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NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012
News from the Week of 9th to 15th of September 2012
Greg Palast Announces New Book at Fighting Bob Fest (15 September 2012)
Journalist and author Greg Palast has revealed that his new book will be released next week. Palast made the announcement on Saturday, 15 September, at Fighting Bob Fest in Madison, Wisconsin.
Palast, a regular speaking guest at Bob Fest, is famous for extensive reporting and subsequent books exposing the election fraud of 2000 and 2004 that brought George W. Bush to power.
After the event, Palast told me that his publisher allowed him to reveal the new book to Fighting Bob Fest's audience a few days earlier than the official announcement date. More information on the 2012 Fighting Bob Fest and Palast's new book will be available Sunday on Pam Rotella.com.
Occupy Wall St activists to surround NYSE in effort to regain impetus (15 September 2012)
Activists plan to mark the first anniversary of Occupy Wall Street on Monday by descending on New York's financial district in an attempt to rejuvenate a movement that has failed to sustain momentum after initially sparking a national conversation about economic inequality.
The group, which popularized the phrase "We are the 99%," will attempt to surround the New York Stock Exchange and disrupt morning rush hour in lower Manhattan, according to a movement spokeswoman.
Monday's protests will cap a weekend of Occupy seminars, music and demonstrations in New York, said Linnea Paton, 24, an Occupy Wall Street (OWS) spokeswoman. Demonstrations are also planned in other US cities, other OWS organizers said.
The grassroots movement caught the world by surprise last fall with a spontaneous encampment in lower Manhattan that soon spread to cities across North America and Europe.
Doctors, others billing Medicare at higher rates (15 September 2012)
Thousands of doctors and other medical professionals have billed Medicare for increasingly complicated and costly treatments over the past decade, adding $11 billion or more to their fees -- and signaling a possible rise in medical billing abuse, according to an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity.
Between 2001 and 2010, doctors increasingly moved to higher-paying codes for billing Medicare for office visits while cutting back on lower-paying ones, according to a year-long examination of about 362 million claims. In 2001, the two highest codes were listed on about 25 percent of the doctor-visit claims; in 2010, they were on 40 percent.
Similarly, hospitals sharply stepped up the use of the highest codes for emergency room visits while cutting back on the lowest codes.
Medical groups say the shift to higher codes reflects the fact that seniors have gotten older and sicker, requiring more complex care. "I rarely have a person who comes to me for a cold," said Brantley B. Pace, who has practiced family medicine for more than a half-century in Monticello, Miss., and whose bills were among the highest in the sample of claims.
Medicare issues appear to be turning against GOP (15 September 2012)
ORLANDO, Fla. - Maria Rubin is one of the coveted independent voters in this swing state - so independent that she will not say whether she is voting for President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. She does share her age (63) and, more quickly, her opinion on Medicare: "I'm not in favor of changing it, or eliminating it."
Her attitude speaks directly to one of the biggest challenges facing the Republican ticket this year: countering the Democrats' longstanding advantage as the party more trusted to deal with Medicare.
In the 2010 congressional races, successful Republicans believed that they had finally found a way to do that, by linking the program's future to Obama's unpopular health insurance overhaul and accusing Democrats of cutting Medicare to pay for it. This summer Romney resumed the offensive, eventually joined by his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan.
Initially, polls suggested that the Republican strategy was working. Democrats fretted that Romney would win the retiree-heavy Florida and increase his support nationwide among older voters, who lean Republican anyway.
Superbug kills 7th person at Md. NIH (15 September 2012)
A deadly germ untreatable by most antibiotics has killed a seventh person at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Maryland.
The Washington Post reported the death Friday. NIH officials told the paper that the boy from Minnesota died Sept. 7. NIH says the boy arrived at the research hospital in Bethesda in April and was being treated for complications from a bone marrow transplant when he contracted the bug.
He was the 19th patient at the hospital to contract an antibiotic-resistant strain of KPC, or Klebsiella pneumoniae. The outbreak stemmed from a single patient carrying the superbug who arrived at the hospital last summer.
The paper reported the Minnesota boy's case marked the first new infection of this superbug at NIH since January.
PAM COMMENTARY: A zapper may have saved the boy, but the medical field still refuses to offer it -- even as experimental medicine.
Genes for face shape identified (13 September 2012)
Understanding the genes that determine human facial shape could one day provide valuable information about person's appearance using just their DNA.
The discovery of five genes involved in facial form could have applications in forensics, say the authors of a study.
Virtually nothing was known about the genes responsible for facial shape in humans.
The study of almost 10,000 individuals is published in Plos Genetics.
Scientists shocked after Harper government assigns IT staff to monitor ozone data (15 September 2012)
OTTAWA- Atmospheric scientists from around the world are asking Environment Canada to back down from a plan that they believe would compromise ozone and radiation monitoring by putting it into the hands of an Information Technology computer expert.
On the eve of the 25th anniversary of the Sept. 16 signing of the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty to reduce ozone-depleting pollution in the atmosphere, the scientists said they were shocked to learn about the budget cuts and staffing changes made by the Harper government.
The scientists said the monitoring was previously done with oversight from atmospheric experts who have been reassigned or have retired. But now, they say that the person in charge is the wrong type of expert.
"He's an IT person," said Mark Weber, an atmospheric scientist from Germany's University of Bremen. "This is not just an IT problem. I think the person (assigned to manage the data) basically is not sufficiently qualified for doing such a job because he needs to have a much stronger scientific background."
Wisconsin Judge strikes down Walker's collective bargaining law (14 September 2012)
A Dane County judge late Friday struck down Wisconsin's controversial 2011 collective bargaining law because he said it violates the state and U.S. constitutional guarantees of free speech and freedom of association.
Ruling in a lawsuit brought by Madison Teachers Inc. and a union representing public workers in Milwaukee, Circuit Judge Juan B. Colas said in a 27-page decision that sections of the law "single out and encumber the rights of those employees who choose union membership and representation solely because of that association and therefore infringe upon the rights of free speech and association."
Colas also said that the law violates the constitutional equal protection clause by creating separate classes of state workers who are treated differently and unequally under the law.
The law, which was passed early last year in an atmosphere of almost constant protest that drew tens of thousands to the state Capitol, severely restricted the collective bargaining rights of most public workers in Wisconsin.
Madison lawyer Lester Pines, who represented MTI in court, said the decision means that for municipal workers, including teachers, who still have certified collective bargaining units, "their unions are back in business, for all business," including issues related to wages, hours and working conditions.
Mitt Romney lags in swing states, polls show (14 September 2012)
A slew of new polls suggests that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is lagging behind President Obama in several crucial swing states.
The polls may be the best indicator yet that a post-convention bounce has given the president's campaign a surge of momentum 53 days before the election -- at least for now.
Though the Romney campaign has shrugged off the uptick in polls for Obama as a "sugar high," Republicans are pushing Romney to refocus his message on the economy and get more specific about his agenda in response. Romney has been diverted from his core message by foreign policy debates this week, facing pushback from prominent conservatives over his criticism of Obama after the violence in Egypt and Libya.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll shows Romney trailing Obama by at least five points in Florida, Virginia and Ohio, all states that Obama won in 2008.
Strike highlights split over poverty's role in learning (14 September 2012)
(Reuters) - The Chicago teachers strike, which appeared headed toward a resolution Friday, has underscored a fundamental split over the biggest issue confronting America's public schools: how to provide a decent education to children mired in poverty.
Across the U.S., poverty is irrefutably linked to poor academic performance. On last year's national reading exam, nine-year-olds from low-income families scored nearly three full grade levels below their wealthier peers. The gap was nearly as large in math.
The poor performance of poor students accounts for all of the achievement gap between U.S. students and their peers in academic powerhouses such as South Korea and Finland. On the latest international reading test, U.S. teens from more affluent schools were at the very top of global rankings, while those from schools with high poverty rates were near the bottom.
To many educators, including the teachers walking the picket lines in Chicago, the inescapable conclusion is that schools serving low-income communities can be improved only by addressing the social ills associated with poverty.
EMPTY STOMACHS, ABUSED PSYCHES
Chicago teachers speak of children coming to school hungry and unwashed, with throbbing toothaches, without proper shoes. They talk of kids, scarred by violence, who desperately need counselors in schools that have none. They note that Chicago, where 87 percent of students qualify for federally subsidized meals, spends less than half as much per student as wealthy suburbs; the union says 160 of the city's elementary schools don't even have a library.
Could Pennsylvania Voter ID Law Help Romney Win Race? Up to 1 Million Voters Face Disenfranchisement (14 September 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: And what was the questioning on the part of the three Republican, three Democratic judges? Where were they going yesterday?
VIC WALCZAK: Yeah, the justices--the Democratic justices were really pointing out that there's no reason for this law to be in effect this November, given that the state has admitted that they don't have any examples of impersonation voter fraud. In fact, they signed a court-binding agreement in which they admitted that even if the photo ID law is blocked, that will not increase the likelihood of fraud at the polls on Election Day. So there's really no reason to have this election--and another one of the justices kept pointing out that the estimates of the number of people who are going to be disenfranchised could be way, way over 100,000 and really closer to a million.
The only Republican justice--and it is split three to three--and if there's a tie, that means we lose, the challengers of this law lose, and the law will be in effect in November. The one justice who was asking questions, I think, really was getting at the nub of the issue. There is a provision in the statute that suggests that every voter needs to have the right kind of ID on Election Day, and he was pressing the lawyers for the state about whether the state could really meet that requirement. And very candidly, the state's lawyers said that they could not meet that requirement. So I think it's given us a little bit of hope that we may be able to get this injunction before November.
Half of drugs prescribed in France useless or dangerous, say two specialists (14 September 2012)
Half of all medicines being prescribed by doctors in France are either useless or potentially dangerous for patients, according to two eminent medical specialists. They blame the powerful pharmaceutical companies for keeping these drugs on sale at huge expense to the health system and the taxpayer.
Professor Philippe Even, director of the prestigious Necker Institute, and Bernard Debré, a doctor and member of parliament, say removing what they describe as superfluous and hazardous drugs from the list of those paid for by the French health service would save up to €10bn (£8bn) a year. It would also prevent up to 20,000 deaths linked to the medication and reduce hospital admissions by up to 100,000, they claim.
In their 900-page book The Guide to the 4,000 Useful, Useless or Dangerous Medicines, Even and Debré examined the effectiveness, risks and cost of pharmaceutical drugs available in France. Among those that they alleged were "completely useless" were statins, widely taken to lower cholesterol. The blacklist of 58 drugs the doctors claimed are dangerous included anti-inflammatories and drugs prescribed for cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, osteoporosis, contraception, muscular cramps and nicotine addiction.
The Professional Federation of Medical Industrialists denounced the doctors' views as full of "confusions and approximations".
Apple's massive solar farm looks kind of awesome from the air (14 September 2012)
Apple is building a giant solar farm to power a data center in North Carolina, and GigaOM has aerial shots that show just how huge it is. The pictures were taken by North Carolina television station WCNC-TV.
At 100 acres, this is going to be the world's largest privately-owned solar panel farm -- you can see from the photo above that it dwarfs the 500,000 square foot data center, which is that white building in the upper middle. When completed, it'll generate 20,000 MW of power, with backup from a 4.8-MW biogas plant. Which is all very inspiring, but at the same time, the bird's-eye photos also show why other corporations don't usually do this. I mean, who has the space.
Canada tosses in the towel on defending asbestos (14 September 2012)
THETFORD MINES, Que. - The Canadian government has tossed in the towel and will stop fighting international efforts to list asbestos as a hazardous substance, dealing a momentous blow to a once-mighty domestic industry that is now on the verge of extinction.
The announcement was made Friday by Industry Minister Christian Paradis, who hails from the asbestos belt and is one of the industry's staunchest defenders.
He said the government will no longer oppose efforts to include asbestos to the UN's Rotterdam treaty on hazardous materials.
Paradis looked glum and spoke in a nearly hushed tone during the announcement.
Shabby-looking birds (14 September 2012)
Some of the birds in your backyard may look unkempt if not downright scraggly, as though their clothes have worn out.
Birds, of course, are clothed in feathers, and feathers do wear out. The gorgeous, eye-catching plumage you saw in spring and for most of summer has begun to fade and look tattered from being bleached by sunlight, scraped against tree limbs and scarred by dust and gravel.
Think of the wear and tear on the feathers of a bird such as a western scrub-jay, which must continuously slip in and out of a nest placed deep within a tough-barked Hill Country shrub. Or a downy woodpecker in Southeast Texas that makes untold trips to a nest inside a tree hole excavated just underneath a vertically leaning limb.
When juvenile birds leave the nest, they look even sloppier than worn adults. The young bluebirds in our backyard are lackluster brown with blotchy spots on their breasts. My wife recently took a photo of a juvenile Virginia's warbler while conducting a workshop in Arizona. The bird was so disheveled it was barely recognizable.
Feds: Portland police use excessive force (13 September 2012)
PORTLAND -- The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday announced the results of an investigation into the Portland Police Department, saying officers use excessive force against mentally ill people -- violations that include frequently discharging stun guns without justification.
The findings were the result of a federal civil-rights investigation initiated last summer after a series of police shootings, many involving mentally ill suspects.
Assistant U.S. attorney general Thomas Perez said the Department of Justice and the city have reached a preliminary agreement on reforms, such as increased training, expedited investigations and increased community oversight of the changes.
Perez said the Justice Department found that encounters between the Portland Police Bureau and "persons living with mental illness too frequently result in the unnecessary use of force or in a higher level of force than was necessary."
GMO alert: Eating GM wheat may destroy your liver, warn scientists (13 September 2012)
(NaturalNews) Genetically engineered wheat contains an enzyme suppressor that, when consumed by humans, could cause permanent liver failure (and death). That's the warning issued today by molecular biologist Jack Heinemann of the University of Canterbury in Australia.
Heinemann has published an eye-opening report that details this warning and calls for rigorous scientific testing on animals before this crop is ever consumed by humans. The enzyme suppressor in the wheat, he says, might also attack a human enzyme that produces glycogen. Consumers who eat genetically modified wheat would end up contaminating their bodies with this enzyme-destroying wheat, causing their own livers to be unable to produce glycogen, a hormone molecule that helps the body regulate blood sugar metabolism. This, in turn, would lead to liver failure.
"What we found is that the molecules created in this wheat, intended to silence wheat genes, can match human genes, and through ingestion, these molecules can enter human beings and potentially silence our genes," said Heinemann in a press conference on the threat of GM wheat (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FI7n_caiTvE).
"We found over 770 pages of potential matches between these two genes in wheat and the human genome," he continued. "We found over a dozen matches that are extensive and identical, and sufficient to cause silencing in experimental systems. The findings are absolutely assured. There's no doubt that these matches exist. ...from this information, we know that it's plausible there will be an adverse effect and therefore that's why we're calling for a particular battery of experiments to be done before humans eat this wheat."
A reporter's error, or yet another lie from Paul Ryan? (13 September 2012)
The other possibility is that Simon was fed bad information meant to belittle a former political opponent of Paul Ryan. If so, who gave him that information? With several of Paul Ryan's lies and misrepresentations noted in the press recently (See 1, 2, 3) , deliberate disparagement would be consistent with Ryan's pattern of disinformation.
Who'd know if a campaign slogan was misrepresented, and who'd ever find the source if the lie was told behind closed doors, over the phone to a reporter writing for a Florida paper? Would anyone question such an obscure fact, or even remember the 2010 campaign in Wisconsin?
Was that source Ryan's campaign staff? Romney's staff? Ryan himself? Was this yet another one of Paul Ryan's lies?
It's also possible that the lie was actually guesswork, meant to conceal a hole in somebody's memory. If the source had been someone from the Ryan camp who didn't remember the 2010 campaign well enough to cite Heckenlively's old campaign slogan, that person may have mentioned the only thing that he did remember -- something from an old newspaper article, perhaps the first article that Ryan saw after he learned that he was being challenged in the 2010 race. I doubt that Ryan paid much attention to his campaign after reading that article. As Simon said, Ryan hasn't had to fight a hard political battle yet, certainly not anything resembling a close presidential race.
Protesters angered by an anti-Islam film storm US Embassy in Yemen (13 September 2012)
SANAA, Yemen -- Chanting "death to America," hundreds of protesters angered by an anti-Islam film stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Yemen's capital and burned the American flag on Thursday, the latest in a series of attacks on American diplomatic missions in the Middle East.
American missions have been attacked in three Arab nations -- Yemen, Egypt and Libya -- that have faced persistent unrest and are struggling to restore law and order after last year's revolts deposed their authoritarian regimes.
Protesters smashed windows as they breached the embassy perimeter and reached the compound grounds, although they did not enter the main building housing the offices. Angry young men brought down the U.S. flag in the courtyard, burned it and replaced it with a black banner bearing Islam's declaration of faith -- "There is no God but Allah."
Yemeni security forces who rushed to the scene fired in the air and used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators, driving them out of the compound after about 45 minutes and sealing off the surrounding streets. It was not immediately clear whether anyone was inside the embassy at the time of the attack.
Mexico captures Gulf drug cartel boss 'El Coss', says navy (13 September 2012)
MEXICO CITY--A man believed to be the leader of the Gulf drug cartel, which controls some of the most valuable and violently contested smuggling routes along the U.S. border, has been arrested by Mexican marines, the navy announced.
If confirmed, the capture of Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sanchez on Wednesday could open a power vacuum and intensify a turf war south of the Texas border in northeast Mexico, a region that has seen some of the most horrific violence in the country's six-year war among law-enforcement and rival gangs.
The navy said in a brief statement late Wednesday that a man detained in the northern state of Tamaulipas said he was the capo known as "El Coss." One of Mexico's most-wanted men, the 41-year-old is charged in the U.S. with drug-trafficking and threatening U.S. law enforcement officials. U.S. authorities offered $5 million for information leading to his arrest.
The Mexican navy gave no details of his purported arrest but was expected to present the alleged drug boss to the media in Mexico City on Thursday morning.
Canada blames U.S. for delay in Omar Khadr return (13 September 2012)
The Canadian government is defending itself against allegations it is deliberately dragging its feet in allowing Omar Khadr to return from Guantanamo Bay by arguing much of the delay is the fault of the Americans, new court documents show.
In an affidavit filed in response to a Federal Court application by Khadr's lawyers, a senior public safety official cites two main reasons for the lack of a decision to the application for Khadr to serve out his sentence in Canada -- something he was eligible to do starting in October 2011.
The first reason cited was a delay in Washington's approval of the transfer -- granted only this past spring.
The second reason was Public Safety Minister Vic Toews' request for sealed videos of mental assessments of the inmate done for military prosecutors -- apparently only discovered in February through media reports.
New monkey identified in Africa (13 September 2012)
A new species of monkey has been identified in Africa, the second one in 28 years, say scientists.
The primate was discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo where it is known locally as a "lesula".
The species is separated from its nearest cousins by two rivers: the Congo and the Lomami.
Conservationists say the discovery highlights the need to protect the diverse wildlife of the Congo basin.
The discovery was published in the online journal Public Library of Science.
The Post's View: Mr. Romney eludes specifics on his tax plan (11 September 2012)
REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL nominee Mitt Romney is specific about how much he will cut income tax rates for every American: by one-fifth. But he is vague about how he'll pay for this, though he insists he can cut rates without losing revenue.
The danger is a repeat of 2001 and 2003, when President Bush and Congress enacted tax cuts that plunged the nation into debt. Mr. Romney says he can prevent a repeat by closing loopholes. But the "loopholes" that cost the Treasury most are deductions and other provisions that Americans have become rather attached to -- for example, measures that promote homeownership, charitable giving and employer-provided health insurance.
Which would he take away? Speaking Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," Mr. Romney offered a new twist to his non-answer. The nominee repeated that he would "limit deductions and exemptions for people at the high end," while he would "lower the burden on middle-income people." Asked by host David Gregory about studies showing that the math doesn't add up -- the most authoritative is from the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute -- Mr. Romney cited studies from Harvard and Princeton universities that he said prove his point.
A campaign spokeswoman told us that the Harvard study is an analysis by economist Martin Feldstein that we've written about previously. Mr. Feldstein showed that the Romney math might work if you strip all households with taxable income of $100,000 or more of every dollar of deduction for charitable giving, state and local income tax and mortgage interest. Does Mr. Romney favor such a plan? Would he consider such a proposal to be lowering the burden on middle-income people, even though millionaires would get a break while those in the $100,000 to $200,000 income range would pay more? He won't say.
US census figures show more than one in five children are living in poverty (12 September 2012)
New figures have been released by the US census bureau revealing a yearly decline in median household income for Americans, growing inequality and more than one in five children under 18 years old living in poverty.
In a survey of data for 2011, the census discovered that real median household income in the US had dipped by 1.5% from its level in 2010 to sit at $50,054 a year. The fall is the second consecutive annual drop and comes in the middle of a bitterly contested election in which America's tepid economic performance has been a central theme.
While President Barack Obama has based his campaign on a claim to have saved America from the brink of financial disaster, Republican challenger Mitt Romney has lambasted the country's lacklustre economic performance, especially continuing high levels of joblessness.
The figures released by the census also show that little dent has been made on America's high levels of poverty, with some 15% of the nation -- representing around 46.2 million people -- living in poverty in 2011. The figures are worse for the very young, where the poverty rate for those under the age of 18 is 21.9% -- or some 16.1 million children. These latter figures are roughly unchanged in 2011 from 2010.
Thousands Rally in Chicago Teachers' Strike, Pushing Back Against Corporatized Education Reform (12 September 2012) [DN]
JAISAL NOOR: Well, Amy, tens of thousands of teachers and their supporters marched through downtown Chicago yesterday. It was a sea of red, one of the biggest marches I've ever seen. And, you know, people are really excited about the strike, about the opportunities to have their voices heard. You know, a lot of the education policy in this country comes from the top, from people that have little or no experience in a classroom, little or no experience in the low-income communities that are disproportionately affected by these reforms. And it was moving to see Chicago united behind the teachers, that are, you know, not just fighting for themselves, but they're fighting for their students. And that's something that a lot of people in Chicago and around the country are--have been waiting for and are really prepared to get behind.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain how the union leadership, this new union leadership, came to run the Chicago Teachers Union, who they are, who Karen Lewis is.
JAISAL NOOR: That's a really important point that we should not--that is often missed in this discussion about the Chicago Teachers Union. Karen Lewis and CORE, the Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators, they're a group of teachers that came together to fight school closings, to organize communities to oppose school turnarounds. That is a policy that was started in Chicago with Renaissance 2010 and No Child Left Behind, and it's devastated communities. It's led to the layoffs of hundreds of teachers. And the previous union leadership was not fighting, was not organizing the community to oppose these policies. And this is--and sort of from the ashes of those schools that were closed, this group of teachers came together, and eventually, in 2010, they were able to take control of the third-largest school district and the third-largest teachers' union in the country. And this has national ramifications, because it's really the only--this is the first time in a long time where teachers are working hand in hand in collaboration with community members, who really--you know, it's the parents, it's the students, that that public education is for. So, they're working hand in hand. And it's--they're fighting an uphill battle. They are fighting the most powerful forces in the country that have an agenda of privatization of school closings, of increasing testing. But this force is something to be reckoned with.
Libya attack represents challenge for Obama (12 September 2012)
What President Obama on Wednesday called the "outrageous and shocking" attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya left his administration with a diplomatic crisis that threatened to undermine its long-term strategy in the Arab world.
The assault Tuesday evening on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi and an earlier attack on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo represent the most serious challenge yet to Obama's attempt to transform a traditionally anti-American region into one that is more trusting of U.S. intentions and can serve as a counterweight, with Israel, to Iran's ambitions.
Although U.S. officials said they were still trying to determine who had carried out the assaults, signs pointed to radical Islamists as the likely perpetrators. The attacks offered a vivid reminder that despite more than a year of turbulence that has produced a more democratic Middle East and North Africa, violent extremists remain a potent force. And it is still unclear whether the new governments in Libya and Egypt are able, or willing, to confront those bent on attacking U.S. interests.
In Cairo, hundreds of demonstrators, some throwing stones, gathered near the U.S. Embassy late Wednesday and security forces fired tear gas to disperse them.
Libyan ambassador kept 'human touch' (12 September 2012)
Stevens grew up in a leafy, quiet neighborhood in Piedmont and kept a home in the East Bay hills enclave after being named U.S. ambassador to Libya in April.
Harry Johnson, 69, who lived next to Stevens when the future diplomat was a boy, said Stevens had kept in contact after graduating from Piedmont High School in 1978, through college and after he moved to Morocco for a stint with the Peace Corps before law school.
"He was so intelligent, but never lost the human touch," Johnson said. "He could make anyone feel comfortable and make them a part of his world because he fit into theirs."
Even when he returned home from important assignments across the Middle East, Stevens wanted to focus on his friends and family.
Ex-Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman Speaks Out on Karl Rove, Witch Hunt Hours Before Returning to Jail (11 September 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: It's hard to believe you'd use the word "delighted" today, but can you talk about why you're headed to jail today?
DON SIEGELMAN: Well, no one wants to go to prison for something that is not a crime, and especially one orchestrated by Karl Rove. Everyone remembers the eight attorney--the eight U.S. attorneys who were fired by Rove during the Bush administration because they would not pursue political prosecutions. Well, the U.S. attorney in Alabama, appointed by Bush, vetted by Rove, pursued a political prosecution, and this is the flip side of that congressional investigation that stirred up a stink about how Rove was using the Department of Justice as a political weapon.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain exactly what happened. Talk about your time as governor, though you served in many different official capacities, elected positions in Alabama, and then exactly what happened to you.
DON SIEGELMAN: Well, I was raising money to get a state referendum passed that would establish a lottery so Alabama's less fortunate kids would have a chance to go to college for free. Jack Abramoff, in his book, admits that he put $20 million of Indian casino money in Alabama, first to defeat me in 1998 and to defeat the lottery campaign in 1999 and then to defeat me again in 2002. There was a confluence of both the casino interests to get rid of me, to target me and to stop me, as well as Karl Rove and his best friend and his best friend's wife, who was the U.S. attorney, as well as Karl Rove's client, who was the state attorney general.
I was raising money, and I had asked a gentleman to raise money for this state referendum. He did, and later I appointed him to the same board on which he had served through three previous governors. And it's interesting to note that all three of these previous governors had received contributions directly from this CEO. I received a contribution, but it went to a referendum campaign, yet I was targeted and convicted with--for bribery.
The other interesting note here is that the judge lowered the standard by which juries can convict to not an expressed quid pro quo or an explicitly asserted quid pro quo, but, in my case, an implied quid pro quo. So, now we have a standard in Alabama where people can be convicted not on evidence that they actually got together and decided to swap money for favors, but to allow the jury to assume or to imply that there was such a deal.
As Congress lets wind tax credit die, the wind industry struggles to finish key projects (12 September 2012)
Midwest Energy News profiles the push to build the Wildcat wind farm in Elwood, Ind.
"[A] major construction project is under way on these 1,700 acres of central Indiana farmland. The goal: build more than 100 wind turbines, each 30 stories tall, and get them running by midnight on December 31 ... Access roads have to be built into farm fields; foundations have to be excavated. To hold up a single turbine it takes 400 cubic yards of concrete and 36 tons of rebar--meaning the entire wind farm will use enough concrete to pour a 3-foot-wide, 4-inch-thick sidewalk from central Indiana to St. Louis. Each of the five sections of each 300-foot tower is transported to the site on a semi, then stacked in place with the sort of crane used to build skyscrapers.
"The nacelle--a fiberglass-encased box with more than 70 tons of equipment inside, including the electricity-generating components of the turbine--is placed atop the tower. Then each of the 160-foot blades must be mounted on top of the tower.
"All this work means jobs, and lots of them, [construction manager Mike] Behringer said. One hundred seventy people, including iron workers, crane operators, laborers, and linemen are all employed building the first phase of the Wildcat wind farm, which will have the capacity to produce 200 MW of energy."
Crane update: 6 chicks to fly with older cranes; 6 more will fly with ultralight (10 September 2012)
Six whooping crane chicks, 12 to 15 weeks old, arrived last week at the Horicon National Wildlife in Dodge County. They are part of a project where the chicks are released in the company of older cranes in mid- to late October.
They will follow the older cranes south, in a process known as direct autumn release. Before they arrived at Horicon, they spent six weeks at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge in Juneau County, where they acclimated to wetland habitats and wild cranes.
Also, in addition to the six direct autumn release birds, six whooping crane chicks are training to follow ultralight aircraft at the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area in Green Lake and Marquette counties. The birds will follow the ultralight aircraft south.
There are now 104 whooping cranes in the migrating population of eastern United States.
There were nine whooping checks that hatched this year. Two survived. So far since 2006, 24 whooping cranes have hatched. Five have fledged and joined the wild population.
Environmental group sues to protect ringed, bearded seals (12 September 2012)
An environmental group Wednesday sued the National Marine Fisheries Service, claiming the federal agency has failed to decide whether two ice-dependent seals found off the northern coast of Alaska should be listed as threatened or endangered.
The Center for Biological Diversity petitioned to list ringed seals, the main prey of polar bears, and bearded seals because of diminishing sea ice due to climate warming.
"Without steep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the ice seals don't stand a chance in the long term," said attorney Rebecca Noblin in the announcement of the lawsuit. "The plight of Arctic species like these seals demands immediate action to break our fossil fuel addiction."
The lawsuit was filed in Anchorage. A NMFS spokeswoman, Julie Speegle, said Wednesday the agency does not comment on pending litigation. The agency has 60 days to respond.
Half-pregnant grizzlies vital to species' survival (11 September 2012)
BANFF NATIONAL PARK -- It's often said you can't be a little bit pregnant -- unless you are a grizzly bear, that is.
From mid-May to early July, male and female grizzly bears mate.
If all goes well, the female grizzly gets "half pregnant" for the summer, says Steve Michel, human-wildlife conflict specialist with Banff National Park, where there are about 60 to 65 grizzly bears.
Essentially, the egg is fertilized and develops into a small embryo called a blastocyst. It then floats around the uterus for months before it implants.
"There can be multiple ones, which is usually the case," says Michel, explaining the fascinating world of grizzly bear sex to the Herald during a recent visit to the park. "Those can be from three or four different males as well, which is interesting."
Scotts Miracle-Gro busted for illegally using pesticides on its bird seed, falsifying documents and killing wild birds (12 September 2012)
(NaturalNews) The Scotts Miracle-Gro company has been slapped with a $4 million criminal fine, the largest ever for this type of violation, after pleading guilty back in February to illegally adding unapproved insecticides to several of its bird food lines. Bizjournals and others report that Scotts is also being required to pay $500,000 for community service to satisfy a whopping 11 violations of federal pesticide law, $6 million in a civil agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and $2 million for various environmental restoration projects.
Earlier in the summer, consumers from at least six U.S. states banded together to file a class-action lawsuit against Scotts after the company admitted to lacing several of its bird seed products with illegal insecticides, and knowingly selling these tainted products to consumers for more than two years (http://www.naturalnews.com/036253_Miracle-Gro_poison_chemicals.html). The two insecticides in question were Storcide II (chlorpyrifos-methyl) and Actellic 5E (pirimiphos-methyl).
Neither of these two insecticides had ever been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use in bird foods. Storcide II, in fact, is specifically labeled to warn users that it is highly toxic to birds, making it wholly unfit for use in bird feed. After word got out that the two chemicals were being used on the company's Country Pride, Morning Song, Scotts Songbird Selections, and Scotts Wild Bird Food brands of bird seed, Scotts voluntarily recalled these products back in 2008.
"In the plea argument, Scotts admitted that it applied the pesticides Actellic 5E and Storcide II to its bird food products even though EPA had prohibited this use," said the EPA in a recent press release about the judgment. "Scotts admitted that it used these pesticides contrary to EPA directive and in spite of the warning label appearing on all Storcide II containers stating, 'Storcide II is extremely toxic to fish and toxic to birds and other wildlife.'"
For heart health, fish oil pills not the answer: study (12 September 2012)
(Reuters) - Omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish such as sardines and salmon and once touted as a way of staving off heart disease and stroke, don't help after all, according to a Greek study.
Based on a review and analysis of previous clinical trials including more than 68,000 participants, Greek researchers whose report appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association said the fatty acids have no impact on overall death rates, deaths from heart disease, or strokes and heart attacks.
This was true whether they were obtained from supplements such as pills, or from fish in the diet, said the researchers, led by Mosef Elisef at the University Hospital of Ioannina.
"Overall, omega-3...supplementation was not associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality, cardiac death, sudden death, myocardial infarction, or stroke based on relative and absolute measures of association," Elisef and his team wrote.
PAM COMMENTARY: Flaxseed oil is the one to study -- we already knew that fish oil doesn't perform as well.
This study was big news yesterday on TV, but people familiar with essential fatty acids already knew that fish oil wasn't the best form of Omega-3 fatty acids for health benefits. Fish oil contains the animal form of Omega-3 fatty acids, DHA. As I covered in my article on essential fatty acids the animal form is normally already woven into tissues like cell membranes, and so very little replacement DHA is needed. The more versatile form of Omega-3 fatty acids is ALA, the plant form, which the human body will convert, along with the other EFA Omega-6, into many needed substances. That's probably why flaxseed oil supplements showed better results in studies by one of the authors I cite, Dr. Donald Rudin, than the studies of fish oil supplements conducted by Dr. Andrew Stoll.
California's Prop 37 exposes Monsanto GMO agenda (11 September 2012) [AJ]
California voters will have an opportunity to end decades of a conspiracy of silence when Proposition 37 is presented on this November's ballot.
Prop 37 requires labeling of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) based food monopolized by agri-giant Monsanto.
Proponents criticize a labeling black-out of GMO foods largely forced on the marketplace by Monsanto.
According to critics, consumers need to demand GMO food producers accurately label GMO foods because they have not been adequately tested for adverse effects on humans.
Obama has a lot riding on Chicago strike (11 September 2012)
For most of his first term, President Obama has managed to have it both ways on education reform.
He has received steady, if not effusive, support from politically potent teachers unions while promoting an agenda that is hugely unpopular with many educators, including evaluations that hold them accountable for student test scores.
But a strike by 25,000 public school teachers in Chicago that began Monday threatens to place Obama at odds with a critical segment of his political base in the final weeks of a campaign in which he has little margin for error. At the center of the dispute is his famously blunt former chief of staff, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a Democrat who is pushing aggressively for policies the president has championed: higher academic standards, longer school days and greater teacher accountability.
Obama has much to lose, and administration officials were working behind the scenes to end the strike that began Monday.
Teachers union President Karen Lewis said Tuesday that negotiations were still far apart, with the two sides having agreed to just six of 48 articles in the contract. She said it would be "lunacy" to expect an agreement before Wednesday.
9/11 cancer victims to have treatment funded (11 September 2012)
The US federal government has added about 50 types of cancer to the list of illnesses to be covered by a 9/11 health treatment programme.
The decision entitles 70,000 surviving emergency service workers and other survivors to free care.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety announced the change on the eve of the attacks' 11th anniversary.
Some 1,000 deaths have been linked to illnesses caused by toxic dust issuing from wreckage at Ground Zero.
Chris Hedges on 9/11, Touring U.S. Economic Disaster Zones in "Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt" (11 September 2012) [DN]
AMY GOODMAN: Events are being held across the country today to mark the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Our guest, Chris Hedges, was a reporter at the New York Times 11 years ago today, reporting from Ground Zero beginning just after the attacks. In 2002, he was part of the team of reporters at the New York Times that were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the paper's coverage of global terrorism over the past decade.
Chris Hedges has become one of the leading chroniclers of the state of the nation. In 2002, he wrote War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning. His latest book, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt_, co-written with the graphic illustrator Joe Sacco. His most recent 20120910/">piece for Truthdig is "Growth Is the Problem."
9/11, how you reflect back, this 11 years later, where we are, where we were?
CHRIS HEDGES: Well, it's been an awful deterioration. You know, the most retrograde forces within American society have used the specter of the war on terror or terrorism in the same way the most retrograde forces within American society used communism or anti-communism to crush any kind of legitimate dissent or any questioning of the structures of power. The collapse of the Soviet Union left an ideological vacuum. These people only define themselves by what they are against. They used al-Qaeda, and however horrific the attacks of 9/11 were, they never posed an existential threat in any way to the United States.
And we have watched, in the last four years, the Obama administration further erode civil liberties. I would argue that Obama has carried out far more egregious assaults against civil liberties than even George W. Bush, whether that is the refusal to restore habeas corpus; the FISA Amendment Act, which retroactively makes legal what under our Constitution has been illegal--the warrantless wiretapping, monitoring, eavesdropping of American citizens; the use of the Authorization to Use Military Force Act to justify the assassination of American citizens; the use of the Espionage Act six times to shut down whistleblowers in this country, essentially ending any kind of serious investigative journalism into government work crimes and malfeasance; and of course the National Defense Authorization Act. We sued the president over this issue. Judge Katherine Forrest in the Southern District Court of New York issued a temporary injunction, and we are now waiting to see whether that will become permanent. She should rule very soon.
All of that has been used to essentially, in this reconfiguration of American society, which is really the heart of this book, into an oligarchic state, a neofeudalistic state--you criminalize dissent, because they know very well what's coming, as they reduce roughly two-thirds of this country to subsistence level.
9/11 Memorial: Keep the tributes, we must honor the dead with the truth (11 September 2012)
It's the 11th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center buildings, the Pentagon, and the American people. All across the country we'll be remembering the victims with plaques, statues and speeches. But remembering them isn't enough. We need to uncover the truth about 9/11 so we can honor them, give some meaning to their deaths, and bring healing to our nation.
If you haven't see the new documentary, "9/11: Explosive Evidence -- Experts Speak Out," I highly recommend that you take 90 minutes out of your day, sometime this week, and watch it while it's still available free online. There's a particularly poignant paragraph near the end that makes it perfectly clear why we must keep demanding the truth about 9/11:
"After WWII part of the way that Jewish people honored the dead was by making sure the truth was known and the value of these people was respected. Not pursuing the truth about 9/11 disrespects the value of the lives of the people that died. Thinking that we're above such things, that it could happen in other countries but it couldn't here, that's a lack of humility and that's excessive pride. And, so not being able to see our dark side or our weaknesses is the most dangerous thing."
PAM COMMENTARY: OUR dark side? Sorry, only certain Americans were evil enough to attack their own country to justify bloody oil wars. They're called the Bush administration (and their supporters who helped steal two elections to make it happen).
Documents reveal oilsands development about to exceed Alberta's new pollution limits (12 September 2012)
EDMONTON - Less than two weeks after Alberta enacted legally enforceable pollution limits for its oilsands region, industry figures already suggest they will soon be breached by emissions of two major gases causing acid rain.
Regulatory documents for Shell's proposed Jackpine mine expansion say annual levels of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide are likely to push past limits contained in the province's Lower Athabasca Regional Plan if all currently planned developments proceed.
The documents, filed late last week, also provide what may be the clearest picture yet of what impact two decades of development have had on northeastern Alberta.
"It validates the concern that many stakeholders have raised about the cumulative pace and scale of development," said Simon Dyer of the Pembina Institute. "It's the first real test of the (plan)."
There's methane trapped at the bottom of the ocean, so obviously we should get it and burn it (11 September 2012)
An international team of scientists had a warning last week: A massive amount of methane trapped in Antarctic ice could be released into the atmosphere.
Which probably prompted some energy companies to think: We gotta get our hands on that.
Gas hydrates are crystalline gas (often methane) molecules surrounded by a "cage" of water in a solid that resembles ice. As it melts, the gas is released. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, methane hydrates are stable compounds in water at a depth of greater than 300 feet.
At right is a map of methane hydrate deposits located off the coast of South Carolina. Right there, just off our coast, all that methane, ready to burn. But who is going to invest in figuring out how to tap into these reserves?
Your rich Uncle Sam, that's who. Late last month, the Department of Energy announced more than $5.5 million in investments granted primarily to universities for research into how the methane in these hydrates could be used.
Board: Chevron failed to check bad pipe that led to refinery explosion (11 September 2012)
There is no evidence that Chevron conducted a crucial inspection last year of the segment of the pipe that later ruptured at its Richmond refinery, leading to a fire that destroyed part of the plant, federal investigators said Tuesday.
Given the deteriorated condition of the pipe - which had retained only 20 percent of its original wall thickness - Chevron would have been obligated to replace it to comply with the company's own standards, said Don Holmstrom, Western regional office director of the Chemical Safety Board.
Federal officials are focusing on the 52-inch-long segment of the line that failed Aug. 6 and have sent it to a private materials lab for testing.
But they say there is no indication that the 8-inch-diameter segment was inspected during a November 2011 maintenance shutdown of the Richmond refinery's No. 4 crude unit. That violated Chevron standards that all at-risk crude unit pipes be checked for corrosion or other damage during such shutdowns, the safety board officials said.
PAM COMMENTARY: And they were trying to blame an idling truck.
SF clean-energy program may profit Shell (11 September 2012)
The original idea was simple enough: Buy five years of clean energy on the open market and resell it to locals who want to go green.
The politics were equally attractive: Break the stranglehold that Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has long had on consumers, while encouraging the growth of local green alternatives like wind and solar power.
But the final product isn't what everyone expected.
For starters, Shell Energy - whose parent company just started drilling for Arctic oil off the coast of Alaska - wound up winning the contract.
Shell drill ship in Chukchi Sea moves south to let ice pass (11 September 2012)
Moving ice may keep a Royal Dutch Shell petroleum drill ship away from a Chukchi Sea prospect for several days, a Shell Alaska spokesman said Tuesday.
Curtis Smith said at midday that a massive ice pack heading toward the Burger Prospect had slowed from 0.5 knots to 0.2 knots -- about 1/4 of a mile per hour -- and remained 10 to 12 hours away.
"Depending on conditions, it could be a few or, potentially, several days before it's safe enough to resume drilling," the company spokesman wrote in an email.
The prospect is 70 miles off the coast. The Noble Discoverer drill ship has moved 30 miles south and will remain there until the ice -- 30 miles long, 12 miles wide and up to 82 feet thick -- has passed and is unlikely to change course and return.
The ship began preliminary work Sunday on an exploratory well -- the first drilling in U.S. Chukchi waters since 1991 -- but was forced to stop hours later when ice headed for the ship was spotted more than 100 miles away.
Chick peas, shiitake mushrooms, lentils -- Campbell's soup goes after Millennial generation (11 September 2012)
The cosmopolitan, noncooking Millennial generation has inspired the biggest revolution in Campbell's soup marketing in 20 years.
Complete with a kitten video and talk bubbles.
"Their palates are much different from ours," the Campbell's spokesman Anthony Sanzio, 45, told the Toronto Star on Tuesday. "Much more inquisitive and adventurous."
That's combined with an ethos that sees the iconic red-and-white Campbell's soup can as more appealing hung on the wall as a Warhol print than in the cupboard.
Chicago Teachers Strike for First Time in 25 Years (10 September 2012)
Thousands of teachers walked off the job Monday in Chicago's first schools strike in 25 years, after union leaders announced that months-long negotiations had failed to resolve a contract dispute with school district officials by a midnight deadline.
The walkout in the nation's third-largest school district posed a tricky challenge for the city and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who said he would push to end the strike quickly as officials figure out how to keep nearly 400,000 children safe and occupied.
"This is not a strike I wanted," Emanuel said Sunday night, not long after the union announced the action. "It was a strike of choice ... it's unnecessary, it's avoidable and it's wrong."
Some 26,000 teachers and support staff were expected to join the picket. Among teachers protesting Monday morning outside Benjamin Banneker Elementary School on Chicago's South Side, eighth-grade teacher Michael Williams said he wanted a quick contract resolution.
The Real Unemployment Numbers Are Worse Than You Are Being Told (10 September 2012) [AJ]
-According to the federal government, 96,000 jobs were added to the economy in August and the U.S. labor force shrank by 368,000 even though our population is continually growing. If the size of the U.S. labor force had stayed the same, the official unemployment rate would have actually gone up to 8.4 percent.
-Almost all of the new jobs added in August were the result of the "birth-death" model used by the Labor Department to estimate jobs added by new businesses. That model has been heavily criticized for being inaccurate. If you take the 87,000 jobs added by that model out of the equation, then the U.S. economy only added 9,000 jobs in August. But it takes somewhere around 125,000 new jobs each month just to keep up with the growth of the population.
-If the labor participation rate was sitting where it was when Barack Obama first took office, the unemployment rate in the United States would actually be 11.2 percent.
-If the labor participation rate was sitting at the 30 year average of 65.8 percent, the unemployment rate in the United States would actually be 11.7 percent.
-John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics would put the "real" rate of unemployment up around 23 percentafter adding in all workers that have given up looking for work and all underemployed workers.
Busted! Co-author of Stanford study that bashed organics found to have deep ties to Big Tobacco's anti-science propaganda (7 September 2012)
(NaturalNews) (This article is jointly authored by Mike Adams of NaturalNews.com and Anthony Gucciardi of NaturalSociety.com) Over the last several days, the mainstream media has fallen for an elaborate scientific hoax that sought to destroy the credibility of organic foods by claiming they are "no healthier" than conventional foods (grown with pesticides and GMOs). NaturalNews has learned one of the key co-authors of the study, Dr. Ingram Olkin, has a deep history as an "anti-science" propagandist working for Big Tobacco. Stanford University has also been found to have deep financial ties to Cargill, a powerful proponent of genetically engineered foods and an enemy of GMO labeling Proposition 37.
The New York Times, BBC and all the other publications that printed stories based on this Stanford study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1355685) have been victims of an elaborate scientific hoax carried out by corporate propagandists posing as "scientists."
The evidence we show here (see below) demonstrates how this study was crafted under the influence of known anti-science fraudsters pushing a corporate agenda. Just as Big Tobacco sought to silence the emerging scientific evidence of the dangers of cigarette smoke, the biotech industry today is desperately seeking to silence calls for GMO labeling and honest, chemical-free food. The era is different, but the anti-science tactics are the same (and many of the quack science players are the same!).
Here's a document from 1976 which shows financial ties between Philip Morris and Ingram Olkin, co-author of the recent organic foods study: http://tobaccodocuments.org/bliley_pm/22205.html
The so-called "research project" was proposed by Olkin, who was also at one time the chairman of Stanford's Department of Statistics.
War-weary, indifferent U.S. numb to drumbeat of troop deaths (10 September 2012)
American troops are still dying in Afghanistan at a pace that doesn't often register beyond their hometowns. So far this year, it's 31 a month on average, or one per day. National attention is drawn, briefly, to grim and arbitrary milestones such as the 1,000th and 2,000th war deaths. But days, weeks and months pass with little focus by the general public or its political leaders on the individuals behind the statistics.
Each week at war has a certain sameness for those not fighting it, yet every week brings distinct pain and sorrow to the families who learn that their son or daughter, brother or sister, father or mother was killed or wounded.
Cantu died Aug. 28, but the Pentagon did not publicly release his name until Wednesday. He was memorialized by his paratrooper "sky soldier" comrades in Italy on Thursday and honored in his hometown of Corunna, where the high school football coach, Mike Sullivan, was quoted in local news reports as saying the energetic and athletic Cantu had been "the toughest kid I've ever coached - ever known."
He would have turned 21 next month.
Krugman: Republican base is 'elderly white people arguing with empty chairs' (10 September 2012)
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman says that the Republican Party has adopted extreme anti-immigrant positions to appeal to their base, "which is, by and large, elderly white people arguing with empty chairs."
During a Sunday panel segment on ABC News, Krugman pointed out that Clint Eastwood's bizarre conversation with an empty chair at the Republican National Convention last month was illustrative of the party's base.
"Arizona is a third Hispanic," conservative columnist George Will noted. "The Republican Party spent 20 debates in the primary competing to see who could build the longest, thickest, tallest, most lethally-electrified fence. And Hispanics said, 'I detect some hostility here.' And it's going to take a long time to undo that."
Krugman agreed that the GOP's move to the extreme right during the primary had hurt their standing with minority voters.
"The Republican Party is where it is because that's where the base is," Krugman agreed. "You watch that whole primary process, Republican candidates had to appeal to their base, which is, by and large, elderly white people arguing with empty chairs."
Ex-SEAL on "60 Minutes": Bin Laden posed danger (10 September 2012)
Matt Bissonnette, the former Navy SEAL who wrote a memoir about the raid to kill Osama bin Laden, appeared on Sunday night's episode of "60 Minutes."
Make-up artists spent four hours concealing his features, which viewers saw from a distance and in dim light. Bissonnette's voice also was altered.
"The focus should not be on me," Bissonnette said about the natural-looking disguise. "It should be on the book."
He was one of the members of Virginia Beach-based SEAL Team 6 that killed bin Laden on May 2, 2011, in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Published last week, "No Easy Day" was written under the pseudonym Mark Owen.
Marineland: Allegations of poor treatment of deer, bears (8 September 2012)
Else Poulsen, a biologist and consultant on captive wildlife management, has worked at the Detroit and Calgary zoos. She criticized overcrowding of deer in a concrete and gravel enclosure, with only a little shade along the fences and no privacy areas. She said that begging for pellets in sugar cones (sold for $2.50 each) isn't healthy. They can't graze as they're used to doing throughout the day as there is no grass and no trees with leaves to eat.
As well as sweets, visitors often feed what they want to the deer, with few staffers to stop them. Their regular diet includes a mixture of oats, barley and corn, as well as grain, according to Hammond.
Poulsen, who was asked to inspect the land animal facilities for Zoocheck Canada, a national animal protection charity, simply paid her $48.53 entry fee and walked into the park.
During her recent visit, Poulsen documented a Sika deer limping, with red and raw sores on her hindquarters.
In a report for Zoocheck, she wrote that the concrete grounds are dangerous because "deer can fall and hurt themselves when being chased by humans or antagonistic deer."
Hammond said deer break their legs in wire mesh at the feeding station, when they are pinned by pressure from hungry deer behind them. He couldn't estimate how many times that's happened other than to say "it's not uncommon."
Oil on Gulf Coast after Hurricane Isaac reveals risks of offshore drilling (8 September 2012)
Oil is washing up along the Gulf Coast in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, churned up by Hurricane Isaac. After discovering hundreds of tar balls at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama, a Greenpeace research team joined our allies at the Gulf Restoration Network to investigate the impacts on East and West Ship Island, off the coast of Mississippi. We found tar balls on East Ship Island and several heavily oiled areas on West Ship Island, which are both part of the Gulf National Seashore.
Meanwhile, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports that Louisiana is "closing a 12-mile section of Gulf coastline from Caminada Pass to Pass Fourchon after Hurricane Isaac washed up large areas of oil and tar balls at the location of one of the worst inundations of BP oil during the Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010 ... agency crews surveying damage from Isaac discovered large sections of viscous oil and tar balls floating along the coast."
Greenpeace documented oil on East Ship Island in October 2010, months after the BP oil disaster. Returning two years later to find so much oil pollution is a sad reminder that it's impossible to clean up a major marine oil spill. Officials are concerned that up to 1 million barrels of oil are estimated to remain in the Gulf of Mexico, and are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to explain how they will address oil pollution remaining from the 2010 spill.
Oil prices fall on sour economic news from China (10 September 2012)
NEW YORK -- The price of oil is falling on an unexpectedly weak economic report from China and warnings of a further slowdown.
Benchmark crude is down 53 cents to $95.87 Monday morning.
Data released Monday showed China's imports shrank unexpectedly in August, and the Chinese president warned growth could slow further. Factory output is now at a three-year low. It's troubling news from the world's second-largest economy, especially when growth in the world's No. 1 economy -- the U.S. -- has also slowed.
On Friday, the U.S. government reported the economy added a weaker-than-expected 96,000 jobs last month.
Northern Gateway pipeline dispute follows feuding Alberta, B.C. premiers on China trade mission (10 September 2012)
Alison Redford and Christy Clark will be side by side in China this week but there will still be the issue of a 1,200 kilometre pipeline standing between them.
The premiers of Alberta and British Columbia - along with Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall - are attending the World Economic Forum in Tianjin and will take part in a natural resources panel and New West Partnership reception together Tuesday.
The Asian sojourn is the first encounter between Clark and Redford since a dispute over the Northern Gateway pipeline disrupted a stormy Council of the Federation meeting in July.
Clark's government is demanding a "fair share" of the economic benefits from the $5.5-billion project - currently under review by federal regulators - that would send Alberta bitumen to the B.C. coast for shipping to Asia.
GM's Volt: The ugly math of low sales, high costs (10 September 2012)
(Reuters) - General Motors Co sold a record number of Chevrolet Volt sedans in August -- but that probably isn't a good thing for the automaker's bottom line.
Nearly two years after the introduction of the path-breaking plug-in hybrid, GM is still losing as much as $49,000 on each Volt it builds, according to estimates provided to Reuters by industry analysts and manufacturing experts.
Cheap Volt lease offers meant to drive more customers to Chevy showrooms this summer may have pushed that loss even higher. There are some Americans paying just $5,050 to drive around for two years in a vehicle that cost as much as $89,000 to produce.
And while the loss per vehicle will shrink as more are built and sold, GM is still years away from making money on the Volt, which will soon face new competitors from Ford, Honda and others.
GM's basic problem is that "the Volt is over-engineered and over-priced," said Dennis Virag, president of the Michigan-based Automotive Consulting Group.
Shell criticised for limited testing of Alaska drilling containment equipment (9 September 2012)
Shell has been accused of "stock-car racing recklessness" after apparently undertaking only the most limited testing of a key piece of equipment aimed at preventing a Gulf of Mexico-style blowout during its controversial drilling in the Arctic.
Documents obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request suggest field-testing of a containment dome took place over two hours on 25 and 26 June. The dome, known as a "capping stack", would be dropped over any stricken wellhead.
Two officials from the bureau of safety and environmental enforcement (BSSE) -- an arm of the US interior department -- were present with Shell officials at the tests in Puget Sound, Alaska, but there was no independent verification of the tests.
Shell reportedly started work yesterday on the $4.5bn (£2.8bn) drilling programme in the Chukchi Sea, 70 miles off Alaska's north-west coast. It does not yet have permission to drill into oil reserves.
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (Peer), a US group that helps federal and state employees raise the alarm on environmental protection issues, said it was shocked by the single page of notes from the government agency after it filed a federal lawsuit against the BSSE asking for all documents relating to the capping tests.
Fracking in California takes less water (8 September 2012)
Why the difference? Geology.
In much of the United States, fracking has been combined with horizontal drilling to unlock natural gas or oil within shale rock. Imagine drilling straight down for 5,000 or 6,000 feet, then taking a right turn. Water is pumped into the well at high pressure, mixed with sand and a small amount of chemicals (usually about 1 percent of the mix). The pressure cracks the shale, and the sand props those cracks open, allowing oil or gas to escape.
In California, most fracking has involved vertical wells. Vertical wells have less pipe length than horizontal wells of equal depth, because they don't veer off sideways at the bottom. They therefore require less water for fracking.
So far, horizontal wells don't appear to work well in the state's Monterey Shale formation, estimated by the federal government to be the country's largest oil shale deposit. The rock layers are too tilted and folded by relentless seismic pressure to lend themselves to horizontal wells.
U.S. to auction California shale for fracking (8 September 2012)
A nearly 18,000-acre stretch of land extending from California's Central Coast to the San Joaquin Valley is the setting for a brewing debate over an oil-extraction method that has little governmental oversight.
The land, which spans Monterey, San Benito and Fresno counties, rests on a large chunk of the Monterey Shale, a formation of underground minerals long eyed by the energy industry for its potential to yield billions of barrels of oil.
That potential is expected to come closer to reality in December, when the federal government - which owns below-surface rights to the mostly private land - is scheduled to hold an auction to lease out parcels to oil and gas companies.
The lease sale, the second on the Monterey Shale in about a year, will occur in the midst of a growing battle among environmentalists, politicians and the energy industry over the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." It injects a high-pressure mix of water, sand and chemicals into the ground to unlock oil and natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth - resources that cannot be tapped with conventional drilling techniques.
PAM COMMENTARY: Sounds like a good way to set off more earthquakes...
Obama widens lead over Romney despite jobs data: Reuters/Ipsos poll (9 September 2012)
(Reuters) - President Barack Obama, picking up support following the Democratic National Convention, widened his narrow lead over Republican U.S. presidential challenger Mitt Romney in a new Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Saturday.
The latest daily tracking poll showed Obama, a Democrat, with a lead of 4 percentage points over Romney. Forty-seven percent of 1,457 likely voters surveyed online over the previous four days said they would vote for Obama if the November 6 elections were held today, compared with 43 percent for Romney.
"The bump is actually happening. I know there was some debate whether it would happen... but it's here," said Ipsos pollster Julia Clark, referring to the "bounce" in support that many presidential candidates enjoy after nominating conventions.
Obama had leapfrogged Romney in the daily tracking poll on Friday with a lead of 46 percent to 44 percent.
Obama hits Romney with new Medicare study (9 September 2012)
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- President Barack Obama is drawing fresh attention to Medicare in all-important Florida, seizing on an election-year issue that's been more favorable to Democrats.
Campaigning for a second day in a state where older voters and workers approaching retirement hold sway, Obama was expected to highlight a study by a Democratic leaning group that concluded that on average a man or woman retiring at age 65 in 2023 would have to pay $59,500 more for health care over the length of their retirement under Mitt Romney's plan.
The numbers are even higher for younger people who retire later, the study found. A person who qualifies for Medicare in 2030 -- today's 48-year-old -- would see an increase of $124,600 in Medicare costs over their retirement period.
While Romney's changes to Medicare would affect future retirees, the study also said that the Republican presidential nominee's plan to get rid of Obama's health care law could raise health care costs in retirement by $11,000 for the average person who is 65 today by reinstating limits on prescription drug coverage.
Romney says he likes parts of 'Obamacare' (9 September 2012)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, who promised early in his campaign to repeal President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, says he would keep several important parts of the overhaul.
"Of course there are a number of things that I like in health care reform that I'm going to put in place," he said in an interview broadcast Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." ''One is to make sure that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage."
Romney also said he would allow young adults to keep their coverage under their parents' health-insurance.
Those provisions have been two of the more popular parts of Obama's Affordable Care Act.
"I say we're going to replace Obamacare. And I'm replacing it with my own plan," Romney said. "And even in Massachusetts when I was governor, our plan there deals with pre-existing conditions and with young people."
Senior citizen devastated after home he built was ransacked by Wells Fargo foreclosing on WRONG address (9 September 2012)
When Alvin Tjosaas was a teenager, he helped his father build a vacation home in the California desert.
More than 50 years later, he has been 'left to sit among the ruins of the house' after it was mistakenly ransacked by a bank twice.
Wells Fargo had a warrant to foreclose on the property - but they went to the wrong home.
Back in 1961, Tjosaas built the two-bedroom house in Twentynine Palms when he was just 14-years-old.
'I put my whole life into this place, building it for my mom and dad,' Tjosaas told ABC.
Now 77, the retired mason has spent much of his life in the home, and enjoyed vacations there with his wife Pat and their six children.
Here are all of the various animals that climate change has empowered to kill you (9 September 2012)
We told you last week that mice in Yosemite are trying to kill you. That is true. After the massive drought in 2002 wiped out their habitat in New Mexico, deer mice moved north, causing an unprecedented outbreak of hantavirus. To date, three people who stayed in cabins at Yosemite National Park (motto: "Do not stay in our cabins.") have died.
Scientific American has a FAQ about the virus, in case you didn't learn enough about the illness from the X-Files movie. The virus is not contagious from human-to-human, happily, but it may be present in nearly every state. As SciAm notes:
"It clearly can pop up in other regions of the U.S. There have been cases in the Great Smoky Mountains and in the Sierra Nevadas. The mouse favors higher elevations. And the deer mouse prefers cool, moist forests. . .
"[I]t's important for people to avoid contact with rodents, which can spread other diseases, such as plague. For people who live in cabins or houses with a rodent issue, it's important that they deal with the infestation. And upon entering unused cabins, don't sweep or vacuum the dust, which can lead to aerosolization and inhalation of the dust."
Twin tornadoes touch down in Queens and Brooklyn (9 September 2012)
"It's the craziest thing -- my whole roof is just gone," said Khan, 43, who owns a two-story rowhouse on Avenue N. "It's sitting in my neighbor's driveway. . . . I just can't believe this. It floods out here a lot, but a tornado, that's a first for me."
No serious injuries were reported after the back-to-back twisters.
The Queens funnel cloud, stretching 150 feet wide, touched down for 15 terrifying seconds.
"It sounded like a freight train," said Matt Schafer, 18, a maintenance worker at the Breezy Point Surf Club. "We didn't know what it was."
William Jacobs: The Minneapolis pedophile no one stopped (9 September 2012)
"When did you start molesting young guys?"
Jacobs didn't reply that day, but newly released documents reveal how the detectives found their answer. They looked in archives for forgotten letters, called up long-retired camp and school administrators, interviewed growing numbers of men who came forward to say Jacobs assaulted them in lake cabins, summer camp dormitories and his own Deephaven home.
In probing what would become one of the most disturbing cases of serial child molestation in Minnesota, the detectives also uncovered a history of missed opportunities and reluctance to expose a potential scandal. According to the investigative file, obtained by the Star Tribune under the Minnesota Data Practices Act, the detectives learned that in the early 1970s, Jacobs had lost as many as three teaching jobs because he fondled children, yet in each case, his supervisors kept the situations quiet.
They learned that in 1993, after Jacobs rose quickly in his new career as a police officer, a top state law enforcement official heard from someone who was molested years earlier by Jacobs but settled the issue with a private meeting. Jacobs' employer, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, was never told.
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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