Pam Rotella's Vegetarian FUN page -- News on health, nutrition, the environment, politics, and more!
NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012
News from the Week of 26th of August to 1st of September 2012
George Bush and Tony Blair should face trial over Iraq war, says Desmond Tutu (1 September 2012)
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called for Tony Blair and George Bush to be hauled before the international criminal court in The Hague and delivered a damning critique of the physical and moral devastation caused by the Iraq war.
Tutu, a Nobel peace prize winner and hero of the anti-apartheid movement, accuses the former British and US leaders of lying about weapons of mass destruction and says the invasion left the world more destabilised and divided "than any other conflict in history".
Writing in the Observer, Tutu also suggests the controversial US and UK-led action to oust Saddam Hussein in 2003 created the backdrop for the civil war in Syria and a possible wider Middle East conflict involving Iran.
"The then leaders of the United States and Great Britain," Tutu argues, "fabricated the grounds to behave like playground bullies and drive us further apart. They have driven us to the edge of a precipice where we now stand -- with the spectre of Syria and Iran before us."
But it is Tutu's call for Blair and Bush to face justice in The Hague that is most startling. Claiming that different standards appear to be set for prosecuting African leaders and western ones, he says the death toll during and after the Iraq conflict is sufficient on its own for Blair and Bush to be tried at the ICC.
PAM COMMENTARY: "Startling?" Not at all. Opponents of the war have called for the same thing, even as the war started.
Ryan claims faulty memory behind marathon lie (1 September 2012)
Vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has been forced to admit that he lied in an interview with conservative columnist Hugh Hewitt when he said that he once completed a marathon in under three hours. According to Huffington Post, Ryan's campaign has admitted to Runner's World magazine that the congressman's claim to have finished a marathon in "two hours and fifty-something" minutes was a fabrication.
In a prepared statement, Ryan blamed a faulty memory of the event. He claimed to have been corrected by his brother, rather than by reporters from Runner's World, who began asking questions about Ryan's claim when they could not find any record of Ryan running a three-hour marathon in Wisconsin or anywhere else.
"The race was more than 20 years ago, but my brother Tobin--who ran Boston last year--reminds me that he is the owner of the fastest marathon in the family and has never himself ran a sub-three," he said. "If I were to do any rounding, it would certainly be to four hours, not three. He gave me a good ribbing over this at dinner tonight."
The only record of Ryan running a marathon is from the "Grandma's Marathon" in Duluth, Minnesota in 1990, in which a Paul D. Ryan (Rep. Ryan's middle name is "Davis.") finished the race in just over 4 hours.
PAM COMMENTARY: The more he talks, the more he appears to be a pathological liar.
Mallick: Mass shootings becoming sadly common in the U.S. (1 September 2012)
Call this the Summer of Slaughter in the United States.
It's hard to track -- and one would feel callous tracking mass slaughter like sports stats -- but there may never have been an American summer so littered with bodies and bullets.
On Friday, an ex-Marine began shooting an AK-47 at the New Jersey supermarket where he worked, killing himself and two others. This followed the previous Friday's shooting near the Empire State Building where a fired handbag company employee killed a co-worker and panicked police scattered bullets into bystanders.
And this followed the Aurora movie massacre, the Wisconsin Sikh temple killings, shootings near universities in Alabama and Texas, the Washington, D.C., Family Research Council shooting, and so on.
The Texas shooting rang a distant bell. In 1966, Charles Whitman began shooting from a tower at the University of Texas, killing 13 people and wounding 32, starting some sort of hideous trend. It's so easy to kill people with guns and so gaily, airily, terrifyingly simple to buy guns online. But there is no readily accessible central system for tracking mass shootings in the U.S., by which I don't mean ordinary murders but shootings of three or more people at a time.
Drought has Mississippi River barge traffic all choked up (1 September 2012)
LAKE PROVIDENCE, La. -- Eight grim-faced men sit in a cramped, impromptu war room in the shadow of a levee on the Mississippi River.
With laptops opened to Web pages of the National Weather Service and the Army Corps of Engineers, the group of farmers, grain brokers and barge operators is engaged in what humans have grappled with for more than 200 years in the Mississippi Delta: puzzling out the latest blow from a stubborn river that refuses every effort to control it.
Drought has reduced the Mississippi to a relative trickle, and even the dozens of inches of rainfall from Hurricane Isaac will change little on the river. The best crops of corn and soybeans in a generation are awaiting shipment by Mississippi barges -- and won't wait forever before spoiling. The window is about 10 days, and once it closes, consumers across the country will feel the bite of higher prices.
All along the lower Mississippi -- from Memphis, Tenn., to New Orleans -- water levels are at record lows. Sandbars have appeared in midstream, and broad beaches now spread out at the edges of what were green riverbanks. Traffic has slowed to a crawl and, on some stretches of the river, has been at a standstill since June as water levels have dropped so low that even barges requiring just 9 feet of water are running aground.
Turkish bulk carrier spilling oil on South African beaches (1 September 2012)
Oil from a Turkish bulk carrier that ran aground three years ago off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa's prime tourist city, was spilling onto two beaches, officials said.
Investigations on Saturday showed the vessel had disintegrated into three pieces, Cape Town city disaster management spokesman Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said.
"It is believed the rough seas and high spells that were experienced yesterday (Friday) ... resulted in the movement of the vessel and caused the oil spill from the vessel," he said.
Aerial investigations "established that a thick layer of bunker oil has washed ashore and that large quantities of oil is still in the water in the vicinity of the SELI 1 vessel that ran aground on 07 September 2009," he said.
"Black oil fingers" of up to 500 metres radius originating from the vessel was trickling toward the city's Dolphin Beach, he added.
Energy companies seek electricity storage (1 September 2012)
Technology developers are shuttling between caves and mountaintops to build a market for utilities set to attract $25 billion in annual investment within a decade.
To store surplus electricity from power plants, they're trying to squeeze air into salt mines and run empty trains up hills, testing how to harness the energy released when the air bursts out and the cars roll back down. Trials are under way at companies from Germany's Siemens AG and RWE AG to General Electric Co. and a startup backed by billionaire Bill Gates, which is experimenting with the momentum of ski lifts.
"Electricity is the only commodity in the world that isn't really stored," said Prescott Logan, who heads GE's storage business in Schenectady, N.Y., where last month it opened a $100 million plant to make batteries for utilities. When storage becomes cheap and massive, "the impact will be huge."
The $260 billion renewables industry needs storage so power companies can absorb surges from solar and wind farms from Texas to Mongolia. Brad Roberts, executive director of the Electricity Storage Association in Washington, said the business in the United States alone may grow to $5 billion within five years.
Medicare's political importance goes beyond seniors (31 August 2012)
Medicare moved to the forefront of the campaign three weeks ago after Romney chose Ryan as his running mate. The "Ryan plan," much of which Republicans incorporated into their party's platform at the convention, would replace Medicare's wide-ranging coverage of health services for the elderly with a voucher program for seniors to buy their own care.
Polls consistently show that Republicans have an edge among seniors, whose defense of Medicare has traditionally made it a politically untouchable issue. Obama and his fellow Democrats hope the Ryan plan will shift some of that support their way.
Party strategists believe even richer spoils could be had among baby boomers. That group, which includes large numbers of the independent middle-class voters Obama needs for re-election, tends to favor Democrats.
"Baby boomers are particularly concerned about the stability of their retirement," said U.S. Representative Steve Israel of New York, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
"If you're a baby boomer in the middle class, since 2000 you've seen the value of your paycheck decline, the value of your home decline and you've seen your 401(k) diminish and you're worried about your retirement," Israel said. "What's the Romney-Ryan solution? End Medicare."
Can we save American capitalism? (31 August 2012)
A dozen Labor Days -- and three presidential elections -- ago, the world was in the thrall of American-style capitalism. Not only had it vanquished communism, but it was widening its lead over Japan Inc. and European-style socialism.
Today, that economic hegemony seems a distant memory. We have watched the bursting of two giant financial bubbles, wiping out the paper wealth many of us thought we had in our homes and retirement accounts. We have suffered through two long recessions and a lost decade of income growth for the average family. We continue to rack up large trade and budget deficits. Virtually all of the country's economic growth and productivity gains have been captured by the top 10 percent of households, while moving up the economic ladder has become more difficult. And other countries are beginning to turn to China, Germany, Sweden and even Israel for lessons in how to organize their capitalist economies.
It's no wonder, then, that large numbers of Americans have begun to question the superiority of our brand of free-market capitalism. This disillusionment is reflected not only in public opinion polls but on the shelves of American bookstores, where the subject has attracted many of the best economists in the country. Retooling American capitalism has become something of an national -- and even international -- obsession.
"Capitalism has always changed in order to survive and thrive. It needs to change again," writes Martin Wolf, the uncompromisingly pro-market columnist for the Financial Times, in an essay in "The Occupy Handbook."
Thalidomide company makes first apology, decades after birth defects started (31 August 2012)
After a half century of stubborn silence, the German manufacturer of thalidomide, the drug that caused deformities in thousands of babies around the world, has apologized.
"We ask for forgiveness that for nearly 50 years we didn't find a way of reaching out to you from human being to human being," said Harald Stock, the chief executive of Gruenenthal Group. "We ask that you regard our long silence as a sign of the shock that your fate caused in us."
Stock said the company is apologizing to mothers who took the drug during the 1950s and 1960s and to their children who suffered birth defects as a result.
He spoke at the unveiling of a bronze statue called "the sick child," depicting a child born without limbs because of thalidomide. The statue's name has been criticized by thalidomide survivors who say they are no longer children, but adults.
Days without power after Isaac take their toll on New Orleans, Jefferson residents (31 August 2012)
After four days of darkness at her eastern New Orleans home, Margie Lewis resorted to stringing an extension cord from her neighbor's house across the street and into her living room, just to plug in a solitary fan. "We have five adults stuck in one room with one fan," said Harold Giles, her son-in-law. "That takes a whole lot of patience."
By Friday in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish -- largely spared the misery Hurricane Isaac rained on their neighbors -- many residents cited their main complaint as aggravation that most of the lights were still out.
A sign on a utility pole in the 1400 block of Cleary Avenue in Metairie summed up their frustration: "Need Power ASAP."
"Be patient -- it's coming and we're working very, very hard," Charles Rice, president of Entergy New Orleans, said at a Friday morning news conference.
Thousands of workers are on the streets, he said.
Nuclear waste seeks a home (1 September 2012)
But the pace of finding a site to store Canada's most potent radioactive waste permanently is about to pick up.
Twenty Canadian communities have said they'll consider volunteering to host the storage site.
That list is about to close. The Nuclear Waste Management Organization, whose job it is to find and build the site, will stop taking new names on Sept. 30.
The impending cut-off is ratcheting up the pressure on the technocrats charged with selecting a site; on the boosters who want to snare the multi-billion-dollar repository for their community; on the activists who harbour deep suspicions about safety; and on the aboriginal leaders who say they've been cut out of the process.
Adding urgency is another nuclear decision hanging over Ontario: Whether to proceed with building two big new reactors at the Darlington nuclear station.
Progress in finding a secure, permanent storage site for the country's nuclear waste might give the province more comfort in continuing down a nuclear path.
EPA OKs air quality permit for Shell drilling in Arctic Ocean (31 August 2012)
Shell is the first oil company attempting offshore drilling in the Alaska Arctic in two decades, and it's hugely controversial. Opponents warn of degradation to the relatively pristine environment and argue the company won't be able to clean up a spill in water with floating ice. Shell sees huge potential for oil and has spent more than $4.5 billion on the effort.
The air pollution issue was the second defeat in a row for opponents of Shell's plans. The Obama administration on Thursday agreed to let Shell start drilling in the Arctic waters even though its oil spill containment barge isn't ready to go, although the drilling can't go so deep as to hit oil until the barge is certified.
Alaska Wilderness League executive director Cindy Shogan said Friday the EPA's decision on the air pollution permit rewards Shell for failing to follow the rules.
"Today's announcement that the Environmental Protection Agency has given Shell Oil an exemption to pollute in America's Arctic Ocean is yet another sign from the Obama administration that they are putting the whims of a corporate giant over the future of one of our nation's most valued natural treasures," she said.
Matt Taibbi: The Secret to Mitt Romney's Fortune? Greed, Debt and Forcing Others to Foot the Bill (31 August 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: What you were just listening to was the silence of Governor Perry not responding to Mike's question. Yes, Governor Perry called Mitt Romney a "vulture capitalist." Matt Taibbi, what does that mean?
MATT TAIBBI: Well, look, again, this is what--how companies like Bain made their money. And a great example was a company that I went and visited--well, the place where it used to exist--KB Toys, which used to be headquartered out in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. They took over the company with like $18 million down. They financed the other $302 million. So that's borrowed money that subsequently became the debt of KB Toys. This is an important distinction for people to understand. When they borrowed that money to take over that company, they didn't have to pay it back, KB had to pay it back. Once they took over the company, they induced it to do a $120 million, quote-unquote, "dividend recapitalization," which essentially means that the company had to cash in a bunch of shares and pay Bain and its investors a huge sum of money. And in order to finance that, they had to take out over $60 million in bank loans. So, essentially, you take over the company, you force them to make enormous withdrawals against their credit card, essentially, and pay the new owners of the company. And that's essentially what they did. They took over a floundering company that was sort of in between and faced with threatening changes in the industry, and they forced them to cash out entirely and pay all their money to the new owners.
AMY GOODMAN: You know, just for the record, Governor Perry's comment about Mitt Romney was very interesting. He said, "They're vultures that sitting out there on the tree limb waiting for the company to get sick, and then they swoop in, they eat the carcass, they leave with that, and they leave the skeleton."
MATT TAIBBI: That's exactly right. That's exactly what they do. Again, they borrow money, they take over the company, the company now has this massive new debt burden. So, if the couple was already in trouble, if it was already having trouble meeting its bottom line, suddenly, not only does it have its old problems, now it has, you know, $300 million in new debt service that it has to pay. So it might be, you know, paying millions and millions of dollars every month.
A great example is Dunkin' Donuts, whose parent company was taken over a couple years ago by a combination of Bain Capital and the Carlyle Group. Dunkin' was induced to do one of those dividend recapitalizations. They had to pay half-a-billion dollars to their new masters. And just to pay the debt service on the loan they took out to make that payment to Bain and Carlyle, they're going to have to sell like two-and-a-half million cups of coffee every month just to pay the debt service. So, that's extraordinary. They are--they're essentially vultures who hang out waiting for companies to get sick, then they forcibly take them over, and they extract fees, commissions and dividends, by force, essentially.
Obama could not have saved Janesville GM plant. It closed before he took office. (30 August 2012)
Last night Paul Ryan said that Obama failed to save a GM plant in Janesville, Wis. Many outlets -- including Wonkblog -- said that was a lie. But some conservatives have tried to salvage the claim. Jonathan Adler of the National Review asks, "What was 'false' in Ryan's statement? Was Janesvile 'about to lose' the factory at the time of the election? Yes. Did Obama fail to prevent this as he had promised? Yes."
Let's break down, then, the exact chronology of the Janesville plant closing; Conn Carroll of the Washington Examiner has helpfully posted one here, which I add to below. The basic takeaway, however, is this: by December 2008, the plant had reached a point of no return where the plant would be shut down regardless of federal action. Ryan was faulting Obama for an that was event that was inevitable over a month before he took office.
February 2008: At a campaign stop in Janesville, Obama says, "I believe that if our government is there to support you, and give you the assistance you need to re-tool and make this transition, that this plant will be here for another hundred years." As Politifact writes, "That's a statement of belief that, with government help, the Janesville plant could remain open -- but not a promise to keep it open."
June 3, 2008 -- GM decides to close the Janesville plant, announcing that production will end by 2010, after months of rumors it might close. The press release declares, "Janesville, Wisconsin, will cease production of medium-duty trucks by the end of 2009, and of the Last night Paul Ryan said that Obama failed to save a GM plant in Janesville, Wis. Many outlets -- including Wonkblog -- said that was a lie. But some conservatives have tried to salvage the claim. Jonathan Adler of the National Review asks, "What was 'false' in Ryan's statement? Was Janesvile 'about to lose' the factory at the time of the election? Yes. Did Obama fail to prevent this as he had promised? Yes."
Five ways Paul Ryan's GM attack was dishonest (30 August 2012)
1. The timeline: As I wrote earlier, Ryan doesn't mention that GM announced on June 3, 2008, that it would close the plant. Not only was Obama still more than six months from his inauguration, but he also only clinched the Democratic nomination that same day. The plant effectively shut down in December 2008, with a skeleton crew staying on until April 2009. As I said this morning, "there was no way Obama could have saved that auto plant without also discovering time travel."
2. The deceptive framing: Still, many conservatives have said Ryan's argument is that Obama hasn't improved the economy enough to bring the plant back. But if that Ryan's defense, he clearly tried to imply to viewers that Obama was promising that the plant would stay open. He has been even more explicit about his meaning on the stump, saying in Ohio only two weeks ago, "I remember President Obama visiting it when he was first running, saying he'll keep that plant open. One more broken promise." Obama, of course, made no such promise, but Ryan would prefer voters didn't think that.
3. The inconsistent blame game: Note Ryan admits that "any fair measure of his record has to take [the economic crisis] into account." Now, this is a step in the right direction truth-wise, but if that's the case, how is President Obama to blame for a plant closure in (if we're being extremely generous) April 2009, less than three months into his term? After all, Romney's own campaign has said that Romney's first year in office shouldn't count toward his job creation record. So much for taking a "fair measure" of the president's record.
4. The philosophical self-contradiction: Paul Ryan has made his name in part as a small-government man. Last night he promised he and Mitt Romney would protect voters from "a government-planned life, a country where everything is free but us," and he repeated the deceptive "you didn't build that" attack. But saving the plant would have required a 'big government' bailout. Ryan himself knows this: Not only did he vote for the auto bailout, but in September 2008, Ryan joined other Wisconsin leaders in a meeting with GM CEO Rick Wagoner, where he helped "pitch a $224 million proposal that included roughly $50 million in state enterprise zone tax credits, local government grants worth $22 million and major contract concessions from the United Auto Workers union local." (By contrast, the Bush administration praised the plant closure as a sign GM was "adapting well" to the downturn.) To invoke the Janesville closing and make a small-government argument is having it both ways.
Bain protesters highlight Mitt Romney's real record on job creation (30 August 2012)
Four hardy souls from rural Illinois joined tens of thousands of people undeterred by threats of Hurricane Isaac during this week's Republican National Convention (RNC). They weren't among the almost 2,400 delegates to the convention, though; nor were they from the press corps, said to number 15,000. They weren't part of the massive police force assembled here, more than 3,000 strong, all paid for with $50m of US taxpayer money.
These four were about to join a much larger group: the more than 2.4 million people in the past decade whose US jobs have been shipped to China. In their case, the company laying them off and sending their jobs overseas is Bain Capital, co-founded by the Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.
We met the group at Romneyville, a tent city on the outskirts of downtown Tampa, established by the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign -- in the spirit of the Hoovervilles of the Great Depression. About 200 people gathered before the makeshift stage to hear speakers and musicians, under intermittent downpours and the noise of three police helicopters drowning out the voices of the anti-poverty activists. Scores of police on bicycles occupied the surrounding streets.
Cheryl Randecker was one of those four we met at Romneyville whose Bain jobs are among 170 at their firm slated to be offshored. They build transmission sensors for many cars and trucks made in the United States. Cheryl was sent to China to train workers there, not knowing that the company was about to be sold and the jobs she was training people for included her own. I asked her how it felt to be training her own replacements after working at the same company for 33 years:
"Knowing that you're going to be completely out of a job and there's no hope for any job in our area, it was gut-wrenching, because you don't know where the next point is going to be. I'm 52 years old. What are we going to do? To start over at this point in my life is extremely scary."
Producer admits fracking causes "very small earthquakes" (30 August 2012)
Calgary-based Questerre Energy Corp., which has been prevented from developing its promising Utica shale gas resources by a ban on hydraulic fracturing in Quebec, takes an unflinching look at the relationship between earthquakes and "fracking" in a new fact sheet.
"Media have reported concerns about hydraulic fracturing causing earthquakes," noted Michael Binnion, president and chief executive, in a news release.
"The whole purpose of hydraulic fracturing is to fracture rock under the surface which is a seismic event also known as an earthquake. So it may be surprising to some but hydraulic fracturing stimulations actually are very small earthquakes."
It's an unusually frank admission but Binnion quickly adds that the severity or "how noticeable" the earthquakes are depends on the stability of the geology. He says the St. Lawrence Lowlands in Quebec are extremely stable and "not generally prone to either natural or induced earthquakes."
In June, a U.S. National Research Council study found that fracking is unlikely to trigger earthquakes, but underground injection of wastewater resulting from the well stimulation technique offers more risks for seismic activity.
Rosacea may be caused by mite faeces in your pores (30 August 2012)
There are tiny bugs closely related to spiders living in the pores of your face. They have long been considered mere passengers, doing no harm beyond upsetting the squeamish. But they may be causing an ancient skin disease that is estimated to affect between 5 and 20 per cent of people worldwide, and 16 million in the US alone.
People aged between 30 and 60, especially women, sometimes develop rosacea: red inflamed skin, with swelling, roughness and fine, visible blood vessels, usually in the central zone of the face. Severe cases can resemble acne, irritate the eyes and lead to the bulbous red nose seen in caricatures of the elderly.
The disease affects all races but is known as the "curse of the Celts" as it is thought to especially affect people with very fair skin, although it may simply be more visible on their skin. Rosacea is commonly blamed on another alleged Celtic curse -- excessive drinking. But while alcohol can trigger a flare-up, so can many other kinds of stress. Teetotallers are just as susceptible, according to the US National Rosacea Society.
Kevin Kavanagh of the National University of Ireland, in Maynooth, now thinks he has discovered the cause -- and it isn't for the faint-hearted.
Tiny mites -- eight-legged arachnids related to spiders -- live in the pores of our facial skin. They are particularly fond of the hair follicles of eyebrows and eyelashes, and the oily pores most common on the nose, forehead and cheeks. Called Demodex, the mites eat sebum, or facial oil, and colonise your face at puberty.
Fatal security flaw discovered in software that controls U.S. power plants (29 August 2012)
(NaturalNews) A cyber-security specialist has discovered a flaw in the software that allows hackers to spy on and attack the communication of critical infrastructure operators of power plants, water systems, dams and more, and gain access to the credentials of computer systems which control those critical systems - claims the U.S. government is investigating.
Justin W. Clarke, an expert in securing industrial control systems, said a conference in Los Angeles earlier this month that he had discovered a way to spy on traffic moving into and out of networking equipment manufactured by RuggedCom, a division of Siemens.
Officials with the Department of Homeland Security said in an alert the agency released after it had learned of the potential security issue asked RuggedCom to confirm the gap Clark, 30, a security expert who has worked in the electric utility field for some time, had identified, then provide steps to mitigate the impact.
The firm, a Canadian subsidiary of Siemens which sells networking gear for use in harsh environments like areas with extreme weather, said it was looking into Clarke's allegations but did not elaborate, Reuters reported.
What is hantavirus? A short(ish) explainer (29 August 2012)
During the Korean War, several thousand United Nations troops were stricken with a severe, mysterious disease called Korean hemorrhagic fever. It was characterized by high fever, internal bleeding, kidney failure and, frequently, death. The source of the illness remained a mystery for a quarter of a century until 1978, when South Korean virologist Ho-Wang Lee isolated and identified the causative virus from a specimen found in the Hantaan River area. The group of viruses it represented have since been called hantaviruses, after the Hantaan River virus. It was a member of this genus that caused the deaths of at least two visitors to Yosemite National Park this summer and led the National Park Service to warn 1,700 other visitors of the potential risk.
Hantaviruses are lethal RNA viruses of the family Bunyaviridae. They are spread primarily by mice -- particularly deer mice -- and related rodents and can be contracted by bites, but most commonly occur when a victim breathes in air contaminated with rodent urine or droppings -- such as in a cabin that has been empty for some time. In Yosemite, the encounters with the virus are believed to have occurred in permanent tents used to house visitors in the Curry Village area. There have been isolated reports of human-to-human transmission of the virus, but that appears to be extremely rare if it does indeed occur.
Symptoms usually occur two to four weeks after infection, and begin with a fever, chills, sweaty palms, diarrhea and other flu-like symptoms. The symptoms generally progress to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS, which makes breathing very difficult), low blood pressure, internal bleeding and kidney failure. Patients are typically given supportive care to assist their breathing and the antiviral drug ribavirin to combat the virus in the kidneys. There is no effective treatment, however.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says hantavirus has been fatal in 36% of reported cases.
Workers at Bain-Owned Illinois Factory Bring Fight to Save Their Outsourced Jobs to Romney and RNC (28 August 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Wait. Cheryl, how did you find out who even bought your plant? It was owned by Honeywell. You're making these sensors for General Motors, for GM. And then what happened?
CHERYL RANDECKER: We actually found out--we all went home and looked up Sensata, and we found out in this summer that it was owned by Bain. And then we found the connection between Bain and Governor Romney. And that just spurred a little bit of emotion that we wanted to stand up and fight back and take--take a stand for the American people and for our jobs.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, you first heard that Honeywell was being bought, that your plant was being bought, when you were actually in China training your replacements? The company sent you to China?
CHERYL RANDECKER: Actually, I was in China for Honeywell's, moving their lines. And then--I was over there in June of 2010, and they said the automotive line had been sold. When we got back Freeport--
AMY GOODMAN: You learned in China.
CHERYL RANDECKER: In China. When we got back to Freeport, we asked the managers at that time if this was true. "No, this is not true." October, the end of October of that same year, they announced that they were being--the automotive line was being sold to China, or just Sensata, and was--probably be moved.
Ryanwatch - Because Paul Ryan is powerful... and crazy (28 August 2012)
John Heckenlively here. I was Rep. Paul Ryan's Democratic opponent in the 2010 election and have been Secretary of the First District Democrats during most of his tenure. I have been keeping track of his voting record for most of the time he has been in Congress.
Now that Paul is poised to be one heartbeat away, I thought I'd share some of my findings with you.
Mitt Romney's tax plan, obscured by 'underbrush' (28 August 2012)
WE'VE WRITTEN a couple of times about the incomplete nature of Mitt Romney's tax reform proposal. The man nominated Tuesday as the Republican candidate for president has been specific about all the taxes he wants to abolish and reduce. He's a lot more vague about how he would keep this from bankrupting the Treasury.
His easy answer is he would "broaden the base" of taxable revenue. This sounds easy -- plug an oil company loophole here, shut down a hedge fund dodge there. As Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican and Romney supporter, told reporters at the Republican convention on Tuesday, "it would be paid for by getting rid of a lot of the underbrush in the code." Clear out the underbrush! Who could oppose that?
Unfortunately, there is no way to broaden the individual income tax base without going after the biggest tax deductions and preferences, which are widely used, wildly popular and defended by tenacious lobbies. They privilege employer-provided health insurance, mortgage interest, charitable deductions and state and local income tax payments. Mr. Romney hasn't hinted which of these he might seek to limit.
Mr. Portman, one of the Republicans' leading budget experts and an advocate of bipartisan fiscal reform, was more forthcoming at a forum sponsored by the Post and Bloomberg News. He suggested that one way to lower rates and yet not see revenue fall off a cliff would be to limit the total that any taxpayer could deduct, without eliminating any specific deduction. "And if you choose to give more to charities and want your charitable deduction, that's fine," Mr. Portman said. "But then maybe your second home, you can't get a mortgage deduction."
Coal miners say they were forced to attend Romney event and donate (28 August 2012)
A group of coal miners in Ohio feel they would have been fired if they did not attend an Aug. 14 event with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and contribute to his campaign -- and to make matters worse, they lost of day of pay for their trouble.
In phone calls and emails to WWVA radio host David Blomquist, employees at the Century Mine in Ohio said they feared retaliation if they did not attend the Romney event.
"Yes, we were in fact told that the Romney event was mandatory and would be without pay, that the hours spent there would need to be made up my non-salaried employees outside of regular working hours, with the only other option being to take a pay cut for the equivalent time," the employees told Blomquist. "Yes, letters have gone around with lists of names of employees who have not attended or donated to political events."
"I realize that many people in this area and elsewhere would love to have my job or my benefits," one worker explained. "And our bosses do not hesitate in reminding us of this. However, I can not agree with these callers and my supervisors, who are saying that just because you have a good job, that you should have to work any day for free on almost no notice without your consent."
Texas redistricting rejected under Voting Rights Act (28 August 2012)
A panel of U.S. judges has determined that election districts drawn up in Texas after the 2010 census are in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Bloomberg News is reporting that minorities' ability to vote their interests has been strategically minimized under the current electoral map's guidelines.
The decision, crafted by a 3-judge panel, said that the state of Texas had failed to establish that the new district lines do not "have the purpose or effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group." Therefore the majority-Republican Texas legislature is violating Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
The 72-page opinion read in part, "We conclude that Texas has not met its burden to show that the U.S. Congressional and State House Plans will not have a retrogressive effect, and that the U.S. Congressional and State Senate Plans were not enacted with discriminatory purpose."
Texas sued the Obama administration in 2011, contending that its Republican-drawn districts posed no threats to minority voters' representation. A three-judge panel ruled in that case that the state had used "improper methodology" when making its case that minorities would still have representation.
Yosemite disease warning for 1,700 tourists (28 August 2012)
(08-28) 11:05 PDT YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK -- Yosemite National Park is contacting 1,700 people who stayed at Curry Village this summer to advise them that they may have been exposed to the hantavirus and should seek medical attention if they experience flu-like symptoms, officials said Tuesday.
The warnings come after two people died of the virus, which officials believe they contracted while staying in Curry Village tent cabins in mid-June. Two more people who stayed in the tent cabins around the same time also are believed to have been infected and are expected to survive.
Everyone who stayed in the tent cabins in the popular spot on the east end of Yosemite Valley from mid-June through the end of this month is being contacted by the National Park Service by telephone or e-mail.
Hantavirus is a rare and often fatal viral infection carried by mice. Humans can catch it when they inhale airborne rodent feces or urine.
Keeping it in the family: BPA might last in our bodies for generations (28 August 2012)
Back in May, I pointed to a study on a farm chemical that was found to cause physiological and behavioral changes in rats. Worryingly, the effects persisted for generations after a single exposure (it was the first time this phenomenon was extensively documented in an industrial chemical). In an email at the time, one of the study authors said, "Many other environmental compounds promote these types of phenomena ... Future science and policy needs to consider such phenomena and mechanisms."
It looks like he was right. Now, another study has found evidence of multi-generational effects of exposure -- in this case, to that ubiquitous endocrine disruptor you love to hate: bisphenol A (BPA). The research appears in the peer-reviewed journal Endocrinology and was conducted by a team of scientists from the University of Virginia. Its title says it all: "Gestational Exposure to Bisphenol A Produces Transgenerational Changes in Behaviors and Gene Expression."
There are several interesting (and ominous) aspects of this new research that should give us all pause. The first is that researchers looked specifically at genetic effects. The previous study I cited examined behavioral and physiological effects alone. And yes, the scientists found evidence of genetic alterations from BPA exposure. But the truly significant aspect of the study comes from the fact that the researchers replicated in mice the low-level, chronic exposure that humans experience in their day-to-day lives. It was this level of exposure that caused the genetic and behavioral changes they saw.
Pot-smoking teens can damage memory, intelligence (28 August 2012)
LONDON -- Teenagers who become hooked on cannabis before they reach 18 may be causing lasting damage to their intelligence, memory and attention, according to the results of a large, long-term study published on Monday.
Researchers from Britain and the United States found that persistent and dependent use of cannabis before the age of 18 may have a so-called neurotoxic effect, but heavy pot use after 18 appears to be less damaging to the brain.
Terrie Moffitt, a psychology and neuroscience professor at King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry, said the scope and length of the study, which involved more than 1,000 people followed up over 40 years, gave its findings added weight.
"It's such a special study that I'm fairly confident cannabis is safe for over-18 brains, but risky for under-18 brains," she said.
Before the age of 18, the brain is still being organised and remodelled to become more efficient and may be more vulnerable to damage from drugs, she added.
Special Report: China's "wild east" drug store (28 August 2012)
(Reuters) - Philippe Andre, a detective in the murky world of Chinese pharmaceuticals, has some alarming tales to tell.
In May last year, he visited a factory an hour outside Shanghai that supposedly produced a pharmaceutical ingredient. While shown around by men wearing protective clothing and spotless hard hats, Andre noticed oddities: the floor was immaculately clean and some workers sat around idle.
The factory had an inspection log that spanned eight years with perfect record-keeping, but the handwriting was the same for all those years and not a single page was dog-eared. What's more, while the factory had equipment to dry its product, there were no connecting pipes to funnel steam or waste gases out of the plant.
"Obviously the product was not made there," said Andre, a Belgian who runs a pharmaceutical auditing firm in the eastern Chinese city of Tianjin that advises foreign drug companies buying ingredients in China. The building, he says, was just one of the "showroom" factories intended to disguise China's thriving industry in substandard and counterfeit drugs.
Rachel Corrie's Parents Denounce Israeli Military Exoneration for 2003 Killing in Gaza (28 August 2012) [DN]
CINDY CORRIE: We've had about six hours, you know, to sit with this latest development. We've been very busy talking to a lot of people since then, and a short amount of that time with our attorneys. It was shocking, of course, to sit in court and to hear--hear the verdict this morning. And it was deeply disturbing on a lot of levels, not only because of our quite lengthy journey to get to this point, but also because the judge chose to say that the Israeli military was engaged in a war operation, an act of war--and, by doing so, I think, made this day a very bad day for human rights, all of our human rights, for humanity and for the rule of law, basically disregarding the rights of civilians, the right of nonviolent activists under international law and Israeli law. We charged that Rachel's right to life and to dignity were violated by what occurred that day. And the judge basically went to a place to say that what the Israeli military did, what militaries do in anything that they determine to be acts of war is legitimate. And so, that's kind of where we're left.
AMY GOODMAN: Craig Corrie, your response? Rachel was standing in front of the home of a Palestinian family, preventing its demolition. And what do you want to see happen now?
CRAIG CORRIE: Well, of course, Amy, we're going to have to review all of our options. I think that this needs to be appealed. Of course it has to be opposed, this sort of thinking. You know, I think you do know that I was in Vietnam in 1970, and strangely enough, I--as a combat engineer, I had some responsibility over bulldozer operations. In the first place, when you talk about--
Arafat poisoned? Death inquiry opened in France (28 August 2012)
PARIS -- Nearly eight years after the death of Yasser Arafat, French prosecutors, spurred by the Palestinian leader's family, opened an inquiry Tuesday on the possibility that he was killed by poisoning.
The probe was announced after recent reports that a Swiss laboratory found traces of the radioactive element polonium on Arafat's underwear and toothbrush, leading Arafat's widow, Suha Arafat, to file an official complaint in July for an investigation.
"My daughter, Zahwa, who is 17 years old, wants to know why her father died," Suha Arafat told the French daily Le Figaro on July 31. A recent report by Al Jazeera revealing high levels of polonium on Arafat's clothing "pushed me to find out all the truth about the death of my husband," she added.
Arafat died at age 75 on Nov. 11, 2004, in a military hospital in the Paris region after reportedly suffering a massive stroke, but rumors of foul play spread at the time.
Sikh temple shooter's death ruled suicide; sister says he had alcohol woes (28 August 2012)
MILWAUKEE -- The man who killed six Sikh worshippers at a Wisconsin temple before fatally shooting himself had a history of alcohol problems and underwent a noticeable personality change in the preceding year, according to an investigative report released Tuesday.
Wade Michael Page's sister told investigators he had a bloated appearance that made her wonder if he had been drinking recently, the report said. Kimberly Van Buskirk also said she noticed her brother become more intense over the past year, as if he had lost his wit and sense of humor. He took everything literally, she said.
Page, 40, opened fire Aug. 5 before a service was to start at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in suburban Milwaukee. He killed six people and wounded four others before he was shot in the abdomen during a firefight with police. He died after he shot himself in the head.
The Milwaukee County medical examiner's office, which released the investigative report, officially ruled his death a suicide.
Gulf oil spill defenses facing a test with Isaac (28 August 2012)
DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. -- Sand dunes and a rock barrier built to help contain the 2010 Gulf oil spill are being watched for their effectiveness in shielding this fragile coastline from Isaac.
Authorities are hoping such barriers originally constructed after the enormous oil spill disaster can serve new duty in the name of broader coastal restoration.
On Dauphin Island, Alabama's largest barrier island in the Gulf, officials used money from the oil giant BP PLC to build miles of such dunes and a rock wall. Elsewhere, Louisiana officials, who have fought for decades against the erosion of coastal and wetland areas, have spent more than $200 million on sand berms off their state's coast.
Hurricane Katrina opened a 1.5-mile-wide gap on an undeveloped section of Dauphin Island in 2005, allowing the Gulf waters to wash into the eastern end of the Mississippi Sound.
Alabama took $16 million from BP to build a rock wall closing the gap. The town of Dauphin Island, meanwhile, used $2.5 million to build a set of parallel-running artificial dunes on its narrow western spit dotted with beach houses.
Behind Closed Doors At The RNC-Death Of The GOP? (27 August 2012) [R]
Apparently the movement for real reform, via the Tea Party and Ron Paul related efforts are perceived a threat to power, so the Republican National Committee may be destroying their party as this is read.
Their massive rule changes are to be voted up or down by the delegates at the RNC Tuesday, one day delayed thanks to Hurricane Isaac. It is an attempt to wrest any remaining control of the presidential nominating process and the final selection of delegates, from state parties and their official, volunteer participants.
Both parties' presidential selections have already become exercises in achieving predetermined outcomes. This is done through the aggregation of massive money, most from the central bankster connected flow of dollars, in the People's meant-to-be-free economy. This in turn buys highly tuned mass psyop measures, including the character assassination of competing candidates who should be respected as allies.
A concomitant effect is vote suppression, through the alienation those turned off by the control, corruption, attack advertising, robocall harassment, etc. The fewer the participants, the easier they are managed, after all. Call it political process population reduction.
Tropical Storm Isaac Spares Tampa Ahead of RNC, But Massive Security Operation Has City on Lockdown (27 August 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Well, it's very interesting to be here. Give us a tour of the preparations of the city. It was raining hard last night, very windy, although it looks like, frighteningly, New Orleans might be the eye of the storm, the eye of the hurricane.
ROB LOREI: Yeah, that's where it's headed. I think the most interesting thing for people that know Tampa or people that don't know Tampa is that the southern half of downtown Tampa has been completely cut off, and in some ways militarized, so that you see National Guard on the streets. They're armed with rifles. Police are roaming the streets throughout downtown Tampa. There's been talk about protesters, but really, the Romneyville camp only has about a hundred people, the Occupy camp has a few dozen people. We really haven't seen the influx of protesters that the authorities warned us about. And what's interesting is that you can't get through downtown Tampa within blocks and blocks of the Tampa Convention Center, so if you're trying to drive through, if you've got business down in that part of town, you have no access to it. And it seems, in some ways, that this is overkill, that they are preparing for something that--a need that didn't arise.
AMY GOODMAN: Set the scene of the twin cities--you've got St. Petersburg and Tampa--and how they're preparing in both cities.
ROB LOREI: Yeah. Last night in St. Petersburg at the baseball stadium, the Tropicana Dome, there was a big party, for the media and for the Republican National Convention. And that, too, was blocked off for blocks and blocks, so you couldn't take a car in, you couldn't walk in. You had to go in by a special bus that carried two security personnel for every bus that went in. And hundreds of buses were going in and out of the Tropicana Dome. There were 1,800 law enforcement, National Guard, security personnel deployed around the Dome to protect the people inside the Dome that were going to the party. Several hundred protesters were outside, but it was raining. The conditions for the protest was really hard. And really, there was no threat. I mean, the amount of security around that Dome was incredible. You can't believe it. I mean, it was like a no man's land for blocks and blocks on either side.
Vitamin B3 'helps kill superbugs' (27 August 2012)
Vitamin B3 could be the new weapon in the fight against superbugs such as MRSA, researchers have suggested.
US experts found B3, also known as nicotinamide, boosts the ability of immune cells to kill Staphylococcus bacteria.
B3 increases the numbers and efficacy of neutrophils, white blood cells that can kill and eat harmful bugs.
The study, in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, could lead to a "major change in treatment", a UK expert said.
Esophageal cancer experiences near-epidemic increase globally (27 August 2012)
There has been a global, almost epidemic increase in gullet cancer since the 1950s, according to a novel study from Sweden's Karolinksa Institutet and Harvard University.
The findings, published online in the scientific journal GUT, reveal that there is a common, but as yet unidentified, factor behind the sudden surge in cases, which seem to have started in the United Kingdom.
Scientists looked at data from 16 population-based cancer registries in seven countries going back up to 54 years. The countries comprised Australia, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, the U.K. and the United States.
The results showed that the incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma, which typically affects the lower third of the esophagus, continued to increase rapidly in all 16 registers and there is little evidence the trend is beginning to plateau. Men continue to be between three and nine times as likely to develop the disease as women.
Oil spill fouls Curacao shore, threatens flamingos (27 August 2012)
KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) -- An extensive fuel spill has fouled a stretch of shoreline and oiled pink flamingos and other wildlife in a nature preserve in Curacao, conservationists and residents of the tiny Dutch Caribbean island said Monday.
The leader of a local environmental group asserted Monday that the spill of crude oil at Curacao's Jan Kok preserve was from at least one storage tank owned by the Isla oil refinery, the largest business and employer on the southern Caribbean island best known for its diving opportunities and colorful capital of Willemstad. The island's refinery is run by the state-owned oil company of Venezuela, only about 40 miles away.
"This is probably the biggest (environmental) disaster in Curacao," said Peter van Leeuwen of the Stichting SMOC group. "The whole area of Jan Kok is black. The birds are black. The crabs are black. The plants are black. Everything is draped in oil."
Curacao-based journalist Dick Drayer, who covers the Netherlands Antilles for Dutch television, estimated that the spill covers an area "of around 30 soccer fields." He added that three distinct oil slicks are floating offshore and are "threatening the southern coast of Curacao."
Republican convention protesters set up camp in rag-tag 'Romneyville' (26 August 2012)
They have dubbed it "Romneyville" but the name is not meant as a compliment to the Republican grandee shortly to be nominated as the party's presidential candidate.
Instead the rag-tag denizens of this makeshift encampment of homeless people, leftist activists and protesters are determined to be a thorn in the Republican party's side as the GOP's national convention unfolds.
City officials have tried to evict the protesters, who are collected in several buses, cars and a score of tents outside on a patch of gravel just outside Tampa's downtown -- and just inside a restricted "event zone" declared by the host city.
But their efforts failed on a technicality and now occupants of the camp are determined to go ahead with a series of unauthorised marches and protests to herald the start of the convention.
"I don't believe in zoning free speech. That's censorship. If you are law abiding and peaceful than you should be able to address your government," said camp organiser Cheri Honkala, an anti-poverty campaigner and the Green Party's nominee for vice-president in the 2012 election.
Ron Paul declines to endorse Romney, spurns convention speaking slot (26 August 2012)
Ron Paul refused to accept the terms demanded by Republican convention planners in order for him to receive a speaking slot at this week's convention, with Paul in part spurning the invite because he says he does not fully endorse Mitt Romney's candidacy
In an interview with the New York Times published today, Paul claims that convention organizers told him he could deliver a speech on two conditions. First, the Romney campaign would get to vet his speech, and second, he would have to give a full-blown endorsement of the GOP nominee. Paul balked at both requirements.
"It wouldn't be my speech," Paul told the Times. "That would undo everything I've done in the last 30 years. I don't fully endorse him for president."
Paul's inclusion in the convention has been a much-debated topic within the GOP. With the election possibly headed toward a photo finish, Republicans are wary of angering a passionate voting block by simply barring Paul from speaking. On the other hand, Paul openly criticizes some of his fellow Republicans' central policies, so there is some concern that giving him free reign to speak his mind on the biggest stage would harm Romney's chances in November.
Venezuela Amuay refinery fires still burning (27 August 2012)
Fires are still burning at an oil refinery in Venezuela, the site of a deadly explosion early on Saturday.
Two storage tanks are still alight but state oil company officials say they have the situation under control.
Forty-one people died and dozens were injured in the blast at the Amuay refinery in northern Falcon state, one of the largest in the world.
Mining Minister Rafael Ramirez said operations could resume within two days of the site being declared safe.
20 years later, residents recall how Hurricane Andrew changed lives (26 August 2012)
MIAMI -- The children of Hurricane Andrew, now adults, don't talk much about the storm anymore. It's 20 years ago, after all. But dig a little deeper and you'll find an indelible mark on many. A heightened respect for Mother Nature. A clenched stomach during a bad thunderstorm. A little extra vigilance when it comes to disaster preparations.
"You never forget it," says Tom Vick, who was 9 in August 1992, when the Category 5 hurricane that changed everything struck South Miami-Dade County.
With wind speeds later estimated at more than 160 mph, it wiped out communities south of Miami, killing 15 people; dozens more died from injuries stemming from the storm and its aftermath. Adjusted for inflation, the storm was, after Katrina, the second costliest storm in U.S. history.
Most children who were initially traumatized by the disaster recovered fairly quickly, according to Annette La Greca, a professor of psychology and pediatrics at the University of Miami and the lead investigator of two studies on children's reactions to Andrew. While many children reported significant stress in the first three months after the hurricane, by the end of the school year, 10 months later, most no longer experienced symptoms. Those numbers had improved even more 42 months after the disaster, the last time La Greca and her colleagues interviewed the children.
PAM COMMENTARY: For some reason, with Isaac approaching, Hurricane Andrew has become a popular news topic. But Hurricane Andrew was a CATEGORY FIVE hurricane, one so strong that its top wind speeds were never measured -- equipment blew out at about 160 mph according to one story. The Miami suburb of Homestead was largely wiped off the map. A former coworker of mine at Florida Power & Light told me that when he drove down Highway 1 to return to his home, he could see all the way to the ocean -- because all of the homes and trees normally located between the road and ocean had been wiped off of the landscape by Andrew.
Isaac has nowhere near the strength of Andrew, and won't cause nearly as much damage. The real danger or Category 1 or 2 hurricanes is that people don't take them seriously enough. Some people opt to stay in their homes, and then flooding, storm surge, or tornadoes catch them by surprise later.
Bears not attracted to menstruating women (26 August 2012)
Despite campfire fears dating back to at least 1967, black bears and grizzly bears are not attracted to the odors of menstruation, according to a recent Yellowstone National Park report.
Polar bears may be interested in the smell of menstrual blood, the report found, but bears that roam in North America are not. Food is a much more important temptation for bears, according to the findings.
The idea that bears might preferentially attack menstruating women is not new. In 1967, a night of infamous grizzly bear attacks in Glacier National Park in Montana left two women dead. One woman was having her period, and the other was carrying tampons.
The attacks led to speculation that the women's menstrual odors might have "triggered" the attacks. The Park Service and other agencies even began warning women that bears might be attracted to the smell of menstrual blood, despite no scientific evidence to back up those warnings.
Series of earthquakes rattle Southern California (26 August 2012)
"It felt like there was quake every 15 minutes. One after another. My kids are small and they're scared and don't want to come back inside," said Mike Patel, who manages Townhouse Inn & Suites in Brawley.
A TV came crashing down and a few light fixtures broke inside the motel, Patel said.
A Brawley police dispatcher said several downtown buildings sustained minor damage.
The first quake, with a magnitude of 3.9, occurred at 10:02 a.m. The USGS said more than 100 aftershocks struck the same approximate epicenter, about 16 miles north of El Centro.
Venezuela oil refinery neighbours smelled sulphur before deadly blast (26 August 2012)
PUNTO FIJO, VENEZUELA--Residents living next to Venezuela's biggest oil refinery said they smelled a strong odour of sulphur just hours before a gas leak ignited in an explosion that killed at least 39 people and injured more than 80.
The Amuay refinery was still burning on Sunday, more than a day after the blast, sending up a thick column of black smoke.
Residents of a neighbourhood next to the refinery said they noticed the unusually strong odour starting about 7 p.m. Friday. Government officials say the blast occurred about 1:15 a.m. on Saturday, when a cloud of gas ignited. The cause of the disaster is under investigation.
Gabriela Nunez, a housewife who lives near the refinery, said she noticed the gas odour on Friday night; then hours later came the shock wave.
"All the windows shattered, the iron doors opened, the wooden doors broke," Nunez said.
Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon, was a modest engineer (26 August 2012)
The self-described nerd downplayed his celebrity status. "I am, and ever will be, a white socks, pocket protector, nerdy engineer," he said at a February 2000 appearance. "And I take a substantial amount of pride in the accomplishments of my profession."
Born in tiny Wapakoneta, Ohio, Armstrong took his first flight as a 6-year old, fueling a lifetime passion for aviation. He was licensed to fly at 16, before he got his driver's license.
He attended Purdue University to study aeronautical engineering before the Korean War, later earning a master's degree at the University of Southern California.
The lunar landing made him more popular than his hero, aviator Charles Lindbergh, but Armstrong shunned the spotlight. He lived a mostly private life, buying a farm and teaching aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati until 1979.
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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