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NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012
News from the Week of 11th to 17th of November 2012
Divers find body believed to be missing platform crew member (17 November 2012)
Divers privately contracted by Black Elk Energy found a body Saturday night near an oil production platform owned by the company that caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico, a Coast Guard spokesman said. The body is believed to be one of two crew members who were reported missing Friday morning after there was an explosion on the platform they were working on 25 miles southeast of Grand Isle, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Carlos Vega.
The divers found the body while inspecting the platform Saturday evening, Vega said.
The victim's identity had not been released late Saturday.
The Coast Guard was transporting the body to local authorities Saturday night.
The Coast Guard's own search, which used a boat and three helicopters, was called off about 5:25 p.m., Vega said. Vega said he did not know what time the body was found.
Solar vehicles in Chile race across world's driest desert (17 November 2012)
Fifteen solar panel vehicles, some that look like small space ships, raced across Chile's Atacama desert as part of a contest to build low-cost environmentally-friendly cars.
Teams from countries like Argentina, Chile, India and Venezuela have crafted aerodynamic racers to speed across 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) of the world's driest desert in the second edition of the Atacama Solar Challenge.
The race, which began Thursday and ends Monday, pits teams from universities that build their cars on a tight budget in the slog across northern Chile.
Some of the vehicles powered exclusively by the sun's rays, while others are solar- and pedal-powered hybrids.
New Mexico coyote hunt sparks howls of protest (17 November 2012)
They are far from being an endangered species, but plans by a New Mexico gun shop owner to organise a two-day coyote hunt this weekend have sparked a storm of protest.
Mark Chavez, owner of Gunhawk Firearms in the town of Los Lunas, has set up a simple competition: the team who kills the most coyotes wins a free shotgun or a pair of automatic rifles.
But he now faces a deluge of condemnation by means of irate phone calls and a petition that has already attracted thousands of signatures, including many from outside the United States. There has even been a death threat against him, which is currently being investigated by the FBI.
But Chavez is holding firm, arguing that the state has 300,000 coyotes roaming its ranchland and that the creatures are a plentiful pest that can hurt livestock.
Former Michigan first lady, environmentalist and women's rights advocate, Helen Milliken dies at 89 (17 November 2012)
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) -- Helen Wallbank Milliken, Michigan's longest-serving first lady and a staunch supporter of women's rights and environment issues, has died. She was 89.
Son William Milliken Jr. says she died Friday morning at the family's Traverse City, Mich., home.
Early in her husband's political career, Milliken dutifully played the role of unassuming, supportive spouse. But she evolved into an outspoken advocate of issues close to her heart during a record 14 years as first lady.
She vigorously campaigned for abortion rights and the ill-fated Equal Rights Amendment. She also drew the wrath of the outdoor advertising industry when she criticized highway billboards shortly after her husband, Republican William Milliken, became governor in 1969.
"Nowhere to Run": Israel Fires Over 500 Strikes in Gaza, Civilian Toll Grows in Humanitarian Crisis (16 November 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, in Washington, the--we're joined by two guests right now. We're joined by the award-winning Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer. And we want to thank you very much for being with us, back again. Thank you so much. Tell us what is happening on the ground in Gaza right now.
MOHAMMED OMER: You're welcome, Amy.
Well, let me start with the last--I'm right now in Khan Younis in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, where the Israeli F-16 missile just fired at least two missiles, killing one person, and the person was--just arrived to the hospital, Nasser Hospital, at the moment. And he was identified as Ismail Kandil, 24-year-old. That brings the number of the air strikes in the last three days to 502 air strikes. This means--this resulted in the killing of 23 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and over 230 people who are injured.
One thing that we ought to talk about here is the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. This is--this is a situation of targeting a population of civilians, exactly like Israel is shooting in a fishbowl. And there is no bunker--or, there is no shelter, and there is nowhere to run for the general population. Gaza is living in a very dire situation. The U.N. has decided to shut all the schools tomorrow, as well as the Ministry of Education and Higher Education called all the university not to open tomorrow. Gaza hospitals announced the need for medical supplies and medical stocks. I was just speaking to a number of doctors at the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, and they announced that they are in bad need for 192 types of medicines that are not available in the stocks of the Ministry of Health or the hospitals. There is also the need for 450 items of medical supplies, or what they call disposable medical items. If these needs are not met by the next day or two, there will be a big humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.
The situation is deteriorating in the Gaza Strip. The target is indeed civilians. The last one was Haneen Tafesh, a 10-month baby child who was killed by any Israeli missile. The missiles are falling at the moment, as I speak to you. And as breaking news coming out from the medical crew next to me, the F-16s are targeting the beach camp in the east of Gaza City at the moment. The Israeli army, or the Israeli F-16s, at the moment, they are targeting the beach camp in the west of Gaza City at the moment. That's the breaking news, and it's happening as we speak at the moment.
EPA says it won't change ethanol requirement (16 November 2012)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Friday that it won't relax requirements to set aside nearly 40 percent of the nation's corn crop for ethanol.
Members of Congress and food producers had lobbied the EPA to relax the mandate, contained in the Renewable Fuels Standard, or RFS. They said it has inflated corn prices, which were already high because of the drought.
Gov. Bob McDonnell, U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Jim Webb and U.S. Reps. Randy Forbes, Scott Rigell, Bobby Scott and Rob Wittman all signed letters asking the EPA to ease the ethanol requirement.
C. Larry Pope, president and CEO of Smithfield Foods Inc., has also been a sharp critic of the ethanol mandate. He wrote a column in the Wall Street Journal during the summer arguing for a policy shift.
But the EPA said there wasn't enough evidence to warrant a change.
Americans uderwrite their own demise (14 October 2012) [Rense.com]
America's current economic unwinding didn't begin on Wall Street in 2008, as is often reiterated. Its genesis lies in the affluence-to-poverty trade regiments enacted by President Clinton, beginning in 1993.
Seduced by assurances that free trade would create millions of new high-paying jobs in the United States; Democrats, aided by Republican politicos like Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole and David Gergen, succumbed to K Street coercion and codified free trade into American law.
However, the economic Elysium predicted by backers of free trade prior to its passage never developed. Principally because free trade, as a 21st century neo-Colonial economic compact, was no longer nation-based. Rather, this new version was a United Nation's developed transnational colonialism. A system designed to benefit a new superclass of cosmopolitan. Stakeholders bereft of nationalistic sentimentality, itching to profit from the coming realignment in global prosperity.
Correspondingly, America's most acute trade-related dilemma today is unemployment. However, it's impossible for the United States to address the problem of trade-related dislocations, even modestly, when the entirety of our nation's trade policy is premised upon the notion, that surrendering America's economy to foreign interests, while simultaneously relocating tens of millions of American jobs offshore, somehow benefits our nation's competitiveness.
Did Congress kill the Twinkie? The tariff tale behind the Hostess demise.(+video) (16 November 2012)
Yet as the political recriminations echo amid news of 18,500 lost jobs in an already sluggish economy, some economists suggest that Americans shift their blame from Big Labor to the role Congress might have played in writing the Twinkies' obituary.
And that, economists say, may come down to one sweet little word: sugar.
Since 1934, Congress has supported tariffs that benefit primarily a few handful of powerful Florida families while forcing US confectioners to pay nearly twice the global market price for sugar.
One telling event: When Hostess had to cut costs to stay in business, it picked unions, not the sugar lobby, to fight.
Twinkies maker Hostess plans to go out of business (16 November 2012)
(Reuters) - Hostess Brands Inc, the bankrupt maker of Twinkies snack cakes and loaves of Wonder Bread, is seeking a U.S. court's permission to go out of business after failing to get wage and benefit cuts from thousands of its striking bakery workers.
The 82-year-old Hostess, which has about $2.5 billion in sales and is one of the largest wholesale bakers and distributors of breads and snack cakes in the United States, filed the request with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York early Friday morning. A hearing on the matter is set for Monday.
The Irving, Texas-based company said the liquidation would mean that most of its 18,500 employees would lose their jobs. Hostess immediately suspended operations at all of its 33 plants across the United States as it moves to start selling assets.
"We'll be selling the brands and as much of the infrastructure as we can," said company spokesman Lance Ignon. "There is value in the brands. But some bakeries will never open again as bakeries."
PAM COMMENTARY: Less obesity all around!
Virginia's Senator Warner proposes bill to spark voting reforms (16 November 2012)
Calling the unexpected hourslong waits on Election Day a "21st century poll tax" on working people, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner proposed legislation Thursday to prod states to speed up and modernize voting rules and procedures.
A bill jointly introduced by Warner and U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., would let states compete for federal grants to develop online or same-day voter registration, early voting, no-excuse absentee voting, assistance to non-English-speaking or visually impaired voters, and other efforts to reduce the wait time at polls. Many of the proposals are currently not allowed in Virginia.
"In Virginia, it's remarkable in 2012 that people had to wait for hours in line to vote," Warner said in a speech on the Senate floor. "In Prince William County, folks waited for up to three hours. In Chesapeake, Va., folks waited for up to four hours. It was remarkable that it was five days after the fact before we even knew the results in Florida.
"In the greatest democracy in the world, voting shouldn't be this much of a burden," said the Virginia Democrat.
Abusive slaughterhouse fined $500 million in massive meat-recall case (16 November 2012)
More than four years after the biggest meat recall in U.S. history, a settlement has been reached in the Humane Society's lawsuit against Hallmark Meat. The California slaughterhouse not only abused sick cows but then sent their meat into the food system, putting American eaters across the country at risk. A federal court has handed down a $500 million judgment in the case, but as Hallmark is bankrupt, it'll be a symbolic end to this grisly story.
From the Associated Press:
"The case marked the first time federal fraud statutes were used in an animal abuse case, the HSUS said. As a supplier of meats for the national school lunch program, the company had signed federal contracts certifying that it would provide humane treatment of animals sent to the company for slaughter.
"The widely circulated video shot by an undercover operative in 2007 showed "downer cows" -- those too weak or sick to walk -- being dragged by chains, rammed by forklifts and sprayed with high-pressure water by employees who wanted them to stand and walk to slaughter."
BP to pay record fine in Gulf oil spill; 2 to face manslaughter charges (15 November 2012)
BP said Thursday that it will pay $4.5 billion in a settlement with the U.S. government over the disastrous 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and plead guilty to criminal charges related to the deaths of 11 workers and lying to Congress.
The day of reckoning comes more than two years after the nation's worst offshore oil spill. The figure includes nearly $1.3 billion in criminal fines -- the biggest criminal penalty in U.S. history -- along with payments to certain government entities.
Meanwhile, a source close to the case confirmed to CBS News Thursday that two BP employees will also face manslaughter charges over the 11 deaths in the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that triggered the massive spill.
Up to now, the only person charged in the disaster was a former BP engineer who was arrested in April on obstruction of justice charges. He was accused of deleting text messages about the company's response to the spill.
Walmart hit by walk-outs in build-up to 'Black Friday' disruptions (15 November 2012)
Strikes and protests aimed at disrupting the retail giant Walmart during next week's Black Friday sales events began on Thursday with walk-outs at a number of stores and the promise of more actions in the lead-up to what is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year.
The news comes amid controversy about plans by Walmart and other large chains to open on Thanksgiving evening, kicking off Black Friday a day early. It also comes as another strike has hit part of Walmart's warehouse supply chain in southern California.
At least 30 workers from six different Seattle-area Walmarts have gone on strike, organisers and Walmart staff from the OUR Walmart group said. The group, which is not a union but has close ties with the labour movement, is seeking to protest what it says is low pay, too few hours and retaliation by managers against workers who speak out.
Seattle Walmart worker Sara Gilbert said she had taken the decision to go on strike to protest the fact that she could only make around $14,000 dollars a year. Despite working as a customer service manager, she said, her family remained reliant on food stamps and other benefits. "I work full time at the richest company in the world," she said.
Breaking Truce, Israeli Strikes Kill "Moderate" Hamas Military Chief, Palestinian Civilians in Gaza (15 November 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Mohammed Omer, I wanted to ask you about a new report in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz. The Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin, who helped mediate between Israel and Hamas in the deal to release Gilad Shalit, told the paper that Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari was assassinated just hours after he received the draft of a permanent truce agreement with Israel, which included mechanisms for maintaining the ceasefire. What do you know about this?
MOHAMMED OMER: Well, this is accurate. This is what some of the Hamas officials are confirming. Now, I should say that the--there is outrage among the Palestinian political parties, particularly Islamic Jihad and Hamas and even PFLP and the more secular movements. They are angry because they say that al-Jabari is known as a moderate and negotiator, just to remind our people that al-Jabari is the one behind the release of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. And al-Jabari was the one who's actually the contact person during this critical time of the year; when there is bombing and F-16s firing and there is a need for truce, al-Jabari is the person to talk on behalf of the Palestinians. So far, the Egyptians will not be able to reach anybody who is able to talk to the Palestinians and to install real truce. It's exactly like losing Yasser Arafat, who had a lot of influence on the Palestinians. And now we are losing al-Jabari, who has a lot of influence on the military wings of all the political factions, given the fact that he plays a most important role as a Palestinian leader among the Palestinian factions and in the Palestinian street.
DiManno: Exploding Washington farce has dark undertones (15 November 2012)
The cheat-sheet on low farce in high places -- Shag-Gate -- is rapidly becoming as thick and unwieldy as one of those notorious sic-em FBI dossiers that used to be ordered up by the agency's first director, J. Edgar Hoover.
There's no short-cut possible to keep track of all the extraordinary developments that have cascaded from last week's stunning resignation by former four-star Gen. David Petraeus -- now abruptly former director of the Central Intelligence Agency as well -- over his extramarital affair with biographer and acolyte Paula Broadwell.
A private if unwise tryst -- Desperate Wives Washington -- has exploded into full-blown political crisis, drawing in the FBI, CIA, Attorney General's office, Intelligence and Foreign Affairs committees, Justice Department, Oval Office, Benghazi, back rooms and war rooms.
The cast of characters has expanded to ensnare Petraeus' successor as overall military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, the purported other-other-woman -- Kardashian lookalike Jill Kelley -- whose complaints over harassing emails received from Broadwell triggered the original FBI probe, her twin sister, American UN Ambassador Susan Rice, President Barack Obama and a clutch of leading Republican senators who've suddenly found revivifying oxygen following their party's failure to recapture the White House in last Tuesday's election.
Superstorm boosts jobless claims, hits factories (15 November 2012)
(Reuters) - Superstorm Sandy drove a surge in new claims for jobless benefits last week and hurt factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region in November, signs it could deal a substantial blow to economic growth in the fourth quarter.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 78,000 to a seasonally adjusted 439,000, the highest level since April 2011, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
It was the biggest one-week jump since a spike caused by Hurricane Katrina in September 2005.
Because the storm's impact is expected to be temporary, the data gave few clues as to the underlying health of the economy. But it appears the short-term hit could be greater than economists previously thought.
Occupy's 'Rolling Jubilee' is a model for cooperative purchasing power (15 November 2012)
Today, Occupy Wall Street launches the "Rolling Jubilee," something the group is calling a "People's Bailout." Basically: People pony up cash that Occupy will use to buy bundles of individual people's toxic debt for pennies on the dollar on the dirty market where previously only big evil bastard companies were allowed to do business. Then Occupy cancels the debt. They've already raised enough cash to, as of this post, knock out more than $4.5 million worth.
Personal debt in America has us shackled to unsustainable lives. It keeps older Americans stuck in their underwater mortgages in the suburbs, and keeps the working poor relying on cheap, unhealthy, unsustainable food. A jubilee, or tabula rasa, isn't really possible when it comes to debt, climate change, or any of the other massive and crushing issues we face today.
But this jubilee, "a web-enabled institutional hack," is not another petition -- it's direct community action, and it's a model that could be scaled beyond toxic debt, to address other issues. It's an aggressive step beyond straight crowdfunding to cooperative purchasing power that rivals that of the evil bastards. With community bids for clean solar and wind energy gaining traction across the country, maybe a Green Jubilee is already beginning to roll.
Rolling Jubilee: Buying Up Distressed Debt, Occupy Offshoot Bails Out the People, Not the Banks (15 November 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
PAMELA BROWN: Right. So, it's really actually a very simple idea, and yet no one has ever tried it before. But debt collectors do this all the time. What happens is that someone defaults on their debt--in other words, they cannot pay it--and the original creditor gives up on trying to collect it. And then a secondary round of people involved in the debt market, which is actually a $60 billion marketplace, decide that they're going to try to collect on that debt. Obviously it's not worth the original value, so the original creditors sell it for as low as five cents on the dollar, in many cases, and they sell it to a second round of collectors, collection debt buyers and collection agencies. And they then attempt to collect that debt. And, in fact, they do a pretty good job of it, because they make about $12.2 billion a year on collecting what was, in essence, defaulted debt.
AMY GOODMAN: Journalist Lindsay Beyerstein wrote an article called "Rolling Jubilee: How Does That Work?" for In These Times. She says the campaign may have unintended consequences comparable to those experienced by do-gooders who bought children out of slavery years ago. Beyerstein writes, quote, "The fatal flaw in this model was that the influx of American cash for child slaves drove up the price of children and encouraged slavers to capture more children. If Rolling Jubilee ever got off the ground in a big way, something similar would happen with credit card debt. The credit companies would make more predatory loans, and debt sellers would charge Rolling Jubilee more and more for the privilege of buying up the debt," unquote. Pam Brown, what's your thoughts on this?
PAMELA BROWN: Right. Well, so far we've raised about $185,000, and that's by no means an amount that could really impact the system. There's over $13 trillion of consumer debt. So, it's an interesting idea. I'm not really sure how it would play out. But I don't think that we're anywhere close to that point where we're really influencing the system that way.
And the idea behind the campaign is really to expose the predatory debt system. And also, if you think about it, by buying this debt for five cents on the dollar, approximately, what we are doing is we're preventing profits, at least at this level, and we're also helping people, because people are really suffering. I mean, we've gotten emails from people saying, you know, "I can only afford to contribute a dollar. I'm a single mother. I am broke. I'm being hounded by debt collectors." And we know that the system is incredibly predatory and that it's a racialized system, as well. Debt collectors target low-income communities of color regularly with predatory tactics, like entering judgments against them in court, things that they cannot defend themselves against, and then they're able to make claim to their bank accounts and any assets that they have. So, that's what we're really trying to influence.
Spacing out with Google's spectacular map of 100,000 Stars (14 November 2012)
That pretty much sums up our reaction to 100,000 Stars, the newest Chrome Experiment from Google.
It's sure to amaze stargazers, art lovers, and anyone who is dazzled by the power of technology and the vastness of the universe.
This latest addition to Google's collection of Chrome Experiments is essentially a 3-D map of the 100,000 stars closest to our sun. Using 100,000 Stars you can zoom in and out and around our galaxy, and even spin it around to enjoy it from different angles.
Romney reflects on his loss in call with campaign donors (14 November 2012)
Mitt Romney told his top donors Wednesday that his loss to President Obama was a disappointing result that neither he nor his top aides had expected, but said he believed his team ran a "superb" campaign with "no drama," and attributed his rival's victory to "the gifts" the administration had given to blacks, Hispanics and young voters during Obama's first term.
Obama, Romney argued, had been "very generous" to blacks, Hispanics and young voters. He cited as motivating factors to young voters the administration's plan for partial forgiveness of college loan interest and the extension of health coverage for students on their parents' insurance plans well into their 20s. Free contraception coverage under Obama's healthcare plan, he added, gave an extra incentive to college-age women to back the president.
Romney argued that Obama's healthcare plan's promise of coverage "in perpetuity" was "highly motivational" to those voters making $25,000 to $35,000 who might not have been covered, as well as to African American and Hispanic voters. Pivoting to immigration, Romney said the Obama campaign's efforts to paint him as "anti-immigrant" had been effective and that the administration's promise to offer what he called "amnesty" to the children of illegal immigrants had helped turn out Hispanic voters in record numbers.
"The president's campaign," he said, "focused on giving targeted groups a big gift -- so he made a big effort on small things. Those small things, by the way, add up to trillions of dollars."
PAM COMMENTARY: That sneaky Obama, with his programs that are actually useful to voters...
Exposure to light at night lowers cognitive function: study (14 November 2012)
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have found that regular exposure to bright lights at night can result in depression and learning impairments.
"Basically, what we found is that chronic exposure to bright light -- even the kind of light you experience in your own living room at home or in the workplace at night if you are a shift worker -- elevates levels of a certain stress hormone in the body, which results in depression and lowers cognitive function," said Samer Hattar, a biology professor in the Johns Hopkins University's Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.
His study was published Wednesday in the journal Nature.
Hattar found that mice exposed to bright light at night showed depressive-like symptoms and had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The effect appears to be caused by special cells in the eye called intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs), which stimulate the brain's limbic system when exposed to light.
California leads the way in green energy, but not green living (14 November 2012)
At first glance, California seems like the greenest state in the union. Last week, the state's voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 39, which will close a business tax loophole and send billions to clean energy programs. This week, the state is holding the first auction under its landmark cap-and-trade program. Reuters reports that California is "poised to double down on its investments" in the clean energy sector.
"'We put our money where our mouths are,' said Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board, the agency charged with implementing the state's cap-and-trade system.
"'We back up what we do in regulation by shifting subsidies from things that pollute and are inefficient to things that are more efficient and make our state more resilient,' she said ...
"California has long been a bellwether for efforts by states and local governments eager to address climate change. In 2006, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a bill that requires the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. That law survived a challenge at the polls two years ago, when Californians overwhelmingly defeated an oil industry-backed measure to roll it back."
Veteran F.B.I. Agent Helped Start Petraeus E-Mail Inquiry (14 November 2012)
DOVER, Fla. -- The F.B.I. agent who spurred the investigation that led to the resignation of David H. Petraeus as C.I.A. director is a "hard-charging" veteran who helped investigate the foiled millennium terrorist plot in 1999, colleagues said on Wednesday.
The agent, Frederick W. Humphries II, 47, is also described by former colleagues as relentless in his pursuit of what he sees as wrongdoing, which appears to describe his role in the F.B.I. investigation involving Mr. Petraeus. Suspecting that the case involved serious security issues and was being stalled, possibly for political reasons -- a suspicion his superiors say was unjustified -- he took his concerns to Congressional Republicans.
"Fred is a passionate kind of guy," one former colleague said. "He's kind of an obsessive type. If he locked his teeth onto something, he'd be a bulldog."
The question of how and why the F.B.I. opened the investigation that has had such momentous consequences has been central from the moment Mr. Petraeus stepped down Friday. The emerging portrait of the agent who initiated the inquiry is another step toward an answer.
Ron Paul gives farewell address to Congress: A society that boos the Golden Rule is not moral (14 November 2012)
After 23 years in office, Republican Rep. Ron Paul of Texas delivered his final speech to Congress on Wednesday.
The libertarian-leaning congressman has gained an enthusiastic following for his strong views on limited government, Austrian economics and non-interventionist foreign policy. During his final speech, Paul lamented that he had achieved little of what he set out to do in Congress: reign in excessive government and stop unconstitutional wars of aggression.
"I have thought a lot about why those of us who believe in liberty, as a solution, have done so poorly in convincing others of its benefits," he said on the House floor. "If liberty is what we claim it is -- the principle that protects all personal, social and economic decisions necessary for maximum prosperity and the best chance for peace -- it should be an easy sell. Yet, history has shown that the masses have been quite receptive to the promises of authoritarians which are rarely if ever fulfilled."
Paul also predictably attacked the "redistribution of wealth by government" and Keynesian economics, along with the Federal Reserve. He alleged that American wealth "today depends on debt."
Special Report: South Sudan's Chinese oil puzzle (14 November 2012)
(Reuters) - A few months before South Sudan seceded last year, Henry Odwar drove to a Juba hotel to confront the men who would be at the heart of the new country's economy.
Scores of delegates from the Chinese, Malaysian and Indian firms that pumped Sudan's oil had flown in to see the southern capital and shake hands with the government officials who were about to inherit billions of dollars of petroleum from Khartoum in the north.
As head of the southern parliament's energy committee, Odwar thought it was time to clear the air with the companies. Many southerners blame them for providing money and infrastructure that Khartoum used to crush southern rebels and wipe out entire villages during a civil war which killed more than 2 million people.
"There is a new thinking in South Sudan that we are open for business, but we will never forget our history," Odwar recalled telling the men. "And, you, the oil companies, if you have polluted before, you will not pollute again. If you have displaced people before, you will have to pay."
Health Basics: When is organic still GMO? (12 November 2012)
(NaturalNews) Even though some food is labeled organic, the seeds may still have come from a GMO source; like if a small to mid-size farmer buys seeds or plants, such as tomatoes, from a Home Depot or Lowe's, and then plants them in organic soil and does not use pesticide, they are still GMO, but they don't get labeled as such. Who knows this? How do you avoid it? Did you know bees will fly 50 miles, cross-pollinating from one farm to another by carrying mutated genes from corporate GMO farms to organic farms. There are lawsuits coming from both sides, and the war that is being waged by the people who don't want to eat pesticide-laden, GENETICALLY MUTATED CROP has just begun. (http://holisticprimarycare.net)
What does "organic" really mean?
Simply stated, organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Also, very important is that the animals that are consumed or produce eggs and milk do not take antibiotics or growth hormones.
Going to a local farmer's market is one wise path, but they still may have bought GM seeds or used pesticides, or both. Most likely, your friendly local farmers have respect and maintain the integrity of their crop, for the sake of their families, their neighbors, and their community.(http://www.organic.org/home/faq)
As U.S. hesitates, California pours billions into green energy (14 November 2012)
(Reuters) - California, long the national leader in clean energy policy, is poised to double down on its investments in the sector, with billions in new subsidies set to flow in over the next few years.
California voters last week directed some $2.5 billion to energy conservation programs with the approval of Proposition 39, which closes a corporate tax loophole, allocates about half of the new revenue to environmental goals for five years, and which passed with more than 60 percent of the vote.
In addition, the state this week will begin selling "carbon allowances" as it implements a cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gasses. Revenues from those sales, which could reach $11 billion a year by 2020, will also be used for clean energy development.
The new programs come on top of a solar power subsidy program, now in its fourth year, which has driven a widespread adoption of rooftop solar systems around the state. And an aggressive effort to require electric utilities to use renewable sources for one-third of their output has also given the sector a big financial boost and spurred the construction of several massive solar power plants throughout the state.
Paul Ryan: Obama won because of 'urban' turnout (13 November 2012)
Former Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan says that his party lost the White House in 2012 because so many "urban" voters went to the polls, not because Americans rejected his Medicare and other budget policies.
"We were surprised with the outcome," the Wisconsin Republican told WISC-TV's Jessica Arp. "We knew this was going to be a close race. We thought we had a very good chance of winning it. I think that the surprise was some of the turnout, some of the turnout especially in urban areas, which definitely gave President Obama the big margin to win this race."
"There's always an Electoral College strategy to winning these things, and you know what states you need to win to get to 270 electoral votes. When we watched Virginia and Ohio coming in, those as tight as they were, and looking like we were going to lose them, that's when it became clear we weren't going to win."
Ryan added that it was "disappointing" because "losing never feels good," but insisted that the race had not been a referendum on his budget plan, which would have slashed the size of government and turned Medicare into a voucher program.
Sun Media to cut 500 jobs (13 November 2012)
Quebecor Inc. says it's cutting 500 jobs at Sun Media Corp. and closing two printing plants in Ottawa and Kingston as part of a major restructuring of its newspaper division.
The company said the changes will help cut $45 million a year in costs as it makes sweeping changes at the country's largest newspaper publisher in response to slowing advertising sales and continuing competition from the Internet.
Quebecor said it would also expand the use of "paywalls," which require online readers to pay for some content.
About 27 journalists' jobs are slated to be eliminated as the company centralizes copy editing and pagination functions in Toronto, according to the Southern Ontario Newspaper Guild, which represents some Sun employees.
Federal report calls for more research on Arctic oil spills (13 November 2012)
A federal commission says more research is needed to prevent and clean up oil spills in the ice-covered waters surrounding Alaska and Canada.
The report, issued Tuesday by the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, is framed around a simple question: Just what do governments and oil companies know about stopping a spill in the frozen Arctic?
After cataloging more than 200 research projects conducted by industry, government and others over the past 10 to 15 years, the commission is calling for a slew of new studies and policy changes.
The report says oil spill experiments and field trials are needed in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration needs more money for Arctic spill research and federal regulators need more time or more staff to review permits.
Alaska increases estimate of salmon disaster (13 November 2012)
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Alaska commercial fishermen lost an estimated $16.8 million in direct revenue tied to fishing closures because of recent poor king salmon returns, according to new figures prepared by state officials.
Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development Commissioner Susan Bell enclosed the estimate of losses by commercial fishery permit holders in a letter to the Alaska congressional delegation. An estimate in September put the suspected loss at more than $10 million.
The figures, Bell said, did not reflect the total financial loss for Alaskans. Crew members missed the opportunity to fish and earn wages. Support businesses could not supply commercial fishermen.
"Processors and their workforces also suffered from lower throughput, and unexpected loss of market share," Bell said. "Additionally, fishing communities suffered from a loss in fish and sales tax revenues."
Federal scientists uncover evidence that oilsands contaminants travel further than expected (13 November 2012)
Federal scientists have uncovered evidence that contaminants wafting out Alberta's oilsands operations are collecting on the bottom of remote lakes up to 100 kilometres away.
The chemical "legacy" in the lake sediments indicates that oilsands pollution is travelling further than expected and has been for decades.
"The footprint of the deposition is potentially larger than we might have anticipated," says Derek Muir, a senior Environment Canada scientist, who will present the findings Wednesday at an international toxicology conference in the U.S. where the oilsands are a hot topic.
A team led by federal scientist Jane Kirk, also of Environment Canada, will report that snow within 50 kilometres of oilsands operations is contaminated with a long list of "priority pollutants" including a neurotoxin that "bioaccumulates" in food webs.
'Smart glass' windows the cool new thing (13 November 2012)
At first glance, the big windows in the W Hotel's lobby look unremarkable.
Then the sun strikes them - and the glass slowly darkens to block the glare and heat.
The windows are made of Dynamic View Glass, created by the Milpitas firm View Inc. ( www.viewglass.com), and represent a step forward for sustainable building. By letting users regulate how much light and heat enters a structure, they reduce energy use and eliminate the need for screens or blinds, the company said.
After five years of R&D, View is launching this week at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo at Moscone Center, which runs Wednesday through Friday. The company describes its product, which is available now, as a way to sheathe buildings in a "smart envelope."
BBC Scandal Exposes Cover-Up of Host Jimmy Savile's Pedophilia, Fueling Public Broadcaster's Foes (13 November 2012)
AMY GOODMAN: So tell us the story of the one woman that you profiled in the New York Times who had been trying to come forward for decades.
LARK TURNER: Yeah, you know, I mean, it's a really tragic story. Deborah said she has been abused--was abused by Jimmy Savile at a reform school back in the '70s. And for years, she said, whenever she heard him mentioned in connection with sexual abuse, she tried calling up newspapers, she tried getting her story out there, and nobody wanted to speak with her, nobody was interested. So, I think this is somebody who--this has been extremely challenging for her to finally get her story out.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, explain, though, what the situation was, why Jimmy Savile had anything to do with the school that Deborah Cogger attended.
LARK TURNER: Well, this is what's really interesting. He had these longstanding relationships with different institutions across the country, including this school called the Duncroft School for Girls, which was a school for kind of troubled teenage girls who were also extremely intelligent. And he would come by with cigars and kind of crummy records that he got at the studio. And it sounds like--I mean, what the victims are saying now, and there are several of them who were at this school, they're saying that he basically had free rein of the place.
"Mea Maxima Culpa": New Doc Exposes Horror of Catholic Child Sex Abuser and Heroism of His Victims (13 November 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Tell us about Father Murphy. Tell us about your film.
ALEX GIBNEY: Father Murphy was a priest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who ran St. John's School for the Deaf. And he was actually very charismatic. He raised a ton of money for the school. He was an expert signer. And he was actually much loved in the deaf community. But not unlike Jimmy Savile, his role in the community gave him access to his victims. And he was a--he was a criminal, it's fair to say. And he abused over 200 deaf children at St. John's School for the Deaf.
AMY GOODMAN: How? How did this happen?
ALEX GIBNEY: Well, you have to remember, these kids were under his control. It was a boarding school. And very often, it happened in the confessional. And that ultimately became part of the church's aborted case into this. And the church itself often refers to abuse in the confessional as a kind of soul murder, because you're taking kids who are so vulnerable and using that vulnerability against them--in this case, by learning things about them. So he, for example, learned which kids had parents who couldn't themselves sign. And then he would go after them, because they literally couldn't communicate with their own parents, and often would have to communicate with their parents through Father Murphy, who was the predator.
Google report reveals sharp increase in government requests for users' data (13 November 2012)
Government surveillance of citizens' online lives is rising sharply around the world, according to Google's latest report on requests to remove content and hand over user data to official agencies.
In the first six months of this year, authorities worldwide made 20,939 requests for access to personal data from Google users, including search results, access to Gmail accounts and removal of YouTube videos. Requests have risen steeply from a low of 12,539 in the last six months of 2009, when Google first published its Transparency Report.
Authorities made 1,791 requests for Google to remove 17,746 pieces of content in the first half of 2012, almost twice as many as the 949 requests made in the same period last year, and up from 1,048 requests made in the last six months of 2011.
"This is the sixth time we've released this data, and one trend has become clear: government surveillance is on the rise," Google said in a blogpost.
Top U.S. commander in Afghanistan under investigation, scandal widens (13 November 2012)
(Reuters) - The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, is under investigation for alleged inappropriate communication with a woman at the center of the scandal involving former CIA Director David Petraeus, a senior U.S. defense official said on Tuesday.
The revelation threatens to fell another of the U.S. military's biggest names and suggests that the scandal involving Petraeus - a retired four-star general who had Allen's job in Afghanistan before moving to the CIA last year - could expand.
The U.S. official said the FBI uncovered between 20,000 and 30,000 pages of communications - mostly emails spanning from 2010 to 2012 - between Allen and Jill Kelley, who has been identified as a longtime friend of the Petraeus family and a Tampa, Florida, volunteer social liaison with military families at MacDill Air Force Base.
It was Kelley's complaints about harassing emails from the woman with whom Petraeus had had an affair, Paula Broadwell, that prompted an FBI investigation that ultimately disclosed Petraeus' involvement with Broadwell. Petraeus resigned from the CIA post on Friday.
George Allen rules out future runs for political office (13 November 2012)
Reflecting on the bruising and expensive Senate race with Democrat Tim Kaine, who unofficially prevailed by more than 218,700 votes out of more than 3.7 million cast, Allen said his aim was to focus on issues.
In his pitch to voters, Allen called for offshore drilling and less-restrictive energy policies, repeal of President Barack Obama's health care law, reform of the federal tax code and a halt to the billions in automatic defense budget cuts set for next year.
"We wanted to make sure that this campaign was focused on the ideas and concerns and voices that we were hearing from the people of Virginia," Allen said Monday. "The thing people cared about most are their jobs and jobs for children."
Allen, 60, didn't hide his social views on the trail - he's firmly anti-abortion and against gay marriage - but didn't dwell on them, either.
PAM COMMENTARY: I notice that the article neglected to mention a few terms related to George Allen -- Macaca, monkey, bigotry, confederate flag, noose, hate.
Windows 8 chief Steven Sinofsky to leave Microsoft (13 November 2012)
Steven Sinofsky, the head of the Windows division at Microsoft who had been seen by some as a future chief executive of the software giant, is to leave the company.
The shock move comes just two weeks after the launch of Windows 8, seen as make-or-break for the company struggling to redefine itself in a world where computing no longer happens on desktop PCs, but increasingly on mobiles and tablets.
Sinofsky had been at the company for 23 years, and was one of the people who tipped Bill Gates off to the importance of the internet in 1994 when it had looked as though Microsoft might ignore the rising importance of the network system.
But according to reports, there had been growing executive friction between Sinofsky and other top executives at the company. Steve Ballmer, who has been chief executive since late 1999, told staff in a memo on Monday that "Steven Sinofsky has decided to leave the company".
Software maker John McAfee sought in Belize (13 November 2012)
Police in the Central American nation of Belize said Monday that they are looking for the founder of the software company McAfee Inc. to question him about the slaying of another U.S. citizen, his neighbor in an island town on the Caribbean.
John McAfee, who was raised in Salem, Va., and graduated from Roanoke College, lived in Belize next door to Gregory Viant Faull, 52, who was found with a gunshot wound to his head inside his two-story home north of San Pedro, a town on the island of Ambergris Caye, said Raphael Martinez, spokesman for Belize's Ministry of National Security. The housekeeper discovered the body Sunday morning and called police.
Martinez said that no charges had been filed in the case, describing McAfee, 67, only as a "person of interest" for police.
"It's too early in the investigation. To say he is a suspect would be a bold statement," Martinez said.
Juan Cole: Real Petraeus Failure Was Counterinsurgency in Iraq, Afghanistan (12 November 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
JUAN COLE: I was opposed to General Petraeus becoming head of the CIA in the first place, because one of the CIA's charges is to evaluate policy, and one of the big policies that needs to be evaluated is the troop escalation, what is called the "surge," in Afghanistan, the big counterinsurgency program that Petraeus put into place and then shepherded through as commander on the ground. And the CIA can't properly evaluate that program if its head is the author of the program. And I'm sure the analysts tried, and maybe, you know, Petraeus tried to be objective and so forth, but it's just not right. So I think that's the real issue here, is why--why did the Obama administration put an actor in a military role, then as the head of the agency that will evaluate the actions?
And I think that we need a big national debate about Obama's troop escalation in Afghanistan. It was a failure. And we are now committed--Obama is committed to withdrawing in 2014. I mean, I think that's generally a good thing. But did we really need the troop escalation? How well did it work? Should we do any more of them? All of those things can't, you know, be addressed unless we have a national debate on this policy. And I'm disturbed that--you know, I'm sure General Petraeus's Gmail was very important and that the security issues were there and so forth, but really, that's not the big issue here.
AMY GOODMAN: It's interesting. This all takes place as Robert Bales is being questioned, whether he will be court-martialed for the murder of 16 Afghans at Fort--he's now at Fort Lewis-McChord in Washington state.
JUAN COLE: Yeah, well, that's another kind of issue that--you know, I'm from a military family, Amy, and I really mind that the events in Afghanistan are kind of offstage. We have almost no mainstream media reporting on Afghanistan. Our guys are out there fighting, and if they get killed, it's on page 17. And it's not right. It's not right for a country to be at war unless it's committed to the war. It's not right to have the war proceed offstage. It's not right not to have any public discussion of the mistakes that were made, the kind of command structure that was there. Obviously, there's a lot of troops there who have been in a lot of rotations and are--some of them, I think, probably have a lot of PTSD, and there's a lot of issues here which our country is not coming to grips with.
Exposé: Veterans Administration Battles Backlog of Claims for Wounded Soldiers (12 November 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
AARON GLANTZ: Yes, Amy. Across this country, there are nearly a million veterans who are sitting, waiting to find out if the VA will give them disability compensation for the wounds that they received in war. And this is a backlog of disability claims that has more than doubled under President Obama: when he took office, there were just under 400,000 veterans who were waiting; now there's about 830,000 veterans who are waiting on their disability claims. And as we've previously reported at the Center for Investigative Reporting, these wait times are getting longer and longer. In cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, veterans are waiting over a year, on average, to get their claims resolved and get compensation for their wartime wounds.
And so, the question becomes, you know, why are there such egregious delays? And what we found in this more recent investigation is that these delays paradoxically exist because the VA is putting pressure on people like Jamie Fox to rush through quickly, and then they make a mistake, and then the veterans who are wrongfully denied enter an appeal. And so, we found that almost a third of the veterans who are waiting are actually waiting on appeal. And we found that the Board of Veterans' Appeals, which adjudicates this, rules that the VA makes a mistake 73 percent of the time that they rule on a case.
AMY GOODMAN: So, tell us the story of Hosea Roundtree. In this video report accompanying your investigation, Aaron, he talks about why he filed his claim with the Veterans Affairs.
HOSEA ROUNDTREE: It's not just for me, but it's for every other vet that's out there that's suffering. It's for every other vet that's coming back home, that they're going to see a difference. OK? I want--I want these vets coming back from overseas to get fair, better treatment.
Total solar eclipse Tuesday: Set your alarm and watch online (12 November 2012)
A total solar eclipse is coming, and although it is unlikely you'll be able to see it in person, you can watch it live on your computer or smartphone--as long as you remember to look.
The eclipse will begin late Tuesday morning California time. The "path of totality," or the part of the earth from where the eclipse can be seen, is 108 miles wide and will cover 9,000 miles over a three-hour period. But it will be almost entirely over the Pacific Ocean. That's why National Geographic called this eclipse "one of the century's most remote solar eclipses."
The total eclipse will be visible from land for just a few minutes on the northern Australian coast overlooking the Great Barrier Reef. And that's where two different live streaming cameras will be set up to capture the show for the rest of us.
The Slooh Space Camera will be live-streaming the eclipse on its website, which will allow viewers to ask questions about what they are seeing and even let them snap photos that can be then be uploaded to Pinterest. The stream begins at 11:30 a.m. PST, about an hour before the total eclipse will be visible from the Australian city of Cairns.
Deaths of 2 in elder home renew mushroom warnings (12 November 2012)
LOOMIS, Calif. (AP) -- It's a story that plays out often in California once the fall rainy season starts and mushrooms sprout: someone unintentionally picks and eats a poisonous variety, leading to hospitalization or even death.
But Friday's mass poisoning at an assisted-living facility near Sacramento, Calif., was shocking in its scope -- two dead, four others sickened, including the caregiver who had prepared soup for residents using toxic wild mushrooms.
Amateurs take a big risk when they harvest wild mushrooms, especially when they serve the fungi to others, said Casey Jonquil, owner of Alpine Foragers in Portland, Ore., who certifies and sells up to 8,000 pounds of wild mushrooms a day. "You just don't do that."
Placer County sheriff's officials have called the deaths of Barbara Lopes, 86, and Teresa Olesniewicz, 73, an accident. Both residents of the homey Gold Age Villa in Loomis died after eating mushroom soup.
Just 8 weeks of meditation can cause enduring changes in the brain (12 November 2012)
Neuroscientists have discovered that an 8-week meditation training program can leave a lasting impression on the human brain.
Researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston University, and several other research centers found that the meditation training produced enduring changes in how the brain processed emotional information. The results of their study were published this month in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
"The two different types of meditation training our study participants completed yielded some differences in the response of the amygdala -- a part of the brain known for decades to be important for emotion -- to images with emotional content," Gaelle Desbordes, a corresponding author of the report, explained. "This is the first time that meditation training has been shown to affect emotional processing in the brain outside of a meditative state."
In the study, healthy adults with no experience meditating were enrolled in either mindful attention training, cognitively-based compassion training or a health discussion group. Mindful attention meditation cultivates awareness of one's breathing and one's own state of mind, while compassion meditation focuses on cultivating higher levels of empathy. The health discussion group was used as a control. The training occurred for 2 hours each week, or 16 hours total.
Coffee beans burn towards extinction (12 November 2012)
Your double-double may be in trouble.
British and Ethiopian researchers warn the wild versions of the Arabica bean may be burning towards extinction by 2080, making the last drop sooner than you may have thought.
And for the backbone bean of the coffee industry, it would be a caffeine catastrophe at the hands of climate change.
Wild species could disappear as soon as 2020, as researchers at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew expect some Arabica plants in parts of Ethiopia, Sudan and Kenya would be left outside of their bioclimatic range -- too hot and too stressed to survive.
But before a bean brouhaha erupts at the supermarket, the study makes clear that the concern is limited to wild plants only, not the cultivated crop that forms 70 per cent of the world's coffee supply.
Elmo puppeteer accused of underage relationship (VIDEO) (12 November 2012)
The puppeteer who performs as Elmo on 'Sesame Street' is taking a leave of absence from the popular kids' show in the wake of allegations that he had a relationship with a 16-year-old boy.
PAM COMMENTARY: WARNING: The embedded video starts without the viewer taking any action.
East Coast Rapist suspect acknowledges attacks in several states (11 November 2012)
"They were objects," Thomas said. "Whoever came down the street, an object. . . . It's awful. It's scary. . . . I don't know why I couldn't just stop."
Thomas says he is the East Coast Rapist: the man who terrorized women in the Washington area and New England beginning in the early 1990s, culminating in an attack on three trick-or-treating teenagers in Prince William County in 2009. His crimes, which spanned nearly half his life, gripped the region with the kind of fear that comes from an unknown man, lurking in the darkness, attacking strangers who were doing such everyday tasks as walking home from work, waiting for a bus, moving out of an apartment or even sleeping in their own bed.
In hours of telephone interviews with The Washington Post from his jail cell in Prince William County, Thomas for the first time publicly acknowledged that he attacked women in several states. He said he has struggled to understand why he did it, and why he did it so many times -- more than a dozen rapes by his count, although police think there were probably many more.
Thomas's unusual pretrial confessions offer the first real picture of the man who eluded police for decades. Interviews with Thomas, his family and others close to him tell a brutal story about the troubled son of a D.C. cop who grew into a ruthless criminal. He was a doting father figure and fun-loving companion but also jealous, violent and prone to sneak out at night, when he would prey on the vulnerable and hide his actions from everyone.
The Republican Party's electoral map problem (12 November 2012)
Republicans have a major electoral map problem.
Amid all of the agita and hand-wringing about the campaign Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney ran, the reality is that the former Massachusetts governor was operating on an in-cred-ibly narrow electoral map that made his only path to victory something close to a total sweep of the most closely contested states. That problem isn't unique to Romney and, along with the party's demographic disadvantages, is the biggest issue facing Republicans as the party tries to regroup for 2016, 2020 and beyond.
Let's start with an examination of the electoral math.
In the past six presidential elections, including 2012, the Democratic nominee has averaged 327 electoral votes while the Republican nominee has averaged just 210. (A candidate needs 270, a simple majority of the total of 538 electoral votes, to be elected.)
During those two-plus decades dating back to 1992, the most -- repeat most -- electoral votes a Republican presidential candidate has won is 286, when George W. Bush claimed a second term in 2004. In that same time frame, Democratic nominees have received more than 300 electoral votes four times: Barack Obama in 2008 (365) and 2012 (332) and Bill Clinton in 1992 (370) and 1996 (379). The lowest total for a Democratic nominee during that period was Sen. John Kerry's 251 electoral votes in 2004; Republicans' floor during that same period was 159 electoral votes in 1996.
Groupon fights for its life as daily deals fade (12 November 2012)
(Reuters) - Groupon and its compatriots in the much-hyped daily deals business were supposed to change the very nature of small-business advertising. Instead, it is the daily deal vendors that are racing to change as evidence mounts that their business model is fundamentally flawed.
Groupon last week reported another quarter of disappointing earnings as its core business stagnated, sending its stock down 30 percent to an all-time low of $2.76. Its biggest rival, Living Social, is piling up losses, and part-owner Amazon.com earlier this month recorded a quarterly loss after writing down its Living Social investment.
Both companies are racing to diversify, venturing into more generic ecommerce areas like off-price sales through ventures such as Groupon Goods and LivingSocial's Shop. Meanwhile, upstarts are developing new variations on the discount coupon theme.
"It's clear that they need to have other models besides the email daily deals business," said Aaron Kessler, an analyst at Raymond James. "The problem is that a lot of these newer businesses have lower margins."
Indianapolis explosion kills two and leads to evacuation of 200 people (12 November 2012)
An explosion that leveled two homes and set two others ablaze in a huge fire forced about 200 people from an Indianapolis neighborhood where two people were killed, authorities said Sunday. The powerful nighttime blast shattered windows, crumpled walls and inflicted other damage on at least three dozen other homes, and could be heard three miles away.
The explosion, which occurred at 11 pm. Saturday, destroyed two houses that were side by side and spread fire to two other nearby homes. Mark Lotter, a spokesman for the city's mayor, said 27 houses had been rendered uninhabitable and another eight had sustained significant damage.
Authorities said they had no immediate information on the cause. The fire department and other agencies were investigating.
Four people were taken to a hospital with minor injuries after the explosion and fire, the Indianapolis Fire Department said in a statement. Fire Lieutenant Bonnie Hensley said firefighters put out the flames and then went through the rubble and damaged homes one at a time, in case people had been left behind. Two bodies have been recovered.
It's Appalling that Gerrymandering Is Legal (12 November 2012)
The maps are amazing: Ohio and Pennsylvania, states that went blue for Barack Obama, have congressional delegations that are heavily red. As David Weigel pointed out Wednesday, the maps show how gerrymandering saved the Republican majority in the House. (Even though Obama won Pennsylvania by 5 points, Republicans took 13 of 18 House districts. In Ohio, Obama won by two and the GOP kept 12 of 16 House seats.*) It's outrageous. It's also perfectly legal, and Democrats do it too, when given the chance--just ask the Republicans in Illinois. Gerrymandering is an American game both parties play because the courts allow it and the voters don't punish them for it.
On Friday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to the Voting Rights Act, the only real bulwark against gerrymandering still standing. With the election over, it was inevitable that such a case would move onto the court's docket. That doesn't make it good news.
As Robert Draper pointed out in a big piece for the Atlantic in October, the first gerrymander lover was Patrick Henry in 1788. Fast forward to 1962, when the Supreme Court addressed a related but different problem: The lopsided size of the congressional districts in states like Texas, which allowed one legislator to represent 200,000 people while his colleague next door represented 900,000. The court said no to this kind of line drawing, enshrining the principle of "one person, one vote." Then in 1986, the court also ruled Davis v. Bandemer that drawing lines for the sake of partisan advantage was unconstitutional. The opponents of a political map would have to show "continued frustration of the will of a majority of voters or effective denial of a minority of voters of a fair chance to influence the political process."
Senate leader McConnell a big loser on Election Day (12 November 2012)
(Reuters) - U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell set two top goals for the 2012 election: a Republican takeover of the Senate and the defeat of President Barack Obama.
He achieved neither.
Starting in January, he will be up against a president he tried and failed to bring down, with a Senate minority weaker by two.
"We all had a bad day," said Josh Holmes, chief of staff of McConnell's personal Senate office.
Kristol to GOP: Don't 'fall on your sword' to defend millionaires (11 November 2012)
Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol says that Republicans in Congress should "take Obama's offer" to raise taxes on the wealthy because the GOP shouldn't "fall on its sword to defend a bunch of millionaires."
During a panel on Fox News Sunday, Kristol predicted that "Republicans will have to give in much more than they think" because of President Barack Obama's overwhelming electoral defeat of Mitt Romney.
"Four presidents in the last century have won 50 percent of the vote twice: Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Reagan, and Obama," the conservative pundit explained. "It pains me to say that, to put him in with those other three, but it's a fact. Democrats picked up seats in the House and the Senate. The president is in good shape. ... I think there will be a big budget deal. It will be an Obama budget deal much more than a Paul Ryan-type budget deal. Elections have consequences."
Venice 'high water' floods 70% of city (11 November 2012)
Tourists attached plastic bags to their legs or stripped off to take a dip in St Mark's Square in Venice on Sunday as rising sea waters surged through the lagoon city. High water measuring 1.49 metres (5ft) above the normal level of the Adriatic sea came with bad weather that swept Italy at the weekend, causing floods in historic cities including Vicenza as well in the region of Tuscany 250 miles further south.
Venice's high water, or "acqua alta", said to be the sixth highest since 1872, flooded 70% of the city and was high enough to make raised wooden platforms for pedestrians float away. The record high water in Venice -- 1.94 metres in 1966 -- prompted many residents to abandon the city for new lives on the mainland.
Venetians bombarded Facebook with moans about the city's weather forecasters, who had predicted just 1.2 metres of water on Saturday, before correcting their forecast at dawn on Sunday.
"How come the people from the council who put out the wooden platforms were predicting 150cm?" asked Matelda Bottoni, who manages a jewellery design shop off St Mark's Square, which floods when water reaches 105cm. "Many residents and shopkeepers had gone to the mountains for the day and did not have time to rush back."
Gary Johnson: Romney's social agenda scared people (11 November 2012)
The former New Mexico governor disappointingly explained that he didn't get enough votes to swing the election in favor of either Obama or Romney. Johnson received nearly 1.2 million votes nationwide, giving him about one percent of the vote.
"It would have been great to be labeled a spoiler," he said, "because I think you go from being an annoyance -- I'm talking about the Libertarian Party -- you go from an annoyance, to being a spoiler, to being a player. But I don't think we've been declared as a spoiler... I wish we would have been a spoiler but we weren't."
Johnson said that Romney lost because his views didn't resonate with voters.
"I don't think he really energized people when it came to dollars and cents," he elaborated. "And when it comes to his social agenda, I think it really scares people. I mean, as negative as he spoke regarding immigration, gay rights, women's rights."
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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