Pam Rotella's Vegetarian FUN page -- News on health, nutrition, the environment, politics, and more!
NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012
News from the Week of 28th of October to 3rd of November 2012
U.S. election -- It's all over but for the rage (3 November 2012)
WASHINGTON--It's all over but the crying. And the fury. And the bitter recriminations, which many of America's oldest political hands now fear will explode like never before when the electoral whip comes down Tuesday night, favouring one side just a hair over the other.
Yes, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney continue to make a show of these final three days, criss-crossing the key battlegrounds with closing arguments.
But the message-saturated United States, it seems, is tuning out -- minds made up, desperate for the longest, ugliest, most expensive, most lie-infested campaign ever to just curl up and die.
The crowds have thinned on both sides as the candidates go wearily through the motions, a mark of mutually stalled momentum, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Get Out The Vote is becoming Get Off My Television.
That doesn't mean they don't care. Far from it. On Wednesday morning, there will be rage.
Steroid company's political ties surface as meningitis outbreak worsens (3 November 2012)
Nationally, 404 people have been diagnosed with meningitis since late September, after using a contaminated steroid issued by the New England Compounding Center (NECC). The Food and Drug Administration confirmed the company's link to the outbreak last month when it matched the contaminant involved in the outbreak, Exserohilum rostratum, to a steroid batch the company made in August.
Salon reported on Tuesday that while NECC has been reprimanded several times over the past decade, the company was spared from more serious sanctions by entering into a consent agreement with a state agency, the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy.
The company's president and co-owner, Greg Coniglario, was also revealed to have hosted a fundraiser for Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA), one of 10 senators to sign a letter asking the FDA to loosen regulations on the drug compounding industry.
Coniglario has allegedly contributed thousands of dollars to both Brown's campaign and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.
Elite education for the masses (3 November 2012)
Brian Caffo teaches a public-health course at Johns Hopkins University that he calls a "mathematical biostatistics boot camp." It typically draws a few dozen graduate students. Never more than 70.
This fall, Caffo was swarmed. He had 15,000 students.
They included Patrycja Jablonska in Poland, Ephraim Baron in California, Mohammad Hijazi in Lebanon and many others far from Baltimore who ordinarily would not have a chance to study at the elite Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. They logged on to a Web site called Coursera and signed up. They paid nothing for it.
These students, a sliver of the more than 1.7 million who have registered with Coursera since April, reflect a surge of interest this year in free online learning that could reshape higher education. The phenomenon puts big issues on the table: the growth of tuition, the role of a professor, the definition of a student, the value of a degree and even the mission of universities.
Clean-tech's future hinges on election (3 November 2012)
For clean tech, the stakes in Tuesday's election could hardly be higher.
No other industry outside Detroit has been as closely aligned with President Obama's policies. Obama touted green jobs as the key to America's economic revival and showered $90 billion in stimulus funding on makers of solar panels, wind turbines, biofuels and electric cars.
His Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, doesn't share that enthusiasm.
Romney has used the high-profile bankruptcy of Fremont's Solyndra, the solar startup that collapsed after receiving $528 million in federal loans, as a cudgel against Obama. The president, he argues, has wasted precious taxpayer money on risky technologies while doing too little to increase production of oil, natural gas and coal.
Romney also wants to end a tax credit that wind farm developers consider essential to financing their projects. The credit will expire at the end of this year unless extended by Congress, and developers are already putting their projects on hold in case it disappears. The companies that make wind-power equipment have laid off at least 4,000 American workers as a result, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
Will poll watchers help or hinder voting (2 November 2012)
(Reuters) - In some areas, they are becoming as much a part of elections as voters and precinct workers: poll watchers, the sometimes unofficial monitors who go to polling places with the idea of stopping fraudulent voting.
Poll watchers come in all political stripes - conservative Republicans, liberal Democrats, anti-fraud groups, labor unions and even international organizations.
With the presidential race between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney extremely close, some groups are looking to poll monitors to ensure a fair election on Tuesday.
But some voting-rights advocates and others are questioning whether such monitors could become an intimidating presence that leads some people - namely minorities and the elderly - not to vote, and slows down the voting process for others.
Putin, Russia's Man Of Action, Is Slowed By Injury (3 November 2012)
Rumors about an injury began to float in early September, when the Russian leader was seen wincing at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vladivostok.
A Kremlin spokesman said it's a minor injury, about what you'd expect in an athletic fellow like the 60-year-old Putin. Nonetheless, several overseas trips have been canceled.
There's no word on what the president may be using in terms of liniment, but it must be a bitter treatment for someone who has carefully cultivated his image as an all-around man of action.
Just days before the Vladivostok meeting, Putin had appeared on TV, taking part in a project to help endangered Siberian cranes.
Muslims fleeing sectarian violence in Burma drown as crisis deepens (3 November 2012)
"The situation is dire. The UN is doing its best, but it is trying to find more funding to help them," said Chris Lewa, director of the Arakan Project, an NGO working with the Rohingya.
With at least 32,000 people displaced by the latest violence -- and at least 107,000 since trouble broke out in June -- thousands have sought safety in refugee camps around the Burmese town of Sittwe. Those camps are at crisis point, according to Refugees International, which estimates that nearly a quarter of children were malnourished.
"Conditions in these camps are as bad, if not worse, than ones in eastern Congo or Sudan," said Melanie Teff, a researcher with the charity who visited Sittwe in September. "Child malnutrition rates are startlingly high. There's an urgent need for clean water and food. If further aid does not come through, there will be some unnecessary deaths."
In Baw Du Pha relief camp, where several thousand Rohingya refugees from Sittwe are surviving on rations and are severely short of medical care, Laila, 20, a mother of four, said: "I cannot give my baby rice when she needs it. We are suffering. When my daughter gets sick we have no money for medicine."
Verizon Duo Stole Woman's Naked Photos (1 November 2012)
NOVEMBER 1--An employee at a Verizon Wireless store in Florida illegally copied naked photos contained on the phone of a female customer and then shared the images with a fellow male employee, according to police who yesterday hit the duo with felony charges.
Cops learned of the photo heist when one of the employees last month showed the explicit photos to a male customer who happened to know the woman and alerted her to what had transpired at the business.
The woman told cops that she had gone to the Verizon outlet in Bartow to replace a damaged phone. While there, worker Joshua Stuart, 24, provided her with a new phone and "assisted her with the transfer of data" from her old device, according to an arrest report.
The victim, a waitress at a restaurant near the Verizon outlet, told investigators she "was under the impression the data would be transferred to the new telephone and erased from the old device."
Wisconsin-designed trail cameras capturing wilderness across the globe (3 November 2012)
There's hardly any spot on earth not covered by a camera these days and, increasingly, wilderness has become the domain of Wisconsin-designed trail cameras.
Reconyx and Cuddeback, makers of motion-triggered cameras used by hunters and other wildlife enthusiasts, are based in Holmen and De Pere, respectively.
Both brands can be found on nearly every continent, with scientists using the equipment to capture images of rare and endangered animals.
On Borneo island, Reconyx trail cameras photographed monkeys never before seen. The cameras also were used to get pictures of leopards, orangutans and other wildlife at mineral salt licks.
Babies act like little sponges for chemicals, soaking up the good -- and the bad (3 November 2012)
Kilogram for kilogram, babies eat more food, drink more liquids and breathe more air than adults, thereby taking in more toxins from their environment. Blood tests regularly show higher per-kilogram chemical loads in babies, but that falls as they age.
Babies are more likely to be on the floor, putting objects in their mouths and ingesting more dust known to contain pollutants from household plastics, treated fabrics, sprays and deodorizers.
At the same time, concern is growing over the cumulative effects of chemicals found to persist in the body long after exposure. That's why industry watchdogs say there needs to be even more restrictions on substances, such as phthalate plasticizers, that accumulate in humans.
While Canada has banned the hormone-mimicking chemicals bispenol A and phthalates from plastic baby products, groups such as Toronto-based Environmental Defence say there should be a complete prohibition to reduce the number of toxic chemicals in the home. These critics site the rise in chronic childhood health problems such as obesity, asthma and autism to support their call for a complete ban.
Ivermectin hair lotion found effective against lice (31 October 2012)
(Reuters Health) - A single 10-minute hair application of a drug used in oral form since the 1980s to control river blindness and other parasitic diseases eliminated head lice in nearly three of four children in a new study.
The lotion contains ivermectin and is sold under the brand name Sklice by Sanofi Pasteur, which paid for the study. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration used the results to approve topical ivermectin lotion in February.
"The advantage of it is, it's a one-application, one-shot treatment," lead author Dr. David Pariser of Eastern Virginia Medical School, in Norfolk, told Reuters Health.
The treatment "sounds like it has promise in a population itching to get rid of lice," said Dr. Hannah Chow of Loyola University Health System in Illinois, who was not connected with the study.
Six young whoopers fly south for winter (31 October 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
A half-dozen juvenile whooping cranes departed Horicon National Wildlife Refuge this week on their first migration south for the winter.
They are flying with older, experienced cranes to learn the route from Wisconsin to Florida and take their place in a steadily growing migratory population of whooping cranes in the eastern U.S. The flock numbers about 77 birds.
Biologists with the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo are tracking the young whoopers with the aid of satellites picking up electronic signals emitted from a transmitter on a leg of each bird. Foundation biologists helped hatch and raise the chicks prior to their release at Horicon.
Five other juvenile whooping cranes are being led south by ultralight aircraft as part of Operation Migration. The group left the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area in Green Lake County on Sept. 28.
Soldiers win $85m compensation from Iraq war contractor (3 November 2012)
A jury has ordered an $85m (£53m) compensation payout by the American military contractor Kellogg Brown and Root -- which helped build Guantánamo Bay and has tendered to run key police services in Britain -- after finding it guilty of negligence for illnesses suffered by a dozen soldiers who guarded an oilfield water plant during the Iraq war.
After a three-week trial the jury deliberated for two days before reaching a decision against KBR, which used to be part of Halliburton corporation. KBR was ordered to pay $6.2m to each of the soldiers in punitive damages and $850,000 in non-economic damages.
During the Iraq war KBR was the engineering and construction arm of Halliburton, the biggest US contractor during the conflict. KBR split from Halliburton in April 2007 and has since tendered in Britain to run key police services in Surrey and the West Midlands.
The US lawsuit was the first concerning American soldiers' exposure to a toxin at a water plant in southern Iraq. The soldiers have said they suffer from respiratory ailments after their exposure to sodium dichromate and fear that a carcinogen it contains -- hexavalent chromium -- could cause cancer later in life.
NYC's Chinatown Residents Turn to Community Group for Relief as Storm Isolates Elderly, Immigrants (2 November 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY LITTLEFIELD: This is Democracy Now!'s Amy Littlefield with Martyna Starosta. We're here in Chinatown, where, as you can see, there are people lined up around the block trying to get food, supplies and information. They've been hit here hard by Superstorm Sandy. And we're going to talk with an organizer who's been here trying to help people out.
VOLUNTEER: Other buildings, we had no access, because their air-con systems are disabled...
HELENA WONG: My name is Helena Wong. I'm the executive director of CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities. And we are standing here today in front of our office on Hester Street in Chinatown, where we've been providing relief and information for people who have been impacted by Hurricane Sandy in Chinatown and the Lower East Side.
ISMAEL MENDEZ: My name is Ismael Mendez. I was on the bus heading to 125th and Lex, when somebody told me they were giving out food down here. So I figured I'd come back around. And when I got here, I got what I needed, and I told them I'll volunteer for work. So, I did three tours in one day, climbing buildings all the way to the 28th floor and taking food to the older people that cannot do it on their own.
Man with ammo detained at Sikh temple (2 November 2012)
OAK CREEK -- A police report says Oak Creek officers detained a man at the Sikh temple where six people were killed in August and found he had ammunition and notebook references to a mass shooting.
Sikh members summoned police last Sunday when the man visited the temple with a backpack. The man told officers he wanted to pray with the Sikhs and was writing a book.
Officers search the man's backpack and found duct tape, zip ties, crime scene tape and a notebook with references to the mass shooting in Aurora, Colo. The police report says several boxes of ammunition and an empty gun case were found in his car.
Temple spokesman Kulwant Singh Dhaliwal told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://tinyurl.com/b3jhpdlhttp://tinyurl.com/b3jhpdl ) police said the man also had $4,000 in cash from the sale of two guns. The man was questioned, but not arrested.
'Pinkwashing' Reaches all-time High as Symbol of Corruption of Breast Cancer Industry (2 November 2012) [InfoWars.com]
The population at large is finally starting to wise up about breast cancer awareness, not so much as it pertains to the prevalence of the disease -- you would have to be burrowed up in a hole day and night to not be aware of the existence of breast cancer these days -- but rather in regards to how all the "Pink for the Cure" hysteria represents the total commercialization and corruption of the breast cancer industry.
by Jason Meredith, via Wikimedia CommonsAn increasing number of women are growing disillusioned with all the pink t-shirts, pink bracelets, pink hats, pink buckets of KFC chicken, pink alcoholic malt beverages, and other outlandish pink merchandise that has ingrained itself into popular culture. They are also getting tired of having the color pink thrown in their faces as a symbol of disease, not to mention one that has been corporatized to such an astounding degree that even professional sports players now don pink towels and shoes during corporate-sponsored games.
Sexualization of breast cancer illustrates lunacy of pink ribbon madness
Then there are all the not-so-subtle sexual references to "ta-tas," "boobies," and other crass and childish allusions to women's breasts, which are enough to make any dignified breast cancer sufferer or survivor squirm with discomfort as they venture out in public. Some of the more juvenile catch phrases bearing sexual connotations say things like "I Heart Boobies" and "Save Second Base," which can often be seen printed on t-shirts and tank tops worn by both men and women.
All this nonsense might be somewhat excusable if the Komen for the Cure "pink" efforts were actually making a real difference in preventing and curing breast cancer. But based on the available facts and figures, the only substantial change throughout the past decade has been an enormous transfer of wealth from compassionate, yet naive, donors to corporate interests promoting a disease brand rather than the discovery of any actual solutions
PAM COMMENTARY: I'm also tired of the constant solicitations for donations when I shop, for a research organization that's had an unsuccessful history of actually curing the disease. When it seemed that I had breast cancer almost ten years ago, I combined some of the best alternative protocols to solve the problem. I trusted my own life with the Clark zapper and the Budwig diet's flaxseed oil, along with other good herbs and lifestyle changes, because my research and personal experience said they'd give me the best chance of survival.
Antidepressant drugs are murdering babies before they're even born: SSRIs cause birth defects, miscarriages and complications (1 November 2012)
(NaturalNews) Big Pharma wants pregnant women to take prescription drugs, vaccine shots and even chemotherapy. It's the latest insanity from an industry that kills more Americans ever year than died in the entire Vietnam War. And the latest science reveals that antidepressant use during pregnancy is causing babies to be born with physical defects -- or sometimes not born at all because they're miscarried.
This disturbing new science published in the journal Human Reproduction was authored by Dr. Adam Urato, obstetrician and chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham, Mass., and Dr. Alice Domar, a psychologist and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School.
The study shows drastically increased rates of birth defects in children who are exposed to SSRI drugs (antidepressants) while in the womb. The risk of miscarriages also skyrockets with antidepressant drug use during pregnancy.
Study author Dr. Urato is also warning that at least 40 studies now link SSRI use during pregnancy with pre-term births.
Study: Roundup and other pesticides directly linked to Parkinson's, neurodegenerative disorders (1 November 2012)
(NaturalNews) The dangers associated with pesticide exposure are much more far-reaching than previously thought, as illustrated by a shocking study recently published in the journal Neurotoxicology and Teratology. It turns out that chronic exposure to Monsanto's Roundup formula, the active ingredient of which is glyphosate, as well as too many other common pesticides and herbicides is one of the primary environmental factors responsible for causing neurodegenerative disorders in humans.
As originally reported by Sayer Ji over at GreenMedInfo.com, the study brings to light the intricacies of how pesticide and herbicide chemicals induce cell death, which can eventually cascade into a host of chronic neurological illnesses such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's. Even at levels significantly lower than the government-established safety thresholds, these persistent chemicals, which are routinely sprayed on conventional food crops and produce throughout the U.S., can cause permanent brain damage.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Parkinson's disease alone is the 14th leading cause of death in America. Figures from 2010, which are the latest available, illustrate a 4.6 percent increase in the number of deaths from Parkinson's compared to the year prior. And a 2007 report put out by the Parkinson's Disease Foundation (PDF) estimates that by 2030, the number of people worldwide with Parkinson's will more than double
In this latest study, Monsanto's Roundup was determined to be a primary factor in causing neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's, which is particularly interesting in light of another recent study which found that, even when diluted by a factor of 99.8 percent, Roundup chemicals are still fully capable of destroying both human cells and DNA. Together, these findings speak volumes in regards to rising disease rates, and lend solid credence to the notion that crop chemicals are a primary cause of chronic disease in today's world.
Anti-drone protesters arrested at air base (1 November 2012)
Three Bay Area residents were among nine peace activists cited for trespassing at Beale Air Force Base on Tuesday as they joined a group of 100 people protesting the use of armed drones overseas by the United States military.
The protesters blocked the main gate for four hours before base security officers removed them and issued federal citations. The nine will be assigned federal court dates in the coming weeks. If convicted they could face up to six months in prison.
One of those cited was David Hartsough, executive director of the San Francisco-based Peaceworkers anti-war group.
"Drones are totally immoral...We are one human family," Hartsough said. "All people in the world are our brothers and sisters. If someone attacked our blood brother or sister, we would do everything in our power to stop them."
Also among the protesters was Toby Blome of El Cerrito, a member of the anti-war group Code Pink, and the Rev. Louis Vitale of Oakland, a Korean War Air Force veteran and longtime peace protester. Blome was in Pakistan in October helping lead a protest with other Americans against the use of drones there.
New York's Bloomberg endorses Obama to lead on climate change (1 November 2012)
The impact of the superstorm Sandy was felt directly on the presidential election on Thursday when the popular mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, threw his support behind Barack Obama, citing Republican challenger Mitt Romney's failure to back climate change measures.
Bloomberg combined his endorsement of Obama with a devastating attack on Romney for reversing his positions not only on climate change but on immigration, guns, abortion rights and healthcare.
His endorsement came as Obama received plaudits for his handling of the storm that has devastated New Jersey and New York and also hit Connecticut and West Virginia.
The mayor, writing about the damage caused to New York by Sandy, praised Obama for having made some progress towards tackling climate change. He noted that Romney, too, had supported climate change moves in the past but has since backed away from them.
Registration drives outdo vote fraud at polls as election problem (1 November 2012)
WASHINGTON -- When elections officials in Palm Beach County, Fla., checked out a form indicating that Carlos Ferrer, 36, wanted a new voter ID, they knew something was wrong. Ferrer is 43, and, instead of his home, the form listed his address as the Land Rover dealership where he works.
Ferrer didn't fill out the form. It was one of the suspicious registrations linked to a voter turnout campaign financed by the Republican National Committee, an operation that has spawned criminal investigations in Florida and elsewhere.
The allegations are just the latest to spring from partisan voter registration drives, one of the darker corners of the political consulting world. Almost every election season, these campaigns -- which typically pay workers to collect registrations -- lead to charges of trickery and fraud: forged signatures, made-up names, voters who say they were duped into registering with the wrong party.
Earlier this fall, some voters in California's Riverside County who thought they were signing petitions for ballot measures to legalize marijuana or create jobs said they unwillingly ended up registered as Republicans.
Conservative group faces backlash after sending out 'voter audit' mailers (1 November 2012)
The conservative group Amer-i-cans for Lim-ited Govern-ment faces a backlash after sending "voter audit" mailers to residents in numerous states.
The mailers showed the residents recent voting history, along with the voting history of some of their neighbors. Many who have received the mailers have complained that it is not only an intrusion of personal privacy, but also incorrect.
"I opened it up and it basically told me what my voting history was and the voting history of four of my neighbors," Indiana resident James Daily told WFIE. "What was shocking to me was it showed that I had voted in the last election, but two years prior to that, I didn't vote and unfortunately that's not correct. I've voted every time in an election because it's my civic duty."
"I'm not sure if they're try-ing to en-cour-age me to vote, or not to vote, but I'm con-cerned that my neigh-bors are get-ting the same let-ters," Ohio resident Da-nielle Lind-ner told the Toledo Blade.
PAM COMMENTARY: If the official record says that he didn't vote, it's possible that means his vote was never counted -- perhaps an indication of election fraud?
Alberta to include public in safety review of its energy pipeline network (1 November 2012)
Alberta plans to broaden a safety review of its vast energy pipeline network to include input from the public.
The province's energy regulator hired a company in September to conduct a technical review of pipeline safety, spill response plans and the security of pipelines that cross water.
Energy Minister Ken Hughes says after that report is complete at the end of the year, the government will ask Albertans for their views on pipeline safety.
"We do want to engage everybody who has something constructive to contribute to this so there will be wider consultations in the new year," Hughes told The Canadian Press in an interview.
Deer caught in the headlights? Here's what you shouldn't do (1 November 2012)
The OPP have put out an advisory regarding the increase in the number of deer/vehicle collisions. In the last few weeks, officers with the Caledon OPP detachment have investigated several collisions involving deer.
In fall, deer tend to be more migratory as they move to their winter feeding grounds and search for a mate. With an increasing population of coyotes, deer are even more active as they try to avoid wild coyotes. The deer are more active around dawn and near sunset. If you are driving at this time of day, it makes sense to stay alert and to slow down in rural areas.
Experts always advise that if you have a close encounter with an animal while driving, do not attempt to swerve around the animal. Many motorists have lost their lives or been seriously injured trying to avoid a collision with an animal. No matter how cute that critter may seem, it is not worth risking your life to try to miss hitting the animal. Unless you have taken advanced driver training and you are confident about your collision avoidance skills, it is always better to hit the animal and reduce your chances of injury or death.
PAM COMMENTARY: I've had good luck so far with simply stopping for deer and waiting for them to cross.
Global Warming and Sandy: Heating of the Oceans Fuels Record Storm, Leaving Millions Without Power (31 October 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
BRENDA EKWURZEL: Sure. What was very important with this storm, Sandy, is it was charting through waters heading north in above-normal sea surface temperature conditions, and that allowed it to thrive as a hurricane. So by the time it made landfall on New Jersey, it was still a Category 1 hurricane, which means warm waters are fueling this hurricane so that it has much higher wind potential, which is far more damaging to people who have structures that are in the path of the hurricane.
AMY GOODMAN: You know--
BRENDA EKWURZEL: The other factor is that the warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapor, and so there's vast tracts of the United States on the Eastern Seaboard and all over, all the way up to Chicago and other places up to Maine, Florida, that had torrential rainstorms that were sustained. So that means that you can uproot trees, and they are more easily to be blown over, because you've saturated the soils, and they increase the water levels. What's different from Hurricane Irene is, luckily, in some parts of the United States, we have less soil saturation compared to the situations with Hurricane Irene, which caused massive flooding in Vermont and other places. And so, there are some places like Pennsylvania where the conditions were wet, but other parts of the United States that were a little drier and needed some rain. But this is such a situation where the warmer atmosphere, the warmer oceans, are something that helped power this particular hurricane.
Bainport Day 50: Workers at Bain-Owned Plant Ask Romney to Save Their Jobs from Going to China (31 October 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I should say, it's absolutely freezing here. And Joanne, describe the action that took place last week. I mean, this has been building--why you decided, all of you, 50 days ago to begin this encampment, that's been approved, actually, by the city, by the city of Freeport. You're here on the Stephenson Fairgrounds, and they said that you could use these fairgrounds. Joanne?
JOANNE PENNISTON: Yeah, well, we did it because we had went to the RNC, we went to headquarters, Mitt Romney's headquarters in Madison, in Iowa and in Chicago, and we got no response. So, we thought we would set up an encampment right across the street and see if that got their attention.
AMY GOODMAN: And what kind of attention has it gotten?
JOANNE PENNISTON: It's gotten a lot of attention, actually--not from him.
Hurricane Sandy: Why the power went out for so many people despite careful planning (31 October 2012)
NEW YORK--Blame a very high tide driven by a full moon, the worst storm surge in nearly 200 years, and the placement of underground electrical equipment in flood-prone areas for the most extensive storm-related power outage in New York City's history.
It's like what happened at the Fukushima nuclear complex in Japan last year -- without the radiation. At a Consolidated Edison substation in Manhattan's East Village, a gigantic wall of water defied elaborate planning and expectations, swamped underground electrical equipment, and left about 250,000 lower Manhattan customers without power.
Last year, the surge from Hurricane Irene reached 9 feet at the substation. ConEd figured it had that covered.
The utility also figured the infrastructure could handle a repeat of the highest surge on record for the area -- 11 feet during a hurricane in 1821, according to the National Weather Service. After all, the substation was designed to withstand a surge of 12.5 feet.
With all the planning, and all the predictions, planning big was not big enough. Superstorm Sandy went bigger -- a surge of 14 feet.
For Years, Warnings That It Could Happen Here (30 October 2012)
For nearly a decade, scientists have told city and state officials that New York faces certain peril: rising sea levels, more frequent flooding and extreme weather patterns. The alarm bells grew louder after Tropical Storm Irene last year, when the city shut down its subway system and water rushed into the Rockaways and Lower Manhattan.
On Tuesday, as New Yorkers woke up to submerged neighborhoods and water-soaked electrical equipment, officials took their first tentative steps toward considering major infrastructure changes that could protect the city's fragile shores and eight million residents from repeated disastrous damage.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the state should consider a levee system or storm surge barriers and face up to the inadequacy of the existing protections.
"The construction of this city did not anticipate these kinds of situations. We are only a few feet above sea level," Mr. Cuomo said during a radio interview. "As soon as you breach the sides of Manhattan, you now have a whole infrastructure under the city that fills -- the subway system, the foundations for buildings," and the World Trade Center site.
Climate Change & Historic Superstorm Sandy: 70+ Dead, Streets Submerged, Millions Without Power (30 October 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
For the latest on the storm itself, we're joined on the phone first by Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at the Weather Underground, which was recently purchased by the Weather Channel. And I just want to alert our television viewers that we are broadcasting in a very stripped-down, streamed-down way, because our studio in New York is completely without electricity, and we're unable to power it up. My colleagues have been doing a remarkable job sleeping at the studio through the night, but at the last minute, we were not able to, just like so many other New Yorkers, get access to power. I am actually broadcasting to you from Salt Lake City, Utah. Jeff Masters is in Michigan, director of meteorology at Weather Underground.
Jeff, welcome to Democracy Now! Just explain the extent of the damage and the hurricane. Explain what's taken place on the East Coast.
JEFF MASTERS: We just witnessed the worst hurricane in New York City history. There was a hurricane back in 1821 that made a direct hit on the city and brought the storm surge up a couple feet below what Sandy did. So, New York City has never seen this sort of a hurricane strike. We saw water nine feet above normal tide levels in the Battery on the south side of New York City. And the combination of the storm tide, which is the--the tide plus the storm surge, did reach about 14 feet. And unfortunately, the storm hit at about 8:00 p.m., which was about the time of high tide, so that surge rode on top of the tide and inundated much of the southern portion of Manhattan.
And we shouldn't forget about what happened in the neighboring areas, as well. There has been over eight or nine feet of water along all of the New Jersey--northern New Jersey Shore, Raritan Bay, a lot of Long Island Sound. Portions of Connecticut had storm surges of eight or nine feet. And this is going to be an extremely devastating disaster, not quite on the scale of Katrina, fortunately, because we don't have levees with people living below sea level behind them, but this storm is going to leave its mark in American history as one of the greatest disasters in history of our country.
Sandy wipes out biggest beekeeping operation in New York City (30 October 2012)
Casualties of Hurricane Sandy included 1 million unfortunate bees at the Brooklyn Grange's Navy Yard urban farming project. Twenty-five hives each containing around 40,000 bees were torn apart Monday night.
From The Brooklyn Paper:
"'All our hives that were out on the pier were destroyed,' said Chase Emmons, a managing partner and the chief beekeeper at Brooklyn Grange.
"An additional 10 hives located on Brooklyn Grange's rooftop farm survived -- but the loss is catastrophic for the city's largest apiary. Emmons knew before the storm that the hives were at risk."
A day after Sandy, New Yorkers find a changed city (30 October 2012)
NEW YORK (AP) -- Stripped of its bustle and mostly cut off from the world, New York was left wondering Tuesday when its particular way of life -- carried by subway, lit by skyline and powered by 24-hour deli -- would return.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the power company said it could be the weekend before the lights come on for hundreds of thousands of people plunged into darkness by what was once Hurricane Sandy.
Bloomberg said it could also be four or five days before the subway, which suffered the worst damage in its 108-year history, is running again. All 10 of the tunnels that carry New Yorkers under the East River were flooded.
In one bit of good news, officials announced that Kennedy International Airport in New York and Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey will reopen at 7 a.m. Wednesday with limited service. New York's LaGuardia Airport remains closed.
Sandy killed 18 people in New York City, the mayor said. The dead included two who drowned in a home and one who was in bed when a tree fell on an apartment. A 23-year-old woman died after stepping into a puddle near a live electrical wire.
Superstorm moves on, leaving devastation behind in N.Y., N.J. (30 October 2012)
Sandy, the hybrid hurricane/nor'easter, began to lose steam Tuesday as it drifted across Pennsylvania and veered toward Canada. But the damage was done, and it will go down as a historic storm, not least because of what it did to New York City, where a surge of seawater inundated some of the most valuable real estate in America.
Much of Manhattan, the seat of American finance, is in the dark. Someone standing after dusk Tuesday in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge would see the lighted-up Chrysler Building and other Midtown skyscrapers to the north but darkened buildings to the south -- almost all of Lower Manhattan vanishing into the night. Only City Hall was illuminated.
Power could be out for a week -- a fact noted by some New Yorkers who packed their bags and headed for the exits.
The storm was blamed for 51 deaths up and down the East Coast, according to the Associated Press. The tempest played havoc with the power grid, knocking out electricity to 7.5 million people. More than 16,000 airline flights have been canceled so far. Eqecat, a firm that models the costs of catastrophes for insurance companies, estimated Sandy's economic impact on the country at $10 billion to $20 billion.
Does U.S. shale mean cheap global oil by 2020? (30 October 2012)
The question is dividing energy analysts who are split on whether or not shale and other predominantly North American "unconventional" supply like Canadian oil sands will be enough to comfortably meet an increase in global fuel demand led by emerging markets to 2020.
That is a shift from the anguished debate back in 2008, the $147-a-barrel high water-mark for oil prices, about whether "peak oil" - the limit of global oil output - had arrived.
"Peak oilers have become almost extinct, destroyed by the arrival of new technologies with the U.S. leading the oil supply change," said David Hufton of oil brokerage PVM.
"The country with the world's highest oil demand, both volumetrically and per capita, now finds itself in the position where domestic supply growth far exceeds demand growth with every indication that this is a long term phenomenon. It is a major game changer, not just within the U.S., for the global oil and geopolitical balance."
Wine levels worldwide shrinking to 37-year low (30 October 2012)
Uncooperative weather has damaged grapes worldwide, causing global wine production to shrivel 6.1% to its lowest point since 1975, according to a Paris trade group.
Between dwindling vineyard space and tough climate conditions that pummeled mega-producers France and Italy, wine output worldwide for this year is forecast to be 243.5 million to 252.9 million hectoliters -- or 6.4 billion to 6.7 billion gallons -- according to the International Organization for Vine and Wine.
That's the smallest amount in 37 years, Director General Federico Castellucci said at a Paris news conference Tuesday, according to Bloomberg.
In 2011, the industry produced 7 billion gallons of vino, according to the group, which is known as OIV. Growth rates are positive in the U.S. and the Southern Hemisphere in countries such as South Africa. Chile's production levels are projected to hit a record level of 280 million gallons.
Bill McKibben on Hurricane Sandy and Climate Change: "If There Was Ever a Wake-up Call, This Is It" (29 October 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: I don't think it was raised at all in the three debates.
BILL McKIBBEN: How do you think Mitt Romney is feeling this morning for having the one mention he's made the whole time? His big laugh line at the Republican convention was how silly it was for Obama to be talking about slowing the rise of the oceans. I'd say that's--wins pretty much every prize for ironic right now.
There has been a pervading climate silence. We're doing our best to break that. Yesterday afternoon, there was a demonstration in Times Square, a sort of giant dot to connect the dots with all the other climate trouble around the world. Overnight, continuing in Boston, there's a week-long vigil outside Government Center to try and get the Senate candidates there to address the issue of climate change.
It's incredibly important that we not only--I mean, first priority is obviously people's safety and assisting relief efforts in every possible way, but it's also really important that everybody, even those who aren't in the kind of path of this storm, reflect about what it means that in the warmest year in U.S. history, when we've seen the warmest month, July, of any month in a year in U.S. history, in a year when we saw, essentially, summer sea ice in the Arctic just vanish before our eyes, what it means that we're now seeing storms of this unprecedented magnitude. If there was ever a wake-up call, this is it.
Nuclear Plants from Virginia to Vermont Could Be Impacted from Massive Hurricane Sandy (29 October 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: We continue our coverage of Hurricane Sandy. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has acknowledged the massive storm could impact coastal and inland nuclear plants. At least 16 plants are in the storm's projected path, including North Anna and Surry in Virginia; Calvert Cliffs in Maryland; Hope Creek and Salem in New Jersey; Indian Point in New York; Millstone in Connecticut. So far, there have been no reports of reactors shutting down, despite operating under licenses that require them to do so if weather conditions are too severe.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission met on Sunday to discuss the precautions needed to secure vulnerable plants during the storm. Spokeswoman Diane Screnci said, quote, "They're all designed to withstand the natural phenomena, including hurricanes and what comes with hurricanes--high winds, high water, that kind of thing."
Well, for more, we go now to Burlington, Vermont, to speak with Arnie Gundersen, former nuclear industry senior vice president who has coordinated projects at 70 nuclear power plants around the country, now chief engineer at Fairewinds Associates.
Arnie Gundersen, welcome to Democracy Now! Talk about what you're concerned about.
ARNIE GUNDERSEN: Yeah, thanks for having me. The key here is that when a uranium atom splits, that only gives off about 95 percent of the power, so when these plants shut down, 5 percent of the power is still going to come out of the power plants after they're shut down. I think the industry should preemptively shut down plants in the storm's wake, but it's not going to solve the entire problem. It's really likely that the grid, the electric grid that's out there, will collapse, and these plants will become islands, electric islands, and they'll have to rely on their diesel generators to provide power. A bunch of these plants are in refuelings right now. And when you're in a refueling outage, you are not required to have all your diesels running. You can be tearing apart one and only have one diesel available. So the concern is that, should they lose offsite power, all of this heat needs to be removed, and you're relying on just one diesel to keep the nuclear reactor cool.
Apple loses senior executives in management shakeup (29 October 2012)
Apple is losing two of its most high profile executives in the firm's biggest management shakeup since co-founder Steve Jobs stepped down as chief executive.
Scott Forstall, senior vice-president of iPhone software and one of the original architects of Apple's OS X software, will leave next year. John Browett, poached just five months ago from Dixons to become head of retail, is also set to leave. Apple said that four key executives -- including top designer Jony Ive -- would "add responsibilities to their roles."
The rare shakeup comes shortly after the introduction of iPhone's latest software was marred by a mapping disaster. Tim Cook, the chief executive, was forced to apologise for Apple Maps, meant as a rival to Google Maps, after it proved inaccurate and incomplete. Last week the company delivered disappointing financial results as iPad sales fell short of Wall Street's targets.
Eddy Cue, senior vice-president of internet software and services, will take charge of Maps and Apple's Siri voice recognition responsibilities. The retail team will report directly to Cook until a replacement for Browett can be found.
Pollution as big a health problem as malaria or TB, finds report (24 October 2012)
Waste from mining, lead smelters, industrial dumps and other toxic sites affects the health of an estimated 125 million people in 49 low- and middle-income countries. This unrecognised health burden is on the scale of malaria or tuberculosis (TB), a new report has found.
This year's World's worst pollution problems (pdf) report was published on Tuesday by the Blacksmith Institute in partnership with Green Cross Switzerland. It documents, for the first time, the public health impact of industrial pollutants -- lead, mercury, chromium, radionuclides and pesticides -- in the air, water and soil of developing countries.
"This is an extremely conservative estimate," said Bret Ericson of the Blacksmith Institute, a small international NGO based in New York City. "We've investigated 2,600 toxic sites in the last four years, [but] we know there are far more."
The US has an estimated 100,000-300,000 toxic sites, mainly factories or industrial areas, but toxic sites in the low- and middle-income countries assessed in the report are often in residential areas. "We see a lot of disease when we go into these communities," said Ericson. "But we were surprised the health burden was so high -- as much as malaria."
Photo gallery | Flooding hits Va. Beach neighborhoods (29 October 2012)
Eric Gronbach wades through the rising waters of Breezy Road in the Lynnhaven Colony section of Virginia Beach carrying his dog Sasha early Monday morning, Oct. 29, 2012, as the effects of Hurricane Sandy lash the coast. He was walking to his parents' car to leave his home, that already had a foot of water in it several hours before high tide.
Hurricane Sandy causes evacuations, closings throughout East Coast (29 October 2012)
Hurricane Sandy inched closer to the East Coast's densely populated cities on Monday, while millions of residents hunkered down and waited for the steady rains and winds to morph into something more threatening.
Following days of dire forecasts, people who live in low-lying coastal areas moved to higher ground, and Washington and other cities launched the type of extensive shutdowns that typically occur after several feet of snow.
The Washington region's entire public transit system -- Metro, Virginia Railway Express and the Maryland Transportation System -- ceased operation on Monday, leaving residents to either drive themselves to work or stay home. Schools, colleges and universities shut their doors, in anticipation of power outages and dangerous road conditions, and some announced they would be closed Tuesday and Wednesday as well.
Sandy strengthened before dawn and, as predicted, began moving west from the ocean toward land. Streets were full of water in Ocean City, Md., and half the city's pier was washed away, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said. Flooding was also reported in New York's Battery Park City. The tall ship HMS Bounty sank off the North Carolina coast; 14 crew members were rescued by the Coast Guard, but two were reported missing, according to the Associated Press.
Watch: Live coverage of Hurricane Sandy (29 October 2012)
As Hurricane Sandy continues to make its way toward the East coast, follow its progress with this live stream from the Weather Channel, posted below.
No high court action on voting rights law (29 October 2012)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Three years ago, the Supreme Court warned there could be constitutional problems with a landmark civil rights law that has opened voting booths to millions of African-Americans. Now, opponents of a key part of the Voting Rights Act are asking the high court to finish off that provision.
The basic question is whether state and local governments that once boasted of their racial discrimination still can be forced in the 21st century to get federal permission before making changes in the way they hold elections.
Some of the governments covered -- most of them are in the South -- argue they have turned away from racial discrimination over the years. But Congress and lower courts that have looked at recent challenges to the law concluded that a history of discrimination and more recent efforts to harm minority voters justify continuing federal oversight.
The Supreme Court took no action Monday on cases asking it to end the Voting Rights Act's advance approval requirement that has been held up as a crown jewel of the civil rights era.
Obama recruits door-to-door campaigners with election night offer (29 October 2012)
WASHINGTON -- Supporters who want to spend election night with President Obama can earn a ticket with a chore: two days of door-knocking to help turn out the vote in neighboring Wisconsin.
Locking down Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes is an important part of Obama's path to victory, but it won't come easy. Both he and Republican Mitt Romney have their eyes on the state, home of Romney running mate Paul D. Ryan.
But the tickets-for-chores scheme has worked for the Obama campaign before, putting more than 6,000 volunteers to work in the days before the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina.
"We want to make sure we're using every opportunity, right up to the end," said one campaign official, who requested anonymity to discuss the plan in advance of its announcement.
We may soon lose our storm-tracking satellites (26 October 2012)
On September 4, 1900, the U.S. Weather Bureau office in Galveston, Texas, learned of a major storm in Cuba. It was hard to predict where it might head next; they apparently thought it was likely to head northeast. It didn't. On the 8th, a hurricane leveled the city.
The Galveston Weather Bureau staff didn't have much choice but to guess. As we've seen with Sandy over the past few days, the path of a hurricane is hard to predict even with modern sensor technology and satellites. Without the data we now collect, almost as blind as Texans in 1900.
And now the bad news: Obsolescence and budget cuts may mean that we're about to lose some of those data-collecting satellites. From The New York Times:
"The endangered satellites fly pole-to-pole orbits and cross the Equator in the afternoon, scanning the whole planet one strip at a time. Along with orbiters on other timetables, they are among the most effective tools used to pin down the paths of major storms around five days ahead."
Oil companies offer helpful tips on how their employees should vote (26 October 2012)
From the Wall Street Journal:
"The U.S. oil industry is for the first time making a direct political pitch to its employees and others, borrowing from traditional union tactics in a bid to secure a friendlier environment in Washington. ...
"Companies tend to shy away from such direct involvement in elections because they worry about a backlash from lawmakers and employees."
China's advantage erodes in a key area: rare earth minerals (27 October 2012)
Two years after China limited its exports of "rare earth minerals," unnerving developed countries that depended on them for industrial uses, production is expanding at sites outside China.
And as new sources of rare earth minerals have appeared, that has meant new jobs -- including in the tiny town of China Grove, N.C., where Japan's Hitachi Metals is planning to produce high-tech magnets from rare earth minerals.
The Hitachi plant and its 70 new manufacturing jobs are a small example of how market forces can sometimes undercut China's trade clout.
In recent years, China has dominated the production of these magnets, in part because the country has had a virtual monopoly on the mining and refining of the rare earth elements used in their production.
Health Canada brushes off reports of serious antidepressant side effects (29 October 2012)
A Bolton teen hanged himself from a tree four days after he started taking Cipralex, an antidepressant. His mother went online and filed a side-effect report to Health Canada.
A pediatrician, troubled by the spate of side effects he was seeing in kids taking a generic version of an ADHD medication, faxed 25 reports to Health Canada over two months.
After a 49-year-old York Region man killed himself while taking smoking-cessation drug Champix, his sister called in a side-effect report to Health Canada.
All three say their reports were ignored.
Employees to face healthcare sticker shock (28 October 2012)
(Reuters) - Visit to New York City orthopedist: $223. One X-ray: $50. One follow-up magnetic resonance imaging test: $766. Total bill for checking out that aching shoulder: $1,039 - all to be paid by the patient, rather than the insurer.
Healthcare has gone retail.
Over the next 18 months, between one quarter and one half of Americans who get insurance coverage through their employers will pay more of their doctor bills themselves as companies roll out healthcare plans with higher deductibles, benefits consultants say. The result: sticker shock.
"They have huge out-of-pocket costs before they get any insurance coverage, it's a real slap in the face," said Ron Pollack, the executive director of Families USA, a healthcare advocacy group.
High-deductible plans set a threshold for medical expenses that an individual must pay for, often in the thousands of dollars, before insurance kicks in. Studies show people on these plans are three times more likely to delay or skip care than people on traditional plans, where doctor or emergency room visits are covered by a relatively low co-payment.
Back to Pam's NEWS ARCHIVES
Back to Pam's vegan vegetarian FUN page
Pam's vegan vegetarian cookbook, with vegan vegetarian recipes
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