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NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012
News from the Week of 7th to 13th of October 2012
Meat recall: XL Foods Inc. lays off 2,000 employees temporarily (13 October 2012)
BROOKS, ALTA. -- A beef processing plant that has been at the centre of a massive recall announced the temporary layoff Saturday of approximately 2,000 people.
The XL Foods facility has been idle since Sept. 27 while federal officials and the company deal with E. coli contamination that has been linked to 15 illnesses and has involved a recall of its products from across North America.
A company news release said its employees have been receiving full pay for the past three weeks, but the temporary layoffs are necessary because the Canadian Food Inspection Agency can't indicate when the plant will get its license back.
"We have paid our valued team members out of a commitment to our workforce and to assist them through this difficult time," Brian Nilsson, co-CEO of XL, said in the news release.
Billionaire Koch brother accused of imprisoning, interrogating former employee (13 October 2012)
William Koch, the billionaire energy tycoon and prominent Republican donor, allegedly kidnapped and interrogated at a remote Aspen ranch a former top-level executive whom he suspected of subversion.
According to Courthouse News Service, Kirby Martensen, a former executive of several Koch subsidiaries, has filed suit in federal court seeking punitive damages for the alleged incident. The Huffington Post on Saturday confirmed the story with Martensen's lawyer.
In the suit, Martensen charges that in March, Koch lured him and other employees to a secluded Aspen ranch--one with no cell phone reception or connection to the outside world--under "false pretenses." Though Martensen thought he had been called to Aspen to discuss business, he was instead interrogated, searched and held against his will for over twenty-four hours before finally being freed.
Koch's motive, according to Martensen, was an anonymous letter Koch received in 2011 that claimed he and others were engaged in a scheme to steal from and defraud from Koch enterprises. According to the court filing, Koch ordered a secret investigation into the matter that turned up private correspondance from Martensen questioning the legality of Koch's business practices. The days-long affair in Aspen, Martensen claims, was therefore an attempt to intimidate him into silence, and to ultimately fire him.
Norfolk Police Department sued over OT policy (13 October 2012)
More than 300 past and present city police officers have filed a lawsuit alleging that they were ordered to work overtime without pay.
The officers contend that they were forced to clean their weapons, arrive early for court, speak with informants and bosses, remain on call and work through breaks on their own time and without pay. The complaints were listed in documents filed in Eastern District Court of Virginia.
The lawsuit also claims that the police department does not pay time-and-a-half until an officer surpasses 43 hours in a seven-day period -- a policy that James Shoemaker, one of the attorneys representing the officers, said is a violation of state law.
"This is simply a case where ... officers have not been getting paid in accordance with state and federal law," Shoemaker said.
Outside groups running ads that badly mislead about jobs numbers (12 October 2012)
As the presidential race hits the final stretch, you'll be seeing more and more under the radar communications -- unannounced or highly targeted ads, robocalls, mailers -- that will grow increasingly dishonest as Election Day approaches.
Case in point: A new radio ad that the Rove-founded Crossroads GPS is running in Colorado that is almost comically misleading about the latest unemployment statistics and the trajectory of unemployment on Obama's watch.
The ad, which is embedded below, was intercepted by ad trackers who work for Bridge Project, the nonprofit arm of the Obama-allied American Bridge, the group says. To my knowledge, Crossroads never announced the spot. It features a woman claiming to feel let down by the promise of the Obama presidency and painting a grim picture of the Obama economy.
She then says this: "And these latest job numbers? They're the same as when Obama took office in the middle of an economic crisis."
Meningitis outbreak: Some questions and answers (12 October 2012)
The toll in the nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak has risen to 14 dead and 155 sickened across 11 states, linked to a tainted back pain treatment from a Massachusetts compounding facility. Health officials continue to investigate the cause, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting Thursday that some 14,000 patients in 23 states have been injected with the potentially tainted steroid, which was recalled last week.
Here's a closer look at the state of the outbreak.
What is meningitis?
Meningitis is an infection that causes inflammation of the meninges, the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. The infection can be viral, bacterial or fungal. Those who have become sick as a result of the recent outbreak are suffering from a fungal variety.
Fungal meningitis is extremely rare, though it can be caused by spores commonly found in the environment. Thus far, laboratory testing by the CDC has identified the fungus Exserohilum in 10 infected people and Aspergillus in one other person.
Feds to broaden Native Americans' right to possess eagle feathers (12 October 2012)
WASHINGTON -- The Department of Justice announced a new policy broadening and clarifying the right of Native Americans to possess eagle feathers and other parts of the birds that they consider sacred but are protected by U.S. law.
Federal wildlife laws prohibit the killing of eagles and the possession and commercialization of their feathers. While certain members of Indian tribes have been exempted, the wildlife laws have been a source of confusion among some tribes that feared prosecution for carrying out their customs and traditions.
Currently, federal agents "come to powwows and have sting operations and make arrests of Native Americans," said Wilmer Stampede Mesteth, a Lakota spiritual leader on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. "We've got a lot of Native Americans who are in prison that shouldn't be there."
The new policy "will help ensure a consistent and uniform approach across the nation to protecting and preserving eagles, and to honoring their cultural and spiritual significance to American Indians," Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. said.
Is ExxonMobil trying to pipe tar-sands oil through New England? (12 October 2012)
The Bangor Daily News has the story:
"A group of environmental advocates believe they have evidence that oil giant ExxonMobil -- and perhaps even [Maine] Gov. Paul LePage [R] -- are backing a plan to push controversial tar sands oil through an aging pipeline across Maine. ...
"Representatives of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Environment Maine, the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Council of Maine, among others, told reporters Wednesday morning during a news conference in Portland that research into the corporate parentage of the Portland Pipe Line Corp. shows a direct line to ExxonMobil, a company the environmentalists described as a major player in the field of Canadian tar sands oil extraction.
"Further, the environmental advocates handed out copies of emails they said were acquired through a Freedom of Information Act request, in which Drew Cobbs of the American Petroleum Institute and Patricia Aho, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, discussed an Oct. 17, 2011, meeting about Canadian tar sands oil with the governor. Among those scheduled to attend that meeting, according to the emails, were two representatives of the Portland Pipe Line Corp. and the Canadian Consulate General in Boston.
"'The evidence is undeniable that this project is moving forward, albeit in pieces and behind closed doors,' said Dylan Voorhees, clean energy director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine."
Deepwater Horizon pipe 'responsible for new oil slick in Gulf of Mexico' (12 October 2012)
Government scientists have definitively linked a new oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico to the BP oil spill disaster of 2010.
A senior government scientist said the most likely source of the new oil is the mile-long length of pipe from the Deepwater Horizon rig, now lying in a crumpled loop on the ocean floor.
At worst, he said, the pipe was thought to contain some 1,800 barrels of oil -- a minuscule amount compared with the 4.9m barrels that gushed into the ocean from BP's well during the 2010 oil disaster.
"When you look at all those pieces of information and put them together there is a high degree of confidence that the oil we are seeing and the sheening on the surface is coming from the riser, and that this is residual oil," said Frank Csulak, who is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's scientific co-ordinator for the Deepwater Horizon disaster site.
Prostitution sting catches Halliburton VP (12 October 2012)
Authorities in Texas took to the Internet to nab seven men accused of arranging to pay for sex in north Harris County during an undercover prostitution sting Thursday.
One of the suspects is Joseph Francis Andolino, a 59-year-old senior vice president with Halliburton.
An official with Halliburton confirmed that Andolino is an executive at the oil field services giant. "We expect our officers and employees to maintain high standards of professional and personal conduct, but we do not comment on personal matters," a statement from Halliburton said.
The Harris County Sheriff's Office conducted the operation that was focused on people soliciting sex online, deputies said. Undercover deputies posed as female escorts online and arranged to meet the men at spots off Interstate 45 and F.M. 1960.
In VP debate, Ryan complains of 'green pork' and fact-checkers swat him down (12 October 2012)
Thursday's feisty vice presidential debate included one exchange on energy, specifically clean-energy stimulus funding -- and that one exchange included a number of distortions and lies, courtesy of one Congressman Paul Ryan.
The back-and-forth was largely about Solyndra, though the company's name was never mentioned. Ryan tried to paint the Energy Department's stimulus-funded loan program for cleantech companies as a cesspool of corruption and waste: "green pork" and "crony capitalism and corporate welfare." Joe Biden defended the stimulus spending -- as have so many outside observers -- and pointed out that Ryan eagerly sought some of that "green pork" for his own Wisconsin district.
Let's check out some quotes and some fact-checking:
Ryan: "Look at just the $90 billion in stimulus. ... $90 billion in green pork to campaign contributors and special interest groups."
The greener the industry, the higher the job-growth rate (11 October 2012)
Industries that support a higher number of "green" workers who are making goods and services more environmentally friendly have experienced a higher rate of growth over the last decade than industries with fewer green jobs.
That's according to a new study from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), which analyzed data on the green workforce from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS data, which was released in March, documented 3.1 million green jobs nationwide in renewable energy, water management, recycling, and various positions that help improve the efficiency and environmental footprint of a company or institution.
BLS defined green jobs as:
"Jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources; or, jobs in which workers' duties involve making their establishment's production processes more environmentally friendly or ensuring that they use fewer natural resources."
After Decades of Uranium Mining, Navajo Nation Struggles With Devastating Legacy of Contamination (11 October 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the effects of the uranium mines and what tailings are?
LEONA MORGAN: Yes. Tailings are the radioactive waste that results from conventional mining. And so, we've been inundated by a number of conventional mines and mills around northwestern New Mexico. And on Navajo, we have a number, 520 abandoned mines, but it's actually 520 clusters, so there's over 2,000 individual sites of abandoned uranium mines where conventional mining occurred, and they all have tailings waste, which could blow around and get in the water. You know, we have livestock, we use animals, so if the soil becomes contaminated, if the water becomes contaminated, and the plants do, you know, through ingestion and other means, we also become. So those are some of the health effects, the environmental effects, and also effects to our food sources.
But the tailings is a huge issue because, nationally, there is no long-term solution. So, in one community in Church Rock, there's the cleanup process going on now at the Northeast Church Rock Mine, and they're proposing to scrape up all the waste and pile it on top of existing tailings waste from an abandoned mine. It's on top of an unlined pile, and they're proposing to leave it there in perpetuity. And so, the community is calling for off-site removal to a certified regional repository. We don't want 520 permanent waste sites on the Navajo Nation, yeah.
Court hears arguments on Manning trial access (11 October 2012)
The battle for greater access to court martial proceedings against alleged WikiLeaks source Pfc. Bradley Manning trial went before the military's highest court Wednesday, with groups and individuals demanding that legal briefs, court orders and other records in the case be made public.
But what the five judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces seemed most interested in during the hourlong arguments was why the matter had to end up before the court at all.
Manning's trial on charges of aiding the enemy, disclosing classified information and disobeying orders, is set to begin in February. The judges finished Wednesday without giving any indication of when they might issue a ruling -- or even whether it will happen before the trial starts.
Before any decision, though, both sides will have to produce an additional filing, explaining whether the court has jurisdiction -- the appellants say it does, but the military disagrees.
Mother of former SEAL asks Romney to stop (11 October 2012)
SIDNEY, Ohio (AP) -- The mother of a former Navy SEAL killed in Libya has called on Mitt Romney to stop talking about her son during his political campaign.
A spokesman for the Republican presidential candidate says Romney will respect her wishes.
Romney in recent days has been telling voters of chance encounter with the former SEAL, Glen Doherty, at a Christmas party two or three years ago. Doherty was among four Americans killed in the attacks in Benghazi.
Romney told the story of his chance encounter with Doherty at least twice in the last two days as part of a larger push to show a more personal side and criticize President Barack Obama's foreign policy. Romney, like other Republicans, have repeatedly raised questions about the president's handling of the Sept. 11 attack.
Oilsands, pipelines off agenda as Canadian environment ministers meet in Lake Louise (11 October 2012)
CALGARY -- Canadian environment ministers meeting in Lake Louise on Thursday will tackle an array of issues ranging from air quality and consumer goods packaging, to sewage sludge and Japanese tsunami debris.
But there's no formal plans to discuss the thorny environmental questions surrounding Alberta's oilsands and the construction of new, multi-jurisdictional bitumen pipelines running to the West Coast.
"There's always opportunity for people to add more items to the agenda," said Alberta Environment Minister Diana McQueen, who is hosting her counterparts from across the country, along with federal Environment Minister Peter Kent.
"We're always happy to talk about that," she said in an interview Wednesday.
B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake said during these annual meetings, the ministers usually stick to subjects they are likely to agree on, avoiding issues where progress is unlikely -- such as a national plan for reducing greenhouse gases.
Report: Anti-choice Republican forced mistress to have an abortion (10 October 2012)
A Tea Party Republican congressman who has backed anti-abortion legislation has been revealed to have pressured a mistress to get an abortion of her own.
The Huffington Post reported Wednesday that Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), a former physician, had an affair with a patient that resulted in him pressuring the unidentified woman to get an abortion in September 2000.
Earlier this year, DesJarlais denounced fellow Republican Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) over Akin's "legitimate rape" comments. However, DesJarlais has not backed away from his support of the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" co-sponsored by Akin and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the GOP candidate for vice president.
"I have been a consistent supporter of pro-life values," DesJarlais told The Chattanooga Times Free-Press in August. "This bipartisan bill simply prevents taxpayer dollars from being used to perform abortions. Human life is sacred and taxpayer funding of abortion is counter to the values a great many Tennesseans hold."
North Carolina campaign ad features vaginal probe (10 October 2012)
North Carolina state Senate candidate Deb Butler has released a new ad that slams Republican incumbent Thom Goolsby for supporting anti-abortion legislation.
"He wouldn't dare show you this, but this is Thom Goolsby's contribution to women's health," Butler says in the ad, holding a trans-vaginal ultrasound wand. "A medically unnecessary and invasive procedure that is now required by state law. He promised us his first priority would be jobs, but instead he's following us into the doctor's office."
Her campaign said it may be the first ever appearance of a trans-vaginal ultrasound wand in a political ad.
The North Carolina legislature passed a bill last year that requires abortion providers to show women an ultrasound and describe the images in detail four hours before terminating a pregnancy. The law also requires doctors to offer women the chance to listen to the heartbeat of the fetus.
As Bain Ships Jobs to China, Bainport Protesters Arrested for Blocking Illinois Factory's Closure (10 October 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Why does it matter to you so much?
KARRI PENNISTON: It matters to me because this is our--like, it's our source of income. When my mom loses her job, we're not going to have, like, money for Christmas. It's going to be harder to, like, get by. We're going to be living on basically whatever she gets paid for the month, like those little checks for unemployment. That's what we're going to be living off of. I mean, it's a great opportunity at the same time, because she'll get the schooling, but the schooling really doesn't matter anymore. I mean, you can get a job anywhere and not have a degree. And I think my mom's good at what she does, and I don't think she deserves to lose her job.
AMY GOODMAN: What is the connection to Mitt Romney?
KARRI PENNISTON: All I know is that he owns the company that owns my mom's work. And, I mean, I think he--if he just maybe said, you know, "Can we not send these people's jobs to China?" maybe they would listen because, I mean, he is kind of famous. He's running for president. I mean, people look up to him. And maybe that would change their minds, if he said something.
AMY GOODMAN: What would you want him to say?
KARRI PENNISTON: I would want him to just say he's sorry, because he is living the sweet life while we're sitting here trying to scramble through our thoughts and figure out what we're going to do in a month from now when she doesn't have a job. And maybe he should be put in our shoes and get to experience what that feels like.
PAM COMMENTARY: I doubt that anything can melt Mitt's ice-cold heart -- other than his true god, MONEY, of course...
Wal-Mart Workers in 12 States Stage Historic Strikes, Protests Against Workplace Retaliation (10 October 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
NERMEEN SHAIKH: I'd like to bring Mike Compton into the conversation. Mike Compton, you are a Wal-Mart employee. And at the moment, you're in Bentonville, Arkansas. Can you explain what it is that you're intending to do in Bentonville and talk a little bit about your experience working for Wal-Mart?
MIKE COMPTON: You know, I'm in Bentonville to support, you know, everybody here, the OUR Walmart organization. We're going to have some actions, I know, at a hotel that some of the executives are staying at; I think some of the stores. I haven't got the full schedule.
You know, I work in a Wal-Mart warehouse in Elwood, Illinois. The conditions are terrible--a lot of safety issues. We have broken equipment that was not getting repaired. They just--they push us to work at a rate that makes it even more unsafe. You know, we finally just had enough, and we started to organize. We started a petition, just asking for some basic rights. And our managers refused to take it. So, that was kind of the final straw. We decided that was it, and we walked out that day.
AMY GOODMAN: Mike, what has been the response of Wal-Mart?
MIKE COMPTON: You know, us directly have not really had a direct response from Wal-Mart. You know, they hide behind these temp agencies that they put in the warehouses. There's anywhere from, I don't know, five to maybe eight different temp agencies. And that--you know, that was one of the things that we were asking for was more job security. We don't know day to day if we have a job.
20 arrested in housing protest in California (10 October 2012)
A group protesting the lack of housing for thousands of San Franciscans briefly took over a vacant building in the heart of the Castro district on Wednesday evening as part of a worldwide day of action aimed at drawing attention to the plight of homeless people.
About 50 protesters gathered at Dolores Park at 5 p.m. and listened to music for an hour before marching down 18th Street, chanting "Homes not jails." Shortly after 6 p.m., protesters wearing black masks broke into an empty building at 535 Castro St. and hung a sign reading, "Gentrification Equals Assimilation."
About half of the crowd stayed outside the two-story building while about as many police officers gathered across the street. Police stormed the building at about 6:50 p.m. Nearly an hour later, they arrested 20 people inside the building and marched them into a waiting police van. One woman sprained her ankle while trying to run from police as they stormed the building.
Earlier, housing activist Tommy Avicolli Mecca, who was carrying a sign that read, "Stop the war on the poor," said the city needs to do more to make use of its vacant spaces.
Meningitis outbreak: second company closes as number of cases reaches 137 (10 October 2012)
Ameridose LLC, a private company that mixes drugs for hospitals nationwide, sought on Wednesday to distance itself from the firm at the center of a deadly US outbreak of fungal meningitis, even though the two pharmacies have common owners.
Both companies are owned by Gregory Conigliaro, an engineer who invented a way to turn plastic into pot-hole filler, and his brother-in-law, Barry Cadden, a pharmacist in charge of pharmacy operations at the New England Compounding Center, which distributed thousands of vials of a contaminated steroid that has been implicated in 12 deaths.
Both firms mix, dilute and prepare drugs into formulations not typically available through pharmaceutical manufacturers.
O'Neill and Associates, a public relations firm hired by Ameridose, confirmed the shared ownership in an emailed statement.
PAM COMMENTARY: I'd like to know more about the science behind the outbreak, and what they thought was the contaminating source -- were these companies sharing suppliers, and of what?
Another Example of a Shameless Government Lie (10 October 2012) [InfoWars.com]
Once again, the government tells a lie and the establishment media broadcasts it without asking a question -- until weeks later.
It turns out there was no protest outside the U.S. consulate in Libya before the ambassador and three others were killed. It was a lie that will now be used as a political football as the scheduled dog and pony show that will install the next Goldman Sachs president commences.
PAM COMMENTARY: The real info is in the embedded video of this article.
Police testing bone suspected to be Michaela Garecht's, another possible "speed freak killers" victim (10 October 2012)
The mother of a 9-year-old girl who was kidnapped from outside a Hayward store in 1988 said Wednesday police are testing a bone fragment taken from a San Joaquin County well linked to a duo nicknamed the "Speed Freak Killers."
Hayward police are investigating whether the fragment is from Michaela Garecht, who disappeared after a man snatched her from the store, said Garecht's mother, Sharon Murch of Castro Valley.
"It is currently undergoing testing for mitochondrial DNA," Murch said in a posting on Facebook.
Asked by The Chronicle if she believed the remains were that of her daughter, Murch said, "I don't know, but my feeling is that it's likely to be it."
Oil in new Gulf slick matches that of 2010 spill (10 October 2012)
The oil in a slick detected in the Gulf of Mexico last month matched oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill two years ago, the Coast Guard said Wednesday night, ending one mystery and creating another.
"The exact source of the oil is unclear at this time but could be residual oil associated with the wreckage or debris left on the seabed from the Deepwater Horizon incident," the Coast Guard said.
The Coast Guard added that "the sheen is not feasible to recover and does not pose a risk to the shoreline." One government expert said the thin sheen, just microns thick, was 3 miles by 300 yards on Wednesday.
Some oil drilling experts said it was unlikely that BP's Macondo well, which suffered a blowout on April 20, 2010, was leaking again given the extra precautions taken when it was finally sealed after spilling nearly 5 million barrels of crude into the gulf.
Marineland: OSPCA welcomes more power from the province (10 October 2012)
The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals wants more funding and sweeping changes to its powers, saying it is handcuffed in its investigations by the current legislation and animals are suffering because of it.
With those new powers, the OSPCA would welcome government oversight, said Rob Godfrey, chairman of the board of directors,
"There is nothing hidden and there shouldn't be anything hidden," Godfrey told the Star Wednesday.
Godfrey's comments came after Ontario Community Safety Minister Madeleine Meilleur announced wide-ranging plans to improve and strengthen Ontario's animal welfare laws, but the government's consultation won't be done until next spring.
All the Missing Horses: Federal Gov't Selling Wild Horses to Western Dealer Linked to Slaughter (9 October 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
DAVID PHILIPPS: Before I tell you that, let's just take a second to appreciate the fact that there are wild horses out there right now, thousands of wild horses in the West that are still this part of the old Wild West that never got tamed. These are horses that are protected by the government, much like an endangered species.
Now, what happened to them? Well, the government has taken some of them off the land, and it tries to sell them. It says repeatedly, emphatically, that it is so careful of who it sells them to, that none--it knows for a fact that none are ever slaughtered or even sold to people who might resell them to slaughter. What we found in our investigation, in fact, is that they never check up on any of these claims, and they are selling one man in Colorado, this guy Tom Davis--they've sold him 1,700 horses over the past three years.
AMY GOODMAN: Who has sold them?
DAVID PHILIPPS: The Bureau of Land Management, which is part of the Interior Department. Essentially, the federal government has sold these horses that it takes off of the range to this one buyer. Where they go, the government doesn't know, and Tom Davis is not telling. But evidence suggests that he is sending them to Mexico to slaughter.
Battered by the economy, Nevadans still favor Obama (9 October 2012)
In nationwide Reuters/Ipsos surveys, conducted over nine months, a startling 35 percent of households have suffered a major economic setback in the past four years. They have either lost a house to foreclosure or are in the middle of losing one. Or they have lost a job or taken a pay cut. Almost 96,000 adults were polled.
The disillusion among voters in this group is extreme: Only 21 percent think the national economy is going in the right direction, while 73 percent say it is on the wrong track (click here for the poll data: tinyurl.com/economytrack).
Strikingly, many don't seem to blame the president. They divide about evenly on which candidate has the better plan for the economy: Forty percent pick Obama and 42 percent choose Romney (click here for the poll data: tinyurl.com/economyplan).
OUT OF WORK AND UNDERWATER
At the edge of Las Vegas, miles from its garish casinos and peep shows, acres of dun-colored stucco homes, once mostly owner-occupied, are pimpled with "For Rent" signs. U-Haul vans wind in and out of dusty lanes with jaunty names: Rosy Sunrise Street, American Beauty Avenue, Glory Rise Court.
Canadian Federal inspectors to tour closed XL Foods meat plant (9 October 2012)
"At this point there is no date or indication if the plant will be operational," Kochhar said.
The review follows a written request from XL Foods Inc. to have its licence reinstated. It was revoked in late September due to deficiencies in operations.
All of the XL Foods meat products continue to be under CFIA control.
E. coli was first detected at the Alberta plant on Sept. 4, but it took 12 days for the first of numerous public alerts to be issued.
Brain-eating amoeba kills at least 10 in Karachi (9 October 2012)
A brain-eating amoeba has killed at least 10 people in Pakistan's most populous city since May, a World Health Organisation official says.
Naegleria fowleri, which has a fatality rate of more than 98%, is transmitted when contaminated water enters the body through the nose. It cannot be passed from person to person.
The 10 confirmed cases have all occurred in the southern port city of Karachi, said Dr Musa Khan, head of the WHO's disease early warning system in Pakistan.
It is unclear if all cases have been reported, as residents may not be familiar with the disease and Pakistan's hospitals are severely overstretched.
Back from the dead: MacArthur genius wants to keep runoff out of the Gulf (9 October 2012)
Q. I've never seen a dead zone, and most of our readers probably haven't either. Would you mind describing the one in the Gulf of Mexico for us?
A. One of the reasons it has been so difficult to raise the visibility of this issue is that it's very difficult to visualize from the surface of the water or from a plane. From land you can't see it at all. When the hypoxic [or low oxygen] water gets close to shore, you can have a fish kill if the fish get trapped. But otherwise, you need to dive, or use special instruments.
If you're diving and you start at the surface, you can usually see some greener water because of the phytoplankton, then you drop down a little bit and it gets clearer, and then you go past a density difference, which is like a shimmer on the landscape. You get below that and you basically don't see any more fish from there to the bottom, and the water toward the bottom gets very turbid and black. Up on the diving platforms there are lots of barnacles and living things, then once you get into the low-oxygen area, you won't see anything -- just black detritus.
Q. Do you want to talk about why this year's dead zone is smaller than it has been in recent years?
A. This year we experienced a drought on the Mississippi River. We had fewer nutrients coming down in the spring, and the hypoxia didn't develop like it usually does. But it wasn't really because of any management changes in the watersheds. It's an annual cycle. The river discharge goes up in the spring, as does the nutrient load. [The dead zone] is the worst in June, July, and August, but it'll last into September and October depending on the tropical storms. In winter we have a series of cold fronts that mix up the water, and you don't get any of that low-oxygen area.
Wisconsin Republican Senate candidate forgets how many homes he owns (8 October 2012)
Former Gov. Tommy Thompson, a Wisconsin Republican running for Senate, recently repeated a mistake that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) made during the 2008 presidential race and forgot home many homes he owned.
During a campaign event last week, the former Wisconsin governor was asked to count his properties.
"Three," Thompson confidently stated, according to the Journal Sentinel.
After being pressed about a fourth home, Thompson said he was sure there were only three: a farm in Elroy, Wisconsin; a house in Madison, Wisconsin; and a 10,889-square-foot home near Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
Dennis Banks: Palestinian Suffering Under U.S.-Backed Occupation Recalls Plight of Native Americans (8 October 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Dennis Banks, I wanted to share with you the comment of one of the people at the tribunal. On Sunday, Palestinian history and political science professor Saleh Hamayel explained why the fate of Palestinians in Israel has been different from that of Native Americans on this continent.
SALEH HAMAYEL: Whenever a colonial settler situation never used the natives as labor force, their fate was always genocide--total physical extermination. Now that was not easy to do in the middle of the 20th century. I mean, fortunately for us, the Zionist project came in 1948. It was too late to duplicate what happened for the Indians of North America.
AMY GOODMAN: Your response, Dennis Banks, to the Palestinian political science professor, Saleh Hamayel?
DENNIS BANKS: I think that he was a very--he has a--his presence is very strong. And I listened very intently to what he was saying. And afterward, we had a chance to look at the comparisons of what is happening, what is happening in Palestine now as to what happened with us during the '30s and the '40s. And it's the same pattern. And that's--I said that on the very first day, that what is happening to those people is what we went through during the last century. And it is--unfortunately, it is the same, same people: it is the U.S. government, it is--which funnels money to Israel, and then it goes to hurt the Palestinian people.
Native American Leader Dennis Banks on the Overlooked Tragedy of Nation's Indian Boarding Schools (8 October 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Dennis Banks, for people who are not familiar with these boarding schools that Native Americans were put into over the years, can you describe what your experience was? Where did you live? Where were you sent? What happened to you in these schools growing up?
DENNIS BANKS: I was in the boarding schools when punishment was very severe if you ran away. This was during the early '40s. I was taken to a boarding school when I was four years old, and taken away from my mother and my father, my grandparents, who I stayed with most of the time, and just abruptly taken away and then put into the boarding school, 300 miles away from our home. And, you know, the beatings began immediately, the--almost the de-Indianizing program. It was a terrible experience that the American government was experimenting with. And that was trying to destroy the culture and the person, destroy the Indian-ness in him and save the human being, save the--kill an Indian, save the man. That was, you know, the description of what this policy is about, about trying to--
AMY GOODMAN: Now, the government ran the schools?
DENNIS BANKS: The U.S. government paid--of course, they ran a lot of the schools themselves, but they also delegated a lot of it to the Christians, Christian communities. The Catholics had some. The Episcopalians had some. The Lutherans had some. Methodists had some. And so, it was like a complicit--there was complicity between the churches and the state in taking care of Indian problem, solving the Indian problem, and trying to change who we were.
Duff, Archibald speak at 2012 Whooping Crane Festival (7 October 2012)
Archibald noted that while sandhill hunts are unpopular with crane enthusiasts, the hunts are very popular with hunters. "Hunters, of course, look at it from a different point of view. They call it 'rib eye in the sky.'"
"...And actually, they're hunted in Saskatchewan, Alaska, all through the sandhill flyway except for Nebraska -- all the other states. And especially in Texas -- there are like 15,000 [sandhill cranes] shot every winter in Texas. It's a big industry. You can't hunt with a dog. The whooping crane would put the eyes out of the dog. And so, it's a whole sport unto itself.
"...So, the International Crane Foundation is in a very sticky position on crane hunting. If it were to take a radical stand against crane hunting, and mobilize the people of Wisconsin to kill crane hunting, it would only take one irate hunter to do in most of our whooping cranes. And that's a real threat." said Archibald, noting that nine whooping cranes had already been lost to sandhill shootings.
"The proposal in Wisconsin initially was the cranes are creating damage to the corn in the Spring when it's planted, so we have to reduce the population by hunting them in the Fall. Well, actually the damage is done in the Spring. So, the Crane Foundation for a number of years developed a technique to prevent the cranes from eating the corn. And we've discovered a compound that's not dangerous and very cheap, called anthraquinone, can be applied to corn before it's planted. And it's distasteful to the cranes and they will not eat that corn.
The Party we have (4 October 2012)
If conservationist Russell Train had been a Democrat, party leaders would have fallen all over each other to laud him when he died at 92 last week. But he wasn't, and they didn't. Too bad.
Having served Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford as he fashioned a conservation legacy, you'd think the Republican Party would have embraced him as an icon. But his party has strayed so far from its conservation roots it ignored his death. Worse, they're busy these days trying to undo much of what he accomplished. What a shame.
It's pretty hard to call for the elimination of the Environmental Protection Agency -- as some Republicans have done -- and salute a man who helped create it. For his part, Train said many times he favored raising the EPA to Cabinet status, to put the environment on equal footing with other interest areas.
Environmental issues were in the forefront when Train was in the midst of a remarkable run that solidified his place in history. As Keith Schneider wrote in The New York Times last week, "From 1969 to 1977, as Richard M. Nixon's first chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and then as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under Gerald R. Ford, Mr. Train was among a select group of senior administration officials and congressional leaders who shaped the world's first comprehensive program for scrubbing the skies and waters of pollution, ensuring the survival of ecologically significant plants and animals, and safeguarding citizens from exposure to toxic chemicals."
Courts block Republicans' voter ID laws -- for now (8 October 2012)
WASHINGTON -- Earlier this year, voting rights advocates foresaw a cloud over this year's election because new voting laws in Republican-led states tightened the rules for casting ballots and reduced the time for early voting.
But with the election less than a month away, it's now clear those laws will have little impact. A series of rulings has blocked or weakened the laws as judges -- both Republicans and Democrats -- stopped measures that threatened to bar legally registered voters from polling places in the November election.
"Courts see their role as the protectors of the core right to vote," said Ned Foley, an election law expert at Ohio State University.
The laws were the product of a Republican sweep in the 2010 election. The GOP took full control in such states as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida, and soon adopted changes in their election laws.
Some states told registered voters they must show a current photo identification, such as a driver's license, even if they did not drive. Others, including Florida and Ohio, reduced the time for early voting or made it harder for college students to switch their registrations.
Virginia felons face slew of hurdles to regain voting rights (8 October 2012)
Advocates estimate that some 350,000 Virginians could be eligible for restoration. The Advancement Project estimates 1 in 5 African Americans are banned from voting in the state.
To regain their rights, a felon must pay court costs and restitution, as well as keep a clean record. Non-violent offenders must wait two years to apply for restoration; those considered violent offenders must wait five years.
All must compile their certified court records, letters from parole and probation offices, written recommendations from community members and a personal statement. The packet is then submitted to Richmond.
Kelly said her office has guaranteed that completed applications filed by Aug. 15 will have a decision before Oct. 15 - the last day to register to vote for the November presidential election.
Edgardo Cortes, director of the Virginia Voting Rights Restoration Campaign for the Advancement Project, said McDonnell's work has improved the process, but it's still not automatic. The group has been advocating for a change in Virginia for several years, he said.
Halliburton's lost radioactive rod found in Texas (8 October 2012)
The US oilfield services company Halliburton has found a seven-inch radioactive rod it lost in the Texas desert almost a month ago.
The company lost the rod, which contains americium-241/beryllium, during a 130-mile journey between oil well sites in Pecos and Odessa on 11 September.
A spokesman for Halliburton said the device was found late on Thursday night on a road about seven miles from the well site in Pecos, where the rod was last used.
Midland County sheriff Gary Painter said an oilfield pumper recognised the device from fliers that had been handed out in the area.
Halliburton workers, police officers and the national guard had been involved in searching for the rod, which is stamped with a radiation symbol and the words "Danger Radioactive: Do not handle. Notify civil authorities if found."
China's Huawei, ZTE should be banned: draft House panel report (8 October 2012)
(Reuters) - China's top telecoms gear makers should be shut out of the U.S. market as potential Chinese state influence on them poses a security threat, the U.S. House of Representatives' Intelligence Committee said in a draft of a report to be released on Monday.
U.S. intelligence must stay focused on efforts by Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and ZTE Corp to expand in the United States, and tell the private sector as much as possible about the purported espionage threat, the panel leaders said, based on their 11-month investigation of the two firms.
Employee-owned and unlisted Huawei is the world's second-biggest maker of routers, switches and telecoms equipment by revenue after Sweden's Ericsson. ZTE ranks fifth. In the global mobile phone sector, ZTE is fourth and Huawei sixth.
Huawei generated around 4 percent of its group sales from the United States, while ZTE's U.S. revenues made up 2-3 percent of its overall figure. The bulk of both companies' U.S. sales comes from selling handsets through U.S. carriers such as Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile USA.
Activists stockpile urine and boulders to disrupt mass badger-killing in the U.K. (7 October 2012)
Dark days are approaching for badgers. Since the government gave the go-ahead to a trial cull in an attempt to protect cattle from bovine TB, up to 100,000 badgers could be shot. Trained marksmen are preparing for the cull, which will involve using bait to lure the creatures out of their setts before shooting them.
Yet subversive forces are never far afield. "Jay", spokesperson for the Bristol-based animal rights group Stop the Cull, explains that since badgers are easily disturbed, noise and lights should send them safely back underground. Likewise, if they come across any people, the marksmen are legally required to break (i.e., disarm) their rifles.
Police in Gloucestershire and Somerset, where the first culls are due to take place, warn that disrupting licensed culling could lead to a charge of aggravated trespass. "In farms with licences we will not disrupt the cull," says Jay, "but we will make sure it proceeds legally. We will wear hi-vis jackets, use very bright torches to film, and vuvuzelas to make sure shooters know we're there and we're not shot."
Dismantling any snares would be a serious offence, says Jay. "It used to be done with bolt-cutters but it can actually be done with boulders, which means you're not walking around the countryside with anything that can get you done by the police." Bait points, meanwhile, can be "neutralised" by peeing on them, as badgers hate the smell.
A new 'golden age of oil' in the U.S.? Don't believe it (7 October 2012)
Once this surge in U.S. energy production was linked to a predicted boom in energy from Canada's tar-sands reserves, the results seemed obvious and uncontestable. "North America," he announced, "is becoming the new Middle East." Many other analysts have elaborated similarly on this rosy scenario, which now provides the foundation for Mitt Romney's plan to achieve "energy independence" by 2020.
By employing impressive new technologies -- notably deepwater drilling and hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) -- energy companies were said to be on the verge of unlocking vast new stores of oil in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, and shale formations across the United States. "A 'Great Revival' in U.S. oil production is taking shape -- a major break from the near 40-year trend of falling output," James Burkhard of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) told the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources [PDF] in January 2012.
Increased output was also predicted elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere, especially Canada and Brazil. "The outline of a new world oil map is emerging, and it is centered not on the Middle East but on the Western Hemisphere," Daniel Yergin, chair of CERA, wrote in the Washington Post. "The new energy axis runs from Alberta, Canada, down through North Dakota and South Texas ... to huge offshore oil deposits found near Brazil."
It turns out, however, that the future may prove far more recalcitrant than these prophets of an American energy cornucopia imagine. To reach their ambitious targets, energy firms will have to overcome severe geological and environmental barriers -- and recent developments suggest that they are going to have a tough time doing so.
Why Northern Gateway shouldn't go near Great Bear Rainforest (7 October 2012)
We began at Kitimat, the endpoint of the proposed bitumen pipeline.
Within minutes of our Gitga'at guide Marven Robinson showing us the likely marine terminal site, three orcas splashed by. Then a pod of seven humpbacks. The oh-so-familiar juxtaposition of trade pitted against the environment was set early, a theme that would haunt throughout.
Certainly the fierce opposition of the Coastal First Nations to the project is well known. For Marven, decked out in his "Stop the Tankers" T-shirt, the feeling is visceral. "This just cannot happen," he growls.
The first surprise was that the exact tanker route from Kitimat to the ocean is far from direct or straight. Disabuse yourself of any notion there is a wide-open, direct channel to the sea. Indeed, the route twists and turns, offering different options.
E.coli illnesses from Alberta beef scare climbs to 10 (7 October 2012)
OTTAWA -- The number of illnesses linked to beef products from the XL Foods plants in Brooks, Alberta has increased to 10 people from three provinces.
The Public Health Agency of Canada says seven of the cases are from Alberta, two are from Quebec and one from Newfoundland.
Officials say the two Quebec cases and three of the Alberta cases are newly confirmed.
E. coli was first detected at the plant on Sept. 4, but it took 12 days for the first of numerous public alerts to be issued.
It has led to the recall of hundreds of XL Foods beef products across Canada and much of the United States.
UC Davis researcher suspended over animal, drug questions (7 October 2012)
A UC Davis professor exploring the mysteries of the inner ear is under investigation for his handling of lab animals, the third faculty member accused in recent months of "serious" violations involving research subjects.
University officials confirmed last week that Ebenezer Yamoah, a professor of anesthesiology and pain medicine, is the subject of internal probes and a federal inquiry into his work with live animals, mostly mice.
Yamoah, 48, who has federal research grants totaling nearly $1.8 million, has been suspended from any leadership role in animal research while the investigations continue, according to internal university documents made available last week at The Bee's request.
In one incident late last year, three baby mice were found sealed alive in a plastic baggie and left unattended on the counter of Yamoah's lab at the Center for Neuroscience in Davis. The trapped animals were quickly euthanized, campus officials told The Bee.
Portable solar device could change lives in less developed countries (7 October 2012)
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- South Dakota entrepreneur Brian Gramm was tailgating outside a college football game one sunny day when he wondered why he couldn't use that energy to plug in a radio.
The first-world inconvenience led him to develop the Forty2, an all-in-one "utility in a box" that Gramm now thinks could change millions of third-world lives.
The device, which looks like a quadruple-sized laptop computer, could generate and store enough solar power in a remote African village to run a dorm refrigerator filled with medicine, a couple of fans and a dozen LED lights, said Gramm, founder and chief executive of Peppermint Energy.
"We changed it from how could we run a TV and a satellite dish and a stereo, to being able to run that fridge around the clock 365 days a year, being able to charge cell phones because that's their only link to communication, being able to get them indoor cooking," said Gramm, of Sioux Falls.
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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