Pam Rotella's Vegetarian FUN page -- News on health, nutrition, the environment, politics, and more!
NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012
News from the Week of 12th to 18th of August 2012
Julian Assange row: ministers from across Americas to hold meeting (18 August 2012)
The diplomatic row between Britain and Ecuador over the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, is to be discussed by foreign ministers from across the Americas next week.
The Organisation of American States (OAS) has voted to hold a meeting next Friday following Ecuador's decision to grant political asylum to Assange, who is currently taking refuge in the country's embassy in London.
Assange has described the move as a "historic victory" but the British foreign secretary, William Hague, made it clear that the Australian would not be allowed safe passage out of the country.
The permanent council of the OAS decided that a meeting would be held in Washington DC after members voted on the issue. The US, Canada and Trinidad and Tobago opposed the resolution, but 23 members voted in favour of the meeting. There were five abstentions and three members were absent.
The OAS secretary general, José Miguel Insulza, said the meeting would not be about Assange but the "the problem posed by the threat or warning made to Ecuador by the possibility of an intervention into its embassy in London. The issue that concerns us is the inviolability of diplomatic missions of all members of this organisation, something that is of interest to all of us."
PAM COMMENTARY: Could this be Ecuador's payback for the Greg Caton kidnapping?
As "priorities" shift, Wisconsin spends more on prisons than University of Wisconsin system (16 August 2012)
Madison - In 2011, Wisconsin state spending quietly hit a milestone: For the first time, the state budgeted more taxpayer dollars for prisons and correctional facilities than for the University of Wisconsin System.
For 2011-'13, Gov. Scott Walker and GOP lawmakers allotted just under $2.1 billion to the state's public universities and $2.25 billion to the Department of Corrections. It's a gap that is unlikely to close any time soon.
It's also not the work of a single budget and not the decision of a single party. Rather, the gap is the culmination of years of policy changes and shifting priorities, spanning Democratic and Republican governors, crisscrossing political lines and reflecting national trends, a Journal Sentinel analysis of more than 20 years of state budgets shows.
The UW System has long been among the top three recipients of state funds, alongside state aid to K-12 schools and local governments, and medical assistance programs such as Medicaid. In the 2011 biennial budget passed in June 2011, corrections surpassed UW, making the state's prisons and correctional system the No. 3 taxpayer priority.
Clinic says ultrasound law for abortions forces it to reduce other health services (17 August 2012)
RICHMOND -- A state law requiring women to receive an ultrasound at least a day before having an abortion has already caused a Northern Virginia health clinic to reduce its non-abortion services in the month since it took effect, according to a clinic official.
Virginia legislators passed House Bill 462 during the 2012 General Assembly. It states that a woman seeking an abortion must receive an abdominal ultrasound and then wait at least 24 hours before terminating her pregnancy. It also requires doctors to offer the woman the opportunity to see the ultrasound image and hear the fetal heart tones.
Virginia is one of a number of states across the country where anti-abortion activists have pushed through ultrasound requirements and other "informed consent" regulations.
Rose Codding, director of patient services at Falls Church Healthcare Center in Virginia, said her clinic had performed about 110 abortions since ultrasound mandate became law. Because of the law, she said, her office had to add appointment times, hire additional staff, and reduce its non-abortion GYN services.
"Instead of 3,000 appointments handled by our office [each year], we now have 4,000," Codding said. "Each of our 1,200 abortion care patients now has to come twice."
Big Food pours millions into fighting California GMO labeling (18 August 2012)
(Reuters) - After two decades fighting to force U.S. food companies to tell consumers when their products are made with genetically modified organisms, activists in California have mounted what is potentially their most promising offensive to date.
In November, voters in the nation's most populous state will decide whether to require labels on food and drinks containing so-called GMOs, or ingredients that come from plants whose DNA has been manipulated by scientists.
To fight the initiative, seed giant Monsanto Co, soda and snack seller PepsiCo Inc and other opponents of the labeling measure have put up $25 million already and could raise up to $50 million.
Foodmakers, like carmakers, know that what starts in California has a fair chance of becoming the national law, or at least the national norm.
Toronto doctor ordered back to Canada after removal from Zimbabwe hospital sparks protests (17 August 2012)
A Toronto doctor who spent nearly two decades heading a Salvation Army-run hospital in Zimbabwe is said to be en route back to Canada, after his ouster reportedly sparked violent protest in the impoverished rural community.
Dr. Paul Thistle, a Scarborough native who trained at the University of Toronto, told his supporters via email on Aug. 6 that the Salvation Army had ordered him to leave his post as chief medical officer and only full-time doctor at the 144-bed Howard Hospital (which serves 270,000 people in the rural Chiweshe region) as of Sept. 1.
"We leave with mixed emotions," the Salvation Army officer wrote in an email obtained by the Peterborough Examiner earlier this month. "Howard Hospital is on the verge of collapse. Our hearts are weeping for the people of Chiweshe."
But on Friday, a day after a public protest over Thistle's removal reportedly turned violent and led to at least a dozen arrests, the physician received a 48-hour notice to return to Canada.
'Worst week' for children dying in hot cars; officials raise alarm (18 August 2012)
WASHINGTON -- After a week in which eight children died in oven-like cars across the country, federal officials have launched a new effort to raise awareness of the danger of leaving unattended children in vehicles.
"Since 1998, there have been at least 550 deaths in America because an adult forgot about a young child in a vehicle -- with 23 lives lost this year alone," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a letter to Head Start directors and child care providers.
Aug. 1-7 was the "worst week on record for these tragedies with eight children dying from heatstroke in hot vehicles," the letter said.
Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle death for children 14 and younger, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Of the eight deaths, three each occurred in Arkansas and Tennessee and one each in Florida and New Mexico, according to Jan Null, a San Francisco State University meteorologist who tracks child vehicle hyperthermia deaths.
Editorial: Food or fuel? Withering corn crops will force some costly choices, some of them maybe even healthy (18 August 2012)
Reflecting on corn, as it shrivels during the Midwestern drought, is an exercise full of conflicts. Because for the most part, corn's uses play into Americans' worst foibles.
Skyrocketing costs for meat? Honestly, most everyone eats too much already, and going vegetarian for a day or two a week would probably improve the nation's health.
Problems because ethanol supplies might be disrupted? Well, it would be equally healthy to drive less -- as many people may already be doing in this part of the country because the price is already at an uncomfortable level.
And please, let's not get anyone started on high fructose corn syrup.
Husband of jailed Pussy Riot member believes government using Canadian ties to undermine group (17 August 2012)
Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that Verzilov's passport was shown on TV as evidence that he wants to tear the country apart.
And a documentary about Pussy Riot that aired on Russian state television in April -- called "Provocateurs" and directed by high-profile pro-Kremlin journalist Arkady Mamontov -- includes a shot of a Moscow police detective showing the filmmaker Ontario health insurance and permanent resident cards belonging to Tolokonnikova.
The detective claims they show a close relationship with a foreign government and says the women thought the documents would make things easier for them in the aftermath of their protests.
The documentary also features a jailhouse interview with Tolokonnikova conducted by Dmitry Toropov -- the only journalist allowed to interview Pussy Riot in prison -- in which Tolokonnikova denies having permanent resident status in Canada and says she is not planning to leave Russia yet.
Pussy Riot: The six songs that shook Russia (18 August 2012)
The group's first song and video are released on Nov. 7 -- the anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution.
A month earlier, Prime Minister Putin announces that he and his protege, President Dmitry Medvedev, will swap jobs, giving Putin the top government post again. The announcement follows regional elections that the Kremlin's United Russia party wins by a landslide. Observers and government critics cry fraud, and online protests soon become widespread street demonstrations.
The Pussy Riot song recommends that Russians protest the upcoming parliamentary elections -- and throw cobblestones during street protests because "ballots will be used as toilet paper," the group said on its blog.
The song's most quoted line says that "Egyptian air is healthy for your lungs/Turn Red Square into Tahrir" -- the focal point of Egypt's uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
The song's video is compiled from footage of band members singing and twanging guitars from the top of subway and trolley cars. The blog says the group was formed after its members "understood that after the Arab Spring Russia lacks political and sexual liberation, boldness, a feminist whip and a woman president." From the very start, the group's members do not disclose their real names and sport their now trademark balaclavas and brightly colored miniskirts.
B.C. newspaper tycoon David Black proposes $13-billion oil refinery for Northern Gateway oil (17 August 2012)
VANCOUVER - B.C. community newspaper tycoon David Black proposed today building a $13-billion oil refinery near Kitimat to use all of the crude from Enbridge's controversial Northern Gateway pipeline.
It would mean tankers would ship refined fuels like gasoline off of B.C. northwest coast, not heavy oil from Alberta, reducing environmental risks, says Black.
A refinery also promises 10 times as many jobs as an export pipeline.
Black is hoping his proposal will change opposition from British Columbians and first nations, many of which have rejected the $6-billion project because they say the economic rewards for B.C. are not great enough to offset the risk and consequence of an oil spill on the pipeline or off the northwest coast of British Columbia.
Investigation of Yellowstone River oil spill to be complete in September (18 August 2012)
HELENA -- A federal investigation into last year's Yellowstone River oil pipeline spill is expected to wrap up next month now that regulators have received a key document that reveals the cause of the break, a pipeline safety official said Friday.
Chris Hoidal, the Western region director for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, said his agency last week received a metallurgical report from Exxon Mobil Corp. that shows the definitive cause of the July 2011 failure of the company's pipeline.
Hoidal, who was in Helena to update state officials on the investigation and pipeline improvements since the spill, said the report will remain confidential while the accident investigation is still open. He declined to say what caused the break, though he ruled out internal pipeline corrosion.
"There were no surprises in the report," he said.
Officials have previously speculated that the 12-inch line, which had been buried a few feet below the riverbed, was exposed by high water last spring and damaged by passing debris, but an official cause has not been released.
GM, Isuzu recall 258,000 SUVs to fix power windows (18 August 2012)
DETROIT (AP) -- General Motors and Isuzu are recalling more than 258,000 SUVs in the U.S. and Canada to fix short-circuits in power-window and door-lock switches that can cause fires.
The recall covers Chevrolet TrailBlazer, GMC Envoy, Buick Rainier, Isuzu Ascender and Saab 97-X SUVs from the 2006 and 2007 model years. The SUVs were sold or registered in 20 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Canada, where salt and other chemicals are used to clear roads in the winter.
GM has reports of 28 fires. It doesn't know of any injuries caused by the problem.
Fluid containing the road-clearing chemicals can get inside the driver's door and cause corrosion in the power-window and door-switch circuit boards, according to documents posted on the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website. The corrosion can cause short-circuits, knocking out the switches and causing fires.
Amatuer explorers discover new family of spiders in Oregon cave (17 August 2012)
Amateur cave explorers have found a new family of spiders in southern Oregon that scientists have dubbed Trogloraptor, or cave robber, for its fearsome front claws.
The spelunkers sent specimens to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Entomologists there say the spider -- the size of a half dollar -- evolved so distinctly that it requires its own taxonomic family -- the first new spider family from North America since 1870.
The species name, marchingtoni, honors Deschutes County sheriff's Deputy Neil Marchington, who led scientists to the cave outside Grants Pass.
Academy entomologist Charles Griswold says the spider spins a crude web, but scientists don't know yet what or how it eats.
The discovery is described in the online edition of the journal ZooKeys.
Janesville economy is stark reminder of nation's woes (16 August 2012)
JANESVILLE -- A defining moment for Paul Ryan's hometown came at the height of the Great Recession: General Motors, after nearly a century of making Chevrolets on the banks of the Rock River, shut down its oldest assembly plant and erased 6,000 jobs.
A defining question of the campaign Ryan joined this week as the Republican Party's vice presidential nominee just might be what comes next for places like Janesville.
In the election battleground states of middle America, this is one of the many not-quite-small-towns but hardly-big-cities struggling to find their future. They were among the last places where high school educations led to solid blue-collar jobs. They are home to once-thriving small businesses now staggering from big employers shutting down.
For Republican Mitt Romney and his new running mate, the solution is lower taxes and fewer regulations. For President Barack Obama, it's more resources for schools, job training and infrastructure. The policies couldn't be much more different, even if they share the same goal: making America a more enticing place to do business.
A closer look at Paul Ryan's federal budget plan (17 August 2012)
WASHINGTON -- Rep. Paul D. Ryan's proposed federal budget -- now starring as the centerpiece of the presidential campaign as he joins the Republican ticket -- would reshape American government, achieving long-sought conservative goals and reversing an 80-year path of larger, more expensive federal programs.
Under Ryan's plan, which has passed the Republican-controlled House twice in slightly different versions, the Internal Revenue Service would tax the wealthiest Americans less, but many of the poorest ones more; Medicare would be transformed; Medicaid would be cut by about a third; and all functions of government other than those health programs, Social Security and the military would shrink to levels not seen since the 1930s.
Mitt Romney has made a point of saying that he's running on his own budget, not Ryan's, but even before choosing him as a running mate, he had adopted much of Ryan's plan. Romney's tax plan would reduce tax rates by less, but closely resembles Ryan's, and so do his plans for Medicare, Medicaid and other safety-net programs.
The Ryan plan would not balance the federal budget for another 28 years at least, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. That means the federal debt would continue to rise. That's partly because the tax cuts take effect right away while the Medicare cuts kick in later, as people now 55 hit retirement age. It's also partly because Ryan's proposed tax cuts considerably outweigh even his ambitious spending reductions.
Julian Assange asylum offer leads Ecuador and UK into diplomatic row (16 August 2012)
A major diplomatic row over the fate of the fugitive Julian Assange erupted after the WikiLeaks founder was offered political asylum by Ecuador to escape extradition from Britain over allegations of serious sexual assaults.
The foreign secretary, William Hague, responded by warning the Ecuadorean government that diplomatic immunity should not be used to harbour alleged criminals. He said Assange would be arrested if he leaves the embassy in London where he has lived for nearly two months.
Ecuador's decision has also angered the Swedish authorities, who wish to question Assange and the two women who claim he assaulted them during a trip to the country in 2010. Assange denies the assault claims and says he fears being sent on to the United States where he could face political persecution for releasing thousands of secret US cables.
The standoff will escalate tensions between the two countries over the fate of Assange, who has skipped bail while awaiting removal from the UK. It follows allegations from Ecuador that the British government has threatened to storm the embassy to seize Assange. Diplomatic posts are often considered the territory of the foreign nation.
ND wind farm south of Minot still watching for whooping cranes (15 August 2012)
BISMARCK, N.D. -- A North Dakota wind farm may have to monitor the area for whooping cranes for years to come, even though the endangered big birds haven't been spotted since the facility began operating in 2010, federal regulators said.
The Basin Electric Power Cooperative employs biologists to watch for whooping cranes at the facility south of Minot every spring and fall when the tallest birds in America follow their usual migration route between Canada and Texas.
The Bismarck-based company is required to shut down its giant turbines if the birds come within a mile of the wind farm, according to the terms of a $250 million dollar loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service. The cranes are federally protected and number only a few hundred in the wild.
About 80 wind turbines, each with three 123-foot-long blades attached to a tower roughly as high as a football field is long, occupy some 30,000 acres along a stretch of about six miles along both sides of U.S. Highway 83.
PAM COMMENTARY: Those things need better illumination at night, or at least lights on the blade tips as well as the box.
Elephant population dwindles as demand for ivory grows (16 August 2012)
Elephants are under threat. These intelligent, gentle and social animals known as Africa's Gardeners -- for the role they play in clearing new paths in the bush and dispersing seeds -- are being killed for their ivory at the worst levels since the 1980s. 2011 was the worst year for ivory seizures since the international ivory ban went into effect in 1989. During 2011, authorities seized more than 23 tons of ivory, which represented about 2,500 individual elephants killed. Given that customs search approximately 5 percent of shipments, it is accepted that significantly more ivory will have been successfully smuggled out of Africa.
Today there are around 450,000 elephants in Africa, down from 1.3 million in 1979. It is estimated by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) that up to 38,000 elephants are killed annually for their tusks. Left unchecked this could see the population of African Elephants wiped out in under 20 years.
Demand for ivory is rising, fueled by an increasingly affluent middle class in China and the Far East where ivory is seen as a symbol of wealth, status and power. Through the elephant orphans project, mobile veterinary units, eight mobile anti-poaching teams, and aerial surveillance and community outreach; the DSWT is working on the front lines, in the field, to protect elephants, treat and rescue victims of the ivory trade and educate local people as to the importance of protecting their wildlife heritage.
Inside Guantánamo: 11th Ramadan in U.S. custody is calm, quiet (16 August 2012)
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba -- It's 3 a.m. on the third Tuesday of Ramadan -- the 11th in U.S. custody for most captives, the first for most of their guards -- and the American soldiers are moving stealthily through a maximum-security lockup.
The guards pass out breakfast boxes to the prisoners to eat before the predawn fajr prayer. They've got oatmeal, yogurt, eggs, milk, pita bread plus peanut butter and jelly. Two hard-core hunger strikers spurn the meal. So the guards pass the extras to a pair of captives sitting inside a pen in the outdoor recreation yard.
Few visitors to the prison camps get to see this. But the military agreed to a Miami Herald request to see what goes on inside the cellblocks -- night and day -- during the holy Muslim month. Judging from what the military permitted a reporter and photographer to see and hear during a three-day visit, the mood is mellow.
"It's calm. It's quiet, really quiet," says Zak, a Muslim cultural advisor who has worked for the Pentagon here since 2005 and has seen episodes of unrest and suicide.
Undocumented Youth Line Up by the Thousands as Temporary Immigration Reprieve Takes Effect (16 August 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: While thousands of young immigrants lined up across the country to apply for deferred action Wednesday, Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer issued an executive order barring immigrants who are granted a reprieve in her state from receiving public benefits or getting drivers' licenses. She also instructed state agencies to make sure only legal residents access taxpayer-financed benefits.
For more, we're going to Phoenix, Arizona, where we're joined by Roberto Lovato, writer with New America Media, blogs at ofamerica.wordpress.com, also the co-founder of the civil rights group Presente.org, but he's not speaking on their behalf today.
Roberto, welcome to Democracy Now! You're in Phoenix today, where Jan Brewer, the governor, has just made this very controversial announcement. Talk about the significance of the incredibly long lines around the country of tens of thousands of young immigrants and what's happening in Arizona.
ROBERTO LOVATO: What's happening is that the young DREAMers are getting ready to collect on the work that they did to actually get us here in the first place, because the Republicans and Democrats demonstrated themselves resistant to their demands for some sort of reprieve. And so, it's historic for the DREAMers, who deserve this and actual legalization and who are, unfortunately, facing a massive bureaucracy in the federal government immigration processing system. There's going to be people that fall through the cracks. I've dealt with these kinds of matters when we had something called deferred enforced--DED, deferred enforced departure for Salvadorans, which is what they gave Salvadorans and Haitians and other groups when they want to give, you know, temporary status. And people are going to have to be renewing their status every couple of years, and they're vulnerable at any moment to having this revoked. Like, if we were to have a Romney presidency, God forbid, but if we'd have a Romney presidency, Romney could revoke this, because it's an executive order, and it's coming out of the executive branch. And so--
PAM COMMENTARY: Even with the bad economy here, the US is still a draw because of drug trade violence in Mexico.
Canadian doctors demand access to all health data on oilsands (16 August 2012)
YELLOWKNIFE, N.W.T. -- Canada's doctors called Wednesday for a full diagnosis of the health and environmental effects of natural resource development -- particularly in Alberta's oilsands -- as a national debate continues to rage over energy issues.
Delegates to the Canadian Medical Association's annual general council meeting overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution asking for public and timely access to all government and industry data on the potential human health effects of "natural resource extraction projects."
Physicians also backed a call for better monitoring of the environmental and health impacts of such initiatives.
Whether there is any effect from the oilsands is unclear, but the issue has become "a hugely emotional and highly politicized" one, Yellowknife physician Dr. Ewan Affleck said Wednesday.
"When our patients come to us and say, 'Everyone in our community is getting cancer and we're scared,' we're not sure what to answer," Affleck said. "Maybe they're right, maybe they're wrong. There hasn't been clarity.
Monsanto donates $4.2 million to defeat California GMO labeling initiative (15 August 2012)
Agribusiness giant Monsanto Co. donated more than $4.2 million to No on 37, a coalition of groups opposed to a California ballot measure that would require labels letting consumers know if foods are genetically modified.
"The giant pesticide and food companies are afraid of the mothers and grandmothers who want the right to know what's in our food," said Stacy Malkan, media director of California Right to Know. "These companies will try to buy the election, but it won't work. California moms and dads will prevail over Monsanto and Dupont."
Campaign finance reports show that Nestle USA, Coca Cola, E. I. Dupont de Nemours, Dow Agrosciences and PepsiCo have also contributed to No on 37, along with other agricultural and food companies.
Opponents of Proposition 37 claim it would create a costly bureaucracy and lead to frivolous lawsuits. Total contributions to defeat the measure amount to $25 million.
Britain threatening to 'assault' embassy to get Assange, says Ecuador (16 August 2012)
On Wednesday, the cordiality ended.
Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino accused Britain of threatening to "assault our embassy" if Assange was not handed over.
A storming of Ecuador's embassy would be interpreted as "hostile and intolerable and, as well, an attempt on our sovereignty which would oblige us to respond with the greatest diplomatic force," he said.
London had warned Ecuador in writing earlier in the day that a 1987 British law permits it to revoke the diplomatic status of a building if the foreign power occupying it "ceases to use land for the purposes of its mission or exclusively for the purposes of a consular post." Its Foreign Office said later in statement that it is Britain's "obligation to extradite Mr. Assange."
77 Years After FDR Signs Social Security, VP Pick Paul Ryan Pushes Dismantling the Social Safety Net (15 August 2012) [DN]
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Heather McGhee, your organization, Demos, put out a report card for all of the different budget proposals under discussion, and Ryan's budget plan got the lowest score. Can you explain why?
HEATHER McGHEE: Yes. We had to give him an F, because what we were grading for was not just were you able to cut, cut, cut, but were you able to ensure that we have fiscal balance while also recreating the great American middle class for those who are already there and those who aspire to it. And on simply every single measure that we judged--job creation, retirement security, investments in the next generation's future security--the Ryan plan really consistently chose those who are already wealthy, millionaires and billionaires, who would essentially see their taxes eliminated, as in the case of Mitt Romney himself, over, the next generation, the most vulnerable in our society.
AMY GOODMAN: And yet, when presidential candidate Romney on Saturday, standing in front of the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk, Virginia, introduced Paul Ryan, both of them reiterated that it is President Obama who's going to cut more than $700 billion from Medicare. Explain what they're saying about what Obama is doing and then what their plans are.
HEATHER McGHEE: There's a huge difference in what the president's vision is, which is expanding healthcare for millions of Americans, as we know, through the Affordable Care Act, and finding savings, ways for Medicare, which is already quite efficient, to do it more efficiently, and what Ryan's vision is. Obviously Romney did not mention that Ryan has over a trillion dollars in cuts from Medicaid and about $810 billion in cuts from Medicare, because he would turn Medicare into essentially a private voucher program, where instead of having a guarantee of coverage, a schedule of benefits that pays doctors, you would essentially get a voucher and be--as a senior, and then be able to go into the private market, and if the voucher didn't cover your medical expenses, you would have to pay that out of pocket. It would be an enormous shift in burden from the government to individuals.
Republicans gambling in taking Medicare issue head-on (15 August 2012)
(Reuters) - Faced with Democratic Party assaults on vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's Medicare plan, Republicans have made the political calculation that a counter-attack can preserve support among senior citizens who could sway the November election's outcome.
"Democrats are asking for it," Mike Shields, political director at the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a memo to party operatives on Monday, just days after presidential hopeful Mitt Romney announced Ryan as his running mate.
Wisconsin Congressman Ryan has won the backing of party conservatives for policies aimed at cutting billions of dollars from the U.S. deficit. The most politically risky has been a proposal to transform the government's Medicare health plan for the elderly into a program that would give seniors vouchers to manage their own healthcare costs.
The danger, according to political analysts, is that elderly dislike for Ryan's plan could shave off as much as 5 percentage points of voter support from the Republican ticket in closely fought races in half a dozen swing states, including Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Blood type associated with heart-disease risk, study finds (14 August 2012)
Potentially good news for the 45% of Americans who have Type O blood: researchers said Tuesday that those people appear to have a slightly lower risk of developing heart diseasethan their neighbors with Type A, B or AB blood.
Dr. Lu Qi, an assistant professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, analyzed heart disease risk in two large, multi-decade health studies -- reviewing data collected from 62,073 women who participated in the Nurses' Health Study, which was launched in 1976, and from 27,428 men who took part in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, launched in 1986.
Adjusting for heart disease risk factors including diet, diabetes status, gender and race, Qi and his colleagues found that study participants with type AB blood had the largest heart disease risk -- 20% greater than that of people with Type O blood. (The team calculated that the incidence of heart disease was 125 cases per 100,000 person-years.) Type B was next with an 11% greater risk, and type A was third with an 8% greater risk, the scientists reported.
The trend held up when the researchers compared their results with several other population studies recording the same factors. Across a total of seven studies, the increased risk for people with non-O blood types was 11% higher than that for people with Type O.
Antibacterial soap may hinder muscle function: study (14 August 2012)
A CHEMICAL found in soap, toothpaste, clothes and toys may cause muscle problems and should be used with caution, experts have said.
Researchers found an antibacterial agent, called triclosan, hampers muscle function in animals and fish and may have implications for human health.
After testing the substance on mice and fish they found muscle strength was reduced, including heart function and fish were unable to swim as well.
The findings were published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Tommy Thompson wins Wisconsin's Republican Senate primary (15 August 2012)
Thompson's win was a victory for the Republican establishment, which has taken a beating in several Senate races this cycle, with conservative underdogs scoring upsets in Texas, Missouri and Indiana. Thompson's long record of general-election success strengthens Republicans' chances of taking over the seat being vacated by Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl.
Thompson, who served four terms as governor and later was health and human services secretary under President George W. Bush, withstood an intensely negative campaign against him. The anti-tax Club for Growth and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) backed former congressman Mark Neumann, who appeared headed for a third-place finish.
During the campaign, many conservatives took issue with politically moderate positions that Thompson had staked out in the past, including support for an individual health-insurance mandate. But he was helped by strong name recognition and a crowded field.
He will now set his sights on Baldwin, who had no competition for her party's nomination and has been building a well-stocked campaign war chest. Thompson has struggled to raise money.
PAM COMMENTARY: Three observations:
1.) The anti-Thompson vote was overwhelming, 2/3 of the total vote. It took three candidates to divide the vote against him for Thompson to just barely prevail. Had only one or two opponents run, Thompson would have gone down in a landslide.
2.) There were no good candidates on the Republican ticket. None were addressing the issue of high unemployment or offering any solution for the economy, other than tax cuts for the rich, cutting programs that help the unemployed, and radical religious agendas.
3.) You don't get to be HHS Secretary under a mass murderer like George W. Bush without being mean enough to catch Bush's attention. While governor of Wisconsin, Thompson was known nationwide as a "baby killer" because of his "workfare" program. In Wisconsin and other states that followed his lead, children died in hot cars and the storage units in which they lived because their mothers couldn't afford day care or even rent on the low-paying jobs that "workfare" programs forced on them. There was even a case noted in Michael Moore's film Bowling for Columbine in which a 6-year-old boy brought a handgun to school and shot and killed a 6-year-old girl. His mother had been using the boy's uncle for child care because that's all she could afford on her "workfare" job (working for a bar and grill with Dick Clark's name on it), and the child's uncle hadn't "child-proofed" his home with a gun safe or locked case.
Workfare's Success A Fraud, Study Says (FLASHBACK) (24 October 1993)
In evaluating the program, the institute compared decreases in Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) rolls and increases in income levels of Workfare participants with control groups of welfare recipients not participating. Here are some of the findings:
-- From 1984 through 1990, AFDC caseloads began declining due to the improving economy - before the welfare reform measures went into effect in most counties.
-- While cutting AFDC benefits by 6 percent did reduce the number of AFDC cases, Workfare did not.
-- Of 29 counties where Workfare was compared to the old Job Service training programs, only two showed that AFDC families engaged in Workfare earned more and only five showed that Workfare reduced AFDC cases.
-- For one-parent AFDC families in 15 counties, Workfare decreased caseloads only in one county. For two-parent AFDC families in 15 counties, Workfare decreased caseloads only in three counties.
Thompson has touted the success of this program to get long-time recipients of AFDC off the welfare rolls by providing remedial education, job training, day care and subsidized employment. As a last resort, AFDC recipients were required to work in unpaid community jobs in return for their grant.
Appeals court: Police can track cell phones without warrant (15 August 2012)
The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled Tuesday that police can use cell phone data obtained without a warrant to establish an individual's location.
The case, United States v. Skinner, involved a suspected drug trafficker, Melvin Skinner, who was tracked and arrested by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
"The drug runners in this case used pay-as-you-go (and thus presumably more difficult to trace) cell phones to communicate during the cross country shipment of drugs," Judge John Rogers wrote in his opinion (PDF). "Unfortunately for the drug runners, the phones were trackable in a way they may not have suspected. The Constitution, however, does not protect their erroneous expectations regarding the undetectability of their modern tools."
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in January that police could not plant a GPS tracking device on a suspect's car without obtaining a warrant. However, Rogers ruled that the Fourth Amendment did not prevent law enforcement agencies from tracking a cell phone's location.
"Skinner did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the data emanating from his cell phone that showed its location," Rogers wrote. "Skinner himself obtained the cell phone for the purpose of communication, and that phone included the GPS technology used to track the phone's whereabouts."
PAM COMMENTARY: How is getting a warrant so difficult for a drug trafficker?
United Church moves to publicly oppose Northern Gateway pipeline (15 August 2012)
OTTAWA -- The United Church of Canada has decided to publicly oppose the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline and to communicate that decision to the government, Enbridge Inc. and the public.
The pipeline proposed by Calgary-based energy giant Enbridge would do severe environmental damage, traversing waterways where salmon spawn, said Ray Jones, the chair of the church's aboriginal ministries council. And the potential for an oil spill in the port of Kitimat, B.C., and for devastation to the coastline is very real, he said.
"It is a strong message when we passed this motion this afternoon that the United Church is and will continue to practice what it says, especially environmentally," Jones said in Ottawa Tuesday.
The proposal from the British Columbia Native Ministries Council, stating the group's opposition to the pipeline, was one of about 130 proposals church commissioners from Canada's largest Protestant denomination are discussing at the 41st General Council in Ottawa. The General Council meets every three years to elect a new church moderator and approve new policies.
Carlyle Group to buy Getty Images for $3.3 billion (15 August 2012)
(Reuters) - Private equity firm Carlyle Group LP will form a partnership with the management of Getty Images to buy Getty Images Inc from Hellman & Friedman for $3.3 billion, the companies said on Wednesday.
Carlyle will take a controlling stake in Getty, a distributor of photos, video and multimedia products.
Reuters reported on Tuesday that Carlyle was nearing an agreement to purchase Getty.
Mark Getty, Getty Images' chairman, and the Getty family will put nearly all their ownership interests into the deal as well, and CEO Jonathan Klein will also participate in the deal.
PAM COMMENTARY: With Carlyle being a defense contractor that profited immensely from the Iraq War, I have to wonder if this is another one of their schemes to control the press.
Seafood fishermen vs. sports fishermen: Battle over menhaden harvest limits (15 August 2012)
The three owners of Seaview Crab Co. shelved their college degrees to take up a career in the seafood industry. At the time, they didn't know that their bait of choice would become the centerpiece of a seagoing battle.
Brothers Sam and Joe Romano and longtime friend Nathan King opened Seaview Crab Co. on Carolina Beach Road in 2009. Menhaden has been their predominant bait since the beginning.
"It's a more oily fish. The crabs smell it better," King said.
But the fish has been at the center of conflict, one that state lawmakers waded into again during the recently concluded legislative session. As part of a seafood study bill, they banned purse-seine fishing operations for menhaden in state waters.
Recreational fishermen think over-harvesting of menhaden cuts their chances of catching popular gamefish species that prey on the oily fish.
'Dog the Bounty Hunter' denied visa because of 1977 murder conviction (15 August 2012)
HONOLULU--Duane "Dog" Chapman has his bags packed for London, but a murder conviction from the late 1970s is keeping him out of the United Kingdom.
The reality television star from the show "Dog the Bounty Hunter" was to appear on another reality show, "Celebrity Big Brother," but he has been denied a visa.
"It's something that follows you the rest of your life, no matter who you become or who you are," Chapman, 59, said Monday from Honolulu, where he lives. "I'm not proud of it."
He was 23 in Pampa, Texas, in 1976 when he was in a car outside a house where a friend had gone inside to buy marijuana, he explained. The friend got into an argument with the dealer and shot him.
"In Texas in the '70s, if you were present, you were just as guilty," Chapman said. He and the others in the group were all found guilty of murder. Chapman was sentenced to five years in prison and was paroled after 18 months.
BBC's Mark Thompson named new CEO of the New York Times (15 August 2012)
In a statement on Tuesday, Thompson said: "The New York Times is one of the world's greatest news providers and a media brand of immense future potential both in the US and around the world. It is a real privilege to be asked to join the Times Company as it embarks on the next chapter in its history."
Sulzberger added: "Our board concluded that Mark's experience and his accomplishments at the BBC made him the ideal candidate to lead the Times company at this moment in time when we are highly focused on growing our business through digital and global expansion."
Thompson has spent most of his career at the BBC. He joined in 1979 as a production trainee and began his career in news, working on the BBC's flagship news shows the Nine O'Clock News and Panorama. He became the BBC's director of television in 2000.
After a two-year stint as chief executive at the commercial broadcaster Channel 4, Thompson moved back to the BBC as director general in 2004. Thompson's unexpected return came after the BBC became involved in a disastrous tussle with the government over a poorly-framed story about the Iraq war, which led to the resignation of his predecessor.
PAM COMMENTARY: The Times' status isn't what it was before they helped lie the U.S. into the Iraq War with Judith Miller's propaganda piece.
Paul Ryan mocked with internet meme at campaign event
(14 August 2012)
Vice-presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) ran into his own meme at an event in Colorado Tuesday, as an online campaign designed to expose his record on women's health issues infiltrated his speech from above.
Members of the Choose Ryan, Lose Choice campaign managed to fly a banner while Ryan was speaking in Lakewood, Colorado. CNBC reporter Eamon Javers tweeted a picture of the banner, which read, "Hey girl, choose me, lose choice -- P. Ryan."
The campaign's tumblr page features pictures of a smiling Ryan juxtaposed with "feminist-sounding" affirmations of his policy, like "Hey girl, got birth control? Not for long." and "Hey girl, you'll love my choices for your body." Both it and the non-affiliated @PaulRyanGosling twitter account are based on a popular blog, Feminist Ryan Gosling, created by University of Wisconsin-Madison grad student Danielle Henderson.
The sign wasn't the only protest against Ryan Tuesday; Politico posted a picture of an admission ticket for "Fertilized Egg." On Monday, another group of protesters interrupted Ryan's speech at the Iowa State Fair, accusing him of engaging in "a war on the middle class."
Veep Pick Paul Ryan Is No Conservative (13 August 2012) [AJ]
Like him or not, the one thing politically aware Americans are supposed to know about Paul Ryan is that he is a fiscal conservative, a bold budget hawk. He is, after all, the prime author of the House budget plan (titled "the Path to Prosperity") to repeal the Obama health insurance program ("ObamaCare"), turn the Medicaid program for low-income Americans over to the states and create a private insurance option for Medicare beneficiaries starting in 2023. The plan would also turn food stamps and other federal programs for the poor into block grants to the states, with limits on the growth of those programs. If Republican voters have any doubts about Ryan's commitment to budget austerity, they need only hear the Democrats' outcry that Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" will be a road to the poorhouse for elderly and low-income Americans.
But on the other side of the ledger, Ryan's voting record shows a robust support of big-spending programs to enlarge the role of the federal government, especially when they are promoted by a Republican in the White House. Ryan voted for all of the big-ticket, budget-busting items of the administration of President George W. Bush, including the No Child Left Behind Act and the prescription drug benefit known as Medicare Part D, often described as the largest expansion of the welfare state since Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. Ryan voted to create the new Department of Homeland Security, including the Transportation Security Administration that has harassed air travelers, while making aircraft safe from shoes, belt buckles and grandma's knitting needles. He voted for the PATRIOT Act, giving government enhanced powers for warrantless snooping into the lives of American citizens as well as foreign nationals. Ryan voted for the Troubled Assets Relief Program that bailed out the "too big to fail" financial institutions and inspired the Tea Party rebellion against big government and "crony capitalism." He backed the auto bailout that turned GM into "Government Motors."
And while conservatives generally like to leave wars and military spending off the list of costly "big government" programs, Ryan's record on that front is also troubling. Like Romney, Ryan has no foreign policy credentials and no record of military service to point to in the election campaign. And like Romney, Ryan swallowed whole the Bush-Cheney line on Iraq and supported the decision to invade and occupy that country in a needless war that cost more than 4,000 American and hundreds of thousands Iraqi lives and has added roughly a trillion dollars to our soaring national debt. Ryan's budget calls for no reduction in military spending, despite the continued presence of U.S. troops in some 130 countries around the world, most of which have no bearing on our own national security.
Even more troubling is Ryan's vote last December in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act. The legislation included a provision authorizing the President to use the military to arrest suspected terrorists, including American citizens apprehended in the United States, and hold them indefinitely, without charges and without trial, in clear violation of due process rights guaranteed by the Constitution. This year Ryan voted against an amendment to remove that provision from the law.
Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan vision harks back to the days of Taft (14 August 2012)
Now, with the political pendulum stuck between the contending philosophies of right and left, the 2012 election offers voters a stark choice between the classic liberalism of the Obama administration and the militant conservatism of the Republican "young guns" in the House of Representatives. With one of the most prominent of those young guns, Paul D. Ryan, tapped as Romney's choice for vice president, it is clear the Republican Party wants more than a restoration of the compromising conservatism of Reagan. The GOP seeks a return to the good old days of McKinley and Taft.
The budget plans that Ryan has put forward as chairman of the House Budget Committee would underfund or seriously alter nearly every liberal program instituted since FDR's New Deal. His schemes would also lower taxes on the rich to a level not seen since the 1920s while whittling away at the deductions for home mortgages and philanthropic giving that have helped the middle class. In 2010, he proposed a complete elimination of the capital gains tax, a step that would allow people who live off their investments -- people such as Mitt and Ann Romney -- to pay no taxes at all.
The America Ryan longs for seems more like 1912 than 2012. Certainly, it was a simpler time a century ago. The majority of Americans were white, God-fearing Protestants who lived on farms or in small towns. Only a tiny elite went to college. The rich were very rich while the broad working class earned modest incomes through long days of labor in mines, in factories and in the fields. Women stayed at home. Black Americans were kept in their place. Politicians were in the pockets of the wealthy. Only wild-eyed socialists dreamed of helping the elderly with government-provided pensions and medical care.
Over the last 100 years, the planks of the Socialist Party platform of 1912 -- items like a 40-hour work week, a minimum wage, and precursors to Social Security and Medicare -- became mainstream ideas and pillars of American life. During the liberal era, a huge middle class was created as the American economy became the most vibrant and innovative in the world. The income gap between the rich and everyone else narrowed. A college education became the norm. Most people moved to the cities or suburbs. Women left home and went to work. The U.S. became a more equal, multi-racial society.
PAM COMMENTARY: I think the author is giving Romney and Ryan too much credit. There's the type of man who's smart enough to know about Taft and philosophize about ideals of American life... And then there's the type who's just really, really greedy, focused entirely on making money at everyone's expense, even when he has more money than he'll ever use in his lifetime.
Julian Assange will be granted asylum, says official (14 August 2012)
Ecuador's president Rafael Correa has agreed to give Julian Assange asylum, officials within Ecuador's government have said.
The WikiLeaks founder has been holed up at Ecuador's London embassy since 19 June, when he officially requested political asylum.
"Ecuador will grant asylum to Julian Assange," said an official in the Ecuadorean capital Quito, who is familiar with the government discussions.
On Monday, Correa told state-run ECTV that he would decide this week whether to grant asylum to Assange. Correa said a large amount of material about international law had to be examined to make a responsible informed decision.
Ecuador's foreign minister Ricardo Patiño indicated that the president would reveal his answer once the Olympic Games were over. But it remains unclear if giving Assange asylum will allow him to leave Britain and fly to Ecuador, or amounts to little more than a symbolic gesture. At the moment he faces the prospect of arrest as soon as he leaves the embassy for breaching his bail conditions.
Lawmakers suspect money laundering issues at Wal-Mart (14 August 2012)
(Reuters) - Two U.S. House Democrats investigating bribery allegations in Wal-Mart's Mexico affiliate said on Tuesday they have obtained new internal records that may point to evidence of tax evasion and money laundering.
Reps. Elijah Cummings and Henry Waxman, who are the ranking members, respectively, of the House Oversight and House Energy committees, disclosed the latest details of their probe in an August 14 letter to the company.
"We have obtained internal company documents, including internal audit reports, from other sources suggesting that Wal-Mart may have had compliance issues relating not only to bribery, but also to 'questionable financial behavior' including tax evasion and money laundering in Mexico," the lawmakers wrote in their letter to Wal-Mart Chief Executive Michael Duke.
A company spokesman had no immediate comment.
Exercising in midlife protects heart, says research (14 August 2012)
Making sure you get enough exercise in midlife will help protect your heart, according to research.
Even those who make the switch in their late 40s and 50s can still benefit, the study of over 4,000 people suggests.
And it need not be hard toil in a gym - gardening and brisk walks count towards the required 2.5 hours of moderate activity per week, say experts.
But more work is needed since the study looked at markers linked to heart problems and not heart disease itself.
And it relied on people accurately reporting how much exercise they did - something people tend to overestimate rather than underestimate.
Your guide to eating alkaline - What are the top alkaline-forming foods? (13 August 2012)
As you may have already guessed, most of the foods that people eat today -- refined grains, pasteurized dairy, conventional meat, vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, and processed sugars -- are acid-forming foods. Rather than contribute to the roughly 80 percent alkaline-forming, 20 percent acid-forming diet, which some experts in the field believe to be ideal, a diet composed primarily of these acid-forming foods inhibits nerve function and damages cells.
"All natural foods contain both acid and alkaline-forming elements," says the Conscious Living Center. "In some, acid-forming elements dominate; in others, alkaline-forming elements dominate. According to modern biochemistry, it is not the organic matter of foods that leave acid or alkaline residues in the body. The inorganic matter (sulfur, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium) determines the acidity or alkalinity of the body fluids."
According to several different resources on acid and alkaline-forming foods, some of the best alkaline forming foods include:
• Chia seeds
• String beans
• Root vegetables (radishes, carrots, beets, turnips, rutabagas)
• Avocados . . .
Paul Ryan's Hometown of Janesville, WI Recovers with Federal Aid GOP VP Candidate Claims to Oppose (14 August 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: That was Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaking to Diane Hendricks, a Wisconsin billionaire. Before that was the family of GM worker Gayle Listenbee.
Well, much of the economic recovery in Janesville is due in part to money from Obama's stimulus package and other federal grants. The Janesville Innovation Center, which aims to support entrepreneurs, was funded in part by a $1.2 million stimulus grant. The federal government is also contributing upwards of $10 million to a Janesville plant manufacturing medical products, a plant that could employ some 150 people. In addition, a major infrastructure project that Ryan has encouraged will be reportedly financed as part of a billion-dollar federal and state highway project.
To talk more about how Congressmember Ryan's attempts to scale back government's role in the economy stands in stark contrast to the lived experience of his own hometown, we're joined by As Goes Janesville's director, Brad Lichtenstein. The new documentary will air on PBS series Independent Lens this fall. Brad Lichtenstein is an award-winning filmmaker and the president of 371 Productions.
Brad, welcome to Democracy Now! Talk about the significance of your film, especially now with Paul Ryan elevated to the Republican presidential vice-presidential ticket.
BRAD LICHTENSTEIN: Sure. Well, I think that Paul actually got it right. Janesville really is a microcosm of America, that the same struggles that are going on there are happening in communities all over the country. And what you saw was interesting because one of the things that I found is that there's a divide, I think, in perception, and it sort of becomes a kind of insurmountable gap between those who tend to be more pro-business and paint a very rosy picture of what the future can be, sometimes turning a blind eye to what the reality on the ground is.
One of the people that I filmed that is briefly in the clip that you showed, Mary Willmer, is a banker in town and, along with Diane Hendricks, was co-chair of an economic development group that was largely guided by pro-business principles, or still is, and she always talked about being an ambassador of optimism. Early in the film, there's a scene where she's gathered bankers together to talk about how to overcome foreclosures throughout the community. And when one of the bankers says, "I think that there's a lot more to come," that it's going to get worse, she says, "We don't want to paint a picture of gloom and doom." And that stands in stark contrast to the kind of experience that Cindy Deegan, one of the workers who goes back to school, only to get a job that's only 80 percent of her job that she used to have at Alcoa, which made the tire rims for the GM products, or Gayle, as you saw, who has to leave her family behind. There's another woman, Angie, who also leaves her 18-year-old son behind, and then, when her son gets into a car accident, she has to come home, take care of him, and then loses her job at GM. And it's actually the union that gets her job back. And so, there's this--
The Paul Ryan Vision of America: Ban Abortion, Defund Contraception, Outlaw In Vitro Fertilization (13 August 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about this issue of opposing abortion in all cases. Explain exactly what that means.
NICOLE SAFAR: So, that means that abortion becomes illegal, it becomes a crime, and there aren't places where women can get safe and legal abortion procedures. And that means if you are a victim of rape or incest, you don't have access to this. If you have health concerns--it really is putting, you know, women's health in a very dangerous position. Pregnancy can be a very wonderful time for women, but it also can be a very scary and trying time on women's health. And for them to--for Congressman Ryan to think he's the one that should be making the decision to take healthcare options away from women, that's very troubling to us.
AMY GOODMAN: Earlier this year, Congressman Ryan told David Gregory on Meet the Press that he wasn't concerned about Republicans overplaying their hand on the issue of contraception and women's health. He suggested the government requiring employers to pay for birth control would violate people's freedom of religion. I want to go to that clip.
REP. PAUL RYAN: What we're getting from the White House with this conscience issue, it's not an issue about contraception. It's an issue that reveals a political philosophy that the president is showing that basically treats our constitutional rights as if they're revocable privileges from our government, not inalienable rights by our creator. And so what I would simply say is, we're seeing this new government activism, sort of a paternalistic, arrogant political philosophy that puts new government-granted rights in the way of our constitutional rights. And so, what I think it really is, is it's an argument for freedom, for our founding principles, and for protecting those constitutional rights, which right now with this new mandate from HHS, like I said, it's really not about contraception, it's about violating our First Amendment rights to religious freedom and of conscience.
Romney mistakenly introduces Ryan as 'next president' (11 August 2012) [R]
In a 2012 campaign that has been so far defined by gaffes, it was appropriate that the roll out of Paul Ryan as Republican vice presidential candidate had a misstep of its own.
As Mitt Romney was concluding his introductory remarks, the presumptive Republican nominee asked the crowd to welcome "the next president of the United States" -- forgetting to add the "vice."
The gaffe elicited some laughter from the crowd.
As Ryan took the stage, Romney jogged back to the podium to correct himself.
"Every now and then I'm known to make a mistake," Romney quipped with a smile. "I didn't make a mistake with this guy!"
Romney then clarified Ryan was "he's going to be the next vice president of the United States."
Military sexual assault is focus of YouTube series (13 August 2012)
The enormous obstacles and emotional torment that a female solider confronts in reporting a sexual assault in the military are the focus of the three-part Web series "Lauren" debuting today on YouTube's new channel WIGS, which focuses on drama for women.
Featuring "Flashdance" star Jennifer Beals and Troian Bellisario, "Lauren" gives a close-up look at the challenges women service members face in trying to find justice after being raped. It's a problem that military leaders have given unprecedented attention to this year.
The Defense Department has estimated that 86 percent of sexual assaults go unreported, an indication that some women are worried about the effect reporting an assault may have on their career and that they mistrust the military prosecution system. Nearly 3,200 sexual assaults were reported in the military last year.
Military leaders say sexual assault is not only dehumanizing to the victims but threatens operational readiness. The Pentagon has set up hotlines and has been trying to encourage service members to help victims. High-ranking Navy leaders have likened their campaign to the crusade years ago to stop rampant drug abuse, although activists say sweeping institutional changes are needed for victims to find justice.
Paul Ryan Cracks Joke As 71 Year-Old Citizen Is Forced To The Ground (VIDEOS) (11 August 2012) [R]
The first video is self-explanatory, but I have transcribed as much of it here as possible because of the poor quality of the audiovisuals. This took place last fall at one of Congressman Rep. Ryan's "Pay to Play" town hall meetings where he was discussing cutting Senior's Social Security, and Medicare as a means of debt reduction. As you might imagine, one senior was not pleased.
Ryan: "Most of our debt in the future comes from our entitlement programs."
Senior citizen: "Hey, (Garbled; Ryan continues to speak). I paid into that for 50 years, my unemployment and my Social Security and my Medicare, and now you're gonna..." At this point you hear the police who are dragging him out shouting, "on the ground, on the ground".
Ryan then jokes, "I hope he's taken his blood-pressure medication", and the room laughs with him.
The 71-year-old senior citizen was obviously unhappy about Ryan's use of the word "entitlement" when he has paid, as all working people have, for the benefits he receives. It's apparent that he went to the meeting to voice his opposition to that term being used; a view shared by many.
Ryan has a history of being booed and hissed at Town Hall meetings. He has told folks to leave and he progressed to having them arrested. Here's a video by Moveon.org showing three other people arrested for asking about jobs at the same gathering:
What is the 'Ryan budget'? (13 August 2012)
5) On Medicare, it would give Americans a choice to enroll in a Medicare-type plan. The government would subsidize part of the payments for private-run insurance plans. Mr. Ryan believes this competition between firms "will help ensure guaranteed affordability." For the poor or those with more health risks, Medicare would offer additional assistance.
6) The Medicare piece is perhaps the biggest flashpoint in the entire plan. The White House and Democrats have said it would gut benefits for seniors, and even former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has kept some distance from it.
7) On Medicaid, the budget would turn it into a federal block grant program, "thus freeing states to tailor their Medicaid programs to the unique needs of their own populations."
8) The plan offers no details for changes to Social Security, other than calling on Congress and the White House to pursue modifications to it.
9) On taxes, the plan calls for two individual income tax rates -- 10% and 25%. It also proposes "clearing out the burdensome tangle of loopholes that distort economic activity," but it doesn't identify which ones should be cut.
PAM COMMENTARY: "Block grants" usually mean the end of a program, because some state governments claim that "the needs of their state" mean the government should keep the money for itself, and release a token amount to very few of the program's original designees as window dressing. This is already happening in Ryan's home state of Wisconsin, where there is a waiting list for "Badger Care," the state's health care program for the indigent. As usual, the state's governor Scott Walker would rather spend the money on himself, just like the mortgage settlement money that he seized rather than releasing it to the homeowners who were wronged,.
The Next Election: High Stake Outcomes Based on Non-issues, by Paul Craig Roberts (12 August 2012) [AJ]
What are Romney's issues? The candidate says that his first act will be to repeal Obamacare, a program that Romney himself first enacted as governor of Massachusetts. This will cost Romney political contributions from the insurance industry, which is thankful for the 50 million new private insurance policies that Obamacare, written not by Obama but by the private insurance companies, provides at public expense. It is not to the insurance industry's benefit to have a single payer system like other western countries.
Romney's other issue is to blame Obama for America's unemployment caused by the offshoring of the US economy by Republican corporate CEOs. In order to enhance their compensation packages, the Republican CEOs sent millions of America's best jobs to India, China and elsewhere. The lower cost of labor in these offshore sites means much higher earnings, which drives up share prices for shareholders and drives up performance bonuses for management, while wrecking US employment, GDP growth and tax base and driving up the deficit in the balance of payments.
America's main economic problem--the relocation of the US economy offshore--is not a campaign issue. Therefore, the US economy's main problem will remain unaddressed.
The real issues can nowhere be found in the campaigns or in the media. There is no mention of the Bush/Obama destruction of the US Constitution and its legal protections of citizens from arbitrary government power. Due process no longer exists for anyone who the executive branch suspects of being connected in any way to Washington's chosen enemies. US citizens can be thrown into dungeons for life on suspicion alone without any evidence ever being presented to a court, and they can be executed any place on earth, along with whoever happens to be with them at the time, on suspicion alone.
PAM COMMENTARY: Exactly. While the 2008 election was a thankful disposal of Bush, Cheney, and their administration of other mass murderers of history, the 2012 election is about the economy. The ECONOMY -- not the deficit, not tax structure, not health care, not ending Social Security, not ending Medicare. Those types of issues are the LAST priority when people have no INCOME.
Romney campaign cancels Monday visit to Orlando (12 August 2012)
Although Mitt Romney was supposed to visit Orlando on Monday, the campaign announced late Sunday that the presumed Republican presidential nominee was too exhausted to make the trip.
The news came after Romney spent what one campaign official said was an exhausting 48 hours of championing his new vice presidential pick.
"We've been planning this bus tour for awhile and had to adjust for stuff going on," said Jeff Bechdel, Florida communications director for the campaign.
Romney was slated to stop Monday afternoon at the Conway area home of attorney Christi Adams and her fiance for what was being billed as an "Orlando Housing Roundtable."
PAM COMMENTARY: Maybe it was "exhaustion," or maybe he didn't feel like facing an audience of seniors after announcing a VP pick famous for wanting to end Social Security and Medicare.
BP nets $2.5bn in a deal to sell off its Californian refinery business (13 August 2012)
Oil behemoth BP has sold its Carson, California oil refinery and related assets for $2.5bn cash to Tesoro Corporation, a refinery firm based in oil-hungry Texas.
The sale is the latest move in the company's reshaping of its US business, which has taken a battering since the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
It comes days after BP announced a similar sale of its two gas processing plants in Texas -- Sunray and Hemphill -- to Eagle Rock Energy Partners for $227.5m cash.
Friday's amuse-bouche to this morning's announcement continues the company's winding down of its southern businesses and the focusing on its northern assets.
It also wants to continue expansion into shale gas which will make the US a net exporter for the first time in decades.
Two earthquakes in Iran kill 300 and injure 5,000 (12 August 2012)
(Reuters) - Overcrowded hospitals in northwest Iran struggled to cope with thousands of earthquake victims on Sunday as rescuers raced to reach remote villages after two powerful quakes killed nearly 300 people.
Thousands huddled in makeshift camps or slept in the street after Saturday's quakes for fear of more aftershocks, 60 of which had already struck. A lack of tents and other supplies left them exposed to the night chill, one witness told Reuters.
"I saw some people whose entire home was destroyed, and all their livestock killed," Tahir Sadati, a local photographer, said by telephone. "People need help, they need warm clothes, more tents, blankets and bread."
The worst damage and most casualties appeared to have been in rural villages around the towns of Ahar, Varzaghan and Harees, near the major city of Tabriz, Iranian media reported.
Worshippers return to Sikh temple a week after shootings (12 August 2012)
Oak Creek - Mourners streamed into the prayer hall of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin on Sunday, bowing before the Holy Book, the Guru Granth Sahib, for the temple's first official service since a gunman killed six people here one week ago.
Outside, members raised the American flag from half-staff and hoisted a new Sikh flag in an elaborate ritual surrounded by hundreds who'd come from across the country and the world in a show of solidarity.
"This demonstrates how committed we are to one another, and the community's overwhelming support for us - not just the Sikh community, but everyone," said Anjali Kaur, who grew up in Oak Creek and now lives in New York.
"It's amazing how we've come together in the one place that was used to try to divide us," she said.
The green take on Paul Ryan (11 August 2012)
Fans of R sounds, rejoice! Mitt Romney has made his pick: Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will be playing the role of Sarah Palin in this year's election. Unlike Palin at the time she was picked, though, a lot of people have heard of and covered Paul Ryan, which allows us to compile this little dossier.
First things first. Ryan is a seven-term member of the House of Representatives at the ripe old age of 42. He's from Janesville, Wis., where he still lives and went to college at Miami University of Ohio.
In the House (and outside of it), he's primarily known as the architect of a hugely controversial budget proposal. Here's an overview; but the topline is a broad overhaul of social programs like Medicare and Social Security. You will hear about this plan every 14 minutes until Nov. 6, so we're going to focus on our core issues.
Meaning: energy and the environment. OnTheIssues.org provides a good overview:
Voted YES on opening Outer Continental Shelf to oil drilling.
Voted YES on barring EPA from regulating greenhouse gases.
Voted NO on enforcing limits on CO2 global warming pollution.
Voted NO on tax credits for renewable electricity, with PAYGO offsets.
Having Ryan on Romney's ticket unlikely to sway Wisconsin vote (12 August 2012)
Mitt Romney's selection of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate again has thrust Wisconsin onto the national stage. But questions persist as to whether the Republican's choice of a native son actually puts the state in play come November.
Romney announced his selection of the Janesville congressman Saturday, sending a wave of excitement across the state that had people on both sides of the political aisle in front of their TV sets, watching Ryan accept the honor.
But that excitement was tempered somewhat by predictions that his addition to the ticket would do little to change Romney's prospects in the state, where President Barack Obama won in 2008 and where polls show he leads Romney going into the Nov. 6 election.
"I think it is a great choice, but I highly doubt it will change anything here," said Mordecai Lee, a UW-Milwaukee political science professor and former Democratic state lawmaker. "This state has been so divided the past two years, I just don't think there are a lot of persuadable people out there. They are in one camp or the other."
Romney seeks distance from Ryan's budget plans (12 August 2012)
HIGH POINT, N.C. (AP) -- Cheered by the biggest crowds of his campaign, Republican Mitt Romney declared Sunday that 42-year-old running mate Paul Ryan is ready to be president, but said his own budget plan, not the more detailed proposals of his partner, will be the basis of his White House bid.
"I have my budget plan," he said. "And that's the budget plan we're going to run on."
Earlier, Romney walked a careful line as he campaigned with Ryan by his side in North Carolina, singling out his running mate's work "to make sure we can save Medicare." But the presidential candidate never said whether he embraced Ryan's austere plan himself, and he addressed the matter more directly in a "60 Minutes" interview, with Ryan still with him, that aired Sunday night on CBS.
Democrats weren't about to let them off that hook.
A pioneer in the produce field (12 August 2012)
Kiwi's debut: Caplan quickly defined her business by accepting then-strange produce that other businesses wouldn't take.
Her big moment came when one of her buyers from a Safeway supermarket asked if she carried Chinese gooseberry. She said no, but two months later a broker happened to walk through the market with a box of the stuff.
Other wholesalers in the market said, "We don't want it, go see Frieda," Caplan remembered. She snapped up the fruit, grown in New Zealand, which eventually became known in the U.S. as kiwi.
Only woman in the room: With her company's growth, Caplan became nationally known as a successful businesswoman in a man's industry.
Hey, defendants: Wardrobe can be a factor in verdict (12 August 2012)
Norfolk defense attorney Andy Protogyrou's first look at his client wasn't pretty.
The man's head was shaved clean as a bullet, and his Fu Manchu mustache dangled well past his chin. He wore standard-issue, motorcycle gang leather. Lots of it.
"The jury's going to convict you just because of the way you look," Protogyrou told his client.
The middle-aged man rode with a motorcycle gang. Federal prosecutors considered him a Johnny Appleseed of methamphetamine in the late '90s, delivering the drug from California to a new market in Virginia. He faced felony charges that, if proven, could have locked him up for life.
Chevron's tense relations with Richmond (12 August 2012)
Growing up in Richmond in the 1960s, Andres Soto would watch flares from the Chevron refinery light up the night sky. Pretty cool, he remembers thinking.
Some of his friends had parents working at the plant. The refinery was a force in Richmond's civic life, heavily influencing the city's politics, Soto said.
"They basically ran this place as a company town for a hundred years," he said.
Now the once-tight relationship between Richmond and the refinery has grown strained, tense, at times angry.
A fire at the plant Monday spewed a thick plume of black smoke over the city. Furious residents pilloried refinery Manager Nigel Hearne at a community meeting the following night, some demanding that the refinery shut down.
Norfolk-based destroyer collides with oil tanker in Gulf (12 August 2012)
A Norfolk-based guided missile destroyer was left with a gaping hole on one side after it collided with an oil tanker early Sunday just outside the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
The collision left a breach about 10 feet by 10 feet in the starboard side of the destroyer Porter. No one was injured on either vessel, the Navy said in a statement.
The collision with the Panamanian-flagged and Japanese-owned bulk oil tanker M/V Otowasan happened about 1 a.m. local time. Photos released by the Navy showed workers standing amid twisted metal and other debris hanging from the hole.
The cause of the incident is under investigation, the Navy said, though the collision was not combat-related. There were no reports of spills or leakages from either vessel, the Navy said.
New York City police shoot knife-wielding man near Times Square (12 August 2012)
The man became agitated, pulled out an 11-inch (28-centimeter) knife and began to put a bandanna on his head, police said. He refused repeated orders to drop the weapon and began backing down the avenue, continuing for a number of blocks and drawing many officers into a slow-speed pursuit that took them south of Times Square.
According to the police account, officers pepper sprayed the man six times but he held onto the knife throughout the seven-block pursuit. At West 37th Street, he lunged at police and two officers shot him in the torso, police said. He was pronounced dead at Bellevue Hospital.
Witnesses recalled a chaotic scene in which some bystanders took cover, while others began following the procession down the avenue in an attempt to capture cellphone video of it. On video obtained by NY1 cable news station, officers, guns drawn, can be seen pursuing the man as he appears to skip down Seventh Avenue.
"He was swinging at people as he ran," Jobby Nogver, 17, told the New York Times. Nogver watched as police surrounded the man and fired. "I can't tell you how many shots," he said.
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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