Pam Rotella's Vegetarian FUN page -- News on health, nutrition, the environment, politics, and more!
NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012
News from the Week of 14th to 20th of October 2012
Gaza-bound ship Estelle intercepted by Israeli forces (20 October 2012)
"The Estelle is now under attack. I have just had a message from them by phone. Some time ago, they said that they had military ships following them," Victoria Strand, a Stockholm-based spokeswoman for the Ship to Gaza Sweden campaign, told Agence France Presse (AFP).
She added that it was unclear what the activists onboard meant when they said they had been attacked.
The Estelle is carrying 30 activists from Europe, Canada and Israel, humanitarian cargo such as cement, and goodwill items such as children's books.
Israeli army radio reported that its naval forces had ordered the Estelle to halt its course.
Battle for the Castle: Environmentalists hope to limit logging, drilling in sensitive area (20 October 2012)
CASTLE WILDERNESS AREA -- Along the dramatic southeastern edge of the Canadian Rockies, fresh snow hangs off the yellow leaves of the pine trees in an old-growth forest, slowly melting into a trickling creek. Castle Falls, a nearby waterfall, flows a brilliant shade of turquoise.
It's called the Castle wilderness, one of the most biologically diverse areas in the province.
Sixteen years ago, the stunning area about 230 kilometres southwest of Calgary was identified by the province as a hot spot worthy of protection under the Special Places program it had created a year earlier.
A local committee was struck and the idea debated, but it proposed the region instead become a multiple-use zone -- a designation that prioritizes watershed health and recreational value, but allows industrial uses such as logging and oil and gas exploration.
PAM COMMENTARY: Warning: This has an embedded video that starts playing without the reader taking any action.
George Whitmore Jr. dies at 68; exonerated in three N.Y. murders (20 October 2012)
In the city of New York, in 1964, a destitute young black man named George Whitmore Jr. confessed to three murders he did not commit.
"I didn't do it, but they wouldn't believe me," Whitmore, then a 50-year-old handyman, told New York Newsday in 1995. "At one point I really did think I was going to the electric chair."
He was eventually proved innocent, and his legal case helped persuade New York lawmakers in the mid-1960s to drop the state's death penalty for most crimes. The case was also cited in the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 1966 Miranda ruling, which established such protections for suspects as the right to remain silent.
Whitmore died Oct. 8 at 68 in a Wildwood, N.J., nursing home. The cause was a heart attack, a daughter, Regina Whitmore, told the New York Times.
Boys -- like girls -- hitting puberty earlier (20 October 2012)
(CNN) -- Boys in the United States are starting puberty earlier than ever, according to a new study publishing in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics.
In the study, lead author Marcia Herman-Giddens from the University of North Carolina's School of Public Health and her colleagues show that boys are starting to sexually develop six months to two years earlier than medical textbooks say is standard.
This research has been a long time coming. Herman-Giddens first documented early puberty in girls in 1997, and several studies have since backed up those findings.
One of the reasons it took so long to do a comprehensive study on early puberty in boys, Herman-Giddens said, is that the onset is more difficult to identify. For girls, breast development and the start of a menstrual cycle are obvious clues. For boys, the onset of puberty comes in the form of enlarged testes and the production of sperm.
Recall of peanut butter products due to Salmonella scare expanded (20 October 2012)
OTTAWA--A recall of peanut butter products in the U.S. due to possible Salmonella contamination has now been expanded into Canada.
The affected products by Sunland Inc. include PureFit Peanut Butter Crunch bars and PureFit Peanut Butter Crunch Box with a best before date of Mar. 1 2013.
Sunland Inc. raw in shell peanuts sold in bulk are also included in the recall.
No illnesses associated with the products have been reported in Canada, however, there have been reports of Salmonella poisoning related to the products in several U.S. states.
Antidepressants Could Make Your Brain Bleed, Cause Hemorrhagic Strokes (19 October 2012) [Rense.com]
Thickened arteries, heart disease, depression, suicide, and now, we can add bleeding of the brain to the long list of side effects of antidepressants. Though the risk is admittedly very small, researchers declared on Wednesday that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may raise the risk of hemorrhagic strokes, which happen when the brain bleeds.
SSRIs include a wide variety of common antidepressents, including Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, and Paxil. These drugs are also linked to an increased risk of stomach bleeding.
Platelets Can't Clot, Hemorrhage
After analyzing 16 previous studies involving over 500,000 patients, researchers determined that SSRI users were 40 to 50 percent more likely to suffer bleeding of or around the brain. The researchers were not, however, able to collect other relevant data, like subjects' smoking and drinking habits, diet, and whether they had diabetes. Their findings were published in the journal Neurology.
Although lead researcher Dr. Daniel G. Hackam of Western University in London, Ontario says that we "can't infer cause and effect from this," it isn't exactly an unreasonable association. Blood cells (platelets) have difficulty clumping and clotting in the presence of SSRIs, causing the patient's platelet function to stumble soon after taking SSRIs. This may be why patients experienced the greatest risk of hemorrhage within the first few months of taking the drugs.
Koch-Affiliated Group Campaigns To Make Wind Tax Credit 'So Toxic' Republicans Won't Back It (19 October 2012)
The wind energy industry faces a lame duck fight in the House of Representatives over extending the expiring production tax credit. The tax credit has broad bipartisan support, and considering that 81 percent of U.S. wind projects are installed in Republican districts, GOP lawmakers have a good reason to support it.
But with Koch Industries and fossil fuel groups mobilizing to defeat the credit, its future after 2012 is uncertain. The American Energy Alliance, which has Koch ties, told Politico Pro this week that it aims to make the credit a toxic issue for House Republicans: ([Politico Pro] Article requires subscription access):
"Our goal is to make the PTC so toxic that it makes it impossible for John Boehner to sit at a table with Harry Reid and say, 'Yeah, I can bend on this one,'" said Benjamin Cole, spokesman for the American Energy Alliance.
American Energy Alliance has a strong link to Koch Industries: AEA's president Thomas Pyle was former director of federal affairs for Koch Industries, and it is affiliated with the Koch- and ExxonMobil-backed Institute for Energy Research. Pyle is a former lobbyist for the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. AEA is also running a half-million-dollar TV ad in Virginia slamming Obama on coal issues.
Karl Rove's Crossroads groups lead in U.S. outside spending race (19 October 2012)
(Reuters) - Two groups formed by influential Republican operative Karl Rove spent more on television and radio ads in the presidential race than any other "super PAC" or advocacy group in recent weeks, blanketing airwaves in advance of the November 6 election.
The super political action committee American Crossroads and its sister nonprofit, Crossroads GPS, together spent $47.4 million since September 10, according to Reuters analysis of spending disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission through October 18.
Ads funded by the groups, which have pledged to spend some $300 million to help elect Mitt Romney to the White House and Republicans to Congress, have been hitting President Barack Obama's economic record in a handful of crucial swing states.
"October is when the rubber hits the road," said Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio. "Our pedal is on the metal and will continue to be on presidential and congressional advocacy."
As Sen. McGovern Nears Death, How the Antiwar Candidate Challenged Vietnam and Inspired a Generation (19 October 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: With the Vietnam War drilling a hole through Lyndon Johnson's presidency, as well as everyday American life, New York political alchemist Allard Lowenstein roamed the halls of Capitol Hill looking to dump Johnson. He knew that good, old Uncle Baines couldn't be beat, but someone had to raise the moral flag against the war. And his first stop was Bobby Kennedy's office. The first-term New York senator understood the rightness of the cause but knew that throwing his hat in the ring would surely wreck the Democratic Party and possibly his own career. Kennedy suggested South Dakota Senator George McGovern, probably the most ardent critic of the war. In recommending his friend, Bobby said, "George is the most decent man in the Senate. As a matter of fact, he's probably the only one."
GEORGE McGOVERN: Nobody dreamed that Johnson would resign and decide not to run again. I thought, since I was up for re-election to the Senate, it would be better to get a senator who didn't have to forfeit his seat in the Senate, so I suggested Gene McCarthy.
THOMAS J. KNOCK: But the one thing that he was really concerned about was that the establishment was going to pursue this war. Nobody was going to be there to make a case against the war at the Democratic convention.
GEORGE McGOVERN: So, finally I decided I would do it. I was right in the middle of a campaign for re-election to the Senate, and that I was simply trying to hold the Kennedy delegates and the Kennedy standard at the convention. I've always been glad I did that.
Third instance of voter registration dumping found in Virginia (19 October 2012)
A third instance of fraudulent voter registration has been uncovered in the important swing state of Virginia, where a Republican consultant has been arrested and thousands of discarded voter registration forms were recovered from a dumpster earlier this week. According to the Not Larry Sabato blog, a law student at James Madison University registered to vote on campus, but found when she tried to verify the change online, found that her form had never been submitted.
On Thursday, Raw Story reported that 31-year-old Colin Small, a Republican operative employed by Pinpoint, a firm contracted by Republican Party of Virginia, was arrested and charged with "four counts of destruction of voter registration applications, eight counts of disclosure of voter registration application, and one count of obstruction of justice" for throwing active voter registration forms into a dumpster.
Not Larry Sabato blogger Ben Trippett wrote that 2 to 3 weeks ago, a woman, identified only by her first name, Lucy, attempted to update her voter registration at a table on the campus of James Madison University.
"She stopped to fill out a voter registration form to change her voting address from her parents house in Fairfax to her dorm address in Harrisonburg so she could vote in person on election day," wrote Trippett. "On Wednesday night Lucy went online to check her voter registration status and found out she had not been registered in Harrisonburg- meaning whoever was collecting her form on campus had not turned it in."
XL Foods to destroy recalled beef products (19 October 2012)
OTTAWA--The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says XL Foods Inc. plans to destroy all the beef products returned during the largest recall of meat in Canadian history.
Another 5.5 million kilograms of frozen, fresh and boxed beef currently stored at the facility in Brooks, Alta., and other warehouses will either be rendered or cooked to kill off any bacteria, a process that is used to deal with E. coli contamination.
That meat was not affected by the recall, but was prevented from entering the marketplace when the federal food inspection agency temporarily suspended the operating license of the slaughterhouse last month.
"If the company chooses to use a high temperature treatment, the CFIA will oversee the effectiveness of this process and as an extra precautionary measure, will test afterwards to ensure the product is safe," the inspection agency said in a statement sent to media on Friday evening.
FBI must pay S.F. journalist $470,000 (19 October 2012)
A federal judge this week ordered the FBI to pay a San Francisco journalist almost half a million dollars for withholding records he requested under the Freedom of Information Act.
Seth Rosenfeld, a former reporter at The Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner, won $470,459 in attorneys' fees for two lawsuits he filed - one in 1990 and another in 2007 - while researching the 1960s protest movement in Berkeley.
The lawsuits were two of five he filed against the FBI and the Justice Department starting in 1985. He requested a variety of records pertaining to the FBI's covert operations at UC Berkeley and its secret relationship with former President Ronald Reagan.
Rosenfeld used the information he received from the FBI in articles for The Chronicle and the Examiner, as well as in his book "Subversives: The FBI's War on Student Radicals, and Reagan's Rise to Power," which was released in August.
Rosenfeld said the FBI had failed to turn over all of the documents he requested, and that it wasn't until he engaged them in a series of legal battles that the agency released thousands of pages.
Orionid meteor shower: Watch for fireballs during weekend peak (19 October 2012)
Skywatchers in the northern and southern hemispheres are in for a treat overnight Saturday, when the annual Orionid meteor shower -- an intimate encounter with remnants of comet Halley's tail -- is expected to peak.
Weather willing, at least 25 meteors an hour should be visible in the predawn hours Sunday morning. By then, a crescent moon will have set, allowing a larger number of fainter meteors to stand out against the night sky.
But NASA's all-sky cameras already are detecting meteor rates that suggest the show could be better, perhaps approaching 60 meteors an hour, says Bill Cooke, a meteor specialist at the NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., and head of the agency's Meteoroid Environment Office.
"I'm cautiously optimistic," he says of the shower, which began Oct. 17 and runs through Oct. 25 at a sky above you.
Family sues energy drink maker over girl's death (19 October 2012)
The parents of a 14-year-old Hagerstown girl who died in December are suing an energy drink company in a California court, alleging that caffeine in the beverages contributed to her death, according to court records.
A complaint filed Friday by Wendy Crossland and Richard Fournier states that their daughter, Anais Fournier, went into cardiac arrest after drinking two 24-ounce Monster Beverage Corp. drinks within a 24-hour period. Monster is based in Riverside County, Calif., where the case was filed.
Fournier was "unconscious when emergency personnel arrived at her home," the complaint said. At Johns Hopkins Hospital, doctors induced a coma in an attempt to reduce brain swelling. After several days, "the decision was made to terminate life support," it said.
The opinion of the Maryland medical examiner's office is that Fournier died of cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity that impeded her heart's ability to pump blood. The autopsy report also concluded that Fournier suffered from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome -- an inherited disorder that can make connective tissues, like skin and blood vessel walls, flexible and weak, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Greg Palast: "Mitt Romney's Bailout Bonanza: How He Made Millions from the Rescue of Detroit" (18 October 2012)
AMY GOODMAN: Greg Palast's exposé is part of a film-in-progress called Romney's Bailout Bonanza. Greg joins us in New York, author of a number of books, including recently released New York Times bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps. His piece is just out today in The Nation, called "Mitt Romney's Bailout Bonanza: How He Made Millions from the Rescue of Detroit."
Greg Palast, welcome back to Democracy Now! So, lay it out for us.
GREG PALAST: Oh, it's one of the creepiest stories I've investigated in a long time, Amy. Mitt Romney, through Ann Romney's blind trust--not so blind, they could see exactly where the money was going--gave their money to Paul "The Vulture" Singer, a guy you and I have been following on Democracy Now! for five years. Singer, with two of his hedge fund buddies, bought up the auto parts division of General Motors for only 67 cents a share. They were able to turn 67 cents a share into $22 a share by threatening GM and the U.S. Treasury with a complete shutdown of the auto industry. They had complete control of all the steering wheels and steering columns of every car that was being made in America. GM would have been liquidated. They literally threatened to shut down GM. And so, they--the government simply allowed GM to pay them $12 billion. About half of that was straight from the U.S. Treasury in a takeover of Delphi's pension fund.
Once they got the money--once they got the money, they eliminated 28 of 29 auto plants in the U.S. They moved--they eliminated every single job of every UAW member; 25,200 UAW members all lost their jobs. Almost every plant was then moved by the Romney group to China. Delphi is making a fortune today. So you have 25,000 workers who lost their jobs to China. Three hedge fund managers made at least $4 billion, $4.2 billion. And the Romneys have made at least 15, but the evidence suggests that it's more like $115 million for the Romneys, about a 4,000 percent profit.
What we can't get from them at this moment, this may be the reason why they are not releasing their 2009 taxes, because that would give us a better hint. Unfortunately, they've not only moved the company operations to China, but they've moved their incorporation of the auto parts division of General Motors from Troy, Michigan, to the Isle of Jersey in the Mediterranean Sea, which hides their taxes and also, of course, hides their accounts. So that--that's the story.
Six Arrested in Illinois Protesting Bain Capital's Plan to Close Sensata Plant, Move Jobs to China (18 October 2012)
AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to Freeport, Illinois, where six more people have been arrested protesting plans by Mitt Romney's former company, Bain Capital, to shut the Sensata Technologies plant and move operations to China. A hundred seventy jobs will be lost. On Wednesday, six community supporters were arrested in the lobby of the plant during a sit-in demanding full severance pay for those who will lose their jobs.
We turn right now to Tom Gaulrapp, who has worked at the plant for 33 years. He is one of those who will lose his job. This follows arrests last week of people who laid down on the road to stop machinery at the plant from being moved out of the Sensata Technologies plant owned by Bain Capital.
Tom, can you give us the latest?
TOM GAULRAPP: Good morning, Amy. Excuse me, my--I lost my voice.
Yes, yesterday, six community members who support us completely, and they went, walked over to the plant. They had with them the petition that the employees had signed requesting that we receive full severance. They asked for a meeting with the plant manager; they were told the plant manager was not available. They then asked for a meeting with the human resource person; they were told that she was not available. And so, they sat down in the foyer of the plant, and the police were called. And they were asked to leave, and they said they would not leave until they had a meeting. And the police arrested six people.
BP could reap billions of dollars in tax credits from oil spill settlement (18 October 2012) [Rense.com]
BP, which caused the biggest environmental catastrophe ever seen on U.S. shores, may be poised to receive the biggest tax break in American history as a result of it.
The British oil company already has claimed $10 billion in tax credits from the 2010 disaster, caused when its Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
Taxpayers could be asked to shoulder billions of dollars more under terms of a settlement currently being negotiated between BP and the federal government. Both sides have incentive to make a deal: The Department of Justice wants to avoid a lengthy court trial, and BP wants to get on with its life.
The total fine paid by BP could reach $21 billion or more -- generating a nice headline for the Obama administration. But check the fine print. The settlement could include hidden subsidies that make the true amount substantially less.
Tim Kaine's moral convictions and political ambitions (18 October 2012)
When Kaine first ran for statewide office in 2001, not only was he an outspoken opponent of capital punishment, he had also defended death row inmates as a pro-bono attorney. It was not a promising profile in a state that remains second only to Texas in the number of executions since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976.
Kaine adroitly defused the issue, promising voters he would not block the state's death penalty machinery, despite his personal beliefs.
Other Catholic governors have found ways to curtail executions on their watches. New Mexico's Toney Anaya (D) commuted the death sentences of all five death row inmates at the end of his term in 1986. Illinois's George Ryan (R) declared a moratorium on executions in 2000; Maryland's Martin O'Malley (D) effectively did the same in December 2006.
"I think people had some hopes that Kaine would take some bold moves," said Richard Dieter, head of the D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center. "But the political reality is, Virginia is not Maryland. There was a perception that you can't advance if you oppose the death penalty. He ended up doing as he said he would do."
Meningitis outbreak: link to shots from Massachusetts company confirmed (18 October 2012)
The fungus found in tainted steroid shots matches the one blamed in the US meningitis outbreak that has killed 20 people, federal health officials said Thursday.
Officials said they have confirmed the link between the outbreak and the maker of the steroids, New England Compounding Center of Framingham, Massachusetts.
The specialty pharmacy has been at the center of a national investigation into more than 250 fungal meningitis cases.
The victims had all received steroid shots made by the company, mostly to treat back pain. The company last month recalled three lots of the steroid made since May. As many as 14,000 people got shots from the three recalled lots.
The Great Lakes are one Enbridge pipeline failure away from disaster (18 October 2012)
This gap, where the Interstate 75 label is, is the Straits of Mackinac.
Zoom out. It's an unassuming bit of water that plays a key role, separating Lake Michigan, at left, from Lake Huron, at right. Water from Lake Huron then flows into Lake Erie, then to Lake Ontario, then out the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Atlantic. The Great Lakes provide drinking water to 30 million people in the U.S. and Canada; the four lakes mentioned have over 8,000 miles of shoreline combined.
Interstate 75 isn't the only thing that runs across the straits. There are also oil pipelines -- pipelines run by Enbridge, the Canadian company responsible for the worst on-land oil spill in American history.
Earlier today, the National Wildlife Federation released Sunken Hazard [PDF], an assessment of the threat Enbridge's Mackinac pipelines pose to the Great Lakes region. The overview is perhaps expectedly grim.
Prius is California's best-selling car (18 October 2012)
Prius is state's best-selling car
Toyota Motor Corp.'s Prius hybrid is the best-selling vehicle line this year in California, the biggest U.S. auto market, topping Ford Motor Co.'s F-Series pickups and Toyota's own Camry sedan, perennial U.S. leaders.
Toyota, the world's largest seller of gasoline-electric autos, sold 46,380 Prius models to California drivers this year through September, according to the California Auto Outlook report, published by the California New Car Dealers Association.
Purchases of Prius models this year by Golden State drivers are 25 percent of the 183,340 Prius liftbacks, plug-ins, v wagons and c subcompacts sold in the country.
Romney goes from Etch a Sketch to sketchy (17 October 2012)
"Lead from behind" may be a sound bite the Obama administration regrets, but debating from behind is clearly something President Obama is very good at. He got the first debate's wakeup call while Mitt Romney let the encounter in Denver mislead him into confusing petulance with strength.
For Obama's supporters, the fact that the president played offense, had a strategy and seemed happy in his work was reason enough for elation. But the most electorally significant performance was Romney's. Under pressure this time, the former Massachusetts governor displayed his least attractive sides. He engaged in pointless on-stage litigation of the debate rules. He repeatedly demonstrated his disrespect for both the president and Candy Crowley, the moderator. And Romney was just plain querulous when anyone dared question him about the gaping holes in his tax and budget plans.
Any high school debate coach would tell a student that declaring, "Believe me because I said so," is not an argument. Yet Romney confused biography with specificity and boasting with answering a straightforward inquiry. "Well, of course, they add up," Romney insisted of his budget numbers. "I -- I was -- I was someone who ran businesses for 25 years, and balanced the budget. I ran the Olympics and balanced the budget." Romney was saying: Trust me because I'm an important guy who has done important stuff. He gave his listeners no basis on which to verify the trust he demanded.
Romney's stonewalling was so obvious that it opened the way for one of Obama's most effective lines of the evening: "If somebody came to you, Governor, with a plan that said, here, I want to spend $7 or $8 trillion, and then we're going to pay for it, but we can't tell you until maybe after the election how we're going to do it, you wouldn't have taken such a sketchy deal. And neither should you, the American people, because the math doesn't add up." Obama sought to make that point in the last debate. This time he had a metaphor and a story to go with the arithmetic.
PAM COMMENTARY: It's not that Romney lacks a plan -- it's just that his real plan wouldn't work very well and wouldn't get him many votes.
Romney's facts are curious things (17 October 2012)
At Tuesday night's town-hall debate, the Republican presidential nominee replied with confidence when 20-year-old student Jeremy Epstein asked the candidates for reassurance that he'd be able to find work after graduation.
"I put out a five-point plan that gets America 12 million new jobs in four years," Romney said. "It's going to help Jeremy get a job when he comes out of school."
The candidate's statement, a version of a claim he has made for months on the stump and in a new ad, was bold, precise -- and baseless.
Hours earlier, my Washington Post colleague Glenn Kessler had reported that the source the Romney campaign provided for the jobs figure was a trio of studies that either didn't directly analyze Romney's policies or were based on longer time horizons than four years.
Patent suit seeks millions from Internet giants (17 October 2012)
A small tech company is hoping to hit the judicial jackpot in a patent infringement trial against Internet giant Google that started Tuesday in federal court here.
Vringo, which markets video ringtones, claims Google and other companies have been using its newly acquired patents in their Internet advertising programs. Vringo claims it is owed royalties of at least a half-billion dollars, but evidence may raise the damages to more than $1 billion, a company attorney said.
"Nothing in life is free, and this is no exception," Vringo attorney Jeffrey K. Sherwood told a jury in U.S. District Court during opening statements Tuesday.
Google denies that it has infringed, or used without permission, the patents held by Vringo.
Vegetarians have longer life expectancy than meat eaters, finds study (16 October 2012) [Rense.com]
Following a vegetarian diet could mean you live more than nine years longer than you might by consuming meat based diets, according to new research findings.
Report: Romney's 'binders full of women' story not true (17 October 2012)
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's story about having "binders full of women" brought to him while assembling his Massachusetts state cabinet years ago is not true, according to a Boston Phoenix report Wednesday morning.
While Romney did get a binder listing qualified female candidates after being elected governor in 2003, reporter David S. Bernstein said, it was assembled not by his staff, but by a coalition of groups led by the bipartisan Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus, which started collecting the information in 2002 as part of the Massachusetts Government Appointments Project (MassGAP).
"They did the research and put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions," Bernstein said. "They presented this binder to Governor Romney when he was elected."
According to the caucus and MassGAP, Bernstein said, women accounted for 14 of Romney's first 33 senior-level appointments. But on Tuesday, Romney took at least some credit for making that happen.
New York Times Admits Stanford Organic Food Study Flaws, Apologizes (17 October 2012) [InfoWars.com]
We broke the story of Stanford's ridiculous organic food study the very night of its publication. Now, a month later, the media is catching on to the study's flaws; New York Times Opinion columnist Mark Bittman apologized for hoping--in vain--that the study would have little impact on the media. "That was dumb of me," he says, "and I'm sorry."
Narrow Definitions and Egregious Oversights
The study suggests that organic animal and plant products are no healthier than conventionally grown varieties. Bittman puts it beautifully: "By providing 'useful' and 'counterintuitive' information about organic food, [the study authors] played right into the hands of the news hungry while conveniently obscuring important features of organic agriculture."
The study authors narrowly--and misleadingly--defined the word "nutritious" and "healthy," and on numerous occasions contradicted themselves How can food that the authors admit "may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria" also be no more or less healthy than foods that don't? How can foods that put less waste and toxins into the groundwater be no more or less healthy for us than foods that pollute our water and harm those--animals and human--who drink it? We already know of the many nasty effects of pesticides and dangers of GMOs.
Even within its narrow constructs, the study authors erred. Newcastle University researcher Kirsten Brandt last year published a similar analysis of studies to conclude that organic foods do contain more nutrients. How did Stanford miss this? By misspelling a critical class of nutrients found in produce that changed the results of the research: flavonols.
Skipping breakfast primes brain to seek high-calorie food, study finds (17 October 2012)
We are all told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day -- and now neuroscientists are starting to understand why. Skipping the first meal of the day not only means you eat more at lunch, research has found, but also means your brain is primed to seek out unhealthier, higher-calorie foods.
Dieters who skip meals often end up gaining weight over the long term, but why this happens is not well understood. Tony Goldstone, of the MRC Clinical Science Centre at Imperial College London, scanned the brains of people who skipped meals and found mechanisms at work that could help explain the conundrum.
Prolonged fasting of any kind seemed to prime certain brain regions to gravitate towards higher-calorie foods when the person did eventually find a meal. "That makes evolutionary sense if you're in a negative energy-balance situation," he said. "You're not going to waste your time going for lettuce." He will present the results of his study on Wednesday at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in New Orleans.
In the experiment, Goldstone scanned the brains of 21 men and women, all around the age of 25, on two separate days while they were shown pictures of food and asked to rate how appealing they found everything from chocolate and pizzas to vegetables and fish. On one of the days, the volunteers skipped breakfast before their scans; on the other, they were given a 750-calorie breakfast of cereals, bread and jam an hour beforehand. After the scans on both days, the volunteers were given lunch, where they could eat as much as they liked.
Schools ban highly addictive Flamin' Hot Cheetos (17 October 2012)
Forget good old-fashioned potato chips. These days America's kids are munching on Flamin' Hot Cheetos. Maybe you've noticed kid stuffing their mouths with these fiery, cheesy nuggets. Maybe you've seen a teen on the bus with a copy of the Hunger Games in one hand, iPhone in the other, and a big crinkly orange bag in the lap. That bag of Cheetos just might be breakfast.
All of this Cheetos-munching has nutritionists concerned. One bag packs in a whopping amount of fat and salt--"26 grams of fat and a quarter of the amount of salt that's recommended for the entire day," according to ABC News. These airy puffs have no nutritional value--zip, zilch, nada. And as you might expect, the salty snacks are like crack and highly addictive--as in once you stick your hand in the bag there's no turning back.
Schools across the country, from New Mexico to Illinois, are concerned about the number of bags their students are consuming and principals are yanking Flamin' Hot Cheetos off their menus. A Chicago school district, which once sold 150,00 bags a year, no longer carries the snack. "If children were to bring in snacks that are high in fat, high in calories, that's their choice," Rockford School District Interim Superintendent Robert Willis told ABC News "We're not going to be providing those kinds of foods."
One California school isn't even allowing kids to pack in their own Flamin' Hots. "We don't allow candy, and we don't allow Hot Cheetos," Rita Exposito, principal of Jackson Elementary School in Pasadena, Calif., told the Chicago Tribune. "We don't encourage other chips, but if we see Hot Cheetos, we confiscate them -- sometimes after the child has already
Feds raid Massachusetts lab tied to meningitis outbreak (16 October 2012)
(Reuters) - Federal agents on Tuesday raided the Massachusetts pharmacy linked to a widespread meningitis outbreak that has killed 16 people and sickened more than 200 others, federal prosecutors said.
Agents from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration searched the New England Compounding Center, or NECC, in the Boston suburb of Framingham, with officers from the local police department providing support, Framingham police said.
The raid took place as calls came for an even wider probe into whether the once obscure pharmacy may have broken federal laws dealing with controlled substances, and as additional meningitis cases were announced.
Carmen Ortiz, U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, said in a statement, "I can confirm that this office and our law enforcement partners are investigating allegations concerning the New England Compounding Center."
California Prop 37 GMO labelling Turns into Major Fight (16 October 2012) [Rense.com]
Corporations opposed to California's Prop 37 which requires labelling of GMO ingredients in food products have donated more than $34 Million to defeat the measure which could have nationwide implications in terms of food labelling and packaging.
According to KCET's election 2012 site and other sources the companies/grups leading the charge in favor of Prop 37 are
Organic Consumers Fund
Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps
Nature's Path Foods
Lundberg Family Farms
And those most strongly against it are:
Monsanto donated over $7million to fight
Council for Biotechnology Information
Grocery Manufacturers Association
PAM COMMENTARY: I'd like to see labeling, but companies who use GMOs don't want to give people the ability to choose products that don't have them.
Secret Debate Contract Reveals Obama and Romney Campaigns Exclude Third Parties, Control Questions (16 October 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
NERMEEN SHAIKH: George Farah, can you explain how was this contract revealed, if in the previous instances it was only through whistleblowers?
GEORGE FARAH: Time magazine's David Halperin [sic] actually managed to get a copy of the contract. We don't know how, but it was leaked. It wasn't by virtue of the commission operating with transparency.
AMY GOODMAN: Mark Halperin.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Mark Halperin, right?
GEORGE FARAH: I'm sorry, Mark Halperin, yes. The commission survives on a lack of transparency. In fact, the commission was denying this contract even existed. Mike McCurry, the former press secretary to President Bill Clinton, is one of the co-chairs of the Commission on Presidential Debates, and he repeatedly denied the very existence of this contract. When we confronted the executive director of the commission, Janet Brown, about the existence of a contract that's dictating the terms of the debates, she said there is no such contract, the commission is not a party to it. Once some of the features of the contract started to come out, the commission then said, well, the contract is only about podium heights and temperatures in the auditoriums and whether the candidates can wear risers in their shoes, but denied that there was any substance.
Now that we're actually seeing the contract, we're seeing that for tonight's town hall format there are extraordinary restrictions that are preventing there from being more unpredictable questions. We're seeing the exclusion, of course, of all third-party voices according to the candidate selection criteria. And we're seeing the prohibition on additional debates. We're facing an unemployment crisis. We're facing complex foreign policy issues. Why are we rationing debates, which are really the best antidote to money in our political process?
Paul Ryan's charms fall flat in Irish homeland (16 October 2012)
(Reuters) - In the land of his ancestors, Paul Ryan's Irish charm is failing him.
Despite his name, Roman Catholic faith and immigrant-made-good family history, the Irish half of the Republican ticket is failing to win the allegiance of the old country from Barack Obama, a skilled hand at playing the Irish card.
Obama struck public relations gold last year by sharing a Guinness with a distant cousin in the village of Moneygall after an amateur genealogist traced his ancestors there. Pictures of cheering Irish crowds were beamed across the United States.
But 100 kilometers (60 miles) down the road, Ryan's ancestral hometown is feeling the cold shoulder and like Ireland as a whole, most of the locals are rooting for his Democratic presidential rivals.
Hackers say they've found Amanda Todd's tormentor (16 October 2012)
A group of hackers say they have tracked down a man they say is Amanda Todd's tormenter.
The "hacktivists" are part of the group Anonymous and say they have found a man in his early 30s from New Westminster, B.C., who allegedly blackmailed the 15-year-old girl for pictures over the Internet.
Anonymous, named one of the most influential people of the year by Time Magazine, posted the man's name on the text-storing website Pastebin. "At the most this is the person who did this to Amanda Todd and at the least it's another pedophile," their post said. The hackers have also released a video on YouTube.
The teen from Coquitlam, B.C., committed suicide last Wednesday. In September she had posted a YouTube video that described bullying and sexual exploitation she faced over the Internet as early as the seventh grade. Todd's YouTube post has over 3.5 million views.
Koch Brothers Among U.S. Billionaires Pressuring Thousands of Employees to Vote GOP on Election Day (15 October 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about how that worker was disciplined and the whole social media policy and code of conduct that you discovered?
MIKE ELK: Yeah. Well, Travis McKinney, what happened is, you know, in a lot of different situations, Travis would be told by his boss that they're monitoring his Facebook, that he's putting up too much about the Koch Industries and that they don't like that. When he went for his evaluation, again, like I said, he scored a 3.7 out of four, but he was denied a promotion, and it said in his evaluation that, you know, he talked about politics too much in the workplace. Obviously, you know, for Travis's sake, it felt like he was being singled out for his views.
With the social media policy, this is really incredibly restrictive, this code of conduct and the social media policy. It says that a worker can be fired for completely non-work-related things. First off, the union feels the social media policy is illegal, because, one, social media policies, as the National Labor Relations Act defines it, have to be negotiated with the union, and this social media policy was imposed unilaterally.
Two, they feel that it infringes upon the right of unions to talk about matters that they need to in order to fight for unions. However, I talked with some legal experts, even pro-union legal experts, that say that this is a real gray area, that, for instance, if a worker posts something about the anti-labor policies about Koch Industries, they would not be fired by that; they're legally protected. But if, say, a worker wanted to post something about, you know, Kochs' investing in fracking or the Keystone pipeline, they could be fired. That's not protected speech. So this is a real gray area.
PAM COMMENTARY: When I worked as a contractor for Prudential in the 90s, the company's administration sent around an e-mail urging employees to vote against one of California's propositions affecting insurance policy. Of course employees laughed it off -- as if their employer could follow them into the voting booth. The final vote count went against the "official" company position, of course, because the public wants better regulation of insurance companies.
Vote Stalkers: Obama, Romney Campaigns Mine Trove of Voters' Online Data to Win 2012 Election (15 October 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: So, explain how it works. You have a chart called "Stalk the Vote." Explain what it is they're looking at, in terms of information about what you buy, how you use your email, when you go on Facebook, and how that helps them decide how you can get someone out to vote.
TIM MURPHY: Sure. Well, there are some--there are some very obvious things. So, you know, for instance, all of the parties keep very detailed voter lists of who showed up, you know, to canvas, who showed up to caucus, who showed up on primary day. They don't know exactly who you voted for, but they can figure it out pretty easily. And so, that is sort of one pot of information that they just have on them and sort of lend from one campaign to another. They have access to detailed contribution lists, which go much further beyond FEC info. This goes down to whether someone gave a dollar, whether they gave $3, you know, whether they did it by a fundraising blast or not.
And they--on top of that, they have this new consumer information that they've started purchasing, you know, for the last decade or so, and that comes from these big firms like Axiom, and that tells--you know, says whether or not you subscribe to HBO. It says whether or not you're sort of into, you know, hunting activities or sports activities or, you know, outdoors activities, in general, or that kind of thing. And from there, they're able to sort of, you know, model all of this consumer information to get a sense of what your interests are, you know, whether you're going to be a Second Amendment voter, whether you're going to be a reproductive rights voter, whether you're just sort of a straight-up jobs voter.
You know, throw one of these variables in there, and it's not entirely clear. But once you start, you know, talking 10 or 20 variables, it's highly likely that you're going to be one thing or another. And so, they essentially integrate all of this data into one database and sort of give you a score, you know, on zero to 100 on how likely you are to vote, and then they give you a score on how likely you are to show up. And then, using all of that, they figure out how to approach you, whether to ask you for money or not, whether to ask you to volunteer or not, and, you know, sort of whether to send you mail or not.
Nonpartisan report: Ryan Medicare plan hurts Florida seniors the most (15 October 2012)
The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation said Monday that a year-long study has found that Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) plan to turn Medicare into a privatized "premium support" coupon program will result in higher costs for six out of every 10 beneficiaries just to maintain their current levels of service.
Kaiser's study (PDF) found that his plan to partially privatize Medicare would result in wild variations in policy costs across the country, with some states set to be hit much worse than others, confirming in greater detail earlier studies that found Ryan's plan would result in significantly higher costs for most seniors.
In particular, Kaiser notes that the crucial swing state of Florida -- where former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney currently enjoys a slight lead in the polls over President Barack Obama -- would see the worst fallout, with about 77 percent of Medicare beneficiaries expected to pay $200 or more per month under the Republican's coupon program.
It would be especially expensive in areas with the highest concentration of Medicare enrollees, like Miami-Dade County, where nearly all seniors face paying nearly $500 more per month, or Palm Beach County, where 99 percent of plans would go up by more than $370 a month. Kaiser added that Los Angeles County and Orange County in California also face some of the worst price hikes under the Ryan coupon plan, where 99 percent of seniors face paying an additional $$216-$260 more per month.
Soup kitchen operator blasts Ryan photo op: 'He did nothing' (15 October 2012)
The operator of a soup kitchen in northwestern Ohio blasted the Romney campaign on Monday after vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and his family were photographed cleaning dishes on the premises.
Antal, president of the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society in Youngstown, told the Washington Post that the Romney campaign did not ask for permission before entering the soup kitchen. He said he worried his faith-based apolitical organization could lose funding if it appeared the charity favored one of the political candidates.
"It's strictly in our bylaws not to do it," Antal explained. "They showed up there, and they did not have permission. They got one of the volunteers to open up the doors."
"The photo-op they did wasn't even accurate," he added. "He did nothing. He just came in here to get his picture taken at the dining hall."
During Ryan's appearance at the soup kitchen on October 13, he briefly talked with volunteers before donning an apron and cleaning some large metal pots. Antal noted that the dishes were not dirty. The soup kitchen had already closed down for the day. (includes embedded video)
FDA: More drugs may be linked to meningitis outbreak (15 October 2012)
Federal regulators broadened their warning to doctors Monday, raising questions about the potential risk of infection from other injectable drugs made by the specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts linked to the burgeoning fungal-meningitis outbreak.
The Food and Drug Administration said it received reports of three new cases of infections tied to two additional products made by the New England Compounding Center (NECC). One involves the steroid triamcinolone acetonide, which is different from the steroid implicated in the existing meningitis cases. A patient who may now have meningitis received an epidural of the medication, the FDA said.
The other two cases involve a medication that is injected into the coronary arteries to temporarily paralyze the heart during open-heart and transplant surgery. Two patients who received the medication, called cardioplegic solution, during heart-transplant surgery, subsequently developed fungal infections, the agency said.
As a result of the cases, the sterility of any injectable drugs made by the NECC, including ones used in eye and heart surgery, "are of significant concern and out of an abundance of caution, patients who received these products should be alerted to the potential risk of infection," the agency said in a statement posted on its Web site.
Texas Landowners Join Environmentalists for Historic Blockade of Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline (15 October 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
RON SEIFERT: Well, in Winnsboro, Texas, Amy, the blockaders have been occupying the canopy of an old-growth forest for over three weeks now and beginning their fourth week today. And there's been multiple blockade events, where individuals have taken risks to stop construction sites, shutting down construction for days at a time in isolated incidences. That's not just isolated to Wood County, but in all over Texas, where this pipeline construction is in full swing.
Today, to show solidarity with those blockaders that have come before us, and coming out of a successful weekend-long training camp and action training program, blockaders are going to do the largest walk-on protest construction site down in the history of the Keystone XL pipeline story. Over 30 blockaders are going to be taking directly to a construction site, and a few will involve themselves in some more technical activities to shut down construction hopefully for an entire day.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain, Ron, how eminent domain is being used, and then where climate change fits into this story?
RON SEIFERT: Certainly. In order for TransCanada to build this pipeline exactly where they wanted, they had to receive this eminent domain entitlement so they could unilaterally expropriate land instead of feeding their pipeline route circuitously across Texas and Oklahoma. In order to achieve or obtain that entitlement, they basically lied to the state of Texas and said they were a conventional, common crude oil pipeline that was going to be used for the public good and the public interest. We know that's not the case. This is a private, for-profit venture, and there is no public good or public utility involved in this process. So, ultimately, TransCanada was granted this eminent domain entitlement by Texas without any Texas regulators ever authenticating or verifying their claim. No one has ever asked TransCanada to prove that what it's doing is for the common good. Instead, they were able to approach landowners years ago and basically say, "We have the power of eminent domain, and we're going to take your land whether you like it or not. We'll try to haggle with you over a price, but if you don't like it, we're going to condemn you, take you to court, and you're going to have to square off against our legal team and fight for every dollar you expect to get for your property." So, it's just like a typical Mafia shakedown. Landowners had no choice but to sign and take pittance for what their land was worth. Regardless of whether they wanted the pipeline in the first place, lots of innocent people are now being put directly in harm's way.
Rats, mold won't delay Guantanamo hearings in 9-11 case (15 October 2012)
A July session was postponed to allow the defendants to observe the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast during daylight hours. Hearings set for August were delayed when an Internet outage left the lawyers unable to access their electronic legal documents, and then canceled altogether as Tropical Storm Isaac approached. It doused the base but caused no damage.
In late September, the work space used by the defense lawyers was shut down because it was infested with mold, rat droppings and at least one decaying rat carcass. Defense lawyers said the 1940s-era building was making them sick.
"My eyes burn. I lose breath," said Cheryl Bormann, a civilian lawyer for defendant Walid Bin Attash. "All of us suffer some sort of symptoms."
They asked for a delay, saying that without their work area they did not have resources to prepare for the hearings.
Cuban missile crisis: How the US played Russian roulette with nuclear war (by Noam Chomsky) (15 October 2012)
The world stood still 50 years ago during the last week of October, from the moment when it learned that the Soviet Union had placed nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba until the crisis was officially ended -- though, unknown to the public, only officially.
The image of the world standing still is due to Sheldon Stern, former historian at the John F Kennedy Presidential Library, who published the authoritative version of the tapes of the ExComm meetings where Kennedy, and a close circle of advisers, debated how to respond to the crisis. The meetings were secretly recorded by the president, which might bear on the fact that his stand throughout the recorded sessions is relatively temperate, as compared to other participants who were unaware that they were speaking to history. Stern has just published an accessible and accurate review of this critically important documentary record, finally declassified in the 1990s. I will keep to that here. "Never before or since," he concludes, "has the survival of human civilization been at stake in a few short weeks of dangerous deliberations," culminating in the Week the World Stood Still.
There was good reason for the global concern. A nuclear war was all too imminent -- a war that might "destroy the Northern Hemisphere", President Eisenhower had warned. Kennedy's own judgment was that the probability of war might have been as high as 50%. Estimates became higher as the confrontation reached its peak and the "secret doomsday plan to ensure the survival of the government was put into effect" in Washington, described by journalist Michael Dobbs in his recent, well-researched bestseller on the crisis -- though he doesn't explain why there would be much point in doing so, given the likely nature of nuclear war. Dobbs quotes Dino Brugioni, "a key member of the CIA team monitoring the Soviet missile build-up", who saw no way out except "war and complete destruction" as the clock moved to One Minute to Midnight -- Dobbs' title. Kennedy's close associate, historian Arthur Schlesinger, described the events as "the most dangerous moment in human history". Defense Secretary Robert McNamara wondered aloud whether he "would live to see another Saturday night", and later recognized that "we lucked out" -- barely.
A closer look at what took place adds grim overtones to these judgments, with reverberations to the present moment.
Burning Man census reveals surprising demographics at the desert festival (15 October 2012)
A week in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada at the end of summer may not sound like fun to many people. But tens of thousands -- this year, 55,000 -- make it an annual tradition by attending Burning Man, an arts festival and temporary city built by participants and operated under a gift economy and principles such as self-reliance, self-expression, and leave no trace behind.
The crowd is often stereotyped as anarchists, fire-lovers or drugged-out hippies who wear crazy costumes or nothing at all. More than a decade of Black Rock City census surveys conducted by festival participants, including newly released data from 2011, paint a much more complex picture.
The results show that all ages attend the festival -- from babies to the elderly -- and that typically more than half of participants who take the survey hold at least a bachelor's degree. The most popular careers are in the computer and technology industries. (Click to view a graphical breakdown of education levels and career demographics.)
Men (54 percent) slightly edged out women (46 percent) at Burning Man in 2011. (Data from 2012 is not yet available). But the number of participants who identify themselves as female has been steadily growing; it was 34 percent in 2001, the first year of the survey.
What is killing sugar-cane workers across Central America? (14 October 2012)
It is stage five they fear the most. Stage five is the mysterious sickness in its deadliest form. "I'm entering stage five," Edilberto Mendez tells me as his wife looks on fretfully. I'm in their small home on the floodplains of Lempa River, in the dank sugar-lands of rural El Salvador, where they live in a community with about 150 other families. "How many others in the village have died of this?" I ask.
"Three close friends, just last year," says Edilberto. His wife interrupts, counting out on her fingers. "And my nephew, my brother, and Ramon, Carlos, Pablo..." She pauses. "I know three Pablos who have died of this."
Edilberto's kidneys are beginning to fail. It means dialysis. "This is what they've told me," he says with a defensive shrug. "But I'm still walking around. I've seen many people have dialysis. As soon as they try it, they die. I don't want it." Edilberto has his wife to support, his deaf-mute 27-year-old son, and his six-year-old granddaughter.
"If you don't have dialysis you'll die," I say. "And then what will happen to your family?"
At CDC, scientists fight to halt a deadly meningitis outbreak (14 October 2012)
Scattered across the carefully landscaped main campus of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are the staff on the front lines fighting a rare outbreak of fungal meningitis: A scientist in a white lab coat peers through a microscope at fungi on a glass slide. In another room, another researcher uses what looks like a long, pointed eye dropper to suck up DNA samples that will be tested for the suspect fungus.
Not far away in another building is the emergency operations center, which is essentially the war room. There's a low hum of voices as employees work the phones, talking to health officials, doctors and patients who received potentially contaminated pain injections believed to be at the root of the outbreak. Workers sit at rows of computers, gathering data, advising doctors and reaching out to thousands of people who may have been exposed. Overall, dozens of people are working day and night to bring the outbreak under control. Nearly 200 people in more than a dozen states have been sickened, including 15 who have died.
There is a sense of urgency -- people are dying, and lives could be saved if those who are sickened get treated in time. But it's not a race against a fast-spreading illness like avian flu or SARS -- or even the fictional virus the CDC fails to unravel in the popular TV series "The Walking Dead." Unlike those outbreaks, this strain of meningitis isn't contagious and doesn't spread between people. It is likely isolated to the contaminated steroid, produced by the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass.
"This is a very unusual infection," said Dr. John Jernigan, a CDC medical epidemiologist who is leading the clinical investigation team for the outbreak response. "So, treatment recommendations, diagnostic recommendations are all going to be new, and we're learning as we go on this one."
PAM COMMENTARY: Of course I wonder if a Clark zapper would help with that.
Almost $11 million spent on Solyndra attack ads -- but voters aren't buying it (14 October 2012)
When the solar manufacturing company Solyndra went bankrupt last September after receiving a $527 million loan guarantee, it sparked a politically motivated congressional investigation into the White House's handling of the program -- an "investigation" that critics admitted would "stop on election day."
After acquiring 300,000 documents, holding a dozen hearings and official meetings, issuing two subpoenas, and spending more than a million dollars on the investigation, members of Congress failed to present any evidence of political wrongdoing.
Congressional critics have "not shown the loan was granted as a result of political favoritism, despite repeated campaign-trail claims," reported The Hill.
That didn't stop special interest groups from spending millions of dollars on television ads this campaign season to trump up the Solyndra bankruptcy and spread "over-the-top, ultimately ridiculous" claims about clean energy programs.
Arlen Specter dies; he was Pennsylvania's longest-serving senator (14 October 2012)
Former senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, one of the nation's most durable political figures, who during three decades in the Senate became known for his command of constitutional law, died of cancer Oct. 14 at his home in Philadelphia. He was 82.
The death was confirmed by Scott Hoeflich, Sen. Specter's former chief of staff.
Sen. Specter was long a voice of Republican moderation, but he handed Democrats a supermajority in the Senate by switching parties in 2009. He lost the Democratic primary the next year in an anti-incumbency movement that swept many veteran politicians from office. He had also exposed himself to charges of political opportunism by changing his party allegiance.
As a young Philadelphia prosecutor, he first gained national attention as assistant counsel to the Warren Commission, which investigated the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He was the chief architect of the commission's controversial "single-bullet theory," which held that the same bullet that killed Kennedy also wounded then-Texas Gov. John Connally.
PAM COMMENTARY: Most Americans don't buy the single bullet theory in the Kennedy assassination, and people who knew Anita Hill said the woman was very honest. But Specter did defend habeas corpus when it was under attack by the Bush administration and Republicans in Congress. He also joined with Leahy in forcing Bush's corrupt Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, out of office.
Alberto Gonzalez Questioned By Arlen Specter on Firings (VIDEO) - FLASHBACK (20 April 2007)
Arlen Specter On Mitt Romney: His Positions Change More Than A Porn Star (VIDEO) - FLASHBACK (28 March 2012)
Romney can't escape the economic divide (14 October 2012)
The sleepy Boston suburb that Mitt Romney has called home for much of his adult life has much to offer a family. It features excellent schools, big homes, and so little excitement that a local newspaper once called it the most boring town in the region.
But there's a division in Belmont too, that may, or may not, have been present as far back as when the painter Winslow Homer built a summer home here in the 1850s. It's a divide between the rich and everyone else.
Before he sold his house and moved into a condo, Romney and his family lived on Belmont Hill, where the residences are large and the yards spacious. The private Belmont Hill School, which Romney's five sons attended, is here, along with a Mormon temple that draws visitors from around New England.
But travel down the hill through a series of stop lights -- past blocks of single-family homes -- and another neighborhood emerges, one of two-family homes and convenience stories. It feels like a different town altogether.
Give us a mandate for what America needs: a Green New Deal (14 October 2012)
President Obama and Governor Romney are talking a lot about how they're going to save the economy. But it doesn't take a genius to recognize that what they're saying is only talk. The debates are an opportunity for them to broadcast campaign promises, but where is the accountability, when past promises have already been left in the dust?
Romney's fairytale features tax breaks for the wealthy, deregulation and more dirty energy. He promises 12m new jobs, but has no plan to get us there. His track record demonstrates off-shoring, not job creation here at home.
Meanwhile, Obama's plan points to General Motors as the model of where we need to go. But GM was bailed out by taxpayers and then went on to slash workers' wages while padding CEO salaries. Obama says he'll create 1m manufacturing jobs by 2016, but these are all low-wage, insecure jobs with poor benefits.
Both Romney and Obama promise to slash public spending on education, healthcare, job training, social security and the environment. And both are calling for corporate income tax cuts. These policies are not only bad for working families, they're killers of economic growth. That's because capitalism doesn't work when capital doesn't move. And capital doesn't move when our government promotes the hoarding, rather than the redistribution, of capital.
Nuclear submarine collides with cruiser (14 October 2012)
A submarine and cruiser, each based in Norfolk, collided off the eastern U.S. coast around 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
No injuries were reported aboard the submarine Montpelier or the guided missile cruiser San Jacinto, according to a news release from the Navy.
The ships were being evaluated for damage, but the propulsion plant of the submarine was unaffected by the collision. Both vessels continue to operate under their own power.
The ships were each conducting routine training at the time of the incident. The Navy did not indicate exactly where the collision occurred.
In humble home, Guatemala farmer finds ancient Maya murals under plaster (14 October 2012)
(Reuters) - In a ramshackle home in Guatemala's rural highlands, farmer and odd job man Lucas Asicona made for an unlikely guardian of ancient Mayan treasures - until he decided to redo his kitchen.
When he pulled back the plaster in his humble colonial-era home of stone, adobe and haphazard wooden boards, he discovered 300-year-old murals, a priceless piece of Guatemalan history.
Scenes of tall Europeans beating drums and playing flutes stare out over the one-room dwelling where his family including five children cooked, slept and played.
So he carefully drew back the furniture and moved his wood burning kitchen stove outside to protect the treasured artwork, an informal curator of Guatemala's rich past.
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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