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Click to visit VeggieCooking.com NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012

News from the Week of 8th to 14th of July 2012

Republican US House votes to overturn California's (and all states') food safety laws (14 July 2012)
Washington -- A California voter-approved law requiring that hens have cages large enough to let them spread their wings has drawn a national backlash from other livestock producers that threatens not only the state's humane treatment of hens, but also its new ban on foie gras.

The latest salvo came in a midnight vote in the House Agriculture Committee on an amendment to deny states the ability to regulate any farm product, potentially overturning not just California's farm laws but animal welfare, food safety and environmental laws related to any farm product in all 50 states.

"To say members of Congress belittled California is an understatement," said Scott Faber, head of federal affairs for Environmental Working Group, which supports farm conservation. "This isn't just an assault on the ability of states to set standards for agriculture. It's an assault on the Constitution. It is a breathtaking effort to limit the ability of states to set standards for how food is produced in America."

The amendment by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, was passed late Wednesday along with the new five-year farm bill during a marathon committee debate.
[Read more...]

Anti-GMO activist Vandana Shiva: 'Find the right thing to do. That is your duty.' (14 July 2012)
This week on "Moyers and Company," host Bill Moyers welcomed scientist, philosopher and activist Vandana Shiva, who, in his words, has become "a rock star in the global battle over genetically modified seeds." Shiva was trained as a physicist, but has become an outspoken voice against the predations of giant global firms like Monsanto and Coca-Cola. She is the author of several books, including her latest, Making Peace with the Earth.

Moyers remarked that Shiva is facing an "uphill battle," being one woman against some of the most powerful corporations on the planet. Shiva replied that under the teachings of the sacred Hindu text, the Bhagavad Gita, duty comes before any thought of outcome.

"You do not measure the fruit of your actions," she said, "You have to measure the obligation of your actions. You have to find out what's the right thing to do. That is your duty. Whether you win or lose is not the issue."

Shiva has fought the Coca-Cola company, who were part of an effort to privatize water rights in India. She is currently fighting Monsanto, the global seed and chemical company, whose genetically modified seeds were expensive failures on the Indian subcontinent, bankrupting thousands of farmers, many of whom committed suicide.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: As if she's the only person fighting GMOs. What about the entire organic movement in this country?

Insult to injury: How the House snuck protection for GMOs into its farm bill (13 July 2012)
Apparently it wasn't quite enough for the House Agriculture Committee to pass a version of the farm bill that made over $16 billion in cuts to food stamps and allowed for an open-ended expansion of crop insurance for Big Ag.

No, the members of the committee also felt the need to sneak something in to help out those poor struggling biotechnology behemoths in their attempts to win approval for new genetically engineered seed. Since we all know genetically modified seeds never win approval. I'm sorry. Did I say never? I meant always.

But apparently an unending winning streak isn't enough for the biotech industry. It wants to make sure that the U.S. Department of Agriculture approves its new seeds with minimal study, and loses the ability to withdraw them from the market should they prove harmful. To top it off, biotech companies want to ensure that anyone harmed by these seeds will have no recourse for damages.*

Such a provision was slipped into the farm bill at the last minute. It would eliminate the liability biotech companies may have and effectively lift all regulations on genetically modified seeds. The provision bears a strong similarity to one that was added to the annual agriculture spending bill now working its way through the House (the one activist group Food Democracy Now! has dubbed the Monsanto Protection Act).
[Read more...]

ICF co-founder George Archibald on latest whooping crane recovery efforts, challenges (13 July 2012)
Archibald expressed concern over the construction of wind farms in the whooping crane flyway. There's a difference, he said, between windmills built right in the wetlands as proposed in states south of Wisconsin, and windmills a few miles to the east, as exist in the Horicon area. Fish and Wildlife employees in the audience confirmed that they hadn't heard of bird mortality from the wind farm east of Horicon.

An oil spill in the Intracoastal Waterway was also a potential threat to whooping cranes during their winter stay in Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, he continued

Archibald revealed that this year, six whooping crane chicks will be ultralight-led by Operation Migration and seven will be direct-released at Horicon. However, the majority of chicks are destined for the non-migratory population in Louisiana. Fourteen birds will help rebuild the Louisiana flock after its population dwindled from two shootings and other recent natural mortality.

Another topic of concern was the black fly swarms at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. Archibald mentioned that the Bti Treatments used in the Black Fly Suppression Study will be discontinued next year.

Archibald also confirmed the expense of $100,000 per bird released.

When asked about the proposed sandhill crane hunt in Wisconsin during the Q&A session, David Sakrison of Operation Migration briefly took the podium and revealed that the proposed hunt looks as though it will succeed, and that his group has promised the DNR a short video to educate hunters about the differences between sandhill cranes and whooping cranes, and the importance of preserving whooping cranes.
[Read more...]

Not so Happy Feet: Penguins stressed by human activity (14 July 2012)
Scientists have uncovered a case of not so happy feet in penguin populations stressed by human activity.

Researchers tested the stress responses of King penguins in colonies disturbed by humans over 50 years.

They were compared with other King penguins living in areas not visited by humans.

Penguins from the disturbed colonies were better able to cope with the sight of approaching humans, loud noises, and being captured.
[Read more...]

Stoned mice lead to breakthrough in understanding memory (13 July 2012)
Scientists hoping to allow users of medical marijuana to avoid the impairment of short-term memory that typically goes along with the drug have made a dramatic breakthrough in the understanding of how memory functions.

According to Scientific American, Giovanni Marsicano and his colleagues at the University of Bordeaux in France removed cannabinoid receptors from neurons in mice, then fed them THC, the primary active ingredient in marijuana. The mice turned out to do just as badly at remembering the location of a hidden platform in a pool as regular stoned mice.

The researchers then removed the cannabinoid receptors from the astrocytes surrounding the neurons -- and suddenly the stoned mice were memory whizzes.

Astrocytes are a form of glial cells, which were once thought to serve only as scaffolding and "glue" to keep neurons in place. Recent studies have connected the glial cells with many unconscious processes, but this is the first experiment to show they also play a major role in conscious thought.
[Read more...]

Obama reminds supporters Virginia could hold key to White House (13 July 2012)
The Democratic president painted himself as a champion of ordinary Americans as his re-election team stepped up attacks on Romney over his business record and wealth.

It was the start of two-day swing that will see Obama crisscrossing Virginia, underscoring his determination not to let the pivotal state slip from his grasp and threaten his re-election chances in November.

"It's going to be a close one," he told a crowd in the cafeteria of a Virginia Beach high school, who had been unable to get into the main event because of a lack of space. "When we win Virginia, we're going to have won the election."

Political strategists view Virginia, Ohio and Florida as vital states for Romney's White House bid and say that unless the Republican takes two of them, he will not be able to reach the 270 electoral college vote threshold he needs for victory.
[Read more...]

Fashion for tight jeans is increasing testicular problems among men (13 July 2012)
''Wearing tight-fitting clothing over a prolonged period of time can lead to urinary tract infections leading to over-activity of the bladder - a type of bladder weakness as well as a low sperm count and fungal infections.

''Please don't put style before health.''

Twisted testicles occur when tight trousers prevent the spermatic cord from moving freely, meaning it twists and leads to testicular torsion which cuts off the blood supply requiring immediate surgery to prevent a gangrenous testicle.

Tight-fitting jeans around the groin area can put additional pressure on the bladder but can also lead to bacteria breeding and re-entering the body causing urinary tract infections.

This increases the need to urinate more frequently and can cause severe pain.
[Read more...]

Leaked Docs Reveal 'Off the Charts' Damage at US Nuke Plant; San Onofre's steam generators in worst shape of all US nuclear plants (13 July 2012) [R]
Problems with the steam generators and miles of tubing at the San Onofre nuclear plant are the most severe found in comparable generators in the US and much more severe than previously reported, according to a new report.

The report by Fairewinds Associates (and commissioned by Friends of the Earth) also provides an analysis of leaked documents (pdf) by plant owner Southern California Edison that shows, despite assertions by the company and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, thousands of tubes inside both San Onofre reactors are severely damaged.

Friends of the Earth, along with other nuclear experts and many concerned local residents, say the reactors at San Onofre should remain shut down.

San Onofre, on the Pacific Coast between Los Angeles and San Diego, has been shut down since January, after a leak of radiation from one of the almost 20,000 thin, tightly-packed tubes that lead from the plant's four steam generators to its turbines. In an attempt to stop further leaks, Edison has plugged 1,317 of the tubes that show wear. According to NRC data on 31 reactors with comparable replacement steam generators, San Onofre has more than three and a half times the number of steam tubes plugged as a safety measure than at all the other reactors combined.
[Read more...]

Southern California seaweed tests over 500 percent higher for radioactive iodine-131 than anywhere else in US (12 July 2012)
(NaturalNews) High levels of radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster reached Pacific shores just days after the catastrophe occurred, according to a recent study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Tests conducted on samples of Macrocystis pyrifera, also known as Giant kelp, revealed the presence of radioactive iodine-131 at levels 500 percent higher in Southern California than in any other area of the country tested.

Based on data collected from several different test sites, researchers from the California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) Department of Biological Sciences learned that the highest levels of radioactive contamination from Fukushima occurred in Central and Southern California. But the worst contamination of all, at least as far as iodine-131 is concerned, was found at Southern California's Corona Del Mar Beach.

According to the figures, samples of Giant kelp pulled from the Santa Cruz area revealed 2.0 becquerels per gram dry weight (Bq/gdwt) of radioactive iodine-131, which can also be written as 2,000 becquerels per kilogram (Bq/kg) of radiation. At Corona Del Mar, however, levels of radioactive iodine-131 were discovered at 2.5 Bq/gdwt, or 2,500 Bq/kg.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s established maximum contaminant level (MCL) for radioactive iodine-131 in milk is a mere 170 Bq/kg. This is the same maximum level established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for radioactive iodine-131 in food.
[Read more...]

Evacuee: Fukushima hospital worker says 5 out of 7 babies were born with birth defect, Down's syndrome, or lost by miscarriage -- After this, husband agreed to evacuate (13 July 2012) [R]
Someone I know finally moved out of Fukushima to Mie (middle west of Japan). I wasn't close to her, but she told me a major incident occurred that inspired her to be scared of radiation.

At a hospital in Fuksuhima where she was working in, 5 babies out of 7 were born with birth defect, Down's syndrome or lost by miscarriage.

2 Down's syndrome
1 born with 6 fingers
1 anencephalia
1 miscarriage
2 other infants were 4 months old old at the time. They have been followed over time.

Speaking in terms of probability, it's hardly possible this happens in a same hospital. This terrified her. With experts' knowledge and experiences, it reached the conclusion that this was associated with radiation.

After this, her husband finally agreed and her family evacuated home.
[Read more...]

Keystone Pipeline: When Industry Ads and Industry-Friendly Coverage Collide (9 July 2012) [BF]
This is the sort of awkward juxtaposition that newspapers usually try to avoid. In today's Washington Post (7/9/12), a story about the Keystone pipeline appears above a Chevron ad:


Then again, maybe not. Juliet Eilperin's article is all about what supporters of the pipeline project in the state of Montana are saying. Politicians, academics and labor leaders are all behind the project. One critic--a farmer--is heard from ("Not everyone in Montana has embraced the pipeline..."), but she says she'd support the pipeline if it was exclusively for the benefit of a local oil field.

Is Keystone really the kind of story that needs a story devoted to the views of pipeline supporters? It doesn't seem like it; a recent Media Matters study shows that pipeline proponents far outnumber critics. And that doesn't count the amplification of their message through paid ads like the one that accompanied the Post story.
[Read more...]

DOJ argues in court Texas Voter ID law could disenfranchise 1 in 10 voters (13 July 2012)
The US department of justice has defended its ban of a Texas voter ID law by telling a federal court that the legislation is an attempt by the state's largely white Republican party to resist the political impact of changing racial demographics.

A five-day hearing in Washington over whether the Obama administration has the power to block Texas from requiring voters to produce photo identification wrapped up on Friday with justice department lawyers strongly challenging the motives behind the legislation.

Texas says it is intended to combat a rising tide of voter fraud by requiring people to show specified forms of identification, such as a driving or gun licence, at the ballot box.

The justice department said the law was racially motivated because it was constructed by the Republican-controlled Texas legislature to disadvantage the growing Latino and black communities in the state which heavily favour the Democratic party.
[Read more...]

Blog post about sexual assault in D.C. unleashes torrent of women's stories (13 July 2012)
Here's the thing: This kind of stuff happens a lot. It happens to gorgeous, young and glamorous people such as Gorman. And it happens to frumpy moms.

Take a trip through the posts on the Collective Action for Spaces site, where Gorman published her story.

You'll see that women get cornered on the Metro, followed after the July Fourth fireworks, flashed on the way home, followed on the way to work. It happens in nice, leafy neighborhoods and in the hot, concrete 'hood.

After women read her post, they flooded her with e-mails filled with details about what had happened to them: the gropes, the mashes, the near-rapes. A handful were also targeted by a similar-sounding bike molester.
[Read more...]

With mixed record of success, Jim Webb eyes last Senate battles (12 July 2012)
Webb has scored some notable achievements in the Senate, particularly passage of the post-Sept. 11 GI Bill. He also helped establish a high-profile commission on wartime contracting that found that tens of billions of dollars were wasted in Iraq and Afghanistan because of lax oversight.

But Webb's long push for a panel to study ways to reform the criminal justice system was stymied last fall, when Senate Republicans blocked a measure despite bipartisan sponsorship and the support of a wide range of organizations.

His calls for Congress to reassert its role in deciding when the United States sends its military into harm's way have mostly fallen on deaf ears, despite a brief burst of attention last year during hostilities in Libya.

"I think the Senate needs to step up in terms of regaining its proper constitutional authority, and I think that's Republican or Democrat," Webb said. "That's where the institution has kind of atrophied."
[Read more...]

Southern Wisconsin drought upgraded to severe (12 July 2012)
The drought is getting worse.

The southern third of Wisconsin - which had been in a moderate drought - as of this morning is now in a severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The Milwaukee and Madison areas are included in the severe drought.

And other portions of the state are in a moderate drought or abnormally dry.
[Read more...]

Obama pumps $80m into Everglades as some environmentalists ponder motive (13 July 2012)
Senior loyalists in the Obama administration seized a valuable election-year opportunity to talk up the president's environmental credentials today as they announced an increase in funding to restore the Florida Everglades.

Tom Vilsack, the secretary of agriculture, was one of several top officials chosen to front a press conference in Kissimmee trumpeting a further $80m investment in a project supporting farmers and ranchers who preserve land for agriculture and wildlife.

Claiming that President Barack Obama has made the restoration of Florida's troubled 2.4m-acre ecosystem "a national priority" with more than $1.5bn of government money since 2009, Vilsack said the project would revitalise more than 23,000 further acres of wetlands.

"Restoring these wetlands demonstrates a strong commitment to partnerships with ranchers and farmers to improve water quality and habitat protection while supporting Florida's strong agricultural economy and ranching heritage," he said.
[Read more...]

Green Party Nominee Jill Stein & Running Mate, Activist Cheri Honkala: "We Represent the 99 Percent" (13 July 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: That was President Obama. Our headline today, Wells Fargo Bank has agreed to pay a settlement of at least $175 million for discriminating against black and Latino borrowers. Talk about what Obama said.

CHERI HONKALA: It sounds good, but in reality it never happened. The families in America, the six million families that have lost their homes to foreclosure, none of them received any kind of bailout. My sister, herself, was a victim of Wells Fargo. She has African-American children, and they are now homeless in my mother's living room. They had a home for 20 years. Both her and her husband, full-time workers, worked around the clock, were victims of predatory lending. And the money that was supposed to bail out the American people, a great deal of that was written off, and there was no regulations around what they should do with that money.

And, actually, the week before, you know, finding out that I was chosen as the vice-presidential candidate, I spent last week facing the sheriff's department with Rhonda Lancaster and Fran Scarborough. Fran Scarborough had owned her home for 25 years and then was illegally thrown out by Chase Bank. And then, Rhonda Lancaster now has had her home taken from her by Fannie Mae, and we were able to stop that foreclosure.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: In Wisconsin, Governor Walker (the one who bought his way out of being recalled with donations from the super-rich) used the mortgage settlement money to help with the state's budget hole.

'Extraordinary' U.S.-Mexico drug tunnel may be Sinaloa cartel's (12 July 2012)
SAN LUIS, Ariz. -- The powerful Sinaloa drug cartel is believed to be behind one of the most sophisticated and well-engineered smuggling tunnels ever found along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to U.S. drug enforcement officials who announced the discovery Thursday in Yuma.

The "fully operational" tunnel is a 755-foot passageway, tall enough for a 6-foot person to walk through, that burrows under the border fence, a park and a water canal. It connects a small, nondescript warehouse on the U.S. side to an inoperative ice manufacturing plant behind a strip club in Mexico.

It is outfitted with lights, fans and a ventilation system. The vertical shafts on both sides of the border descend 57 feet, creating what officials said were significant engineering challenges.

PHOTOS: Sophisticated drug smuggling tunnel

"I would suspect that professional engineers were cooperating with the builders, if not working on site," said Doug Coleman, special agent in charge of the DEA's Phoenix field office. He said construction might have taken at least a year and cost an estimated $1.5 million to $2 million.
[Read more...]

Holder calls Texas voter ID law a 'poll tax' (10 July 2012)
A day after a federal three-judge panel in Washington, D.C., began hearing a lawsuit involving a Justice Department challenge to Texas' voter identification law, Attorney General Eric Holder told the 103rd annual convention of the NAACP on Tuesday that "we will not allow political pretext to disenfranchise American citizens of their most precious right."

In his address to some 600 members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People attending the convention at Houston's George R. Brown Convention Center, Holder noted that Texas in recent months has been at the center of the national debate about voting-rights issues. The DOJ opposed the state's photo identification requirement for voting after concluding it would be harmful to minority voters, he said.

"Under the proposed law, concealed handgun licenses would be acceptable forms of photo ID, but student IDs would not," Holder said. "Many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them, and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them. We call those poll taxes."
[Read more...]

450,000 Yahoo Voice Passwords Breached, Hacking Group Claims (12 July 2012)
A hacker group calling itself the D33ds Company has posted more than 450,000 login credentials online, claiming that the pilfered e-mail addresses and passwords came from an unnamed Yahoo service. The hackers say they were able to obtain the credentials through an SQL injection, a common attack method that gave Sony so much trouble in 2011.

The original D33ds site that posted the login credentials (d33ds.co) was down as of early Thursday morning; however, the text file is available through torrents and sites such as Media Fire.

"We hope that the parties responsible for managing the security of this subdomain will take this as a wake-up call, and not as a threat," the D33ds group said in the text file containing the leaked credentials. The group said it did not reveal which Yahoo service the hacked credentials came from "to avoid further damage."

It's not clear which Yahoo service the hacked login credentials came from or if they came from Yahoo at all. Research by information security firm TrustedSec suggests the hacked service was Yahoo! Voices, a user-generated blogging platform that Yahoo obtained as part of its acquisition of Associated Content in 2010. A quick glance at a copy of the hacked login credentials obtained by PCWorld shows a wide variety of webmail addresses including AOL, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, and others.
[Read more...]

Virginia lawmaker, ACLU say bill will regulate drones (12 July 2012)
One of Virginia's most conservative lawmakers is working with the ACLU on legislation to regulate the use of unmanned aerial drones in the state.

Republican Del. Todd Gilbert of Shenandoah County and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia said Thursday that legislation will be introduced in the 2013 General Assembly session.

The increasing use of drones as a surveillance tool by police and government agencies has prompted privacy concerns nationwide. Gilbert says he and the ACLU believe drones should be strictly regulated by the state to protect Virginians' civil rights.

Gilbert's bill would require police to get a warrant before using drones. It also would require public monitoring and accountability, and mandate the destruction of any pictures acquired by drones unless they are part of an authorized investigation.
[Read more...]

Penn State report into Jerry Sandusky abuse scandal -- live (12 July 2012)
Louis Freeh's report into how Penn State University handled the Jerry Sandusky crisis has criticised senior leaders as having a "total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims". "Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley ... failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized," Freeh said in a statement.

Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley "repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky's child abuse from the
authorities, the Board of Trustees, Penn State community, and the public at large", according to the report. The four men were aware of Sandusky abusing a boy in 2001, but decided not to report it "to avoid the consequences of bad publicity".

The four also knew Sandusky had been investigated for suspected child abuse in 1998, the report found, but "Again, they showed no concern about that victim". While "concern to treat the child abuser humanely was expressly stated", Freeh said, "no such sentiments were ever expressed by them for Sandusky's victims".

Penn State's Board of Trustees does not escape criticism in the report. "This was a failure of governance for which the Board must also bear responsibility," Freeh said. The board did not have procedures or structures in place to ensure incidents could be reported, and "failed to oversee properly" Spanier's management of the Sandusky scandal.
[Read more...]

Freeh report on Sandusky child sexual abuse has Nike impact (12 July 2012)
The report Louis Freeh issued today about Penn State University officials' conduct in the Jerry Sandusky scandal is of acute interest at Nike for several reasons.

The investigation concludes that the administrators who fielded a 2001 complaint about him created a dangerous situation for future victims by not reporting the matter.

The Freeh Group's report says that in order to avoid bad publicity, president Graham Spanier, football coach Joe Paterno, athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz "repeatedly concealed critical facts."

Paterno had a partnership with Nike extending to the company's earliest years, often participating in company events and forming a friendship with company co-founder and board chairman Phil Knight.
[Read more...]

Feds crackdown on 70 fake websites that "copy cat" real sites (12 July 2012)
The copycat trend presents an "alarming" new problem because it shows the increasing sophistication of online counterfeiters, said John Morton, director of the department's U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement unit.

"The fake sites and the real sites are almost indistinguishable," Morton said. "And the fake sites aren't offering obvious knockoffs. They are trying to masquerade as the real deal."

The websites used addresses such as "louisvuittononlineoutletus.com," "officialsanfrancisco49ers.com" and "originalbeatsbydre.com" that are designed to be close enough to the addresses of the true sites.

That's not a new tactic, but what is new is that the copy cat sites didn't have some of the more obvious flaws and other telltale signs that consumers can use as a tip off, such as misspelled names and words and prices that are abnormally below normal retail.
[Read more...]

U.S. moving submersibles to Persian Gulf to oppose Iran (11 July 2012)
WASHINGTON -- The Navy is rushing dozens of unmanned underwater craft to the Persian Gulf to help detect and destroy mines in a major military buildup aimed at preventing Iran from closing the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the event of a crisis, U.S. officials said.

The tiny SeaFox submersibles each carry an underwater television camera, homing sonar and an explosive charge. The Navy bought them in May after an urgent request by Marine Gen. James Mattis, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East.

Each submersible is about 4 feet long and weighs less than 100 pounds. The craft are intended to boost U.S. military capabilities as negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program appear to have stalled. Three rounds of talks since April between Iran and the five countries in the United Nations Security Council plus Germany have made little progress.

Some U.S. officials are wary that Iran may respond to tightening sanctions on its banking and energy sectors, including a European Union oil embargo, by launching or sponsoring attacks on oil tankers or platforms in the Persian Gulf. Some officials in Tehran have threatened to close the narrow waterway, a choke point for a fifth of the oil traded worldwide.
[Read more...]

Arizona to outlaw Internet stalking (11 July 2012)
House Bill 2549 prevents anyone from terrifying, intimidating, threatening or harassing an individual through electronic communication.

The previous law protected individuals from these acts only via the telephone.

The new law also makes it illegal to use an electronic, digital or global-positioning device to monitor an individual for 12 hours or more on two or more occasions.

Rep. Ted Vogt, R-Tucson, who sponsored the bill, said the law needed updating to protect victims of harassment or stalking through text messages or e-mails.
[Read more...]

Discovery of magnetic sensors in fish and rats may explain why some people can 'feel' wi-fi, smart meters, power lines and electropollution (11 July 2012)
(NaturalNews) It is well known that many people are sensitive to electromagnetic pollution. Wi-fi gives them headaches. Being near high-voltage power lines can bring on migraines. Using a cell phone unleashes similar symptoms. Until recently, there was no medically-understood mechanism by which electromagnetic waves could be sensed by humans. But now, thanks to some fascinating science summarized here, that mystery may be closer to being solved.

Scientists from the University of Munich, led by geophysicist Michael Winklhofer, say they've located and identified "internal compass needles" in the noses of rainbow trout. These are called magnetosensory cells, and they turn out to be far more sensitive to magnetic fields than anyone previously thought.

As TGdaily.com reports:

"The cells sense the field by means of micrometer-sized inclusions composed of magnetic crystals, probably made of magnetite. These inclusions are coupled to the cell membrane, changing the electrical potential across the membrane when the crystals realign in response to a change in the ambient magnetic field..."
[Read more...]

NYPD says it thwarted 14 terrorist plots since 9/11. Is it true? In a word, no. (10 July 2012)
A review of the list shows a much more complicated reality -- that the 14 figure overstates both the number of serious, developed terrorist plots against New York and exaggerates the NYPD's role in stopping attacks.

The list includes two and perhaps three clear-cut terrorist plots, including a failed attempt to bomb Times Square by a Pakistani-American in 2010 that the NYPD did not stop.

Of the 11 other cases, there are three in which government informants played a significant or dominant role (by, for example, providing money and fakes bombs to future defendants); four cases whose credibility or seriousness has been questioned by law enforcement officials, including episodes in which skeptical federal officials declined to bring charges; and another four cases in which an idea for a plot was abandoned or not pursued beyond discussion.

In addition, the NYPD itself does not appear to have played a major role in breaking up most of the alleged plots on the list. In several cases, it played no role at all.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: ...But it sure makes a great excuse for the serious crimes they never have time to solve.

Florida's Secretary of State agrees to release "noncitizen" voters list (10 July 2012)
Reversing course, Secretary of State Ken Detzner agreed the list of names is a public record after talking with Attorney General Pam Bondi's office.

Detzner had wanted to get a legal opinion from Bondi, but his spokesman, Chris Cate, said that in verbal discussions, it was agreed the database is public and must be released.

The list, however, will not be sent to Florida's 67 county election supervisors, who have the authority to purge noncitizens from the voter rolls.
That means that no one faces being blocked from voting before the primary, even if they're not a U.S. citizen.

The state list was created last year by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, based on outdated information from people who had obtained driver licenses.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: The problem in this country is getting people motivated enough to vote, including citizens who were born here. Non-citizen voters are a myth created by Republicans to start a modern form of Jim Crow laws against Hispanic voters.

Rep. John Lewis, Civil Rights Icon, on the Struggle to Win--and Now Protect--Voting Rights in U.S. (10 July 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Why do these voter purges actually target the groups you've just talked about? How do they target them? Maybe you can explain what you were so pivotal in having passed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965?

REP. JOHN LEWIS: Well, I think there's this make-believe that if we do not purge, if we do not weed out some of these people, they're going to come out and vote, and they're going to vote not the way that some people would like for them to vote. They're primarily Democratic voters. It makes me want to just cry, after people gave a little blood, after some people were beaten, shot and murdered trying to help people become registered voters. I can never forget the three civil rights workers that were murdered in the state of Mississippi on the night of June 21st, 1964; other people shot down in cold blood; the march from Selma to Montgomery, where 17 of us were seriously injured. And we passed the Voting Rights Act. We renewed the act. We extended the act. And then the state of Florida, the state of Georgia, Alabama and other states throughout the nation come along with tactics to make it hard, to make it difficult for people to participate. We should be making it easy and simple and open up the political process and let all of the people come in.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain what the Voting Rights Act said.

REP. JOHN LEWIS: The Voting Rights Act of 1965 said, in effect, that you cannot use a literary test, you cannot have a poll tax, you cannot use certain devices, you cannot harass, you cannot intimidate. And before you make any changes in election laws dealing with registration, changing a precinct, local lines for any political position, you have to get pre-clearance from the Department of Justice or the federal district court in Washington, D.C. So, the state of Florida, for an example, never sought to get clearance to purge. And they're hiding behind there may be fraud. That's their own.
[Read more...]

Fentanyl kills 'perfect wife' and other addicts in Ontario city (10 July 2012)
A drug meant to replace the highly addictive OxyContin as a prescription painkiller is slowly taking hold of addicts in the southwestern Ontario city of Sarnia, and at least one resident whose wife died from a Fentanyl overdose says he's speaking out to prevent other deaths.

Police say Fentanyl is becoming a killer street drug in Sarnia, which has a population of about 72,000.

They say two people died of Fentanyl overdoses last year. This year, one other person has died and two people were found unconscious from overdoses on consecutive days in June.

Fentanyl is a painkiller 100 times more potent than morphine. It is 750 times stronger than codeine, according to Dr. Michelle Arnot, a professor of pharmacology at the University of Toronto.

Det. Const. Ivan Skinn said Fentanyl is "far more dangerous than the old formula of OxyContin." In 2011, Skinn warned that Fentanyl would replace OxyContin as a problem among addicts before OxyContin was delisted.
[Read more...]

Florida closes only tuberculosis hospital amid worst US outbreak in 20 years (9 July 2012)
Health officials in Florida hastened their closure of the nation's only dedicated tuberculosis hospital on cost-cutting grounds as one of the worst outbreaks of the deadly disease in 20 years was taking a grip on the state, it has been revealed.

At least 3,000 people in Jacksonville may have been exposed to the highly contagious respiratory illness that claimed 13 lives in the city and left another 100 sick in the last two years, a report from the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded.

But news of the severity of the outbreak never reached Florida's politicians, who voted in March to bring forward the closure of the 100-bed AG Holley state hospital in Lantana by six months to July 2.

As a result, patients once deemed too sick for contact with the public were released into the community and others newly diagnosed with the disease, mostly from the homeless population, are being put up in local motels in an effort to keep them on their medications.
[Read more...]

Scientists: Nanotech-based products offer great potential but unknown risks (10 July 2012)
Zinc oxide would be the perfect sunscreen ingredient if the resulting product didn't look quite so silly. Thick, white and pasty, it once was seen mostly on lifeguards, surfers and others who needed serious sun protection.

But when the sunscreens are made with nanoparticles, the tiniest substances that humans can engineer, they turn clear -- which makes them more user-friendly.

Improved sunscreens are just one of the many innovative uses of nanotechnology, which involves drastically shrinking and fundamentally changing the structure of chemical compounds. But products made with nanomaterials also raise largely unanswered safety questions -- such as whether the particles that make them effective can be absorbed into the bloodstream and are toxic to living cells.

Less than two decades old, the nanotech industry is booming. Nanoparticles -- measured in billionths of a meter -- are already found in thousands of consumer products, including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, anti-microbial infant toys, sports equipment, food packaging and electronics. In addition to producing transparent sunscreens, nanomaterials help make light and sturdy tennis rackets, clothes that don't stain and stink-free socks.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Here's a tip: If a newspaper insists that you sign up for "membership" to read an article, just Google the article and click on the news link from there. Normally web designers program individual news articles to accept readers directly from Google, without forcing you to join a spam list first.

Man found guilty in Planned Parenthood fire (9 July 2012)
GREEN BAY -- A Grand Chute man was found guilty in connection with an April fire at a Planned Parenthood facility.

WBAY-TV reported that a federal jury convicted Francis Grady on charges of arson and damage to property on Monday after roughly 30 minutes of deliberation.

During his testimony, Grady said he didn't mean to burn down the building, but wanted to "release the children."

He said when he lit the building on fire, he "saw souls coming out of the windows."
[Read more...]

Thousands of leatherback turtle eggs 'crushed by workers' on Trinidad beach (10 July 2012)
Thousands of leatherback turtle eggs and hatchlings have been crushed by heavy machinery along a Trinidad beach widely regarded as the world's densest nesting area for the biggest of all living sea turtles, conservationists said.

Government work crews with bulldozers were redirecting the Grand Riviere, a shifting river that was threatening a hotel where tourists from around the globe watch the huge endangered turtles lay their eggs.

But several conservationists who monitor turtle populations say the crews botched the job, digging up an unnecessarily large swath of the important nesting beach in the tiny coastal town on Trinidad's northern shore.

Sherwin Reyz, a member of the Grand Riviere Environmental Organisation, estimated that as many as 20,000 eggs were crushed or consumed by the scores of vultures and stray dogs that descended upon the narrow strip of beach to eat the remains after the operation by the Ministry of Works.
[Read more...]

Chinese police save 3,600 endangered crocodiles from being eaten by humans (9 July 2012)
In southern China, police intercepted three foreigners trying to sneak over the border with precious cargo -- more than 3,600 crocodiles. By the time police arrested the smugglers, 42 of the Siamese crocs (an endangered species) had died of dehydration and overheating. But if the police hadn't intervened, the rest would have met an equally gruesome fate, as dinner for the culinarily adventurous in Guangdong province.

This was a particularly large load: The crocodiles weighed more than 17 tons in all. But according to the Guardian, environmental watchdogs like Zheng Yuanying, southern China program director for Green Eye of China, say that smugglers are slipping smaller shipments of reptiles over the border all the time:

"Zhang said authorities needed to further strengthen border inspections, adding he had heard of people simply walking across the border with crocodiles in boxes on their backs."

That sounds like a dangerous way to transport a large animal with bone-crushing jaw strength. But if humans are going to eat endangered crocodiles, perhaps it's only fair that endangered crocodiles get a slim shot at eating humans, too?
[Read more...]

Stay at home mothers 'more unhappy than those who work' (9 July 2012)
STAY at home mothers are more likely to be unhappy than those who go out to work, according to new research.

Women who believe in "intensive parenting" are at risk of a range of mental illnesses including depression.

They think women are better parents than men, that mothering should be child centred and that children should be considered sacred and fulfilling.

This may put them in danger of suffering the 'parenthood paradox' where their ideology increases feelings of stress and guilt.
[Read more...]

Big Pharma criminality no longer a conspiracy theory: Bribery, fraud, price fixing now a matter of public record (9 July 2012)
(NaturalNews) Those of us who have long been describing the pharmaceutical industry as a "criminal racket" over the last few years have been wholly vindicated by recent news. Drug and vaccine manufacturer Merck was caught red-handed by two of its own scientists faking vaccine efficacy data by spiking blood samples with animal antibodies. GlaxoSmithKline has just been fined a whopping $3 billion for bribing doctors, lying to the FDA, hiding clinical trial data and fraudulent marketing. Pfizer, meanwhile has been sued by the nation's pharmacy retailers for what is alleged as an "overarching anticompetitive scheme" to keep generic cholesterol drugs off the market and thereby boost its own profits.

The picture that's emerging is one of a criminal drug industry that has turned to mafia tactics in the absence of any real science that would prove their products to be safe or effective. The emergence of this extraordinary evidence of bribery, scientific fraud, lying to regulators and monopolistic practices that harm consumers is also making all those doctors and "skeptics" who defended Big Pharma and vaccines eat their words.

To defend Big Pharma today is to defend a cabal of criminal corporations that have proven they will do anything -- absolutely anything -- to keep their profits rolling in. It makes no difference who they have to bribe, what studies they have to falsify, or who has to be threatened into silence. They will stop at nothing to expand their profit base, even if it means harming (or killing) countless innocents.

Let's take a look at recent revelations:

GlaxoSmithKline pleads guilty to bribery, fraud and other crimes
It what is now the largest criminal fraud settlement ever to come out of the pharmaceutical industry, GlaxoSmithKline has pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $1 billion in criminal fines and $2 billion in civil fines following a nine-year federal investigation into its activities.
[Read more...]

Can spending less time sitting down add years to life? (9 July 2012)
Limiting the time we spend sitting to just three hours a day could add an extra two years to our life expectancy, scientists calculate.

Similarly, if we cut daily TV viewing down to two hours we could add on 1.4 years, they say in a report for the online journal BMJ Open.

But experts say the US estimates, which are based on five separate population studies, are too unreliable to predict personal risk.

Plus the targets are unfeasible.

Prof David Spiegelhalter, an expert in risk calculations at the University of Cambridge, said: "This is a study of populations, and does not tell you personally what the effect of getting off the sofa might be.
[Read more...]

Texas, Justice Dept. Square Off over Voter ID Law as Part of Dispute That Could Decide 2012 Election (9 July 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: And talk about the significance of this hearing that is taking place this week.

ROBERT NOTZON: Well, it's critical, because, as you said, there's several states that have attempted to or that have passed voter ID laws. But in Texas, we always do things different. And they seem to be--I won't say unapologetic, because they don't wear race on their sleeves when they do it, but the way they go about passing their voting laws in the state of Texas, historically, for decades, regardless of party, is to be--take advantage of race and use it as a tool to stay in power and to keep the minority vote down. So, in Texas, when they pass a law like this voter ID law, it's different than other states. They restrict the number of IDs that are available to be used. And the impact on that is disproportionately on the minority community.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain more why it impacts the minority community--in Texas, we're talking particularly Latinos, though African Americans, as well--why presenting a photo ID does this.

ROBERT NOTZON: Right. Well, on all the--I like to call them the "pursuit of happiness" indexes on the census, the minority populations in Texas, historically and currently, are on the lower end of the economic scale. So the effects of having to get voter IDs, having to have the documentation necessary to get those voter IDs, having to get to the place where you need to get the ID, having to take off work, having to get transportation, having to--I guess, if you move often, the minority populations are going to have more trouble keeping a current voter ID. And also, the voter ID--
[Read more...]

Earthquake-damaged Washington Monument may be closed into 2014 (9 July 2012)
Repairs that could keep the earthquake-damaged Washington Monument closed into 2014 will require the exterior and part of the interior of the 555-foot structure to be shrouded in scaffolding, the National Park Service has announced.

The estimated $15 million project will necessitate the temporary removal of part of the granite plaza surrounding the monument, and the bracing of huge stone slabs that now rest on cracked supports near the structure's top.

Robert A. Vogel, superintendent of the Park Service's National Mall and Memorial Parks, said the project also may require the temporary removal of some of the plaza's flagpoles and benches.

The marble and granite monument was extensively damaged by the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the area last Aug. 23.
[Read more...]

10 things the recent D.C. power outage taught us about a real, large-scale collapse (8 July 2012)
(NaturalNews) In the wake of violent storms, the power went out for millions of Americans across several U.S. states. Governors of Virginia, West Virginia and Ohio declared a state of emergency. Over twenty people were confirmed dead, and millions sweltered in blistering temperatures while having no air conditioning or refrigeration. As their frozen foods melted into processed goo, some were waking up to a few lessons that we would all be wise to remember.

Here are 10 hard lessons we're all learning (or re-learning, as the case may be) from this situation:

#1) The power grid is ridiculously vulnerable to disruptions and failure
All it takes is Mother Nature unleashing a little wind storm, and entire human cities are cut off from their power grid. Wind and trees, in other words, can destroy in seconds what takes humans years to construct. As Newt Gingrich even quipped about the situation, what we witnessed was just a small taste of what a high-altitude EMP weapon attack could unleash across all of North America. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpuyPfAZRTU)

#2) Without electricity, acquiring food and water in a major U.S. city can become a difficult task
During the outage, masses of people across the Eastern U.S. scrambled to get squared away on food and water. Fortunately for them, malls and gas stations were open, providing (processed) food, water and air conditioning. That's because the power outages were fragmented, affecting some neighborhoods but not others.

In a total grid down scenario, food and water supplies in a given U.S. city will disappear almost overnight. It's much the same for gasoline, batteries and even ammunition. All these supplies (and many more) will simply be stripped from the shelves.
[Read more...]

Chesapeake retreat ends American energy land grab (10 July 2012)
(Reuters) - About six years ago, an army of agents hired by energy companies started desperately courting landowners across the United States whose farms and ranches happened to sit atop some of the richest oil and gas deposits in the world. And so began one of the biggest land grabs in recent memory.

Those days are over.

U.S. energy titan Chesapeake Energy is quickly cutting back on an aggressive land-leasing program that in recent years has made it one of America's largest leaseholders, putting an end to half a decade of frenzied energy wildcatting.

Beset by growing governance and financial problems, and a sharp slump in natural gas prices, the No. 2 U.S. gas driller is reducing by half the ranks of its agents, known in the industry as landmen.
[Read more...]

Arctic drilling: Groups challenge Shell oil spill response plans (9 July 2012)
The lawsuit, which is being filed in U.S. District Court in Anchorage, seeks to invoke the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, a tough law passed in the wake of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. That law sets a high bar for offshore oil and gas operations -- a bar that Shell officials say they are already meeting for exploratory drilling scheduled to get underway in August.

"This lawsuit is not just about this summer. It's about the future of the Arctic Ocean," said Michael LeVine, Pacific senior counsel for Oceana, one of 10 plaintiffs. Others include the Alaska Wilderness League, the Sierra Club, Earthjustice and the Center for Biological Diversity.

The suit names the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which earlier this year approved separate Oil Spill Response Plans, or OSRPs, for the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. The plans call for a flotilla of on-site response vessels near any offshore drilling rigs and a complement of near-shore response equipment pre-positioned at points along Alaska's Arctic coast.

"The agency has not done its job to ensure that Shell can remove any spilled oil to the maximum extent practicable, which is the legal standard. They've just Shell's word for it that this is the best they can do, rather than taking a hard look at what can be done to actually respond to a spill," LeVine said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
[Read more...]

California restaurant attempting to evade state's foie gras ban (9 July 2012)
A Bay Area restaurant is adding foie gras to its menu despite a new California law banning the sale of the delicacy. But the owner of the restaurant says the state can't stop him.

Presidio Social Club is in San Francisco's Presidio, a national park under federal jurisdiction. That, according to the restaurant's management, makes it exempt from the state legislation that went into effect July 1 forbidding the sale of any product made from a force-fed bird.

"We're not trying to exploit a loophole or out to break the law," said Ray Tang, owner of the American comfort-food-style restaurant. California's prohibition simply doesn't apply to Presidio Social Club, he said.

The restaurant is the first to claim territorial rights to sell duck liver, opening the door for other national park and Indian casino restaurants to adopt similar plans - and adding fuel to opponents' arguments that the statute has many holes in it.
[Read more...]

Biological compass identified in fish (9 July 2012)
The nose knows, at least in fish.

Researchers have isolated cells in the trout's nasal cavity that can sense the Earth's magnetic field, answering a long-standing question of how these animals manage to navigate over great distances. The new method described in the study could be used to find these cells in other creatures, perhaps even humans.

Animals including pigeons, turtles, bats, lobsters and even cows are known to have magnetically guided orientation behaviors, but the mechanism has remained elusive. One proposed theory, electromagnetic induction, would only work for animals such as sharks, whose bodies and habitat (seawater) are highly conductive.

Another, more feasible theory involves magnetite, an iron-containing mineral that is also used in compass needles. Some bacteria that produce magnetite crystals turn to align and move along magnetic field lines, but finding these tiny crystals in vertebrates has been a challenge.

"The magnetic field penetrates the whole body, and therefore there is no reason why the magnetic (sensitive) cells have to be at the periphery (of the body)," explains geophysicist Michael Winklhofer from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, one of the authors of the new study.
[Read more...]

Rescued baby beluga whale dies at SeaLife Center in Seward (9 July 2012)
A baby beluga whale found stranded and alone in Bristol Bay has died at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward.
The calf was an estimated 2 or 3 days old when rescuers spotted it after a storm June 18 near the Diamond O Cannery in Naknek, according to the center. The discovery launched a rare, perhaps unprecedented rescue effort for a beluga calf, as veterinarians and marine mammal specialists began watching the animal around the clock at the Seward facility, said SeaLife Center president Tara Riemer Jones.

The calf died around midnight Sunday, she said. The death was not unexpected, Jones said.

All stranded animals are at risk, she said, but cetaceans such as whales and dolphins have particularly low chances of survival when separated from their mothers and rescued in the wild. The beluga calf had been encouraged to return to the open ocean but kept returning to shore before the rescue, according to the center.
[Read more...]

Has 'Organic' Been Oversized? (7 July 2012)
Michael J. Potter is one of the last little big men left in organic food.

More than 40 years ago, Mr. Potter bought into a hippie cafe and "whole earth" grocery here that has since morphed into a major organic foods producer and wholesaler, Eden Foods.

But one morning last May, he hopped on his motorcycle and took off across the Plains to challenge what organic food -- or as he might have it, so-called organic food -- has become since his tie-dye days in the Haight district of San Francisco.

The fact is, organic food has become a wildly lucrative business for Big Food and a premium-price-means-premium-profit section of the grocery store. The industry's image -- contented cows grazing on the green hills of family-owned farms -- is mostly pure fantasy. Or rather, pure marketing. Big Food, it turns out, has spawned what might be called Big Organic.
[Read more...]

Mothers who breastfeed are slimmer into their 50s: study (10 July 2012)
he more babies a woman had the higher her body mass index decades later but the longer she breastfed for the lower it was, the study found.

Women who breastfed for at least six months, in line with Government recommendations, had a lower body mass index in their 50s than those who had not, it was found.

Every six months of breastfeeding was associated with a one per cent drop in BMI, they said.

For every six months of breastfeeding their BMI at age 57 was one quarter of a point lower - the equivalent of a 5'3 woman weighing 10 stone 4 instead of 10 stone 5lbs had she not breastfed.
[Read more...]

Nigeria oil spill caused by sabotage, ENI says (8 July 2012)
YENAGOA, Nigeria -- Italian oil giant ENI said Sunday that "an act of sabotage" has caused a spill at one of its pipelines in Nigeria's Bayelsa state, as local leaders condemned the company for not reacting swiftly.

Oil theft is a worsening problem in Africa's top producer, where thieves often blast into pipelines in the Niger Delta region and then siphon off the crude to sell on the black market.

"Due to an act of sabotage yesterday night, there has been a spill along the flowline between Nembe and Obama," an ENI spokesman, who did not want to be named, told AFP in Rome.

The area, known locally as Obama fields, was renamed to honour US President Barack Obama.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Maybe if the people of Nigeria derived greater benefit from the natural resources under their feet, they'd be less inclined to "steal" oil from their native land.

NAFTA on Steroids (9 July 2012)
While the Occupy movement has forced a public discussion of extreme corporate influence on every aspect of our lives, behind closed doors corporate America is implementing a stealth strategy to formalize its rule in a truly horrifying manner. The mechanism is the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Negotiations have been conducted in extreme secrecy, so you are in good company if you have never heard of it. But the thirteenth round of negotiations between the United States and eight Pacific Rim nations will be held in San Diego in early July.

The TPP has been cleverly misbranded as a trade agreement (yawn) by its corporate boosters. As a result, since George W. Bush initiated negotiations in 2008, it has cruised along under the radar. The Obama administration initially paused the talks, ostensibly to develop a new approach compatible with candidate Obama's pledges to replace the old NAFTA-based trade model. But by late 2009, talks restarted just where Bush had left off.

Since then, US negotiators have proposed new rights for Big Pharma and pushed into the text aspects of the Stop Online Piracy Act, which would limit Internet freedom, despite the derailing of SOPA in Congress earlier this year thanks to public activism. In June a text of the TPP investment chapter was leaked, revealing that US negotiators are even pushing to expand NAFTA's notorious corporate tribunals, which have been used to attack domestic public interest laws.

Think of the TPP as a stealthy delivery mechanism for policies that could not survive public scrutiny. Indeed, only two of the twenty-six chapters of this corporate Trojan horse cover traditional trade matters. The rest embody the most florid dreams of the 1 percent--grandiose new rights and privileges for corporations and permanent constraints on government regulation. They include new investor safeguards to ease job offshoring and assert control over natural resources, and severely limit the regulation of financial services, land use, food safety, natural resources, energy, tobacco, healthcare and more.
[Read more...]

Web goes dark for some as FBI shuts down DNSChanger operation (9 July 2012)
If you are one of the thousands of people whose computer was infected with the DNSChanger virus between 2007 and 2011 and you haven't yet bothered to remove it, chances are you're reading this at work or on a mobile device because your internet access has been cut off today.

Several temporary DNS servers that have been keeping virus-infected machines connected to the internet were shut down Monday as part of the winding down of the FBI operation Ghost Click.

Ghost Click was an international investigation that led to the arrest of a group of Estonian cybercriminals operating under the company name Rove Digital.

Between 2007 and 2011, the group successfully rerouted about 650,000 computers around the world through a system of false DNS servers, manipulating web searches and directing infected machines to fraudulent websites that promoted fake products, allowing the perpetrators to earn money off the sale of the products and advertising on the sites.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: More: "Alternatively, you can go to an uninfected machine and try downloading some of the free DNSChanger virus scan and removal software compiled by the DNSChanger Working Group at www.dcwg.org/fix/ onto removable media, like a USB flash drive, and use that device to disinfect your computer."

Florida accused of concealing worst tuberculosis outbreak in 20 years (8 July 2012)
The state of Florida has been struggling for months with what the Centers for Disease Control describe as the worst tuberculosis outbreak in the United States in twenty years.

Although a CDC report went out to state health officials in April encouraging them to take concerted action, the warning went largely unnoticed and nothing has been done. The public did not even learn of the outbreak until June, after a man with an active case of TB was spotted in a Jacksonville soup kitchen.

The Palm Beach Post has managed to obtain records on the outbreak and the CDC report, though only after weeks of repeated requests. These documents should have been freely available under Florida's Sunshine Law.

According to the Post, the coverup began as early as last February, "when Duval County Health Department officials felt so overwhelmed by the sudden spike in tuberculosis that they asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to become involved. Believing the outbreak affected only their underclass, the health officials made a conscious decision not to not tell the public, repeating a decision they had made in 2008, when the same strain had appeared in an assisted living home for people with schizophrenia."
[Read more...]

Study shows exposure to tobacco smoke dropped with state ban (8 July 2012)
The percentage of Wisconsin residents who say they're exposed to tobacco smoke dropped by nearly half after the state's workplace smoking ban started two years ago, a new study says.

The law, which took effect on July 5, 2010, banned smoking in bars, restaurants, private clubs, schools, hotels, clinics and other workplaces.

Before the ban, 55 percent of residents reported being exposed to smoke outside the home and 13 percent at home. After the ban, 32 percent reported exposure to smoke outside the home and 7 percent at home.

"This state ban was an effective public policy to improve health," said Dr. Javier Nieto, chairman of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health's Department of Population Health Sciences.
[Read more...]

Texas launches challenge to justice department block of voter ID law (8 July 2012)
Texas will launch a challenge to a central piece of civil rights legislation in a Washington court on Monday in a case the Obama administration has characterised as a fight to protect the right to vote.

The five-day hearing will rule on whether the US justice department has the power to block Texas from implementing a state law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls -- a move critics say will disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of people, principally Latinos and other minorities.

The decision by a federal court is likely to have a bearing on a flood of similar legislation in other states over recent years although the issue is expected to end up before the supreme court.

The Obama administration blocked the Texas legislation using a clause in the 1965 Voting Rights Act which requires 16 states with a history of discriminatory laws and practices to clear all or some changes in voting laws and constituency boundaries with the justice department.
[Read more...]

S.F. tries version of Laura's Law for mentally ill (7 July 2012)
After years of debate over how to deal with the city's large population of severely mentally ill people who refuse treatment, San Francisco officials have quietly implemented a version of the controversial Laura's Law.

The Department of Public Health treats 23,000 mental health patients each year. Reaching a few dozen of the worst cases could help reduce the cost for care and emergency services and improve the quality of life on the streets where residents and tourists alike often complain about mentally ill homeless people creating havoc, city leaders said.

City leaders have never adopted Laura's Law, but the Department of Public Health initiated a voluntary version of the law last year to treat a handful of people who were patients in the psychiatric ward of San Francisco General Hospital. The first set of results being evaluated now show promise, city officials said.

Laura's Law allows counties to compel outpatient treatment in extreme cases, but it does not require patients to take medication.
[Read more...]

U.S. pushes for more scientists, but the jobs aren't there (8 July 2012)
Michelle Amaral wanted to be a brain scientist to help cure diseases. She planned a traditional academic science career: PhD, university professorship and, eventually, her own lab.

But three years after earning a doctorate in neuroscience, she gave up trying to find a permanent job in her field.

Dropping her dream, she took an administrative position at her university, experiencing firsthand an economic reality that, at first look, is counterintuitive: There are too many laboratory scientists for too few jobs.

That reality runs counter to messages sent by President Obama and the National Science Foundation and other influential groups, who in recent years have called for U.S. universities to churn out more scientists.
[Read more...]

Monsanto Launches Massive Campaign to Stop GMO Labeling (8 July 2012)
We've gone on at great lengths discussing the dangers of genetic modification. Monsanto's GMO corn has been linked to weight gain and organ function disruption, while GMO crops and pesticides destroy our farmland and environment.

According to the Alliance of Natural Health, the grandchildren of rats fed GMO corn were born sterile. GMO is just one of those things to avoid, but with our own government in bed with Monsanto, it's not easily done. Monsanto has recently launched a proverbial war against the open labeling of genetically modified foods, and only through activism and awareness can it be overcome.

The People Versus GMO
In February of this year, Vermont contemplated the Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act. The proposed bill prohibits GMO food producers from using keywords like "natural," "naturally made," "naturally grown," and "all natural" to describe GMO ingredients and products. In the same month, the National Conference of State Legislatures reported that nearly 20 states were considering similar programs. Public surveys and studies also show a whopping 90 percent of the U.S. in favor of such practices.

In theory, this should make California's GMO labeling initiative, which would require all foods within the state made with GM ingredients to carry a label stating so, a shoo-in. But let's not get so hasty.
[Read more...]

Baby golden eagle survives Utah's Dump wildfire (7 July 2012)
he Dump Fire had devastated the area in late June. When Keller looked for the nest through a scope, all he could see was a black mark.

Keller, who has been banding golden eagles as a volunteer and providing reports to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources for 34 years, climbed through the scorched landscape to document the loss of the nest and the eaglet.

"There was not a stick from the nest left -- not on the ground or the cliff," Keller said of his June 28 excursion. "I've seen nests burn before, but this is the first year I have seen one burn with young in it. They are usually long gone and flying when fire season starts."

While standing there, taking in the devastation, Keller noticed a set of eagle legs behind a burned tree at the base of the cliff.
[Read more...]

Mitt Romney low-key on civil rights, in contrast to his father (8 July 2012)
Romney pressed ahead with an aggressive civil rights agenda that ultimately put him at odds with the leaders of his party. He refused to back Barry Goldwater as the 1964 Republican presidential nominee because, he told Goldwater in a letter, he was alarmed by indications that Goldwater's strategists "proposed to make an all-out push for the Southern white segregationist vote" and "exploit the so-called 'white backlash' in the North."

George Romney began pushing reforms to end discrimination toward minorities in housing soon after taking office in 1963 -- work that would lead to his highly controversial effort to integrate the nation's white suburbs as President Nixon's secretary of Housing and Urban Development. He launched his own 1968 presidential run after a 19-day tour of the ghettos of 17 cities, turning a spotlight on the decay and overcrowding that had contributed to riots in Detroit and elsewhere.

His son, running against the nation's first black president 44 years later, leaves a very different impression. Mitt Romney rarely mentions his father's efforts on civil rights and declined an interview request to discuss how that work influenced his own agenda on those issues, which have not figured prominently in his own career or presidential campaigns. (The only memorable time it has come up publicly was in 2007, when he mistakenly said he had seen his father march with the Rev.Martin Luther King Jr.He later said he meant the word "saw" in a "figurative sense.")

Although he will address the NAACP's annual convention on Wednesday, Romney has campaigned over the last year in front of predominantly white audiences. A rare exception to that pattern was his May visit to a charter school in a mostly black area of west Philadelphia, where he promoted his plans to push for more school choice. There he called the education achievement gap between minority and nonminority students "the civil rights issue of our time" for "people of color in this society."
[Read more...]

Blowing in the right direction: Two big wind projects are moving forward (7 July 2012)
As we continue to retire aging dirty coal plant after aging dirty coal plant nationwide (we just hit 112 coal plants secured to retire), we are also pushing hard to replace them with clean energy, and as little natural gas as possible. That's why we were excited this week to see two very large clean energy announcements from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

First, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the completion of the final environmental impact statement for a massive Wyoming wind farm. The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project would be comprised of up to 1,000 wind turbines across private and federal land in southeastern Wyoming, and generate up to 2,500 megawatts of clean energy.

This is a great move for a state where coal mining is devastating a beautiful and critical area -- the Powder River Basin. More wind power in Wyoming could mean less coal mining and fewer coal trains and coal plants in the West. It is also a smart move for a state that sees itself as an energy powerhouse, and wants to keep this role in a future that will have little to no coal in it.

For example, these 2,500 megawatts of wind power could replace the two filthy coal plants in Nevada, including the one that got highlighted this week as a major polluter next to the Paiute Indian reservation outside of Las Vegas.
[Read more...]

U.S. electric car market full of spark (8 July 2012)
The US market for all-electric cars is charging up, with plug-in vehicles rolling off US dealer lots despite much higher costs, battery fire scares and falling gasoline prices.

Plug-in cars racked up strong sales in the first six months of the year, automakers said, even with their tall sticker prices and lifetime operating costs up to $6,000 more than conventional gasoline-run vehicles.

General Motors reported it sold more of its $39,000 Chevrolet Volts in the first six months than it did in all of last year, with 1,760 of the cars delivered to buyers in June.

Toyota said it has sold over 4,300 of its all-electric version of the popular Prius hybrid since it launched the model in March -- even though the plug-in Prius costs, at the $32,000 base price, a third more than the cheapest hybrid Prius.
[Read more...]

The corruption of the Farm Bill, and why clean, organic food remains more expensive than conventional (6 July 2012)
(NaturalNews) If you have ever wondered why junk food is almost always artificially cheap compared to healthy food, you need look no further than federal agriculture policy. Little do most people know that the federal government funnels billions of taxpayer dollars via the "Farm Bill" into large-scale crop systems that primarily grow genetically-modified (GM) soy, corn, cotton and other commodity crops used throughout the highly-processed, industrial food supply.

Every five years, Congress reviews the guidelines of the existing Farm Bill, and comes up with new ways to allocate the nearly-trillion dollar sum typically apportioned for American agriculture programs. And since existing Farm Bill provisions are set to expire on September 30, 2012, the Obama administration is currently pushing Congress to pass a revised Farm Bill known as the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012.

Hailed as encompassing "the most significant reforms in agricultural policy in decades," the 2012 Farm Bill will allegedly end direct payments to farmers, end farm payments to individuals and entities whose gross income exceeds $750,000 per year, and consolidate risk management programs, among other things. But many of the provisions of the new bill still favor large-scale producers of mostly commodity crops at the expense of small-scale farmers, who receive little, if any, financial incentives or benefits.

"Every five years or so, Congress promises a new, improved farm bill that will end unnecessary subsidies to big farmers, enhance the environment and actually do something to help small farmers and small towns," writes Robert B. Semple Jr. from The New York Times (NYT). "But what it usually does is find ways of disguising the old inequities, sending taxpayers (sic) dollars to wealthy farmers, accelerating the expansion of industrial farming, inflating land prices and further depopulating rural America."
[Read more...]

Efforts to preserve online freedom reveal threats (7 July 2012)
It's a pivotal moment for online freedom.

In the wake of the Arab Spring, the Internet's power to transform societies and institutions has never been more apparent. But so too are the parallel risks to authoritarian regimes and other entrenched interests. And they're putting up a fight, flexing their muscle to preserve their power at the cost of citizens' digital rights.

The good news is that heavyweight organizations and observers have taken public stands for online freedom in recent days.

On Thursday, the U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a landmark resolution recognizing the right to freedom of expression online and calling on states to promote Internet access. It was at least an important symbolic step, particularly given the lineup of backers, which included nations frequently on the wrong side of this issue, like Egypt, India and Tunisia.
[Read more...]

Anchorage protesters rally against police use of deadly force (7 July 2012)
Rallying against Anchorage police officers' use of lethal force in recent weeks, about 150 people gathered to protest, sing and march near police headquarters Saturday.
The rally followed two fatal shootings by Anchorage officers in less than a month: Shane Tasi, a 26-year-old carrying a long stick June 9, and Harry Smith, a 59-year-old brandishing a BB gun July 1. Tasi's shooting was cleared of criminal wrongdoing by state prosecutors; Smith's is under investigation.

Leaders in the local Polynesian community met with police and city officials on Friday, urging them to change what they call a "shoot to kill" policy in those situations when an officer is in danger. And while Police Chief Mark Mew and Mayor Dan Sullivan indicated after the meeting, through a spokeswoman, that they were open to better community outreach and increased funding for nonlethal weapons, they say training on the use of firearms in those situations will not change.

That didn't dissuade the protesters from gathering Saturday with signs that said, "We want justice," and "We want to be heard!" Speakers of various ethnicities addressed the crowd, one suggesting a state law requiring less-than- lethal police tactics and another issuing a plea directly to officers to "bridge the gap" with the people they're tasked with protecting and a call to parents to do a better job raising their kids. Another said that the officer who shot Tasi could have used his pepper spray to disable the stick-wielding man.
[Read more...]

Canada's Inuit roar in protest over move to protect polar bears (8 July 2012)
IQALUIT, Canada -- Doomsday predictions of the polar bear's demise tend to draw an Inuit guffaw here in Nunavut, the remote Arctic territory where polar bears in some places outnumber people.

People will tell you about the polar bear that strode brazenly past the dump a month ago or the bear that attacked a dog team in the town of Arviat in November. Heart-rending pictures of polar bears clinging to tiny islands of ice elicit nothing but derision.

The move to protect polar bears is appreciated for one thing, however, and that's a hefty hike in the price for a dead one. Across Canada, prices for polar bear pelts have soared over the last few years, with two at a June 20 auction in Ontario fetching a record $16,500 each.

"Four years ago, we were lucky to get a thousand dollars for a 7-foot polar bear. Now, you can sell that 7-foot polar bear for between $3,500 and $4,000," said Frank Pokiak, chairman of the Inuvialuit Game Council in northwestern Canada.

The only country in the world that allows its polar bears to be shot and sold commercially on the international market, Canada -- home to two-thirds of the remaining population -- has reaped the benefits of the rest of the globe's concern for the bear. So have its native people. An estimated 77% of the world trade in polar bear parts in recent years came from about 500 bears a year killed in Canada, 300 of which typically enter the international market, according to a review by the Humane Society of the United States and Canadian officials.
[Read more...]

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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


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All original content including photographs © 2012 by Pam Rotella. (News excerpts copyright by their corresponding authors, news organizations, or other copyright holders, and quoted here typically as "fair use" or "teaser" paragraphs to generate interest in the full articles.)