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Click to visit VeggieCooking.com NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012

News from the Week of 27th of January to 2nd of February 2013

Supreme Court to hear fight over taking DNA from arrested people (2 February 2013)
WASHINGTON -- On a cold February night three years ago, police in suburban Arlington, Va., received a frantic call. A young woman said her roommate had been abducted at gunpoint by a short, clean-shaven man who sped away in a silver SUV.

At dawn, a motorist spotted the victim in a snowy field near a highway, raped and strangled, but alive. An alert officer, hearing the lookout report, recalled that he'd jotted down the license tag of a silver Dodge Durango whose driver lurked near bars at midnight, leading to the quick arrest of a short, clean-shaven Marine named Jorge Torrez.

Ten years ago, Virginia became the first state to require, upon arrest for a serious crime, a mouth swab for DNA. The sample from Torrez, sent to a state crime lab and entered into the FBI's DNA database, confirmed he was the rapist. A few weeks later a DNA match also led to charges against him in the rape and murder of two girls, ages 8 and 9, in Zion, Ill., where Torrez had gone to high school. Jerry Hobbs, the father of one of the girls, had been in prison for the crimes.

This month, the U.S. Supreme Court will take up a privacy rights challenge to taking DNA from people who are arrested. The case could either end the practice or make it the norm nationwide.
[Read more...]

Vaughan businessman saves Quebec dogs from being destroyed (2 February 2013)
These misfits of misfortune are among 20 dogs, most destined to be destroyed at various Quebec shelters, that were given a new lease on life thanks to the generosity of a Vaughan businessman.

Lou Tucci, co-owner of Royal Envelope Ltd., heard about the dogs' plight from Barbara Steinhoff, executive director of the Toronto Humane Society.

Tucci committed to paying for their transfer to Toronto, which he believes will be about $800.

"It was a no-brainer to step in and provide the funding to save their lives," he said.

The canines arrived Saturday in a cube van at the Toronto Humane Society on River St. They were quarantined so they can be assessed medically and receive their vaccination shots.
[Read more...]

FTC issues guidelines for mobile applications (2 February 2013)
(Reuters) - The Federal Trade Commission has issued a wide-reaching set of new guidelines for makers of mobile platforms and developers of applications for mobile telephones and tablets to safeguard users' privacy.

The non-binding guidelines, published in a report on Friday, include the recommendation that companies should obtain consumers' consent before including location tracking in software and applications, consider developing icons to depict the transmission of user data, and consider offering a "Do Not Track" mechanism for smartphone users.

The report also recommended that application developers have an easily accessible privacy policy, obtain consent before collecting and sharing sensitive information and consider participating in self-regulatory programs.

The FTC has been heightening its scrutiny of mobile devices, which are now the primary source of communication and Internet access for many users.
[Read more...]

Federal mediator: ports, longshoremen avert strike (2 February 2013)
Port operators along the East Coast have reached a tentative deal on a new contract with the union for longshoremen, averting a possible strike that would have crippled operations at 15 ports, according to a federal mediator.

The deal was announced late Friday in a statement from George Cohen, head of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

Cohen, who has been leading the talks since last year, says the agreement remains subject to ratification by both parties and additional local union negotiations. But he says local talks would continue without threat of interrupting any port operation. Cohen declined to offer any details on the deal.

Both sides had been in intense negotiations since the previous contract ended in September. The parties initially postponed the deadline to reach a deal for 90 days, then postponed it again until Dec. 31.
[Read more...]

FBI Crime Stats For U.S. Cities (2 February 2013)
In January 2013, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released new crime data reported by large cities (over 100,000 people) during the first six months of 2012. Choose a state and city to see the crime rates of the participating jurisdictions. [Read more...]

Harvard: Dozens disciplined over exam cheating (2 February 2013)
BOSTON (AP) -- Harvard University said Friday it issued academic sanctions against approximately 60 students who were forced to withdraw from school for a period of time in a cheating scandal that involved the final exam in a class on Congress, drawing criticism from a high-profile alumnus.

The school implicated as many as 125 students in the scandal when officials first addressed the issue last year.

The inquiry started after a teaching assistant in a spring semester undergraduate-level government class detected problems in the take-home test, including that students may have shared answers.

In a campus-wide email Friday, Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith said the school's academic integrity board had resolved all the cases related to the cheating probe.

He said "somewhat more than half" of the cases involved students who had to withdraw from the college for a period of time.
[Read more...]

As Suicides, Brain Injuries Mount, Safety of Football Questioned, from NFL to Youth Leagues (1 February 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Now, the league has said for a long time, you know, the players can say, if they get hurt, they don't want to go back in, that it's their responsibility to say they're injured.

CHRIS NOWINSKI: Yeah, that was--and Rodney hit it on the head. It was always a question of education. I did not know the definition of a concussion, even after having a Harvard degree and 19 years of bashing my head, because we've never forced anyone to ever tell an athlete what it means when you get hit in the head and things go fuzzy. And so, the idea--the problem was always informed consent at the beginning. And that's why Ted Johnson, who was one of the first players to come forward, the former New England Patriot, stepped forward. He said, you know, "At least let me make this decision for myself." And so, in 2010, the NFL finally did start educating the players. And so, now it's a different ball game at the pro level, but what really needs to have a light shined on is the fact that there is no such thing as informed consent for children. And 95 percent of the people playing football in this country are under the age of consent, they're under 18. And that's where we really should be focusing.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, let's talk--let's talk about that for a minute. I bet there are a lot of moms and dads and kids who are listening right now. What about a family whose kid is just really good in football and in high school? Maybe they're even being head-hunted right now for the big leagues. What do you say?

CHRIS NOWINSKI: I say it's a huge risk right now. It's--your child surviving youth football is right now mostly luck, because there are so few standards in place to actually protect them. Consider the fact that yesterday the NFL and NFLPA announced they will now have independent neurologists on the sideline because they do not trust the team doctors to make a judgment about whether or not someone who has a concussion can go back in. That's the level of safety we have in the NFL. They even pay an athletic trainer to sit in the skybox to watch the television feed, because they miss so many concussions on the field. If that's what these millionaires need to protect themselves--your child has no medical professionals, coaches with no training. You know, their young developing brain is more sensitive to the trauma. And so, from that perspective, you wonder how you could expose children to a game that we think is killing adults.
[Read more...]

Lawmakers ask Obama to halt seismic surveys along East Coast (31 January 2013)
Energy companies generally use seismic studies to map the ocean bottom and the underground geology of a region in a bid to identify potential oil and gas resources. Bureau Director Tommy Beaudreau has described "significant expressions of interest" from companies eager to get their hands on data about what might be lurking along the East Coast, and at least nine research firms have applied to conduct the sonar studies.

But environmentalists, conservationists and fishermen say the sonar studies are so noisy they can damage the hearing of dolphins and other marine life, cause whales to beach themselves and disrupt animals' mating and feeding habits.

The most extensive possible tests involve "deep-penetration" seismic air gun surveys, under which a vessel tows an array of air guns that emit acoustic pulses into the seafloor over long durations and over large areas, according to the ocean energy bureau.

Those blasts of compressed air can be more than 100,000 times more intense than a jet engine, said Jacqueline Savitz, deputy vice president of Oceana.
[Read more...]

Ikea monkey to stay at sanctuary, judge rules (1 February 2013)
Darwin the Ikea monkey will stay at a primate sanctuary for at least the next few months after the woman who describes herself as his mom lost a third bid to get him back.

The primate is at the centre of the hotly contested battle between Yasmin Nakhuda and the Story Book Farm Primate Sanctuary -- not a child custody fight, but rather one over personal property, a judge reminded everyone Friday.

Darwin has been at the sanctuary since he was scooped up by Toronto Animal Services following his adventure around an Ikea parking lot while decked out in a little shearling coat in mid-December. Nakhuda tried and failed to get him back from animal services that day. She alleges the bylaw officers tricked her into surrendering the monkey.

So she launched a civil action in court to get Darwin back, but as the trial likely won't be heard until the spring, even on an expedited basis, Nakhuda asked the court to let her have Darwin at least until the trial.
[Read more...]

US wildlife officials propose endangered status for wolverines (1 February 2013)
The tenacious wolverine, a snow-loving carnivore sometimes called the "mountain devil," is being added to the list of species threatened by climate change, a dubious distinction that puts it in the ranks of the polar bear and several other animals that could see their habitats shrink drastically due to warming temperatures.

US wildlife officials on Friday will propose Endangered Species Act protections for the wolverine in the contiguous 48 states, a step denied under the Bush administration.

The Associated Press obtained details of the government's long-awaited ruling on the rare, elusive animal in advance of the announcement.

Wildlife advocates, who sued to force the government to act on the issue, said they hope the animal's plight will be used by the Obama administration to leverage tighter restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions. As with the polar bear, the government could sidestep that thorny proposition by not addressing threats outside the wolverine's immediate range.

Only 250 to 300 wolverines roam the contiguous US, clustered into small, isolated groups primarily in the Northern Rockies of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Washington. Larger populations persist in Alaska and Canada.
[Read more...]

Hackers target Twitter, could affect 250,000 user accounts (1 February 2013)
(Reuters) - Anonymous hackers attacked Twitter this week and may have gained access to passwords and other information for as many as 250,000 user accounts, the microblog revealed late on Friday.

Twitter said in a blog post that the passwords were encrypted and that it had already reset them as a "precautionary measure," and that it was in the process of notifying affected users.

The blog post noted recent revelations of large-scale cyber attacks against the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, but unlike the two news organizations, Twitter did not provide any detail on the origin or methodology of the attacks.

"This attack was not the work of amateurs, and we do not believe it was an isolated incident," Twitter said. "The attackers were extremely sophisticated, and we believe other companies and organizations have also been recently similarly attacked."
[Read more...]

Mumia Abu-Jamal: "The United States Is Fast Becoming One of the Biggest Open-Air Prisons on Earth" (1 February 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Mumia, I know that your line is going to be cut off in a minute, and I was wondering what message do you have to people outside the bars right now?

MUMIA ABU-JAMAL: Well, increasingly, that space has expanded, because if you look inside the bars, you're looking at millions of men and women and juveniles, as I noted before. But even beyond that, I mean, how free are we today, those who claim to be non-prisoners? Your computers are being read by others in government. Your letters, your phone calls are being intercepted. We live now in a national security state, where the United States is fast becoming one of the biggest open-air prisons on earth. I mean, we can speak about freedom, and the United States has a long and distinguished--

OPERATOR: You have 60 seconds remaining.

MUMIA ABU-JAMAL: --long and distinguished history of talking about freedom, but have we exampled freedom? And I think the answer should be very clear: We have not. And we're becoming a less free nation every day. And I think people should rise up, and I think they should organize. And I think, frankly, they should raise hell. You know, if you don't want to join our movement, join some movement, but damn it, do something, because we are in an age that we may never be able to capture again.
[Read more...]

10 surprises about tomorrow's job market (1 February 2013)
Yet other surprises await future job hunters as well. As the nation struggles to crawl out of recession, here are 10 things you may want to know as part of an unofficial guide to tomorrow's job market:

1. Some booms really are booms.

The US oil and gas industry is likely to continue to be a source of jobs -- and flush paychecks -- for the foreseeable future.

Deployment of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" technology in places like North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Texas has reversed the nation's long decline in oil and gas production. Fluctuating energy prices could take the bloom off the drill bit at some point. Some places, like Towanda, Pa., have already seen many drillers move on to more valuable gas fields, leaving empty cafe booths in their wake.

But overall, experts believe the boom will continue for many years despite the vicissitudes of the global energy market and environmental concerns about fracking.
[Read more...]

About 300 without jobs in aftermath of Echo Lake Foods fire (1 February 2013)
BURLINGTON -- The fire at Echo Lake Foods was contained by noon Thursday and area residents who were evacuated were allowed to return home a few hours earlier.

Burlington Mayor Bob Miller said 88 departments and more than 300 firefighters from southeastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois responded to the 8-alarm fire, which erupted at 6:05 p.m. Wednesday at the plant, 33102 S. Honey Lake Road. The blaze was enormous and could be seen for blocks.

"It was a defensive operation from the beginning," Burlington Fire Chief Dick Lodle said. "We were not able to send anyone inside."

Lodle said burning oil, frigid conditions and strong winds added to the difficulty of fighting the industrial fire. Firefighters worked in five-hour shifts. Once done with their shift, firefighters were sent home to recover. No firefighter injuries were reported.

Three people were treated at a local hospital for smoke inhalation, but no one was seriously hurt.
[Read more...]

Accident suspected in deadly Pemex blast in Mexico (1 February 2013)
MEXICO CITY -- With rescue operations winding down, the head of Mexico's oil monopoly suggested Friday that a huge explosion that claimed at least 33 lives at the company's headquarters was a calamitous industrial accident.

If confirmed, it would be a scathing indictment of the ability of the giant petroleum exporter to protect, operate and inspect its facilities, experts said. Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, has a long history of lax security, shoddy maintenance, neglected infrastructure, corruption and deadly accidents, as well as incidents of deliberate sabotage.

But rarely has there been anything on the scale of Thursday's blast at its headquarters, its corporate heart. And officials continued to refuse to pinpoint an exact cause.

More than 120 people were injured and an unknown number may still be missing, authorities said. Rescue crews, including some with expertise honed in response to earthquakes and the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, dug through tons of concrete and metal and pulled out several bodies before dawn. Later Friday, searches were suspended as hope of finding more survivors faded.
[Read more...]

Energy minister gives tentative approval for one west-to-east oil pipeline, considers another (1 February 2013)
OTTAWA -- The federal government is firming up its support of two projects that would see oil from Alberta piped to Atlantic Canada.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver says he has given tentative approval of one proposal to industry giant Irving Oil.

"I met with Arthur Irving (Irving Oil's CEO) and expressed the support of the government of Canada, in principle, for this initiative," Oliver said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP) wants to convert an existing, underused natural gas line to bring oil from western Canada to Quebec and New Brunswick.
[Read more...]

Land-grabbing endures in new Burma (31 January 2013)
LETPADAUNG TAUNG, Burma -- Last February, a local government agent approached village headman U Thein with an offer: $600 to "lease" a large tract of communal rice paddies that needed to be cleared for an army-owned company and its Chinese partner to expand a copper mine in this sun-baked swath of northern Burma.

When Thein, 54, refused, he was arrested and thrown in jail. In his absence, bulldozers showed up in the pre-dawn hours with armed guards who threatened violence if anyone emerged from their homes.

Thein figures that the annual loss of income from the seizure is about $66,000 and, nearly one year later, says his village has yet to be compensated.

"The money is temporary; the loss of land is permanent, for generations to come," he said.
[Read more...]

Military provides inadequate care for injuries suffered during sexual assaults (30 January 2013)
Some women in the military are still receiving inadequate care for sexual assault, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report published Tuesday found. The report found that "not all first responders had completed the required training," even after a 2005 Department of Defense directive mandated "a comprehensive policy for the prevention of and response to sexual assault." One servicewoman even reported an inability to gain access to yeast infection treatment.

Though GAO found that the military "has not established guidance for the treatment of injuries stemming from sexual assault -- a crime that requires a specialized level of care." Often, officers assigned to be "victim advocates" for those who had suffered sexual assault "are not always aware of the specific health care services available to sexual assault victims."

GAO investigated three military installations in the United States and seven Afganistan installations, as well as looking at eight Navy ships. The investigators talked to 92 servicewomen, 60 of whom said they believed they were receiving "generally" adequate care, but 8 reported deficiencies in female-specific health care.

"At one location we visited in Afghanistan," the report said, "a female airman told us that she believed the military was trying to meet the health needs of women, but still had work to do--noting, for example, that a medication she was prescribed had given her yeast infections."

The biggest barrier seems to be confidentiality. As Wired reported, "Sexual assault cases can be reported in the military using two ways: unrestricted reports and restricted reports. For an unrestricted report, a survivor reports an assault to superiors and military law enforcement, who -- in theory -- begin an investigation, and provide medical care and counseling. A restricted report, on the other hand, allows a survivor to confidentially inform superiors about the assault without sparking a criminal investigation. The survivor, according to military policy, should still receive medical care, but personally identifying information will be kept anonymous."
[Read more...]

Jobs, factory data point to steady economic growth (1 February 2013)
(Reuters) - Employment grew modestly in January and job gains in the previous two months were larger than first reported, a counterpunch to recent data that suggested a tepid economic recovery had stalled at the end of last year.

Adding to that optimism, separate reports on Friday showed factory activity hit a nine-month high in January as new orders rebounded, while car and truck sales surged and consumer confidence perked.

The reports, which helped propel U.S. stock markets to their highest levels in more than five years, contrasted markedly with a government report earlier in the week that said the economy shrank unexpectedly in the final months of 2012, albeit for what most economists consider fleeting reasons.

"It is clear that the economy has a forward momentum. Most pistons in the economic engine are firing, pointing to sustained economic growth," said Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at California State University Channel Islands.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: A few weeks ago, a lady from a drug testing firm told me that she knew the economy was finally picking up, because the number of requests for new hire drug tests had suddenly skyrocketed.

US military struggling to stop suicide epidemic among war veterans (1 February 2013)
At the age of 23, William Busbee had joined a gruesome statistic. In 2012, for the first time in at least a generation, the number of active-duty soldiers who killed themselves, 177, exceeded the 176 who were killed while in the war zone. To put that another way, more of America's serving soldiers died at their own hands than in pursuit of the enemy.

Across all branches of the US military and the reserves, a similar disturbing trend was recorded. In all, 349 service members took their own lives in 2012, while a lesser number, 295, died in combat.

Shocking though those figures are, they are as nothing compared with the statistic to which Busbee technically belongs. He had retired himself from the army just two months before he died, and so is officially recorded at death as a veteran -- one of an astonishing 6,500 former military personnel who killed themselves in 2012, roughly equivalent to one every 80 minutes.

Busbee's story, as told to the Guardian by his mother, illuminates crucial aspects of an epidemic that appears to be taking hold in the US military, spreading alarm as it grows. He personifies the despair that is being felt by increasing numbers of active and retired service members, as well as the inability of the military hierarchy to deal with their anguish.
[Read more...]

Hybrid car owners protest at the Virginia Capitol (31 January 2013)
With signs, cardboard wind turbines and a parade of Priuses, hybrid car owners on Thursday afternoon sent a message to legislators meeting inside the Capitol: No hybrid tax.

The demonstration by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network was in protest of legislation that would tax hybrid car owners and repeal renewable-energy incentives for electricity companies.

While the first proposal, part of Gov. Bob McDonnell's transportation plan, is still working its way through both houses, the second looks ripe for passage after receiving unanimous approval in the House earlier this week. The Senate is expected to vote on it today.

Beth Kemler, the climate action network's state director, called the measures an "assault on climate solutions."

"We should be rewarding people for doing their part to solve the climate crisis and end pollution," Kemler said, amid a cacophony of car horns and protest chants. "We shouldn't be punishing them."

McDonnell's transportation plan would raise to $100 a year the tax on electric motor vehicles and would add hybrids to the list. The idea, the governor's office has said, is to make up for those drivers using the roads but contributing less in fuel taxes to maintain and build them.
[Read more...]

Discovery of 'whale vomit' by British man Ken Wilman could be smelly windfall (31 January 2013)
Whale vomit, called ambergris, is an ingredient that is in demand for use by the fragrance industry. High-end perfumes such as Chanel No. 5 are reported to use ambergris as an ingredient.

The sperm whale vomit is also used in spices and medicines.

Wilman says he has been offered 50,000 euros ($68,000 Canadian) from a French ambergris dealer.

According to the report, experts believe it could be worth much more once it has been officially verified.

The unusual stone, which had washed up on a beach in Morecambe, England, gives off a musky smell that has been likened to the smell of horse manure.
[Read more...]

After Green Line chaos, confusion reigns (31 January 2013)
A day after hundreds of Metro riders ended up stuck underground in Southeast Washington, authorities were still trying to piece together how the evening rush hour on the Green Line turned into such a dangerous mess.

Dozens of the stranded passengers opted to climb out out of the trains and into the tunnels, according to officials, in a risky reprise of a botched train evacuation last summer.

Riders reported panicked and uncomfortable scenes on the stuck trains and little information on what was going on or how long it would last.

Once the trains made it to the stations, there was crowding and confusion. At Navy Yard/Ballpark, Anacostia and other Metro stops, passengers were frustrated by the absence of shuttle buses and lack of official direction.
[Read more...]

New York Times claims Chinese hackers hijacked its systems (31 January 2013)
Hackers with possible ties to the Chinese military have repeatedly attacked the New York Times' computer systems over the past four months, possibly in retaliation for a series of stories that the paper ran exposing vast wealth accumulated by the family of outgoing premier Wen Jiabao, the newspaper has reported.

The hackers gained entry to the newspaper's internal systems and accessed the personal computers of 53 employees including David Barboza, its Shanghai bureau chief and author of the Wen exposé, and Jim Yardley, a former Beijing bureau chief.

An investigation by Mandiant, a cyber-security company hired by the New York Times, concluded that the hacks were likely part of an elaborate spy campaign with links to the country's military. The company traced the source of the attacks to university computers that the "Chinese military had used to attack United States Military contractors in the past", the Times said.

Although the hackers gained passwords for every Times employee, Mandiant found that they only sought information that was related to the Wen story.

The Times said it worked with telecommunications company AT&T and the FBI to trace the hackers after AT&T noticed suspicious activity on the paper's computer networks on 25 October, one day after the article appeared in print. A later analysis concluded that hackers initially broke into Times computers on 13 September when reporting for the Wen story was in its final pre-publishing stages.
[Read more...]

Whistleblower John Kiriakou: For Embracing Torture, John Brennan a "Terrible Choice to Lead the CIA" (30 January 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
JOHN BRENNAN: The war, or the campaign against terrorism, is going to be a long one, and that the opposition, whether it be al-Qaeda or whether it be Iraq, doesn't play by the Marquess of Queensbury rules, and therefore, you know, the U.S., in some areas, has to take off the gloves. And I think that's entirely appropriate. I think we do have to take off the gloves in some areas, but within bounds, and at the right time, in the right way, and for the right reason, and with full understanding of what the consequences of that might be.

AMY GOODMAN: That was John Brennan in 2006. When President Obama was first elected in his first term, he wanted to--John Brennan to be his director of Central Intelligence. There was such an outcry in the human rights community that John Brennan pulled his name out. Now, four years later, President Obama has officially nominated John Brennan once again to head the CIA. Our guest, John Kiriakou, is about to go to jail, was sentenced to 30 months in prison, worked for the CIA, there while John Brennan was there. Can you respond to what John Brennan knew, when he knew it, and the fact that President Obama wants him to be head of the CIA?

JOHN KIRIAKOU: Sure. Obviously I can't read John Brennan's mind, but I can tell you that at the time that the torture techniques were being implemented, John Brennan was President Bush's director of the National Counterterrorist Center. He was also, a little earlier than that, the deputy executive director and then, I believe, executive director of the CIA. That's the number three ranking position in the CIA. So, he would have had to have been intimately involved in--not necessarily in carrying out the torture techniques, but in the policy, the torture policy--either that or he had to be brain dead, because you can't be in positions like that, director of the National Counterterrorist Center and executive director of the CIA, without knowing what the CIA's torture policies are.

Now, I'm surprised, frankly, also, at the fact that there's no outrage in the human rights community now that Mr. Brennan's nomination has been made official. There was a great hue and cry in 2009 when he was initially floated for the position of CIA director. And I'm not sure why there's a difference between four years ago and now. John Brennan certainly hasn't changed.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: John Kiriakou, I want to read a comment made by the judge at your sentencing hearing. Judge Leonie Brinkema sentenced you to 30 months in prison last Friday, saying, quote, "This case is not a case about a whistleblower. It's a case about a man who betrayed a very solemn trust, and that is a trust to keep the integrity of his agency intact and specifically to protect the identity of co-workers. ... I think 30 months is, frankly, way too light, because the message has to be sent to every covert agent that when you leave the agency you can't just start all of a sudden revealing the names of the people with whom you worked," the judge said. John Kiriakou, can you comment on that statement?

JOHN KIRIAKOU: Sure. When Judge Brinkema accepted the plea deal in October, she called 30 months fair and appropriate. I can only think that with a courtroom packed full of journalists last Friday, she decided to seize the moment and make a statement that would be carried in the papers. I don't know what changed between October and January, other than the fact that she and the prosecution had had several ex parte communications. What that means is the prosecutors were able to meet with the judge, related to my case, without the defense, my attorneys, being present. So we have no idea what it was that the prosecution told the judge. We were not allowed to defend ourselves. Indeed, Judge Brinkema denied 75 motions that we made asking for declassification of information so that I could present a defense. In August of 2012, after our motions had been denied, my attorneys and I walked out of the courtroom, and my attorney said, "We have no defense. She won't let us say anything. She won't let us defend you." And so, we were forced into plea negotiations. But again, I'm not sure why the judge changed her position between October and January; it was inexplicable to me.
[Read more...]

Ex-CIA Agent, Whistleblower John Kiriakou Sentenced to Prison While Torturers He Exposed Walk Free (30 January 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
JOHN KIRIAKOU: Well, thanks, first of all, for having me and giving me the opportunity to explain.

I'm going to prison, ostensibly, for violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982. I believe, and my supporters believe, that this, however, was not a case about leaking; this was a case about torture. And I believe I'm going to prison because I blew the whistle on torture. I've been a thorn in the CIA's side since that interview in 2007, in which I said that waterboarding was torture and that it was official U.S. government policy. And I think, finally, the Justice Department caught up with me.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Jesselyn Radack, let me just bring you into the conversation to explain what the Intelligence Identities Protection Act is. Your client, John Kiriakou--it's been invoked in his case for the first time in 27 years?

JESSELYN RADACK: That's correct. In fact, there have only been two convictions under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which was enacted to prevent cases like Philip Agee, not things like John Kiriakou. It was to prevent the revealing of covert identities for profit or to aid the enemy. In this case, John confirmed the name of a torturer to a journalist, which makes Neil MacBride's statement all the more hypocritical, because the biggest leaker of classified information, including sources and methods and undercover identities, has been the U.S. government.
[Read more...]

Energy experts slated to fill Alberta's envoy positions in Ottawa and Washington D.C. (31 January 2013)
The Alberta government is poised to fill its vacant posts in Washington D.C. and Ottawa with candidates with extensive energy experience.

On Friday, Premier Alison Redford is expected to name David Manning as the province's representative to the United States and Alan L. Ross to the newly created position of Alberta's representative in Canada's capital, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Manning is a former provincial deputy minister of energy and president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers who previously served in the Washington position on an interim basis when Gary Mar stepped down to run for the Tory leadership in 2011.

Ross is a Calgary lawyer whose work focuses on administrative and regulatory law. Past clients include the Alberta government, AltaLink, Kinder Morgan and Conoco Phillips.

"It's essential the Alberta government has people on the ground in the nations' capitals to weigh in regularly on policy and help with intention to increase market access for our resources," said the source.
[Read more...]

Chevron fire: State seeks record fine (30 January 2013)
Chevron ignored potentially life-threatening dangers to workers at its Richmond refinery and should pay a record fine of nearly $1 million stemming from the fire there in August, state regulators said Wednesday.

"Our investigators found willful violations in Chevron's response before, during and after the fire," said Ellen Widess, head of the state agency that enforces workplace safety, Cal/OSHA.

A key finding in the state's six-month probe, officials say, is that Chevron disregarded the risk of corrosion to pipes such as the one that failed at the refinery on Aug. 6. Twenty workers were nearby and narrowly escaped injury when a leaking cloud of hydrocarbon vapor from a corroded line ignited.

Some 15,000 people went to hospitals for exams or treatment after a cloud of black smoke floated over Richmond and surrounding cities. Chevron said this week that it has paid $10 million in compensation, mostly to the hospitals.

The fire in the crude-oil unit resulted in a shutdown of much of the refinery. Chevron has said it hopes to have the plant fully operational again by March.
[Read more...]

The cost of not using renewable energy (30 January 2013)
A clever new study [PDF] from the World Future Council attempts to do something I haven't seen before: quantify the cost of not using renewables.

The idea is pretty simple. When we use finite fossil fuels to generate energy, rather than the inexhaustible, renewable alternatives, we make those fossil fuels unavailable for non-energetic uses (think petrochemicals) in the future. In other words, when we burn fossil fuels for energy, we are needlessly destroying valuable industrial capital stock.

You can read the paper for more on methodology and assumptions. The paper uses current market values for fossil fuels rather than attempting to predict future prices, so the estimates are likely conservative.

Here's the conclusion:

"Protecting the use of increasingly valuable fossil raw materials for the future is possible by substituting these materials with renewables. Every day that this is delayed and fossil raw materials are consumed as one-time energy creates a future usage loss of between 8.8 and 9.3 billion US Dollars. Not just the current cost of various renewable energies, but also the costs of not using them need to be taken into account."
[Read more...]

Yikes! Economy shrinks in fourth quarter for first time since '09 (30 January 2013)
The good news is that the biggest drivers of the downward push aren't expected to repeat themselves. Underlying growth in consumer and businesses spending was reasonably strong: Personal consumption expenditures rose at a 2.2 percent annual rate, while business spending on equipment and software rose at a gangbuster 12.4 percent rate. Housing continued a bull run, with residential investment rising at a 15.4 percent annual rate for its seventh straight quarter of expansion.

The contraction was caused by two overwhelming factors, and they were doozies.

First, federal defense spending fell at an astounding 22.2 percent annual rate in the quarter, which subtracted 1.28 percentage points from GDP growth. That was in part a reversal from the unusual 12.9 percent gain in the third quarter. But when the two quarters are averaged together, the defense sector was a drag on the economy in the second half of 2012 -- and that's before a "sequester" of automatic defense cuts goes into effect this year if Congress doesn't act to avert it. The volatility in defense spending -- and consequences for economic growth- -are a reminder of the impact that may be seen in the future as federal spending cuts go into effect.

The second major drag on growth was from businesses inventories. Firms drew down their inventories by more than $40 billion, which subtracted 1.25 percentage points from GDP growth. In effect, by selling goods sitting on their store shelves and in their warehouses, production in the nation's farms and factories was not as high as one might expect given consumer spending.

The good news, though, is that the effect from inventories should go away in future quarters; businesses can't simply run down their inventories forever. final sales, which adds inventories back in, rose at a 1.15 percent rate.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Finally, the conversion from a wartime to peacetime economy.

Exclusive: CIA nominee had detailed knowledge of "enhanced interrogation techniques" (30 January 2013)
(Reuters) - John Brennan, President Barack Obama's nominee to head the CIA, had detailed, contemporaneous knowledge of the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" on captured terrorism suspects during an earlier stint as a top spy agency official, according to multiple sources familiar with official records.

Those records, the sources said, show that Brennan was a regular recipient of CIA message traffic about controversial aspects of the agency's counter-terrorism program after September 2001, including the use of "waterboarding."

How deeply involved Brennan was in the program, and whether he vigorously objected to it at the time, as he has said he did, are likely to be central questions lawmakers raise at his Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing, scheduled for February 7.

After Brennan temporarily left government service in 2005, he publicly disavowed waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning, and other physically painful techniques that are often described as torture.

The official records, which include raw CIA operational message traffic that remains classified, are silent on whether he opposed the techniques while at the spy agency, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Brennan served as deputy executive director of the agency beginning in 2001.
[Read more...]

Police recover 17 bodies from well in northern Mexico, 14 identified as missing musicians (30 January 2013)
MONTERREY, Mexico - Police pulled 17 bodies from a well in northern Mexico and 14 of them have been identified as members of a musical band kidnapped by gunmen last week, an official said Tuesday.

Investigators have finished searching the well but are still trying to determine a motive in the killings of the Kombo Kolombia band members and crew, said a Nuevo Leon state official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly on the case.

Kombo Kolombia was playing at a ranch in the town of Hidalgo when 10 gunmen entered the warehouse where the private party was being held Friday and forced 18 musicians and crew members into waiting vehicles.

One of the musicians escaped and led authorities to the well. Officials haven't said how the man was able to get away from his captors.

"We still don't know for sure if (the escape) happened purposely so the whereabouts of these people could be known quickly," Nuevo Leon state security spokesman Jorge Domene told Radio Formula.
[Read more...]

Choose a doctor certified by the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine (29 January 2013)
There is nothing more important than your health. Your health deeply affects every aspect of every day of your life. It determines if you can get up in the morning and how well you function during the day. The right physician can help you maintain or restore your health. So, finding a clinically competent physician who respects your personal beliefs is a decision to consider carefully.

Now more than ever, there is significant variety in health care professionals. Patient dissatisfaction with nearly a century of conventional medicine led to the rise of alternative approaches to health. There is no longer a one-size-fits-all approach. Over the course of the last 20 years there has been a push for a new level of quality and caring in health care.

According to the 1998 Eisenberg study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 42% of Americans use some combination of complementary/alternative therapies in conjunction with conventional medicine. However, this change in the medical landscape is potentially more confusing to patients.

In response to the schism of conventional and alternative therapies, Integrative Medicine was born. This approach to medicine focuses on treatment of the whole person, not the disease. It involves exceptional clinical skills and extensive doctor-patient interactions. It also values the patients' beliefs and philosophy towards health, allowing doctor and patient to work together to design a program to optimize patient well-being. Most important, Integrative Medicine incorporates a variety of healing philosophies generated from both conventional and alternative therapies, preventing patients from having to choose one over the other.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: The problem I've seen with "integrative medicine" is medical doctors are most receptive to some of the least effective offerings of the alternative health field. Energy healing, most often Reiki, is one example. Although some Reiki practitioners are very skilled and can sometimes obtain miraculous results, I doubt that attempting to cure cancer with Reiki alone would be the best option. When my life was on the line, I chose some of the most powerful alternative medicine available, like the Clark zapper and other cancer protocols used by alternative methods with a good reputation for successful cancer outcomes. Energy healing was a small part of it, but certainly not the first thing I'd seek when tackling a powerful disease like cancer.

Gatorade to remove flame retardant chemical from its drinks (yeah, you've been drinking this for years) (29 January 2013)
(NaturalNews) Now you know that you've been saved from spontaneous combustion after a hard workout if you drank Gatorade. It's had an actual flame retardant chemical in it, and still does. The ingredient is called brominated vegetable oil (BVO), and its been patented in Europe as a flame retardant

A spokesperson for Gatorade's owner PepsiCo, Molly Carter, mentioned to reporters that Pepsi had been considering removing BVO for about a year, pending their discovery of a new and better replacement ingredient that wouldn't alter the taste. Molly claims the petition from change.org with over 200,000 signatures had little impact.

Ah yes, you can hear Gatorade consumers concerns: "Yum - this fire retardant sure is tasty. Wonder if I can get some pure BVO if they take it out?" Not to worry, Gatorade gulpers, it will be several months before a new "flavor and color emulsifier" will be replacing the BVO fire retardant: sucrose acetate isobutyrate (SAIB).

Molly Carter asserted there's no rush or specific date set for getting the reformulated drinks out. The reformulated Gatorade flavors "will start rolling out in the next few months," Molly said."We're not recalling Gatorade. We don't think our products are unsafe. We don't think there are health or safety risks," she claimed.
[Read more...]

BLM pulls drilling leases near Dinosaur National Monument (29 January 2013)
Grand Junction, Colo - The federal Bureau of Land Management has pulled three parcels east of Dinosaur National Monument from an oil and gas lease sale after concerns were raised by the National Park Service and conservation groups.

The agency deferred the three parcels, totaling more than 5,000 acres, for further analysis.

According to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (http://tinyurl.com/bb8hfdw ), environmentalists said the agency has not done a required inventory of wilderness areas around the lease parcels.
[Read more...]

Almost half of all coal burned in the world is burned in China (29 January 2013)
China now uses 47 percent of the world's coal. It's an almost unfathomable figure.

The EIA also created this animation of Asian coal growth between 1980 and 2010.

In 2011, China's per-person carbon footprint neared Europe's, but was still far behind that of the U.S. As the country consumes more coal, that figure will rise -- meaning an exponential increase in carbon dioxide, soot, and other toxic pollutants in the air and atmosphere.

One last bit of bad news, from Financial Times energy reporter Ed Crooks:

"Even if China's coal demand growth does slow, India is catching up fast. It may burn as much as China by 2017, the @IEA says"
[Read more...]

Judge approves BP agreement for Gulf oil spill (29 January 2013)
(Reuters) - A U.S. judge has accepted an agreement by BP Plc to plead guilty for its role in the Deepwater Horizon disaster and pay $4.0 billion in penalties for the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, a court official said on Tuesday.

The company had said previously it would plead guilty to 11 felony counts related to the workers' deaths, a felony related to obstruction of Congress and two misdemeanors. It also faces five years' probation and the imposition of two monitors who will oversee its safety and ethics for the next four years.

"The judge has accepted the plea," a court official said on Tuesday.

The April 2010 explosion on a rig in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers. The mile-deep Macondo oil well then spewed 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf over 87 days, fouling shorelines from Texas to Florida.

With the plea agreement approved, BP has 60 days to send a remedial plan to the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency laying out how it plans to meet all of its stipulations.
[Read more...]

Obama wades back into immigration debate as senators pitch new blueprint (28 January 2013) [Rense.com]
An Obama administration official tells Fox News the senators' plan is on a trajectory that mirrors Obama's immigration plan almost exactly, and that the White House is willing to let the group take the lead.

The aide says requiring illegal immigrants to pay back taxes and a fine and ensuring they would be at the back of the line after would-be legal immigrants have always been part of the president's immigration proposal. The president has also advocated for a path to citizenship.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., one of the eight senators called the new proposal a "major breakthrough" and said he hopes to turn it into legislation by March -- with the goal of passing something out of the Senate "by late spring or summer."

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., standing beside him, claimed 2013 is the "best chance" lawmakers will have to tackle immigration for years.

Even so, the proposed pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants drew immediate criticism from others on Capitol Hill.

"No one should be surprised that individuals who have supported amnesty in the past still support amnesty," Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said. "By granting amnesty, the Senate proposal actually compounds the problem by encouraging more illegal immigration."
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: It's puzzling why Congress and the President would spend their time on creating even more unemployed and homeless American citizens. Their first priority should be fixing the economic depression we've all suffered for the past five years, not making it worse.

One thing that deception by illegal immigrants has nearly eliminated is the telephone interview. Have you ever looked for work in a different city, perhaps your native city before you took an out of state job due to the bad economy? Well, good luck returning home.

Most employers these days are requiring face-to-face interviews, and one technical recruiter admitted to me that it's because people without the documents to work in this country have been letting their "friends" do the phone interviews for them. Then the undocumented workers show up at the job site with no I9 documents and often very little knowledge of the job or language.

Previously, even the highest level technical jobs were easily obtained via a telephone interview -- a way for companies to recruit the best talent from all over the country at no added cost. (In my father's day, during the 1970s, companies would usually pay for transportation to and from the interview, sometimes compensate the interviewee for his time, and pay for relocation if hired. Not anymore. As of a few years ago, interviews were done over the phone, and the selected candidate would normally have to foot his or her own relocation bill.)

But now most employers won't even consider a telephone interview, and few are willing to interview non-local candidates via Skype or video conferencing.

Not just a number: Engineer finds it hard to compete against foreign tech workers (FLASHBACK) (4 April 2010)
Todd FarkmanI am a 45-year-old tech worker. I have a master's degree in electrical engineering.

Up until 2002, I was doing incredibly well. At that point, I had 15 years of professional experience with several companies. I had many of the necessary certifications that were in demand. I had peaked at nearly a six-figure income. Then the bottom dropped out.

Congress voted to raise the H-1B visa limit "temporarily" to 195,000 workers per year for the following three years. An H-1B visa worker is a foreign worker who is usually educated and skilled. They are "sponsored" by a company in the U.S.

In 2002 I lost my job to layoffs. And suddenly I went from getting calls weekly for jobs to not even getting responses on resumes I sent out.

On the interviews I did go to, the places were filled with foreign tech workers. And more often than not, the hiring manager was from India or China. I had no luck getting a job. These were large companies in Michigan with a large engineering presence; hiring mostly foreign tech workers.
[Read more...]

"H1B Visa program has already ruined this country" - Stories from the field (FLASHBACK) (4 April 2011)
Here's a letter somebody forwarded to me:

I worked for Adobe Systems in San Jose, CA from Oct-Dec 2005 in a software engineering group as a contractor. Upon starting work I noticed that the company was jammed to the ceiling with foreign guest workers - mostly from India and China. In IT positions in the company there were barely 15% Americans overall. Our tiny group was mostly Americans because all worked on a niche computing platform that doesn't focus on Windows. Most of my coworkers were Americans and my immediate boss was an American. However, his boss was from India and was apparently new to the company and had only been there about 5 months before I got there. In meetings I would notice that this senior Indian manager would constantly talk about "cross-training". The company had rooms full of foreign guest workers doing nothing but sitting around learning new skills, not developing products. I would notice many of these foreign workers often going to the office of the technical lead in our group to ask him how things were done. The senior Indian manager himself didn't really seem to know what he was doing as I would always hear him asking rudimentary development questions in the project manager's office adjacent to mine. One time I even heard him asking the project manager where he got a prerelease installation CD for Microsoft's upcoming operating system. The answer of course was "MSDN". The project manager was an American also. One would think a highly skilled, highly educated senior IT manager from India would know such basic IT information, but apparently not.

There was also another engineering manager in another group who appeared to be from Viet Nam. She spoke broken English and was difficult to understand at times. I was tasked with writing some software for her group. Upon starting the project I asked her for a project GANTT chart for the tasks I was to work on. A GANTT chart is a standard project planning tool used on all properly run software projects. She didn't even know what a GANTT chart was. Her idea of good software development practices was to send daily emails to developers saying "Oh and one more thing...". She of course went home at 6 every night so she could watch TV while we had to stay until midnight to struggle with the ensuing chaos she created. She didn't know the first thing about developing software. It does make one wonder why we are bringing these people into the country if they don't already possess the skills claimed.

After about two months Adobe acquired Macromedia and it was announced a few weeks ahead of time that there would be layoffs as a result of the merger. I didn't mind the layoffs so much as the way they happened and *who* was and was not laid off. I ended up getting laid off, as did my American boss, as did the American project manager in the office next to me. One other senior American Windows engineer in our group was laid off after being with Adobe 8 years. In a former life he had worked on the Xerox Star at PARC. Nope - no skills there! I guess he is one of the American workers who is not smart enough to work in American companies or one of the highly skilled American workers that companies claim they can't "find". In the end 5 people were laid off from our group. One was of Chinese descent but the other 4 were Americans - U.S. Citizens.

Two of the 4 laid off Americans in our group were REPLACED with two foreign Indian workers from within the company. One took my old manager's job, and one took the Windows installer engineer's job. The new Indian manager who replaced my boss came running around with a big smile on his face shaking everyone's hand the next day with glee introducing himself and telling everyone he would be managing the group "going forward". He could barely constrain his excitement. Both Indian workers were directly promoted to their new positions by the senior Indian manager in our group.

So in the end the senior Indian engineering manager took the merger and layoffs as a prime opportunity to slash Americans from the workforce, and to promote Indians into the same positions. I've seen this happen at nearly every company I've worked at. It's an American worker replacement program. These people coming into the country possess little or zero of the skills claimed. The real goal is to get them into the country, TRANSFER the skills of existing American workers to them first, and then lay off the American workers. This has been the case at nearly every software company I have worked at in the past 8 years. It's a mass skills transference plan on a national level. Of course, the CEOs and executives high up in these American companies are too ignorant and stupid to know that they are being conned, because all they see are the dollar signs from the money the Indians promise they will save. Of course in the end it never works because after 8 years of these shennanigans Silicon Valley is a wasteland of FOR LEASE signs.

None of these imported workers have delivered any of the economic benefits we were promised in 1998 when these programs were increased to mass levels. In fact, the opposite has happened. Instead of keeping the 90s booming economy going, these 3rd world workers have sucked it dry. Silicon Valley is dying and it is because these stupid companies are importing millions of fake workers under fraudulent pretenses and then the workers aren't producing anything. All the 3rd world workers know is "IT is a good way to get rich". So they come to Silicon Valley and the companies collapse. They move from company to company kicking out productive Americans, taking skills and money, and then not producing anything. When the company collapses they move on to the next one. One company after another goes under and the CEOs wonder why they can't make this business model work anymore.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: I think the same post was repeated here. Years ago at an insurance company project, an American-born network architect of Indian descent told me that American employers were finding that "good" programmers from India cost about the same as "good" programmers from the US. That was because, he said, there was only a limited number of people smart enough to be GOOD programmers. I think that explains why the model of filling programming and technical jobs with the limitless supply of bodies from foreign countries doesn't work -- the cheap ones often aren't any better at their jobs than a cheap American. Pay data entry wages, get data entry programmer, American or Indian. I've observed similar things described in the laid off techies' stories above -- some (but not all) foreign technical workers I've encountered have poor language and technical skills, a lack of results in software production where many of their products just don't work at all, and incredibly long time frames to produce the simplest of applications (i.e. years to produce something with a full programming team that might take me a couple of months to do solo).

Why Do We Have Immigration When Unemployment Is High? (FLASHBACK) (9 February 2012)
If there is a justification for immigration during a period of persistently high unemployment, I have not heard it made by any of our politicans. President Obama was asked by the wife of an unemployed engineer why the U.S. allows H-1B visas (for engineers and other high-tech workers) when so many are unemployed. The president seemed remarkably ill-informed in responding. He said, without citing any statistics, that businesses tell him they cannot find enough engineers. But this kind of anecdotal evidence is usually misleading. We don't know what kind of businesses the president was referring to. He should have known that there are many unemployed engineers. In fact, the Census puts the number at 1.8 million. [Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: This one froze my browser for some reason, as the Huff Post's articles often do, but it's a good article.

Pharmacy linked to US meningitis outbreak has assets frozen (28 January 2013)
The judge's rulings came in response to an emergency motion of the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors. The group launched an investigation after the payments to the owners were revealed Jan. 18 in court filings. The creditors' group, which includes meningitis victims, then sought and received court orders that restrict the sale of owners' real estate and spending down their bank accounts, according to court papers.

Recent disclosures show how privately-held NECC's largest shareholder Carla Conigliaro, for example, received nearly $9m in 2012, according to court papers.

In addition, Barry Cadden, NECC's chief pharmacist, received about $3.2m in 2012, filings show. His wife, Lisa Cadden, received about $2.8m. Greg Conigliaro, a recycling entrepreneur who is Lisa Cadden's brother and Carla Conigliaro's brother-in-law, received about $1.6m, court papers show.

In a statement issued after the payments were revealed, NECC said a large portion of the distributions to owners were for taxes that were coming due.
[Read more...]

Autism linked to gut bacteria, study finds (28 January 2013)
Researchers have identified a unique blood marker that shows a link between gut bacteria and autism in some children diagnosed with the neurodevelopmental disorder.

In a new study published in the journal Translational Psychiatry, they found evidence of abnormal energy metabolism in a group of autistic children as a result compounds produced by gut bacteria frequently found in people with autism.

The discovery lays the groundwork for future blood tests to screen for autism and treat the condition early, says co-author Dr. Derrick MacFabe, director of the Kilee Patchell-Evans Research Group at the University of Western Ontario. He collaborated with researchers from the Arkansas Children's Hospital Research Institute in Little Rock.

While gastrointestinal problems are common among children with autism, research to understand the connection and develop potential treatment is still in the early stages. To date, much of the effort has been directed at unravelling the genetic markers of the disorder, and toward early identification and behavioural intervention.
[Read more...]

"Running from Crazy": Mariel Hemingway Tackles Family History of Suicide, Mental Illness in New Doc (28 January 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
MARIEL HEMINGWAY: Yeah. It's a--that's a chilling moment, because it's so prophetic, you know. I mean, like, I remember watching it when you showed me the--you know, what, a month ago, when I saw it for the first time. And it's just so--you know, it takes your breath away, because you know what's happening, and you know what's going to--you know what's to come. And it--and her acceptance of suicide being a choice for my grandfather, it's that moment that you just go, "Wow! That's powerful." And I think, for me, who's been running from crazy my whole life, to realize that that's not a choice for me, even though I've had suicidal thoughts in the past, wow, it was so clear that that's just--it's not acceptable in my life, you know, which was a wonderful kind of realization.

BARBARA KOPPLE: And also, too, Margaux idolized the thought of Ernest Hemingway.


BARBARA KOPPLE: You know, hunting, fishing, drinking, women, bullfights. And so, that was her ideal, and she felt that she was a lot like him. And that's why she wanted to retrace his footsteps.
[Read more...]

Idle No More Youth 'Show Strength of Cree Culture' in 900-Mile Frozen Trek to Ottawa (27 January 2013)
Through stinging temperatures far below freezing--plummeting down to -53F with windchill--six young men and a guide are snowshoeing on a historic two-month, more than 900-mile journey south to Ottawa as part of the Idle No More movement.

Embarking with a prayer ceremony and the blessing of their chief, the youth, aged 16 to 21, and their 42-year old guide embarked on what they're calling the Quest of Wisjinichu-Nishiyuu (Quest For Unity).

The youth are from Whapmagoostui First Nation, a fly-in-only community in far northern Quebec, on Hudson Bay. Without any roads to their almost entirely Cree-speaking community, the seven trekkers are nearing the only road south, in the Cree community of Chisasibi roughly 150 miles away.

Their journey is in support of the Idle No More movement, "to show the strength of Cree culture," and in solidarity with Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, who has ended her 44-day liquids-only fast as of January 24.
[Read more...]

Value in books: Nationwide reports find public libraries remain important to communities (27 January 2013)
LOS ANGELES -- Perhaps the most groundbreaking aspect of "Library Services in the Digital Age," the report released last week by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, is how unsurprising its key findings are.

Based on "a survey of 2,252 Americans ages 16 and above" conducted between Oct. 15 and Nov. 10 of last year, the Pew report assures us that, even in the digital age, libraries continue to serve a variety of functions, with nearly 60 percent of respondents having had some kind of interaction with a library in the last 12 months, and 91 percent saying that "public libraries are important to their communities."

These conclusions are in line with another study issued last week: the Institute of Museum and Library Services' report "Public Libraries in the United States," a government overview covering fiscal year 2010, which finds that, despite cuts to staff and resources, as well as a small decrease in library attendance, "visitation still remains strong with an overall 10-year increase of 32.7 percent."

Both reports echo the American Library Association's 2011 "State of America's Libraries Report," which found circulation up, and indicated that "Americans value the democratic nature of libraries as places that level the playing field for all Americans in the provision of materials free of charge."

As for the way the Pew numbers break down, the vast majority of patrons (73 percent) still visit libraries to browse the shelves and borrow print books. In contrast, only 26 percent use library computers or WiFi connections to go online.
[Read more...]

Calumet Specialty Products considers Lake Superior crude oil loading dock (27 January 2013)
Environmental groups, which already have been fighting a proposed pipeline to bring more crude from the Canadian tar sands oil fields into the U.S., aren't thrilled about putting it on ships.

Josh Mogerman of the Natural Resources Defense Council noted that a pipeline spill two summers ago of Canadian tar sands oil fouled Michigan's Kalamazoo River, a Lake Michigan tributary.

"That should give anyone who cares about the Great Lakes pause," he said.

Global oil prices are driving the efforts to transport the commodity by means other than pipelines.

"The (oil) price justifies the cost of unconventional methods," of transporting crude, including by rail and ship, said Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, an oil trading and advisory firm in Galena, Ill. The Calumet proposal "is just another example of that pattern."
[Read more...]

Union membership drops to 11.3 percent nationally, 12.6 percent in Ohio: Sunday's Numbers (27 January 2013)
11.3 percent: Share of U.S. wage and salary workers who were members of unions in 2012.

20.1 percent: Union share in 1983, the first year for which the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports comparable data.

$943: Median weekly pay for full-time union workers in 2012.

$742: Median weekly pay for full-time non-union workers.
[Read more...]

Survey finds moms put trust in blogs for food facts (27 January 2013)
(NaturalNews) With a growing concern about pesticides, genetic modification, and additives in their children's food, a new survey has found that moms put more faith in blogs and peers rather than the government for information.

The poll was conducted by Fleishman-Hillard and TheMotherhood.com, and was titled "Cart to Kitchen 2013: Slicing Into Moms' Food Decisions." It included more than 1,000 American mothers. The survey included questions regarding grocery shopping habits, information sources, and other inquiries about day-to-day food choices. The most staggering figure was that 96 percent of the participants noted plans to change their food-buying habits in 2013.

It was clear; however, that the influence of food and parenting blogs was much more impressive to today's American mother than experts such as doctors or government sources. For example, in regard to knowledge about pesticides in food, 34 percent of the participants stated that they trust blogs for the information most. Only 20 percent of participants entrusted medical websites, and an even smaller 15 percent trusted doctors.

Information on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and artificial additives put food blogs at 39 percent each, whereas the government was rated 24 percent and 21 percent respectively.

The participants overwhelmingly cited that they felt major brands weren't relating to them and their individual needs. These survey results may ignite a serious change in food-and-beverage marketing in hopes of appealing to moms, which could be either a positive or negative thing depending on the course of action.
[Read more...]

Routine ultrasound testing not proven safe for pregnant women (27 January 2013)
(NaturalNews) It is common for a pregnant woman to undergo several routine ultrasounds during her 40-week pregnancy. What many don't know, and despite what popular medical and government websites state, ultrasound scans have never been proven safe for pregnant women or babies and aren't recommended for routine use and non-high risk pregnancies.

An ultrasound is a diagnostic scan that emits ultra-high-frequency sound waves at tissues or bones. As the echo waves return to the machine, a picture is created. In the 1970s it was thought that ultrasounds were safe for pregnant women because of the very low scanning intensities; however, since 1993 the FDA has allowed high-output machines to scan babies at eight times the tolerable level without conducting any epidemiological studies. In addition, each scan heats surrounding tissues and bones up to six degrees higher than the maximum determined level of safety and can cause cavitation, where gas pockets in tissues and body fluid collapse. This can lead to a disruption in cell function and permeability, bleeding, and can have adverse effects on early fetal development.

Ultrasound studies done on animals have shown cell abnormalities to several generations, brain hemorrhages, lung damage, slow locomotor and learning abilities that worsened with longer exposure, and neuronal migration abnormalities consistent with autism and dyslexia in humans. Mice exposed to 600 minutes of ultrasound survived no longer than ten days.

Despite convincing evidence in animals that ultrasounds are dangerous, few studies have been conducted on humans, most of which are from other countries who limit ultrasound use. These studies have shown the following adverse effects including preterm labor, miscarriage, low birth weight, poorer birth condition, perinatal death, dyslexia, inner ear damage, and delayed speech development. An Australian randomized Doppler study involving high-risk mothers found more fetal distress in labor and lower APGAR scores at birth. Another Australian study showed that babies given five or more ultrasounds during pregnancy were 30 percent more likely to develop intrauterine growth retardation consistent with the findings in animal studies.
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Turn It Down: How Human Noise Is Disturbing the Whales (FLASHBACK) (1 March 2012) [Rense.com]
The residents of California's Santa Monica Bay have some rather noisy neighbors--and they're not happy about it. That is the conclusion of a new study which shows that blue whales feeding off the coast of California stop calling to each other when a nearby naval base powers up its sonar for training exercises.

It's not exactly news that sonar can disturb whales. What's different about this study, conducted by a team from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego for the journal PLoS One, is that it shows an underwater sound outside a baleen whale's vocalization range can still affect its calling behavior. (Baleen whales -- which include the blue, humpback and right -- emit deep bass notes well below the ping of sonar.) Because the endangered blue whale may depend on communication to keep its family group together and alert them to the presence of food, the effects of that sonar are a serious concern.

"I was hearing 'beep beep beep,' sometimes for one hour or even two days," said lead author Mariana Melcón, who monitored the giant creatures for two years while they summered in California. "This seems to be very annoying for them."

But it's not only sonar that's getting to them. When ships come by, churning sound of the engines falls within the blue whales' vocalization range, which means the creatures have to raise their voices. "It's like we are talking and all of a sudden someone turns on the music very, very loud," explains Melcón. "Either we continue talking and try to understand each other, or we talk louder."

Unsurprisingly, this sort of effect -- like living inside a noisy, dark bar -- is not ideal for intelligent and social mammals trying to have a conversation. Earlier this month, a groundbreaking study came out which showed that when shipping clamour died down in the week following 9/11, the stress hormone levels in a population of whales off the coast of New England plummeted. While the rest of the world reeled, whales finally found some much needed peace and quiet.
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Bangladesh factory that burned had locked exit, worker alleges (27 January 2013)
Seven women are dead after fire swept through a garment factory in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, and investigators are looking into allegations that the building's emergency exit was locked.

The fire at the Smart Export Garment Ltd. factory broke out Saturday, two months after 112 workers were killed by a fire at another garment factory near Dhaka. The gates of that factory were locked.

Government official Jahangir Kabir Nanak said an investigation has been ordered into the cause of the fire.

Altaf Hossain, father of a garment worker killed in the latest fire, has filed a police case against three directors of the factory, accusing them of negligence involving the fire, Dhaka Metropolitan Police Sub-inspector Shamsul Hoque told The Associated Press on Sunday.
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Sources (if found on major news boards):
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[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.)