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Click to visit VeggieCooking.com NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2013

News from the Week of 13th to 19th of January 2013

Rape in the 'New India' (19 January 2013)
In the days following the tragedy, the young physiotherapy student who was gang-raped on a New Delhi bus in mid-December quickly became a woman of many names. Required by law to protect her anonymity, Indian publications jumped on the opportunity to rechristen her. The stirring pseudonyms were selected to reflect her newfound status as an icon of feminine power: Nirbhaya (Fearless), Damini (Lightning), Jagruti (Awakening).

The death of "Jagruti" was a rude awakening for the urban middle class, the most shocking in a series of wake-up calls over a year that witnessed a number of sensational sexual assault cases. Rich small-town boys from Rohtak who kidnapped and gang-raped a young woman in a suburb outside Delhi after following her out of a nightclub. The office shuttle driver in Kolkata who raped a housewife. A mob attack on a young girl outside a bar in full view of a television camera crew in Guwahati. The security guard at an apartment complex who killed a twentysomething lawyer in the course of trying to rape her. Each incident was followed by the now predictable cycle of media outrage and misogynistic blustering on the part of politicians. Some leaders offered child marriage as an antidote so that young girls and boys "do not stray," while others blamed it on the effects of fast food--specifically chow mein--on the male libido. Still others preferred to deny the reality of rape entirely, claiming that more than 90 percent of rape complaints stemmed from a consensual sexual relationship gone awry.

For the upwardly mobile classes who spend their lives shuttling between multinational offices, call centers, bars and malls, who prefer jeans and leggings to saris, watch MTV and eat at McDonald's, each incident served as an unwelcome reminder of the other, not-quite-new India, of that slower, more dangerous twin that stubbornly refuses to grow or change. For over two decades of liberalization, the glaringly messy contradictions that sully the rising, shining, aspiring "growth story" have been explained away by the "two Indias" theory of everything. Western and Indian media alike have clung to the notion that there are two distinct worlds, one shiny and progressive, hurtling into the twenty-first century, leaving the backward, conservative one behind.

The sheer viciousness of the latest attack--the men ripped apart Jagruti's insides with a metal rod--finally broke through the high wall of denial. The angry street protests that followed her death were a belated acknowledgment of a more unpleasant reality: there is only one India, a social Darwinian nation where there is no rule of law; where might always makes right, whether your power derives from your gender, money, caste or sheer numbers, as in the case of a gang rape. And that single India is right there beside you, sitting at the next bar stool, hanging around on the street corner, opening the gate to your apartment building or driving your taxi, sidling up to you on the commuter train. The young girl who paid an astronomically steep price for an evening out at the movies proved that the so-called "new India" exists in a bubble built on the delusion of safety. A bubble that can be breached at will by the other India that we try so hard to insulate ourselves from. All you need to do is jump on the wrong bus.
[Read more...]

Marines studying mindfulness-based training (19 January 2013)
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- The U.S. Marine Corps, known for turning out some of the military's toughest warriors, is studying how to make its troops even tougher through meditative practices, yoga-type stretching and exercises based on mindfulness.

Marine Corps officials say they will build a curriculum that would integrate mindfulness-based techniques into their training if they see positive results from a pilot project. Mindfulness is a Buddhist-inspired concept that emphasizes active attention on the moment to keep the mind in the present.
Facing a record suicide rate and thousands of veterans seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress, the military has been searching for ways to reduce strains on service members burdened with more than a decade of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Marine Corps officials are testing a series of brain calming exercises called "Mindfulness-Based Mind Fitness Training" that they believe could enhance the performance of troops, who are under mounting pressures from long deployments and looming budget cuts expected to slim down forces.
"Some people might say these are Eastern-based religious practices but this goes way beyond that," said Jeffery Bearor, the executive deputy of the Marine Corps training and education command at its headquarters in Quantico, Va.. "This is not tied to any religious practice. This is about mental preparation to better handle stress."
[Read more...]

AP Exclusive: Victim of Sikh Temple mass shooting slowly improves (19 January 2013)
Day after day, Raghuvinder and Jaspreet Singh hovered by their nearly comatose father and repeated a single word -- a word their dad probably spoke more than any other in his lifetime: "Waheguru."

The Punjabi word is a term Sikhs use to refer to God. Roughly translated, it describes the wondrous expression of God's presence. For 65-year-old Punjab Singh, an internationally known Sikh priest who hasn't spoken and barely has moved since a white supremacist shot him in the head last summer, the word meant everything.

Doctors had cautioned Singh's prognosis was grim. But his sons were convinced prayer, love and constant companionship would help their father heal. So they remained by his bedside 24 hours a day at a long-term care facility in Wisconsin, alternating shifts and sleeping in a bed next to his.

Every day they repeated the word "waheguru" (pronounced VAH'-hay-goo-roo) and watched for a response. For weeks there was nothing. Then on Jan. 9 he began to move his mouth, apparently trying several times to say the word. The next day he tried 30 times.
[Read more...]

Stopping child labor: There's an app for that (19 January 2013)
Kids at stoplights offering to wipe a windshield for a few coins, or little ones hawking goods at produce markets: In much of the developing world, it's common to see children as young as eight or nine hard at work.

And it's no different in Colombia, where an estimated 1.5 million children between the ages of five and 17 work in such situations for more than 15 hours a week. Nearly nine percent of kids aged five to 14 work, a 2011 government census found. Though the government was able to document the scope of child labor in Colombia, finding lasting solutions to end the practice, which can keep kids out of school and place them in dangerous work environments, has proved challenging around the globe.

But in Colombia, a new smart phone crowdsourcing application is helping authorities and researchers tackle the problem. Whenever users see a child working they can take a picture with their phone and log the location, which the app sends to the country's child welfare agency.

The app, available for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry phones, is called "Yo digo: Aquí Estoy" (I say: I'm here), and it also goes by the name KidRescue.
[Read more...]

Sundance 2013: Anita Hill documentary shows power of the truth (19 January 2013)
PARK CITY, UTAH--A beaming Anita Hill, surrounded by family members and supporters, received a standing ovation and cheers from a Sundance audience Saturday after the world premiere of Oscar-winning filmmaker Freida Mock's documentary Anita: Speaking Truth to Power.

The nine hours of Hill's 1991 televised testimony before the U.S. Senate committee about Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas's workplace sexual harassment forms the backdrop of the documentary. But it's the 20 years that followed that give the doc its dramatic, disturbing and often triumphant timbre.

The documentary opens with a 2010 voicemail message from a woman identifying herself as Thomas's wife, Ginni Lamp Thomas, asking Hill if she was finally ready to apologize to her husband.

Hill, taken aback, at first thought it was a crank call from an impersonator. It wasn't and she didn't.
[Read more...]

Regulators ask Edison questions about San Onofre restart plan (19 January 2013)
Federal regulators have sent Southern California Edison a new set of detailed questions that will help them evaluate the feasibility of a partial restart of the shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant.

The plant, which once supplied enough power for about 1.4 million homes, has been out of service for close to a year because of unusual wear on steam generator tubes that carry radioactive water.

Edison has requested permission to restart one of two reactor units at the plant and run it at 70% capacity for five months. The company provided analysis to show that the lower power level would alleviate the conditions that caused the tubes to vibrate excessively and knock against support structures and adjacent tubes.

In questions submitted Wednesday, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission asked Edison to provide additional analysis showing what the extent of the tube-to-tube wear would be and whether the plant would meet standards for tube integrity if the unit were operated at 100% of its licensed power.
[Read more...]

Analysis: U.S. ports' drive to control costs leads to labor strife (18 January 2013)
(Reuters) - When Charles Spencer became a crane operator at the Jacksonville Port Authority in Florida in 1971, it took at least a day for 200 dockworkers to unload 160-pound sacks of coffee from a cargo ship.

Now the same job takes 20 dockworkers, assisted by massive robots programmed to lift and stack containers, an hour.

One thing hasn't changed, however: American dockworkers are among the highest-paid blue-collar workers in the country. Spencer says he made about $32,000 a year when he started; today, the average dockworker makes more than $115,000 a year.

Now, shipping companies are pushing hard to control costs, including the cost of labor - and workers are pushing back. It all comes down to who gets the rewards from the investment the port operators have put into increasingly automated equipment: the companies and their shareholders or the unionized dockworkers.
[Read more...]

No Justice for College Rape Victims (18 January 2013)
For two weeks, Melinda Manning--a former dean of students at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill--was called again and again from school administrators hounding her about the school's rape statistics. In a complaint filed this week to the US Department of Education, Manning, along with three students and one former student, claim that UNC pressured the dean to underreport sexual assault cases and harassed her when she wouldn't. Manning also alleges that when she didn't change the statistics, others did. (Colleges are mandated to report crime statistics to the DOE as part of the Clery Act.)

The complaint also details the way in which rape victims who came forward at UNC were mistreated. Annie Clark, who graduated in 2011, alleges that when she reported her rape in 2007 she was told by an administrator: "Rape is like a football game, Annie. If you look back on the game, and you're the quarterback and you're in charge, is there anything that you would have done differently in that situation?"

After Andrea Pino was raped at a party--"I just woke up in my bed covered in blood and not knowing what happened"--she applied for medical withdrawal from classes due to PTSD and depression. Officials told her she was just "being lazy."

While horrific, the actions taken by UNC to cover up the prevalence of rape at the school is not at all unusual. Colleges have become breeding grounds for injustice around issues of sexual assault. Ninety-five percent of campus rapes are never reported, and the small number of victims who do come forward are often stigmatized, harassed and mistreated. They have to live in dorms with their rapists and are made to relive their experience in front of student disciplinary boards who have no training in sexual assault cases.
[Read more...]

NYPD hopes to engage New Yorkers with crime app (18 January 2013)
A new smartphone application released last month by the New York City Police Department brings the fight against crime in the city's five boroughs into the palm of your hand.

Available as a free download through Apple's iTunes Store, the app lets users submit crime tips, read breaking news, and view a gallery of wanted suspects.

A map feature also means users can scan through New York's boroughs for precincts boundaries and police stations. A click of an icon on the map representing a police station quickly pulls up their phone number.

While the NYPD hopes the app will inform and engage citizens, it also comes at time when thefts of Apple products in the city have never been higher.
[Read more...]

"My God, What Have We Done?": White House Staffers React to Insane Online Petitions (18 January 2013)
As White House officials were busy pondering new gun violence prevention measures, preparing for the coming debt ceiling showdown with Republicans, and meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the Obama administration on January 11 also issued an official decision: the US government would not construct the DS-1 Orbital Battle Station, commonly known as the Death Star from Star Wars Episode IV.

This was no joke. Well, almost no joke. "The Administration does not support blowing up planets," the official White House statement read. "Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?" The response also address the dubious claim that such a large-scale federal undertaking would be a tremendous boon for the American economy. (The Galactic Empire has since issued a press release mocking the Obama administration for its decision.)

This official declaration was compelled by the White House's own rules. Under its We the People initiative, anybody with internet access can petition the White House on any matter, and if a petition gains 25,000 signatures, the president--or his people--have to respond. Well, that's how it worked until Tuesday. After being hit by all sorts of, shall we say, nonserious petitions like the Death Star one that reached the 25,000-signature benchmark, the White House has raised the bar. From now on, a petition will require 100,000 signatures in order to win White House attention. (When WTP debuted, the threshold was a measly 5,000.) But that fix may still not block the frivolous--the Death Star request drew over 34,000 signatures, and other ludicrous posts have managed to surpass the 100,000 mark--and some White House officials connected to the We the People project say (on background, of course), What were we thinking?

"If you had told me a year and a half ago that the White House would be devoting time writing [an official statement] on how Lord Vader could fix our economic woes, I would have just laughed loudly at you," one White House staffer said."If you had told me a year and a half ago that the White House would be devoting time writing [an official statement] on how Lord Vader could fix our economic woes, I would have just laughed loudly at you," one White House staffer who has worked on the WTP outreach program tells Mother Jones. Another White House staffer connected with the program is more blunt: "Sometimes, I find myself thinking, 'My God, what have we done?'"
[Read more...]

Chart: The Black Triangle Suffocating Beijing (18 January 2013)
In 2008, Beijing pulled off what some (myself included) considered a miracle: banishing choking smog to reveal an Olympic city bathing in blue. They reportedly took a million of the city's 3.3 million cars off the road, and closed down factories and construction sites.

But try as they might, in the years since the Olympics, city officials have rarely replicated that success, despite replacing the city's coal-fired power stations with natural gas, capping its annual coal consumption at 20 million tons by 2015, forcing heavy trucking to go nocturnal, and limiting car exhaust and construction dust.

The recent crisis that featured "beyond index" rates of pollutants and a thick, blanket of smog that choked the city for days, proves why Beijing just can't do it alone. China's enormous boom in cars often gets blamed, but in fact the bigger problem lies farther afield.

The chart above shows that without controlling emissions across the country--especially from neighboring coal-producing provinces like Hebei and Shanxi--prevailing winds will keep blowing toxic smog Beijing's way. Climate Desk has compiled data from NOAA, Greenpeace, and CARMA to show 38 power plants that lie in the path of the winds that brought smog to Beijing during its pollution crisis from January 10-12.
[Read more...]

Aisle be damned: How Big Food dominates your supermarket choices (16 January 2013)
Q. Give us a snapshot of the history of food-industry consolidation.

A. Just 20 companies produce most of the food eaten by Americans (yes, even organic brands). These companies are so large, they have the economic and political power to dictate food policy, from laws on advertising junk food to children and manipulating nutrition standards to weakening federal pesticide regulations and blocking the labeling of genetically engineered foods.

They have been able to become so large because of the evisceration of antitrust law during the Reagan administration. And since that time, no U.S. president has been willing to tackle the issue of concentration. This is ironic since all of the rhetoric about our economic system revolves around competition in the marketplace, but all public policy drives a frenzy of mergers and acquisitions. This is especially true in the food industry.
[Read more...]

The Man Who Saves Cranes (18 January 2013)
Last night George Archibald was awarded the $100,000 Lufkin Prize from National Audubon in recognition of his long career in conservation. It's Archibald, as much as anyone, who is responsible for the whooping crane's long, slow climb back from the brink of extinction. A pivotal moment in that return can be traced back 37 years, to an individual whooping crane going through an identity crisis.

It was the spring of 1976, and Tex the whooping crane was confused. She thought she was human. Which was no surprise, since she had been hanging out with humans since the time she hatched at the San Antonio Zoo. In science speak, Tex had "imprinted," a perfectly normal behavior common among birds when they are reared by people. Trouble was, Tex's mix-up was getting in the way of important science.

Whooping cranes were in dire trouble. The remaining population was well below 100 birds. Tex's genes could play an important role maintaining some genetic diversity in the increasingly small whooping crane population, if she would breed in captivity.

Her captors just wanted Tex to live a happy crane life--pair with a mate, build a nest, have some chicks. But, no. Tex was having none of that.
[Read more...]

New York Times' George Archibald Q. and A.: Dances With Cranes (18 January 2013)
Q.You have devoted your life to the conservation of cranes, but why cranes? What is their fascination for you?

A.Well, for as long as I can remember, I've always been drawn to birds and cranes as sort of like super-birds. They are just magnificent, almost magical birds. They are the tallest flying birds in the world and have complicated and beautiful behaviors -- they dance and duet and have all kinds of vocal and visual languages in ways that seem to be human-like. They are devoted to a single mate for life and rear just one or two chicks at a time. Because of this and other factors, they are also one of the most endangered groups of birds.

Q.What are the top threats to crane survival?

A.One of the biggest threats to cranes is the decline of wetlands around the world. Wetlands are drained to make more agricultural land or to accommodate expanding cities. In China, for example, there are plans to dam the outflow of the country's biggest lake, Lake Poyang.

During the summer monsoons, the lake fills with water, but in the winter the water levels fall, creating a mosaic of mud flats and ponds and grasslands, and the aquatic birds -- cranes, geese, swans, storks, hornbills -- they come in the hundreds of thousands. The dam would keep 19 meters of water [62 feet] in the lake year round and destroy the bird's habitat.
[Read more...]

Most of the South Texas whooping crane flock has arrived (14 January 2013)
CORPUS CHRISTI -- Most of the whooping cranes expected to spend winter near Rockport have arrived, but it's too early to say how many survived the summer and migration from Canada.

At least 98 percent of the world's only wild migratory flock of the endangered whoopers have arrived in the Coastal Bend, said Wade Harrell, whooping crane recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

The birds began their 2,500-mile flight from Wood Buffalo National Park in late summer and the first arrival in the Coastal Bend occurred in mid-October, Harrell said. Most are now scattered along coastal marshes and bays around the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge near Austwell.

Canadian biologists counted 32 new chicks in the fall, each accompanied by two adults. They did not get an exact count of the independent sub adults.

For the second consecutive year, observers have spotted a small group of stragglers at Granger Lake northeast of Austin in Williamson County, Harrell said. Four adults and one juvenile have been counted there, with possibly another adult pair nearby. Five more were seen near El Campo.

This represents an increasingly broader range of habitat for the birds, which is encouraging, Harrell said. It shows the birds' ability to adapt to changing conditions, while lessening their chances of being wiped out by a cataclysmic event such as a hurricane. Plus it teaches biologists about the whooping crane's habitat preferences and diet. At Granger Lake the birds eat bugs and aquatic organisms along with waste grains.
[Read more...]

Spotted salamander first solar-powered vertebrate discovered (18 January 2013)
While scientists have known about multiple animals that can turn sunlight into energy, they haven't been sure that any vertebrate could do so -- until now.

As far back as 1888, a biologist found that the eggs of a spotted salamander contained a kind of green algae, but now firm evidence now exists that the animal is powered by the sun, reported the New Scientist and according to research published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

The process takes place inside the eggs.

Scientists in 2011 found that the algae was not only present inside the eggs, but inside the embryonic cells themselves. The theory, which proved correct, was that the algae, through photosynthesis, used sunlight to trigger a chemical reaction combining water and carbon dioxide to produce glucose, or sugar, that the embryo used for fuel.

The algae is not essential, but Erin Graham, a professor at Philadelphia's Temple University who led the study, said in the paper, "Their survival rate is much lower and their growth is slowed" without it.
[Read more...]

Federal appeals court rules collective bargaining law is constitutional (18 January 2013)
A federal appeals court on Friday reversed a decision by a local federal judge and upheld a state law that sharply curtails the collective bargaining rights of public workers in Wisconsin.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit reversed a ruling issued in March by U.S. District Judge William Conley that struck down key parts of the collective bargaining law. Conley had ruled that the state can't prevent public employee unions from collecting voluntary dues through payroll deductions and can't require annual recertification of unions.

But writing for a 2-1 majority, Judge Joel Flaum wrote that the law's payroll deduction prohibitions do not violate First Amendment free speech rights because "use of the state's payroll systems to collect union dues is a state subsidy of speech that requires only viewpoint neutrality."

Flaum also wrote that unions' arguments against the creation of different collective bargaining rules for two sets of public workers -- public safety employees and general employees -- were appealing but aren't supported by established law.
[Read more...]

Fed missed warning signs in 2007 as crisis gained steam (18 January 2013)
(Reuters) - Top policymakers at the Federal Reserve felt for most of 2007 that problems in housing and banking were isolated and unlikely to tear down the U.S. economy as they ultimately did.

Even as crisis signals started flashing red with the freezing of credit markets during the summer, Fed officials believed the troubles would be moderate and short-lived, according to transcripts of the 2007 meetings released on Friday after the customary five-year lag.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, then president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, said during an emergency telephone call on August 10 of that year that most of Wall Street was still doing fine.

"We have no indication that the major, more diversified institutions are facing any funding pressure," Geithner said according to the transcripts, which total 1,370 pages. "In fact, some of them report what we classically see in a context like this, which is that money is flowing to them."
[Read more...]

Why do we still know so little about Adam Lanza? Because he lived in the cloud. (18 January 2013)
I was one of many reporters who descended on Newtown, Conn., after the tragedy. For several days, journalists tripped over one another at local video game stores, computer repair shops, a comic book store -- just about any place where Lanza might have, perhaps should have, been known. But nobody knew him. Nobody had even seen him. Lanza was just a picture on the news. Even in life, he had been a ghost.

The only person who recalled dealing with him was the town hairstylist, who had trimmed Lanza's hair. Think about that: Except for using the bathroom and eating his meals, getting a haircut was just about the only thing Lanza couldn't do online. All the things he apparently enjoyed were accessible to him without leaving his room. He could find community among gamers. He could order computer parts. He could buy books without ever visiting a bookstore. That he smashed his hard drive before the shooting spree was telling -- a digital suicide preceding his physical one.

Police have yet to give a full report on Lanza and the shootings. There is more to be learned, more lessons to be drawn, more proposals that will be delivered beyond the ones Obama issued Wednesday, which include an assault-weapons ban and expanded background checks before gun purchases. But this case should also force us to confront yet again the ways in which ever more of our lives are lived on a screen, in the cloud, via our computers and phones and tablets, and soon, if Google has its way, through our glasses. Our lives are becoming more transmitted than lived.

I come to this not as a Luddite but as a gadget-obsessed freak who stands in line on Apple's product-release days. Yet I see in my life the ways technology enables us to live alone together, connecting less with the breathing humans around us and more with data and digital humans on a screen. "Alone Together" is the title of a searing book published in 2011by Sherry Turkle, an MIT professor who has studied our computing lives for more than two decades. "Our networked life," she writes, "allows us to hide from each other, even as we are tethered to each other."
[Read more...]

US Flu Hospitalization Rates Raise Concerns (18 January 2013) [Rense.com]
The above graph from the CDC week 2 FluView, coupled with the large spike in the Pneumonia and Influenza Death Rate (8.3% compared to 7.3% in week 1) were the chief drivers of today's hastily called CDC flu telebriefing. The briefing noted that the current flu season was becoming increasingly severe as the large number of cases has now produced a spike in hospitalizations and deaths. The main target population was those over 65, which produced the alarming curve above.

The slope and amplitude are both very high, and the spike is very early in the flu season. Last year, which was mild, had few hospitalized cases in week 2, raising concerns that the levels displayed above will continue to rise.

The large number of hospitalizations represented in the above graph was clearly seen in recent reports for Pennsylvania and Minnesota. Pennsylvania reported 18 flu deaths for week 1 as well as week 2 raising the season total to 40. Minnesota reported 23 deaths in week1 and 33 deaths in week 2 for a season total of 60. Both states reported high levels of hospitalization for each week, where were represented in part in the above curve, since both states noted that the hospitalizations and deaths were primarily due to H3N2 targeting of an elderly population.

The telebriefing gave updates on vaccine supplies as well as antiviral supplies. Manufacturers are expected to produce 145 million doses (and 129 million has been distributed at this time) for this season, and the FDA has given approval for the distribution of Tamiflu with outdate package inserts (the newer inserts have updated instructions for reformulating the adult capsules for use in liquid for children under the age of one -- the drug in the capsules is not out of date, but without the waiver the drugs would have had to be repackaged with updated instructions in the package inserts).
[Read more...]

Agency: N.C. Camp Lejeune water contaminated in 1953 (18 January 2013)
Tens of thousands more Marines and their relatives could be eligible for government health care for their illnesses now that a federal agency determined that the water at North Carolina's Camp Lejeune was contaminated four years earlier than previously thought.

In a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry said computer modeling shows that drinking water in the residential Hadnot Point area was unsafe for human consumption as far back as 1953. President Barack Obama signed a law last year granting health care and screening to Marines and their dependents on the base between 1957 and 1987.

"This is yet another piece of the puzzle that's coming together and slowly exposing the extent of the contamination at Camp Lejeune -- and the Marine Corps' culpability and negligence," said Mike Partain, a Marine's son who was born at the southeast North Carolina base and who says he is one of at least 82 men diagnosed with breast cancer. "This is four years overdue."

The Marines were slow to react after groundwater sampling first showed contamination on the base in the early 1980s. Some drinking water wells were closed in 1984 and 1985, after further testing confirmed contamination from leaking fuel tanks and an off-base dry cleaner.
[Read more...]

"The Tony Soprano of the Cycling World": Dave Zirin on Lance Armstrong's Doping Confession (18 January 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
DAVE ZIRIN: Well, before I say anything, Amy, I have to say it says something certainly interesting, if not repugnant, that the federal government has millions of dollars to figure out what a cyclist did or did not put in their body, yet they're not prosecuting the people who either crashed the economy or were in charge of the torture program under the Bush administration. I'm not sure what it says, but it certainly says something.

As for Lance Armstrong, his interview with Oprah Winfrey? I mean, "disaster" is not a strong enough word that I would use to describe how that went. It was a disaster both in form and in content.

Lance Armstrong had two goals last night. And they were very difficult goals; I described it as trying to cycle through the eye of a needle. He was trying to show the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that he was willing to play ball, that he was going to be contrite, that he was going to agree with their findings, and in return, they would lift the lifetime ban that hangs over his head from ever competing again. And at the same time, he was trying to push back, as you said, against that description of him as kind of the Tony Soprano of the cycling world, someone who facilitated doping through a whole host of other cyclists, under penalty of ostracization or even physical threats against those cyclists who would not dope as he did.

And he really failed on both counts very dramatically, because he strongly rebuked USADA's findings, saying that he was this facilitator of doping. He said, "Absolutely not," when Oprah asked that question, yet at the same time he did admit to bullying -- and he used the word "bullying" -- anybody who stood in his way. He admitted that he did frivolous lawsuits. He admitted that he tried to ruin people. He admitted that he lied for all these years, defamed people, tried to bankrupt people. And so, that didn't exactly do him a lot of favors in the public relations standpoint. So, from that perspective, honestly, it was gobsmacking.
[Read more...]

Complaint accuses UNC of downplaying sexual assault despite federal rebuke (18 January 2013)
A complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education accuses administrators at the University of North Carolina of downplaying sexual assault cases at the school, and pressuring the assistant dean of students to under-report such cases.

The accusations indicate that the school could be ignoring concerns that the U.S. Department of Education has emphasized to schools as recently as two years ago, an attorney with the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) told The Raw Story on Friday.

According to the student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, the complaint, filed on Wednesday accuses the university of violating both Title IX the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits gender-based discrimination, and the Campus Sexual Assault Victims' Bill of Rights, as outlined in the Clery Act.

"If you look at the [department's] 2011 guidance, it makes it really clear about the critical role schools play in both responding to reports of violence and in reporting sexual assault on campus under the Clery Act," said Fatima Goss Graves, the NWLC vice president for education and employment.
[Read more...]

ACLU drops challenge to Kansas abortion law (18 January 2013)
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- The American Civil Liberties Union ended its legal challenge Friday to a Kansas law restricting private health insurance coverage for abortions.

A court filing shows the parties have agreed to dismiss all remaining claims, with each side bearing its own costs and attorneys' fees.

The agreement follows a federal judge's Jan. 7 ruling that, as a matter of law, the ACLU failed to provide any evidence that the Legislature's predominant motivation in passing the 2011 law was to make it more difficult to get abortions.

The Kansas law prohibits private insurance companies from offering coverage for abortions in their general plans except for when a woman's life is in danger. Kansas residents or employers who want abortion coverage must buy supplemental policies, known as riders.
[Read more...]

'Invasive' Body Scanners Will Be Removed From Airports (18 January 2013)
The Transportation Security Administration will remove controversial body scanners from airport security after OSI Systems Inc. didn't update its machines' software to make scanned images of airline passengers less revealing.

"It became clear to TSA they would be unable to meet our timeline," Karen Shelton Waters the agency's assistant administrator for acquisitions told Bloomberg News. "As a result of that, we terminated the contract for the convenience of the government."

Privacy advocates have said that the images are offensive, particularly when children and the elderly are scanned.

"TSA will end a $5 million contract with OSI's Rapiscan unit for the software," Jeff Plungis reports for Bloomberg, "after Administrator John Pistole concluded the company couldn't meet a congressional deadline to produce generic passenger images."
[Read more...]

U.S. military gets serious about microgrids ... which is more exciting than it sounds (18 January 2013)
The Department of Defense has bases in the U.S. and forward operating bases in theaters of war like Afghanistan. In both cases, providing reliable electricity, a strategic and tactical necessity for an increasingly wired military, is a challenge. One way the military is meeting that challenge is developing microgrids, which are way cooler than they sound.

The two types of DOD bases face the same challenge, but for different reasons. In Afghanistan, the diesel generators that provide electricity at bases are the top consumer of fuel on the battlefield. And it's not just any fuel, it's high-grade jet fuel, trucked into the country in caravans that cross treacherous, hostile territory and are frequently attacked. The "fully burdened cost" of that fuel -- the cost of the fuel plus the costs of transporting and protecting it -- can reach into the hundreds of dollars per gallon, especially at the smaller forward bases.

One way to reduce that fuel use is to generate more power on site, through distributed generation technologies like solar or waste-to-power plants. Another is to use that power more efficiently. And another is to network the base's power sources and loads together into a microgrid that can be managed intelligently. For the bigger bases, it means they can be self-sustaining and not rely on primitive grids. For the smaller units up on the front lines, there are "mobile tactical microgrids," which are small, modular systems that are easy to set up and disassemble, allowing a balance of connectivity and mobility.

Anyway, that's the battlefield microgrid stuff, and it's really cool. But I want to focus on the state-side "stationary" bases. As it happens, they are also plugged into a primitive grid -- namely, the aging, shaky U.S. power grid. The military doesn't trust it. It's one thing if you're at home and the lights flicker. It's another if you're piloting a drone strike by remote control and the lights flicker. So DOD is looking into microgrids for domestic bases too.
[Read more...]

John Kerry has investments in pro-Keystone XL energy companies Suncor, Cenovus (18 January 2013)
WASHINGTON - John Kerry's expected cakewalk to the U.S. State Department has delighted American environmentalists due to his stance on climate change, but the longtime senator owns stock in two Canadian oil companies that have pushed for approval of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline.

Federal financial disclosure records show Kerry has investments of as much as US$750,000 in Suncor, a Calgary-based energy company whose CEO has urged the U.S. to greenlight TransCanada's controversial project.

The longtime Massachusetts senator, one of the wealthiest lawmakers on Capitol Hill with an estimated net worth of $193 million, also has as much as $31,000 invested in Cenovus Energy, another Calgary firm.

The lawmaker will likely have to divest of those holdings, or put them in blind trust if they aren't already, following an ongoing federal ethics review that is standard procedure for would-be U.S. cabinet secretaries.
[Read more...]

Shell's plans in Arctic at risk as Obama advisers call for halt to oil exploration (18 January 2013)
The entire future of Shell's drilling plans in the Arctic was put in doubt on Friday after two of Barack Obama's most trusted advisers called for a permanent halt to oil exploration.

In a piece for Bloomberg news, Carol Browner, who was Obama's climate adviser during his first two years in office, and John Podesta, who headed his 2009 transition team, said they now believed there was no safe way to drill for oil in the Arctic.

Their opinions come at a critical time for Shell, which has invested six years and nearly $5bn trying to gain access to the vast undersea reserves of oil and natural gas in the Arctic ocean.

The Obama administration this month launched a high-level review of Shell's plans for the Arctic, after a series of equipment failures and safety and environmental lapses.
[Read more...]

Ray Nagin indictment: A breakdown of the alleged payments to him, and what he allegedly did for those who provided them (18 January 2013)
A federal grand jury on Friday indicted former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin on 21 counts of corruption, alleging that while in office, Nagin took cash bribes and gifts from three city contractors and used his power as mayor to leverage a granite installation contract from Home Depot as the retailer was building a store in Central City. Despite New Orleans' reputation for political shenanigans, Nagin is the first mayor in the city's history to be indicted by a grand jury on corruption charges.

Here is a breakdown of the transfers between former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and several businessmen, according to the indictment.

From Ray Nagin to Mark St. Pierre:
• Signed executive order in June 2004 excluding technology contracts from city bidding rules, and subsequently signed contracts that allowed St. Pierre's Imagine Software to collect at least $7 million for technology work at City Hall

From Mark St. Pierre to Ray Nagin:
• Family trips to Hawaii and Jamaica in December 2004 and October 2005
• Cell phone service for Nagin family members starting in 2005
• Hosting of a campaign fundraiser in Chicago in June 2006 that resulted in direct and "concealed" contributions
[Read more...]

Gadhafi's vanished arsenal stoking Sahara unrest, experts say (18 January 2013)
Peter Bouckaert could hardly believe his eyes. As Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi lay dying in October 2011, rebel militias were speedily stripping the carcass of the regime of the vast arsenals of weapons that had ensured his 42-year reign.

"I've worked around the world and covered conflicts for 15 years," Bouckaert, veteran emergencies director for Human Rights Watch, told The Star last fall. "I've never seen weapons proliferation like Libya. The militias got their hands on weapons on a scale many times greater than other conflicts."

As he watched, anti-aircraft guns, truckloads of munitions, surface-to-air missiles, even tanks were disappearing into the desert, bound for unknown destinations.

Now those same deadly weapons are surfacing in Mali, where rebel militias allied with Al Qaeda have declared a breakaway state in the north, and are battling French and Malian forces as they attempt to hold new territory in the central part of the country.
[Read more...]

Washington police accused of 'disturbing' failures to investigate rape (17 January 2013)
Police in Washington DC frequently fail to investigate reports of rape, and treat victims so dismissively at times, that they experience fresh trauma while the chances of the perpetrator being caught are undermined, according to a comprehensive report due out next week.

Campaign group Human Rights Watch is expected to uncover "disturbing evidence of police failure" in a 200-plus page report after a two-year investigation into law enforcement practices in the US capital.

But although shocking, the situation in Washington is far from isolated. There are widespread examples across the US of the police routinely neglecting crimes of sexual violence and refusing to believe victims.

"This is a national crisis requiring federal action. We need a paradigm shift in police culture, because rapes and sexual assaults are being swept under the rug, and too many victims are being bullied," said Carol Tracy of the Women's Law Project, a legal advocacy group that specialises in sexual violence cases.
[Read more...]

Exclusive: Aaron Swartz's Partner, Expert Witness Say Prosecutors Unfairly Targeted Dead Activist (17 January 2013)
TAREN STINEBRICKNER-KAUFFMAN: Well, Aaron was the most--person most dedicated to fighting social injustice of anyone I've ever met in my life, and I loved him for it. He used to say--I used to say, "Why don't you--why we do this thing? It will make you happy." And he would say, "I don't want to be happy. I just want to change the world."

Open access to information was one of the causes that he believed in, but it was far from the only one. He fought for--during the course of this two-year ordeal, he led the fight against SOPA, the Internet censorship bill, which no one thought could be defeated when it was first introduced and which Aaron and millions of others, together, managed to fight back. And he did that all while under the burden of this--this bullying and false charges.

He was just the funniest, most lovely person. He--sorry. He--he loved children. He loved reading out loud. That was one of his favorite things. He loved David Foster Wallace. He started trying to read me Robert Caro's biography of Lyndon Johnson out loud from the first volume. We didn't get that far because it's very, very long. One of his favorite--favorite books was Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, a fanfic. We would read it to each other as chapters came out online.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And could you talk a little about what he went through, his initial reaction to the arrest and this zeal of the prosecutors in Massachusetts to go after him on the downloading of these JSTOR research articles?

TAREN STINEBRICKNER-KAUFFMAN: Yeah, I mean, I wasn't with him; we didn't start dating until a few weeks before the indictment was announced publicly, which was several months after his initial arrest. He tried really hard to wall it off. It was obviously very stressful for him, but he tried to keep his friends and family, as much as possible, sort of isolated from--from this. He was very good at protecting other people. He was very distressed by the fact that the prosecution had called two of his closest friends as witnesses at the grand jury, and so he tried to protect everyone else by not giving us any information that would warrant being called as witnesses.
[Read more...]

GMOs: We need to go way beyond labeling to keep any healthy food (17 January 2013)
(NaturalNews) Labeling GMO foods is a good idea. But on the way to getting that accomplished, what will our food supply and topsoil be like? It's likely by the time enough consumers catch on, it will be too late for a consumer boycott "tipping point" that's supposed to bring the evil giant Monsanto to it's knees.

All the labeling in the world won't stop Monsanto from creating more seeds and planting more GMO crops, which will continue to contaminate non-GMO crops, including USDA certified organic.

All the side effects of GMO crops, damages from excessive glyphosates in RoundUp and other herbicides, toxins from GMOs that contain their own insecticides, will continue to destroy the soil, kill the honey bees, and harm the livestock that feeds on soy and corn. It's already happening.

What then must we do?
Not enough food savvy consumers in fast food America and an overarching corrupt government leave us with hardly enough ammunition. So we need to enlist farmers in the war against GMOs.
[Read more...]

Another reason to eat chocolate: it may cure your cough (17 January 2013)
(NaturalNews) Not everyone needs a reason to eat chocolate. But it's always nice to know there are valid health reasons that support this pleasure. Even then, it's no excuse to understand which type of chocolate has the most health benefits value.

A December 2012 UK study with 300 patients in 13 hospitals used theobromine, extracted from cacao, to successfully stabilize chronic coughing. The amount used was 1000 mg of theobromine twice daily for two weeks. A dark chocolate candy bar high in cacao or cocoa contains around 450 mg of theobromine per ounce. [1]

Since the average dark chocolate bar is three ounces, it would take slightly over 2/3 of the bar to provide that amount of theobromine. By the way, the only differences between cacao and cocoa are the spelling and pronunciation. [2]

Unfortunately, the coughing symptoms returned for most patients after the theobromine dosing was stopped. But another study in London, England determined that theobromine was more efficacious for coughing the codeine, which is what's normally prescribed for chronic coughing. [3]
[Read more...]

Glam locks: The not-so-secret secret to naturally gorgeous hair (17 January 2013)
My research had uncovered several exotic-sounding shampoo recipes, some incorporating olive oil, honey, and coconut milk, but I'd decided to keep it simple to start. My shampoo was a concoction made of a tablespoon or so of baking soda and enough water to render it workable. For the conditioner, I'd mixed about a tablespoon of vinegar and a tablespoon of water. (Why apple cider vinegar over the usual stuff? No idea -- but every reference I found to this practice stressed that the apple cider variety was The One.)

I turned on the water, took a deep breath, and poured the proto-shampoo over my head. Hmm. Unlike the usual pearlescent goop we're all used to, the gritty paste doesn't lather up into easy-to-distribute suds. I tentatively scrubbed it into my scalp, attempting to move the stuff throughout my hair and adding more water when it felt necessary. I rinsed, then felt a few strands. It didn't really feel clean -- what kind of scam was this?

Still, I pressed on to the vinegar rinse. This would be much easier to apply via spray bottle, but the only bottle I have was otherwise engaged holding a DIY all-purpose cleaner. So I tilted my head back and poured the cup's contents over my head, trying (and only marginally succeeding) to keep it out of my eyes. The Easter-egg aroma was, uh, potent, but hey ... it did seem to have a detangling effect.

I hopped out of the shower and toweled off, ready for the moment of truth. To avoid introducing variables to the process, I skipped all other hair products and let my mop air-dry. And after about 30 minutes ... well, hey, would you look at that? My hair had dried with more body than normal, and had a certain sheen. It looked fine -- no, better than fine. Could it actually look a touch better?
[Read more...]

Pauline 'Popo' Phillips, better known as Abigail Van Buren, dies at 94 (17 January 2013)
Pauline "Popo" Phillips, who as the nationally syndicated advice columnist Abigail Van Buren became a confessor and friend to millions of newspaper readers for more than four decades, died Jan. 16 in Minneapolis. She was 94.

Her death, from Alzheimer's disease, was announced in a statement from Universal Uclick, the syndication company that distributes the "Dear Abby" column.

Mrs. Phillips had one outstanding competitor in the all-purpose advice business: Her identical twin and sometimes rival, Esther "Eppie" Lederer, was better known as Ann Landers.

The younger by 17 minutes, Mrs. Phillips (nee Pauline Esther) began her writing career in the mid-1950s as an apprentice to her sister (nee Esther Pauline). By responding to the overflow from the wildly popular Ann Landers column, she discovered that she wouldn't make a bad sob sister, herself.
[Read more...]

Tough decisisions loom for Washington wolves (17 January 2013)
From the wolf packs that established naturally in Glacier Park and the 1995-96 reintroductions of 66 wolves in Yellowstone and central Idaho, the former endangered species reached all the recovery goals in just six years - by 2002, Mike Jimenez, the federal coordinator for wolves in the Northern Rockies, said.

By 2011, there were at least 1,800 wolves in 287 packs.

Wolves expanded far beyond socially acceptable numbers in the 2000s as pro-wolf groups went to court to keep them listed as endangered species, said Carter Niemeyer, retired federal wolf specialist and author of the book "Wolfer."

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department's controversial decision to eliminate a wolf pack in northern Stevens County last summer was just a glimpse at more tough decisions to come, the panelists said.
[Read more...]

Scientific explanation behind the brainwashing power of social conformity (17 January 2013)
(NaturalNews) Human beings are social creatures, but revealing new evidence shows that this quality is not always beneficial.

A study published last year in the journal Science found that when a person is pressured by peers, they have a tendency to form false memories and can convince themselves of different recollections of the past in order to fit what others insist is the truth.

"Human memory is strikingly susceptible to social influences, yet we know little about the underlying mechanisms," said an abstract of the study.

"We examined how socially induced memory errors are generated in the brain by studying the memory of individuals exposed to recollections of others. Participants exhibited a strong tendency to conform to erroneous recollections of the group, producing both long-lasting and temporary errors, even when their initial memory was strong and accurate," the abstract said. "Our findings reveal how social manipulation can alter memory and extend the known functions of the amygdala to encompass socially mediated memory distortions."
[Read more...]

Keystone XL pipeline opponents ramp up U.S. campaign (17 January 2013)
"We don't view this as an inevitable approval," said Danielle Droitsch from the U.S. environmental group Natural Resources Defence Council. "With climate change chaos sweeping the nation, this new research shows why the Obama administration should stop the Keystone XL tarsands pipeline in its tracks."

The U.S. State Department is expected soon to release its Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the new route proposed by TransCanada Pipeline for the northern portion of its XL pipeline through Nebraska.

The project was rejected by President Barack Obama a year ago after a public outcry over the possible environmental impacts on Nebraska's sensitive underground aquifers.

In the meantime, the company received approval to split the project in two and continue the construction of the southern section from Cushing, Oklahoma to Houston, Texas.
[Read more...]

U.S. Navy ship runs aground on World Heritage Site's coral reef in Philippines (17 January 2013)
A U.S. Navy minesweeper ran aground on a coral reef in the Philippines on Thursday, but there were no injuries to the crew and Philippine authorities were trying to determine if the ship caused damage to a marine park in a protected area.

The Navy said in a statement that the crew of the Guardian was working to find out the best method of safely extracting the ship.

It had just completed a port call in Subic Bay, a former American naval base west of the Philippine capital, when it hit the reef in the Tubbataha National Marine Park, a World Heritage Site in the Sulu Sea, 640 kilometers (400 miles) southeast of Manila.

The ship was not listing or leaking oil but about 15 percent of the bow appeared to have struck the reef, said Angelique Songco, head of the government's Protected Area Management Board, after flying over the ship in a Philippine Air Force plane. "It does not appear to be damaged."

She said it was unclear how much of the reef was damaged. She said the government imposes a fine of about $300 per square meter of corals that are damaged.
[Read more...]

Lithium Batteries Central to Boeing's 787 Woes (17 January 2013)
Lithium batteries that can leak corrosive fluid and start fires have emerged as the chief safety concern involving Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, a problem that apparently is far more serious than government or company officials acknowledged less than a week ago.

The Federal Aviation Administration late Wednesday grounded Boeing's newest and most technologically advanced jetliner until the risk of battery fires is resolved. The order applies only to the six Dreamliners operated by United Airlines, the lone U.S. carrier with 787s. Other airlines and civil aviation authorities in other countries quickly followed suit.

Japan's two largest air carriers voluntarily grounded their 787s on Wednesday ahead of the FAA's order following an emergency landing by one of the planes in Japan. On Thursday, the European Aviation Safety Agency ordered all European carriers to ground the jetliner. The Indian government ordered Air India to ground its fleet of six Boeing 787s, and Ethiopian Airlines grounded its four 787s "for precautionary inspection."

Only hours before the FAA issued its order, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood reiterated to reporters that he considers the plane safe and wouldn't hesitate to fly one. LaHood and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta unequivocally declared the plane safe at a news conference last week even while they ordered a safety review of the aircraft.
[Read more...]

Boeing Dreamliners grounded worldwide on battery checks (17 January 2013)
(Reuters) - Airlines scrambled on Thursday to rearrange flights as regulators around the world joined the United States in grounding Boeing Co's 787 Dreamliner passenger jets while battery-related problems are investigated.

Poland's state-controlled LOT Airlines said it would seek compensation from Boeing for grounding its two planes. It expects delivery of three more Dreamliners by the end of March, but would only take them if the technical issues have been resolved, deputy chief Tomasz Balcerzak told a news conference.

The lightweight, mainly carbon-composite aircraft has been plagued by mishaps, raising concerns over its use of lithium-ion batteries. An All Nippon Airways Co Ltd domestic flight made an emergency landing on Wednesday after warning lights indicated a battery problem.

Boeing shares were up about 0.6 percent at $74.78 in afternoon New York Stock Exchange trading. For the first few weeks of the recent spate of incidents, the stock held up relatively well compared with the broader market, but has weakened recently as analysts grew wary of the costs Boeing might face.
[Read more...]

GMO Toxicity Affects Animals, Plants, and Soil (16 January 2013)
Although it is believed that the basic premise of the majority of "Yes" voters is the desire to be able to make an educated choice regarding food, many feel that GMOs are actually toxic and look to studies done outside the industry for reliable information. One such study came out in September 2012.

According to an article in Le Nouvel Observateur, quoted in the Nation of Change, that study was considered so controversial that the researchers used encrypted emails, banned phone conversations, and even created a decoy study to prevent sabotage.

A two-year study showed increased formation of tumors and early mortality using the rat's lifespan instead of the usual 90-day safety-testing period. The study, by Gilles-Eric Séralini, et al., was called "Long Term Toxicity of a Roundup Herbicide and a Roundup-Tolerant Genetically Modified Maize" and was published in the peer-reviewed Food and Chemical Toxicology Journal, September 2012. Research.

What Is Roundup?
Roundup is the chemical glyphosate. This herbicide is not toxic to the plant directly as previously used herbicides were. Glyphosate becomes deadly by chelating protective minerals such as magnesium, copper, and iron from plants, making the plants susceptible to pathogens that are naturally in the soil.

Dr. Don Huber, a soil biologist, in a video with Dr. Mercola, describes the weeds as having AIDS. They die, and the soil is left full of plant pathogens, as Roundup also kills off the beneficial bacteria as well.
[Read more...]

Wood bison one step closer to a return to the wild (16 January 2013)
FAIRBANKS -- Federal and state wildlife officials have reached an agreement that could lead to the reintroduction of wood bison, a species that inhabited Alaska before the 1900s.

Wood bison are listed as a U.S. endangered species and are found in the wild only in Canada.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/W0Dohq) reports that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state Department of Fish and Game have drafted a special rule and would designate reintroduced wood bison as a "non-essential, experimental" population. That means the land wood bison occupy when they are set free in the wild would not be designated critical habitat, which could restrict resource development.

The draft agreement also allows the state to manage future hunting or harvest of the animals.
[Read more...]

Debate on Armed Police in Schools: Needed for Kid Safety or Part of the Student-to-Prison Pipeline? (16 January 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Sean Burke, can you elaborate your responses to the Newtown shooting and what you think ought to be done to increase safety in schools?

SEAN BURKE: Well, first of all, we promote reasonableness. I don't think there is--there is call to go off on wild tangents or go out of the norm with a lot of ideas that are coming up nowadays. I think that we should be going back and putting an emphasis on things that we were doing, somewhat limited, before the shooting, but take advantage of this now, this public outcry that things have to be done in school.

I think that, ultimately, the only good thing the NRA does say is that there should be a police officer in every school, a well-trained police officer in every school. But we know that's not a reasonable request in today's budgetary area. So, what we proposed is a program called LEEP, Law Enforcement Enhancement Procedures, where patrol officers, while they're doing their routine duties, or officers that are reserves promoting other duties, would stop by schools, have satellite offices in schools, get to know the administration, get to know the children that attend there, forge relationships. And, by that, it will be a deterrent for violence in the school. It will serve as police officers becoming more knowledgeable of the layout in case there is an emergency, and really promote safer schools by just that regular visiting on your daily patrol.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Some school districts already have police in their schools because they're located in urban areas with enough crime to justify the extra expense. I think we need more real studies and less speculation on the issue. It would be helpful to better understand which schools could benefit from police presence.

Teachers shouldn't be expected to handle violent behavioral problems on their own.

Fox News hires Dennis Kucinich (16 January 2013)
Dennis Kucinich, former congressman and icon of the anti-war left, has signed up as an analyst for Fox News. He will debut on "The O'Reilly Factor" Thursday night.

"Through 16 years in Congress and two presidential campaigns, FOX News has always provided me with an opportunity to share my perspective with its enormous viewership," Kucinich (D-Ohio) said in a statement. "I look forward to a continuation of our relationship this time as a FOX News contributor."

Roger Ailes, the network's conservative CEO, was equally complimentary.

"I've always been impressed with Rep. Kucinich's fearlessness and thoughtfulness about important issues," said Ailes. "His willingness to take a stand from his point of view makes him a valuable voice in our country's debate."

Kucinich lost his Ohio House seat last year after being drawn into the same district as Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) and losing to her in a member-vs.-member primary. Nationally famous after two presidential bids and a failed attempt to impeach former vice president Dick Cheney, he briefly considered running in Washington state but ultimately decided to retire from Congress.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Actually, Kucinich also tried to impeach President G.W. Bush, but of course Congress didn't have the courage to stand up for either impeachment.

Japanese airlines ground Dreamliners after emergency landing (16 January 2013)
(Reuters) - Japan's two leading airlines grounded their fleets of Boeing (BA.N) 787s on Wednesday after one of the Dreamliner passenger jets made an emergency landing, the latest in a series of incidents to heighten safety concerns over a plane many see as the future of commercial aviation.

All Nippon Airways Co (9202.T) said instruments aboard a domestic flight indicated a battery error, triggering emergency warnings to the pilots. Shigeru Takano, a senior safety official at the Civil Aviation Bureau, said a second warning light indicated smoke.

Wednesday's incident, described by a transport ministry official as "highly serious" - language used in international safety circles as indicating there could have been an accident - is the latest in a line of mishaps - fuel leaks, a battery fire, wiring problem, brake computer glitch and cracked cockpit window - to hit the world's first mainly carbon-composite airliner in recent days.

"I think you're nearing the tipping point where they need to regard this as a serious crisis," said Richard Aboulafia, a senior analyst with the Teal Group in Fairfax, Virginia. "This is going to change people's perception of the aircraft if they don't act quickly."
[Read more...]

Pesticides and phthalates top the P.O.P. contaminants list, polluting earth for decades to come (16 January 2013)
(NaturalNews) Earth's conventional food and water supply is quickly becoming its own huge "cancer." Persistent organic pollutants, POPs for short, are "brewing and breeding" the ultimate destruction of organic life on planet earth, as they bio-accumulate in the environment AND in human and animal body tissues. If you have any illusions about the breadth of this planetary poison, know this; POPs have now been found in locations as remote as the Arctic Circle.

Most POPs are carbon-based chemicals which do NOT break down under environmental conditions. Some POPs have an inherent toxicity and can be semi-volatile, meaning they evaporate quickly, passing off as a form of toxic vapor, which rains (literally) right back down on the land and people. This is the elementary explanation of "acid rain." (http://des.nh.gov)

This impenetrable RESISTANCE to breaking down is exactly what enables long range transport of these non-biodegradable, cancer causing synthetics to regions far from where they were originally created, used or released. The toxins are then taken up and bio-accumulated in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems around the world. The United States and the "Big Agriculture and Biotech" plan to feed the world strictly GMO would add to the WORLD ECO CRISIS and could mean cancer cases reaching 80 to 90 percent of the world population within the next two decades. Cancer rates are already set to double in 10 years. (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2003/pr27/en/)

Right now, one in every six Americans dies from cancer, in case you didn't know. Why? Due to what is termed "lipophilicity," POPs accumulate in the food chain, causing mutagenic activity in the blood and cells of all animals, including humans. Stop "marching" for the cure and learn the truth. This horror story of nutrition treason and the "burying of the cure" runs much deeper than most think. (http://www.naturalnews.com/036034_history_medicine_investigation.html)
[Read more...]

Canada launches workplace standards for mental health and safety (16 January 2013)
"We've created something that this country hasn't seen before," she told a Toronto news conference. "This voluntary standard is the first of its kind in the world."

The commission developed the standard, called Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, in collaboration with the Bureau de normalisation du Quebec and the non-profit association CSA Group after years of consultation with business, unions and mental health experts.

Bradley noted that with 20 per cent of Canadians dealing with mental health problems at some point in their lives, reducing stigma in the workplace and ensuring there are policies to support them and their co-workers is critical.

Bringing mental health into the open in offices, plants and other work sites is necessary to change both attitudes and company policies, added federal Labour Minister Lisa Raitt, who referred to her own experience with post-partum depression in 2004.
[Read more...]

If WiFi and cell phone radiation are safe, why has Belgium's telecomm boss banned them from his offices? (16 January 2013)
(NaturalNews) 99 percent of the population continue to use WiFi and other wireless devices without a second thought, but a growing number of people are becoming increasingly concerned with the health issues surrounding the use of these technologies. Didier Bellens happens to be one of these people. What makes Mr. Bellens different is that he also runs Belgacom, the largest telecommunications company in Belgium. His concern is such that not only has he chosen to do without WiFi on the 27th floor of Belgacom where his office is situated, he also chooses to do without a cell phone; only taking calls on the office's land line.

Does Mr. Bellem know something we don't?
You would think as the president of Belgacom, Bellens might choose to be a little less vocal about his concerns surrounding the use of WiFi and cell phones; however, he has no qualms about educating others about these issues, especially those of the younger generation. As Bellens explains, "during the day, it is better to use a headset because the GSM, it heats." He goes on to say. "The waves are dangerous. At night, it is better to shut it off."

Are these radiation dangers real?
Bellens' claims may not be as outlandish as they may first seem. In early 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified radiation from devices like cell phones and WiFi as a 'Possible Human Carcinogen' (Class 2B).

In 2007, the BioInitiative Working Group reviewed 30 years of scientific studies documenting bio-effects and adverse health effects from these electromagnetic field (EMF) exposures. It concluded that "the existing public safety limits are inadequate." The newly published 2012 Bioinitiative report written by 29 independent scientists from around the world says the situation is much worse than thought in 2007.
[Read more...]

Cold-water swims - the rewards and risks (16 January 2013)
Last week, the Bay Area was quivering through a cold snap, and the tourists along Fisherman's Wharf were, for once, dressed for the weather, bundled in jackets and scarves, mittens and caps.

Down at Aquatic Park, Dr. Thomas Nuckton was stripped to his swimsuit and neck deep in 50-degree bay water. And he wasn't alone.

Winter is the time of year that the truly devoted - or truly crazy - swimmers come out, those hardy folk who dive nearly naked into San Francisco Bay, into waters 25 or 30 degrees colder than the average swimming pool.

The health benefits of these swims are debatable, the risks less so. And yet every year, dozens, maybe a hundred, people swim all through the winter months, putting in miles and hours in the water.

"People will go down there to swim, and it's almost like a spiritual experience," Nuckton said.
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Cutting back on sugar leads to small weight loss, study says (15 January 2013)
People who cut down on added sugars in their diets lost an average of about 1.7 pounds -- a result researchers called small but significant.

The result was in a paper published online Tuesday in the British Medical Journal that analyzed 71 studies of sugar intake and weight. The World Health Organization recommended in 2003 that sugar intake be limited to 10% of calories; the agency commissioned this study as part of its intention to update its recommendation.

The studies also showed that increasing consumption of added sugars led to gaining about 1 1/2 pounds, the researchers from the University of Otago and Riddet Institute in New Zealand wrote.

Weight gain is just one of the health effects that some have attributed to sugar, but the researchers said it was the only one for which "definitive conclusions" could be reached. They used the term "free" sugars, which they defined as those added to foods by the manufacturer, cook or consumer -- as well as those in honey, syrups and fruit juices.
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An Oil Town Where Men Are Many, and Women Are Hounded (15 January 2013)
Prosecutors and the police note an increase in crimes against women, including domestic and sexual assaults. "There are people arriving in North Dakota every day from other places around the country who do not respect the people or laws of North Dakota," said Ariston E. Johnson, the deputy state's attorney in neighboring McKenzie County, in an e-mail.

Over the past six years, North Dakota has shot from the middle of the pack to become the state with the third-highest ratio of single young men to single young women in the country. In 2011, nearly 58 percent of North Dakota's unmarried 18-to-34-year-olds were men, according to census data. That disparity was even starker in the three counties where the oil boom is heaviest -- there were more than 1.6 young single men for every young single woman.

And most people around here say the gap is considerably larger. Census data mostly captures permanent residents. Most of the men who come here to work maintain their primary residences elsewhere and split time between the oil fields and their homes. And women note that many of the men who approach them are married.

Some women have banked on the female shortage. Williston's two strip clubs attract dancers from around the country. Prostitutes from out of state troll the bars.
[Read more...]

"Kill Anything That Moves": New Book Exposes Hidden Crimes of the War Kerry, Hagel Fought in Vietnam (15 January 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: So, the foreign policy establishment, if confirmed--Chuck Hagel and John Kerry--both fought in Vietnam. When John Kerry came home, he famously talked about the atrocities that were going on in Vietnam. So, it's decades later, Nick. There have been tens of thousands of books written about Vietnam. Why did you choose to go there, as well, and write Kill Anything That Moves?

NICK TURSE: Well, you know, as you said, there have been 30,000 books or so written on the war, but none that I found that truly addressed what I believe is the signature aspect of the war, which was Vietnamese civilian suffering. This isn't just atrocities, the types of things that we heard John Kerry just talking about, but also the systematic use of heavy firepower in the countryside, unrestrained bombing, the use of helicopter gunships, artillery fire--they called it "harassment and interdiction fire," which was basically just blanketing the countryside with heavy artillery. This was where people lived and people worked, and tremendous numbers of Vietnamese dies as a result.

AMY GOODMAN: Let's go to My Lai for a minute, the My Lai massacre that took place on March 16th, 1968. But wasn't until November 12th, 1969, that the world found out about it, when investigative journalist Seymour Hersh broke the story about the massacre and its cover-up. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the exposé. Democracy Now! spoke to Sy Hersh on the 40th anniversary of the My Lai massacre about what happened.

SEYMOUR HERSH: The analogy with Iraq is pretty acute. Basically, it's a group of soldiers that landed. They were mostly uneducated high school graduates and dropouts who were told they were fighting communism, going to save America. They got to Vietnam. They spent 10, 11 weeks in the--you know, humping it in the boonies and in the villages and paddies of South Vietnam and never saw the enemy. Maybe they lost 15 or 20 percent of their company through snipers, land mines, etc., but they never engaged. And over the period of 10, 11, 12 weeks, between the period they landed around New Year's Day of '68 until March 16th, they became increasingly brutal, so randomly going through a village and whacking people, sometimes an old man they saw. One soldier would just hit him with a rifle butt, and nobody said anything, because what happens inevitably is when you don't see an organized enemy and you lose people, you lose your buddies and your mates, and you're angry, you take it out on the villagers, you take it out on the civilian population.
[Read more...]

New rape outrage in India as 7-year-old schoolgirl attacked (15 January 2013)
A seven-year-old girl has been raped in a school toilet in the Indian holiday state of Goa, sparking mass protests and the arrest of her headmistress, police said.

The incident was reported in the city of Vasco da Gama on Monday, sparking a massive manhunt to trace the accused, thought to be in his early 20s.

"The girl was raped inside the school toilet during recess," a police official told AFP, requesting not to be named. He said the toilet was situated next to the headmistress's office at Deepvihar High School, which has a primary section.

Thousands of people surrounded the school on Monday night demanding the arrest of headmistress and the perpetrator, who is yet to be found.
[Read more...]

Doctor shortage? What doctor shortage? (15 January 2013)
Most forecasts of doctor shortages assume that a primary care physician can handle a set amount of patients in a practice, usually about 2,500. And if that remains the case, Green agrees there would indeed be too few doctors to meet the nation's medical needs.

However, Green doesn't think the status quo is here to stay: She argues that the health care system is rapidly changing. First, doctors are increasingly joining up into big practices. They're able to share support staff and office space, which can make it easier to take on a bigger patient population. She refers to this as "physician pooling."

Second, the health care workforce is changing, as physician assistants and nurse practitioners take on larger roles. Having non-physicians take care of routine care, things like strep throats and ear infections, can again increase the size of a doctor's patient population.

Green and her co-authors model two situations, both taking into account the increased demand expected to come from insurance expansion and aging.
[Read more...]

Vodka drip saves puppy's life (15 January 2013)
A 9-week-old American Staffordshire puppy in Melbourne, Australia named Cleo received an unusual treatment recently after becoming poisoned by antifreeze. According to CNN, veterinarians gave the ailing hound a vodka drip that saved her life.

Two weeks ago, Cleo's owners said, the dog became ill after licking antifreeze off of a car part. As the night wore on, she got sicker and sicker.

"She was giving us a bit of a scare because she was really disorientated, she couldn't stand straight, she'd fall over," owner Stacy Zammit said.

Zammit took the dog to veterinarian Matt Paschall, who said the only hope to stop the antifreeze from destroying Cleo's kidneys was pure alcohol.

"There's toxins in that called ethylene glycol and they're very, very harmful to the kidneys so what we need to do is give them alcohol and in this case, we gave her vodka to try and mop up some of those toxins," he said.
[Read more...]

USDA to offer small loans to farmers who grow for locals and farmers markets (15 January 2013)
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has created a new loan program to help small farmers, including growers who want to take advantage of the soaring interest in locally produced food.

Agriculture Department Secretary Tom Vilsack told The Associated Press on Monday that new "microloans" of up to $35,000 are designed to help bolster family-run farms as well as minority growers and military veterans seeking to start a farm who might otherwise have trouble qualifying for small loans from banks or other USDA loan programs.

The loans can help farmers grow niche or organic crops to sell directly to ethnic and farmers markets, or contribute to community-supported agriculture programs. Vilsack noted direct-to-consumer sales was a fast-growing sector, with a 60 percent increase in farmers markets in the past three years.

The loan also can cover the costs of renting land, seed, equipment and other expenses. The goal is to create more opportunities for entrepreneurship and employment in the farming industry, Vilsack said.
[Read more...]

Hundreds of protesters greet Northern Gateway pipeline hearings in Vancouver (15 January 2013)
VANCOUVER -- Making as much noise as they could to protest a process they say is undemocratic, several hundred activists from a broad spectrum of movements rallied Monday night against the first of Vancouver's public hearings into Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.

The protesters -- from those concerned about the environment to aboriginal Idle No More activists -- oppose the planned pipeline and say the hearings at the Sheraton Wall Centre hotel limit public comment.

Suresh Fernando, one of the protest organizers, said presenters at the hearings "can't make reference, for example, to the oilsands and the bigger picture."

"You can only speak to issues relating to Enbridge," he said of the public portion of the National Energy Board (NEB) joint review panel hearings that are wrapping up in several weeks. "They're constraining the dialogue."
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How a lawyer from Canada became a leading critic of U.S. national security policies (15 January 2013)
"If you had proposed 12 or 13 years ago that the United States was going to be under a Democratic president and the first African-American president, and the United States would have indefinite detention at Guantanamo, would have a statute authorizing warrantless wiretapping . . . have a targeted killing program under which the government was killing people, including American citizens, in half a dozen countries around the world without any process, you would have been thought crazy," he said in an interview last week.

"Now it's the new normal. If you propose we should depart from those policies, you're thought of as a marginal voice."

Jaffer will bring those views home to a Canadian audience Tuesday at a University of Toronto law school talk on the Obama administration's drone program.

Like many ACLU battles, the drone program challenge is largely about getting information -- which, as a U.S. District Court judge recently agreed, can be a surreal quest.

Earlier this month, Judge Colleen McMahon denied a request by the ACLU and the New York Times that the Justice Department disclose its legal justification for the targeted killing of an American, saying "a thicket of laws and precedents" prevented her from doing so. "The Alice-in-Wonderland nature of this pronouncement is not lost on me," she wrote in the Jan. 2 decision, decrying the "veritable Catch-22" scenario she found herself in.
[Read more...]

Lance Armstrong 'comes clean' over doping in Oprah Winfrey interview (15 January 2013)
Oprah Winfrey has confirmed that after years of furious denials and threats Lance Armstrong finally "came clean" over his doping past during their two-and-a-half hour interview, due to be broadcast later this week.

The US TV presenter appeared on CBS This Morning to talk about the interview with Armstrong, which was filmed on Monday in his home town of Austin, and said that the manner of his confession was "surprising" to her.

She implied that Armstrong, stripped of seven Tour de France titles after a Usada report placed him at the heart of the "most sophisticated doping programme sport has ever seen", had been more candid than she expected. "He did not come clean in the manner I expected. I was surprised," said Winfrey, who said that Armstrong was highly prepared and had "certainly prepped himself".

Winfrey, who said that the interview will now be broadcast over two days rather than one, said she was "satisfied with the answers". She added: "He was just ready ... he met the moment."
[Read more...]

Analysis: Drug industry bets on new blockbusters in 2013 (15 January 2013)
(Reuters) - Drugmakers are betting that a new wave of medicines for cancer, diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis and hepatitis will shape up as tomorrow's blockbusters in the coming 12 months.

With the industry regaining some of its swagger after winning 39 new drug approvals last year - a record only beaten in 1996 - there are signs the improving trend could continue through 2013.

Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly, Biogen Idec, Gilead Sciences and Novo Nordisk are among those with important new products reaching a critical point in development this year.

The industry needs a winning streak after delivering poor returns for years due to a wave of patent expiries. Now companies are emerging from that patent "cliff" and the balance of losses to new opportunities is improving.
[Read more...]

Wal-Mart to hire vets, buy American (15 January 2013)
NEW YORK -- Why wait on Washington to fix the economy when there's Wal-Mart?

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer and the nation's biggest private employer with 1.4 million workers, said Tuesday that it is rolling out a three-part plan to help jumpstart the sluggish U.S. economy.

The plan includes hiring more than 100,000 veterans in the next five years, spending $50 billion to buy more American-made merchandise in the next 10 years and helping its part-time workers move into full-time positions sooner.

The move comes as Wal-Mart's attempts to rebound from blows to its reputation in recent months from an alleged bribery scandal in Mexico and a deadly fire in November at a Bangladesh factory that supplies clothes to the company. Wal-Mart, which often has been criticized for offering low-paying jobs and not buying more from U.S. manufacturers, said its plan will highlight the career opportunities in the retail industry.
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U.S. has worst health outcomes of all wealthy countries, study finds (14 January 2013)
(NaturalNews) Residents of the United States are less healthy than those in any other wealthy country, according to a report from the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine. This is true in spite of the fact that the United States spends more on health care than any other country.

U.S. residents suffer from higher rates of disease and injury and have shorter lifespans, the report found. This is true for people of every age up to 75, regardless of insurance status, race or ethnicity, socioeconomic status, college education, or even prevalence of healthy behaviors.

"We were struck by the gravity of these findings," said Steven H. Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University, a member of the panel that issued the report.

"Americans are dying and suffering at rates that we know are unnecessary because people in other high-income countries are living longer lives and enjoying better health. What concerns our panel is why, for decades, we have been slipping behind."
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Strawberries, blueberries ward off heart disease in women: study (14 January 2013)
Younger women who ate at least three servings per week of strawberries or blueberries reduced their likelihood of suffering a heart attack by one-third compared with their sisters who incorporated fewer of the colorful berries into their diet, a new study says.

The berry benefit was sufficiently strong that it held even after researchers adjusted for age, high blood pressure, family history of heart attack, body-mass index, exercise, smoking, and caffeine or alcohol intake. Researchers suggested that a group of dietary flavenoids called anthocyanins, which give blueberries and strawberries their jewel-like colors, may be responsible for the health benefits seen in the study's large sample of subjects.

Anthocyanins are known to dilate arteries and counter the buildup of plaque that causes atherosclerosis.

The latest finding, published in the American Heart Assn.'s journal, Circulation, comes from the Nurses' Health Study II. In that study, about 93,600 women ages 25 to 42 answered detailed surveys about their diets every four years for 18 years.
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Too chicken to give up meat? (14 January 2013)
I once saw a turkey carcass in a New York City garbage can. It did not look good. I said to myself, I'm never eating meat again. A few hours later, I ate meat.

If you have ever driven between Los Angeles and San Francisco on the 5, you may have seen a disgusting cattle ranch on the east side of the road. It is like an insect swarm of cows. I have driven by this ranch many times, and sworn I would never again eat meat. And a few hours later, I eat meat.

I really like meat. I like steak. I like chicken. I like pork a great deal. If I had to pick a favorite meat, I'd pick lamb.

I never thought I would bother trying to give up meat. But now that I've been writing for Grist for about six months, it's impossible for me to ignore the fact that meat is not just bad for animals -- it's bad for the planet.

In case you don't know why, here are several reasons: Livestock use about 30 percent of the world's arable land. Livestock are responsible for about 18 percent of greenhouse gases. Raising livestock uses up as much as five times the amount of water it takes to raise a similar amount, nutritionally, of plant-based food.
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Toronto doctor sex assault trial: Patients abused during surgery, judge told (14 January 2013)
A North York General Hospital anesthesiologist sexually assaulted at least 21 partially conscious female patients while surgical teams operated on them just centimetres away, a prosecutor says.

Blocked from view by a "sterile sheet," Dr. George Doodnaught abused their upper bodies while unsuspecting nurses and surgeons worked on their lower bodies, David Wright told a judge Monday.

Four women separately complained over several years, but the hospital did not tell police, the prosecutor said in his opening statement.

Doodnaught, 64, pleaded not guilty Monday to 21 counts of sexual assault relating to 21 women, age 25 to 75, between 2006 and 2010. The judge-alone trial is expected to last more than two months.
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Prosecutors' crime greater than Swartz's (14 January 2013)
I'm not a fan of Anonymous and other self-styled (often hooded) champions of openness who cavalierly break into computer systems, releasing personal information that puts people's safety in jeopardy. Nor am I impressed by modern-day pirates who steal copyrighted material - because "information must be free" - even it's owned by the rich, like record companies and movie studios.

But what happened to hacker and activist Aaron Swartz is a greater crime, a case of prosecutorial overkill that arguably had fatal consequences. And a major academic institution, 85 percent of whose research was funded by U.S. taxpayers last year, also bears some responsibility.

It's not that Swartz did no wrong. Purloining a computer, hacking in to a network and downloading a trove of academic papers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology involved illegal behavior. But 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine, the penalties prosecutors threatened him with? After the injured party, a nonprofit digital library called JSTOR, told prosecutors it did not wish to pursue the case?

"Here is where we need a better sense of justice, and shame," wrote Lawrence Lessig, the former Stanford University law professor, now at Harvard Law School, in a blog post.
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"An Incredible Soul": Larry Lessig Remembers Aaron Swartz After Cyberactivist's Suicide Before Trial; Parents Blame Prosecutor (14 January 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain what the case against Aaron was? Explain what happened.

LAWRENCE LESSIG: Well, I have to be very careful, because when Aaron was arrested, he came to me, and I--there was a period of time where I acted as his lawyer. So, I know more about the case than I'm able to talk about.

But here's what was alleged. Aaron was stopped as he left MIT. He had a computer in his possession, which there was tape that indicated that he had connected the computer to a server--to a closet in MIT, and the allegation was he had downloaded a significant portion of JSTOR. Now, JSTOR is a nonprofit website that has been for--since about 1996, has been trying to build an archive of online--giving online access to academic journal articles, you know, like the Harvard Law Review or journal articles from geography from the 1900s. It's an extraordinary library of information. And the claim was Aaron had downloaded a significant portion of that. And the question, the obvious question that was in everybody's mind, was: Why? What was he doing this for? And so, the Cambridge police arrested Aaron.

JSTOR said, "We don't want to prosecute. We don't want to civilly prosecute. We don't want you to criminally prosecute." But MIT was not as clear. And the federal government--remember, at the time, there was the Bradley Manning and the WikiLeaks issue going on. The federal government thought it was really important to make--make an example. And so, they brought this incredibly ridiculous prosecution that had multiple--you know, I think it was something like more than--more than a dozen counts claiming felony violations against Aaron, threatening, you know, scores of years in prison. But, you know, it's not the theoretical claims about what he might have gotten; it was the practical burden that for the last two years, you know, his wealth was bled dry as he had to negotiate to try to finally settle this matter, because the government was not going to stop before he admitted that he was a felon, which I think, you know, in a world where the architects of the financial crisis dine regularly at the White House, it's ridiculous to think Aaron Swartz was a felon.
[Read more...]

Shell's Arctic drilling flunks even the lax air pollution standards it weakened (14 January 2013)
In its semi-inexplicable eagerness to get Shell the permits it needed to try to drill in the Arctic last year, the government made an important and ironic concession: the company would be allowed relaxed air pollution standards. The quote the company gave in its effort to be allowed to exceed pollution limits was pretty classic, pointing out that it "demonstrated compliance with a vast majority of limits."

But, anyway, Shell managed to not even meet the more lax pollution standards it insisted on. From the Houston Chronicle:

"The Environmental Protection Agency issued two notices of violation [last] week alleging Shell ran afoul of the Clean Air Act permits governing its Kulluk drilling unit used in the Beaufort Sea and the drillship Noble Discoverer, as well as its support vessels, in the Chukchi Sea.

"According to the agency, Shell's self-reporting of emissions revealed both drilling vessels released excess nitrogen oxide, leading the EPA to conclude that Shell had "multiple permit violations for each ship" during the 2012 drilling."
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Insight: How SandRidge Energy's CEO adapted the Chesapeake playbook (14 January 2013)
(Reuters) - For 17 years, Tom Ward and Aubrey McClendon teamed up to build Chesapeake Energy Corp into the second-largest natural gas producer in the United States.

The two Oklahoma City energy men were a study in contrasts. CEO McClendon was brash and aggressive; company president Ward came across as steady and soft-spoken.

When Ward left in 2006 to start his own natural-gas company a few miles away, however, he borrowed from the Chesapeake playbook. At SandRidge Energy Inc, Ward adopted some of the same idiosyncratic business practices deployed by McClendon.

At Chesapeake, McClendon intertwined his personal financial deals with the company he runs.
[Read more...]

Prove it schmrove it (13 January 2013)
"There has never been an example of a metallic sulfide mine that has safely operated and closed without polluting the environment," says a briefing paper by the Sierra Club and the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council. State legislators will receive copies of that paper and other clear scientific information supporting rejection of the next version of pro-strip mining legislation. Will they pay attention?

Two important factors might help lawmakers stay focused on their obligation to serve the people of Wisconsin, rather than the corporate mining interests.

First, said Gedicks when he spoke with Fighting Bob Radio hosts Ed Garvey and Eric Schubring January 10, is the reality that GTac's strip mine proposal fundamentally threatens Bad River Ojibwe Tribe natural resources, which are protected by treaty rights. The tribe can set water standards and challenge the permitting process in federal court, "which would delay any kind of decision on the mine for years."

Secondly, the new coalition being organized is likely to be mighty powerful. It's reminiscent of the coming together of tribes and many groups and individuals in opposition to the Crandon Mine in Forest County in the 1990s. That Exxon mine operated with Tommy Thompson's blessing from 1993 to 1997. Opposition from tribes and environmentalists coalesced into eventual tribal ownership of the former Crandon mine site and bi-partisan passage of the state mining moratorium law in 1998.

Scott Walker was in the State Assembly and voted in favor of the mining moratorium bill. So did state Senator Alberta Darling in 1998.
[Read more...]

A pattern of theft (10 January 2013)
Strange but true: A recent national poll found that 49 percent of GOP voters believe that President Obama stole his re-election and that ACORN, an anti-poverty group that registered low-income voters, was responsible. The problem with that view (in addition to the fact that Romney only received 47 percent of the vote) is that ACORN doesn't exist anymore, having been dissolved in 2010.

Nonetheless, those GOP stalwarts are partly right. The election was stolen if a stolen election means that the party receiving the most votes didn't win. Only it wasn't the presidential election that was stolen -- it was the election for control of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Wisconsin Legislature.

At the national level, the final election tally shows that Democrats received 1,362,000 more votes than Republicans in races for the U.S. House, yet John Boehner is the speaker, not the Democrats' Nancy Pelosi. In Wisconsin, Democrats received 192,000 more votes for the Assembly than did Republicans, yet Republicans control more than 60 percent of that chamber.

How did this electoral larceny happen? States controlled by Republicans, including North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Virginia and Wisconsin, engaged in such extreme partisan gerrymandering that the will of the people in the recent elections was subverted.

Here are some examples: In Ohio, President Obama received 51 percent of the vote but only 25 percent of the congressional seats went to Democrats. Tallies in other states: Michigan, Obama 54 percent, Democrats 36 percent; Virginia, Obama 51 percent, Democrats 27 percent; Pennsylvania, Obama 52 percent, Democrats 27 percent.
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India police arrest 7 in another bus passenger gang rape (13 January 2013)
NEW DELHI--Police in the northern Indian state of Punjab said Sunday that they have arrested seven men accused of the gang rape of a 29-year-old woman who was travelling alone on a bus, less than four weeks after the brutal rape and killing of a woman on a New Delhi bus created a national outcry about the safety of women in public places.

In the latest incident, police said a woman was taking a bus home to her village at around 5 p.m. Friday. She was the lone passenger on the bus for about 30 minutes. Police said the bus driver did not heed her request to stop at her village and instead stopped at a desolate spot further away.

"When the woman got down from the bus, she was carried away by the bus driver and conductor on a motorcycle to another spot and were joined by five other men," said Raj Jeet Singh, the senior superintendent of police in Gurdaspur in Punjab. She was dropped off the next morning near her village. "She came with her family to report rape on Saturday."

Friday's attack bore similarities to the high-profile case of a 23-year-old woman who was gang-raped and beaten inside a moving bus last month in New Delhi, and thrown out onto the street to die, along with a male friend who had tried to protect her. Jyoti Singh Pandey died of her injuries two weeks later at a Singapore hospital.
[Read more...]

Noam Chomsky blasts Obama: He has no moral center (13 January 2013)
In a video published by Al Jazeera English on Saturday, MIT professor and activist Noam Chomsky slammed President Barack Obama for using aerial drones to kill suspected terrorists.

Chomsky said that a black activist had recounted a story in which a group of African American women visited the President following his inauguration in 2009. After the meeting, the disappointed women told the black activist, "this man has no moral center."

"I think they're right," Chomsky said. "If you look at his policies, I think that is what they reveal. Just some nice rhetoric here and there. If you look at the actual policies, they're pretty shocking. The drone assassination campaign is a perfectly good example. I mean, that's just a global assassination campaign."

Critics of the use of drone strikes against suspected terrorists in Pakistan and Yemen worry the practice violates international law and kills civilians.

The well-known leftist activist also downplayed Obama's efforts to block Israel settlements into Palestinian territory. Though the Obama administration has repeatedly criticized Israel's settlement activity, they had not imposed any actual penalties, unlike previous presidents, Chomsky said.
[Read more...]

Viagra for vets costs surge on war disorders (13 January 2013)
The Department of Veterans Affairs has almost tripled spending on erectile-dysfunction drugs in the past six years as war-related psychological disorders contribute to sexual difficulties.

The VA spent $71.7 million on drugs including Pfizer's Viagra and Bayer's Levitra in the year ended Sept. 30, up from about $27.1 million in fiscal 2006, records show.

The surge in drug spending reflects the number of troops returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, said Jason Hansman, senior program manager for health and mental-health programs at the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a New York-based nonprofit group. Both conditions can limit sexual functioning, he said.

"This is not something that a lot of veterans would readily talk about," Hansman said. "It's a very good sign that the VA is paying out and not trying to avoid the issue in any way. Sexual health is part of the holistic picture of health for veterans.''

Veterans are eligible for free medications and treatment for any injuries or illnesses linked to their military service. Even if there's no connection to their time in uniform, they may still obtain drugs through the VA for a fee that is typically less than $10 for a 30-day-prescription, according to the documents posted on the agency's website.
[Read more...]

Navy details review of flammable uniforms (12 January 2013)
The Navy released details Friday of how it will review its working uniform after a test showed the fabric to be extremely flammable.

Navy working groups will look at all specialty uniforms worn by sailors and then determine whether the requirements for the regular working uniform need to change, the admiral in charge said Friday.

Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces, commissioned the two working groups in close coordination with the Pacific Fleet commander, Adm. Cecil Haney, following the release of the test results in mid-December.

The tests showed that the uniform was quickly consumed by flames when exposed and that its nylon fibers melt onto skin.
[Read more...]

Disable Java? Here's how, after US agency warns of software 'vulnerability.' (12 January 2013)
With an eye on the security of millions of Internet users, the US Department of Homeland Security is advising Americans to temporarily disable Java, a software commonly used in Web-browser programs.

It's not that Java itself contains a malicious computer virus. The problem is what the agency calls a software "vulnerability," a kind of open door for hackers to infiltrate a computer. That can result in identity theft or other bad things happening on your computer.

"We are currently unaware of a practical solution to this problem," said a notice released this week by CERT, a group sponsored by the Homeland Security Department's cybersecurity division. The group is based at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

The recommendation highlights the rising threat level in the realm of cybersecurity, and the growing efforts to make devices and networks more secure. The vulnerability in Java is just one piece of that puzzle, but it's significant because the software is so widely used in Web browsing.
[Read more...]

Department Of Homeland Security Advises Computer Users To Disable Java (12 January 2013)
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security advised computer users to temporarily disable or uninstall Oracle Corp's (NASDAQ:ORCL) Java software, stating that a serious flaw in the software could make the system vulnerable to hacking.

The warning came in an advisory posted on the department's website late Thursday night, amid the escalating fears and warnings from the net security experts about a flaw in Java Runtime Environment (JRE) 7 and earlier versions that allows the hackers to install malicious software and malware on computers.

The vulnerability is so dangerous that the Department of Homeland Security's Computer Emergency Readiness Team urged the people to stop using the software immediately to mitigate damage.

"Due to the number and severity of this and prior Java vulnerabilities, it is recommended that Java be disabled temporarily in web browsers," the agency said in its advisory.

"This and previous Java vulnerabilities have been widely targeted by attackers, and new Java vulnerabilities are likely to be discovered," We are currently unaware of a practical solution to this problem," the agency said.

Experts had been warning about a weakness in Java's coding that could allow a remote, unauthenticated hacker to execute arbitrary code on a vulnerable system, leading to identity thefts and other criminal activities.
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Israel evicts E1 Palestinian peace camp protesters (13 January 2013)
The Israeli state has swung into action against a group of Palestinian activists who established a tent village on a rocky hillside east of Jerusalem, with hundreds of security officials carrying out an eviction under the orders of the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, in the early hours of Sunday morning.

According to activists, a large military force surrounded the encampment at around 3am. All protesters were detained and six were injured, said Abir Kopty.

On Saturday evening, Netanyahu demanded the Israeli supreme court overturn an injunction preventing the removal of the protesters, and ordered the area to be declared a closed military zone.

Around 200 Palestinian activists set up the village, named Bab al-Shams ("gate of the sun") and comprising around 20 tents, early on Friday morning on a highly sensitive swath of land known as E1, which Israel has earmarked for settlement development. The protesters' actions echoed the tactics of radical settlers when establishing outposts in the West Bank.
[Read more...]

PG&E consultant defends pipe inspections (13 January 2013)
A consultant working for Pacific Gas and Electric Co. in its effort to minimize fines that could total hundreds of millions of dollars for the San Bruno pipeline explosion testified that the company had an "effective" regime to evaluate the integrity of its natural gas system, even before the 2010 disaster.

"It covered all the basics that were required by the regulations and the standards. Therefore, I believe it was effective," John Zurcher of Houston, a pipeline integrity consultant, testified Thursday before administrative law judges considering whether to levy as much as $500 million in fines against the company.

The National Transportation Safety Board found in 2011 that PG&E's pipeline integrity management program was "without integrity" because it relied on records so flawed, the company did not know the true characteristics of the transmission pipe that exploded in September 2010 in San Bruno. Eight people were killed, and 38 homes were destroyed.

When the federal findings were released, PG&E said it "fully embraces the board's recommendations for improving the operations and management" of its gas system. It has acknowledged that its record-keeping practices were "not what they should have been," and the head of the company recently admitted that PG&E had "lost its way" before the explosion.
[Read more...]

Rating agency thinks nuclear plant will be closed (11 January 2013) [Rense.com]
In its latest evaluation of Duke Energy, the Fitch rating agency concludes this week that the utility probably will permanently close the crippled Crystal River nuclear plant.

In giving Duke a "stable" outlook, Fitch noted that a repair of the Crystal River plant would pose too much of burden on Duke but shutting it down would guarantee some protections provided by a settlement agreement with the state.

"Fitch believes it is unlikely management will elect to repair Crystal River 3 given the rising cost estimates, construction risks and low gas-price environment, and instead will pursue the retirement option and recovery of invested capital," the rating agency stated.

The Crystal River plant went offline in fall 2009 for a maintenance and upgrade project to replace old steam generators. During the project, workers found a crack in the 42-inch thick reactor containment building. An attempt to repair the crack and bring it back online led to more cracks.

A Duke report says it will cost $1.5 to $3.4 billion to repair the containment building plus $300 million a year to buy replacement power while the plant sits idle. Duke's board has yet to make a decision whether to repair or retire the plant.
[Read more...]

EPA faults Shell over Arctic emissions (11 January 2013)
WASHINGTON - Regulators have rapped Shell Oil Co. for violating the terms of air pollution permits that governed emissions from drilling rigs and support vessels the company used to bore wells in the Arctic last October.

The Environmental Protection Agency issued two notices of violation this week alleging Shell ran afoul of the Clean Air Act permits governing its Kulluk drilling unit used in the Beaufort Sea and the drillship Noble Discoverer, as well as its support vessels, in the Chukchi Sea.

According to the agency, Shell's self-reporting of emissions revealed both drilling vessels released excess nitrogen oxide, leading the EPA to conclude that Shell had "multiple permit violations for each ship" during the 2012 drilling.

The emissions go beyond ones the EPA agreed to grandfather in a waiver Shell sought before it began drilling last year. Shell had asked permission to emit an unlimited amount of ammonia and more nitrogen oxide than originally permitted from the main generator engines on the Discoverer.
[Read more...]

China pollution results in factory closures, flight cancellations (13 January 2013)
BEIJING -- A prolonged spell of air pollution across a large area of China has led to the cancellation of flights and sporting activities and the closure of highways, factories and construction sites.

From Beijing to Guiyang, 1,400 miles to the southwest, the thick soup of pollution led the Chinese government to urge people to "avoid outdoor activities," and Beijing education authorities to cancel school gym classes.

As an emergency measure, the Beijing Environmental Protection Ministry announced Sunday that factories and construction sites had agreed to reduce or stop work entirely until the air cleared up.

The U.S. embassy in Beijing on Saturday night recorded fine particulate matter at 886 micrograms per cubic meter, the highest since monitoring began in 2007. The air quality index ranking of 755 was also far off the charts, which consider 300 to 500 to be "hazardous." While in the past the Chinese government has criticized the embassy for scaremongering, their own monitors over the weekend gave readings that were also dire, showing pollution as hazardous in 33 cities.
[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.)