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Click to visit VeggieCooking.com NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012

News from the Week of 16th to 22nd of December 2012

Annual bird counts give scientists climate clues (22 December 2012)
The count began in 1900 as a National Audubon Society protest of holiday hunts that left piles of bird and animal carcasses littered across the country. It now helps scientists understand how birds react to short-term weather events and may provide clues as to how they will adapt as temperatures rise and climate changes.

"Learning the changes of habit in drought could help us know what will happen as it gets warmer and drier," said Kostecke, a bird expert and associate director of conservation, research and planning at the Nature Conservancy in Texas.

Scientists saw birds change their habits during last year's historic drought that parched most of Texas. Some birds that normally winter on the coast -- such as endangered whooping cranes -- arrived and immediately turned back when they couldn't find enough food. Other birds didn't even bother flying to the coast. Snowy owls, who sometimes migrate from the Arctic to Montana, suddenly showed up as far south as Texas.

There has been some rain this year, but Texas still hasn't fully recovered from the drought and many areas remain unusually dry. Wetlands, a crucial bird habitat, have been damaged. Trees and brush are dead or brown. There are fewer flooded rice fields, prime foraging grounds for birds. And sandhill cranes, for the second winter in a row, are staying in Nebraska.

An initial report on the 24-hour count that began midnight Monday and ended midnight Tuesday included 233 different species -- a drop of 11 from last year when 244 were counted on Mad Island. While the area likely still has one of the United States' most diverse bird populations, the species that were missing raise questions.
[Read more...]

How 'Dark Money' helped Republicans hold the House and hurt voters (22 December 2012)
In the November election, a million more Americans voted for Democrats seeking election to the U.S. House of Representatives than Republicans. But that popular vote advantage did not result in control of the chamber. Instead, despite getting fewer votes, Republicans have maintained a commanding control of the House. Such a disparity has happened only three times in the last century.

Analysts and others have identified redistricting as a key to the disparity. Republicans had a years-long strategy of winning state houses in order to control each state's once-a-decade redistricting process. (Confused about redistricting? Check out our song.)

Republican strategist Karl Rove laid out the approach in a Wall Street Journal column in early 2010 headlined "He who controls redistricting can control Congress."

The approach paid off. In 2010 state races, Republicans picked up 675 legislative seats, gaining complete control of 12 state legislatures. As a result, the GOP oversaw redrawing of lines for four times as many congressional districts as Democrats.
[Read more...]

Review of FBI forensics does not extend to federally trained state, local examiners (22 December 2012)
Thousands of criminal cases at the state and local level may have relied on exaggerated testimony or false forensic evidence to convict defendants of murder, rape and other felonies.

The forensic experts in these cases were trained by the same elite FBI team whose members gave misleading court testimony about hair matches and later taught the local examiners to follow the same suspect practices, according to interviews and documents.

In July, the Justice Department announced a nationwide review of all cases handled by the FBI Laboratory's hair and fibers unit before 2000 -- at least 21,000 cases -- to determine whether improper lab reports or testimony might have contributed to wrongful convictions.

But about three dozen FBI agents trained 600 to 1,000 state and local examiners to apply the same standards that have proved problematic.

None of the local cases is included in the federal review. As a result, legal experts say, although the federal inquiry is laudable, the number of flawed cases at the state and local levels could be even higher, and those are going uncorrected.
[Read more...]

Researchers lay out a map of the brain's everyday categorizations (22 December 2012)
A team of scientists at the University of California-Berkley have put together a map detailing how the human brain organizes objects on actions every day, The Verge reported earlier this week.

The team, based out of the Gallant Lab at the university, also posted a video abstract of its findings on YouTube.

"What we see is a really complex pattern of sequential selectivity thoughout the higher cortex," said doctoral student Alex Huth, whose team's findings was published in the journal Neuron on Wednesday.

For the study, Huth and his team used an MRI machine to track the brain activity of five human subjects asked to watch two hours of specially-designed movie trailers, with each of the 1,700 different kinds of motions and objects shown detailed beforehand.

Using regression analysis, the researchers then measured how each of those was stored across 30,000 locations in the brain, and also posted an interactive online model demonstrating their findings.
[Read more...]

Troubling solar-panel defect rate seen (22 December 2012)
A worldwide glut of solar panels has slashed prices and made the technology affordable to more people than ever before.

But that glut could be prompting some panel manufacturers to cut corners.

SolarBuyer, a company that audits solar factories, has found defect rates averaging about 8 percent among panels that have not yet been shipped to customers. With some manufacturers, the defect rate has topped 20 percent.

That eye-popping number is an exception, not the rule. But faulty panels are a concern for the solar industry. The number of panels being installed around the world is surging, jumping 44 percent in the United States during this year's third quarter. Quality problems could slow that growth if consumers start to question solar's reliability.
[Read more...]

Atheist group's billboards in Roanoke area draw strong reaction (22 December 2012)
A regional group of atheists and agnostics is dealing with backlash over billboards in the Roanoke area attempting to recruit new members.

The billboards, which read, "Don't believe in God? Join the club," have drawn a noticeable response. Paul Hoyt, coordinator of the Blue Ridge Coalition of Reason, said he has received many emails about the billboards, which went up earlier this week.

Thursday, one of the billboards -- on Virginia 419 in Salem -- was vandalized. Someone used black spray paint to obscure the word "don't" and flip the message on its head. The vandalized message was removed by Friday afternoon.

Hoyt said the response has shown him that his group's purpose in advertising is misunderstood.

"We had looked for ways to find new members," Hoyt said. "This was strictly an outreach campaign to find like-minded people."
[Read more...]

Culture of secrecy keeping Canadians in the dark (22 December 2012)
It starts, quite simply, with a request that sounds pleasant and promising.

Government official: "Could you please put your request in writing. Oh, and if you don't mind, could you please tell us your angle, and your deadline."

Here are some of the agencies in Canada that have recently used this tactic on the Star: ORNGE; Health Canada; Toronto Police; the Defence Department; the mayor's office; various court houses; the Ontario College of Teachers; the Toronto District School Board; the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons; the provincial coroner's office; Ontario's Health Ministry; the University Health Network and many, many more.

In each case, the agency begins with a delay -- days, weeks, even months. With ORNGE, truthful answers did not come for three years.

Next, the fee estimate. Access laws allow an agency to charge for the release of public records. The fees are to pay for the preparation of the records, removal of personal information and photocopying. They have become a barrier to access, a weapon in the war on freedom of information.
[Read more...]

BP settlement over Deepwater Horizon oil spill approved by federal judge (22 December 2012)
A federal judge gave final approval to BP's settlement with businesses and individuals who lost money because of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP PLC has estimated it will pay $7.8bn to resolve economic and medical claims from more than 100,000 businesses and individuals hurt by the nation's worst offshore oil spill. The settlement has no cap; the company could end up paying more or less.

US district judge Carl Barbier, who gave his preliminary approval in May, made it final on Friday in a 125-page ruling released Friday evening. "None of the objections, whether filed on the objections docket or elsewhere, have shown the Settlement to be anything other than fair, reasonable and adequate," he wrote.

BP and attorneys for the plaintiffs said they were pleased.
[Read more...]

Sexual assault reports jump at military academies, Pentagon finds (21 December 2012)
The number of sexual assaults reported on the campuses of the nation's military academies increased by nearly a quarter over the 2010-2011 academic year, according to an annual Pentagon survey released Friday.

The dramatic increase was recorded despite efforts that defense officials have put into sexual assault awareness programs and other training to try to prevent rape and harassment on campus.

Roughly 12 percent of women who responded to the survey, and two percent of men, said they had experienced unwanted sexual contact.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in a memorandum to top Pentagon officials, expressed disappointment with the report, saying it pointed to a "persistent problem."
[Read more...]

Genetically altered salmon are safe, FDA says (21 December 2012)
Salmon that has been genetically engineered to grow twice as fast as its natural counterpart inched a little closer toward the nation's dinner tables on Friday.

The Food and Drug Administration released its findings that the fish do not pose a threat to the environment and are "as safe as food from conventional Atlantic salmon."

That removed a key hurdle for a Massachusetts-based company seeking to market the modified salmon, which critics derisively have dubbed "Frankenfish."

But the move also reignited a long-running debate over whether a nation that already grows and consumes genetically modified plants such as corn and soybeans is prepared to make a similar leap when it comes to animals.

Food-safety activists, environmental groups and traditional salmon fishing industries are staunchly opposed to such a step and are part of a broader global struggle over the use of genetically modified foods.
[Read more...]

Conservationists play moose matchmaker (21 December 2012)
The Nature Conservancy of Canada wants you to help moose in the Maritimes get it on.

The environmental group is looking for $35,000 for its Moose Sex Project: a plan to buy 100 hectares on the narrow strip of land that connects New Brunswick, where moose are aplenty, to Nova Scotia, where they're endangered on that province's mainland.

The New Brunswick moose could help change that -- as long as they can reach their dwindling neighbours to the east.

"In New Brunswick, the moose populations are quite healthy. However, the same can't be said in Nova Scotia," said NCC Atlantic spokesman Andrew Holland.
[Read more...]

Hunger and homelessness rise dramatically in the U.S.: study (21 December 2012)
Hunger and homelessness are on the rise in the United States, and cash-strapped cities and social services are being forced to turn needy people away empty-handed, a study published Thursday found.

The number of homeless people seeking help had increased seven percent from 2011, according to a survey of social service operators in 25 of the nation's large cities commissioned by the Conference of Mayors.

Even though food pantries and soup kitchens have cut back how much people received in an attempt to make their limited resources go further, the survey found that about 19 percent of the people asking for help didn't get any.

"In Philadelphia, I see people who are hungry and in need of shelter on a daily basis," said the city's mayor Michael Nutter.

"Explaining to them that Congress is cutting funding for the help they need is not acceptable. What they need are jobs so they can support their families, and Congress can help to create those jobs if it passes a fair and balanced budget with investments in infrastructure, innovation, and real people."
[Read more...]

Don't like today's food monopolies? Blame Robert Bork (21 December 2012)
Most people, if they think of the recently departed and extremely conservative Judge Robert Bork at all, think of his failed nomination by President Ronald Reagan to the Supreme Court (and maybe his natty facial hair). But Robert Bork deserves credit for more than just inspiring the term "Borked." He actually deserves credit (or, more accurately, blame) for the domination of our food system by a handful of mammoth corporations. I'm talking about you, Monsanto, Cargill, Tyson, and Walmart.

As we noted last month, farmers feel the brunt of his legacy:

"According to a 2007 study [PDF] from the University of Missouri, the four largest companies controlled 82 percent of the beef packing industry, 85 percent of soybean processing, 63 percent of pork packing, and 53 percent of broiler chicken processing. In fact, so much consolidation has taken place throughout the food chain that it can be difficult for any one person to fathom the true effects."

But consumers experience it, too. Walmart now earns one out of every four dollars Americans spend on groceries and controls 50 percent of the grocery sales in some cities.
[Read more...]

Dawn breaks on Maya "end of days," world lives on (21 December 2012)
(Reuters) - Dawn broke over ancient holy sites in southern Mexico to celebrations on Friday, ushering in the start of a new era for the Maya people that had been billed as a possible end of the world.

A mix of mystics, hippies and tourists from around the world descended on the ruins of Maya cities to mark the close of the 13th bak'tun - a period of around 400 years - and many hoped it would lead to a better era for humanity.

After the sun went up in Mexico and the world continued to spin, visitors to the Maya heartland gave thanks.

"I'm just grateful to be here at all," said Graham Hohlfelde, 21, a student from St. Louis, Missouri. "I hope something happens to make me a better person. If I can get a little cosmic help I won't turn it down."

The end of the bak'tun in the 5,125-year-old Long Calendar of the Maya had raised scattered fears around the globe that the end is nigh or that lesser catastrophe lay in store.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Oh, that's right! Today's supposed to be the end of the world, because the author(s) of the Mayan calendar "only" took the time to chart all the way to 2012. Maybe they meant that it was someone else's job to chart more time later -- by 2012, someone else would surely have produced another calendar...

Mexico's Maya heartland greets dawn of new era (21 December 2012)
MERIDA, Mexico (AP) -- Ceremonial fires burned and conches sounded off as dawn broke over the steps of the main pyramid at the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza Friday, marking what many believe is the conclusion of a vast, 5,125-year cycle in the Mayan calendar.

Some have interpreted the prophetic moment as the end of the world. The hundreds gathered in the ancient Mayan city, however, said they believed it marked the birth of a new and better age.

Genaro Hernandez stood with his arms outstretched to the morning light, all clad in white, facing the pyramids' grey stone, to welcome the new era.

"This world is being reborn as a better world," said Hernandez, a 55-year old accountant who wore an expression of bliss.

No one was quite sure at what time the Mayas' 13th Baktun would officially end on this Dec. 21. Some think it already ended at midnight. Others looked to Friday's dawn here in the Maya heartland. Some had later times in mind. One thing became clear to many on the site by Friday morning: The world had not ended.
[Read more...]

Why worry about Mayan 'apocalypse'? After all, bad things happened before (21 December 2012)
Among scientists, such natural hazards and their consequences are known as "mass extinctions."

Although not exactly common, neither are they entirely rare. By some counts, serious mass extinctions have occurred at least 20 times since the Earth first incorporated itself from the cast-off material of stars, but most of those events were merely garden-variety catastrophes.

In order to qualify as a major mass extinction -- at least in the minds of the scientific community -- a particular disaster must result in the destruction of at least 50 per cent of the animal species that were resident on Earth when the asteroids crashed or the volcanoes blew.

It turns out that, during the 4.5-billion-year life span of the planet Earth, calamities on this scale have occurred precisely five times.

By far the most notorious such episode took place about 65 million years ago, and its principal consequence is probably familiar to anyone who has seen the movie Jurassic Park.
[Read more...]

Extinction Theory: The Science Cartel vs. Immanuel Velikovsky (FLASHBACK) (16 September 2009)
In 1950, Immanuel Velikovsky culminated decades of research with a book titled Worlds in Collision that "proposes that many myths and traditions of ancient peoples and cultures are based on actual events." His approach was interdisciplinary, a rarity in the 20th century, taking into account astronomy, physics, chemistry, psychology, ancient history, and comparative mythology.

He noted, for example, that Venus, the second brightest object in the night sky, was not mentioned by the earliest astronomers. He proposed that the planet was a newcomer to our solar system, a comet, appearing in historical times with an irregular orbit that caused catastrophic events on our own planet.

Coming in close contact with the Earth, the latter's rotation altered, making it appear that The Sun had stood still, a phenomenon reported on in the Book of Josue. What has come to be known as Joshua's Long Day is corroborated by the texts of the ancient Chinese, Japanese, Egyptians, Babylonians, and Mayans; the East Asians reporting a extremely long sunset, the Mexicans reporting an extremely long sunrise.

Immanuel Velikovsky was too eminent a scholar to be dismissed outright as a kook, and he counted some respected people among his friends. (See The Einstein-Velikovsky Correspondence). Nevertheless, his Catastrophism was rejected outright by a scientific establishment that couldn't stomach an interdisciplinary challenge to its dogmatic Uniformitarianism, even after Velikovsky's predictions about the temperature of Venus and radio activity from Jupiter were proven true.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: As Velikovsky readers know, a catastrophic event causing dinosaurs' extinction isn't a recent theory. My father was a big Velikovsky fan, but not many people have that kind of interest in science. When the internet became popular and my father tried putting the word Velikovsky into a search engine, he was amazed at the number of people in the online community who were also Velikovsky fans. This morning on Google, the word "Velikovsky" returns 122,000 results.

Julian Assange: expect more from WikiLeaks (20 December 2012)
Julian Assange has said (video) that WikiLeaks is preparing to publish 1m new secret government documents as he marked six months of refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London with a speech from its balcony on Thursday.

The WikiLeaks founder has remained in the embassy to avoid arrest and extradition to Sweden on suspicion of sexual offences. There is a permanent police guard and Assange will be arrested if he leaves the premises.

About 80 supporters gathered on Thursday night to hear Assange speak. They carried candles and held placards reading, "Don't shoot the messenger" and "Don't trust Sweden". Some sang Christmas carols as they waited for Assange to speak from the first floor balcony, a short distance from Harrods department store. There were 60 additional police officers on duty.

Assange emerged with a raised fist and greeted the crowd: "What a sight for sore eyes. People ask what gives me hope. The answer is right here."
[Read more...]

The Bribery Aisle: How Wal-Mart Used Payoffs to Bribe Its Way Through Expansion in Mexico (20 December 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
DAVID BARSTOW: The first piece that we--that I wrote examined the conduct, especially, of the leaders of Wal-Mart in Bentonville, when they were confronted in--

AMY GOODMAN: In Arkansas.

DAVID BARSTOW: In Arkansas, in Bentonville, Arkansas, when they were confronted in late 2005. Someone who had been a lawyer for their operations in Mexico, the lawyer who had been in charge of getting all permits to build new Wal-Marts in Mexico, came forward, approached the company and laid out this really extraordinary story about how Wal-Mart de México, which is Wal-Mart's largest foreign subsidiary, had been routinely resorting to bribery in order to basically speed up and to obtain permits, licenses, zoning approvals, on a fairly massive scale all across the country, and with a very specific strategic purpose, which was to accelerate Wal-Mart's growth in Mexico. And for those who don't know, Wal-Mart 20 years ago was not much of a presence in Mexico. Today, it's really hard to overstate just how thoroughly they dominate commerce in Mexico. It's more than just the Sam's Clubs and the Wal-Marts that you see in the United States. It's department stores. It's restaurants. It's banks. And they tend to typically--

AMY GOODMAN: It's one in five stores in Mexico and the largest private employer in Mexico.

DAVID BARSTOW: Two hundred and--

AMY GOODMAN: One in five stores of Wal-Mart's anywhere worldwide are in Mexico.
[Read more...]

28 Endangered Whooping Cranes Released in Louisiana (20 December 2012)
Twenty-eight endangered whooping cranes now live in the wild in southwest Louisiana.

The state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says 14 youngsters brought to Gueydan on Nov. 29 were released Monday. They join 14 adults -- two released in early 2011 and 12 released late last year in the White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area in Vermilion Parish.

It's the general area where the last flock of Louisiana whooping cranes lived in the 1940s.

In all, 40 have been released. Twelve died -- mostly from predators or illness, though teenagers shot two.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Speaking at the Whooping Crane Festival earlier this year, George Archibald of the International Crane Foundation said that most of this year's captive-bred whooping cranes would be designated for repopulating the dwindling non-migratory Louisiana flock. That's why Operation Migration started with only six cranes this year. Hopefully the cranes will be more than food for predators this time around...

Louisiana TV Station Fires Black Meteorologist for Responding to Viewer's Barb About Her Hair (20 December 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: For more, we're joined now by Democracy Now! video stream, Rhonda Lee herself.

Rhonda Lee, we welcome you to Democracy Now! Can you respond to your bosses at the TV station and tell us about why you responded to the critics on Facebook? Again, Rhonda Lee, former meteorologist for KTBS. She's in Shreveport, Louisiana.

RHONDA LEE: Hi. Well, there really is no policy. There was never anything ever written down. We received the memo, I believe--George Sirven, that was our general manager--received a memo, he says, in August. I'll be honest with you: I do not recall seeing that particular memo. I've been locked out of the email system since I was terminated. And to say multiple times, I've only responded to two Facebook posts that weren't weather-related, so I'm not real clear on where multiple times ever came into play.

And I'll be honest with you: There have been so few criticisms of what I did, it really is difficult for me to respond to criticism. It seems like there are a lot of people, more so siding with my plight than I would have ever dreamed, frankly. And it's been such a wild ride, and I appreciate all of those reports from people coming back with, you know, inspiring messages and things like that.

But to say that there was a policy in place, there really is not, even to this day. But I don't think I would ever change a keystroke as to what it was that I said. To me, it was a message that kind of needed to get out. Of course, black female hair has always been a point of contention, since probably biblical times. And unfortunately, we haven't moved quite to where I think we should be as far as the level of beauty that's displayed and compared to with African-American women's hair. But I think we're making very important strides today, despite my circumstance.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: There are pros and cons to all hair types. Have you ever seen "plaited" hair, or hair with braids all over? Africans are lucky to have hair that works really well with braids -- naturally. Americans call the style "cornrows," but the look comes from Africa, and designs can be stunning. (Of course, I'm having trouble finding a good article online with pictures, as the internet is by America and mostly about Americans -- lots of info on American hair products and styles, though.)

But I've always had to enjoy braids from a distance, because they never worked very well with my hair. It's too fine for braids -- fine as in thin and straight. If my hair doesn't slip out of braids, then ends stick out everywhere. The only way I've been able to have a simple French braid is to pay a hair stylist to spend the morning on it, with all of the "products" stylists have to make hair behave.

The complete HTML color chart (Links to all 16+ million HTML colors) (14 April 2012)
Click here for the first page of the full HTML color chart (which corresponds to number "1" in the directory to the right) or select a page number from the other tables below. Each page of the chart has 7,000 HTML color codes with a small color sample to its left.

This color code chart started as a sample scripted loop project using FileMaker database software. I've decided to generate the entire chart from that project and post it here, due to its usefulness to HTML web designers and others using or studying HTML.

HTML color basics
There are over 16 million possible HTML color codes, specifically 166 (16 to the 6th power), or 16,777,216. This color chart contains nearly 2,400 pages with all 16+ million colors displayed.

The code FFFFFF represents pure white, and that's where the chart begins. It will end with the code 000000, pure black.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: One of the coolest-looking things I've produced for the online community...

Little-known Minnesota exemption allows guns in schools (20 December 2012)
For years, Greg Lund carried a loaded gun as a high school principal in northwestern Minnesota. Students, parents and most of the staff at Norman County East High School didn't know he was armed, but Lund said he couldn't leave his students' safety to chance.

"There's little you can do to prevent them from getting in the building," said Lund, a gun safety educator. "It was a small, rural school, and it would be 20 minutes or more before we would have police in the building."

Lund carried the gun with the permission of his superintendent -- and under the provisions of a little-known exemption to the state's general ban on guns in school. The rule says that any adults who have a state permit to carry a gun can bring the firearm to school once they obtain written permission from a principal or other school authority.

Since the Connecticut school massacre last week, some are urging a further relaxing of Minnesota's rules regarding teachers arming themselves, while others want to tighten rules banning guns at school.
[Read more...]

Gun transactions soar in Virginia after Conn. tragedy (19 December 2012)
The 4,166 requests for criminal background checks for gun deals that Virginia State Police received last Saturday, the day after the Newtown, Conn., shooting massacre, was the highest volume the agency has registered since the state began running checks in 1989.

State police say an uptick in requests from gun dealers for checks on prospective buyers is common around the holidays and note that Saturday's record pace is in line with a trend of increased background check activity this year over last.

Even so, a 42 percent increase in transactions - they represent the number of checks requested, not guns sold - the day after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at an elementary school is attention grabbing.

Virginia law requires licensed gun dealers to run background checks on customers before completing a sale; it's a point of controversy for gun-control advocates that the same standard is not applied to private sales.
[Read more...]

Sandy hook shooting: Was Adam Lanza lashing out against treatment? (+video) (19 December 2012)
Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza may have been motivated by anger at his mother because of plans to have him committed for treatment, Fox News reported Thursday, citing comments from the son of an area church pastor and an unnamed neighborhood source. Fox also cited an unnamed senior law enforcement official saying anger at plans for "his future mental-health treatment" were being investigated as a possible motive.

While the Fox reports are still uncorroborated, other media reports paint a general picture that suggests Ms. Lanza was growing increasingly concerned about the mental health of her son.

These reports are bringing to light a debate over where to set the bar when it comes to forcing an individual into treatment -- and whether those caring for people with mental-health issues have enough resources available to head off potential crises before they happen.

On one hand, warning signs are often apparent, so making it easier to commit someone for involuntary treatment could save lives.
[Read more...]

Former classmate reveals school gunman had 'online devil worshiping page' as childhood barber recounts how he never spoke and just stared at floors (19 December 2012) [InfoWars.com]
The Sandy Hook gunman worshiped the devil and had an online page dedicated to Satan, a former classmate revealed, as his childhood barber recalls Adam Lanza never spoke and would stare at the floor every time he had his hair cut.

Lanza's worshiping page had the word 'Devil' written in red, Gothic-style letters against a black background, Trevor L. Todd told The National Enquirer, something which he said was 'weird' and 'gave him the chills'.

The FBI are trying to piece together his smashed up hard drive to see if his online footprint will reveal any motive for the killing, but they strongly believe he made use of devil-worshiping and suicide sites and boasted of his murder plans on message forums.

Adam Lanza's childhood barber Bob Skuba revealed today that Nancy Lanza stopped bringing her son in for haircuts a few years ago so he thought he had moved away from the area.
[Read more...]

In Newtown, Nancy Lanza a subject of sympathy for some, anger for others (19 December 2012)
NEWTOWN, Conn. -- Twenty-six. Not 27.

When many people in Newtown count the victims in last week's massacre, they tally 20 children in Sandy Hook Elementary School, plus six adult faculty and staff members. Few count shooter Adam Lanza's first victim: his mother, Nancy. Police said that before he attacked the schoolhouse, Adam Lanza pumped four bullets into his mother's head as she lay in bed.

As this heartbroken town tries to process Friday's horror, there is considerable anger toward Lanza's mother. Her name is noticeably absent from many of the impromptu shrines, memorials and condolence notes placed around town.

At the foot of the street leading to Sandy Hook Elementary, 26 Christmas trees stand to honor the dead at the school, each bearing the name of a victim, but no Nancy Lanza.
[Read more...]

Vietnam stops blogger from flying to US (19 December 2012)
Vietnamese authorities have stopped a blogger from flying to the US to pick up a human rights award on behalf of his father and sister, triggering criticism from the American embassy.

Huynh Trong Hieu said on Wednesday that police detained him at Ho Chi Minh airport on Sunday night as he was checking in. They questioned him for two hours and took his passport, which had a valid American visa. He was then released.

"I was prepared for the fact that they would ban me from leaving the country as they had prevented many people who dared to promote democracy and human rights in Vietnam," Hieu said by telephone. "By banning those people from leaving the country, the government wants to give a warning to others that they have the authority to decide the fate of all its citizens."

Hieu was flying to the US to receive a Hellman-Hammett award from Human Rights Watch on behalf of his father, Huynh Ngoc Tuan, and sister, Huynh Thuc Vy, who are both prominent bloggers. Each year the group gives cash grants to selected writers for their commitment to free expression in the face of government persecution. Hieu said he was travelling on behalf of his father and sister because they thought they wouldn't be allowed to leave.
[Read more...]

Rep. Raúl Grijalva Rejects Obama "Fiscal Cliff" Plan to Cut More from Social Security than Military (19 December 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
REP. RAÚL GRIJALVA: Well, in my district, a large percentage--I would say over half--and many in the country, Social Security is their only source of income, their sole source of income. We're talking about people with disabilities that Social Security assists. We're looking upon dependents and survivors. This is not--this is not a group that's readily going to go out and make up the difference in any potential cut. And by opening this door, you are talking about benefit cuts. You can--you can put whatever kind of ornaments you want, but it is a benefit cut. And many of us see that, and we see this link, in the long term, to be something the Republicans have been wanting as a means to begin to deal with Social Security and deal with the trust fund and deal with the fact that it is--that the rate of inflation has dictated what the increases have been for recipients.

AMY GOODMAN: Have spoken with President Obama? How do you--and how much consensus do you feel you have in the House right now to oppose cuts to Social Security? And compare it to military spending.

REP. RAÚL GRIJALVA: Yeah, well, you know, military spending, saying it's a--the proposal, as I understand it, is $100 billion. Even Gates proposed more cuts than that on defense, on antiquated weapons and making sure that we took care of our troops. But let's look at the fact that we continue to build weaponry that is of no utility in this age and, more importantly, of no utility in the whole issue of disarmament and no utility in the whole issue of maybe restoring some sense of balance and peace in this world.

Having said that, it should be an area that is not sacrosanct. But at the same time, what the Progressive Caucus has said over and over again, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, those programs deserve to be strengthened and improved. There should be a discreet discussion about improvement and strengthening. And there should be other things on the table, Amy, other things like a transition tax for corporations and for Wall Street transfers of a million dollars in the stock market. There should be some cuts in the subsidies for corporations.
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John Boehner, scourge of the wealthy, ctd. (19 December 2012)
The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has just completed a new analysis of John Boehner's "plan B" fiscal proposal, which would raise taxes only on income over $1 million. The analysis makes it pretty clear just how ludicrous it is for House Republicans to be expecting Obama to agree to it.

The new analysis sheds fresh light on just how tiny a slice of taxpayers would see a tax hike under Boehner's plan. It also reveals in new detail just how many households that are very wealthy (but make under $1 million) would actually see their taxes go slightly down.

The basic findings: Nearly half of households in the top one percent would see a small tax cut under Boehner's plan. Meanwhile, lower and middle income households would see a tax increase under his plan (more on this later).

The key table you want to look at is right here. It shows that 48.3 percent of households in the top one percent would see their taxes go down by an average of $240. Those are people who make between $521,000 and $1 million. Only 28 percent of those in the top one percent (the ones with the highest incomes) would see a tax hike, of around $97,000.
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Bah, humbug! Police pull over truck decked out with 850 Christmas lights (19 December 2012)
A Kansas man who decked out his pickup truck with 856 lights has been ticketed and fined $300 after police caught sight of the Christmas tree on wheels.

But David Hill, of Wichita, says he was only trying to spread some holiday cheer when he spent 16 hours adorning his truck with the Christmas bulbs.

Hill, the founder of OneSpark, a group that feeds and clothes the homeless, told NewsFix, "If this can put one smile on one person's face it was worth it."

The lights, which are attached to his truck with magnets, are powered by an 8,000 watt generator in the bed of the truck.
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California ocean sanctuaries to be doubled (19 December 2012)
President Obama is poised to protect 2,093 square nautical miles of ocean habitat off the coast of Sonoma and Mendocino counties, a move that would more than double the area covered by two national sanctuaries off the West Coast and permanently ban offshore oil drilling there.

The decision, expected Thursday, would create an enormous preserve stretching some 50 miles along the California coast and extending some 30 miles out to sea. It would also fulfill the long-held dream of Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, who has tried repeatedly since 2004 to pass legislation protecting the coastal ecosystem.

Woolsey announced that she will be joined by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and a host of other dignitaries Thursday "to announce developments regarding the expansion of the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries."

End-around by Obama
The proposed expansion from Bodega Bay north to Point Arena in Mendocino County has been blocked repeatedly by congressional Republicans. The only foolproof way to accomplish it now in the face of a Republican majority in the House of Representatives is for President Obama to proclaim it a protected area by executive order, experts say.
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Something is leaking from the Deepwater Horizon site, but it's not clear what (19 December 2012)
The Deepwater Horizon is the gift that keeps on giving. Usually, that gift is more oil. Right now, though, perhaps because of the holidays, it's leaking something unknown. It's a special present that will reveal itself on Christmas, maybe! That's fun. Thanks, BP.

From CBS News:

"An 'unidentified substance inconsistent with oil' is emitting from several areas of BP's Deepwater Horizon rig wreckage, but no sources of leaking oil were identified. That's according to the Coast Guard, which oversaw BP's recent week-long mission to inspect the undersea wells and wreckage from the 2010 explosion.

"The exact content of the leaking substance and how much is coming out is one mystery. But if it's not oil, then it means the source of recurring oil sheens that have recently been spotted around the Deepwater Horizon site remains unknown."
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New species discovered in Asia include a singing frog and a walking fish (19 December 2012)
The World Wildlife Fund has a new report about recent new species discoveries in the Mekong Delta region, which encompasses Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and a part of southern China. Here's the thing -- they're, uh, they're kind of advanced. Like, there's a fish that walks on land, and a frog that composes music, and a lizard that walks on two legs, and a bat that suggests this is all because of some kind of demonic intervention.

You can read the full report here [PDF], but meanwhile, here are our favorite demonstrations that the new animals of the Mekong Delta are a force to be reckoned with and possibly a harbinger of the End Times.

Anyone can croak, but male frogs of the species Graxicalus quangi sing songs to their beloveds instead. The songs are a mix of clicks, whistles, and chirps, so not exactly One Direction, but ... no, pretty much exactly One Direction.

Clarias gracilentus looks kinda more like a slug than a fish in this photo, which is appropriate since it can walk on dry land. This catfish can climb right out of the stream it lives in and wriggle itself forward, supported on its pectoral fins, to find a more promising water source. If it completely dries out it's in trouble, but it can kick it outside the water for long enough to abandon a stagnant pond -- just not quite long enough to really annoy Glenn Beck by evolving into something that looks just like him.
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Judge rejects state's request to add evidence to whooper trial (11 December 2012)
A ruling could come soon on the whooping crane lawsuit after a judge rejected a motion to reopen the case.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack rejected the state's motion to include a report from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, Jim Blackburn, the Houston-based environmental lawyer representing the Aransas Project, said Monday.

The report found fault in the way whooping cranes were being counted by the federal agency and in the assumption that birds missing from their territories had died, calling into question the methods of Tom Stehn, the longtime whooping crane coordinator for Aransas National Wildlife Refuge who retired last year, Blackburn said.

The Aransas Project, an environmental coalition, contends that the state took too much water from the Guadalupe River during the 2009 drought, causing the death of 23 of the endangered birds from the last-known naturally migrating flock of whooping cranes in the world.
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The Decline of the "Great Equalizer" (19 December 2012)
BOSTON - When Puritan settlers established America's first public school here in 1635, they planted the seed of a national ideal: that education should serve as the country's "great equalizer."

Americans came to believe over time that education could ensure that all children of any class had a shot at success. And if any state should be able to make that belief a reality, it was Massachusetts.

The Bay State is home to America's oldest school, Boston Latin, and its oldest college, Harvard. It was the first state to appoint an education secretary, Horace Mann, who penned the "equalizer" motto in 1848. Today, Massachusetts has the country's greatest concentration of elite private colleges, and its students place first in nationwide Department of Education rankings.

Yet over the past 20 years, America's best-educated state also has experienced the country's second-biggest increase in income inequality, according to a Reuters analysis of U.S. Census data. As the gap between rich and poor widens in the world's richest nation, America's best-educated state is among those leading the way.
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Two women sue Texas Troopers for illegal roadside cavity search (19 December 2012)
A federal lawsuit filed by two Irving women claims that Texas State Troopers humiliated them by performing illegal cavity searches on the side of the road after a cigarette butt was thrown out of their car window.

State Trooper David Farrell called in a female trooper to perform cavity searches of Angel Dobbs, 38, and her 24-year-old niece, Ashley Dobbs, because he said that he smelled marijuana and the women were "acting weird," attorney Scott Palmer told KTVT on Tuesday.

Angel Dobbs recalled that the female trooper, Kelley Helleson, asked for her permission to perform the search and then told her to "shut up and just listen."

Dashcam video shows Helleson searching the anuses and vaginas of both women with the same latex gloves in full view of other passing cars.
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Exclusive: Leonard Peltier Speaks Out from Prison on Denial of Medical Care, Bid for Clemency (19 December 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Can you share with people at the news conference and with President Obama your case for why you should be--your sentence should be commuted, why you want clemency?

LEONARD PELTIER: Well, I never got a fair trial, for one. You know, my case has been throttled from the moment they had grand jury hearings. They had somebody on the grand jury hearing, at the hearing testifying against me I've never met in my life. And from the extradition from Canada, they violated international laws. And then at the trial, they had admitted racists--at the trial, they had admitted racists on the jury. They wouldn't allow me to put up a defense, and manufactured evidence, manufactured witnesses, tortured witnesses. You know, the list is--just goes on. So I think I'm a very good candidate for--after 37 years, for clemency or house arrest, at least.

AMY GOODMAN: What would house arrest mean? And can you describe your conditions in the prison in Florida where you are right now?

LEONARD PELTIER: Well, I'm in a United States penitentiary with--a supermax penitentiary. And it's like all the rest of the penitentiaries. And house arrest would be that I'd be home on--I'd be home on house arrest. I'd probably have to wear an anklet, a bracelet on my ankle, but that would be a lot better than this. At least I could get some medical treatment then. You know, I got real bad prostate right now, and it's just getting worse and worse. It ain't getting any better. It isn't healing itself, so, you know, it just continues to grow worse.
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Rogue pharmacists fuel addiction (19 December 2012)
Many of his customers traveled long distances and paid cash. Rovero drove more than 350 miles from Arizona State University in Tempe to get his prescriptions in Rowland Heights and then 33 more miles to the pharmacy.

"I thought to myself, 'Why in the world would these kids go that much farther out of their way?' " said April Rovero, whose son was 21 when he died. "Someone must have told them to go there."

Pharmacists are supposed to be a last line of defense against misuse of prescription medications. By law, they are required to scrutinize prescriptions, size up customers and refuse to dispense a drug when they suspect the patient has no medical need for it.

Some, however, provide massive amounts of painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs to addicts and dealers with no questions asked, according to state records, regulators and law enforcement officials.
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Redistributing Up: The Unequal State of America (18 December 2012)
In the town that launched the War on Poverty 48 years ago, the poor are getting poorer despite the government's help. And the rich are getting richer because of it.

The top 5 percent of households in Washington, D.C., made more than $500,000 on average last year, while the bottom 20 percent earned less than $9,500 - a ratio of 54 to 1.

That gap is up from 39 to 1 two decades ago. It's wider than in any of the 50 states and all but two major cities. This at a time when income inequality in the United States as a whole has risen to levels last seen in the years before the Great Depression.

Americans have just emerged from a close presidential election in which the government's role as a leveling force was fiercely debated. The right argued the state does too much; the left, too little. The issue is now at the center of tense negotiations over whose taxes to raise and what social programs to cut before a Jan. 1 deadline. And the government's role will be paramount again next year if Congress takes up tax reform.

The federal government does redistribute wealth down to struggling Americans. But in the years since President Lyndon Johnson took aim at poverty in his first State of the Union address, there has been an increasingly strong crosscurrent: The government is redistributing wealth up, too - especially in the nation's capital.

The beneficiaries are not the billionaire financiers and celebrities who have come to personify income inequality in the 21st century. Yet the Washington elite are just as much part of the trend, having influenced laws and decisions that alter the entire country's distribution of income.
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Hacker gets 10 years in prison for Johansson, Aguilera photo leaks (18 December 2012)
A U.S. federal judge sentenced a hacker to 10 years in prison on Monday after he broke into the personal online accounts of Scarlett Johansson, Christina Aguilera and other women and posted revealing photos and other material on the Internet.

U.S. District Judge S. James Otero sentenced Christopher Chaney in Los Angeles after hearing from a tearful Johansson in a videotaped statement. The case included the revelation that nude photos taken by Johansson of herself and meant for her then-husband Ryan Reynolds were leaked online.

"I have been truly humiliated and embarrassed," Johansson said. "I find Christopher Chaney's actions to be perverted and reprehensible."

Prosecutors said Chaney, 35, of Jacksonville, Fla., also targeted two women he knew, sending nude pictures of one former co-worker to her father. The judge noted the damage to the women was in some ways worse than what Chaney's celebrity victims endured.
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PAM COMMENTARY: Ten years for a celebrity hacker/stalker? If one of my stalkers, who I reported to police in the year 2000 and the FBI in 2001, had been given ten years back then, he wouldn't have been involved in more recent violence. But then, I'm "just" a regular working person, author, and photojournalist -- and the girl who was murdered was "just" a regular college student. How often do cops take the stalking of everyday people seriously?

Another observation -- police may occasionally investigate the stalking of celebrities, but it's exactly the opposite when a person claiming celebrity stalks a normal person. In the 1990s when I was young, cute, and thin, the wife of an aging celebrity was stalking me, apparently because her husband occasionally flirted with me (although we never had an affair).

When I finally realized the harassment wasn't something she'd "get over" and reported it, most law enforcement didn't want to hear about it, even with a few serious past incidents like the attempt to hit me with her car in the mid-nineties. The extent of that stalking still isn't known, as it's possible that she was linked to other men who started stalking me after I reported many of the incidents to her husband. Occasionally later stalking suspects would verbally mention her or her husband's name. Of course, her husband never took responsibility and basically left me for dead, as womanizers usually do.

But hey, why should law enforcement make any effort when the person doing the stalking is only related to a celebrity, and the victim isn't a celebrity at all? Or maybe a better question is, would cops make any money leaking a stalking story to the press with no celebrity involved?

Six signs you are vitamin C deficient (18 December 2012)
(1) Chronic low energy, strength, and/or depression. Even bone strength is affected. Since acidosis and scurvy are similar, the classic acidosis symptom of wasting away becomes evident while losing weight.

(2) Bleeding gums, loose teeth, or gingivitis. This is an obvious and easy to notice sign that the collagen needed for building and maintaining tissue is deteriorating. Vitamin C is vital for collagen.

(3) Rapid mood changes, short tempers, and irritability can be an early sign of scurvy. Add more vitamin C to your diet or look into other possibilities before seeking pharmaceutical interventions.

(4) Bruises that occur easily, and often linger may be an indication of vitamin C deficiency. Low healing of minor wounds and dryer hair may also point to inadequate vitamin C levels.
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Ireland getting healthier, as heart and stroke deaths fall by a third (18 December 2012)
A COMBINATION of improved lifestyle and better treatments has helped cut deaths from heart disease and stroke by more than a third since 2002.

Ten years ago, mortality from these circulatory system illnesses was 50pc higher than for cancer.

But the gap between these two diseases -- which together still account for more than six in 10 deaths -- has now greatly narrowed, according the Health in Ireland report for 2012.

Commenting on the figures, Dr John Barton, a cardiologist in Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe, Co Galway, said several factors had led to a drop in deaths from what was once the biggest killer.

"They include better lifestyle and control of blood pressure and cholesterol. People are getting smaller heart attacks and have access to better treatments," he pointed out.
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Coal use set to surpass oil in a decade: IEA (18 December 2012)
Coal is set to surpass oil as the world's top fuel within a decade, driven by growth in emerging market giants China and India, with even Europe finding it hard to cut use despite pollution concerns, according to a report published Tuesday.

"Thanks to abundant supplies and insatiable demand for power from emerging markets, coal met nearly half of the rise in global energy demand during the first decade of the 21st century," said Maria van der Hoeven, head of the International Energy Agency.

Economic growth is expected to push up further coal's share of the global energy mix, "and if no changes are made to current policies, coal will catch oil within a decade," she said in a statement.

The latest IEA projections see coal consumption nearly catching oil consumption in four years time, rising to 4.32 billion tonnes of oil equivalent in 2017 against 4.4 billion tonnes for oil.
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Half of Ontario public elementary school teachers walk out (18 December 2012)
Thousands of public elementary teachers are taking part in day-long strikes in the Greater Toronto Area today in opposition of controversial legislation that gives the government the right to claw back benefits, freeze pay and quash future job actions.

Tuesday's strikes, dubbed by some as "Super Tuesday," will be the teachers' single biggest day of action in a series of one-day rotating strikes that began last week.

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario has given three days' notice for each of the single-day strikes.

But Tuesday is the biggest day of strikes so far, involving public elementary schools in Toronto, Durham Region, Peel Region, Greater Essex County, Lambton-Kent, Grand Erie, Near North and Waterloo Region.

More than 35,000 teachers will be involved in Tuesday's walkouts, or nearly half of the more than 76,000 teachers and education professionals that ETFO represents.
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Feds fine Toyota $17 million more for unintended-acceleration issue (18 December 2012)
Having already paid record fines for not promptly recalling cars, Toyota Motor Corp. will pay the government another $17.35 million to federal safety regulators.

The latest fine, announced Tuesday, is for not promptly recalling Lexus RX 350s and RX 450h sport-utility vehicles because a floor mat on the driver's side could jam the gas pedal, causing the car to accelerate when the driver didn't intend to.

"It's critical to the safety of the driving public that manufacturers report safety defects in a timely manner," said David Strickland, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "Every moment of delay has the potential to lead to deaths or injuries on our nation's highways."

Federal lawrequires all auto manufacturers to notify NHTSA within five business days of determining that a safety defect exists or that the vehicle is not in compliance with federal motor vehicle safety standards and to promptly conduct a recall.
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Instagram says it now has the right to sell your photos (17 December 2012) [InfoWars.com]
Instagram said today that it has the perpetual right to sell users' photographs without payment or notification, a dramatic policy shift that quickly sparked a public outcry.

The new intellectual property policy, which takes effect on January 16, comes three months after Facebook completed its acquisition of the popular photo-sharing site. Unless Instagram users delete their accounts before the January deadline, they cannot opt out.

Under the new policy, Facebook claims the perpetual right to license all public Instagram photos to companies or any other organization, including for advertising purposes, which would effectively transform the Web site into the world's largest stock photo agency. One irked Twitter user quipped that "Instagram is now the new iStockPhoto, except they won't have to pay you anything to use your images."
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Police expected to identify Toronto's mysterious amnesiac Linda (17 December 2012)
The mystery surrounding Linda, the woman with no memory, appears to be over.

Toronto police are expected to reveal her identity Tuesday morning, and all signs point to Linda being an American from Delaware named Linda Hegg. The announcement will end a more than three-month search that baffled police.

"I think everyone is going to be happy with the outcome," said Det. Chris Burke, of 54 Division, who has been on the case from the start.

Police will reveal the results of DNA tests done to determine whether mystery Linda is in fact Hegg, 55, from Newark, Del. Hegg's family in the U.S. is anxiously awaiting the announcement.

"It will be nice to know where my daughter is," said Hegg's father, 83-year-old Tom Hegg. "What I can't understand is why she went to Canada. She never talked about Canada."
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Announcing Vaccine Bombshell: Leaked Confidential Document Exposes 36 Infants Dead After This Vaccine (17 December 2012) [WhatReallyHappened.com]
A confidential GlaxoSmithKline document recently leaked to the press exposed that within a two-year period, a total of 36 infants died after receiving the 6-in-1 vaccine, Infanrix Hexa. [1] According to the website Initiative Citoyenne [2] who reported the news, the 1271 page document revealed that GlaxoSmithKline received a total of 1,742 reports of adverse reactions between October 23, 2009, and October 22, 2011, including 503 serious adverse reactions and 36 deaths. Initiative Citoyenne stated:

"It's not that 14 deaths were recorded by GSK between October 2009 and end in October 2011 as we had originally calculated but 36 (14 from 2010 to 2011 and 22 from 2009 to 2010). In addition to these 36 deaths at least 37 other deaths (sudden death mainly), bringing the total to at least 73 deaths since the launch of the vaccine in 2000, and again, this concerns only the death by sudden death, no further recovery of under-reporting."

Using the figure of 36 deaths over a two-year period, this averages 1.5 deaths per month, which by anyone's standard is extremely high. Note that only 1 to 10% of adverse reactions to vaccines are actually reported. Therefore, in reality, the problem could potentially be far more serious and the actual number of fatalities much higher.

The charts show that many of the babies who died passed away within the first few days of receiving the vaccine. [3] A total of three infants were reported to have died within hours of receiving the vaccine.
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"Americans Kill People": Michael Moore on Newtown, Mass Shootings, and the U.S. Culture of Violence (17 December 2012) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to the Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore, who won that award for his 2002 documentary, Bowling for Columbine, about gun violence in the United States. On Friday night, Michael Moore appeared at the Bring Leonard Peltier Home 2012 event at the Beacon Theatre here in New York City, speaking just hours after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

MICHAEL MOORE: Earlier today, a crazy man went to an elementary school and attacked 22 children in China. A few hours before Connecticut, an elementary school was attacked in China by an insane man, and 22 children were his victims. But all he had was a knife. Total number of dead in the Chinese elementary school? Zero.

I hope you don't mind, but I'd like to just say a few words about what happened today, because I've been concerned about this issue for a long time. Yes, we need more gun control. Yes, we need free mental health services in this country. But I really believe that even if we had better gun control laws and better mental health, that we would still be the sort of sick and twisted, violent people that we've been for hundreds of years, that it's something that's just in our craw, just in our DNA. And to get that out of our DNA is going to take a lot more than passing a bill in Albany or D.C. That's not going to do it.

And, you know, other countries, I mean, they have their crazy people, and they have people that--there have been shootings and killings in Norway, in France and in Germany. But there haven't been 61 mass killings like there have been in this country just since Columbine. Sixty-one mass shootings in this country. I like to say that I sort of agree with the NRA when they say, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people," except I would just modify that a bit and say, "Guns don't kill people, Americans kill people," because that's what we do. We invade countries. We send drones in to kill civilians. We've got five wars going on right now where our soldiers are killing people--I mean, five that we know of. We are on the short list of illustrious countries who have the death penalty. We believe it's OK to kill you when you've committed a crime.

And then we have all the other forms of violence in this country that we don't really call violence, but they are acts of violence. When you--when you make sure that 50 million people don't have health insurance in your country and that, according to the congressional study that was done, 44,000 people a year die in America for the simple reason that they don't have health insurance, that's a form of murder. That murder is being committed by the insurance companies. When you evict millions of peoples--millions of people from their homes, that's an act of violence. That's called a home invasion.
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Time FLASHBACK from Rense: Top Ten Legal Drugs Linked to Violence (7 January 2011) [Rense.com]
When people consider the connections between drugs and violence, what typically comes to mind are illegal drugs like crack cocaine. However, certain medications -- most notably, some antidepressants like Prozac -- have also been linked to increase risk for violent, even homicidal behavior.

A new study from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices published in the journal PloS One and based on data from the FDA's Adverse Event Reporting System has identified 31 drugs that are disproportionately linked with reports of violent behavior towards others. (More on Time.com: New Hope For An Anti-Cocaine Vaccine)

Please note that this does not necessarily mean that these drugs cause violent behavior. For example, in the case of opioid pain medications like Oxycontin, people with a prior history of violent behavior may seek drugs in order to sustain an addiction, which they support via predatory crime. In the case of antipsychotics, the drugs may be given in an attempt to reduce violence by people suffering from schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders -- so the drugs here might not be causing violence, but could be linked with it because they're used to try to stop it.

Nonetheless, when one particular drug in a class of nonaddictive drugs used to treat the same problem stands out, that suggests caution: unless the drug is being used to treat radically different groups of people, that drug may actually be the problem. Researchers calculated a ratio of risk for each drug compared to the others in the database, adjusting for various relevant factors that could create misleading comparisons. Here are the top ten offenders...
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PAM COMMENTARY: Note that Chantix, Prozac, and Paxil top the list...

Another School Shooting, Another Psychiatric Drug? (16 December 2012) [WhatReallyHappened.com]
Fact: Despite 22 international drug regulatory warnings on psychiatric drugs citing effects of mania, hostility, violence and even homicidal ideation, and dozens of high profile shootings/killings tied to psychiatric drug use, there has yet to be a federal investigation on the link between psychiatric drugs and acts of senseless violence.

Fact: At least fourteen recent school shootings were committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs resulting in 109 wounded and 58 killed (in other school shootings, information about their drug use was never made public--neither confirming or refuting if they were under the influence of prescribed drugs.)

Fact: Between 2004 and 2011, there have been over 11,000 reports to the U.S. FDA's MedWatch system of psychiatric drug side effects related to violence. These include 300 cases of homicide, nearly 3,000 cases of mania and over 7,000 cases of aggression. Note: By the FDA's own admission, only 1-10% of side effects are ever reported to the FDA, so the actual number of side effects occurring are most certainly higher.

Of the 14 shooters documented to be under the influence of psychiatric drugs, seven were seeing either a psychiatrist or psychologist. See the list of school shooters on psychiatric drugs by clicking here.

School shooters aren't the only cases commonly found to be under the influence of psychiatric drugs; here is a list of 10 more recent murders and murder-suicides, committed by individuals taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs resulting in an additional 43 dead and 37 wounded.
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PAM COMMENTARY: As I've said on this page many times before, I think an overlooked problem with psychiatric drugs is that they mask symptoms while neglecting root causes. And root causes can worsen if not addressed.

For example, if a person is already Omega-3 deficient or B-Vitamin deficient, the same diet will probably worsen the deficiency while some symptoms are masked by the drugs. It's not surprising that many people deteriorate while on psychiatric drugs, if the root cause is deficiency based. The deficiency worsens, the condition worsens, and drugs may or may not work as well as before.

In this case, with the shooter's problems supposedly linked to autism, mercury poisoning may have been involved, and I doubt that the shooter had received any treatment that would have addressed mercury poisoning directly. That's yet another danger of denying the link between mercury and autism.

Gun control? We need medication control! Newton elementary school shooter Adam Lanza likely on meds; labeled as having 'personality disorder' (16 December 2012)
(NaturalNews) In mass shootings involving guns and mind-altering medications, politicians immediately seek to blame guns but never the medication. Nearly every mass shooting that has taken place in America over the last two decades has a link to psychiatric medication, and it appears today's tragic event is headed in the same direction.

According to ABC News, Adam Lanza, the alleged shooter, has been labeled as having "mental illness" and a "personality disorder." These are precisely the words typically heard in a person who is being "treated" with mind-altering psychiatric drugs.

One of the most common side effects of psychiatric drugs is violent outbursts and thoughts of suicide.

Note: The shooter was originally mid-identified as Ryan Lanza but has now been corrected to Adam Lanza.

The Columbine High School shooters were, of course, on psychiatric drugs at the time they shot their classmates in 1999. Suicidal tendencies and violent, destructive thoughts are some of the admitted behavioral side effects of mind-altering prescription medications.

No gun can, by itself, shoot anyone. It must be triggered by a person who makes a decision to use it. And while people like NY Mayor Bloomberg are predictably trying to exploit the deaths of these children to call for guns to be stripped from all law abiding citizens who have done nothing wrong whatsoever, nobody calls for medication control.

Why is that? After all, medication alters the mind that controls the finger that pulls the trigger. The saying that "guns kill people" is physically impossible. People kill other people, and as we all learned from watching the O.J. Simpson trial, you don't need a gun to commit murder.
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Parents who are horrified by real violence are drowning their children in simulated violence (16 December 2012) [InfoWars.com]
Many of the very same kids who were seen crying after the shooting incident will go home and watch simulated murder on television, where mass murder is considered "normal" and "acceptable."

Beyond simulated violence on television, children are also routinely exposed to violence through Hollywood movies. The violence in movies has dramatically escalated over the past two decades, to the point where movies that are considered PG-13 today would have been rated "R" just twenty years ago.

The message? It's okay for children to witness mass murder on the big screen, over and over again, while dosing them up with mind-altering psychiatric drugs that we already know are linked to violent thoughts and suicidal behavior.

Mass murder from a first person point of view: Video games
And then there's video games. As it turns out, Adam Lanza was a video game player. He's being described as "a loner who played video games" according to the Sun (UK).

To truly understand the extent of the simulated mass murder in video games, you need to see it for yourself. The video at the bottom of this article shows a trailer from the latest popular video game being played by children: Far Cry 3.
[Read more...]

What pushed shooter to kill? (16 December 2012)
Marsha Moscowitz, a former school bus driver, said Saturday that Adam was very shy, reserved and memorable for being a loner in the hustle and bustle of the daily rides to and from school.

"Not every student sticks out," said Moscowitz, 56. "You know how certain kids stick out? He stuck out because he never really talked."

Unlike his older brother Ryan, 24, who graduated from Quinnipiac University and moved to the New York City area for a job with a major accounting firm, Adam stayed in the family home on Yogananda Street, apparently aimless.

John Bergquist, 37, a Newtown native who was friends with Nancy Lanza, said he would see her about once a week at My Place Pizza and Restaurant in a shopping plaza off Church Hill Road, up the hill from Sandy Hook.

"She was very beautiful, with a great sense of style," said Bergquist, who works at the nearby Dodgington Market and Deli, where he last saw her, while selling her a couple of Powerball tickets for the big drawing in late November.
[Read more...]

Prices rise as N.C. hospitals buy medical practices (16 December 2012)
North Carolina patients are likely to pay more for services ranging from heart tests to routine office visits if their doctors are employed by a hospital, according to an investigation by the Charlotte Observer and the News & Observer of Raleigh.

The higher charges are part of a national shift that experts say is raising costs for many patients.

The papers' investigation shows that hospitals are increasingly buying doctors' practices, then sending out bills for routine services that are significantly higher than those charged by the formerly independent doctors.

As a result, the same service performed in the same location by the same doctor can cost more than double what it did before the hospital acquired the practice, according to an analysis of Medicare data and insurance claims by the papers.
[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.)