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Click to visit VeggieCooking.com NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012

News from the Week of 23rd to 29th of September 2012

Urban living: Good for the planet, but bad for our brains? (29 September 2012)
New York is a 24-7 stress fest. Try muscling your way through the tourists packing Times Square or cramming yourself into an overstuffed train. I dare you to walk down Canal Street (home of knock-off Fendi, Prada, and Gucci) without wanting to knife someone. I've tried, and I can't do it. And then there is the constant ear-splitting noise -- horns, sirens, animated cell phone conversations. The city is relentless.

Maybe I don't have the right attitude -- the right constitution -- for New York. I'm impatient and short-tempered, and New York exacerbates those tendencies. But other New Yorkers seem impatient and short-tempered too. Is it us, or is it the city? Could urban living be harming our brains?
Jonah Lehrer says yes. Here he is in a 2009 story for the Boston Globe:

"Scientists have begun to examine how the city affects the brain, and the results are chastening. Just being in an urban environment, they have found, impairs our basic mental processes. After spending a few minutes on a crowded city street, the brain is less able to hold things in memory, and suffers from reduced self-control. While it's long been recognized that city life is exhausting ... this new research suggests that cities actually dull our thinking, sometimes dramatically so."

Not all of the research points that way, of course. (What? You were expecting an unequivocal "yes" from science? Fat chance!) But a surprising amount of it does.
[Read more...]

Vomiting virus hits thousands of German children (29 September 2012)
BERLIN (AP) -- German health authorities say the number of children that have fallen ill with vomiting and diarrhea after eating food from school cafeterias and daycare centers has risen from about 4,500 to 8,400.

Authorities in Berlin and the surrounding eastern German states reported the new gastroenteritis cases Saturday, while laboratory investigations to determine the exact cause of the outbreak were still under way.

Berlin's health department says the sicknesses are moderate and most children recover within two days without requiring to be hospitalized.

In Saxony state, at least 16 cases of norovirus, a mostly food- or water-borne illness, were proven, according to German news agency dapd.

The government-affiliated Robert Koch Institute said Friday that all facilities where the illness occurred likely received food from a single supplier.
[Read more...]

Omar Khadr back in Canada (29 September 2012)
Guantanamo prisoner Omar Khadr, the Toronto-born detainee whose decade-long case has bitterly divided Canadians, is back home to serve the remainder of his sentence.

As the Toronto Star first reported, the 26-year-old prisoner was flown off the U.S. Naval base by American government aircraft from Cuba's southeast shore at 4:30 a.m. Saturday.

He arrived at Trenton military airbase almost four hours later, and Public Safety Minister Vic Toews confirmed his arrival at 7:40 a.m. at a later morning news conference in Winnipeg.

In a telephone conversation to his Toronto lawyers, Khadr said he is thrilled to be in Canada but apprehensive.
[Read more...]

Obama campaign attacks Romney on Chinese investments (28 September 2012)
The Obama campaign has attacked Republican Mitt Romney this week for having investments in China, saying it is inappropriate for a presidential nominee to be investing so much money there.

Former Ohio governor Ted Strickland (D), a campaign co-chairman, said it "defies logic." "It may not be illegal, it may not be unethical, but it is unseemly," he said in an interview. "It just leaves a bad taste in your mouth."

Yet the economies of the United States and China have become so intertwined in recent years that many everyday Americans are invested in the Chinese economy, whether its through international mutual funds or stock holdings in U.S. multinationals -- including Apple, McDonald's and General Motors -- that have vast operations in China.

When it comes to the world's second-biggest economy, it's hard to avoid being an investor.
[Read more...]

Alice Walker on 30th Anniv. of "The Color Purple": Racism, Violence Against Women Are Global Issues (28 September 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Shug talking to Celie. Alice?

ALICE WALKER: Yes, and she's explaining to Celie that, you know, the beauty of nature is what reminds us of what is divine, I mean, that we're already in heaven, really. It's just that we haven't noticed it, and we've been diverted by people who want us to believe whatever it is they are basically selling us. But if you pass by the color purple in a field and you don't even notice it, why should you even be here on the planet? I mean, you should notice what is here, because it is wonderful and amazing and loves you back by its beauty and by its fragrance or however it can love you back.

AMY GOODMAN: And how did that title come to you, The Color Purple?

ALICE WALKER: Because when I was writing the novel, I lived way in the country in Boonville, California, and I went walking through the redwoods and swimming in the river and noticed that in nature purple is everywhere. And it's interesting because we tend to think that in nature you would see more red, yellow, white, you know, all of those colors. But actually, purple is right there. And in that sense, it's like the people in the novel. You think that they are unusual, that what's happening to them is unusual, but actually it's happening somewhere on your block almost every minute. All the trouble, all of the trials and tribulations of Celie are happening to people all over the planet right now.
[Read more...]

Palestine Conditions "More Brutal" Than in U.S. South of 50 Years Ago, Says Author Alice Walker (28 September 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the parallels you make.

ALICE WALKER: Mean apartheid ones? Well, first of all, in Israel and the Occupied Territories, there's this gigantic wall, which is, I think, the most offensive symbol of the apartheid. It not only segregates the Palestinians from the Israelis, but they also, at the same time, have stolen so much Palestinian land. I mean, they've essentially stolen what was all of Palestine. And it's just horrible to see the treatment of the people. I mean, the checkpoints are dreadful. We went through some of them. And the way the Palestinians are treated is so reminiscent of the way black people were treated in the South when I was growing up. And it's an intolerable situation. And that our country backs this treatment by standing with Israel through thick and thin is just unbearable.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to turn to a clip of South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu talking about apartheid, talking about South Africa and talking about Israel.

DESMOND TUTU: Coming from South Africa and going--I mean, and looking at the checkpoints and the arrogance of those young soldiers, probably scared, maybe covering up their apprehension, there's no way in which I couldn't say--of course, that is a truth. It reminds me--it reminds me of the kind of experiences that we underwent. I mean, I was bishop of Johannesburg and would be driving from town to Soweto, where we lived, and I would be driving with my wife, and we'd have a roadblock. And the fact of our having to have passes allowing us to move freely in the land of our birth, and now you have that extraordinary structure that--the wall. And I do not, myself, believe that it has improved security, breaking up families, breaking up--I mean, people who used to be able to walk from their homes to school, children, now have to take a detour that lasts several--I mean, it's--when you humiliate a people to the extent that they are being--and, yes, one remembers the kind of experience we had when we were being humiliated--when you do that, you're not contributing to your own security.
[Read more...]

Food agency defends delayed beef recall after E. coli alert (28 September 2012)
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is defending its decision not to issue an immediate recall on beef products coming out of the XL Foods plant in Brooks, Alta.

On Friday, The CFIA added whole muscle cuts to the list of more than 250 products.

Officials say they were alerted on Sept. 4 to a positive E. coli test in beef shipped to the United States taken the day before, but recalls in Canada didn't start until Sept. 16.

Canadian inspectors also had a positive E. coli test in a shipment that went to a small plant in Calgary on Sept. 4, which was part of the same shipment out of the XL Foods plant in Brooks.

The CFIA's Dr. Brian Evans said at a press conference Friday morning that because the shipment was contained and didn't make it to the retail level, officials didn't feel a need to issue an immediate recall, instead they went to the plant in Brooks to conduct a in-depth review.
[Read more...]

Obama blocks Chinese purchase of US wind farms (28 September 2012)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Citing national security risks, President Barack Obama on Friday blocked a Chinese company from owning four wind farm projects in northern Oregon near a Navy base where the U.S. military flies unmanned drones and electronic-warfare planes on training missions.

It was the first time in 22 years that a U.S. president has blocked such a foreign business deal.

Obama's decision was likely to be another irritant in the increasingly tense economic relationship between the U.S. and China. It also comes against an election-year backdrop of intense criticism from Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney, who accuses Obama of not being tough enough with China.

In his decision, Obama ordered Ralls Corp., a company owned by Chinese nationals, to divest its interest in the wind farms it purchased earlier this year near the Naval Weapons Systems Training Facility in Boardman, Ore.
[Read more...]

Webb, O'Donnell rip Romney over the military (VIDEO) (28 September 2012)

Jim Webb goes to battle for Obama in veteran vote appeal (27 September 2012)
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- Speaking before President Obama at a campaign rally here, Democratic Sen. Jim Webb delivered a sharp attack of Mitt Romney over military issues, playing to a key constituency in a part of the swing state that has emerged as a major campaign battleground.

Webb, a Marine veteran and former secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration, alluded to the secretly recorded video in which Romney dismisses Obama voters as feeling entitled. Addressing donors at a May fundraiser, Romney characterized the 47% of Americans who backed the Democrat as depending on government, paying no income tax and believing they are victims. He also said they were "unwilling to take responsibility for their lives."

Webb said that group includes veterans, of whom it would be wrong to accuse of being part of a "culture of dependency."

"In receiving veterans benefits, they are not takers. They are givers in the ultimate sense of the word," Webb said. "They will not say this, I will say it for them -- they are owed. They are owed, if nothing else, at least a mention, some word of thanks and respect when a presidential candidate who is their generational peer makes a speech accepting his party's nomination to be commander in chief."
[Read more...]

Feds Arrest Producer Of Controversial Anti-Islam Film On Probation Violation Charge (27 September 2012)
The producer of the controversial anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims" has been arrested for violating terms of his probation and is set for an appearance today in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, is scheduled for an initial appearance in the courthouse where Judge Christina Snyder sentenced him in June 2010 following a bank fraud conviction.

[UPDATE: Citing Nakoula's "lengthy pattern of deception," a federal magistrate this afternoon ordered him held without bond for alleged probation violations, including making false statements to his probation officer and using aliases. The judge rejected a plea from Nakoula's lawyer, who argued that the convicted felon's life would be in danger at an L.A. lockup due to the facility's large population of Muslim inmates. Nakoula will remain in custody in advance of a probation revocation hearing, the date for which has yet to be scheduled.]

Investigators have not yet provided details about how Nakoula allegedly violated probation, but it seems clear that his involvement in the "Innocence of Muslim" production is central to the government's new charge.
[Read more...]

UC pepper-spray settlement about $1 million (26 September 2012)
The University of California regents have agreed to pay out roughly $1 million to end a lawsuit over last November's pepper spraying of UC-Davis students, part of a deal that also calls for a personal written apology from Chancellor Linda Katehi to each person hit with the spray.

The details of the settlement, approved in secret earlier this month by the regents, are contained in documents filed in federal court in Sacramento this morning.

The deal, hammered out in mediation sessions after 21 students and former students sued last February, still must be approved by a federal judge.

It calls for each of the 21 plaintiffs to receive $30,000 for a total payout of $630,000. The agreement also transforms the suit into a class action, which will allow others who were hit with pepper spray during the Nov. 18 protest to submit claims for payments of up to $20,000.
[Read more...]

Postal Service to default on retiree health payment, again (26 September 2012)
In this case, the wolf is a financial crisis that has been real for years. Now it prevents the Postal Service from making a $5.6 billion payment to pre-fund retiree health benefits due Sunday. It was the same story last month when the agency defaulted on the Aug. 1 payment.

"In reality, this is a default on the part of Congress, which in 2006 mandated that the Postal Service do something that no other agency or company in the country is required to do -- pre-fund future retiree health benefits," said National Association of Letter Carriers President Fredric Rolando. "It is that unique burden that the Postal Service is 'defaulting' on -- and what's ironic is that the USPS already has $45 billion set aside for future retiree health benefits, enough to cover all such expenses for several decades, which no other institution can say."

The default doesn't affect retiree health benefits, which are fully funded, or postal services for the public. But the inability to make a required payment does demonstrate just how menacing the postal problem is.

"We are looking at a situation here with the default, a situation that causes a crisis of confidence in the Postal Service with our customers," Donahoe said in an interview Wednesday. "We are looking forward and expect Congress to act on our reform bill in the lame duck session to resolve these issues."
[Read more...]

The United States of ALEC: Bill Moyers on the Secretive Corporate-Legislative Body Writing Our Laws (27 September 2012)
LISA GRAVES: Bills to change the law to make it harder for Americans to vote, those were ALEC bills. Bills to dramatically change the rights of Americans who are killed or injured by corporations, those were ALEC bills. Bills to make it harder for unions to do their work were ALEC bills. Bills to basically block climate change agreements, those were ALEC bills. When I looked at them, I was really shocked. I didn't know how incredibly extensive and deep and far-reaching this effort to rework our laws was.

BILL MOYERS: She and her team begin to plow to ALEC's documents, as well as public sources, to compile a list of the organizations and people who were or have been ALEC members. They found hundreds of corporations, from Coca-Cola and Koch Industries to ExxonMobil, Pfizer and Wal-Mart; dozens of right-wing think tanks and foundations; two dozen corporate law firms and lobbying firms; and some thousand state legislators, a few of them Democrats, the majority of them Republican.

STATE REP. MARK POCAN: ALEC is a corporate dating service for lonely legislators and corporate special interests that eventually the relationship culminates with some special interest legislation, and, hopefully, that lives happily ever after as the ALEC model. Unfortunately, what's excluded from that equation is the public.

BILL MOYERS: In the Wisconsin Statehouse, Democratic Representative Mark Pocan is trying to expose ALEC's fingerprints whenever he can. By one count, over a third of Pocan's fellow Wisconsin lawmakers are ALEC members.
[Read more...]

CNN Sources: 15 days after Benghazi attack, FBI still investigating from afar (27 September 2012) [Rense.com]
(CNN) -- More than two weeks after four Americans -- including the U.S. ambassador to Libya -- were killed in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, FBI agents have not yet been granted access to investigate in the eastern Libyan city, and the crime scene has not been secured, sources said.

"They've gotten as far as Tripoli now, but they've never gotten to Benghazi," CNN National Security Analyst Fran Townsend said Wednesday, citing senior law enforcement officials.

Last Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters that an FBI team had reached Libya earlier in the week.

"In fairness to the secretary, it may be that she wanted to be coy about where they were in Libya for security concerns. That's understandable. But the fact is, it's not clear they've been in Libya for very long," Townsend said on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360°."
[Read more...]

US Bank website targeted by 'attacks' (27 September 2012)
US Bank acknowledged Thursday its website was the target of "attacks" aimed at disrupting its system but that customer data and financial information were not compromised.

The eighth largest US banking firm said it was hit by a denial-of-service attack, which came after a threat against US financial companies from a group pledging retaliation for an online video that has sparked unrest in the Muslim world.

"The attacks yesterday involved unusual and coordinated high traffic volume designed to slow down the system. Customer personal and financial information were not compromised," said a statement from Nicole Garrison-Sprenger at the holding company US Bancorp.

The statement said the attacks caused "intermittent delays" but did not take down the company's website or mobile application.
[Read more...]

Dead Texan may be behind unsolved serial killings (26 September 2012)
Canadian officials have linked a dead former Galveston County man to the unsolved killing of a 16-year-old girl, providing the first break in the "Highway of Tears" cases of 18 young women who vanished or whose bodies were found in the Vancouver, British Columbia, area over four decades.

Authorities believe that Bobby Jack Fowler may be the serial killer responsible for some of those deaths and possibly others in the U.S. The Canadian cases range from 1969 to 2006. In May, improved DNA technology allowed investigators to match Fowler's DNA to an unknown male profile found on evidence from teen hitchhiker Colleen MacMillen, who was found dead off a logging road in 1974.

The results were announced on Tuesday by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Fowler died in an Oregon prison in 2006 at 66.
[Read more...]

Study Finds U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan Miss Militant Targets and "Terrorize" Civilians (26 September 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
NERMEEN SHAIKH: I want to bring in James Cavallaro into the conversation, the co-author of the report at Stanford University Law School. James, can you elaborate a little about the places you went to in Pakistan, the people, the number of people you spoke with, and what most surprised you, compared to other reports, for example, that have come out on drone attacks and their implications?

JAMES CAVALLARO: Well, we took two research trips to Pakistan for a significant number of days each time, and we were able to meet with about 70 individuals who had experienced drones and their very negative effects in a direct way. So, these were people either who had been struck by drones themselves or had been maimed, seriously injured, or people who had lost a close relative--a son, a brother, an uncle or more, as in the video we saw a bit earlier--or they were people who lived under the constant presence of drones. We also, of course, did online research, books, spoke with experts, spoke with journalists, spoke with analysts, gathered as much information as we possibly could, went through all the strike data aggregators, so that we could see and cross-reference information and find out what was going on. But what we were able to do, which is exceptionally difficult in Pakistan, was to speak with people who have direct life experience of living in communities in which drones hover 24 hours a day.

Now, you've already mentioned the misinformation that unfortunately has been the dominant narrative of the administration regarding the number of civilian casualties. So, one finding that we were able to include in the report is that the narrative of no civilian casualties or almost no civilian casualties is simply false.
[Read more...]

Activist Mona Eltahawy released after arrest in New York subway protest (26 September 2012)
Prominent Egyptian-American writer and activist Mona Eltahawy has been released from police custody after being arrested in New York on Tuesday for spray painting a subway poster that equates Muslims with "savages".

Eltahawy was charged with criminal mischief after she painted over a poster that read: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man" and "Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."

The anti-Muslim American Freedom Defense Initiative paid for the posters that are in 10 New York subway stations. A US court ruled the statements are "political" and protected by the first amendment's guarantee for free speech.

Journalist Robin Morgan and Eltahawy tweeted information on the progress of her arrest throughout the night and Wednesday morning as she waited to appear before a judge.
[Read more...]

Scarborough cries 'Oh, sweet Jesus!' as Romney fails to lead chant (26 September 2012)
Conservative MSNBC host Joe Scarborough cried out for his Savior on Wednesday after viewing video of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney awkwardly trying to get a crowd in Ohio to chant his name.

After Romney gave a shout out to his running mate, Paul Ryan, in Vandalia, Ohio on Tuesday, the crowd got excited and began chanting, "Ryan! Ryan!"

"Wait a second," Romney said, reminding the crowd that he was at the top of the ticket.

"Romney-Ryan, Romney-Ryan," the former governor instructed the crowd, although most of them ignored him. "There we go."

After co-host Mika Brzezinski played the video on Wednesday, Scarborough could only put his hands over his eyes and utter, "Oh, sweet Jesus."
[Read more...]

Virginia officials to spend $2M on voter ID compliance (26 September 2012)
State election officials will spend nearly $2 million to prepare citizens for compliance with a new voter identification law intended to tamp down on election fraud in Virginia, where its prevalence is questionable.

Much of that money -- $1.36 million -- is the cost of printing and mailing voter registration cards to millions of registered Virginia voters, as Gov. Bob McDonnell ordered when he signed the law last May. Another $550,000 is for a voter education contract awarded to a vendor selected from five bidders. A mix of state and federal funds are paying for the outreach.

That's a significant outlay for the State Board of Elections, which in 2008 relied on the state Department of General Services for public relations services under a $50,000 annual contract.

This year's undertaking is massive by comparison, due to a fundamental shift in voting law, a change cleared by the U.S. Justice Department in August, and McDonnell's mandate to inform the electorate. To do that, election officials are reaching out to interest groups throughout Virginia's 134 localities as part of an "Are You Election Ready?" campaign.
[Read more...]

Activist arrested in New York for defacing anti-Muslim poster (26 September 2012)
Mona Eltahawy, the prominent Egyptian-American writer and activist, has been arrested in New York after spraying paint over a controversial poster on the subway that has been condemned for equating Muslims with "savages".

The posters were put up in the city by the anti-Muslim American Freedom Defense Initiative, led by Pam Geller. They were approved by a US court, which ruled that they were "political" statements and protected by the first amendment, which guarantees free speech.

The poster states: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man." Between two Stars of David, it adds: "Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."

Eltahawy was arrested after a supporter of Geller's initiative attempted to prevent her defacing the sign with a purple aerosol.
[Read more...]

Washington state to kill 8 wolves with habit of eating cattle (22 September 2012)
YAKIMA -- Washington officials announced plans Friday to kill a pack of at least eight gray wolves that have been attacking livestock in the state's northeast corner.

The move is likely to anger some conservation groups and deal a setback to wolf-recovery efforts, though state officials said the step was necessary for sustainable, long-term wolf recovery in the region.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said two teams were in the field Friday to try to kill members of the Wedge Pack, which ranges over a remote area of northern Stevens County. Marksmen would hunt the wolves from the ground, and if those efforts were unsuccessful, they might use helicopters to aid their hunt, director Phil Anderson said.

The pack is believed to have killed or injured at least 15 cattle from the Diamond M herd that grazes in a large area near the Canadian border, according to the statement. Those attacks have become increasingly more frequent since July, even after the agency killed a nonbreeding member of the pack in August, and experts believe the wolves have become dependent on cattle for food.
[Read more...]

Over 4,000 deer dead in Michigan from EHD virus (25 September 2012)
Across the state, 4,217 deer deaths had been linked to EHD as of last week, according to the Free Press. Thousands more are thought to be dead but not yet discovered.

The virus causes deer to bleed internally, stop eating and die quickly. The virus, spread by the bite of tiny flies, could affect the number of deer available for hunters in localized areas, though is unlikely to have much of an impact in the state as a whole, which has about 1.7 million deer, the newspaper reported.

The disease is not known to affect humans and is not spread from deer to deer, according to information from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. People do not catch the disease by eating the meat of infected deer.

Frost kills the flies that spread the disease, stopping the spread of the disease in the fall.
[Read more...]

Special Report: How Romney energy czar fuels business with politics (20 September 2012)
(Reuters) - It's a cornerstone policy in Mitt Romney's bid for the White House: build the Keystone XL Pipeline. The controversial $7.6 billion conduit would pump a river of crude from Canada down to Texas refineries.

President Barack Obama has postponed until next year a decision on whether to approve the line, as environmentalists decry its route across ecologically sensitive areas. Romney says it will create hundreds of thousands of jobs and promote energy independence. In April, he told fellow Republican Party leaders: "I will build that pipeline if I have to do it myself."

The environmentalists fighting Keystone XL have had allies, and for a time, one of the most effective was the man who's now Romney's chief energy adviser: Oklahoma oilman Harold Hamm.

In 2009, the 66-year-old founder and chief executive of Continental Resources formed a lobbying group of fellow Oklahoma oilmen and reached out to state governors, landowners and environmentalists along the proposed route. Hamm feared Keystone XL would flood his firm's backyard with cheap Canadian oil.
[Read more...]

One Billion Rising: Eve Ensler, Activists Worldwide Plan Global Strike to End Violence Against Women (24 September 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to our last segment: One Billion Rising campaign. That is the name of the campaign, violence against women as a global pandemic. And the woman who is leading this team is Eve Ensler.

I want to turn right now, as we talk about this latest election season in the United States, last month Republican Congressmember Todd Akin, running for the Senate in Missouri, sparked national outrage for comments on rape and abortion. Asked by a reporter why he opposes abortion even in cases of rape, Congressman Akin said, in cases of what he called "legitimate rape," women's bodies shut down, and they don't get pregnant. He's running for the seat of the incumbent Missouri senator, Claire McCaskill.

Against this backdrop, we turn now to the worldwide initiative to end violence against women and girls, known as V-Day, and its global campaign called One Billion Rising. The person leading the campaign, Eve Ensler, who wrote an open letter in protest against Congressman Akin's statement and who is joining us on this program. Thousands of organizations across the world have already joined her One Billion Rising campaign. This is activist and actress Rosario Dawson.

ROSARIO DAWSON: I'm rising because one in three women will be raped, killed or beaten in her lifetime. We compose the majority of the planet. I think it's scary and insane to imagine that women's issues and girls' issues are a side issue. And as long as we continue to not stand up and rise and make it the thing that is at the forefront, we're going to see every other issue before us continue to fail.
[Read more...]

Campaigns fight for women's vote (25 September 2012)
Political analysts say forget the rhetoric about the "War on Women" -- the 2012 election could be a war over women.

"Both campaigns are targeting women, and have strategic reasons to do so," said University of Minnesota political scientist Kathryn Pearson, who studies women and politics.

A new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll indicates a broad gender gap in the presidential race, with 55 percent of women favoring Obama, compared with 33 percent for Republican challenger Mitt Romney. Asked who would do a better job of handling issues affecting women, female voters again overwhelmingly came down in favor of Obama -- 62 percent, compared with 28 percent of women who preferred Romney.

Whittling that gap explains, in part, why the Minnesota Republican Party's response to Jill Biden's visit didn't come from state party chair Pat Shortridge, the usual voice of the party. It came instead from two prominent Republican women: Kelly Fenton, the party's deputy chairwoman, and state Rep. Sarah Anderson of suburban Plymouth.
[Read more...]

Proof Smart Meters Are Being Used to Spy On Us (25 September 2012) [Rense.com]
IF you have ever wondered if your smart meter is being used to spy on you, well now there is proof that governments and private organisations are using data collected from smart meters to spy on you.

Information about power usage, which can be used to identify when a home is being occupied, is being shared with third parties of which includes government agencies, private organisations and off-shore data processing centres.

This unethical breach of privacy was discovered on the website of one of Australia's largest electricity retailer, Origin Energy.

Electricity customers, who sign up for an online service that provides the account holder with detailed information about their electricity usage, are unwillingly agreeing to share their private information with third parties.
[Read more...]

Mother of murdered teen Stefanie Rengel pleads with NBC to stop re-enactment (25 September 2012)
The mother of a murdered 14-year-old Toronto girl is pleading with NBC to spare her the pain of having to relive her daughter's 2008 murder.

Patricia Hung, mother of Stefanie Rengel, the teen stabbed to death in front of their East York family home, received a letter from a producer with NBC Universal about a segment for an E! Entertainment special called "Teens Who Kill."

Hung is begging them to stop.

"My feelings are that it cheapens her life and all she suffered, for ratings and profit. The re-enactment of her death, should any of her siblings see it, now or in reruns, would be more than upsetting," she wrote in a post on her blog.
[Read more...]

Whooping cranes will bypass Citrus County again this year (25 September 2012)
CHASSAHOWITZKA -- For the second year in a row, no ultralight aircraft will lead young whooping cranes into Central Florida.

This time, however, it's intentional.

Last year, the whooping cranes learning their migration route from Wisconsin to Florida never made it farther south than Alabama. Slowed by weather and grounded temporarily by the Federal Aviation Administration, the young birds succumbed to an extra-warm winter and refused to follow the ultralights any farther.

Housed for awhile at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge near Decatur, Ala., when the spring came, all nine cranes returned on their own to where they fledged in Wisconsin.
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U.S. battery firm bars lead at Chinese plant after poison claims (25 September 2012)
US battery giant Johnson Controls will stop lead processing at a plant in China's commercial hub Shanghai, the firm said, after the city found high levels of the metal in children living nearby.

The Fortune 500 company has denied the plant's operations caused elevated lead exposure for people living in Shanghai's Kangqiao area.

But Johnson Controls said in a statement it would stop lead processing at the facility in response to Shanghai authorities' moves to "remove lead manufacturing from the community".

In February, Shanghai blamed Johnson Controls and two Chinese companies for causing lead poisoning in 49 children, most of them aged between one and three.
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Children born to parents who eat GM wheat may DIE before age five, warn scientists (20 September 2012)
(NaturalNews) Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) has developed a novel variety of genetically-modified (GM) wheat that contains an altered protein and enzyme-suppressing mechanism that some scientists are now saying could cause serious problems for the human liver. A recent report compiled by several acclaimed experts in the field of genetics says that children born to parents who consume this GM wheat variety could actually end up dying before they reach the age of five.

This shocking revelation comes at the same time as CSIRO has announced that Australia's Office of the Gene Technology Regulator (OGTR) has granted the group approval for two field trials of both wheat and barley that have been modified in this untested way. Since the technology directly inhibits an enzyme in wheat that is very closely linked to glycogen, a polysaccharide produced in the liver, consuming wheat or barley that contains these genetic alterations will very likely lead to liver failure, and eventually death.

"If this (technology) silences the same sort of gene in us -- as it silences in the wheat -- then, well, children who are born with this enzyme not working tend to die by the age of about five," says Professor Judy Carman, a biochemist and director of the IHER, Flinders University, who helped compile the report. "And adults with this problem, just kind of get more and more sick, and more and more tired, until they get very, very ill indeed."

Carman worked with both Michael Antoniou, a molecular genetics expert from Kings College in London, and Prof. Jack Heinemann, a Lecturer in Genetics at the University of Canterbury, to compile and present these very serious concerns about the safety of CSIRO's GM wheat for public and expert review. According to Heinemann, there is no evidence that CSIRO even considered the fact that its GM wheat could obstruct glycogen production, and OGTR was apparently unconcerned about this very serious possibility when it freely granted the group approval for field trials.

"What we found is that the molecules created in this wheat, intended to silence wheat genes, can match human genes," said Heinemann during a recent press conference hosted by the Safe Food Foundation. "And through ingestion, these molecules can enter human beings and potentially silence our genes."
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Picking Ryan has done little to win voters for Romney (24 September 2012)
(Reuters) - Mitt Romney's selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate has done little to attract voters to the Republican ticket and more think he is not qualified to be president than believe he is ready for the White House, a Reuters/Ipsos poll said on Monday.

Fewer than a third of registered voters, 29 percent, said the selection of Ryan made them feel more favorable toward Romney. But with 27 percent in the online poll saying it made them feel less favorable, Ryan's place on the ticket may have little effect on the November 6 election.

The results were largely split along party lines - with 46 percent of Democrats saying Ryan's choice made them less favorable, compared with 8 percent who said the opposite. And 56 percent of Republicans felt more favorable, versus 6 percent.

But Ryan has not swayed many political independents, the voters expected to play a decisive role in the election. Eighteen percent felt more favorable and 13 percent less so.
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This May Be America But Don't Automatically Assume You Can Vote (24 September 2012) [InfoWars.com]
This is still America and everyone has the Constitutional right to cast their vote on Election Day but only 20 states will allow you to cast your vote without providing at least minimal identification, and most of them are working toward rectifying that situation even as we speak.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 6, 2012, and the last day to register to vote is Tuesday, October 9. With most states enacting stricter voter registration laws, it's imperative that you make sure you're registered as early as possible to allow time to gather up the necessary documents.

If you believe you're already registered, think again. Almost every state in the Union has either changed their registration requirements or they have some type of voter registration legislation pending. If you're planning to step up to the poll and make a difference with your vote, then you need to make sure your vote will be counted.

The single most important requirement across all states requiring voter ID is a state issued photo ID. That's not to say that a photo ID is the only requirement, so again, don't assume anything. To find out the exact voting requirements in your state visit the National Conference of State Legislatures website.
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PAM COMMENTARY: This article is meant to motivate, not scare people away from the polls. Many new voter ID laws have been struck down or are blocked by injunctions and won't take effect this year, if ever. But it's always a good idea to check your registration status in advance.

Tesla's new charging stations -- coming to a freeway near you (24 September 2012)
First, Tesla Motors made the electric car sexy.

Now the company's brash CEO, Elon Musk, wants to revolutionize the way electric cars recharge on the road.

After months of teasing, Musk on Monday night finally unveiled Tesla's "supercharger" and revealed that the company had already planted six of the machines at roadside stations throughout California. The superchargers can add 150-miles worth of charge to a Model S battery pack in just a half hour -- far faster than any other charging equipment on the market. Drivers can stop, plug in, grab a burger, and the car will be ready to go by the time they're through.

For Model S owners, the electricity will be free.
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The N.Y. Times tells us how much energy the cloud uses -- but not why it matters (24 September 2012)
So, the paper industry used slightly less energy than the internet? I find that diminishes the perceived impact of the internet. It only uses 13 percent more energy than the paper industry?

What's the context for many of the problems raised? When Glanz faults the use of diesel generators as backup power sources, what does that pollution compare to? Is it worse than highway traffic? Worse than pollution from other industries? Worse than pollution from other industries that use backup diesel generators?

And Glanz completely ignores existing efforts to improve efficiency and make data centers more green. Syracuse University has a green data center, as does IBM in Poughkeepsie, as does the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Apple recently built a cloud-computing facility in North Carolina that features an enormous field of solar panels. Glanz also neglects to mention campaigns by environmental organizations (like Greenpeace) that are pushing tech companies to decrease their use of fossil fuels.
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US marines charged over urinating on bodies of dead Taliban in Afghanistan (24 September 2012)
Two US marines are facing criminal charges for urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, after their actions were caught on a video that circulated widely on the internet, the US military said on Monday.

Staff sergeants Joseph W Chamblin and Edward W Deptola will face courts martial, the first criminal charges faced by anyone over the incident. The video prompted widespread anger in Afghanistan earlier this year; the Afghan President Hamid Karzai called the marines' actions "inhuman".

Chamblin and Deptola, were also charged with "posing for unofficial photographs with human casualties", and will face charges over failing to report or stop misconduct by junior marines, the military said. Three marines have already been disciplined over the urination incident.

Although the video was circulated on the web in January 2012, the incident actually took place on or around July 27, 2011, during a counter-insurgency operation in Afghanistan's Helmand province, an internal investigation showed.
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As Italy Sentences 23 CIA Agents in Rendition Case, Obama Refuses to Prosecute Anyone for Torture (21 September 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
ALFRED McCOY: That's the third stage of impunity. The first stage--and it's a universal process. It happens in countries emerging from authoritarianism that have had problems with torture. Step one is blame the bad apples. Donald Rumsfeld did that right after the Abu Ghraib scandal was exposed in 2004.

Step two is saying that it was necessary for our national security--unfortunate, perhaps, but necessary to keep us all safe. That was done very articulately by former Vice President Cheney at the time, and he continues to make that argument. He claims that these "enhanced techniques," as he calls them, i.e. CIA torture, saved thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of lives. OK?

The third step is the step we just witnessed in President Obama, saying that, well, whatever might have happened in the past, we need unity as a nation, we need to move forward together into the future. So, the past isn't germane. We need to put it behind us, not investigate, not prosecute. And that was the position he was taking there.

The fourth stage is one that we've been going through for the past year. That's been political attack by those implicated, under the Bush administration, in either conducting the torture or authorizing the torture. And that's a political tack seeking not just exoneration, getting away with it, but seeking vindication, saying that not only, you know, was this legal, but it was necessary, it was imperative for our national security. And that's an argument that the Bush administration made very forcefully when Osama bin Laden was killed in May of 2011. They argued that the enhanced interrogation under the Bush administration led the Navy SEALs to Osama bin Laden. There's no evidence for that, but they made that argument. And that put pressure on Attorney General Eric Holder to drop the--most of the investigations of CIA abuse. And then, very recently, the two investigations of detainees who were killed in CIA custody have been dropped, as well.
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For Romney, some troubling signs among older voters (24 September 2012)
(Reuters) - Even before his running mate was booed by a lobbying group for older Americans on Friday, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was losing support among such voters, whose backing is crucial to his hopes of winning the November 6 election.

New polling by Reuters/Ipsos indicates that during the past two weeks - since just after the Democratic National Convention - support for Romney among Americans age 60 and older has crumbled, from a 20-point lead over Democratic President Barack Obama to less than 4 points.

Romney's double-digit advantages among older voters on the issues of healthcare and Medicare - the nation's health insurance program for those over 65 and the disabled - also have evaporated, and Obama has begun to build an advantage in both areas.

Voting preferences among seniors could change in the final six weeks of the campaign, but the polling suggests that a series of recent episodes favoring Obama and the Democrats could be chipping away at Romney's support among older Americans.
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Clinton: Republican voter suppression targeting African-American churches (23 September 2012)
Former President Bill Clinton is warning that President Barack Obama's edge in the polls may not be enough to defeat GOP hopeful Mitt Romney because the Republican Party was using voter suppression techniques to target traditionally Democratic voters like African-American church members and the elderly.

"How much will the vote be lessened or reduced by the fact that in Florida except for four counties, the pre-election voting -- advanced voting -- has been cut down to and doesn't include the Sunday before the election?" Clinton told CNN's Fareed Zakaria in an interview that aired on Sunday.

The former president added that the tactic was "an arrow aimed straight at the heart of the African-American church, who pull up the church busses on the Sunday before the election and take elderly people who have no cars or people that are disabled to the polls so they can vote."

"How much will those things work in Ohio, where the legislature eliminated advanced voting unless the local election council voted for it?" he continued. "In the Republican counties, the three Democratic commissioners -- because they're not hypocrites -- voted with the Republican to allow advanced voting. In Cleveland, the three Republican commissioners voted against the Democrats so they can't have advanced voting."
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Oilsands must be balanced with other sectors, Mulcair says in visit to Edmonton (23 September 2012)
His remarks were similar, though toned down from the controversial "Dutch disease" stance he took earlier this year, when he argued that the oil industry's success has pushed up the value of the dollar to the point that it was hurting the manufacturing sector in other parts of the country.

Those comments angered many in the west, as has his party's opposition to Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline that would carry 525,000 barrels of bitumen to the West coast for shipment to Asia. Federal hearings into the proposed the pipeline are underway in Edmonton this weekend, putting Mulcair in the midst of the debate critical to Alberta's oil industry.

Though he did not mention Dutch disease again on Saturday, Mulcair stuck by his contention that Ontario's manufacturing sector is being "hollowed out," noting that 500,000 jobs have been lost in recent years as exporters lose their competitive advantage.

While opposed to Northern Gateway, Mulcair said it was important to find new markets for Alberta oil, possibly in Eastern Canada, and to keep jobs in refining and upgrading at home rather than shipping those jobs to Asia or the U.S.

"We have to be sure other markets can be found and you have a way to get the product to other markets," he said.
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Giant panda cub dies at National Zoo (23 September 2012)
"Distressed vocalizations" from Mei Xiang were heard at about 9:17 a.m. Sunday, and keepers realized "this is not right, this is not good," zoo spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson said.

Kelly said Mei Xiang "got up and moved off of where she was holding the cub, and made a honk," which was unusual for her. "We surmised that that was a distress call," he said.

The keepers also had stopped hearing the cub's healthy squealing, which had gone on for a week and was a sign of a thriving newborn.

Emergency protocols were activated, and within minutes a team of four keepers and two veterinarians had assembled in the keepers' office in the panda house.
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Sources (if found on major news boards):
[AJ] - InfoWars.com, PrisonPlanet.com, or other Alex Jones-affiliated sites
[BF] - BuzzFlash.com
[DN] - DemocracyNow.org
[R] - Rense.com
[WRH] - WhatReallyHappened.com


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