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Click to visit VeggieCooking.com NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012

News from the Week of 9th to 15th of December 2012

Connecticut school shooting: People with Asperger's unlikely to break the law, experts say (15 December 2012)
People with Asperger's syndrome are worried about a backlash in the wake of numerous media reports saying the "brilliant but remote" 20-year-old shooter in Friday's school massacre in Newtown, Conn., may have suffered from the brain disorder.

Canadian experts on autism say descriptions of Adam Lanza are classic signs of Asperger's, a high-functioning form of the disorder.

But they are quick to point out that undiagnosed or untreated mental illness that often accompanies autism is more likely to blame for Lanza's deadly rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School, not the condition itself.

And they cautioned the media not to draw inappropriate and unfounded links between autism or other disabilities and violence.
[Read more...]

Speaker John Boehner to propose tax hike on the very rich, Politico says (15 December 2012)
US House Speaker John Boehner's office would not confirm or deny a report which said the top Republican has proposed raising taxes on wealthy Americans as part of a deficit reduction deal.

In what would be a significant concession in negotiations to strike an 11th-hour deal, Boehner would agree to let marginal tax rates rise on people making $1 million or more annually, provided President Barack Obama make cuts to entitlement programs, according to the Politico website.

"We have not commented on the content of private discussions, and we're certainly not going to comment on rumors," Boehner spokesman Michael Steel told AFP about the report.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment about the possible offer, for which Politico cited two sources close to the negotiations.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: It's bizarre to demand "entitlement" cuts exactly when people need more help than ever, partly due to his lack of effort to fix the economy.

UBS faces $1.6 billion fine over Libor rigging: paper (15 December 2012)
(Reuters) - UBS (UBSN.VX) faces a fine of 1.5 billion Swiss francs ($1.63 billion) to settle interest rate rigging charges, a Swiss newspaper reported on Saturday.

Citing unnamed sources, Tages-Anzeiger daily said the bank would admit 36 traders around the globe manipulated yen Libor between 2005 and 2010. A UBS spokesman declined to comment.

People familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday UBS could reach a $1-billion-plus settlement and admit to criminal wrongdoing by its Japanese arm, where one of its traders manipulated yen Libor and euroyen contracts.

Between 25 and 30 people have left UBS over the matter, the sources said. The Swiss bank had hoped for a softer touch from regulators by cooperating in industry-wide probes and was surprised by the size of the expected settlement, they added.
[Read more...]

Sara Reedy, the rape victim accused of lying and jailed by US police, wins $1.5m payout (15 December 2012)
Sara Reedy remembers clearly the start of her ordeal, and how surprisingly painful it was to have a gun jammed to her temple. Then her attacker demanded oral sex, saying he would shoot her if she refused. She was shaking, gagging.

"I had images of my family finding me dead," she told the Observer. "I closed my eyes and just tried to get it over with."

Reedy was 19 when the man entered the petrol station near Pittsburgh where she was working to pay her way through college and pulled a gun. He emptied the till of its $606.73 takings, assaulted her and fled into the night. But the detective who interviewed Reedy in hospital didn't believe her, and accused her of stealing the money herself and inventing the story as a cover-up. Although another local woman was attacked not long after in similar fashion, the police didn't join the dots.

Following further inquiries, Reedy was arrested for theft and false reporting and, pregnant with her first child (by her now ex-husband), thrown in jail. She was subsequently released on bail, but lost her job. More than a year after attacking Reedy, the man struck again, but this time he was caught and confessed to the earlier crime.
[Read more...]

Chevron to pay $155 million for Brazil oil spill (15 December 2012)
RIO DE JANEIRO -- US oil giant Chevron has agreed to pay 310 million reales ($155 million) to Brazil for an oil spill last year that fouled beaches in Rio de Janeiro, officials said Saturday.

Government news service Agencia Brasil said 90 million reales would be used exclusively for environmental cleanup and 220 million reales would serve for measures to prevent future spills.

Federal prosecutor Gisele Porto said that the fine should send a message to all oil producers that "it is better to invest in preventive measures than to pay a fine for polluting."

An official from Chevron Brazil, Rafael Jaen Williamson, said the company admitted guilt for the disaster and made the payment to show that it was prepared to make amends.
[Read more...]

How computer algorithms secretly shape the way we behave (15 December 2012)
Keynes's observation (in his General Theory) that "practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist" needs updating. Replace "economist" with "algorithm". And delete "defunct", because the algorithms that now shape much of our behaviour are anything but defunct. They have probably already influenced your Christmas shopping, for example. They have certainly determined how your pension fund is doing, and whether your application for a mortgage has been successful. And one day they may effectively determine how you vote.

On the face of it, algorithms -- "step-by-step procedures for calculations" -- seem unlikely candidates for the role of tyrant. Their power comes from the fact that they are the key ingredients of all significant computer programs and the logic embedded in them determines what those programs do. In that sense algorithms are the secret sauce of a computerised world.

And they are secret. Every so often, the veil is lifted when there's a scandal. Last August, for example, a "rogue algorithm" in the computers of a New York stockbroking firm, Knight Capital, embarked on 45 minutes of automated trading that eventually lost its owners $440m before it was stopped.

But, mostly, algorithms do their work quietly in the background. I've just logged on to Amazon to check out a new book on the subject -- Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World by Christopher Steiner. At the foot of the page Amazon tells me that two other books are "frequently bought together" with Steiner's volume: Nate Silver's The Signal and the Noise and Nassim Nicholas Taleb's Antifragile. This conjunction of interests is the product of an algorithm: no human effort was involved in deciding that someone who is interested in Steiner's book might also be interested in the writings of Silver and Taleb.
[Read more...]

Roundup Herbicide Linked To Overgrowth of Deadly Bacteria (14 December 2012) [Rense.com]
Could Monsanto's glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup be leading to the overgrowth of deadly bacteria in animals and humans consuming genetically-modified food contaminated with it?

This question follows from a new study published in the journal Current Microbiology titled, "The Effect of Glyphosate on Potential Pathogens and Beneficial Members of Poultry Microbiota In Vitro," which found that the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, known as glyphosate, negatively impacted the gastrointestinal bacteria of poultry in vitro. The researchers presented evidence that highly pathogenic bacteria resisted glyphosate, whereas beneficial bacteria were moderately to highly susceptible to it.

Some of the beneficial species that were found to be suppressed by glyphosate were Enterococcus faecalis, Enterococcus faecium, Bacillus badius, Bifidobacterium adolescentis and Lactobacillus spp. The pathogenic species which were found to resist glyphosate toxicity were Salmonella Entritidis, Salmonella Gallinarum, Salmonella Typhimurium, Clostridium perfringens and Clostridium botulinum.

The researchers stated that "A reduction of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract microbiota by ingestion of glyphosate could disturb the normal gut bacterial community." Even more alarming was their observation that the toxicity of glyphosate to the most prevalent beneficial species, Enterococcus, "could be a significant predisposing factor that is associated with the increase in Clostridia botulinum-mediated diseases by suppressing the antagonistic effect of these bacteria on clostridia." Clostridia are a class of anaerobic bacteria including some of the most dangerous known to man, such as C. tetani and C. botulinum, which produce tetanus and botulin toxin, respectively.
[Read more...]

Ex-Commissioner Michael Copps on the FCC's Unrelenting Anti-Diversity Push for Media Consolidation (14 December 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
MICHAEL COPPS: Thanks for having me back.

Well, this is the story that never seems to go away, with the commission seeming bent always on loosening the media ownership rules. These are rules that limit how many outlets a particular company can own. And over the course of a generation, we have seen a few media behemoth's gobble up independent local stations at great cost, I think, to localism and diversity, at great cost to the quality of our civic dialogue, and usually by a process that kind of mocks transparency and puts the cart ahead of the horse by voting on a document before the public has really been able to have a national conversation about it.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Commissioner Copps, or former Commissioner Copps, this is now the third time this is being attempted. Two chairs of the commission under President Bush attempted to relax the cross-ownership rules, and now we're seeing the Democratic chair, Genachowski, also doing the same thing. Why this persistence on attempting to eliminate the cross-ownership rules?

MICHAEL COPPS: Well, it's depressing for me. I thought we would have made some changes, beginning in 2009, to reverse the ongoing trend toward media consolidation. You have to realize that through all these years while we're debating these media ownership rules, the process of consolidation continues. Investigative journalism gets weaker and weaker. More and more reporters find themselves walking the streets looking for a job rather than walking the beats looking for a story. Glitzy infotainment seems to be substituting for real accountability, hold-the-powerful-accountable journalism. So, I mentioned before, we're talking about the dumbing down of the civic dialogue, and an informed citizen really is the premise of self-government. And if we don't have that kind of in-depth, resource-heavy journalism, we're going to pay a heavy price in the quality of the decisions we make for our future, in a time that's very, very challenging to the United States of America. We've got so many problems right now, there is no guarantee that America is going to come out of it all right. So we are seriously challenged, and if we starve that civic dialogue, we starve our national policy making, and we don't do good things for the country.
[Read more...]

Feds predict end times for Colorado River water (14 December 2012)
Add another item to the list of things in peril due to climate change: the entire American West.

According to a new study from the federal Bureau of Reclamation, the Colorado River won't fare well over the next 50 years. Climate change, drought, and population growth all add up to far greater demand for water than the river will be able to supply by 2060.

A large portion of the American West, especially its cities, rely on the Colorado. Almost 40 million residents of Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming depend entirely on the river's water.
"This study should serve as a call to action," said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. But some of the possible actions outlined in the report are, well, nuts. From the Los Angeles Times:

"The analysis lists a range of proposed solutions, including some that Interior officials immediately dismissed as politically or technically infeasible. Among them: building a pipeline to import water from the Missouri or Mississippi rivers and towing icebergs to Southern California."
[Read more...]

Majority of U.S. pork supply tainted with deadly drugs, bacteria (13 December 2012)
(NaturalNews) The next time you reach for the bacon, ham, pork chops or pork steaks, you may want to rethink your dining choice: A majority of samples of "the other white meat" that were obtained in a recent study contained bacteria, potentially deadly drugs or a combination of both.

According to Consumer Reports, samples of U.S. pork chops and ground pork were found to contain substantial amounts of harmful, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, along with low levels of a type of growth hormone used on pigs.

"Our analysis of pork-chop and ground-pork samples from around the U.S. found that yersinia enterocolitica, a bacterium that can cause fever, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, was widespread. Some samples harbored other potentially harmful bacteria, including salmonella," the magazine said in a recent report.

No drugs should be used on healthy animals to promote growth
Of 198 samples, some of the bacteria found by the CR investigation were resistant to antibiotics that are commonly used to treat humans. That's likely due to the "frequent use of low-dose antibiotics in pork farming" which "may be accelerating the growth of drug-resistant 'superbugs' that threaten human health," said the magazine.
[Read more...]

Texas judge lifts order that halted work on Keystone XL pipeline (13 December 2012)
HOUSTON -- A Texas judge has lifted a temporary restraining order that had stopped oil company TransCanada from building a portion of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline through the eastern part of the state.

The decision came after Michael Bishop, 64, a retired paramedic and chemist in East Texas, filed a lawsuit arguing that TransCanada defrauded him and other landowners in promising that the Keystone XL pipeline would transport crude oil, not tar sands.

Texas County Court at Law Judge Jack Sinz lifted the temporary restraining order Thursday morning after a hearing in Nacogdoches.

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would carry oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast. TransCanada has yet to secure federal permission to build the vast majority of the route, but already had the go-ahead to build portions of the pipeline through Texas. TransCanada has been purchasing property for the project and, in some instances, condemning land through the power of eminent domain.
[Read more...]

Mercury in seafood: Where does it come from? (14 December 2012)
"People don't ever seem to know where the mercury comes from," says Celia Chen, one of an impressive array of 70 mercury and marine scientists from universities across the country, including Dartmouth, Harvard, and Syracuse, who spent two years assembling the report.

"Most of the fish that people in the U.S. eat are from the open ocean. And most of the mercury that goes into the open ocean is from atmospheric emissions, which comes from fossil fuel burning," says Chen, a food chain biologist from Dartmouth. Coal-fired power plants are the biggest source, globally. Of course, coastal areas are a different story; much of the seafood eaten in places like the Gulf of Maine, the Gulf of Mexico, and the San Francisco Bay come from other industrial sources (think old mining operations).

Chen and the other scientists worked together to create the first complete picture of the way mercury moves from these sources, around the ocean, and up the food chain. "We want to draw a straight line for the American public between those sources to the seafood they love," she says.

"Most of the fish that people in the U.S. eat are from the open ocean. And most of the mercury that goes into the open ocean is from atmospheric emissions, which comes from fossil fuel burning," says Chen, a food chain biologist from Dartmouth. Coal-fired power plants are the biggest source, globally. Of course, coastal areas are a different story; much of the seafood eaten in places like the Gulf of Maine, the Gulf of Mexico, and the San Francisco Bay come from other industrial sources (think old mining operations).
[Read more...]

GOP state leaders fumble by ceding control of health exchanges to federal officials, critics say (14 December 2012)
Republicans frequently denounce the health-care law as a dangerous overreach of federal power. But now Washington's role is expanding, and some conservatives charge that Republicans have only themselves to blame.

The vast majority of Republican-led states, faced with a Friday deadline to submit plans for running the insurance exchanges at the heart of the law, have opted instead to relinquish much or all of their control to the federal government.

Just 18 states and the District say they plan to operate their own exchanges, which are slated to begin enrollment in October. In an additional 32 states, the exchanges will be run either entirely by the federal government or a federal-state partnership.

"If you believe in states' rights and you believe in state control, why would you cede that control?" asked Robert Laszewski, a prominent insurance industry consultant.

A longtime critic of the health-care law, Laszewski argues that Republican state leaders have allowed their ideological and political differences with President Obama to override pragmatic considerations, to the detriment of their residents.
[Read more...]

Fukushima operator Tepco admits culpability (14 December 2012)
The operator of a Japanese nuclear power plant that blew up after a tsunami last year has admitted its lack of a safety culture and bad habits were behind the world's worst nuclear accident in 25 years, its most forthright admission yet of culpability.

The operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), said it accepted the findings of a parliamentary inquiry into the Fukushima nuclear disaster that accused the company of "collusion" with industry regulators.

An earthquake on 11 March last year generated a tsunami that smashed into the nuclear plant on Japan's north-east coast and triggered equipment failures that led to meltdowns and the spewing of large amounts of radiation into the air and sea.

Takefumi Anegawa, the head of Tepco's company reform taskforce, told a news conference the report by a parliamentary committee contained "so many descriptions about the lack of a safety culture and our bad habits".
[Read more...]

Northern Gateway pipeline proposal heading toward showdown over First Nations rights (with video) (14 December 2012)
PRINCE RUPERT, B.C. - There have been times over the past few days at the review hearings into the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline when the testy exchanges between Enbridge experts and First Nations lawyers have bordered on verbal warfare.

And as the proposal progresses, it seems increasingly likely that the debate about the oil pipeline -- an oil pipeline, any oil pipeline -- will end in a showdown between the [Canadian] federal government and First Nations over aboriginal rights.

"I think on the First Nations side, there's no question they're marshalling resources to go to court," said Gordon Christie, director of indigenous legal studies in the University of British Columbia's faculty of law.

As lawyers for the Haisla Nation questioned company experts in Prince Rupert on Thursday, 1,500 kilometres south in Vancouver, the Tahltan Nation and the B.C. Metis Federation announced that they have added their names to a petition banning oil pipelines and tankers from traditional territories.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Note that the video in this article starts playing (putting a commercial first) without the reader taking any action.

As ANC votes, South African poor feel party has passed them by (14 December 2012)
(Reuters) - A billboard of a smiling President Jacob Zuma reminds Botshabelo residents his ruling ANC will hold an important meeting down the road next week to shape the future of South Africa.

But behind the giant poster, people see little to smile about: sprawling shanties, dirt roads and rampant unemployment in the town of 200,000 speak volumes about the party's failings since it took over with the end of apartheid in 1994.

Zuma is poised to win a fresh term as leader of the African National Congress (ANC) at its electoral meeting that runs from Sunday to Thursday in the nearby city of Bloemfontein, putting him on a path to serve as the country's president through 2019.

That is a prospect that worries everybody from ratings agencies to Botshabelo residents, who say Zuma's government has not done enough to fix corruption, a broken education system and the unemployment that is dragging down Africa's biggest economy.
[Read more...]

Owner claims on-the-loose emu in Virginia Beach (14 December 2012)
Officials say a man jogging on Seaboard Road late Thursday morning picked up an unusual running partner: an emu trotting behind him.

The flightless bird is native to Australia and the world's second-largest with adults reaching 5 feet, according to the online Encyclopaedia Britannica. This one followed the man into the Highgate Greens area, where several other people called to report a sighting, said Wayne Gilbert, an animal shelter spokesman.

Animal control officers responded and located the bird by early afternoon. The owner of the emu showed up and took the bird home, Gilbert said.

Emus are legal to own in the area, and no one was charged, Gilbert said.
[Read more...]

Seven states, led by New York, sue EPA over methane from oil and gas drilling (13 December 2012)
One of the benefits of being an elected official in a bright blue state, a state so blue that it casts a pale blue glow over its neighbors, is that you can be pretty aggressively liberal. New York state has a proud tradition of such politicians (as well as some less aggressive ones) -- particularly those politicians ensconced as state attorney general.

Ten years ago, the state's attorney general was a gentleman named Eliot Spitzer. Spitzer basically created the role of the crusading AG, running hard against Wall Street, prostitution (ahem), and pollution. When he wasn't at the office, he was at home with his wife Silda, because he is a family man. Spitzer was succeeded in his role by Andrew Cuomo, who went after student loans and violations of privacy by police. In January 2011, when Cuomo became governor, the AG position was assumed by Eric Schneiderman -- who has taken up the activist tradition with gusto.

Last May, Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against the federal government seeking to force an environmental review of fracking. That lawsuit was tossed out. So today, Schneiderman is trying a different route. From his website:

"Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, leading a coalition of seven states, today notified the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of his intent to sue the Agency for violating the Clean Air Act by failing to address methane emissions from the oil and natural gas industry. ..."
[Read more...]

Matt Taibbi: After Laundering $800 Million in Drug Money, How Did HSBC Executives Avoid Jail? (13 December 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
MATT TAIBBI: Exactly, exactly. And what's amazing about that is that's Forbes saying that. I mean, universally, the reaction, even in--among the financial press, which is normally very bank-friendly and gives all these guys the benefit of the doubt, the reaction is, is "What do you have to do to get a criminal indictment?" What HSBC has now admitted to is, more or less, the worst behavior that a bank can possibly be guilty of. You know, they violated the Trading with the Enemy Act, the Bank Secrecy Act. And we're talking about massive amounts of money. It was $9 billion that they failed to supervise properly. These crimes were so obvious that apparently the cartels in Mexico specifically designed boxes to put cash in so that they would fit through the windows of HSBC teller windows. So, it was so out in the open, these crimes, and there's going to be no criminal prosecution whatsoever, which is incredible.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And emails found where bank officials were instructing officials in Iran and in some other countries at how best to hide their efforts to move money into their system?

MATT TAIBBI: Exactly, yeah, and that's true at HSBC, and apparently we have a very similar scandal involving another British bank, Standard Chartered, which also paid an enormous fine recently for laundering money for--through Iran. This, again, comes on the heels of the Libor scandal, which has already caught up two major British banks--the Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays. So, you have essentially all of the major British banks now are inveigled in these enormous scandals. We have a couple of arrests, you know, today involving low-level people in the Libor thing, but it doesn't look like any major players are going to be indicted criminally for any of this.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And this whole argument that the bank is too big to indict because of the threat to the world financial system, most people don't know that HSBC stands for Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. It's a British bank that goes back to the early days of British colonialism in Asia.

[Read more...]

Politico financier tied to Pinochet money laundering dies at 87 (13 December 2012)
Texas financier and media magnate Joe Allbritton, who lost the scandal-racked Riggs bank to a hostile takeover after it was fined for helping Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet launder money, has died at the age of 87.

The son of a Houston sandwich shop owner, Allbritton built a fortune in real estate, banking and the funeral business in Texas before becoming a Washington powerbroker following his purchase of the Washington Star newspaper in 1974.

While he had to sell the newspaper four years later, he maintained control of a number of television stations and the company now run by his son helped reshape political coverage in the United States with the launch of Politico in 2007.

Allbritton purchased a controlling interest in Washington's historic Riggs National Bank -- which had served 21 presidents and financed the Mexican-American war -- in 1982.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: The original article's URL was this:

However I'm not giving my readers a "live link" back to the site because this particular page somehow timed out into a page that my anti-virus software blocked and warned me was a risk. It's possible that one of the site's advertisers was hacked, or RawStory itself was hacked, or one of its advertisers wasn't what the site's ad department thought.

Human rights court: CIA beat and sodomized wrongly detained German citizen (13 December 2012)
CIA agents tortured a German citizen, sodomising, shackling, and beating him, as Macedonian state police looked on, the European court of human rights said in a historic judgment released on Thursday.

In a unanimous ruling, it also found Macedonia guilty of torturing, abusing, and secretly imprisoning Khaled el-Masri, a German of Lebanese origin allegedly linked to terrorist organisations.

Masri was seized in Macedonia in December 2003 and handed over to a CIA "rendition team" at Skopje airport and secretly flown to Afghanistan.

It is the first time the court has described CIA treatment meted out to terror suspects as torture.

"The grand chamber of the European court of human rights unanimously found that Mr el-Masri was subjected to forced disappearance, unlawful detention, extraordinary rendition outside any judicial process, and inhuman and degrading treatment," said James Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative.
[Read more...]

Canadian detention centres no place for migrant children, critics argue (13 December 2012)
CBC News has learned that over the past year 289 migrant children have been held in detention centres in Canada, many of whom were under the age of 10.

The numbers, provided to the CBC by the Canada Border Services Agency, include children held with parents seeking asylum in Canada and also deportees waiting to leave. Detention is usually based on one of two grounds: either the CBSA is not satisfied with a person's proof of identity, or an officer believes the family is at risk of absconding.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says that the detention of children is a last resort and the facilities are appropriate. "They are not jails, and in the case of the Toronto one, for example, the main one, it's a former three star hotel with a fence around it."

The rooms are clean, in good repair and brightly coloured. Still, the Toronto facility is surrounded by razor wire, ringing even the playground. There are bars on the windows, guards in the hallways and surveillance cameras throughout.
[Read more...]

Report criticizes Virginia judges on child abuse cases (13 December 2012)
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Only a small percentage of suspected crimes against children are prosecuted in Virginia, and very few of those cases result in meaningful prison sentences, a child advocacy group says in a new report.

The National Association to PROTECT Children sent the report this week to members of two legislative committees that will meet Friday to interview judges who are up for reappointment. The report said three of the seven circuit court judges who will appear before the House and Senate Courts of Justice Committees "show troubling and potentially dangerous patterns of sentencing on crimes against children."

But the association's report suggests the problems extend well beyond those judges, in part because of lax sentencing guidelines -- including one that treats child sex abusers lighter if the victim is their own child -- and the extensive use of plea-bargaining.

"There is no crime more serious than a crime against a child," the 2012 Report on Virginia Judicial Performance said. "Yet the data here show that preying upon children sexually -- or committing other child abuse so serious it results in criminal prosecution-- is likely to result in very little, if any, incarceration."
[Read more...]

Electroshock therapy up 350% in Ontario over seven years (13 December 2012)
Electroshock -- a brute force assault on the brain deemed the most controversial treatment in psychiatry -- is being administered across Ontario in record numbers and with scant oversight.

Nearly three decades after a government inquiry called for provincial training and clinical practice standards -- an inquiry launched after a Hamilton housewife was prescribed shock therapy against her will -- no such guidelines exist.

Data released to the Toronto Star by the Ministry of Health show an almost incomprehensible spike in what is conventionally referred to as electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT.

Considered a "last-resort" therapy to lift severe depression, ECT is being increasingly relied upon to treat patients for whom antidepressants have proved ineffective.

In the fiscal year 2010-2011, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 16,259 ECT treatments were administered throughout Ontario, an increase of more than 350 per cent in seven years. A breakdown by age and gender reveals startling subsets, especially a 1,300-per-cent treatment increase for patients in the 55-59 age cohort. The statistics also reveal that women outnumber men nearly two to one in the 60-to-64 age bracket.
[Read more...]

Psychiatry goes insane: Every human emotion now classified as a mental disorder in new psychiatric manual DSM-5 (13 December 2012)
Allen Frances chaired the DSM-IV that was released in 1994. He now admits it was a huge mistake that has resulted in the mass overdiagnosis of people who are actually quite normal. The DSM-IV "...inadvertently contributed to three false epidemics -- attention deficit disorder, autism and childhood bipolar disorder," writes Allen in an LA Times opinion piece.

He goes on to say:

"The first draft of the next edition of the DSM ... is filled with suggestions that would multiply our mistakes and extend the reach of psychiatry dramatically deeper into the ever-shrinking domain of the normal. This wholesale medical imperialization of normality could potentially create tens of millions of innocent bystanders who would be mislabeled as having a mental disorder. The pharmaceutical industry would have a field day -- despite the lack of solid evidence of any effective treatments for these newly proposed diagnoses."

All these fabricated disorders, of course, result in a ballooning number of false positive. As Allen writes:

"The 'psychosis risk syndrome' would use the presence of strange thinking to predict who would later have a full-blown psychotic episode. But the prediction would be wrong at least three or four times for every time it is correct -- and many misidentified teenagers would receive medications that can cause enormous weight gain, diabetes and shortened life expectancy."
[Read more...]

A sick world: We live longer, with more pain and illness (13 December 2012)
(Reuters) - The world has made huge progress fighting killer infectious diseases, but as a result we now lead longer and sicker lives, with health problems that cause us years of pain, disability and mental distress.

This "devastating irony", as researchers describe it, is the main conclusion of a five-year study that forms the most comprehensive assessment of global health in the history of medicine, according to the journal publishing the research.

The Global Burden of Disease study, led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at Washington University, finds that countries face a wave of financial and social costs from rising numbers of people living with disease and injury.

Among other findings are that while malnutrition has dropped down the rankings as a cause of death and illness, the effects of excessive eating are taking its place. Smoking and alcohol use have also overtaken child hunger to become the second and third leading health risks, behind high blood pressure.

Over three million deaths globally were attributable in 2010 to excess body weight, more than three times as many as malnutrition.
[Read more...]

New Study Finds Link Between Chemical Pollutants and Food and Environmental Allergies (12 December 2012)
Food allergies are on the rise, affecting 15 million Americans. And according to a new study published in the December issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), pesticides and tap water could be partially to blame.

The study reported that high levels of dichlorophenols, a chemical used in pesticides and to chlorinate water, when found in the human body, are associated with food allergies.

"Our research shows that high levels of dichlorophenol-containing pesticides can possibly weaken food tolerance in some people, causing food allergy," said allergist Elina Jerschow, M.D., M.Sc., ACAAI fellow and lead study author. "This chemical is commonly found in pesticides used by farmers and consumer insect and weed control products, as well as tap water."

Among 10,348 participants in the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2005-2006), 2,548 had dichlorophenols measured in their urine and 2,211 were included into the study. Food allergy was found in 411 of these participants, while 1,016 had an environmental allergy.
[Read more...]

Daily coffee consumption lowers diabetes risk (13 December 2012)
(NaturalNews) People who drink three to four cups of coffee each day have a lower risk of developing Type II diabetes, according to a research summary published by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC). The report summarizes the key findings of recent research into the connection between coffee consumption and diabetes risk, as presented at a session of the 2012 World Congress on Prevention of Diabetes and Its Complications (WCPD).

The report emphasizes an epidemiological study that found a 25 percent lower risk of developing Type II diabetes among people who drank three or four cups of coffee per day, when compared with people who drank fewer than two cups per day. It also notes another epidemiological study, which found a seven to eight percent decrease in the relative risk of developing Type II diabetes for every additional cup of coffee per day that a person consumed.

Does coffee actually help regulate blood sugar?
Because epidemiological studies are only designed to uncover correlations and cannot speak to whether coffee consumption actually causes the observed reductions in risk, the report also summarizes the findings of clinical intervention trials. In one such trial, researchers tested participants' glucose tolerance and insulin levels both before and after consuming 12 grams of decaffeinated coffee, one gram of chlorogenic acid, 500 mg of trigonelline, and a placebo. They found that early glucose and insulin responses were significantly lower after the consumption of the chemicals chlorogenic acid and trigonelline, both of which are found in coffee.

The report acknowledges that some people may find an association between coffee and reduced diabetes risk counter intuitive, since coffee consumption is often associated with unhealthy habits such as smoking and a sedentary lifestyle. This is part of the reason that researchers are looking for causative rather than correlative explanations.
[Read more...]

Ultra-light-guided whooping cranes released in Florida (12 December 2012)
Operation Migration is reporting that its ultra-light-guided whooping cranes have been released at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Florida.

The five cranes arrived at St. Marks on Friday, November 23rd, where they were penned during preparations for their release into the wild. Permanent leg bands and final health checks were completed two weeks later.

Six captive-bred whooping cranes, raised and trained to follow an ultra-light aircraft by crane-costumed human handlers, departed White River Marsh, Wisconsin in September. Operation Migration's ultra-light pilots teach the endangered birds a winter migration route from Wisconsin to Florida.

The migration was frequently delayed for days at various stopover locations due to wind and weather conditions.
[Read more...]

Thousands Protest Michigan's Anti-Union Law, But Deep Pockets of Right-Wing Backers Prevail (12 December 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
KATIE OPPENHEIM: Inside the Capitol, we were there starting about 7:30 in the morning, and it was quite a great show of solidarity. There were people--the nurses there, people from all different unions, non-union members, people from the community of faith. And we were there to let the governor know, in particular, that even if he signs this bill, we're not going away. That's our building. There were 2,500 of us in there speaking up for what we know is right--in the case of nurses, making sure that we can speak up for our patients.

Outside--I was inside most of the day. Outside, though--we were being sent photographs--there were probably another 10,000 people from all different areas that I just spoke of, some of them trying to get in. I will say they did let people in more easily yesterday than they did last week, when they closed the Capitol down. So it was a--it was a powerful, albeit sad, day.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Andy Potter, you were at the demonstrations, as well. Can you comment on your response, first of all, to this right-to-work legislation and give us a sense of the scene outside?

ANDY POTTER: Well, I think, outside, there was thousands of people trying to voice their opinion on this matter. And I think when you have over 13,000 people that come out with hardly any given notice at all, and they show opposition to a law that nobody asked for and no one was pleading for, I think that makes a great statement in Michigan. And I don't believe this will be easily forgotten. I believe most Michigan people are going to continue this conversation for the next couple years, I think.
[Read more...]

Reckless Prescribing, Lost Lives: Dying for relief, A Times Investigation (12 December 2012)
He wrote more prescriptions than the entire staffs of some hospitals and took in more than $1 million a year.

Worse, one of Estiandan's patients had fatally overdosed on drugs he prescribed, a board investigator learned. The investigator said in her report that she confronted the doctor and told him the death was "the inevitable result" of giving narcotics to an addict.

Unknown to the investigator, two other Estiandan patients had suffered fatal overdoses. More deaths would follow.

By the time the medical board stopped Estiandan from prescribing, more than four years after it began investigating, eight of his patients had died of overdoses or related causes, according to coroners' records.

It was not an isolated case of futility by California's medical regulators. The board has repeatedly failed to protect patients from reckless prescribing by doctors, a Los Angeles Times investigation found.
[Read more...]

CIA's request to keep torture details secret in Guantanamo trial granted (12 December 2012)
Details of the CIA's interrogation program will remain secret, a Guantanamo judge has ruled in granting the Pentagon's request to censor testimony of the five detainees accused of orchestrating the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

The ruling was quickly condemned by civil libertarians who have accused the U.S. government of using Orwellian restrictions to avoid accusations of torture.

"For now, the most important terrorism trial of our time will be organized around judicially approved censorship of the defendants' own thoughts, experiences and memories of CIA torture," Hina Shamsi, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union's National Security Program wrote in a statement.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Al Qaeda's former No. 3 and the self-professed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, is jointly charged with four other detainees on 2,976 counts of murder for those killed when hijacked planes crashed in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
[Read more...]

Fed ties stimulus to jobs, inflation in unprecedented steps to bolster economy (12 December 2012)
The Federal Reserve will take steps to bolster the economy until the unemployment rate falls to 6.5 percent or inflation looks likely to exceed 2.5 percent, the central bank said Wednesday in a historic move that for the first time specifies the Fed's goals for the nation's economy.

The Fed also said it would buy $45 billion in Treasury bonds a month, on top of $40 billon a month it is already buying in mortgage bonds, in an effort to flood markets with money and reduce interest rates on a wide range of loans. Lower interest rates tend to stimulate borrowing, economic activity and employment.

The actions signaled the Fed's concerns that high unemployment -- what Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke called "an enormous waste of human and economic potential" -- will cast a long shadow over the nation for years. Fed officials projected that the jobless rate, now at 7.7 percent, would not reach 6.5 percent until near the end of 2015 at the earliest.

The economy faces a possible recession if Congress and the White House fail to avert the "fiscal cliff," an automatic series of deep spending cuts and tax increases for nearly all Americans set to take effect at the end of the year.
[Read more...]

John McAfee arrives in US after being deported from Guatemala (12 December 2012)
John McAfee, the fugitive software tycoon wanted for questioning in Belize over the murder of his American neighbour, arrived in Miami on Wednesday night.

Fellow passengers aboard his flight from Guatemala City, where the eccentric 67-year-old was released this morning after a week of detainment, said they were prevented from disembarking while he was taken away.

Airport spokesman Greg Chin said that federal agents greeted McAfee at the door of the plane and helped him through immigration and customs formalities.

A short time later, a posting on McAfee's website announced that he was at a hotel in Miami's upscale South Beach neighborhood.

Investigators in Belize want to talk to McAfee as "a person of interest" in the murder of Florida builder Gregory Faull, his neighbour on the island of Ambergris Caye, last month. Faull, who had quarrelled with McAfee over his "vicious dogs" was found shot in the head, although McAfee has strongly denied any involvement in blog posts during a month on the run.
[Read more...]

This 40-foot Christmas tree is made of 40,000 recycled plastic bottles (12 December 2012)
Last year, the city of Kaunas, in Lithuania, decided it would be in the Christmas spirit to kill two turtledoves with one stone. Instead of cutting down a tree to decorate, the city enlisted artist Jolanta Smidtiene to dream up a holiday decoration where no plants had to die. And, at the same time, it reduced waste by finding a new use for nearly 40,000 discarded plastic bottles. Because Smidtiene's beautiful tree is made of bottles, linked together with zip ties and illuminated from within.

Actually, that one stone picked off three French hens, because it also solved the problem of Kaunas' dodgy economy. The tree left Kaunas' funds earmarked for Christmas decorations essentially untouched, since the whole tree came out of the trash. (By contrast, New York City's Rockefeller Center tree costs tens of thousands of dollars.)
[Read more...]

Omega-3 fats again vindicated in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and chronic illnesses (11 December 2012)
(NaturalNews) Big Pharma interests have been working overtime to confuse millions of Americans that could benefit from consuming Omega-3 fats (DHA and EPA) from natural and supplemental sources. Reports have been circulated that are designed to debunk the thousands of scientific research studies that show how the long-chain fats dramatically lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and dying from a heart attack.

Monster drug giants benefit by pushing their ineffective prescription medications that at best, mask symptoms of disease and do little to treat those vascular conditions that respond positively to Omega-3 fat enriched foods and fish oil capsules. A study team from the prestigious Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University has published the result of their work in the Journal of Lipid Research that demonstrates the critical nature of Omega-3 fats to human health.

The scientists found that omega-3 fatty acids (which include EPA, DHA and ALA), both from fish and supplements, do indeed help prevent heart disease and other conditions, despite widely publicized results with conflicting results. Lead study author, Dr. Donald Jump commented "After decades of studying omega-3 fatty acids, it's clear that they have value in primary prevention of heart disease."
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: One big flaw in many Omega-3 studies is that they use fish oil. DHA, or the animal form of Omega-3 fatty acids, is the one type of EFA that people need the least because it's normally a part of cell structure and rarely needs to be replaced.

The choice of essential fatty acid could be deliberate -- perhaps funding sources want to discredit a supplement that competes with several classes of profitable drugs.

Chief on hunger strike vows to 'die' to improve aboriginal conditions (11 December 2012)
OTTAWA - Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan is offering to meet this week with a northern Ontario chief who embarked on a hunger strike Tuesday out of frustration with the federal government.

Chief Theresa Spence of the remote Attawapiskat First Nation launched her protest with a vow to "die" unless the Conservative government starts showing more respect to First Nations concerns and aboriginal treaties.

Spence is demanding a meeting between the Crown, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and aboriginal leaders to forge a new relationship.

An offer was extended last week to have Duncan's parliamentary secretary visit Attawapiskat to ensure the reserve has what it needs to get through the winter, said Jan O'Driscoll. a spokeswoman for the minister.
[Read more...]

Vegetarian in Mumbai? Welcome to the meat-free neighbourhood (11 December 2012)
NEW DELHI--Militant vegetarians in Mumbai first began keeping meat-eaters out of their apartment blocks a few years ago, pressuring residents' associations to keep out carnivorous newcomers. Later, the restaurants in these neighbourhoods took meat off their menus for fear of offending vegetarian customers.

Now, the movement has gone a step further with grocery stores and supermarkets keeping meat and eggs off the shelves. Even sandwiches, salads or desserts that might contain egg or meat are not stocked.

Mumbai's vegetarians aim to turn their neighbourhoods into vegetarian enclaves. In a supermarket in Malabar Hill -- home to wealthy families, most of whom are staunchly vegetarian -- none of these items is available.

"My customers began complaining," said Neeraj Gupta, who runs a small supermarket in Malabar Hill. "They didn't like having to walk past where the eggs were kept so I decided to take everything with eggs in it off my shelves. I've got to keep my customers happy."
[Read more...]

Pilot, 2 nurses killed in "airborne emergency room" helicopter crash (11 December 2012)
A pilot and two nurses from Rockford Memorial Hospital were killed when the hospital's medical helicopter crashed into a corn field Monday night in Lee County, officials said.

They were heading to a hospital in Downstate Mendota to pick up a patient when the helicopter crashed about 8:30 p.m. south of Rochelle, hospital spokesman Wester Wuori said.

The helicopter was destroyed in the crash, and all three people aboard died, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Tony Molinaro said.

The crew members were identified by Rockford Health System as Pilot Andy Olson, Flight Nurse Jim Dillow, R.N., and Flight Nurse Karen Hollis, R.N.

No patients were aboard, Wuori said. The helicopter is the hospital's only aircraft, and it's used for Rockford Memorial's Regional Emergency Acute Care Transport program.

The specially equipped Bell BK-117 helicopter functions as an airborne emergency room, according to the hospital's website. The program transports about 800 high-risk or critically ill patients every year in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.
[Read more...]

Job market top concern to Americans: Allstate poll (10 December 2012)
Americans are growing more optimistic but job creation is their top concern, according to The Allstate Corp./National Journal Heartland Monitor poll.

The quarterly poll of 1,000 adults surveyed between Nov. 25 and Dec. 1 found the top concerns were:

• Jobs and unemployment, 30 percent.

• Government spending, 19 percent.
[Read more...]

Guardian person of the year: Voters choose Bradley Manning (10 December 2012)
Forget the Olympics, mummy porn, particle physics, elections galore and the bravery of a young Pakistani girl. The Guardian's 2012 person of the year vote has concluded and the winner, after some rather fishy voting patterns that belied earlier reader comments on the poll, is Bradley Manning, the US whistleblower on trial for leaking state secrets.

It was very much a game of two halves. The overwhelming majority of early votes in the three-day poll went to Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban for defending girls' right to education. Malala, who is still recovering from injuries sustained in October, had 70 percent of votes at the halfway stage with many readers predicting a foregone conclusion. "What that kid did really focussed the world on the evil that these men can do - and what evil all people can do when they feel inclined. But it also showed the courage to pull through and the will of others to not succumb to evil," wrote jamieTWC1.

But in the latter stages, following a series of tweets from the @Wikileaks twitter handle telling followers to vote Manning, thousands of voters flocked to his cause. Manning secured 70 percent of the vote, the vast majority of them coming after a series of @Wikileaks tweets. Project editor Mark Rice-Oxley said: "It was an interesting exercise that told us a lot about our readers, our heroes and the reasons that people vote."
[Read more...]

A "Radical Idea" Reversed: Author Says Nobel Committee Has Betrayed Founder's Anti-Military Intent (10 December 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Fredrik Heffermehl is author of the book The Nobel Peace Prize: What Nobel Really Wanted. And again, I want to go back to the part of the interview where Heffermehl read from Alfred Nobel's will.

FREDRIK HEFFERMEHL: The peace prize shall go to the person "who shall have done the most or the best work for brotherhood between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."

And what the committee has been doing is to say that this--they have not been concerned with the aspirations of the will at all. They have said, "This is a peace prize, and we'll give it for anything we think is useful for peace." That means, in practice, the Norwegian parliament has taken over the money entrusted by Nobel for this purpose of a disarmed world and used it for whatever they like. And they are then--of course, since they are very devoted to the NATO alliance and to the United States' foreign policy and wants, so the prize has come to serve the exact opposite of what it was intended to serve.

This is very unpopular in Norway, to really--nobody wants to address the truth about the purpose of the peace prize, which is to support the work for breaking the military tradition and creating a global peace or demilitarized global peace order. It's a very radical idea. But it is, of course, very far from that which is cultivated by the political establishment of Norway and of the U.S. and of the European Union nations, for instance.
[Read more...]

Dominique Strauss-Kahn settles sexual assault case with hotel maid (10 December 2012)
A hotel maid who claims she was brutally sexually assaulted by Dominique Strauss-Kahn has settled her civil action against the former IMF chief for an undisclosed sum, in a move that allows her to "move on with her life", lawyers said.

In Bronx supreme court on Monday, a judge announced that an agreement had been reached just minutes before the session started, adding that the amount -- which is rumoured to be as much as $6m -- remained "confidential".

It brings to an end a lengthy New York court battle for the man once tipped to become French president, having earlier seen criminal charges of attempted rape dropped. Nonetheless, Strauss-Kahn's legal woes are not completely behind him -- he is yet to hear if prosecutors in France will be allowed to pursue charges of aggravated pimping related to an alleged prostitution ring in France. A court is due to rule in that case on 19 December.

The lawsuit settled in New York on Monday relates to claims by Nafissatou Diallo, a 33-year-old former housekeeper at the upmarket Sofitel hotel in Manhattan.
[Read more...]

The new vegetarians (9 December 2012)
Kathy Rayner is a Seventh Day Adventist and an emergency-room nurse. The 59-year-old vegan is also a missionary of sorts -- for the vegetarian way.

"Good health is not a coincidence," she insists. "It's a choice. You have to be intentional about it."

Rayner and her husband, Gord, 70, have been vegan for 12 years. The London couple were part of a vast study of Seventh Day Adventists -- ideal subjects for research on the health benefits of a meatless diet because most Adventists are either vegetarian or vegan. They also represent a variety of nationalities.

The survey has revealed startling connections between plant-based diets and good health and longevity. Adventist men live to an average age of 83.3 years, nine-and-a-half years longer than the average male. Adventist women live an average 85.7 years -- about 6.1 years longer than average.
[Read more...]

Drug-resistant C difficile bug traced to source in US and Canadian hospitals (9 December 2012)
A lethal drug-resistant bug that spread rapidly around the world and killed tens of thousands of people has been traced to hospitals in the US and Canada.

British researchers used powerful genetic techniques to reconstruct Clostridium difficile's route as it circled the globe, and identified four separate waves that brought the bug to Britain. In all but one instance, the pathogen crossed the Atlantic.

The detailed map of the epidemic shows that two highly virulent strains emerged independently in North America after the pathogens evolved resistance to a frontline antibiotic in wide use at the time.

The genetic sleuthing demonstrates the extraordinary information that scientists can glean from the DNA of infectious organisms. Within the next few years, rapid and real-time surveillance of pathogens is expected to become standard practice.

C difficile became the most feared hospital bug in the developed world after the number and severity of infections among patients soared to record levels in a series of countries in the early 2000s.

Normal strains of C difficile are found in the guts of a few per cent of adults, but they rarely cause problems because other gut microbes keep them in check. But if a patient with the drug-resistant strain is given antibiotics, it multiplies and makes toxins that cause diarrhoea and other illnesses.
[Read more...]

After 88 wolves shot, Montana may limit wolf trapping near Yellowstone Park (9 December 2012)
BILLINGS -- The shooting of collared gray wolves from Yellowstone National Park is prompting Montana wildlife commissioners to consider new restrictions against killing the predators in areas near the park.

Wolf trapping in Montana kicks off Dec. 15. It's the state's first such trapping season since the animals lost their federal protections last year after almost four decades on the endangered species list.

But hunting already is under way for the predators in Montana and neighboring Idaho and Wyoming, and at least seven of Yellowstone's roughly 88 wolves have been shot in recent weeks while travelling outside the park.

That includes five wolves fitted with tracking collars for scientific research, said Dan Stahler, a biologist with the park's wolf program. The most recent to be shot, the collared alpha female from the well-known Lamar Canyon pack, was killed last week in Wyoming.
[Read more...]

Yellowstone wolf known as 832F to researchers fatally shot in Wyoming (9 December 2012)
The wolf, known as 832F to researchers, was found dead Thursday, The New York Times reported.

"She is the most famous wolf in the world," said Jimmy Jones, a Los Angeles wildlife photographer whose portrait of 832F appears in the current issue of the magazine "American Scientist."

This fall, Wyoming authorized the wolf hunts for the first time in 10 years.

Since then, eight wolves that researchers had captured and released with GPS tracking devices have been shot and killed by hunters just outside Yellowstone in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
[Read more...]

Malibu residents have rotting whale towed away (9 December 2012)
MALIBU, Calif. -- No government agency took action to remove the decaying fin-whale carcass on a California beach, making it appear Saturday that the job would be left to Mother Nature.

But a homeowners' association took charge instead, hiring a tugboat to tow the dead creature out to sea.

The whale corpse created a spectacle last week as people wandered down the narrow Malibu Beach to look at the remains: white bones, rolls of blubber and the tail flukes trailing along the water's edge.

Homes of movie stars, celebrities and others line the cliffs high above the beach.

Looking over the whale Saturday, Malibu resident Ben Dossett said he saw no reason to remove it. "You look at the difference between what it was on Tuesday to what it is today," he said.
[Read more...]

Disaster recovery a growing business (9 December 2012)
After several close calls with hurricanes, executives at Florida Hospital in Orlando decided to rethink their disaster plans. A direct hit by a storm could, of course, endanger patients. But it could also destroy the technology that the facility depends on for medical records, clinical test results and accounting.

With strict regulations about hospital safety and the critical nature of the facility's services, nothing could be left to chance. The hospital came up with a comprehensive strategy to prepare for future disasters, re-engineering the way it safeguards its digital records and reserving backup offices.

"In 2004, we had what we called the hurricane trifecta - Charley, Frances and Jeanne," said Robert Goodman, disaster recovery coordinator for Florida Hospital. "The hurricanes got our management's attention."

Disaster planning plays an important role for businesses in ensuring they can still operate after an earthquake, a blackout or other serious disruption. Failing to prepare can mean millions of dollars in losses and major headaches while trying to recover.
[Read more...]

Spree of Porsche headlight thefts blamed on cannabis growers (9 December 2012)

One would expect the high-power headlights of luxury car brand Porsche to be pretty good at startling deer and blinding other drivers. But according to rumours circulating in Amsterdam, their high-intensity discharge (HID) xenon lamps are good for cultivating cannabis too.

At the last count, 35 sets of headlights have been reported stolen from Porsche Cayenne and Panamera models in the Dutch capital in recent months. Oddly, the rest of the country has so far been unaffected. Motoring blogs have blamed this trend on marijuana farmers being unwilling to fork out for the expensive lighting systems needed to maximise their harvest.

As well as producing the correct light-to-heat ratio for growing cannabis, the xenon bulbs are highly energy efficient. Even small-scale cannabis farms require vast amounts of electricity, which makes the bulbs attractive for rogue herbalists.

But could Porsche really have inadvertently engineered such a useful piece of horticultural kit? One Dutch hydroponic expert, known only as Midnight Gardener, says it is possible. "HID bulbs would work. We sell normal HID bulbs, but the xenon ones must have something extra. It must be kids, or people who are down and out. It makes the whole growing business look bad though."
[Read more...]

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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


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All original content including photographs © 2012 by Pam Rotella. (News excerpts copyright by their corresponding authors, news organizations, or other copyright holders, and quoted here typically as "fair use" or "teaser" paragraphs to generate interest in the full articles.)