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Click to visit VeggieCooking.com NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2013

News from the Week of 6th to 12th of January 2013

Aaron Swartz, internet activist and builder of Reddit, dies at 26 (12 January 2013)
Aaron Swartz, a celebrated computer activist and builder of the popular internet community website Reddit, has died. It is believed that the 26-year-old killed himself in New York City on Friday.

A committed advocate for the freedom of information over the internet, Swartz had been facing a trial over allegations of hacking related to the downloading of millions of documents from the online research group JSTOR. Swartz pleaded not guilty last year; if convicted, he could have faced a lengthy prison term.

The MIT university newspaper The Tech received an email from Swartz's lawyer, Elliot R Peters, which confirmed the news. The newspaper reported the email as saying: "The tragic and heartbreaking information you received is, regrettably, true."

Swartz dedicated much of his time to fighting internet censorship and his court case had become a cause célèbre for many similar-minded figures. A social-justice lawyer, Bettina Neuefeind, had established a website to raise money for his defence.
[Read more...]

RFK children speak about JFK assassination in Dallas (12 January 2013) [Rense.com]
"The evidence at this point I think is very, very convincing that it was not a lone gunman," he said, but he didn't say what he believed may have happened.

Rose asked if he believed his father, the U.S. attorney general at the time of his brother's death, felt "some sense of guilt because he thought there might have been a link between his very aggressive efforts against organized crime."

Kennedy replied: "I think that's true. He talked about that. He publicly supported the Warren Commission report but privately he was dismissive of it."

He said his father had investigators do research into the assassination and found that phone records of Oswald and nightclub owner Jack Ruby, who killed Oswald two days after the president's assassination, "were like an inventory" of mafia leaders the government had been investigating.

He said his father, later elected U.S. senator in New York, was "fairly convinced" that others were involved.

The attorney and well-known environmentalist also told the audience light-hearted stories Friday about memories of his uncle. As a young child with an interest in the environment, he said, he made an appointment with his uncle to speak with him in the Oval Office about pollution.
[Read more...]

Flu epidemic strikes millions of Americans already vaccinated against the flu (12 January 2013)
NaturalNews) The USA is in an official flu pandemic panic right now, with Boston declaring a public health emergency and hospitals setting up flu treatment tents as if cities were war zones. The CDC says it's the worst flu pandemic in a decade, and it's of course urging everybody to get injected with flu vaccines.

But here's the dirty little secret the vaccine industry doesn't want you to know: Most people getting the flu right now are the same people who were vaccinated with the flu shot.

The CDC refuses to release any statistics on this, of course, because then the total hoax of the flu shot would be exposed. But I've been making phone calls to a large network of friends and professional contacts, and they're all telling me the same thing: Of the people they know who are getting sick, about two-thirds routinely get flu shots!

Check with your own friends, family members or co-workers on this point. Ask the ones who got sick: Did you get a flu shot? See if the answers you get are about the same as mine: Two-thirds.

If this holds true across a larger data set, it means that flu shots actually make you MORE susceptible to the flu. That's because far less than two-thirds of the U.S. population takes flu shots. So if two-thirds of those getting the flu this year are the same people who got flu shots, mathematically it can only mean that flu shots INCREASE vulnerability to the flu.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: During the 2007-08 flu season, everyone in our office was sick. There was one person whose flu turned to pneumonia -- the one employee who'd had a flu shot.

I'll stick with a Clark zapper and herbal remedies for the flu. They get me back to work quickly, most often immediately.

Gonorrhea superbug resistant to cefixime, other antibiotics (11 January 2013)
A team of Toronto doctors has identified the first cases of drug-resistant gonorrhea in North America, a startling discovery that is pushing health care officials across the continent into action.

"It's taking a lot more drug to kill the bug," said Dr. Vanessa Allen, a microbiologist and infectious diseases specialist at the Public Health Ontario Laboratories where she and her colleagues tested drug responses from nearly 300 patients who were treated at a Toronto clinic.

The research, lead by Allen and published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that 7 per cent of the Toronto patients failed to respond to cefixime -- the last commercially available oral drug for gonorrhea. Antibiotics are considered ineffective when the rate of failure exceeds five per cent.

Responding to Allen's findings, Ontario is developing its first set of guidelines for treating the sexually transmitted infection that is becoming increasingly prevalent and increasingly difficult to cure with an oral antibiotic alone.

The guidelines, due for release in March, will advise clinicians to treat the infection with an intramuscular injection as well as an oral pill. The new guidelines are similar to those unveiled by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States.

While antibiotics have been successfully used to treat gonorrhea for decades
[Read more...]

Dying declaration of Delhi gang rape victim (11 January 2013)
They will be accused by the victim from beyond the grave in a "dying declaration" made to a magistrate as she fought to survive her injuries in Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital on Dec. 21, eight days before she died.

The declaration is part of the prosecution case against the men and a copy of it was shown Friday to The Telegraph.

Usha Chaturvedi, a magistrate understood to have taken Singh's statement in the presence of her mother, asked the victim how she would like her then gang-rapists, and now murderers, to be punished?

"All of them should be hung to death so that these criminals do not do any such acts to any other girls, which is inhuman. They are animal-like people. They should be burned alive," she replied.

Singh said she and her friend Awninder Pandey boarded a white chartered bus after watching The Life of Pi at Delhi's Select Citywalk shopping centre.

They had struggled to make their way home and had jumped on the bus after hearing the conductor call out the destination, Dwarka, where she lived.
[Read more...]

British TV host Savile sexually abused hundreds, police say (11 January 2013)
LONDON -- The late British TV presenter Jimmy Savile, honored by both the queen and the pope, sexually assaulted hundreds of people, mainly children, at BBC premises and hospitals over six decades of unparalleled abuse, a police-led report said Friday.

Savile, one of Britain's biggest TV stars in the 1970s and 1980s, abused youngsters at 13 hospitals where he did volunteer work as a porter and fundraiser, and even at a hospice treating terminally ill patients, the report said.

The youngest victim was an 8-year-old boy, and the last of the 214 offenses of which he is suspected took place just two years before his death in 2011 at 84.

"He groomed a nation," said Commander Peter Spindler, who led the police probe.
[Read more...]

Matt Taibbi & William Black on Bailout Secrets & How New Foreclosure Deal Spares Banks from Justice (11 January 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We turn now to look at the state of Wall Street four years after the massive bailout and the news of this week's mortgage settlements with the major banks. Matt Taibbi has just written a new piece for Rolling Stone titled "Secrets and Lies of the Bailout." Also still with us is former financial regulator William Black, author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One. He is an associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Matt, beginning with you, the latest announcement of the agreement for some of the banks to pay several billion dollars now to--supposedly to homeowners who were cheated in one way or another in the foreclosure crisis?

MATT TAIBBI: Yeah, I mean, I think this is just--to me, the most significant aspect of this is that it speaks to the failure of the government to address the foreclosure problem still, four and five years after the financial crisis. And one of the points I make in the piece I just wrote, "Secrets and Lies of the Bailout," is that foreclosure relief was originally written into the statute, the TARP statute, as a primary function of the original bailouts. It's right there in black and white, section 109, that TARP was supposed to provide all--a massive program of foreclosure relief, and they never got around to it. And the only bailout program that ever provided any foreclosure relief was HAMP, and that only--to date, they've only ended up spending about $3 [billion] or $4 billion out of all the bailout on that program. They have now--through litigation, there are these settlements that are starting to trickle in, but it's just too little, too late. And you contrast that with what happened at the beginning of the bailout, where the banks and the financial companies were instantly handed hundreds of billions, trillions of dollars of relief, and I think that that dichotomy is important for people to recognize, that the relief for ordinary people is still coming slowly and insufficiently years later, whereas relief for Wall Street came instantaneously and was excessive.

AMY GOODMAN: The latest news about AIG, the board has decided not to sue the American people--

[Read more...]

Stephen Harper vows new focus on aboriginal issues after meeting native leaders (11 January 2013)
OTTAWA--Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government promised a new focus on First Nations grievances after aboriginal leaders voiced their demands in a day of pleas, protests, warnings and high-level meetings around Parliament Hill.

After four hours of talks Friday, First Nations leaders came out of the meeting with a pledge from Harper for talks on treaty relationships and comprehensive claims.

Harper also promised to put an "enhanced oversight" on aboriginal issues in his office and the Privy Council Office, the powerful bureaucratic wing of the PMO. That could mean a more active role for the government's top offices in resolving troublesome issues on the file.

And Harper and Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo will meet again in the coming weeks to put "some precision" on the issues agreed on Friday.
[Read more...]

Key witness in Bradley Manning WikiLeaks trial defends Reddit webchat (11 January 2013)
A former confidante of the WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning has defended her decision to hold an online Q&A about the soldier's forthcoming trial, despite her having been named as a key defence witness.

In an open session on the Reddit website, Lauren McNamara said she believed the leaking of hundreds of thousands of classified documents was "irresponsible" but added: "I don't think Manning had any intention of assisting 'the enemy' in his actions."

The webchat came days after lawyers for Manning announced that McNamara would be called as a defence witness. Regarding the ethics of anticipating her own testimony in a public forum, McNamara said she was not doing anything wrong.

"None of this is private information or anything that hasn't been heard before," the 23-year-old said. "There's no secret weapon anyone is waiting to drop at the trial."
[Read more...]

"Failure of Epic Proportions": Treasury Nominee Jack Lew's Pro-Bank, Austerity, Deregulation Legacy (11 January 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: William Black, I'd like to ask you about another aspect of Lew's portfolio: his stance on austerity. You have raised questions in terms of his continued support of austerity measures, as opposed to efforts by the government to stimulate the economy. Could you talk about that?

WILLIAM BLACK: Yeah, and this is an irony, as well, in terms of the political aspects and Obama. So, under Lew, in his new incarnation a while back as OMB head of--for Obama, I have a piece that talks about how OMB under Obama sounds almost exactly like the tea party. So, it adopts all of their rubric about, you know, these terrible social programs, this terrible safety net and how it's going to imperil our nation, and what we need to do is be balancing the budget--in other words, austerity.

Now, had Obama succeeded in following Lew's recommendation in July 2011, when they were trying to negotiate the so-called "grand bargain," which is really the grand betrayal of the safety net--unemployment in July 2011 was 9.1 percent. Austerity in the United States would have done just what it did in Europe. Unemployment would have surged. So, all through 2012, the election year, unemployment would have been going up well above 10 percent, quite possibly into the 11 and 12 percent range, which is where it is in Europe. Obama would have been toast; would have been no chance. He would have been crushed in the election. The Democrats would have lost control of the Senate, and such. And these folks, even today, are claiming that the failure to achieve the grand betrayal and to cut the safety net is their great disappointment. So, they not only tried to destroy themselves and the country, they are continuing to do that, and indeed, but for Harry Reid literally throwing the Obama administration's suggestion that they do cuts to the safety net in the fireplace and burning it up, they would have gotten it as part of this interim austerity deal that was just done about eight days ago.
[Read more...]

Three Years After the Quake, How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster (11 January 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
JONATHAN KATZ: It was extraordinary. I mean, I say this as a writer, having just tried to write a book about it. It's almost indescribable. I was in the Associated Press house in Pétionville, which, you know, cracked and fell down around me, but fortunately didn't pancake on top of me. But the destruction was total. The neighborhood behind my house was just gone. Whole swaths of the city were eviscerated. It was--it was absolutely indescribable.

Certainly, the conditions in the country now are nothing like that day, but, unfortunately, it's very much like that afternoon before the earthquake struck. The country is as vulnerable now as it was then. And despite a lot of very big promises made in the reconstruction effort, unfortunately, on the whole, the situation really hasn't improved.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, yet we saw--the world saw all the images of this enormous relief effort then that appeared suddenly in Haiti and with promises. What were you most struck by in terms of the sheer waste of money that occurred?

JONATHAN KATZ: I would say that there were some very expensive Band-Aids purchased. You know, a lot of the money that's spent in the wake of any natural disaster, but especially in a foreign aid context, kind of goes in circles. You're looking at a lot of money literally burned off for jet fuel or spent on hotel rooms for aid workers and officials who are on their way down, and even things that, you know, really did ultimately buy things that got into the hands of people in Haiti. You know, if you donated money to an organization that specialized in providing tarps for shelter and bags of rice for people to eat, you know, afterward, people are left with a tarp and an empty bag of rice. And so, what really strikes you when you look at it is that there was a lack of permanence and a lack of durability.
[Read more...]

Shell gets massive, involuntary aid package from Alaska, U.S. Coast Guard, and you (11 January 2013)
"I've been working this case relatively nonstop since the 27th."

Petty Officer First Class David Mosley didn't sound all that tired when I spoke with him yesterday, but, then, he's a public affairs specialist, a professional. A few times he stumbled over his words, once or twice forgot specific numbers. On the whole, though, no problems as he walked me through the massive complement of U.S. Coast Guard staff and sea vessels and aircraft deployed to fix Shell's mistake.

Two weeks from yesterday, the Kulluk, a drilling rig managed by Noble Drilling and owned by Shell, broke free of its tow lines as tug boats struggled in inclement weather to move it away from the Alaskan shore. On Dec. 31, it ran aground within an important bird area on Kodiak Island. A unified command comprised of representatives of Shell, Noble, the Coast Guard, the state of Alaska, and local representatives spent the next week and half determining whether the rig was safe to move and, ultimately, moving it to a nearby harbor. Some 700 people were involved in the effort by the time it had been safely docked.
[Read more...]

E. coli cases in Ontario, N.S., N.B. traced to lettuce at KFC and Taco Bell (11 January 2013)
HALIFAX--Lettuce used at KFC and Taco Bell outlets is the likely source of a recent outbreak of gastro-intestinal illness caused by E. coli bacteria in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario, a health official said Friday.

"The feeling is that it's a common source across all three provinces," said Dr. Frank Atherton, Nova Scotia's deputy chief medical officer.

The fast-food outlets are not believed to be the responsible for the contamination, and neither is the Ontario-based firm that distributed the lettuce, he added.

Atherton said KFC and Taco Bell outlets have been inspected, but he didn't know how many.

"We don't believe there's a problem in the KFC/Taco Bell outlets themselves," he said. "The problem is really in the food that's been distributed."
[Read more...]

Flu reaches epidemic level in U.S., says CDC (11 January 2013)
(Reuters) - Influenza has officially reached epidemic proportions in the United States, with 7.3 percent of deaths last week caused by pneumonia and the flu, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday.

The early start and fast spread of flu this season - especially after 2011-2012's very mild outbreak - has overwhelmed doctors' offices and hospitals, forcing some patients to wait through the night to be seen in emergency departments.

Nine of the 10 U.S. regions had "elevated" flu activity last week, confirming that seasonal flu has spread across the country and reached high levels several weeks before the usual late January or February, CDC reported.

Only one region - the Southwest and California - had "normal" flu activity last week.
[Read more...]

Some Men Voice Complaints of Shortened Penis Following Prostate Cancer Treatment (11 January 2013)
Newswise -- BOSTON -- A small percentage of men in a prostate cancer study complained that their penis seemed shorter following treatment, with some saying that it interfered with intimate relationships and caused them to regret the type of treatment they chose.

Complaints were more common in men treated with radical prostatectomy (surgical removal of the prostate) or male hormone-blocking drugs combined with radiation therapy, according to the study by researchers from Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center (DF/BWCC). No men reported a perceived shortening of their penis following radiation therapy alone.

The study's findings, which are being published in the January issue of the journal Urology, are based on surveys completed by physicians of 948 men treated for prostate cancer and who had suffered a recurrence of the disease.

Twenty-five men (2.63 percent of the group) complained of smaller penises after treatment -- 3.73 percent for surgery, 2.67 percent for radiotherapy plus androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), and 0% for radiotherapy alone. Radiotherapy included both radiation administered by an external x-ray machine, and brachytherapy -- the implantation of radioactive seeds directly into the prostate.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: I found a link to this article on Raw Story, but the graphic was a little strange, and their articles are usually rewrites.

What's in your salt shaker? The fascinating varieties of salt and how to use them (10 January 2013)
(NaturalNews) Let's get right to the point -- most people love salt. Perfecting how to eat salt is an art most have not yet discovered. Not all salts are equal. Alton Brown of Food Network Fame explains that all salt is sea salt from one time or another, even if it's found in the Himalayas.

Many natural salts have gained gourmet status and are recommended for their rich mineral content providing numerous health benefits. Choosing a salt depends on individual taste preferences and upon the application for which it will be used. So without further ado -- I give you salt.

Kosher salt versus table salt
Table salt is the most common salt found in most kitchens. It's a finely ground, refined form of rock salt, slightly bitter tasting from additives used to keep it from clumping. Most minerals are removed during processing. Some forms of table salt are artificially treated with iodine.

Kosher salt has a milder, less pungent taste than table salt and is the choice of many chefs. The flavor disperses quickly as it dissolves fast. The coarse crystals are excellent for curing meats.

Coarse salt
Himalayan pink salt: A star among salts, Himalayan salt is typical of coarse salts, with large-grained crystals best used in a salt grinder. Coarse salts are not as moisture sensitive as other types, allowing them to be stored for long periods. Himalayan pink salt is unrefined and high in minerals, making it a healthful choice. Useful for both seasoning or as a finishing salt.
[Read more...]

Half of food produced worldwide is wasted, study finds (10 January 2013)
Up to half of the food produced worldwide never makes it into a consumer's mouth, according to a new report.

That's as much as 2 billion tons of grub that's wasted, according to a study released Thursday by Britain's Institution of Mechanical Engineers (hat tip to the Guardian).

Part of the problem is in the supply chain, in which inefficient agricultural practices, inadequate infrastructure, limited transportation options and poor storage capacity lead to squandered harvests and misused land, water and energy resources, according to researchers.

But consumers and retailers are also to blame, according to the group.

Overly strict sell-by dates means food is often thrown out before its time, the study says. The preponderance of buy-one-get-one-free offers causes households to buy more food than they can eat before it spoils. And customer demand for cosmetically perfect fruits and vegetables results in piles of scratched or misshapen -- but still nutritious -- produce ending up in the trash.
[Read more...]

Governor-General agrees to meet first nations after chiefs threaten boycott (10 January 2013)
Governor-General David Johnston will hold a ceremonial meeting with first nations leaders at Rideau Hall following Friday's working meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

But it remains to be seen if that gesture will be enough to appease chiefs who had said they will not participate in the talks if Mr. Johnston was not at the meeting that had originally been arranged with Mr. Harper.

Theresa Spence, the Attawapiskat chief who has been living on a diet of fish broth and herbal tea for more than four weeks to demand that a meeting take place, said Wednesday that she would not attend if Mr. Johnston was not present and urged other chiefs to do likewise.

Many of the first-nations leaders who are participating in a strategy meeting in Ottawa this week in advance of their discussions with the Prime Minister have supported her in that stand.

Those leaders have agreed that they will press government offices for respect for treaty rights and title to aboriginal land. But they also want to talk the Indian Act, resource revenue sharing, and establishing a national commission of inquiry on violence against women and girls, and about the federal legislation that has been crafted without first-nations consultation. That includes two omnibus budget implementation bills, C-38 and C-45, which contain sweeping changes to environmental oversight.
[Read more...]

The ongoing drought may reverse the flow of the Chicago River (10 January 2013)
The state of Michigan has an advertising campaign, "Pure Michigan," that highlights the state's many natural attractions. The skiing! The parks! The beautiful Great Lakes!

I'm curious how they'll rebrand the effort once those Great Lakes become home to raw sewage from Chicago. From ABC 7 Chicago (and via Stephen Lacey):

"Water levels on Lake Michigan are the lowest in recorded history. If the level continues to drop, the Chicago River could reverse itself and send untreated sewage into Lake Michigan..."

"'Our river is 70-percent sewage. I think we need to recognize that. This is an open sewer. It depends upon gravity to go away from us. If that gravity does not work with the lake going down, it goes the other way, and we have done nothing to deal with the contaminants that we need to actually invest in fixing,' "enry Henderson, Natural Resources Defense Council.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Actually, the Chicago River flowed into Lake Michigan before it was reversed by engineers in 1900. The large city wanted to avoid polluting Lake Michigan with its sewage, as its drinking water came from the lake. Considered a great engineering feat, the reversal was called the "eighth wonder of the world" at the time.

Bronx Residents Accosted by NYPD Win Landmark Court Ruling Deeming "Stop and Frisk" Tactic Illegal (10 January 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: We're talking about how many arrests in New York City? Something like 600,000 or 700,000?

MOLLY KOVEL: Well, there's 700,000 stops in 2011, which was a record-breaking number. In 2012, the number has gone down some, but I don't think the final numbers are out yet for 2012, yes.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And in reading Judge Scheindlin's decision, she also referred quite extensively to the Bronx district attorney's office qualms over how the police were conducting these investigations, which is really unusual, the district attorney's position here.

MOLLY KOVEL: It's extremely unusual. I don't know of another case where the district attorney's office was testifying against the police department's policies. The Bronx district attorney had seen far too many cases be dismissed by judges who were furious that the police officers in those cases had either lied to district attorneys about where the person had been stopped or what kind of investigation the police officers had been doing, and they were furious that people were being stopped on suspicion of trespass, merely for being outside of a building that was enrolled in this program.
[Read more...]

Stranded killer whales break free from Hudson Bay ice (10 January 2013)
A dozen killer whales, trapped and facing near-certain death in the frozen expanse of Canada's Hudson Bay, broke free on Thursday morning, to the vast relief of locals and many thousands monitoring their plight online.

Pictures of the whales clustered around a 10-foot hole in the ice that was their last source of oxygen had set off a desperate search for rescue options.

The authorities in Inukjuak, a village of around 1,800 in northern Quebec, posted video of the distressed orcas on YouTube and Facebook on Wednesday in a bid to get the Canadian government to intervene.

By Thursday morning, however, hunters from the nearby hamlet of Inukjuak reported that changing weather conditions had broken up the ice, and the whales had swum free.
[Read more...]

Petition to charge Sen. Feinstein with treason soars past White House threshold (9 January 2013)
A petition started on the White House website seeking to charge Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) with treason has crossed the threshold needed for an official response.

The petition, created last month, claims that Feinstein's proposed assault weapons ban is a violation of the Second Amendment, which guarantees Americans right to keep and bear arms. Feinstein promised to introduce the assault weapons ban on the first day of the 113th Congress in the wake of the tragic Newtown elementary school shooting.

"She is actively working to destroy the 2nd amendment with her 2013 assault weapons ban," the petition reads. "For this reason we the people of the united States petition for her to be tried in Federal Court for treason to the Constitution."

As of Tuesday, the petition had more than 27,000 signatures, which is 2,000 more than required for an official response from the White House.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: I admire the petition supporters for organizing enough to do something -- but my question to them is, where were you when George W. Bush was trashing your civil liberties and leading this country into unjustified natural resource wars?

Why weren't George W. Bush and Dick Cheney impeached and removed from office for their treason? Why weren't they arrested and charged for at least some of their war crimes? These were people similar to Hitler and Stalin taking over the US government, but citizen response was too weak to handle it.

People these days seem to be able to organize, just not enough, and over isolated incidents that aren't nearly big enough...

Feds to explain test of N.C. coastal wind farms (9 January 2013)
The Obama administration is holding public meetings as it gauges commercial interest in wind farms off North Carolina's northern Outer Banks and Cape Fear.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is holding a meeting Wednesday in Wilmington. A similar meeting was held Monday at Jennette's Pier in Nags Head.

The government said last month it wanted to hear who would be interested in leasing blocks of ocean to build and operate offshore wind farms in three potential areas. One area is six miles off Kitty Hawk, while the other two are seven miles and 13 miles at sea south of Wilmington.

Federal officials picked those spots because they are attractive for commercial offshore wind development while also protecting natural resources and minimizing conflicts with military operations, shipping and fishing.
[Read more...]

DNA pioneer James Watson takes aim at "cancer establishments" (9 January 2013)
(Reuters) - A day after an exhaustive national report on cancer found the United States is making only slow progress against the disease, one of the country's most iconic - and iconoclastic - scientists weighed in on "the war against cancer." And he does not like what he sees.

James Watson, co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA, lit into targets large and small. On government officials who oversee cancer research, he wrote in a paper published on Tuesday in the journal Open Biology, "We now have no general of influence, much less power ... leading our country's War on Cancer."

On the $100 million U.S. project to determine the DNA changes that drive nine forms of cancer: It is "not likely to produce the truly breakthrough drugs that we now so desperately need," Watson argued. On the idea that antioxidants such as those in colorful berries fight cancer: "The time has come to seriously ask whether antioxidant use much more likely causes than prevents cancer."

That Watson's impassioned plea came on the heels of the annual cancer report was coincidental. He worked on the paper for months, and it represents the culmination of decades of thinking about the subject. Watson, 84, taught a course on cancer at Harvard University in 1959, three years before he shared the Nobel Prize in medicine for his role in discovering the double helix, which opened the door to understanding the role of genetics in disease.
[Read more...]

Delhi gang-rape trial: judge upholds ruling to hold trial behind closed doors (9 January 2013)
The trial of five men accused of the gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student last month will be held behind closed doors, a judge in Delhi said on Wednesday, upholding an order imposed by a magistrate after chaotic scenes at a hearing earlier this week.

Media organisations had protested against the decision, and a lawyer representing the victim's male friend -- who was also injured in the attack -- submitted an application for the order to be overturned, arguing "the whole nation is interested in knowing the proceedings of the case".

The case has caused anger and outrage in India and highlighted the problem of sexual violence towards women in the country, triggering widespread protests and continuing calls for major legal and policing reforms.

Public faith in the courts is already weak and the police are widely distrusted in India. Saikat Datta, a senior Indian journalist, said the decision to hold the trial in camera was "a disturbing move" that would mean "citizens cannot see how their justice system functions".
[Read more...]

India guru says rape victim shares blame for attack, sparking outrage (9 January 2013)
NEW DELHI-- Comments by an Indian spiritual leader that a gang-rape victim shared blame for her assault disgusted many in a country shaken by the crime, but his view represents a deep streak of chauvinism shared by a broad swathe of a society in transition.

The 23-year-old physiotherapy student and a male companion were left bleeding on a highway after she was raped and beaten on a moving bus in New Delhi on Dec. 16. She died two weeks later in a Singapore hospital from internal injuries.

"Guilt is not one-sided," the guru, Asaram Bapu, told followers this week, adding that if the student had pleaded with her six attackers in God's name, and told them she was of the "weaker sex", they would have relented.

Such views have caused outrage among India's growing urban middle class.

Protesters burned effigies of the yoga guru near his headquarters in western India, media reported, and Twitter exploded with posts calling him "medieval" and a "misogynist."
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Congress to hold hearing on sexual abuse in military (8 January 2013)
(Reuters) - A congressional panel will hold a hearing as soon as this month on sexual abuse in the military, an aide to a key lawmaker said on Tuesday, as the sex-with-recruits scandal in the Air Force continued to expand.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon, a California Republican, "has committed to having hearings on this issue, and the committee is working on putting that hearing together," said Claude Chafin, a spokesman for McKeon.

Chafin did not say when a hearing would take place, but Jenny Werwa, a spokeswoman for committee member Jackie Speier, a California Democrat who has pushed for such hearings, said it is likely to begin January 23 before the Military Personnel Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee.

Thirty of the Military Training Instructors who conduct basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio have been removed from duty in an investigation into sergeants engaging in sexual activity with female recruits. Six have been convicted by courts martial of charges ranging from engaging in inappropriate relationships to rape, and have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from 30 days to 20 years.
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Calif Supreme Court won't let Scouts conceal files (8 January 2013)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Boy Scouts of America must release two decades of files detailing sexual abuse allegations after the California Supreme Court refused the organization's bid to keep the records confidential.

The decision came after a Santa Barbara County court ruled last year that the files must be turned over to attorneys representing a former Scout who claims a leader molested him in 2007, when he was 13. That leader later was convicted of felony child endangerment.

The former Scout's lawsuit claims the files, which date to 1991, will expose a "culture of hidden sexual abuse" that the Scouts had concealed.

The Boys Scouts of America has denied the allegations and argued that the files should remain confidential to protect the privacy of child victims and of people who were wrongly accused.
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U.S. Congress Breaths Life into Wind Energy (6 January 2013) [Rense.com]
The U.S. government announced this week it was issuing a request to see whether or not there was any competitive interest in leasing more than 100 square miles of an area off the coast of Long Beach, N.Y., for wind development. Plans spelled out by the New York Power Authority could open the door for 350 megawatts of renewable energy for area consumers. The federal government said the measure was part of the Obama administration's "all-of-the-above" energy strategy that envisions a diverse resource base. Political intransigence over a federal budget deal, however, nearly brought the fledgling U.S. wind energy sector to a standstill.

NYPA proposed a site about 11 miles off the coast of Long Beach for a wind farm the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management stated could expand to 700 MW. The agency said it was looking to determine whether or not there was enough interest in the commercial project to issue a lease on a competitive basis, or go ahead with a non-competitive lease for 127 square miles offshore.

U.S. lawmakers, in a last-minute deal, averted sending the national economy over the so-called fiscal cliff with deep budget cuts and high tax increases. Including in the congressional debate was the fate of a federal tax credit for wind energy. Some in the industry worried over the fiscal package to the degree that they stopped hiring as negotiations pushed into the final hour. With a deal in hand, however, wind developers can start moving forward on the late season wind-energy push by the Obama administration.

The BOEM in mid-December announced it received a request from the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy to research a wind-energy lease area off the state coast. That same month, the regulator determined that was nothing in the way of an offshore wind project planned by the North American division of Norwegian energy major Statoil. Their plan would cover about 22 miles offshore Maine and generate 12 MW from a pilot program for four floating offshore wind turbines.
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Alex Jones to Piers Morgan: "You Are NOT Going to Take Our Guns" (8 January 2013) [InfoWars.com]
After stating his position on the banning American citizens from owning semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, Piers Morgan began his interview with Alex Jones on CNN last night by asking, "Why do you want to deport me?"

Alex's answer? "We did it to point out this is globalism."

The reason our forefathers penned the Second Amendment was to keep the power in the hands of the people and stave off a tyrannical government. America is one of the last bastions of freedom when it comes to private firearm ownership.

Now China is openly calling for us to be disarmed. This is the same country where the communist party killed nearly 77 million people between 1949 and 1987. Why so many? It was easy. They were disarmed.
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PAM COMMENTARY: I normally don't watch Piers Morgan's show or CNN in general, simply because it's too light on the news these days. It started out in the 90s as an OK news network that replayed the same stories in a 12-hour loop, but now it's like "Fox News Light." CNN isn't quite as heavy on the propaganda as Fox, but its programming is definitely too slanted toward commentary.

I'd like to see some actual news unfolding, not just their commentators' take on it as a replacement for good journalism like video clips and interviews with real people and players on the scene.

However, I did see Alex Jones on Morgan's show -- I happened to be flipping through the channels at the right time, I guess.

Although Jones does have a good alternative radio show, I thought that his appearance on CNN would have been better if he'd politely answered the questions by outlining the facts he has. Whether Piers Morgan tried to ridicule Jones' views on the Second Amendment and 9/11 Truth or not, a lot of people share Jones' views and would have been happy to hear his perspective.

Instead, Jones talked over Morgan most of the time, and so most of the interview was unintelligible. Morgan did ask why Jones wanted to deport him, but the shouting match was less than a clear answer.

Finally, at the end of the interview, Alex Jones told Piers Morgan that he (Morgan) was a "Redcoat" and we (Americans) didn't need him to tell us what to do.

The issue of foreign (British) influences on the American press reminds me of a BBC news "journalist" on an early morning radio show after 9/11. She asked another BBC reporter whether certain Americans who disagreed with the wars were being ethical or just "unpatriotic." Of course she pronounced "patriotic" the British way -- with the first syllable sounding like "pat" instead of "pay." I later repeated what she'd said on her show to friends, expressing my sentiment that we didn't need some British chick telling us how to be PAT-riotic. It was a good laugh, and they agreed.

What offended me most about the show, though, was the person Morgan chose for a follow-up session -- the infamous Alan Dershowitz. If you'll recall, Dershowitz is widely known for his crusade to block Norman Finkelstein's tenure a few years ago, all because Finkelstein dared to exercise his freedom of speech and criticize Israeli policy.

There are very few people who argue against the Bill of Rights as passionately as Dershowitz, and Morgan's selection of him as a follow-up guest seemed like taking a jab at the First Amendment right after belittling the Second Amendment. That's quite a guest selection for a large American news network like CNN, and probably one of the reasons that I'm not impressed with their recent programming -- that and Morgan's show is often just too boring to tolerate.

Exclusive: As Gitmo Turns 11, Al Jazeera's Sami al-Hajj on 6-Year Ordeal of U.S. Detention, Torture (8 January 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Tayseer Allouni was the last journalist to interview Osama bin Laden.

SAMI AL-HAJJ: Yes, Osama bin Laden. So, for that purpose, they want to ask him where he met Osama bin Laden and who helped him to meet Osama bin Laden. By the help of our god, Allah, Tayseer safely he arrived in Doha. And I think that American intelligence, they know the cameraman of Tayseer, his name is Sami. Yes, he have a cameraman; his name is Sami. But that's Sami from Morocco. I'm from Sudan. So, by mistake, they asked the intelligence of Pakistan to stop the cameraman of Tayseer whose name is Sami. And they stopped me.

But when I arrived at Bagram, the first point, and they interrogated me, the interrogator, he asked me, "Why are you filming Osama bin Laden?" I told him, "I'm not the person who filming Osama bin Laden, because at that time I was in Doha. And my passport says that, and my ticket with you also saying that. I'm not the person. And I'm not afraid to say I filmed Osama bin Laden. This is my job, and this is my business. If I get chance now to film Osama bin Laden, I will do. I will not be ashamed, because this is my business. But really, I didn't done that things." So he said for me, "OK, you are--came first by--we need someone. You are the wrong man. But if we release you, what you said about us?" I told him I will tell the whole world about what you are doing for detainees, because in Bagram they torture people. They beat them. They deal with them very, very bad things.
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Court strikes down NYPD's 'stop and frisk' policy (8 January 2013)
In an interim order issued Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin, the New York Police Department is required to immediately halt its controversial "stop and frisk" policy unless officers have a specific cause to initiate a search.

The ruling comes ahead of a full trial for two lawsuits filed by blacks and Latinos living in the Bronx who say the policy makes them feel like second-class citizens.

"While it may be difficult to say when precisely to draw the line between constitutional and unconstitutional police encounters such a line exists, and the NYPD has systematically crossed it when making trespass stops outside buildings," the judge wrote.
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FBI: Elaborate booby trap system found at James Holmes' apartment included improvised napalm (8 January 2013)
CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- An elaborate booby trap system allegedly set up to pull police away from the Colorado theater shooting included improvised napalm and thermite, which burns so hot that water can't put out the blaze.

FBI bomb technician Garrett Gumbinner described the system Tuesday at a hearing in which prosecutors laid out their case against suspected gunman James Holmes.

He said three different ignition systems were found in Holmes' apartment. There was a thermos full of glycerin leaning over a skillet full of another chemical. Flames and sparks are created when they mix, and a trip wire linked the thermos to the door.

Police said Holmes hoped loud music would lure someone to the apartment.

Prosecutors are trying to show in what is expected to be a weeklong hearing that the attack that killed 12 and wounded dozens July 20 was a premeditated act and that Holmes should stand trial.

Defense attorneys say he is mentally ill.
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AIG said to consider suing U.S. for bailout that saved company (8 January 2013)
WASHINGTON -- At the same time American International Group Inc. has been running high-profile ads thanking America for the bailout that saved the company, the insurance giant reportedly is considering joining a shareholder suit against the U.S. government for the rescue.

The AIG board will meet Wednesday and could decide to join a $25-billion suit led by former chief executive Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, the New York Times reported.

The suit by Greenberg's Starr International Co. alleges that the 2008 bailout of AIG by the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve Bank of New York in which the government received an 80% ownership stake in the company violated the rights of shareholders. The ownership stake later climbed to 92%.

The suit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington alleges that the bailout cost shareholders billions of dollars and violated the 5th Amendment, which prohibits the taking of private property for public use "without just compensation."
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Scientists make LEDs 55 percent more efficient by copying from fireflies (8 January 2013)
LEDs are already much, much more efficient than any other light bulb out there, but a group of scientists figured out how to make them a whopping 55 percent more efficient -- by looking at fireflies.

Of course, they didn't go out in a field, catch a bunch of fireflies, put them in a jar, and call it a light bulb. (Seems romantic, but really, you just end up sitting in the dark.) Like scientists are wont to do, they instead stuck the fireflies under a microscope, and took a look at the microscopic membranes on the bugs' bellies. What they found was "a pattern of sharp, jagged scales on the fireflies' bodies enhanced the amount of light emitted by the fireflies' lanterns," writes Yale e360.

Turns out, fireflies and LEDs have to overcome a similar problem: The membrane surrounding a light source can cause a substantial proportion of the light to reflect back inwards. Which isn't much use to fireflies seeking out brightly blinking mates or people trying to read by LED light. The patterns that scientists saw on the firefly membranes overcome this problem naturally.

So, the scientists used that pattern to create a similar skin for LEDs. It doesn't even involve creating new LEDs -- add a few more steps to the production process, and you've got that much more light. Bonus: Rebranding LEDs as "firefly bulbs" will attract a whole new market of 8-year-olds, nostalgic, displaced East Coasters, and Joss Whedon fans.
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Chicken farmer uses oregano oil, cinnamon in place of antibiotics (8 January 2013)
(NaturalNews) Chicken and oregano may seem like an obvious pairing to culinary enthusiasts, but at least one Pennsylvania farm is demonstrating its extraordinary health benefits in food production as well. For three years or so, chickens at Bell & Evans have been dining on a special feed laced with oregano oil and cinnamon, to protect against the bacterial diseases all too common among commercial food producers.

The farm, whose products have long been free of antibiotics, has enjoyed financial success thanks to the growing market of increasingly better informed consumers who demand organic, chemical-free meats. Owner Scott Sechler told the New York Times recently that the oregano oil concoction has proven more effective than any other substitute used by the farm in the past.

Oregano oil is healthier and more effective than antibiotics
In fact, studies show oregano oil has repeatedly outperformed even antibiotics themselves. By the late 1990s, the German pharmaceutical company Bayer was conducting trials on an oregano oil product known as Ropadiar -- the European name for the very same product, called By-O-Reg Plus, currently used at Bill & Evans. The studies compared the effectiveness of the oregano oil in fighting E. coli symptoms in piglets, with that of four of the company's own antibiotics. In all four test groups, Ropadiar was the clear winner. In a report on the studies, Bayer product manager Dr. Lucio Nisoli wrote: "Compared to the various anti-infectives, with Ropadiar I have obtained much more effective and quicker results. Furthermore, piglets treated with Ropadiar look much more healthy and were not so dehydrated and wasted." The company later indicated that results of this study could not be replicated.

Still, other studies offer reason to hope. One conducted on four small farms in Maine found that oregano oil helps protect goats and sheep against parasites and worms. And a separate study led by Dr. Harry G. Preuss, a professor of physiology and biology at the Georgetown University Medical Center, discovered that mice infected with staph bacteria who were fed oregano oil lived nearly twice as long as staph-infected mice fed a mixture of olive oil and carvacrol (the suspected antibacterial component in oregano) and about ten times longer than staph-infected mice fed only olive oil. In fact, this last group of mice had all died within just three days.
[Read more...]

Coral fights back against warming seas (8 January 2013)
In the world of coral reefs, most of the news is pretty gloomy. Rising ocean temperatures have led to massive die-offs from Indonesia to Florida; emissions-driven acidity could dissolve corals' structure-building ability in 20 years; rising sea levels threaten to block sunlight even from healthy reefs; and in November, NOAA called on Congress to afford endangered species status to over 60 species. A blunt, unsparing editorial in The New York Times this summer slathered on the melodrama: Coral reefs are being pushed "into oblivion ... there is no hope."

Coral are not exactly the most dynamic animals in the ocean: They take decades to grow and are then rooted at the mercy of their environment, so they don't inspire much confidence when it comes to adapting to climate change. But a study out Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences from a group of Stanford geneticists suggests that coral might have more of a fighting spirit than we gave them credit for.

In 2000, ecologist Dan Barshis was with a research group in American Samoa, wading through tide pools, when he noticed that coral in some pools seemed healthy, despite being bathed in water much warmer than corals can normally survive, and despite the fact that individuals of the very same species were on their deathbeds in pools just down the beach. Corals get stressed when water temperatures rise, especially when it happens quickly; under enough stress, they'll boot out the symbiotic algae that photosynthesize sunlight for the coral's food and give the coral its signature color palette, leaving the coral pale -- hence the term "bleaching" -- and starving.

But the coral Barshis saw looked inexplicably happy, and over the next several years he found that the reason why is all about training. Barshis compared the genes of the heat-resistant corals and their more fragile brethren under a range of water temperatures. He found that, in both groups, heat changed the way hundreds of genes were expressed. But in the heat-resistant group, 60 of these genes were flipped on all the time, and helping to crank out heat-resilient proteins and antioxidants. Using records of the pools' temperatures, Barshis found that the strongest corals came from pools that were consistently but briefly exposed to high temperatures during low tides over time. He thinks the repeated exposure helped condition the corals to build up their tolerance, like an athlete building endurance through weight training, only on the level of DNA.
[Read more...]

US agency investigating after oil tanker hits bridge (8 January 2013)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Federal transportation officials said Tuesday they have joined an investigation into the crash of an empty oil tanker into a tower in the middle of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

The National Transportation Safety Board will coordinate its effort with the Coast Guard, which planned Tuesday to interview the pilot of the 752-foot Overseas Reymar.

The NTSB also said it would review Monday's crash in light of safety recommendations made after another tanker, the Cosco Busan, hit a nearby tower on the same bridge in 2007.

That crash, also reviewed by the NTSB, spilled tens of thousands of gallons of oil into the bay.

Monday's crash of the Overseas Reymar has been classified by the Coast Guard as a "major marine casualty" because it exceeded $500,000 in property damage, the NTSB said. No oil leaks were reported.
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2012 was warmest year on record for U.S., NOAA confirms (8 January 2013)
A record-warm spring, second-warmest summer, fourth-warmest winter and above-normal fall made 2012 the warmest year on record for the contiguous states, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

It was a foregone conclusion well before the end of the year, with temperatures running above normal throughout the year. The official average temperature across the country was 55.3 degrees, 1 degree above 1998, the previous record-holder, and 3.2 degrees above the 20th Century average, NOAA said Tuesday.

For Maryland, the average temperature was the second-warmest in 118 years of record-keeping, behind only 1998, according to NOAA.

Read NOAA's full report here. Details in its analysis include...
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The Kraken wakes: First images of giant squid filmed in deep ocean (8 January 2013)
TOKYO--A Japanese-led team of scientists has captured on film the world's first live images of a giant squid, journeying to the depths of the ocean in search of the mysterious creature thought to have inspired the myth of the "kraken", a tentacled monster.

The images of the silvery, three-metre long cephalopod, looming out of the darkness nearly 1 kilometre below the surface, were taken last July near the Ogasawara islands, 1,000 kilometres south of Tokyo.

Though the beast was small by giant squid standards -- the largest ever caught stretched 18 metres long, tentacles and all -- filming it secretly in its natural habitat was a key step towards understanding the animal, researchers said.

"Many people have tried to capture an image of a giant squid alive in its natural habitat, whether researchers or film crews. But they all failed," said Tsunemi Kubodera, a zoologist at Japan's National Museum of Nature and Science, who led the team.
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Lottery winner poisoned by cyanide after $1m scratchcard win (8 January 2013)
An American man who won $1m (£620,000) on a lottery scratchcard was murdered with a lethal dose of cyanide, according to police in Chicago.

Urooj Khan, who owned a dry cleaning chain, purchased the winning scratchcard in June from a 7-Eleven convenience store. He was found dead a day after the winning cheque was posted to him.

With no signs of trauma and nothing to raise suspicions, Khan's sudden death -- despite him being about to bank the first instalment of his prize -- was initially ruled a result of natural causes.

At the request of relatives, an expanded postmortem was performed that determined Khan, 46, died shortly after ingesting a lethal dose of cyanide. A murder investigation was launched.
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Geraldo At Large Discusses Whitney Houston's Death Investigation (VIDEO) (6 January 2013)
PAM COMMENTARY: This is a video only, no transcript or accompanying article.

Exclusive: U.S. nuclear lab removes Chinese tech over security fears (7 January 2013)
(Reuters) - A leading U.S. nuclear weapons laboratory recently discovered its computer systems contained some Chinese-made network switches and replaced at least two components because of national security concerns, a document shows.

A letter from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, dated November 5, 2012, states that the research facility had installed devices made by H3C Technologies Co, based in Hangzhou, China, according to a copy seen by Reuters. H3C began as a joint venture between China's Huawei Technologies Co and 3Com Corp, a U.S. tech firm, and was once called Huawei-3Com. Hewlett Packard Co acquired the firm in 2010.

The discovery raises questions about procurement practices by U.S. departments responsible for national security. The U.S. government and Congress have raised concerns about Huawei and its alleged ties to the Chinese military and government. The company, the world's second-largest telecommunications equipment maker, denies its products pose any security risk or that the Chinese military influences its business.

Switches are used to manage data traffic on computer networks. The exact number of Chinese-made switches installed at Los Alamos, how or when they were acquired, and whether they were placed in sensitive systems or pose any security risks, remains unclear. The laboratory - where the first atomic bomb was designed - is responsible for maintaining America's arsenal of nuclear weapons.
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What the FBI's Occupy Docs Do--And Don't--Reveal (7 January 2013)
Just before Christmas, Truthout's Jason Leopold and the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund separately published a collection of about 100 pages of Federal Bureau of Investigation documents on Occupy Wall Street. The release shed some new light on how the FBI collaborated with other federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and Naval Investigative Criminal Services, to keep tabs on the movement, which it considered a potential criminal and domestic terrorism threat. Yet the documents, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, are also heavily redacted--including a curious report about a plot to identify and assassinate Occupy leaders with a sniper rifle--and leave much to the imagination.

That has provided plenty of fodder for speculation. Take the Guardian's Naomi Wolf, who in November 2011 advanced the unfounded theory that federal officials had coordinated the raids on Occupy encampments across the country with local authorities, and with congressional blessing (a conclusion quickly debunked by Alternet's Joshua Holland). The new FBI documents, Wolf wrote last month, "show a nationwide meta-plot unfolding in city after city in an Orwellian world" and a "terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council."

In fact, the DSAC, "a strategic partnership between the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the private sector," is mentioned in just one unredacted document, an unremarkable report compiled by the FBI and DHS about Occupy's West Coast port shutdown plans in December 2011. Most of the other documents are routine FBI memos focusing on the potential for criminal activity during protests, cyberattacks from Anonymous, reports of suspicious mail, and a threat to shoot a police officer allegedly made by Occupy protesters.

Last week, Salon's Natasha Lennard approvingly cited Wolf's column, adding that DSAC's involvement was not only Orwellian but "even verges on the Kafkaesque." But Lennard's assertion that the FBI documents highlighted the "coordination between federal agencies, local police departments, fusion centers and hired corporate security firms in surveying, policing and ultimately cracking down on Occupy encampments and days of action" is also speculative. While the documents show that the FBI communicated with these groups, none of the documents reveal efforts by federal law enforcement to disband the camps.
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PAM COMMENTARY: Whenever you get large crowds like that, police and ambulances are always called for something. A few people will misbehave, and a few will get hurt or have natural health crises. The reference to a sniper could be related to a report of an intended serious crime, but if not, then the FBI certainly has more important cases for their snipers to support.

It is puzzling that the FBI was involved at all. Police usually like to handle local crimes themselves, even murders, and the FBI likes to claim that its resources are stretched thin with the worst violent crimes. Why bring in the FBI for a bunch of protesters? Were there interstate crimes, civil rights violations, or serial rapists/killers/bombers involved?

Bank of America to pay Fannie Mae $10 billion in loan settlement (7 January 2013)
WASHINGTON -- Bank of America Corp. said Monday it had agreed to pay more than $10 billion to Fannie Mae to settle claims related to troubled mortgages sold largely by Countrywide Financial Corp. during the subprime housing boom.

BofA, which acquired Calabasas-based Countrywide in 2008, said it agreed to buy back $6.75 billion in residential mortgage loans sold to Fannie Mae and pay the housing finance giant an additional $3.6 billion in cash.

The mortgages were sold to Fannie Mae from 2000 through 2008. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were seized by the government in 2008 on the verge of bankruptcy triggered by bad mortgages it purchased, have been trying to get lenders to pay up for bad loans.

Fannie and Freddie have said the lenders misrepresented the quality of the loans.

BofA has been working to rid itself of problems it took on when it purchased Countrywide, which had been one of the nation's largest subprime lenders during the housing boom.
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Shell oil-drilling ship in Alaska refloated (7 January 2013)
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- A Shell oil-drilling ship that ran aground near a remote Alaska island has been refloated, officials said early Monday.

Royal Dutch Shell's Kulluk was floated from the rocks late Sunday night and teams were assessing its condition, the Unified Command said.

Once they're satisfied that the vessel is seaworthy, it will be towed 30 miles to shelter in Kodiak Island's Kiliuda Bay.

The oil drilling vessel, which has no engines of its own, was being towed for maintenance when it ran aground during a powerful storm on New Year's Eve.
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NOAA Declines to Probe Vast Underestimate of BP Spill (4 January 2013) [BuzzFlash.com]
Washington, DC - The federal agency responsible for presenting dramatic underestimates for the 2010 BP Gulf oil spill, the biggest environmental disaster in the nation's history, will not investigate the errors, according to documents posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) documenting the official response to its scientific integrity complaint on the subject. Spill rate numbers presented to the public and decision-makers at the height of the crisis were less than half the true flow. The President's National Commission found that the inaccurate low-ball numbers hampered numerous attempts to cap the run-away well and slowed clean-up efforts.

Shortly after the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout, it became evident that the company was presenting absurdly low numbers for the size of the gushing spill. In May 2010, the federal government created a team of experts, the Plume Team of the Flow Rate Technical Group, to develop the first accurate estimates of the oil leak rate. On July 30, 2010, key decision makers convened to hear the Plume Team's estimates but the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) presentation omitted the two highest (and ultimately accurate) estimates of the oil leak rate from the Plume Team, namely, 61,000 and 62,500 bpd (barrels per day) and misled decision makers to believe that much lower estimates were endorsed by all members of the Plume Team.

Nearly one year ago, on January 27, 2012, PEER lodged a complaint on the matter with NOAA under then-newly adopted scientific integrity policies. In response to PEER's complaint, NOAA appointed a three member review panel to determine if the matter needed to be investigated. In an initial decision dated November 8th, a three-member NOAA panel declined to investigate. The majority of them believed that inadvertent "cut and paste" errors accounted for the deletion of the correct flow rates from key reports and top officials charged with responding to the spill. In the initial decision, two NOAA administrators overruled the lone practicing NOAA scientist on the panel who found --

• Official explanation was "difficult to believe";
• There appeared to be a deliberate attempt "to hamper the communication of higher flow rate estimates to key decision makers and to the public"; and
• "Further investigation would be necessary" to sort out the discrepancies.
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Iraq unearths 1,400-year-old gold coins (7 January 2013)
Iraqi archaeologists have found 66 gold coins that are at least 1,400 years old, officials said on Monday, adding that they hope to put them on display in Baghdad's National Museum.

The artefacts [sic], which date back to the Sassanid era that extended from 225 BC to 640 AD, will be sent for laboratory tests in order to confirm their authenticity.

They were discovered in the town of Aziziyah, which lies 70 kilometres (40 miles) southeast of Baghdad in Wasit province, according to Hassanain Mohammed Ali, director of the provincial antiquities department.

The coins bore drawings of a king or god and depicted flames, he said.
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App, crackle, pop: Junk food marketers target your kids online (7 January 2013)
Just before Christmas, and ever so quietly, the Federal Trade Commission released a review [PDF] of corporate food marketing to kids. The FTC hasn't examined this kind of data since 2006, so this was its chance to check up on the processed food and beverage industry's much-ballyhooed self-regulation of food advertising aimed at young kids and teens. The data for the new report is from 2009. The upshot? Food marketing to kids totaled $1.79 billion and went down a skosh from 2006 levels.

Does this mean corporate self-regulation is working? Not at all. First off, in 2009 this country was in the teeth of the Great Recession, so all marketing spending was down. The good intentions of food companies may have had little to do with the drop. But what's more interesting is the fact that food companies shifted spending away from television advertising and toward online and social media spending.

Food companies spent 19.5 percent less on television ads and 60 percent more online between 2006 and 2009. Because TV ads are so expensive, reducing them explains most of the overall drop in spending. But that doesn't mean ads weren't being seen; companies also get significant bang for the buck when they invest in online marketing -- and they spent $122 million online in 2009. One can only imagine what that number looked like in 2012.

According to the FTC, not only did food companies get 2.1 billion ad impressions on "child-oriented" websites across the internet in 2009, they also invested heavily in so-called "advergames," and standalone websites and made a strong move into social media and viral marketing campaigns. From the FTC report...
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'Smart' Utility Meters Causing Sleep Trouble, Headaches, Heart Problems (7 January 2013) [InfoWars.com]
Smart meters--utility meters that use radio frequencies (RF) to report data to utility offices for billing and other purposes--may be harmful to your health.

Photo by Dwight Burdette, via Wikimedia CommonsJust ask Joe Esposito, on whose home the Public Service Company of Oklahoma slapped a smart meter despite his explicit wishes it not be installed. Shortly after installation, Esposito began to experience tooth aches, constant tingling, and aches in his leg that kept him from sleeping. After watching a video by Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt called "Smart Meters & EMR: The Heath Crisis of Our Time," Esposito put up lead sheeting around the meter. He began immediately to sleep well, to feel no pain in his leg, and relief from his other symptoms. He even experimented on himself by removing the lead once in a while, noting that the pains and sleeplessness returned upon doing so.

Esposito is not alone in this experience; a survey by Dr. Ed Halteman, PhD, found that the many of the 318 residents of a surveyed area with smart meters installed in their homes experienced:

• Sleep problems (49 percent surveyed)
• Stress (43 percent)
• Headaches (40 percent)
• Ringing in the ears (38 percent)
• Heart problems (26 percent)
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Smart meter customers in California were reporting the same thing years ago, and some power companies have responded by allowing people to go back to the old-style meters for an extra fee. There's an added cost involved in the old method of having meter readers walk onto the property to read meters manually, vs. the smart reader technology where readers can gather readings from a vehicle on the street.

Kentucky Fried Brain? Student's horror as he finds 'wrinkled' organ inside his chicken (but KFC experts insist it's just a kidney) (6 January 2013) [WhatReallyHappened.com]
A student who found what appeared to be a chicken brain in his KFC meal has vowed never to eat there again - despite being offered vouchers for free food as an apology.

Ibrahim Langoo was left nauseated after spotting a 'wrinkled brain' inside a piece of chicken while tucking into a Gladiator box meal at a branch in Colchester, Essex.

The 19-year-old took a photograph of the three-inch piece of offal - later judged to be a kidney by KFC's experts - on his mobile phone and complained to staff.

He was so repulsed by the stomach-churning discovery he vowed never to eat at the Colonel's famous diner again, but apologetic bosses nevertheless offered him vouchers for free meals.
[Read more...]

Mosaic offers solar crowdfunding (6 January 2013)
Crowdfunding - the idea of pooling small investments online to back a project - has paid for plays, films, fashion accessories and park benches.

Now an Oakland startup will use it to fund solar power installations.

Starting Monday, Mosaic Inc. will offer anyone in California or New York a way to invest in solar for as little as $25. Investors will receive a fixed 4.5 percent annual return on their money, which will help pay for solar installations on small businesses, community centers and other facilities.

"We see a massive transition coming from fossil fuels to clean energy, and we think people should be able to profit from that transition," said Billy Parish, Mosaic's president.

Much like crowdfunding pioneer Kickstarter, Mosaic connects small-scale investors with projects in need of money. Solar developers bring installation projects to Mosaic, whose staff screens them for creditworthiness. Those that make the cut are offered to investors on the Mosaic website.
[Read more...]

Was Adam Lanza targeting a specific teacher? (6 January 2013) [Rense.com]
New evidence released in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre raises questions about whether shooter Adam Lanza was targeting one of the teachers whose classroom he wiped out.

Police are investigating whether the 20-year-old mass murderer opened fire on several cars in the parking lot, including the vehicle belonging to teacher Lauren Rousseau, 30.

Miss Rousseau's classroom was Lanza's second stop after killing the principal and the school psychologist in the front office. He shot Rousseau in the face and murdered 15 of the 16 students in her first grade classroom.

Previous reports have said Lanza may have targeted the school because his mother, Nancy Lanza, was volunteering there.
[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 © 2013 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.)