Pam Rotella's Vegetarian FUN page -- News on health, nutrition, the environment, politics, and more!
NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012
News from the Week of 2nd to 8th of December 2012
Adult antidepressants suspected in suicides of Canadian kids (8 December 2012)
Powerful antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs approved only for use in adults are suspected of harming -- in some cases killing -- Canadian children.
Though Health Canada and the drug makers acknowledge the drugs are not approved for use in anyone under 18, doctors -- often general practitioners with little psychiatric training -- are prescribing these medications with little oversight.
Health Canada told the Star it has no jurisdiction to deal with the problem.
The regulator concedes the drugs may hurt kids but said it is up to drug companies to communicate the risks and doctors to safely prescribe the medications.
A Star investigation has found nearly 400 cases of children and teens suffering serious, sometimes fatal side effects suspected to have been caused by these drugs since 2002.
Wis. DNR recommends scaling back hunting rules after receiving 2,000 angry letters, emails (8 December 2012)
MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recommended this week that a hunting bill be scaled back after lawmakers and state agencies were inundated with nearly 2,000 angry emails and letters opposing its breadth.
The DNR proposed scaling back the Sporting Heritage Bill, which would open nearly all Wisconsin parks and trails to hunting, to exempt about one-third of that area, according to The Post-Crescent of Appleton ( http://post.cr/VvCuFi). The agency on Friday also proposed additional safety measures, such as a gun ban at High Cliff State Park on Lake Winnebago.
The newspaper obtained the more than 2,500 emails and letters sent to lawmakers, the DNR and the Natural Resources Board. Of the 2,000 or so comments received by the Natural Resources Board, 96 percent were opposed to at least some aspects of the law.
"This is absolute insanity and you must reconsider!" said Joan Sample, of Madison. "Someone is going to get hurt or killed, and it will be on the DNR's and State's shoulders."
High heels can shorten Achilles tendons, deform feet, and cause arthritis in knees (8 December 2012)
(NaturalNews) Millions of women around the world wear high heels with regularity. Recent research has shown that high heels have a detrimental effect on physiological health, indicating that women should think twice before throwing on their favorite pair of stilettos.
Problems with high heels
The aforementioned 2011 study reported that exactly three out of every four women who are daily high heel wearers suffer from consistent shoe-related foot pain such as bunions, arthritic big toes, calluses, hammer toes, and plantar warts. This research is not alone in finding high heel use to be harmful to the body, and other studies have found that high heels impact more than just a woman's foot.
The problems with the shoes begin before even getting to the raised heel, as it is overwhelmingly common for high heels to have very narrow toe boxes. This can be seen by trying to fit a cutout tracing of someone's foot inside of a shoe, especially if the traced foot has not already been deformed by narrow shoe wear. Bunions, hammer toes, and calluses are among the chief maladies caused by the small toe boxes in heels
Instability and headaches
One obvious drawback of wearing high heels is a decrease in stability, which can increase the risk of spraining an ankle or injuring another body part in the event of a fall. A less apparent effect of wearing heels is an increased susceptibility to headaches and migraines. There isn't any scientific evidence to back up the heels-headaches association, but many women believe that the increased muscular tension as a result of wearing heels can contribute to headaches or migraines.
Wisconsin workers will join Michigan protests (8 December 2012)
Wisconsin labor leaders are rallying to support their beleaguered brethren in Michigan.
Randy Bryce, an organizer for Ironworkers Local 8, is putting together a group of workers from Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula to join the protest against legislation pushed by Gov. Rick Snyder and Republicans in the Legislature to make Michigan a right-to-work state.
Bryce, a Racine County ironworker who was involved in similar protests against anti-labor legislation in Wisconsin, said the issues involved are even greater in Michigan.
"A lot of things are eerily similar to parts of what happened here in Wisconsin," said Bryce, who expects 40 to 50 people from his union to travel to Lansing, Mich., by Tuesday when lawmakers reconvene and Snyder plans to sign the bills into law. "I would say what's under attack there is even bigger because they decided to go after the public- and private-sector unions."
Serial killer in Anchorage case 'enjoyed telling us details' (8 December 2012)
SEATTLE -- As they talked with him in a conference room at the federal courthouse in Anchorage, agents already were confident they had Samantha Koenig's abductor.
They had surveillance footage of Israel Keyes' truck parked outside of the lonely coffee stand where Koenig was working when she was kidnapped one frozen night in Anchorage. They had the ATM withdrawals the 34-year-old construction worker had made with her bank card. They had a ski mask found in the trunk of his vehicle. It wasn't long before he confessed.
It was the way Keyes confessed to the killing that day in March that turned the agents' confidence to alarm: The adrenaline was almost visible as he described how overwhelmingly powerful he felt as he pointed a gun at Koenig's ribs.
"His demeanor, the level of detail, the lack of remorse, the enjoyment he was getting out of telling certain details," recalled Kevin Feldis, chief of the criminal division for the U.S. attorney's office in Alaska.
Democrats want jobless benefits in 'cliff' deal (8 December 2012)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hovering in the background of the "fiscal cliff" debate is the prospect of 2 million people losing their unemployment benefits four days after Christmas.
"This is the real cliff," said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I. He's been leading the effort to include another extension of benefits for the long-term unemployed in any deal to avert looming tax increases and massive spending cuts in January.
"Many of these people are struggling to pay mortgages, to provide education for their children," Reed said this past week as President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, rejected each other's opening offers for a deficit deal.
Emergency jobless benefits for about 2.1 million people out of work more than six months will cease Dec. 29, and 1 million more will lose them over the next three months if Congress doesn't extend the assistance again.
Since the collapse of the economy in 2008, the government has poured $520 billion -- an amount equal to about half its annual deficit in recent years -- into unemployment benefit extensions.
Greenland's 'extraordinary' summer ice melt may have been caused by tundra fires (7 December 2012)
Last July, over the course of a week, 97 percent of Greenland's ice surface melted. The response from scientists can be summarized as: "Um, shit." Or, by way of a direct quote: "This was so extraordinary that at first I questioned the result: was this real or was it due to a data error?"
It was real. And it's one of the things that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's 2012 Arctic report card cites as an unexpected anomaly in a season full of them.
Researchers now think they know why it happened. Like so much of what's happening in the Arctic, the melt likely stems from another aspect of climate change: fire.
Toxic cloud forms over Buenos Aires (7 December 2012)
A toxic cloud that formed Thursday triggered a public scare that forced the evacuation of offices in Buenos Aires and the suspension of metro and train services in a tourist area.
Security Secretary Sergio Berni said the situation had since been brought under control.
The incident took place after a shipping container loaded with pesticides caught fire at a port in the Argentine capital, causing a thick cloud of smoke -- with a a foul smell similar to gas -- to spread across nearly all of central Buenos Aires.
Civil defense authorities had asked residents in downtown Buenos Aires and the district of Retiro, near the port, to "remain inside with doors and windows closed, and to turn off air conditioners." Many pedestrians in the city protected their faces with scarves or masks.
8 quotes from a cancer surgeon that will set your hair on fire (7 December 2012)
Keep in mind that these quotes are coming from a mainstream doctor who is inside the system and who believes in the system. That makes Makary's statements all the more shocking.
"...1 in 4 hospital patients are harmed by a mistake."
"A cardiologist in Wisconsin was fired for pointing out that EKGs were misread more than 25% of the time."
"We [doctors] are also evaluated by the number of 'value units' at the end of each fiscal quarter. Our management will sit down with us and say your work units are down or up and in order for you to receive a large bonus you need to increase the number of operations you do..."
"There is New England Journal of Medicine-level data that suggests that almost half of [health] care is not compliant with evidence." [In other words, almost 50% of all health care in America isn't even based on published mainstream studies...and, I should add, there is conclusive evidence that half of these studies are untrustworthy in the first place. Therefore, to say that conventional doctors are winging it is a vast understatement. JR]
"...up to 30% of health care in unnecessary..."
PAM COMMENTARY: This article links back to the original Pro Publica article from earlier this year.
Special Report: From abuse to a chat room, a martyr is made - Jane's Jihad (7 December 2012)
But some civil rights advocates say the U.S. government has exaggerated the danger posed by aspiring terrorists - in this case and scores of others.
"You can't say these people are totally innocent - they aren't, and there's something wild and scary about them - but almost all of them seem to be incompetent and deluded in some way," said Ohio State University professor John Mueller, who has written extensively about how the government has handled terrorism cases. "When you look closely, many of these cases become interestingly cartoonish."
Interviews and documents, many composed by those involved in the Jihad Jane case as the conspiracy unfolded, often reveal their innermost thoughts. They also show the gullibility of the main players or the ways that they botched almost every assignment along the way.
Khalid, a troubled high school honor student who lived with his parents in Maryland, inadvertently linked his secret jihadist blog to a page on his school website.
Ramirez, a lonely Colorado woman known as Jihad Jamie, headed to Europe to train for holy war. She was lured to Ireland by a Muslim man promising a pious, married life but soon came to believe that all he really sought was a cook, a maid and a sex slave.
Perhaps most intriguing is the story of LaRose, the aspiring assassin whose devotion and naiveté left her susceptible to recruitment but prone to failure.
Latest attack on unions by Republicans: Michigan passes right-to-work law (7 December 2012)
LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- In an audacious flex of political muscle, Republicans in a single day reached the brink of a goal that for years has seemed an all-but-impossible dream: making the labor bastion of Michigan a right-to-work state.
The GOP majority used its superior numbers and backing from Gov. Rick Snyder to ramrod legislation through the House and Senate on Thursday, brushing aside denunciations and walkouts by helpless Democrats and cries of outrage from union activists who swarmed the state Capitol hallways and grounds. At one point, police used pepper spray to subdue demonstrators who tried to rush the Senate chamber.
"Shame! Shame on you!" protesters chorused from the gallery as the Senate voted. Earlier, security guards removed a man who yelled, "Heil Hitler! Heil Hitler! That's what you people are." Another shouted, "We will remember in November."
The right-to-work laws would prohibit what are known as "closed shops," in which workers are required to join a union or pay fees that are equivalent to union dues as a condition of employment.
PAM COMMENTARY: Unless a job is 100% unskilled and needs no continuity, companies are foolish to lower pay standards. When a worker is only paid less than market value, he LEAVES as soon as a job down the street pays a buck more. Try building an auto industry on that.
Actually, a lot of my jobs are rewriting dysfunctional systems programmed by cheaper employees, meaning that companies pay for the work twice, but that's another story.
Royal baby prank call: London hospital expected to address suicide reports of female staff member (7 December 2012)
The King Edward VII Hospital in London said it will be releasing a statement within the hour regarding a report that a receptionist or nurse who took the prank call from Australian DJs two days ago about Kate Middleton's health information, has died of an apparent suicide.
London police will not confirm details, but they say they are investigating the circumstances of a death of a woman Thursday at a central London residence.
They would not confirm whether the woman worked at the hospital or what a cause of death was.
The Daily Mail in London was the first to report this.
The hospital treated Kate earlier this week for severe morning sickness due to her pregnancy.
Sudan captures vulture with Israeli spying device, Sudanese media say (7 December 2012) [Rense.com]
Sudan has captured a vulture with Israeli spying equipment attached to it in the western Darfur region, Sudanese media say.
The media reported on Thursday that Darfur authorities found an Israeli Park Services GPS chip attached to the bird.
The vulture was on an espionage mission for the Tel Aviv regime, the media stated, adding that the bird had a leg band with labels that read in Hebrew, "Israel Nature Service" and "Hebrew University, Jerusalem."
The equipment fastened to the vulture was capable of taking photos and sending them back to Israel.
However, Israel's National Parks Service has denied the reports and said that both the GPS chip and the device were used by ecologists to track migration.
PAM COMMENTARY: I doubt that an "ecologist" would do something that puts every vulture in danger of being shot out of the sky.
Wisconsin Democrats put forward mining proposal (7 December 2012)
Cullen's committee has been hearing from experts for several weeks to craft the alternative but faces an uphill battle in getting a new version passed because of Republican majorities in both houses.
Republicans have indicated they will again push for passage of some version of their failed streamlining bill, which set a deadline of 360 days for the DNR to act on a permit.
In addition to setting that deadline at two years, the new proposal hashed out by Cullen's committee Thursday calls for so-called off-ramps, which would allow the DNR to pause the process for up to six months if the agency needs more time to work with federal regulators or address changes to a proposal.
The proposal maintains protections for groundwater that critics said were eliminated in the failed bill. It also includes a master public hearing, once the DNR has approved a permit, and calls for payments to local communities to be based on how much iron is extracted from a mine rather than on a mining company's net profits.
Bradley Manning in solitary for own protection, says brig commander (6 December 2012)
WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning was placed in solitary confinement in a military prison to protect him from possible attacks from "patriotic" inmates, the Marine brig commander said Thursday.
James Averhart, in charge of the brig at the Marine base in Quantico, Virginia, where Manning was held for nine months, said the suspect was held as a "maximum security prisoner" for his own safety.
"A lot of the population was very patriotic, and knew about the allegations" against Manning, Averhart said. "It was my responsibility if something could happen outside the [maximum security] facility to Manning."
Averhart testified at a pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade, an army base just outside the US capital, investigating the conditions in which Manning was held.
Little Rock shooting: fresh testimony casts doubt on police account (6 December 2012)
Ever since Eugene Ellison was shot dead two years ago by an off-duty police officer in his home in Little Rock, Arkansas, his family have tried to convince the authorities to take action.
The unarmed 67-year-old African American was killed by Donna Lesher, who entered his home with another off-duty officer after spotting that his door was open. She was cleared of any wrongdoing by an internal inquiry.
But the Guardian has learned of new testimony from another police officer who witnessed the shooting, which has cast doubt on Lesher's account and raised important questions over the original police inquiry and the county prosecutor's subsequent decision to rule the shooting justified.
In his testimony to lawyers for Ellison's sons, Vincent Lucio, one of four officers present when Ellison was shot, said he did not believe Ellison posed a deadly threat, according to the documents seen by the Guardian.
Toxic amounts of aluminium found in infant formulas (5 December 2012)
(NaturalNews) Although the unacceptably excessive presence of aluminium in infant formulas has been scientifically documented and proven since the late 1990s and the manufacturing companies are sufficiently warned and very well aware of the health problems it causes, it looks like commercial infant formulas still contain too much of this neurotoxic element.
Milk substitutes are sophisticated products that aim to nutritionally support newborns and infants of several years of age. Dr Weintraub and his team were some of the first scientists that investigated the presence of toxic amounts of aluminium in commercial infant formulas in 1986. They found that popular formulas had up to 150 times more aluminium than fresh breast milk, tap water or pasteurized cow's milk. The problem with aluminium is that it accumulates in the bones and neural tissues. Although there are no clinical studies investigating the impact of aluminium overload in healthy infants, preliminary research shows that aluminium causes significant oxidative stress in the brain of newborn rats, while it compromises the cellular antioxidant defenses.
In the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (1996), we find the description of several cases of young children suffering from aluminium intoxication, which was closely associated to subsequent encephalopathies, leading to progressive degeneration of brain functions and bone abnormalities, mainly osteomalacia, which results in soft and flexible bones. Overexposure to aluminium combined with poor kidney function are the most important factors that determine to which extent toxic amounts of aluminium will accumulate in the body tissues. FDA has determined that newborn babies can tolerate up to five micrograms of aluminium for every kilogram of their weight on a daily basis. Even if we accept this limit as legitimate, an interesting study published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition found that on average, preterm babies receive three times more aluminium than this arbitrary safe limit allows.
Chew on this: Memory helps drive appetite (5 December 2012)
In a finding that makes clear that appetite is often a case of mind over matter, new research finds that the memory of a hearty recent meal can fill you up. But the memory of a stingy serving of victuals -- even an inaccurate memory -- can make you hungrier, and prompt heavier eating at the next meal, researchers found.
The study, published Wednesday in the journal Public Library of Science One, used an ingenious trick to manipulate research subjects' memories of a lunchtime meal they had: At the bottom of a soup bowl filled with cream of tomato soup, they installed a hidden pump, which could be used to surreptitiously refill the bowl while the subject ate or draw down its contents.
The researchers wondered whether subjects tricked by such a manipulation would later remember the sight of the hefty 500-mg serving of soup they were asked to eat, or whether they would somehow register the punier 300-mg serving they actually ate. And they wondered whether, as dinnertime approached, the subjects' appetite would be driven by the actual lunch they had eaten or the more satisfying meal they thought they ate.
When asked how hungry they were as dinnertime approached, subjects' memories of the meal they saw -- not the one they ate -- seemed to be most influential. Even when their soup bowls were steadily drained, those who were seated in front of a large bowl of soup were less hungry. And those who were presented with a small bowl of soup pronounced themselves more hungry -- even if researchers behind the scenes were steadily refilling their bowls.
Outbreaks of new superbug in Toronto-area hospitals raise worrisome spectre (6 December 2012)
Outbreaks in two Toronto-area hospitals of a dangerous new form of superbug have infection-control experts contemplating a worrisome future.
Both outbreaks are now over. Details of the chains of spread and how the hospitals managed to stop them are outlined in two studies just published in medical journals.
But they represent the first reports of hospital outbreaks of bacteria containing the so-called NDM-1 enzyme in Canada. In each case, at least one of the people who carried the bacteria into the hospital seemed to have acquired it in Canada.
Previous NDM-1 cases in this country have been seen in individual cases and generally in people who had travelled outside Canada for health care -- most commonly to India, but also on occasion to the United States.
Blaming Obama for Republican Failures (6 December 2012)
Well, I have news for all of those in the media with these constant selective memory loops, President Obama spent the better part of the first three (3) years of his presidency trying to "cooperate" and "sit down" with these Republicans and was constantly slapped down and rebuffed.
Let's recap, shall we?
From a January 2011 edition of Roll Call:
~Two months after John Boehner won the speaker's gavel in the 2010 mid-tern elections, President Obama invited Speaker John Boehner to the White House State Dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao...Boehner said NO.
~The week before that, President Obama invited Speaker John Boehner to ride on Air Force One with him to Tucson, Arizona for the memorial ceremony for those killed in the shooting with then Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords...Boehner said NO.
Israel Used Depleted Uranium Munitions During Gaza Offensive (6 December 2012) [InfoWars.com]
I'm beginning to read reports from Gaza that indicate that the IDF may've used depleted uranium munitions during its recent assault. A local journalist writes in Electronic Intifada about the grotesque forms of some of the victims' wounds. He (incorrectly, I believe) associates them with chemical weapons like white phosphorus:
"Among those receiving treatment in Nasser hospital in Khan Younis is a man who was hit by an Israeli drone that struck a farm owned by his family in southern Gaza. A friend of his was killed in the attack. 'I was hit directly in my abdomen and two legs,' said the man, who is in his thirties and asked not to be named.
"Baker al-Derdy, the head nurse in Nasser hospital, said that when this man was first admitted, there was 'a strange smell, almost chemical' from him. Al-Derdy pointed to other indications that Israel may have used chemical weapons during its offensive.
"'Some of the symptoms we have seen are abnormal,' al-Derdy added. 'The type of burns that appear on the bodies suggest that the weapons employed were not conventional. The burns go deep into the skin and the skin itself turns blue. And I can tell you that the burns hit even the third layer of the skin.'
"...Ashraf al-Qedra, a spokesperson for the health ministry in Gaza...acknowledged that some of the burns witnessed were deeper than those associated with conventional weapons."
South Korea drops plans to resume whaling (6 December 2012)
South Korea has dropped plans to resume whaling in its coastal waters amid a storm of international criticism, and will instead use non-lethal methods to conduct research into the mammals.
The country provoked anger when it announced plans at a meeting of the International Whaling Commission [IWC] in Panama in July to conduct "scientific" whale hunts similar to those carried out by Japan in the Antarctic every winter.
The decision to ditch the plans became official when the government failed to submit a formal proposal to the IWC by the 3 December deadline.
"After gathering opinions from various sides, the government is now in the process of finalising its plan to study whales through non-lethal techniques, like many other countries such as Australia do," the Korea Herald quoted a fisheries ministry official as saying.
Software founder McAfee arrested in Guatemala, ending bizarre saga (5 December 2012)
GUATEMALA CITY -- Software company founder John McAfee was arrested by Guatemalan police for entering the country illegally, ending his bizarre weekslong journey as a blogging fugitive claiming to be persecuted by authorities in Belize.
The fate of the anti-virus guru remained unclear Thursday as Guatemalan authorities awaited word from their Foreign Ministry as to what they would do with McAfee and whether they intended to send him back to Belize, where he is a person of interest in the killing of a fellow ex-pat.
"We are awaiting instructions from the Foreign Ministry. It will be the foreign relations department that decides the process," Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla said following McAfee's arrest Wednesday at a hotel in an upscale part of Guatemala City.
Earlier on Wednesday, McAfee said he had formally requested asylum in Guatemala after entering the country from Belize, where he says he fears for his safety because he has sensitive information about official corruption and refused to donate to local politicians.
Virginia woman is sued over her Yelp review (5 December 2012)
Angered by what she thought was shoddy work on her home, Fairfax resident Jane Perez did what has become the go-to form of retail vengeance in the Internet age: She logged on to Yelp and posted scathing reviews of the D.C. firm that did the job.
Perez ticked off a list of accusations, including damage to her home, an invoice for work the contractor did not perform and jewelry that disappeared. She closed one post by fuming, "Bottom line do not put yourself through this nightmare of a contractor."
The contractor's response to her one-star takedown? Fight back.
Christopher Dietz filed a $750,000 Internet defamation lawsuit against Perez last month, saying the postings on Yelp and others on Angie's List were false and sent customers fleeing. He is also asking a Fairfax County court for a preliminary injunction to keep her from writing similar reviews. A hearing will be held Wednesday.
"Get It Done": After Stirring Durban Speech, Student Anjali Appadurai Initially Banned by U.N. in Doha (5 December 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: That was Anjali Appadurai, a College of the Atlantic student from Bar Harbor, Maine, addressing the Durban U.N. climate summit. This year, she was banned from the Doha summit for the first week. She's allowed in right now, and she's here to tell us what happened.
Anjali, thanks so much for being with us. What happened? After giving that dramatic address last year, how is it that they banned you from this year's summit until you fought back this past week?
ANJALI APPADURAI: Well, the--those who lost their badges in Durban were made to go through a re-accreditation process to get back into the conference this year. And basically, I didn't pass that process, and so I was banned for--
AMY GOODMAN: Why did you lose your--
ANJALI APPADURAI: --four days.
Arctic lost record snow and ice last year as data shows changing climate (5 December 2012)
The Arctic lost more snow and sea ice between October 2011 and August 2012 than any year other on record, a premier US science agency reported on Wednesday, delivering the fullest picture to date of a region in the throes of rapid, system-wide change.
The Arctic lost record snow cover and sea ice last year -- even though air temperatures were not unusually high.
By the end of August, several weeks before the end of the summer melt season, Arctic sea ice had retreated to its smallest extent since satellite records began in 1979.
In Greenland, virtually the entire ice sheet -- 97% -- sustained some degree of thawing during a period of a few days in July, including on some of the highest peaks.
Boeing 787 fuel leaks spur FAA to require jet inspections (5 December 2012)
Co. (BA)'s new 787 Dreamliners must be inspected after fuel leaks on two planes were traced to manufacturing errors, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said.
The airworthiness directive, the first for the 787 since it entered service last year, will be issued today and require checks of fuel-line connectors for an "unsafe condition," the FAA said on the Federal Register's website. Japan Airlines Co. and All Nippon Airways Co. both said they had repaired planes because of the fault.
The leaks, attributed to improperly installed couplings, could cause a plane to run out of fuel, an engine-power loss or a fire, the FAA said. Chicago-based Boeing issued a similar recommendation on Nov. 25, advising carriers to complete an inspection within seven days, according to the FAA. The planemaker delivered 33 Dreamliners, the first jetliner made chiefly of composite materials, through October.
Inspections are finished on about half of the 787s handed over so far, and Boeing is "taking appropriate steps to ensure proper installation on airplanes in production," said Lori Gunter, a company spokeswoman. The couplings are in the pylons that support the jet's two engines.
DoD's rules on lead exposure called inadequate (5 December 2012)
A report released this week found "overwhelming evidence" that 30-year-old federal standards governing lead exposure at Defense Department firing ranges and other sites aren't strict enough to protect workers from ailments associated with high blood lead levels.
The ailments include problems with the nervous system, kidney, heart and reproductive system.
The report, issued by the National Research Council, recommends that the Pentagon review its guidelines and practices protecting workers from lead exposure on firing ranges, including lowering acceptable blood lead "to more stringent levels" that reduce the risk of adverse health effects.
The military operates hundreds of ranges around the world run by both uniformed and civilian personnel. Troops are trained to use of handguns, shotguns, rifles and machine guns.
FBI: Alaska barista assaulted, dismembered (4 December 2012)
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- A man who died in an apparent suicide this week in an Alaska jail after confessing to a string of killings across the country had sexually assaulted and strangled an Anchorage barista the day after he abducted her, then left her body in a shed while he went on a two-week cruise, the FBI said Tuesday.
In the most detailed account yet of what happened to Samantha Koenig, who disappeared in February, authorities said Israel Keyes told them he strangled the 18-year-old, then left her body in a shed outside his Anchorage house until he returned from his cruise from New Orleans.
Once home, Keyes posed Koenig's body to make it appear she was still alive and took a Polaroid photo of her tied up, along with a newspaper dated Feb. 13 -- 12 days after the abduction from a coffee stand. He later typed a ransom note demanding $30,000 from Koenig's family on the back of a photocopy of the photo, sending a text message from the woman's cellphone with directions where he'd left the note at a local dog park.
Keyes dismembered Koenig's body and disposed of the remains in a frozen lake north of Anchorage after he cut a hole in the ice, the FBI said in a release.
Sparrows use cigarette butts to deter pests, scientists find (4 December 2012)
PARIS -- Cigarette butts are widely reviled as an urban nuisance but birds in Mexico City see them as a boon, apparently using them to deter parasites from their nests, scientists say.
Local sparrows and finches incorporate smoked cigarette butts in their nests to provide cosy cellulose lining for their chicks and nicotine to ward off mites, they believe.
A team led by Constantino Macias Garcia at the National Autonomous University monitored 57 nests and found that the tally of bugs declined as the number of smoked butts in each nest increased.
Sparrow nests had between none and 38 used butts, with an average of eight per nest, and finch nests between none and 48, with an average of 10.
Navy builds solar power farm near Norfolk base (4 December 2012)
The Navy has completed construction of the largest solar energy project in Virginia, a 10-acre landscape of black solar panels in neat rows within sight of the Chesapeake Bay and the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel.
The solar farm contains more than 8,600 panels, each bolted onto steel stilts in a marshy field called Monkey Bottom, just outside the fenceline of Norfolk Naval Station. Together, they can generate up to 2.1 megawatts of electricity - enough to power 200 homes, said Michelle Perry, project manager for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command.
That's only about 2 percent of the electricity required to run the Norfolk Navy base, the largest of its kind in the world, "but you have to start somewhere," Perry said.
Although construction was finished late last month, the photovoltaic panels are not yet connected to the electricity grid that feeds the base. The connection is expected by Christmas, Perry said, allowing the base to start using the renewable energy and not have to pay Dominion Virginia Power for it.
Bradley Manning lawyer: soldier's treatment a blemish on nation's history (4 December 2012)
David Coombs, the civilian lawyer representing Bradley Manning at his court martial for supplying WikiLeaks with a trove of US state secrets, has described the soldier's treatment in solitary confinement at Quantico marine base as criminal and a blot on the nation's history.
Making rare comments outside the courtroom, Coombs addressed an audience of Bradley Manning supporters in a Unitarian church in Washington on Monday night and lashed out at the military hierarchy for allowing the intelligence analyst to be subjected to nine months of harsh suicide prevention regime against the advice of doctors. "Brad's treatment at Quantico will forever be etched into our nation's history as a disgraceful moment in time," he said.
"Not only was it stupid and counter-productive, it was criminal. An entire group of individuals, who I have no doubt were honourable, chose to turn a blind eye to how he was being treated ... They cared about something more: the media impact."
Coombs made his criticism in his first and what will probably his only speech in a civilian setting since he became Manning's lawyer two years ago. He explained to the audience that he has consciously avoided all public engagements and interviews with the press partly on Manning's instructions and partly because the soldier "deserved an attorney entirely focused on the courtroom".
Mr. Burns explains the fiscal cliff: Give the rich money or we'll kill the economy (4 December 2012)
At the Springfield Republican Party HQ, which now acknowledges that "rape is bad," Mr. Burns of The Simpsons unveiled his new post-election plans on Tuesday.
After being informed that despite Karl Rove's claims, Republican candidate Mitt Romney had lost the presidential election, the Machiavellian billionaire admitted it was time to explain the looming "fiscal cliff" to America.
"Think of the economy of a car, and a rich man as the driver," Mr. Burns explained. "If you don't give the driver all the money, he'll drive you over the cliff. It is just common sense."
"Furthermore, rich people feel things more deeply than the common man," he added, showing a clip of depressed and suicidal billionaires following Romney's defeat.
As Typhoon Bopha Wreaks Havoc, Philippine Negotiator Urges Wealthy Nations to Address Global Warming (4 December 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the Philippines' particular vulnerability. Typhoon Bopha struck the southern--the southern island of Mindanao, which is rarely in the direct path of tropical cyclones.
NADEREV SAÑO: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: If you could talk about what this means--last year, more than 1,200 people were killed. And now these numbers you're hearing, way beyond what we're hearing in the news, are escalating, as we speak, with Bopha.
NADEREV SAÑO: Yes. The path of Typhoon Bopha is slightly more to the south of what struck Mindanao last year, but it is affecting the same areas. And it is sobering for us to know that a typhoon like this, that normally doesn't hit that part of the country, in fact, this is a--in half a century, this is the first time that a typhoon that has crossed as south as Bopha.
AMY GOODMAN: What does "climate debt" mean to you?
NADEREV SAÑO: Climate debt is very clear to the Philippine delegation and to me personally. Climate debt is about developed countries, having used up their share of atmospheric space, they've developed--they've afforded development in the past hundred years, and so they are the main reasons that's why we have climate change. And now it is time for them to fulfill their legal obligations, which are aptly enshrined in the climate change convention.
Trafficked maids to order: The darker side of richer India (4 December 2012)
NEW DELHI, Dec 4 (TrustLaw) - Inside the crumbling housing estates of Shivaji Enclave, amid the boys playing cricket and housewives chatting from their balconies, winding staircases lead to places where lies a darker side to India's economic boom.
Three months ago, police rescued Theresa Kerketa from one of these tiny two-roomed flats. For four years, she was kept here by a placement agency for domestic maids, in between stints as a virtual slave to Delhi's middle-class homes.
"They sent me many places - I don't even know the names of the areas," said Kerketa, 45, from a village in Chhattisgarh state in central India. "Fifteen days here, one month there. The placement agent kept making excuses and kept me working. She took all my salary."
Often beaten and locked in the homes she was sent to, Kerketa was forced to work long hours and denied contact with her family. She was not informed when her father and husband died. The police eventually found her when a concerned relative went to a local charity, which traced the agency and rescued her together with the police.
Exclusive: How Wal-Mart got a foot in the door of India's retail market (4 December 2012)
(Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) prepared its entry into India's supermarket sector in 2010 with a $100 million investment into a consultancy with no employees, no profits and a scant $14,000 in revenue.
The company, called Cedar Support Services, might have been a more obvious selection four months earlier: it began its corporate life as Bharti Retail Holdings Ltd, according to documents filed with India's Registrar of Companies.
The Cedar investment is now the focus of an investigation by India's financial crimes watchdog into whether Wal-Mart broke foreign direct investment rules by putting money into a retailer before the government threw open the sector to global players.
Wal-Mart said it was in compliance with India's FDI guidelines, and had followed all procedures. It said India's central government had sought "information and clarification", which Wal-Mart has provided.
Vietnam steps up sea patrols as tensions with China climb (4 December 2012)
(Reuters) - Vietnam is setting up patrols to protect its fisheries in the South China Sea after a state company accused Chinese boats of sabotage and India declared itself ready to deploy naval vessels to safeguard its interests in the disputed waters.
Vietnam's civilian-led patrols, backed by marine police and a border force, would be deployed from January 25 to stop foreign vessels that violate fishing laws in Vietnam's waters, Vietnam's government and state media said.
The patrols illustrate mounting tension in the South China Sea where claims by an increasingly powerful China have set it directly against U.S. allies Vietnam and the Philippines, while Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also claim parts of the mineral-rich waters.
A decree on the Vietnamese patrols was signed on November 29, the day Chinese media announced new rules authorizing police in the southern Chinese province of Hainan to board and seize foreign ships in the South China Sea.
Egyptian Judges Join Upheaval over Morsi's Decrees Ahead of Key Vote on New Constitution (3 December 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
To go through some of the actual content of the constitution, the document does provide for basic protections on certain issues like arbitrary detention. It does provide for--it gives a ban on torture. It does provide for freedom of assembly, freedom of association, for some economic rights. However, it does restrict other rights, and it is, in general, the tone, a more conservative document than the previous constitution, Egypt's 1971 constitution. There are drawbacks on things like freedom of expression. The text says that freedom of expression--it allows for freedom of expression, but then there's contradictory articles which say that--prohibit the insult to the human, which is very vague language, and prohibits insults to prophets and messengers of God, so things like blasphemy and so forth.
On the issue of freedom of religion, it limits--it says there is freedom of religion, freedom of belief, but it limits the right to practice and to build places of worship to the three so-called Abrahamic religions--Christianity, Islam and Judaism. So, you know, things like Egypt's Baha'i minority, which have experienced heavy discrimination in the past, are not--are not protected against.
Things like freedom of the press, it does ban on censorship of the press; however, it gives a caveat: except in times of war or national mobilization. And, of course, we know in times of war this is exactly when freedom of the press is most crucial. And Egypt, of course, is coming out of 30 years of a emergency state, so we've seen the abuse of this kind of language before.
In term of a women's rights, there's an absence of an article specifically equating--or banning discrimination of women. The only time women are mentioned specifically is in Article 10, that--and it says the state--it refers to them in the context of the family. It says the state is tasked with enabling reconciliation between the duties of a woman toward her family and toward her work. Now, this kind of language was in the previous constitution, but we're really looking at this in a different political context right now in Egypt, a context in which, parliamentary elections coming up, the Muslim Brotherhood is expected to gain a larger number of votes, as it did last time, so are members of the ultra-conservative groups, the Salafi groups, and so laws that could severely restrict things like women's rights are very possible under this constitution.
Serial killer Israel Keyes: Police sensed he'd killed before (3 December 2012)
The confession to Koenig's killing represented the first crack in a dam of silence that would slowly crumble over months of effort.
"I was convinced he had committed other murders and other crimes," Kevin Feldis, chief of the criminal division for the U.S. Attorney's office in Alaska, told the Los Angeles Times. "It was his descriptions of what he had done. We could tell that this was not coming from a person who had done this for the first time."
On Monday, a day after Keyes' apparent jailhouse suicide in Anchorage, officials laid out the nationwide investigation that quietly unfolded against Keyes, who is now thought to be responsible for killing as many as eight people in four states. Details of the suicide were not revealed.
After Keyes' arrest, he was brought to Alaska, where he told investigators he had killed Koenig and left her body in Mantuska Lake in north Anchorage. Investigators soon found her body.
Keyes faced a possible death penalty, but continued to talk to the investigators trying to put him away. When they confronted him with their suspicion that he'd killed before, Feldis said, Keyes confessed to killing a Essex, Vt., couple missing since summer 2011.
Software founder John McAfee says he's still free; has left Belize (3 December 2012)
MEXICO CITY--Software company founder John McAfee said Monday he has left Belize and is still on the run, adding "we are not in Belize, but not quite out of the woods yet."
McAfee claimed in a blog posting he had evaded authorities by staging an elaborate distraction in neighbouring Mexico. It was a turn typical of the bizarre saga of the eccentric anti-virus company founder wanted for questioning in connection with the killing of a fellow American ex-pat.
In an email to The Associated Press, McAfee confirmed a posting to his website in which he described, in what appeared to be joking tones, how he mounted the ruse.
"My 'double,' carrying on (sic) a North Korean passport under my name, was detained in Mexico for pre-planned misbehaviour," McAfee wrote in the posting, "but due to indifference on the part of authorities (he) was evicted from the jail and was unable to serve his intended purpose in our exit plan."
GSA proposes trading Hoover building for new FBI campus (3 December 2012)
It is named for a dominating Washington figure and located on the city's most prestigious avenue, but the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building is unloved.
Condominiums have sprouted nearby in recent years, and neighbors glower at the concrete planters that surround the government building. City officials consider the Brutalist structure on Pennsylvania Avenue a drab hulk in the midst of an otherwise colorful and rising downtown. Even the FBI says the building no longer meets its needs.
And yet, the real estate where the complex sits, on nearly two city blocks in the heart of downtown, could not be more valuable in these days of federal budget turmoil.
So with pressure building to find savings in the federal real estate portfolio, the General Services Administration on Monday proposed handing the Hoover building to private developers in exchange for building the FBI a new headquarters campus elsewhere in the region.
California urged to assess energy reform (3 December 2012)
California officials need to add up the costs of all the state's clean-energy policies before adopting any more, according to a report issued Monday by a government oversight agency.
The state has adopted a series of far-reaching energy reforms - boosting the use of renewable power and reining in greenhouse gases - without considering how each policy affects the others, the Little Hoover Commission argues in the report.
Even worse, state officials have no clear idea how much all of those reforms, taken together, will cost.
Californians could soon face a "rate impact bomb" of exploding electricity prices as a result, the report found. The governor and the Legislature should refrain from adopting any big new energy initiatives until those costs are better understood, according to the report.
Nebraska gets final say in TransCanada's new Keystone XL pipeline route (3 December 2012)
WASHINGTON - A tiny town in rural Nebraska is expected to draw a big crowd on Tuesday for a public hearing into TransCanada's new Keystone XL pipeline route.
Both Nebraska officials and the Calgary-based energy giant say the new route skirts the environmentally sensitive Sandhills region of the state, a critical sticking point in the approval process that resulted in U.S. President Barack Obama rejecting TransCanada's original application earlier this year.
Environmentalists, meantime, charge the new route does no such thing and insist a crucial state aquifer remains at risk, setting the stage for what's sure to be a contentious hearing on the fairgrounds of the town of Albion.
The new route still goes over the Ogallala aquifer, follows the highly endangered whooping crane's migratory path and poses risks to native tribal artifacts, Jane Kleeb, head of Bold Nebraska, said in an interview on Monday.
DOJ Mysteriously Quits Monsanto Antitrust Investigation (2 December 2012)
There's an age-old tradition in Washington of making unpopular announcements when no one's listening--like, you know, the days leading up to Thanksgiving. That's when the Obama administration sneaked a tasty dish to the genetically modified seed/pesticide industry.
This treat involves the unceremonious end of the Department of Justice's antitrust investigation into possible anticompetitive practices in the US seed market, which it had begun in January 2010. It's not hard to see why DOJ would take a look. For the the crops that cover the bulk of US farmland like corn, soy, and cotton, the seed trade is essentially dominated by five companies: Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, Bayer, and Dow. And a single company, Monsanto, supplies nearly all genetically modified traits now so commonly used in those crops, which it licenses to its rivals for sale in their own seeds.
What's harder to figure out is why the DOJ ended the investigation without taking any action--and did so with a near-complete lack of public information. The DOJ didn't even see fit to mark the investigation's end with a press release. News of it emerged from a brief item Monsanto itself issued the Friday before Thanksgiving, declaring it had "received written notification" from the DOJ antitrust division that it had ended its investigation "without taking any enforcement action."
A DOJ spokesperson confirmed to me that the agency had "closed its investigation into possible anticompetitive practices in the seed industry," but would divulge no details. "In making its decision, the Antitrust Division took into account marketplace developments that occurred during the pendency of the investigation," she stated via email. I asked what precisely those "marketplace developments" were. "I don't have anything else for you," she replied. Monsanto, too, is being tight-lipped--a company spokesperson said the company had no statement to make beyond the above-linked press release.
Fracking Our Food Supply (27 November 2012)
Jacki Schilke and her sixty cattle live in the top left corner of North Dakota, a windswept, golden-hued landscape in the heart of the Bakken Shale. Schilke's neighbors love her black Angus beef, but she's no longer sharing or eating it--not since fracking began on thirty-two oil and gas wells within three miles of her 160-acre ranch and five of her cows dropped dead. Schilke herself is in poor health. A handsome 53-year-old with a faded blond ponytail and direct blue eyes, she often feels lightheaded when she ventures outside. She limps and has chronic pain in her lungs, as well as rashes that have lingered for a year. Once, a visit to the barn ended with respiratory distress and a trip to the emergency room. Schilke also has back pain linked with overworked kidneys, and on some mornings she urinates a stream of blood.
Ambient air testing by a certified environmental consultant detected elevated levels of benzene, methane, chloroform, butane, propane, toluene and xylene--compounds associated with drilling and fracking, and also with cancers, birth defects and organ damage. Her well tested high for sulfates, chromium, chloride and strontium; her blood tested positive for acetone, plus the heavy metals arsenic (linked with skin lesions, cancers and cardiovascular disease) and germanium (linked with muscle weakness and skin rashes). Both she and her husband, who works in oilfield services, have recently lost crowns and fillings from their teeth; tooth loss is associated with radiation poisoning and high selenium levels, also found in the Schilkes' water.
State health and agriculture officials acknowledged Schilke's air and water tests but told her she had nothing to worry about. Her doctors, however, diagnosed her with neurotoxic damage and constricted airways. "I realized that this place is killing me and my cattle," Schilke says. She began using inhalers and a nebulizer, switched to bottled water, and quit eating her own beef and the vegetables from her garden. (Schilke sells her cattle only to buyers who will finish raising them outside the shale area, where she presumes that any chemical contamination will clear after a few months.) "My health improved," Schilke says, "but I thought, 'Oh my God, what are we doing to this land?'"
Schilke's story reminds us that farmers need clean water, clean air and clean soil to produce healthful food. But as the largest private landholders in shale areas across the nation, farmers are disproportionately being approached by energy companies eager to extract oil and gas from beneath their properties. Already, some are regretting it.
Smell: The secret of true love (2 December 2012)
Love, according to romantics, can have a dramatic effect on the senses: striking lovers blind, deaf or rendering them tongue-tied. But the simple answer to the question of whether any relationship is "the one" seems to be that your ideal man or woman gets up your nose. New research suggests a sense of smell is vital for a good long-term relationship.
In the new study, reported in the journal Biological Psychology, researchers looked for the first time at the effect of being born without a sense on smell on men and women's relationships.
The research involved analysing data on men and women aged 18 to 46 with no sense of smell and comparing it with information gleaned from a healthy control group. The results showed that men and women who were unable to smell had higher levels of social insecurity, although this manifested itself in different ways.
In men, but not in women, it led to fewer relationships. The men with a faulty sense of smell averaged two partners compared with 10 for healthy men.
Brinksmanship on Obama Medicaid expansion for poor (2 December 2012)
Conservative opponents of the health care law are leaning on lawmakers to turn down the Medicaid money. Hospitals, doctors' groups, advocates for the poor, and some business associations are pressing them to accept it.
"Here's the big thing: The state does not want to expand Medicaid and get stuck with the bill," said Dr. Bill Hazel, Virginia's health secretary.
Medicaid covers nearly 60 million low-income and disabled people but differs significantly from state to state. Under the health care law, Medicaid would be expanded on Jan. 1, 2014, to cover people making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, or about $15,400 a year for an individual.
About half the 30 million people gaining coverage under the law would do so through Medicaid. Most of the new beneficiaries would be childless adults, but about 2.7 million would be parents with children at home. The federal government would pay the full cost of the first three years of the expansion, gradually phasing down to a 90 percent share.
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