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Click to visit VeggieCooking.com NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012

News from the Week of 22nd to 28th of July 2012

Enbridge suffers new oil leak in Wisconsin, shuts key pipeline (27 July 2012)
(Reuters) - Canada's Enbridge Inc. said an oil spill in Wisconsin had forced it to shut down part of the main pipeline system delivering Canadian crude to U.S. refiners on Friday, a fresh blow for a firm already facing fierce criticism from regulators.

Almost two years to the day after a major spill on a different part of its network, Enbridge shut down Line 14 after a leak that it estimated at around 1,200 barrels of oil. The 318,000 barrel per day (bpd) line, part of the Lakehead system, carries light crude oil to Chicago-area refineries.

"Enbridge is treating this situation as a top priority," said Richard Adams, vice president of U.S. Operations at Enbridge. "We are bringing all necessary resources to bear."

The cause of Friday's spill was undetermined and Enbridge Energy Partners said it had no estimate on when flows would resume. Line 14 is one of four lines that ship mainly Canadian crude via Lakehead, a 2.5 million bpd network that is the principle route for Canadian exports.
[Read more...]

India labor issues come to a head in deadly Maruti Suzuki riot (26 July 2012)
MANESAR, India -- The windows are dark, dozens of vehicles smashed and the burned-out gate shrouded in canvas. A notice in English and Hindi informs the plant's 3,000 workers they're locked out until further notice.

The killing of a manager as workers rioted last week at the Maruti Suzuki auto plant outside New Delhi has shaken up Indian boardrooms, undercut foreign investor confidence and sparked debate over the social cost of India's fast-paced economy.

Reports differ on what sparked the July 18 uprising, although most say a supervisor and a worker argued early in the day. Some say the worker was slapped; others cite a caste insult, although they were reportedly of the same caste. Still others suggest the union was looking for an excuse to demonstrate.

As tension mounted, labor organizers asked day-shift workers to stay late, and the crowd swelled as the night crew arrived. About 6:30 p.m., workers wielding tools, car parts and other makeshift weapons attacked managers, including two senior Japanese executives, injuring at least 97 people. A fire broke out.
[Read more...]

Chick-fil-A spokesperson dies from heart attack (27 July 2012)
The longtime public relations head for the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain died Friday morning, WRBL-TV reports.

In a statement to the station, the company confirmed the death of Vice President for Corporate Relations Don Perry.

"Don was a member of our Chick-fil-A family for nearly 29 years," the statement said. "He was a well-respected and well-liked media executive in the Atlanta and University of Georgia communities, and we will all miss him."

Though the statement did not identify the cause of Perry's death, a relative of Chick-Fil-A founder CEO Dan Cathy told the station it happened after a heart attack.
[Read more...]

Frightening birds is big business as oilsands companies shell out (28 July 2012)
CALGARY - In Alberta's oilsands, frightening away birds is a million-dollar business.

With industry willing to shell out to prevent the kind of public relations disaster that befell Syncrude Canada Ltd. in 2008 -- when 1,600 ducks died in a tailings pond north of Fort McMurray -- companies that once marketed their technologies primarily to the aviation industry are setting their sights on the oilsands.

Ontario-based Accipiter Radar was in Calgary this week talking up its products at the Oil Sands Heavy Oil and Technology Conference and Exhibition. For years, the company has been developing technology aimed at keeping birds away from planes at airports. Last year, however, Accipiter's bird protection radar system was installed at Syncrude's facilities to protect the tailings ponds at their Mildred Lake and Aurora sites, and vice-president of business development Carl Krasnor says his company has also had talks with other oilsands producers.

Accipiter's systems are part of the new generation of bird deterrence technology. Traditionally, companies have relied on tools such as noise cannons -- fired at regular intervals -- to scare birds away from potentially hazardous wastewater. The problem is that over time, birds become accustomed to the repetitive sound and start to ignore it.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: I remember a farmer using one of those "noise cannons" when I was a kid -- they aren't very pleasant for people who have to live near them.

Third Anaheim police shooting comes as more protests planned (27 July 2012)
As Anaheim braced for more demonstrations protesting recent officer-involved shootings, the city's police Friday morning were involved in the third such incident in less than a week.

The latest incident occurred six days after police fatally shot an unarmed man during a brief foot chase, a case that has sparked days of protests and unrest on the city's streets.

Protest organizers are planning various events Friday night and during the weekend in connection with that shooting. Police have said they will not tolerate more violence.

Authorities said the most recent shooting occurred when officers responded to a burglary alarm about 3:15 a.m. at a clubhouse in a residential area near Water and East Olive streets. They found a man running from the building with what looked to be stolen property, Sgt. Bob Dunn of the Anaheim Police Department told KTLA.
[Read more...]

Colorado shooter was seeing a psychiatrist (28 July 2012)
The disclosure that Holmes was seeing Fenton raised serious questions in a possible death-penalty case, none of which the attorneys or university and law enforcement officials would discuss, citing a gag order.

Did Holmes reveal his plans to Fenton? Did Fenton tell the police? Will it become the basis of an insanity defense?

Therapists are required by law to investigate any threat of violence. They are supposed to determine the likelihood that the threats are real. If therapists believe a threat is real, they have a legal obligation to protect the intended victim or victims -- notifying the police or taking whatever step necessary.

It appears that Fenton never opened Holmes' notebook, which was seized at CU's Anschutz campus by Aurora police after they obtained a search warrant.
[Read more...]

Neanderthal-type species once roamed Africa, DNA shows (26 July 2012)
The human family tree just got another -- mysterious -- branch, an African "sister species" to the heavy-browed Neanderthals that once roamed Europe.

While no fossilized bones have been found from these enigmatic people, they did leave a calling card in present-day Africans: snippets of foreign DNA.

There's only one way that genetic material could have made it into modern human populations.

"Geneticists like euphemisms, but we're talking about sex," said Joshua Akey of the University of Washington in Seattle, whose lab identified the mystery DNA in three groups of modern Africans.
[Read more...]

USDA retracts "Meatless Monday" newsletter after pressure from meat industry-backed Kansas senator (26 July 2012)
The current drought in the United States is expected to increase the price of chicken, beef and turkey by approximately 4.5 percent because of the low supply of corn.

"I have requested that Secretary Vilsack let me know if it is now USDA's official policy to discourage the consumption of American grown meat," Moran added. "It is my hope that the USDA has not abandoned farmers and ranchers in pursuit of policies best left to the Environmental Protection Agency."

Moran received nearly half a million dollars in campaign contributions from the agricultural industry from 2007 to 2012. His fourth biggest contributor, the American Farm Bureau, has been critical of the "Meatless Monday" campaign.

The USDA sent out a "Greening Headquarters Update" newsletter to employees this week that encouraged them to abstain from eating meat on Mondays. The newsletter said that meat consumption was environmentally wasteful because of the amount of water, fertilizer, fossil fuels, and pesticides used, further noting that it took 7,000 kilograms of grain to make 1,000 kilograms of beef.

"While a vegetarian diet could have a beneficial impact on a person's health and the environment, many people are not ready to make that commitment," the newsletter said. "Because Meatless Monday involves only one day a week, it is a small change that could produce big results."
[Read more...]

Experts condemn plans to lift ban on research into deadly H5N1 birdflu virus (27 July 2012)
The moratorium on deliberately creating highly infectious strains of H5N1 was supposed to last 60 days but has continued for six months.

This weekend, influenza scientists will meet in New York in the hope of lifting the ban and allowing the work to continue.

However, leading experts contacted by The Independent said that lifting the moratorium would be wrong given that a highly-transmissible form of H5N1 birdflu - which is known to be extremely lethal to humans - could escape from a research laboratory to cause a deadly flu pandemic.

"The moratorium should be continued until a broader, dispassionate, international discussion can be held to carefully consider the risks and benefits," said David Relman, professor of infectious diseases at Stanford University in California.

"The consequences of misuse or accidental release are potentially catastrophic on the global human and animal populations. Scientists have a deep moral and ethical responsibility to back off...it should not be decided by a group of flu researchers," said Dr Relman, who also sits on the US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity.
[Read more...]

Britain's bells ring in official opening day of London Olympics; Big Ben chimes 40 times (27 July 2012)
LONDON -- Deep bongs and pearly tones: Led by Big Ben, bells across Britain rang out in joyous cacophony Friday to mark the official opening day of the London Olympics.

At precisely 8:12 a.m., 12 hours before what is expected to be a spectacular Olympic opening ceremony, the bells heralded a day of celebration that has been years in the making.

Big Ben -- the famous bell inside Parliament's clock tower -- bonged 40 times over three minutes to ring in the games. It was joined across the country by bells and horns in churches, ships, boats, trucks and cars 12 hours before the symbolic time of 2012 British Summer Time -- 8:12 p.m.

The project, "All the Bells," was the idea of Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Creed, who once designed a piece of art that consisted of a light being switched on and off.
[Read more...]

Chevron ordered to pay $19bn in environment damages (26 July 2012)
QUITO -- Chevron has been ordered to pay more than $19 billion in environmental damages, $1 billion more than originally decided, after an Ecuadoran court adjusted the amount on appeal, a source said.

"Due to an involuntary calculation error, the reparations now amount to $19,021,552,000," said a court source in the northeastern Amazonian province of Sucumbios.

Some 30,000 indigenous people and local farmers say the US oil firm Texaco contaminated large areas of Ecuador's Amazon Jungle when it operated in the region from 1964 to 1990, roughly a decade before Chevron acquired the company.

After years of litigation, an Ecuadoran court in February 2011 ordered the company to pay $18 billion in damages.
[Read more...]

Walmart accused of firing union organizers in bid to intimidate workers (26 July 2012)
Walmart is facing accusations that the company is engaged in a bold and illegal campaign to stamp out union activity after firing five employees in recent months who were involved in a group organizing the company's workers.

Although the company says that the terminations are unrelated to any employees' organizing activity, OUR Walmart -- which receives funding and support from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union -- argues that the pattern points to an emerging strategy to break the organization's command structure and intimidate workers.

One terminated worker, Angela Williamson, a mother of three, was fired in late May because, the company says, of unexcused absences. An active organizer at her store in Florida -- and at the national level -- Williamson says she was unable to pay the rent on her apartment after losing her job. She believes that her role in the labor organization led to her termination.

In Los Angeles, where local opposition has been mounting over a proposed Walmart in Chinatown, Girshreila Green was fired from her job earlier this month, just five days after she addressed a crowd at the largest ever anti-Walmart rally. Green, who is seven months pregnant, has been an outspoken critic of Walmart and a leading national organizer at OUR Walmart.
[Read more...]

Rat-Mart's Wal-nuts (FLASHBACK) (10 March 2005)
This was before the same Wal-Mart became the site of overcrowded parking lots with rude drivers, and lines that didn't move because there was only one cashier for the entire store during 3rd shift. Those problems would appear months later, probably as competitors disappeared and people had fewer shopping choices. No, this time things ran smoothly. I grabbed a bag of walnuts, a bottle of real maple syrup, and was making pancakes soon after (yes, the same pancakes from my cookbook -- I like substantial pancakes that make you feel full).

My brother and I enjoyed breakfast, as I continued to make more pancakes and shoveled them onto the plates. But when I reached for the bag of walnuts again, I made a discovery that somehow I'd missed both in the store and during our earlier rounds of drenching the cakes in syrup and nuts. There was a big, ragged RAT HOLE in the back of the bag of walnuts. I don't even know how the nuts hadn't been falling out in the store, since the hole was almost a couple of inches in diameter. My brother and I broke into hysterical laughter.

"Want more rat nuts?" I offered.

"Don't remind me," he laughed.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Since writing this rant in 2005, I've ventured into Wal-Marts three times that I can remember, always due to desperation while on road trips -- basically when I couldn't find a better place that was open to buy an urgently needed item.

What I find most offensive about Wal-Mart lately is having to walk a football field-sized store for a couple of items. "Welcome to Wal-Mart, shoppers. While your car is being dinged by our probably drunk and definitely rude clientele in the parking lot, enjoy taking an hour out of your day to look for the one item you need among our mountains of cheap junk..."

To follow are a couple of links that I had at the bottom of my old article...

As Union Nears Win, Wal-Mart Closes Store (FLASHBACK) (10 February 2005)
NEW YORK - Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says it will close one of its Canadian stores, just as some 200 workers at the location are near winning the first-ever union contract from the world's largest retailer.

Wal-Mart said it was shuttering the store in Jonquiere, Quebec, in response to unreasonable demands from union negotiators that would make it impossible for the store to sustain itself.

"We were hoping it wouldn't come to this," Andrew Pelletier, a spokesman for Wal-Mart Canada, said Wednesday. "Despite nine days of meetings over three months, we've been unable to reach an agreement with the union that in our view will allow the store to operate efficiently and profitably."

Pelletier said the store will close in May. The retailer had first discussed closing the Jonquiere store last October, saying the store was losing money.
[Read more...]

The Wal-Mart You Don't Know (FLASHBACK) (1 December 2003)
A gallon-sized jar of whole pickles is something to behold. The jar is the size of a small aquarium. The fat green pickles, floating in swampy juice, look reptilian, their shapes exaggerated by the glass. It weighs 12 pounds, too big to carry with one hand. The gallon jar of pickles is a display of abundance and excess; it is entrancing, and also vaguely unsettling. This is the product that Wal-Mart fell in love with: Vlasic's gallon jar of pickles.

Wal-Mart priced it at $2.97--a year's supply of pickles for less than $3! "They were using it as a 'statement' item," says Pat Hunn, who calls himself the "mad scientist" of Vlasic's gallon jar. "Wal-Mart was putting it before consumers, saying, This represents what Wal-Mart's about. You can buy a stinkin' gallon of pickles for $2.97. And it's the nation's number-one brand."

Therein lies the basic conundrum of doing business with the world's largest retailer. By selling a gallon of kosher dills for less than most grocers sell a quart, Wal-Mart may have provided a ser-vice for its customers. But what did it do for Vlasic? The pickle maker had spent decades convincing customers that they should pay a premium for its brand. Now Wal-Mart was practically giving them away. And the fevered buying spree that resulted distorted every aspect of Vlasic's operations, from farm field to factory to financial statement.

Indeed, as Vlasic discovered, the real story of Wal-Mart, the story that never gets told, is the story of the pressure the biggest retailer relentlessly applies to its suppliers in the name of bringing us "every day low prices." It's the story of what that pressure does to the companies Wal-Mart does business with, to U.S. manufacturing, and to the economy as a whole. That story can be found floating in a gallon jar of pickles at Wal-Mart.
[Read more...]

NYPD 'consistently violated basic rights' during Occupy protests -- study (26 July 2012)
In a report that followed an eight-month study (pdf), researchers at the law schools of NYU and Fordham accuse the NYPD of deploying unnecessarily aggressive force, obstructing press freedoms and making arbitrary and baseless arrests.

The study, published on Wednesday, found evidence that police made violent late-night raids on peaceful encampments, obstructed independent legal monitors and was opaque about its policies.

The NYPD report is the first of a series to look at how police authorities in five US cities, including Oakland and Boston, have treated the Occupy movement since it began in September 2011. The research concludes that there now is a systematic effort by authorities to suppress protests, even when these are lawful and pose no threat to the public.

Sarah Knuckey, a professor of law at NYU, said: "All the case studies we collected show the police are violating basic rights consistently, and the level of impunity is shocking".
[Read more...]

Bush's "Turd Blossom" now grubbing money for Romney (26 July 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Let's talk about the contributors, known and unknown.

PAUL BARRETT: Sure. Well, the main one we talk about in the lead of the article is Steve Wynn, the casino mogul, someone who hasn't been discussed very much so far in this race. We've heard a lot about Sheldon Adelson, who's been giving a lot of money, first to Newt Gingrich and then subsequently to Romney. But Wynn, who's traditionally identified as a Democrat, it turns out, was one of the people who Rove has been working on in recent times. They're personal friends. They've attended each other's weddings within the last year or so.

AMY GOODMAN: Karl Rove just got married again for the third time.

PAUL BARRETT: That is correct. And Wynn has given millions of dollars to the Crossroads GPS group, the group to which you can contribute unlimited amounts without being publicly identified. And this is, you know, the source of concern for those who think that there's a problem with our political system being fueled by anonymous donations, which obviously will favor candidates who have, you know, billionaires on their side.
[Read more...]

Google to offer its warp-speed Internet service in Kansas City area for $70 a month (26 July 2012)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Google Inc. revealed Thursday what it will charge for its long-awaited, ultra-fast Internet service in Kansas City: $70 per month.

The service is intended as a showcase for what's technically possible. Bypassing the local cable and phone companies, Google has spent months and an unknown amount of money pulling its own optical fiber through the two-state Kansas City region.

After vetting many contenders, Google announced last year that the Kansas City metro area would be the first in the nation to get its "Fiber for Communities" broadband service.

Some cities had used gimmicks to get the company's attention. Topeka informally renamed itself "Google, Kansas." A group in Baltimore launched a website that used Google's mapping service to plot the location of more than 1,000 residents and give their reasons for wanting the service. Hundreds of groups on Facebook implored Google to come to their cities.

The $70 per month will pay for "gigabit" Internet service, about 100 times faster than a basic cable modem. For another $50 per month, Google will provide cable-TV-like service over the fiber, too.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: We all need faster internet.

China indicts Bo's wife for murder (26 July 2012)
(Reuters) - China will try Gu Kailai, the wife of ousted Politburo member Bo Xilai, on charges of murdering a British man, state media said on Thursday in the latest turn in a scandal that has rocked the government in Beijing and could bring Gu the death penalty.

The contentious dismissal of Bo has already shaken the Communist Party's looming once-in-a-decade succession, and now Gu and family aide Zhang Xiaojun will be prosecuted for allegedly poisoning businessman Neil Heywood last year over "conflict of economic interests", the official Xinhua news agency said.

"The facts of the two defendants' crime are clear, and the evidence is irrefutable and substantial," said the Xinhua report summarizing the indictment. "Therefore, the two defendants should be charged with intentional homicide."

Gu and Zhang will face trial in Hefei, a city in eastern China, far from Chongqing, the sprawling municipality in the southwest where Bo made his political base and where Heywood died in a hillside hotel in November.
[Read more...]

Guns used in Colorado theatre shooting legal in Canada (26 July 2012)
The recent mass shooting at a Colorado movie theatre has raised questions about access to firearms and renewed calls for stronger gun control laws in the United States.

Talk radio, newspaper editorials and articles, and current affairs television programs in the last week have all had people on both sides of the gun control debate weigh in on whether stricter laws could have prevented the shooting spree in the city of Aurora. Some politicians have called for a review of firearms laws while others have said that if more Americans were allowed to carry guns more easily, maybe one of them could have shot back at the suspect in the movie theatre and prevented injuries and deaths.

Three guns were reported to have been used by the man accused of killing 12 people and injuring almost 60 others at a screening of The Dark Knight last Friday: a Smith & Wesson AR-15 rifle, a 12-gauge Remington 870 shotgun and a .40-calibre Glock handgun. Police say the suspect, James Holmes, bought the firearms legally in the last six months. He also bought thousands of rounds of ammunition.

All of those guns are available for purchase in Canada -- for those who have the appropriate licences and permits.
[Read more...]

NASA warns 97 percent of Greenland ice sheet surface melted in four days (25 July 2012)
The Greenland ice sheet melted at a faster rate this month than at any other time in recorded history, with virtually the entire ice sheet showing signs of thaw.

The rapid melting over just four days was captured by three satellites. It has stunned and alarmed scientists, and deepened fears about the pace and future consequences of climate change.

In a statement posted on Nasa's website on Tuesday, scientists admitted the satellite data was so striking they thought at first there had to be a mistake.

"This was so extraordinary that at first I questioned the result: was this real or was it due to a data error?" Son Nghiem of Nasa's jet propulsion laboratory in Pasadena said in the release.
[Read more...]

Anaheim Mayor asks for calm as protesters clash with police after shootings. Feds agree to investigate (25 July 2012)
ANAHEIM -- At least 24 people were arrested as a crowd of 1,000 protesters clashed with police, threw bottles and overturned chairs in downtown Anaheim on Tuesday night and early Wednesday. At least six people were injured during the fourth night of unrest after two fatal officer-involved shootings last weekend.

Mayor Tom Tait praised the police response to Tuesday night's protest as "swift and appropriate," and pleaded for calm as investigations into the police shootings move forward.

Tait said that the Office of the U.S. Attorney has agreed to investigate the shootings, and the state's Attorney General will conduct a separate review.

"The first step is to get to the truth," Tait said during a news conference Wednesday morning at police headquarters. "That takes some time and patience, and that's what I'm asking for."
[Read more...]

Police Brutality in Anaheim Sparks Outrage After 2 Latinos Shot Dead and Demonstrators Attacked (24 July 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Gustavo, what about the word in the community that police officers were offering to buy cellphone video?

GUSTAVO ARELLANO: That's not surprising, nowadays. Before, what you used to have is police officers acting with impunity. They could do whatever they wanted, because, ultimately in court, witness--or, you know, juries were going to believe police officers over witnesses. Now, in this day and age of instant media, everyone's a journalist, which is a wonderful thing. So, the police officers, they know that they need to confiscate as much video as possible. Ultimately, they're probably going to be held culpable. You know, right north of Anaheim is the city of Fullerton. In a case that made national headlines last year, police officers killed a homeless man by the name of Kelly Thomas. The only reason why that case went national was because there was video on the scene by various witnesses that is allowing them to--for two of the police officers to be tried in a court of law. Of course police officers are going to be offering people money. That makes--you know, it suits their best interest. But the great thing is that there's a lot of testimony that's slowly trickling out that's going to counter whatever the narrative that the police department has for the rest of the country.
[Read more...]

As if we didn't already know, it sucks to work for Wal-Mart (25 July 2012)
None of the workers loading and unloading Walmart goods at the NFI Crossdock warehouse know exactly what is in the layer of black dust that seems to cover almost everything. But they know its effects.

Their throats burn, and their eyes water. For a few, it gets worse. "I go and blow my nose, and blood comes out with the black dust," said Jose Gonzalez, pictured, a "lumper" at the warehouse, who shifts several hundred Walmart-bound boxes every hour. "Even blowing my nose in the shower, blood comes out. When you spit, sometimes blood comes out," Gonzalez added.

Yet the dust is just one complaint at NFI Crossdock, part of a vast network of warehouses clustered in the Inland Empire: a stretch of southern California desert that now lies at the heart of Walmart's American supply chain.

The NFI Crossdock near the city of Ontario -- where lumpers like Gonzalez toil in 100F heat -- sits in the middle of a vast lot of trucks, many of them emblazoned with Walmart logos. The warehouse unloads shipping containers arriving at California ports, and loads them again on trucks taking goods to Walmart stores across America. It is back-breaking work, with strict quotas, low wages and few benefits.
[Read more...]

Worries grow as healthcare firms send jobs overseas (25 July 2012)
WASHINGTON -- After years of shipping data-processing, accounting and other back-office work abroad, some healthcare companies are starting to shift clinical services and decision-making on medical care overseas, primarily to India and the Philippines.

Some of the jobs being sent abroad include so-called pre-service nursing, where nurses at insurance firms, for example, help assess patient needs and determine treatment methods.

Outsourcing such tasks goes beyond earlier steps by healthcare firms to farm out reading of X-rays and other diagnostic tests to health professionals overseas. Those previous efforts were often done out of necessity, to meet overnight demands, for instance.

But the latest outsourcing, which have contributed to the loss of hundreds of domestic health jobs, is done for financial reasons. And the outsourcing of nursing functions, in particular, may be the most novel -- and possibly the most risky -- of the jobs being shifted.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Yet another reason to lower the risk of some of those health problems -- by going vegetarian!

BP, Transocean faulted for lax guidelines in Gulf spill report (24 July 2012)
(Reuters) - BP Plc (BP.L) and Transocean Ltd (RIG.N) lacked clear guidelines for key tests to ensure that the ill-fated Macondo well was safely sealed before it ruptured and triggered the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, U.S. safety investigators said.

The preliminary report from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, to be delivered at a public hearing in Houston on Tuesday, puts the spotlight back on missteps highlighted in prior investigations as BP faces potential civil and even criminal penalties over the incident.

More than two years have passed since the disaster struck at 9:53 p.m. CDT on April 20, 2010, (0253 GMT on April 21), when a surge of methane gas known to rig hands as a "kick" sparked an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 men. The vessel sank two days later.

London-based BP was the majority owner and operator of the Macondo well and Swiss-based Transocean Ltd owned the rig, which was drilling the mile-deep well in the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana's coast.
[Read more...]

Mosquitoes in Va. Beach test positive for fatal disease (24 July 2012)
Virginia Beach has seen an unusually high number of positive tests in mosquitoes in recent weeks for a disease that can be deadly for humans.

In the past four weeks, there have been five Eastern Equine Encephalitis-positive mosquito pools in four different locations, according to a news release from the Virginia Beach Department of Public Works. Three of the locations were in Blackwater and the fourth was on West Neck Road in Pungo.

In addition, there has been one confirmed positive EEE test from a chicken in Pungo and three more pending EEE positive chickens, the release said. Those birds were at Indian River Road near Elbow Road, in central Blackwater and in south Blackwater.

The average number of positives for EEE for the entire summer is six, the release said.
[Read more...]

Severely obese children's hearts already in danger (24 July 2012)
Severely obese children are putting their heart at danger even while they are still in primary school, according to a Dutch study.

Heart disease is normally associated with middle age, but the early warning signs were detected in children between the ages of two and 12.

Two-thirds of the 307 children studied had a least one early symptom such as high blood pressure.

The findings were presented in Archives of Disease in Childhood.
[Read more...]

Ripples from Pebble felt far from Alaska (23 July 2012)
Rick Halford is a "manifest destiny" kind of Alaskan. He cleared his land with dynamite. He calls himself the "ideal redneck Republican". As a longtime leader in the state legislature, he never met a hard-rock mine he didn't like.

That is, until he took a long look at the proposed Pebble Mine in south-west Alaska. It is a phenomenal prospect, the biggest and richest in North America. But to dig a mine there is to make a Faustian bargain that involves an agonizing Alaskan twist.

In return for copper and gold worth an estimated $500bn (£320bn), state and federal regulators risk poisoning what scientists describe as the last best place on earth for millions of wild salmon.

"If God were testing us, he couldn't have found a more challenging place," said Halford, who helped write Alaska's industry-friendly mining laws when he was president of the state senate.
[Read more...]

Shooting suspect in court with orange-red hair (23 July 2012)
CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) -- His hair dyed orange-red and a dazed look on his face, the man accused of going on a deadly shooting rampage at the opening of the new Batman movie appeared Monday in court for the first time.

An unshaven, handcuffed James Holmes sat in maroon jailhouse jumpsuit as the judge advised him of the case. Holmes sat motionless, his eyes appearing tired and drooping.

Holmes, 24, has been held in solitary confinement at an Arapahoe County detention facility since Friday. Holmes is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, and he could also face additional counts of aggravated assault and weapons violations.

Authorities have disclosed that he is refusing to cooperate and that it could take months to learn what prompted the horrific attack on midnight moviegoers at a Batman film premiere.
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Mass food poisoning at Denver Rescue Mission sends 40 to hospital (23 July 2012)
Lt. Phil Champagne, a spokesman for the Denver Fire Department, said people started becoming "violently ill" just over an hour after their 5 p.m. dinner.

First responders began arriving at about 7:30 p.m. and were wrapping up about 11 p.m.

About 14 ambulances transported at least two patients each. Lawrence Street has been closed between 22nd and 23rd streets while other people were evaluated outside the center. The street should reopen by 11:30 p.m.

"We eliminated other potential environmental causes," Champagne said.

About 350 people ate dinner at the Denver Rescue Mission Sunday afternoon, and it is believed at least 200 ate turkey that had been donated to the center.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Right after the shooting? The timing seems a little suspicious.

Penn State football punished by NCAA over Sandusky scandal (23 July 2012)
The NCAA on Monday announced a series of unprecedented sanctions against the Penn State football program for its involvement in the sexual abuse scandal that centered on former coach Jerry Sandusky.

The penalties include a $60 million fine, a four-year postseason ban, an annual reduction of 10 scholarships over a four-year period and five years of probation.

But perhaps the most significant individual sanction in the context of college football history is that all of Penn State's wins from 1998 to 2011 have been vacated, which means that Joe Paterno, who oversaw the Nittany Lions' football program for nearly 46 years, no longer is the sport's all-time winningest coach.

As a result, Paterno's win total decreased by 111 to 298. He now ranks No. 12 on the all-time coaching wins list. Eddie Robinson, who coached at Grambling University for 57 years, now ranks No. 1 among high-level college football coaches with 408 victories.

The NCAA also announced Monday that current and incoming Penn State football players will be allowed to transfer from the school immediately without penalty. Typically, players who transfer from one Division I school to another are forced by NCAA rule to sit out one season.
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PAM COMMENTARY: They had to do something harsh, to make it clear to other schools that the cost of not reporting sex crimes is more severe than keeping them quiet.

Women using fake tan 'risk infertility' (23 July 2012)
Women who use fake tan could be placing themselves at increased health risk, it has been claimed.

A "cocktail" of chemicals in bestselling lotions may pose a risk to a person's health such as fertility problems, birth defects and even cancer, experts said.

Dangerous ingredients can also include hormone-disrupting compounds -- which can harm babies -- as well as carcinogens including formaldehyde and nitrosamines.

The increased use of fake-tan products can also have skin irritants and chemicals linked to allergies, diabetes, obesity and fertility problems.
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New strategies for raising veggie-loving kids discovered via research (22 July 2012)
And there are a couple of approaches that could be pursued to eventually have children happily eating a full array of veggies and fruits. The keys are patience and persistence.

A recent study determined that young boys liked corn while young girls favored broccoli. Carrots, green beans, potatoes and tomatoes came in below them. You have to go a little out of your way to make sure your corn is not GMO, but occasionally organic corn on the cob shows up in the better stores. Get a bunch when they do.

The study also determined using veggies to complement a main course creates more appeal. Light steaming or stir frying with some nifty easy recipes gains youthful favor too.

Another study done at University College London used bribery for extremely young kids. They handed out tangible items such as stickers or heavily praised them whenever they ate a full course with vegetables that were not considered yummy.

After a few short months, the kids continued eating those veggies on their own without the need for praise or prizes.

Vegetables and fruits are vital for health, and there's no reason they should be entirely tasteless. A little basic culinary skill goes a long way, and so does a big salad. What a great way to get raw greens and other veggies sliced and diced with some added cold pressed olive oil and vinegar.
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PAM COMMENTARY: This is just me cooking for relatives occasionally, but I notice that kids love steamed or canned vegetables when enough salt and oil are added as a condiment. I like to use a blend of olive oil and flaxseed oil as I mentioned in my article on Omega-3 fatty acids. The kids crave the oil after they've had it once, probably because their brains remember where they found something that they needed. One of my nieces was actually asking for the oil specifically on a later date, she liked it so much better than butter or margarine. And the salt -- they'd get that from butter or margarine anyway. I say add just a little salt to cooking, and then let them season to taste at the table.

Kids can overcome allergies by gradually eating foods that cause reactions, study says (18 July 2012)
Kids who are allergic to foods can overcome their reactions through therapy that involves giving them increasing doses of the specific foods, according to a new study from Johns Hopkins Children's Center and other hospitals.

The research adds to what doctors already know about food allergies.

In this case, they used eggs for the treatment, known as oral immunotherapy. Past research involved milk and peanuts.

For now, the research is still considered experimental and isn't recommended outside of a study. But the researchers say it's promising for the four percent of American kids with food allergies. Egg allergies are among the most common, and for some kids the reactions last their whole lives.
[Read more...]

Why Athens has lived to regret hosting the Olympic Games (22 July 2012)
And the huge five-venue Olympic Park on the site of the old airport is surrounded by a chain-link fence. On a June weekday, you couldn't get past a security guard if you didn't have a ticket to an Evanescence concert being held in the fencing arena.

"Our Olympic Games did not help Greece at all," Bilinis said in an interview. "They did not help local communities. They did not help the development of the surrounding areas. They only helped the construction companies."

This is an exaggeration. Eight years after the jubilation of 2004, it is also a common sentiment.

The return of the modern Olympics to their 1896 birthplace left Athens with a vastly expanded subway system; a new airport, highways, bridges, buses and light-rail system; newly pedestrian-friendly streets; and, for millions, a lingering sense of pride. But it also came with a massive bill that has come under new scrutiny during the country's economic crisis.

The total cost of the Games was probably somewhere between $10 billion and $15 billion, but nobody knows the real number. Though Olympics spending contributed only marginally to Greece's debt woes -- as of early this year, government debt exceeded $450 billion -- the stadiums dotting the city are among the most visible symbols of the excess and mismanagement that got the country into its fiscal mess.
[Read more...]

US air force instructor sentenced to 20 years on sexual assault conviction (21 July 2012)
An air force instructor was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Saturday after being convicted of rape and sexual assault in a sweeping sex scandal that rocked one of the busiest military training centers in the US.

A military jury at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio found Staff Sgt Luis Walker guilty Friday night on all 28 charges he faced, including rape, aggravated sexual contact and multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault. A judge consolidated those charges Saturday into 20, but that didn't affect Walker's maximum sentence. He could have received life in prison.

Walker is among 12 Lackland instructors investigated for sexual misconduct toward at least 31 female trainees. Six instructors have been charged, on counts ranging from rape to adultery, and Walker was the first to stand trial. Walker also faced the most serious charges of all those accused.

Walker submitted a written statement during the sentencing hearing, but he also spoke from a podium directly to the jury while his two sons, ages seven and four, looked on quietly.
[Read more...]

Can seagrass save the world's coral reefs? (22 July 2012)
Does seagrass hold the secret to saving the world's coral reefs from extinction?

A team of scientists from the U.K. and Australia seem to think so, testing the theory that the photosynthetic rates of the flowering underwater plant can make seawater less acidic.

Ocean acidification is caused by rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is then absorbed by the seawater. The high acidity causes coral reefs to erode, resulting in fewer and weaker reefs around the world. In turn, the food supply, ecosystem, tourism and communities whose economies depend on oceans are threatened.

While the world's scientists are racing against time to reduce carbon emissions, few have looked at primitive seagrass as a possible solution to reef deterioration.
[Read more...]

Vast aquifer found in Namibia could last for centuries (20 July 2012)
A newly discovered water source in Namibia could have a major impact on development in the driest country in sub-Saharan Africa.

Estimates suggest the aquifer could supply the north of the country for 400 years at current rates of consumption.

Scientists say the water is up to 10,000 years old but is cleaner to drink than many modern sources.

However, there are concerns that unauthorised drilling could threaten the new supply.
[Read more...]

Why Are Working People Invisible in the Mainstream Media? (20 July 2012)
Best-selling author Barbara Ehrenreich - probably best known for her 2001 book "Nickel and Dimed" - has long been on the forefront of promoting stories about working people in an often hostile media environment. Recently, she has been heading the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. An endeavor inspired in part by the Federal Writers Project of the 1930s, the initiative aims "to force this country's crisis of poverty and economic insecurity to the center of the national conversation."

I spoke with Ehrenreich about this crisis of economic insecurity, about the invisibility of working people in the mainstream media, and about the current state of journalism.

That working people are chronically underrepresented in the media - even in times of economic downturn - is a sad reality readily apparent to anyone who has surveyed the American news landscape. Given this, I asked Ehrenreich if she thought this problem has been a constant, or if has it gotten worse in recent years.

"It's always been something of a problem," she said, "for two reasons. The first reason I discovered in my years as a freelance writer in the 1980s and 90s. That is: magazines and newspapers want to please their advertisers. Their advertisers want to think they are reaching wealthy people, people who will buy the products. They don't want really depressing articles about misery and hardship near their ads."
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Tax havens: Super-rich 'hiding' at least $21tn (22 July 2012)
Mr Whiting, director of the Office of Tax Simplification, said: "There clearly are some significant amounts hidden away, but if it really is that size what is being done with it all?"

Mr Henry said his $21tn is actually a conservative figure and the true scale could be $32tn. A trillion is 1,000 billion.

Mr Henry used data from the Bank of International Settlements, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and national governments.

His study deals only with financial wealth deposited in bank and investment accounts, and not other assets such as property and yachts.
[Read more...]

Joe Paterno statue has been removed from Penn State stadium (22 July 2012)
A construction crew took down the iconic statue of Joe Paterno from outside Pennsylvania State University's football stadium on Sunday, removing what had become for fans of the late head coach a symbol of his central role on campus and, for critics, a constant reminder of his role in the worst crisis in the university's history.

Draped under a blue tarp and surrounded by a hastily erected chain link fence, the statue came down just before 8:30 a.m. amid sounds of hammering jackhammers and cries from a crowd of onlooking students of "We are Penn State."

Within minutes, the sculpture had been wrapped in shrink wrap and taken by forklift inside Beaver Stadium, where Penn State's football team plays its home games.

In a statement released early Sunday, university President Rodney Erickson said the statue had "become a source of division and an obstacle to healing in our university" but did not identify where it would be permanently held after its removal.

"For that reason, I have decided that it is in the best interest of our university and public safety to remove the statue and store it in a secure location," he said. "I believe that were it to remain, the statue will be a recurring wound to the multitude of individuals across the nation and beyond who have been the victims of child abuse."
[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.)