to be removed from office before his term is up, or he'll be the first to survive such a challenge.
The vote, a rematch of Walker's 2010 race against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, is widely viewed as one of the most significant contests nationally this year outside of the presidential race.
Surveys suggest the overwhelming majority of voters already have made up their mind about who they're going to vote for. And with polling showing Walker ahead but within the margin of error, both sides agree turnout is key. The state's Government Accountability Board is predicting 60 to 65 percent of Wisconsin's voting-age population, or about 2.6 million to 2.8 million people, will cast ballots today. That would make it the highest turnout for a gubernatorial election in 50 years.
A few of those people will have questions. So here's what you need to know about today's vote:
Q: When can I vote?
A: Polls open statewide at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. As long as you're in line before 8 p.m., you'll be allowed to cast a ballot. Then be sure to visit madison.com after the polls close for live election results and breaking news.
Walker's lead in Wisconsin recall election drops in recent poll (4 June 2012)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker maintains a narrow lead in his recall election, but his standing has diminished in recent weeks, according to a new poll released on the eve of the election.
Walker leads Democratic challenger Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee, by just 3 percentage points in a new survey of likely voters (pdf) conducted by Public Policy Polling. Walker leads Barrett 50 to 47 percent, down from the 50 to 45 percent matchup PPP found in a poll conducted three weeks ago. The margin of error for this week's poll is plus or minus 2.8 percentage points.
According to PPP, Walker--who was targeted for a recall after waging war on state public employee unions in 2011--is winning among men, whites, seniors and residents of the Milwaukee suburbs. Barrett leads among women, minorities, young voters and residents of Milwaukee County and greater Madison. Barrett is also winning independent voters 48 to 46 percent, a lead that is within the margin of error.
Currently, polls, campaign finance statistics and anecdotal evidence suggest Republicans are more engaged and excited than Democrats for the June 5 race.
In Wisconsin recall vote, it's TV ad spending vs. boots on the ground (4 June 2012)
The importance of on-the-ground organizing for President Obama's reelection effort was made clear Monday in a Web video released to supporters.
"You know what really matters in a really close election? The unprecedented grass-roots organizing we're doing every day in states across the country," campaign manager Jim Messina said at the outset of a three-minute video in which Wisconsin was listed as a toss-up state. "We're following the strategy we've had from day one, and we can't afford to lose focus on that."
With Walker holding a more than 7-to-1 advantage in the money race -- and with GOP-aligned outside groups far outspending their counterparts -- Democrats maintain that their chance at victory depends on a superior get-out-the-vote operation.
Kristen Crowell, executive director of We Are Wisconsin, said in an interview Monday that the labor-backed group is on target to knock on 1.4 million doors and make 1.5 million phone calls. She said the group has about 50,000 volunteers and has spent $2.8 million on its field operation in the past month.
Barrett says race tightening to 'dead heat' (4 June 2012)
PORTAGE -- Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says he thinks the recall race against Republican Gov. Scott Walker is now a dead heat heading into Tuesday's election.
An exuberant Barrett spoke to about 100 of his volunteers in Portage in one of several stops he made on the final day of campaigning before the recall vote.
Barrett says the recall effort started as a grass roots movement and it's going to end that way with turnout of his supporters being the key factor that he believes will lead him to victory.
Barrett says the election is about the middle class reclaiming the future of Wisconsin.
POTTER OUTDOORS: Name the damage for whooping crane safety (2 June 2012)
If you were judge or jury what kind of fine would you levy on illegally killing an endangered whooping crane? In early January 2012, a male whooping crane was spotlighted at night and killed with a high powered rifle in Knox County, Ind.
The crane was part of a nesting pair that learned their migratory path from Wisconsin to Florida via ultralight aircraft. It was one of 150 captive raised birds in the reintroduction program designed to reestablish whooping cranes into their former ranges.
Bringing whoopers back from the brink doesn't come cheap -- each of the 150 birds in the reintroduction program cost a bit more than $100,000 per crane. Yearly natural predators, storms and illegal shootings take out six to as many as three dozen of these magnificent birds.
By 1941 whooping crane numbers were down to be just 14 individuals and most bird watchers awaited their extinction, accelerated through habitat loss and indiscriminate shooting. Then the International Crane Foundation stepped forward with a bold survival plan.
BP accused of attack on academic freedoms after scientists subpoenaed (4 June 2012)
A pair of scientists have accused BP of an attack on academic freedom after the oil company successfully subpoenaed thousands of confidential emails related to research on the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.
The accusation from oceanographers Richard Camilli and Christopher Reddy offered a rare glimpse into the behind-the-scenes legal manoeuvring by BP in the billion-dollar legal proceedings arising from the April 2010 blow-out of its well.
It also heightened fears among scientists of an assault on academic freedoms, following the legal campaign against a number of prominent climate scientists.
In an opinion piece in the Boston Globe, the scientists, from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, said they volunteered in the early days of the spill to deploy robotic technology to help BP and the Coast Guard assess how much oil was gushing from the well.
The two researchers turned over some 50,000 pages of research notes and data to BP. But BP demanded more, and obtained a court subpoena for the handover of more than 3,000 confidential emails. The scientists handed over the emails last week -- but with severe misgivings, they wrote.
How to watch the transit of Venus without blinding yourself (+video) (4 June 2012)
Many people are planning to watch the transit of Venus on Tuesday (June 5), but it's extremely important that prospective viewers be warned to take special precautions (as with a solar eclipse) to view the silhouette of Venus against the brilliant disk of the sun.
For the United States and Canada the transit will begin when the dark disk of Venus first touches the outer edge of the sun, an event that astronomers call Contact I. From the Eastern U.S. and Eastern Canada, Contact I should occur around 6:03 p.m. EDT (2203 GMT). From the Western U.S. and Western Canada, Contact I should occur around 3:06 p.m. PDT.
It will take about 18 minutes for the black disk of Venus to move completely onto the sun's face; ultimately bringing its black disk just inside the sun's upper left edge. If you imagine the sun's disk as the face of a clock, Contact I will occur between the 11:30 and 12 o'clock position. Venus will then progress along a track that will run diagonally from the upper left to the lower right.
Wisconsin recall election is an epic battle (3 June 2012)
Pat Molitor of suburban Waukesha is firmly in the abhor camp -- and she voted for Walker over Barrett two years ago. Over a raspberry salad at Sprizzo's Gallery Caffeon Waukesha's Main Street, Molitor confessed that Walker's my-way-or-the-highway approach to governing had given her a bad case of voter's remorse.
"He's too far right wing," said Molitor, a retired administrative assistant for an engineering firm. "He's become the darling of the tea party."
Kris Smith, another retiree and Molitor's lunch companion, had the opposite take. "I like a lot of what Walker's done, ramrodded through or not," Smith said. "I agree with him making teachers and many other public workers pay for their insurance. The rest of us did."
Of course, that's only a fraction of the Walker agenda that has so endeared him to the right and infuriated the left.
With the help of a Republican-controlled Legislature, Walker also stripped collective-bargaining rights from most public employee unions, though he left them intact for a few public safety worker unions that had backed his 2010 race.
He rolled back tax credits and other benefits for the poor, and he signed laws allowing for the carrying of concealed weapons and the repeal of safeguards giving women the right to sue in state court for equal pay. He also implemented tighter restrictions on abortion. He pushed corporate tax breaks while cutting school spending.
PAM COMMENTARY: Walker was swept into office on a wave of disgust with Democrats after they pushed through health care "reform" -- a law unpopular mostly because of its "individual mandate" forcing people to buy health insurance (a shameful sell-out to the insurance industry). Walker wasn't really liked or known by many voters at the time -- if not for the individual mandate, I doubt that he ever could have won that election. Just look at the guy -- goofy-looking, mean, greedy, dishonest, and he babbles more than he speaks... Who'd want that thing representing their state?
Now certain conservatives are trying to say that the recall is only about collective bargaining rights, but it goes well beyond that. Walker squandered all of his time on everything EXCEPT the economy and jobs, when those were the most important issues to the people of Wisconsin -- and also his main campaign promise. How long before you're fired if you do everything EXCEPT what the boss asks of you? ...That's the point.
Candidates serve politics over easy at De Pere breakfast (3 June 2012)
The recall campaign trail brought Gov. Scott Walker and Milwaukee Tom Barrett to within a few dozen feet of each other on Sunday, but the politicians were focused on the voters, not each other.
A crowd estimated at more than 5,000 showed up near De Pere at Mike and Sandi Zirbel's farm for the Brown County dairy breakfast , getting a side of politics to go with their meal. Both Walker, a Republican, and Barrett, a Democrat, turned up in nearly the same spot under a large green and gold tent to serve scrambled eggs to families.
Just two days from the Tuesday recall, a relaxed Walker said at the huge dairy farm that his administration had laid out a clear plan to balance the budget and enact reforms, create more than 30,000 jobs and hold the line on property taxes on homes.
"Our opponent has had more than 50 days to talk about a plan. He refuses to answer that, because he doesn't have a plan," Walker said, adding that he thought many voters had been paying attention to the facts and details in the race. "I think there's still a lot of independent voters. They want to know what the person's record is and what they will do to improve the future."
Barrett, joined by his wife, Kris, took exception to Walker's charge that he didn't have an economic development plan, saying he had one two years ago and was still using it.
"It's so important to have a governor focusing on jobs here," Barrett said. "Scott Walker's reforms are not working for the middle class. They may be working for the wealthiest people in the state, but for those students struggling to get out of college with mountains of debt and their tuition rising, it's simply not working."
Trailer park residents battle eviction by fracking industry (3 June 2012)
The residents of the Riverdale Mobile Home Park in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania are fighting to prevent their eviction by a water withdrawal facility serving the "fracking" industry.
The conflict has been ongoing since last February, when the owner of the land on which the trailer park is situated sold it to Aqua America PVR, whose owner is a former head of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources, and the residents immediately received eviction notices. Even before the sale, the property had been rezoned as industrial and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission had given permission for Aqua America to withdraw up to 3 million gallons of water from the river every day.
The residents, most of them middle-aged or elderly, were offered only token payments to help them relocate in an area where the influx of gas workers has already sent rents soaring. Although some did leave, others decided to fight back with the help of anti-fracking activists and Occupy Wall Street.
That resistence now appears to be reaching a climax. The remaining eleven families set up barricades at the entrance to the community on Friday, when construction was scheduled to begin, and have proclaimed an international "Day of Action" for Monday, June 4.
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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