Pam Rotella's Vegetarian FUN page -- News on health, nutrition, the environment, politics, and more!
NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012
News from the Week of 17th to 23rd of March 2013
South Africa: Rethinking a Traditional Approach to TB Treatment (23 March 2013)
Cape Town -- In contrast to many countries in the world where tuberculosis rates are declining, the incidence of TB in South Africa has risen by 400 percent in the past 15 years, according to the country's National Aids Council. And so in a bid to improve the TB cure rate, researchers are examining the barriers that patients encounter when trying to conform to one of the traditional pillars of TB treatment.
In line with World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, TB treatment in South Africa follows the Directly Observed Treatment Short Course (DOTS) protocol. This requires that patients take their daily medication, for a minimum of six months, in front of a health worker who administers and "observes" that this is done correctly.
But in the context of a huge spike in TB levels in South Africa over the past 15 years, a trend which parallels the impact of the Aids epidemic, there is growing concern that using DOTS to deliver the standard short course TB treatment is failing to serve the purpose for which it was intended.
For may patients who are either too sick to walk to their local clinic for their daily treatment, or too poor to afford transport, DOTS -- as it is applied in many health districts in South Africa -- is often more of a hindrance than a help in overcoming the disease.
PAM COMMENTARY: A TB increase seems to support Rife's work showing that the cancer virus has a pleomorphic relationship to tuberculosis -- and that AIDS is a form a cancer, a biowarfare weapon developed from the cancer virus SV-40.
Wall Street sees opportunity in marijuana (23 March 2013)
BELVIDERE, N.J. -- Amid the whir of fans and the glow of soft white light, workers tended to bright green seedlings sprouting in a giant greenhouse.
Located about an hour's drive from Manhattan in the hills of northwestern New Jersey, the facility produces basil, chives, oregano and other herbs that are sold in grocery stores around New York City.
But if Ken VandeVrede has his way the facility will one day be growing a much more valuable plant: marijuana.
VandeVrede is chief operating officer at Terra Tech, a hydroponic equipment maker based in Irvine. The small company wants to double the five-acre New Jersey greenhouse operation. The aim is one day to supply the exploding U.S. medical marijuana trade and to prepare in the event that recreational marijuana ever becomes legal nationwide.
Pope Francis and the question of hypocrisy: Burman (23 March 2013)
Are we done yet? Is it safe to go back outside? Now that Pope Francis has finally been "installed" on his throne in Rome, have these recent days of glassy-eyed, unctuous "pope-worship" in our media finally drawn to a close? Praise be to Jesus, let us hope and pray.
At the risk of offending anyone, can we return to the crucial issue at hand? And that is not the sweetness of Francis's smile, or the colour of his shoes, or the number of times he invokes the word "poor' in his speeches.
Far more revealing is the fact that the only woman who was allowed to take part in Tuesday's papal "installation" was a newsreader from Vatican Radio who recited a brief prayer. Equally revealing is who watched from the audience. Among the high and mighty in Rome from all corners of the world was a self-proclaimed "practising Catholic" from Harare, Zimbabwe: His name was Robert Mugabe. It undoubtedly embarrassed the Vatican that their guest will likely one day stand trial in The Hague for crimes against humanity, if he doesn't die first.
These odd vignettes at the Pope's installation this week were a reminder that there are issues, beyond the superficial, which will endure. Specifically, there is the questionable role of the Roman Catholic Church in this turbulent 21st century. How will it face its increasing scandals and many genuine flaws? And will the new Pope Francis actually make a difference?
Lawyers alarmed as Guantanamo hunger strike grows (23 March 2013)
Lawyers for prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay say they are growing increasingly alarmed about the men's health as a hunger strike expands at the U.S. prison in Cuba.
Attorney Carlos Warner met with a prisoner from Kuwait this week and says the man appears to have lost 25 pounds. He said 35-year-old Faez al-Kandari was pale and could barely stand. Several other attorneys have reported similar accounts after meeting or speaking with prisoners in recent days.
A prison spokesman says military doctors are closely monitoring the men's weight and health. Navy Capt. Robert Durand also says the strike has grown to 26 prisoners, up by five since Monday.
Lawyers for the prisoners say many more are on strike in a protest over conditions at the prison and their indefinite detention.
Northern Virginia officials worry secret CIA facility could scuttle hopes for landing FBI HQ (23 March 2013)
Fairfax County officials want Uncle Sam to know they have the perfect site in Springfield to replace the FBI's 39-year-old Washington headquarters.
It's a short run from the FBI Academy and laboratory in Quantico and other FBI operations that are in Northern Virginia or planned for there. It's near the Capital Beltway and Interstate 395 and within walking distance of the Franconia-Springfield Metro station. Best of all, the federal government owns the property, potentially saving taxpayers as much as $300 million.
But some Northern Virginia officials have been told that the biggest obstacle to redevelopment may be a federal client that's already at the site: the CIA. Now, as Maryland, Virginia and the District jockey for a prize worth perhaps as much as $3 billion, the presence of the classified site has left several Northern Virginia officials feeling as if one of their best prospects has been mysteriously hobbled.
Fairfax's bid is one of about three dozen, setting up a political face-off among officials in the region and members of Congress for what they see as a potential blessing to their local economies. Officials from the District, Maryland and Virginia have offered possible sites -- vying not only for the prestige that comes with having a new FBI headquarters within their boundaries but also for as many as 11,000 jobs.
Va.'s 'Rocket Docket' takes on international cases (23 March 2013)
Whether it's Somali pirates, alleged Kiwi copyright pirates or Colombian narcotraffickers, the long arm of U.S. law often runs through the Eastern District of Virginia.
In the past four years, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil MacBride has pursued prosecutions with international connections with increasing regularity.
Some of the cases have no obvious connection to his territory, which includes most of northern Virginia, the Richmond area and Hampton Roads. But the region provides some unique opportunities for a prosecutor to claim venue, in large part because the backbone of the Internet runs through northern Virginia.
The servers that host the electronic EDGAR filings of the Securities and Exchange Commission are based in Alexandria, for instance, giving Eastern District prosecutors jurisdiction over most any kind of securities fraud.
They used that power to charge Lee Farkas, the founder of Florida-based mortgage lender Taylor Bean and Whitaker, who was convicted along with seven others in a $3 billion fraud scheme.
Analysis: Thrifty truckers wary of pricey natural gas vehicles (22 March 2013)
(Reuters) - Truckers considering natural gas as an alternative to high-priced diesel say the cost of vehicles that run on the cheap and cleaner-burning fuel is still too high for them to see a timely payback on their investment.
A push to run more of the nation's truck fleet on cleaner, domestically produced natural gas is rapidly gaining momentum.
Suppliers like T. Boone Pickens' Clean Energy Fuels, Royal Dutch Shell and China's private ENN Group are scrambling to build natural gas fueling stations along U.S. highways, while Cummins-Westport Inc will begin later this year selling a 12-liter natural gas engine able to power the biggest trucks on the road.
Truck companies too, are enthusiastic - up to a point.
The trucks that will sport the new engine, made by a joint venture of Cummins Inc and Westport Innovations Inc, will have expensive tanks for storing compressed or liquefied natural gas. With the industry still reeling from an economic slump that pushed margins below 5 percent, truckers have little ability to make big bets on new equipment.
New tools make it easier to find prices for medical procedures (22 March 2013)
Ever tried to get a firm price tag before going to the doctor or the hospital? Good luck. Historically, the search for healthcare prices has been an exercise in futility.
But that's starting to change. With healthcare costs rising and consumers on the hook for a growing share of their medical bills, doctors, hospitals and health insurers are feeling the pressure to make healthcare prices more readily available.
"We expect consumers to cover more of their care and decide how to expend resources. But it's unacceptable to expect them to do that without providing them with what they need to make price and quality decisions," said Suzanne Delbanco, executive director of the group Catalyst for Payment Reform.
Last week the nonprofit organization issued a report on medical pricing that graded states' efforts to provide useful pricing information. In all, 36 states got a grade of D or F, including California, which got a D.
Canada's economic ranking improves, but only because of crises in other countries (19 March 2013)
MONTREAL -- A new report says Canada has moved up its economic ranking to sixth out of 16 countries -- but it's mostly due to the weakness of other countries.
The Conference Board of Canada says the country has retained its "B" grade and improved its ranking from 11th since its last report card in pre-recession 2008, adding that part of the reason the surge is because some European countries going through tough times.
The board says with the exception of inflation and employment growth, Canada ranks far below the highest-ranked countries on other economic indicators such as productivity and attracting global investment.
We have moved up, but some of it is because others have gotten a lot worse
Troops impose uneasy calm on violence-torn Myanmar city (23 March 2013)
(Reuters) - Hundreds of troops kept an uneasy calm in central Myanmar on Saturday after martial law was imposed to quell three days of bloody unrest between Buddhists and Muslims that is testing the country's nascent democracy.
The official death toll in the worst-affected town of Meikhtila stands at 11 dead, although local estimates put it as much as four times higher.
Burned corpses still lay uncollected by the roads on Saturday, said Reuters reporters in the city 540 km (336 miles) north of the commercial capital Yangon.
President Thein Sein declared a state of emergency in Meikhtila and three nearby townships on Friday after riot police and a dusk-to-dawn curfew had failed to stem violence triggered by an argument between a Buddhist couple and the Muslim owners of a gold shop.
"The violence and looting stopped suddenly as soon as the military arrived," said a Meikhtila police officer, who declined to be identified.
US government sued over use of pesticides linked to bee harm (22 March 2013)
The US government is being sued by a coalition of beekeepers, conservation and food campaigners over pesticides linked to serious harm in bees.
The lawsuit accuses the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of failing to protect the insects -- which pollinate three-quarters of all food crops -- from nerve agents that it says should be suspended from use. Neonicotinoids, the world's most widely used insecticides, are also facing the prospect of suspension in the European Union, after the health commissioner pledged to press on with the proposed ban despite opposition from the UK and Germany.
"We have demonstrated time and time again over the last several years that the EPA needs to protect bees," said Peter Jenkins, an attorney at the Centre for Food Safety who is representing the coalition. "The agency has refused, so we've been compelled to sue."
"America's beekeepers cannot survive for long with the toxic environment EPA has supported," said Steve Ellis, a Minnesota and California beekeeper and one of the plaintiffs who filed the suit at the federal district court. "Bee-toxic pesticides in dozens of widely used products, on top of many other stresses our industry faces, are killing our bees."
Iraq War at 10: for families of wounded, a mounting cost (22 March 2013)
The 10-year anniversary of America's war in Iraq came and went with little fanfare this week, but in homes across the country, veterans -- and the family members who care for them -- continue to struggle mightily with the wounds of battle.
Two new studies highlight their plight. On a Friday afternoon this month, the Army quietly released a Pentagon Inspector General's report which found "non-compliance" on the part of the Army in processing soldiers' disability claims.
The report issued a further rebuke, noting that the method for filing disability claims is "increasing the workload and confusion for all participants and leaders concerned."
That navigating the veterans' disabilities claims process is confusing has long been known. The problem, veterans advocates say, is that it is not appreciably improving for the 32,000 troops who were wounded in the war.
A report released this month from the Center for Investigative Reporting, "The War Comes Home: Washington's Battle Against America's Veterans," finds that some 600,000 claims of wounded veterans from the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam are backlogged as service members await an answer from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Deal requires ferry to stop ash dumping in 2 years (22 March 2013)
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - Owners of the nation's last operating coal-fired ferryboat would stop dumping waste ash into Lake Michigan within two years under a deal with federal regulators announced Friday.
Lake Michigan Carferry, which operates the S.S. Badger, said it had reached an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under which the company would design a system to retain its coal ash on board during trips across the lake and dispose of it on land. The company said it would abandon research aimed at switching from coal to liquefied natural gas as a fuel source.
The EPA said the Badger would reduce its discharges over the next two years, with all ash dumping into the lake ending after the 2014 sailing season. The company also would pay a $25,000 civil penalty for exceeding mercury pollution standards last year.
The terms were reached in a consent decree filed with the U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids. After a 30-day public comment period, a judge will decide whether to approve it.
The deal would end a lengthy dispute between regulators and Lake Michigan Carferry over its practice of discharging waste ash overboard. The 410-foot, 60-year-old vessel hauls vehicles and passengers across the lake between its home port of Ludington and Manitowoc, Wis., between May and October.
Senate backs Keystone Pipeline in bipartisan vote (22 March 2013)
The Senate voted 62 to 37 Friday in favor of constructing the Keystone XL pipeline, the controversial project that would transport heavy crude oil from Hardisty, Alberta, to Gulf Coast's refineries.
The bipartisan amendment to the Senate budget resolution, authored by Sens. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.), has no binding authority. But it shows the significant support the proposal enjoys on Capitol Hill, despite the fact that opponents argue its construction will accelerate global warming and could cause harmful oil spills on ecologically-sensitive habitat.
The 17 Democrats who voted yes included every single possibly vulnerable incumbent facing reelection next year, from 34-year veteran Baucus to first-term Sen. Mark Begich (Alaska).
Perhaps more importantly, Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.), who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, voted for the resolution. Bennet is not up for re-election until 2016, but his post requires him to raise money from the wealthy liberal community that is highly opposed to the pipeline.
Boeing plans workforce reduction of about 2,000 this year (22 March 2013)
Chicago-based Boeing Co. will reduce its Seattle-area manufacturing work force by 2,000 to 2,300 by the end of the year, including some 800 layoffs, the company confirmed on Friday.
Though the cutbacks involve employees working on the 787 Dreamliner, the reduction is unrelated to halted deliveries of the highly touted plane, which was grounded worldwide after two separate issues with burned batteries on the plane model.
Cuts also impact workers on the newest version of the Boeing 747, as the development stage of both plane models comes to completion.
"It was always expected that employment requirements would come down on these programs as we transitioned into stable production," Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel said. Boeing has confirmed similar cutbacks at its 787 production in South Carolina, where it is reducing its contract-labor work force by hundreds.
BBC-Guardian Exposé Uses WikiLeaks to Link Iraq Torture Centers to U.S. Col. Steele & Gen. Petraeus (22 March 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: As we continue to mark the 10th anniversary of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, we turn today to a shocking new report by The Guardian newspaper and BBC Arabic detailing how the United States armed and trained Iraqi police commando units that ran torture centers and death squads. It's a story that stretches from the U.S.-backed involvement in Latin America to the imprisoned Army whistleblower Bradley Manning. In a moment, we'll be joined by one of the chief reporters behind the investigation, but first I want to play an excerpt of the documentary that accompanies their report.
U.S. SOLDIER: First to fight for the right and to build the nation's might, and the Army goes rolling along.
NARRATOR: This is one of the great untold stories of the Iraq War, how just over a year after the invasion, the United States funded a sectarian police commando force that set up a network of torture centers to fight the insurgency. It was a decision that helped fuel a sectarian civil war between Shia and Sunni that ripped the country apart. At its height, it was claiming 3,000 victims a month.
This is also the story of James Steele, the veteran of America's dirty war in El Salvador. He was in charge of the U.S. advisers who trained notorious Salvadoran paramilitary units to fight left-wing guerrillas. In the course of that civil war, 75,000 people died, and over a million people became refugees. Steele was chosen by the Bush administration to work with General David Petraeus to organize these paramilitary police commandos.
Noam Chomsky: 'No individual changes anything alone' (22 March 2013)
It may have been pouring with rain, water overrunning the gutters and spreading fast and deep across London's Euston Road, but this did not stop a queue forming, and growing until it snaked almost all the way back to Euston station. Inside Friends House, a Quaker-run meeting hall, the excitement was palpable. People searched for friends and seats with thinly disguised anxiety; all watched the stage until, about 15 minutes late, a short, slightly top-heavy old man climbed carefully on to the stage and sat down. The hall filled with cheers and clapping, with whoops and with whistles.
Noam Chomsky, said two speakers (one of them Mariam Said, whose late husband, Edward, this lecture honours) "needs no introduction". A tired turn of phrase, but they had a point: in a bookshop down the road the politics section is divided into biography, reference, the Clintons, Obama, Thatcher, Marx, and Noam Chomsky. He topped the first Foreign Policy/Prospect Magazine list of global thinkers in 2005 (the most recent, however, perhaps reflecting a new editorship and a new rubric, lists him not at all). One study of the most frequently cited academic sources of all time found that he ranked eighth, just below Plato and Freud. The list included the Bible.
When he starts speaking, it is in a monotone that makes no particular rhetorical claim on the audience's attention; in fact, it's almost soporific. Last October, he tells his audience, he visited Gaza for the first time. Within five minutes many of the hallmarks of Chomsky's political writing, and speaking, are displayed: his anger, his extraordinary range of reference and experience -- journalism from inside Gaza, personal testimony, detailed knowledge of the old Egyptian government, its secret service, the new Egyptian government, the historical context of the Israeli occupation, recent news reports (of sewage used by the Egyptians to flood tunnels out of Gaza, and by Israelis to spray non-violent protesters). Fact upon fact upon fact, but also a withering, sweeping sarcasm -- the atrocities are "tolerated politely by Europe as usual". Harsh, vivid phrases -- the "hideously charred corpses of murdered infants"; bodies "writhing in agony" -- unspool until they become almost a form of punctuation.
You could argue that the latter is necessary, simply a description of atrocities that must be reported, but it is also a method that has diminishing returns. The facts speak for themselves; the adjectives and the sarcasm have the counterintuitive effect of cheapening them, of imposing on the world a disappointingly crude and simplistic argument. "The sentences," wrote Larissa MacFarquhar in a brilliant New Yorker profile of Chomsky 10 years ago, "are accusations of guilt, but not from a position of innocence or hope for something better: Chomsky's sarcasm is the scowl of a fallen world, the sneer of hell's veteran to its appalled naifs" -- and thus, in an odd way, static and ungenerative.
PAM COMMENTARY: Actually, I think everyone loves Chomsky's "adjectives and the sarcasm" because it's what many people (with a conscience) think, but nobody really hears from the press or any other media outlet. Maybe it's a relief to find someone who reports truly heinous acts as something more than just another news story, when they're mentioned at all.
NYPD officers testify stop-and-frisk policy driven by quota system and race (22 March 2013)
The New York police department's controversial stop-and-frisk program is being driven by a high-pressure quota system imposed upon lower-ranking officers by their supervisors, two NYPD officers testified in court this week.
The claims were made as part of a landmark class action lawsuit that began Monday. The suit seeks to prove that the nation's largest police department has demonstrated a widespread and systemic pattern of unconstitutional stops that disproportionately target minorities.
Lawyers for the city have dismissed allegations of quotas and scrutinized the credibility of the suit's plaintiffs, including their allegations of racial bias on the part of the department.
"The quota allegations are a sideshow," city attorney Heidi Grossman said in opening statements Monday. "Crime drives where police officers go," she added. "Not race."
Cold-case prosecutors seek DNA from dead California inmates (22 March 2013)
Opening a new frontier for solving cold cases, California prosecutors are hunting for DNA from killers, rapists and other prison inmates who died before authorities obtained their genetic profiles.
Prosecutors from Sacramento, Los Angeles and Orange counties are sifting through old court exhibits and examining long-since forgotten crime-scene evidence in search of blood, saliva and other material that can be tested for DNA. Once obtained, the DNA is compared with the genetic profiles from unsolved cases that have DNA from unidentified perpetrators.
Prosecutors say they believe the program is the first in the nation to target potentially thousands of offenders who have died in prison or while on parole before a biological sample could be tested for DNA as required by state law.
Last year, the program made its first cold-case hit after prosecutors discovered that coroner's officials in Sacramento still had blood from an autopsy conducted on serial killer Juan Chavez, who hanged himself in Folsom Prison in 1999. Chavez pleaded guilty to robbing and strangling five middle-aged men in Los Angeles County during the mid- to late 1980s.
Once Chavez's genetic profile was placed in the state's DNA criminal databank, authorities found that it matched DNA on a cigarette butt left at the Westlake-area apartment of a man strangled in 1990.
Chocolate really does lower your blood pressure (22 March 2013)
(NaturalNews) A growing body of research is emerging to show that eating chocolate really can lower your blood pressure.
Researchers have suspected for many years that chocolate may have a beneficial effect on blood pressure, ever since discovering that the indigenous Kuna people of the Central American island San Blas have normal blood pressure well into old age. One of the major lifestyle differences between the traditional Kuna and their urban relatives, scientists found, is that the traditional Kuna drink enormous quantities of essentially unprocessed cocoa.
Laboratory studies later confirmed that a group of naturally occurring chocolate chemicals called flavanols may have a beneficial effect on blood pressure. Scientists believe that flavanols cause nitric oxide to form in the body, which in turn relaxes and opens the blood vessels.
But until recently, there has been little experimental evidence to suggest that benefit can be gained simply from eating the processed chocolate sold in the United States.
Baby giraffe at Houston Zoo battling bad bone infection (22 March 2013)
The Houston Zoo's newest addition, a giraffe calf named Yao Ming, is battling a life-threatening bone infection, zoo officials said.
The Massai calf, born on Feb. 25, underwent arthroscopic surgery this week to remove infected bone from his right shoulder, said Zoo Director Rick Barongi.
A week after Yao's birth, keepers noticed that he was favoring his rear left leg. Yao and his mother, Neema, were kept in a separate stall so officials could monitor what appeared to be a minor sprain that would improve with rest.
"We thought it was just something minor, that maybe it was too much exercise," Barongi said.
Canadian scientists prepare for next big outbreak (22 March 2013)
WINNIPEG--In late November, a strange envelope turned up at the Canadian embassy in Lebanon. Its suspicious contents -- wood shavings, according to local reports -- sparked alarm: did it contain dangerous pathogens? Could this be a bioterrorist attack? The building was closed until the package could be investigated.
In snowy Winnipeg, 9,600 kilometres away, Dr. Cindi Corbett received the call: she was going to Beirut. In the hours before sunrise on Nov. 30, Corbett and her team drove to a nondescript warehouse and grabbed four black bags -- inside were the components of a mobile laboratory, capable of handling some of the world's deadliest pathogens.
The team was soon en route to Lebanon. Within hours of arriving at the embassy, they had set up their lab, investigated the package and deemed it to be harmless.
The episode drew little attention, both at home and in Lebanon, and nowhere on Google will you find any mention of Corbett in Beirut. For the mother of two, it was just another day on the job as one of Canada's top bioterrorism scientists. For the National Microbiology Laboratory where Corbett works, the Beirut incident was just another example of how Public Health Agency of Canada scientists work behind the scenes to protect people from microscopic dangers.
Never kiss a kissing bug (13 March 2013) [Rense.com]
She said kissing bugs are not to be confused with the common bed bug of the cimicid family, or with other bugs that look similar but do not feed on blood, such as leaf-footed bugs.
"Chagas disease is a major public health concern in Central and South America, but new evidence suggests that kissing bugs and the parasite that causes Chagas disease are becoming increasingly recognized in the southern U.S. Our research group is actively sampling the vector and mammals that may be infected to understand the natural cycles of disease transmission. With the public's help, we hope to increase our sample size to understand the ecology of the disease emergence in the U.S.," Hamer said.
Hamer warns never to touch a kissing bug with a bare hand, because the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes Chagas disease in humans and dogs, may be present within the bug and its feces. And she said, even if the bug is not carrying the parasite, a bite can cause an allergic reaction in some individuals similar to bites from other insects.
"If you see a bug that you believe is a kissing bug and you would like confirmation of the species identity and to submit it for testing, our lab will accept carefully-obtained samples for research purposes," she said.
Illegals bringing drug-resistant TB to U.S. (2 March 2013) [Rense.com]
A member of Congress who for more than 30 years worked as a doctor says the baggage that illegal aliens are bringing into the United States now is killing people.
Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, told WND that it's not suitcases, clothes or the like -- it's the highly infectious cases of drug-resistant and lethal tuberculosis that are walking across the Mexican border.
"It is something I am aware of and it is definitely a factor to consider in the immigration debate," Burgess said.
Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that generally attacks the lungs, although it can attack any part of the body. The disease is easily spread when an infected individual coughs, sneezes or even talks in the presence of another person. If not properly treated the disease can be fatal.
Grand jury rejects criminal charges in death of Robert Saylor, man with Down syndrome (22 March 2013)
Nationally, the case has drawn wide attention from parents of children with Down syndrome and advocacy groups. More than 1,000 angry messages also fill the Facebook page of the Frederick County Sheriff's Office.
Saylor was known for his hugs and was so fascinated with the police that he would sometimes call 911 just to ask a question.
In January, he and an aide watched "Zero Dark Thirty" at a Frederick movie theater. As soon as it ended, Saylor wanted to watch it again and would not leave the theater.
Officials say this is what happened next: The aide, an 18-year-old woman, was getting the car when a theater employee called the three off-duty officers, who were working security at the Westview Promenade shopping center, and told them that Saylor needed to buy another ticket or leave.
Chicago announces mass closing of elementary schools (21 March 2013)
(Reuters) - Chicago will close 54 schools and 61 school buildings by the beginning of the next academic year in the country's third-largest public school district, a move that union leaders called the largest mass closing in the nation.
The district will shutter 53 elementary schools and one high school by August, primarily in Hispanic and African-American neighborhoods. The district, which has a $1 billion annual deficit, has said it needs to close underutilized schools to save money.
Enrollment in Chicago Public Schools has fallen 20 percent in the last decade, mainly because of population declines in poor neighborhoods. The district said it can accommodate 511,000 students, but only about 403,000 are enrolled. It said that nearly 140 of its schools are more than half empty.
The controversial decision to close dozens of schools follows a bitter strike by Chicago teachers last September, fought partly over the Chicago Teachers Union's accusation that Mayor Rahm Emanuel was undermining community schools in poor areas of the city.
GM salmon rejected by Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Aldi and other food (21 March 2013)
(NaturalNews) In yet another blow to GMOs, several major U.S. food retailers have signed on to the "Campaign for GE-Free Seafood" found at http://www.foe.org/gefreeseafood
These retailers include Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Aldi and many more. It's the latest private sector blow to the deceptive biotech industry. Consumers overwhelming reject GMOs even if the FDA conspires with biotechnology companies to try to shove genetically engineered food down their throats. Activist organizations like Natural News, the Organic Consumers Association and the Institute for Responsible Technology have helped organize constant grassroots pressure on food retailers to either label GMOs or reject them outright.
"A coalition of consumer, health, food safety and fishing groups today launched the Campaign for Genetically Engineered (GE)-Free Seafood by announcing that several major grocery retailers representing more than 2,000 stores across the United States have already committed not to sell genetically engineered seafood if it is allowed onto the market," reads the press release announcement. It continues:
The FDA has stated it will likely not label genetically engineered salmon, providing consumers no way of knowing if the fish they are feeding their families is genetically engineered. At least 35 other species of genetically engineered fish are currently under development, and the FDA's decision on this genetically engineered salmon application will set a precedent for other genetically engineered fish and animals (including cows, chickens and pigs) to enter the global food market.
Canadian and US aboriginal groups vow to block oil pipelines (21 March 2013)
An alliance of Canadian and US aboriginal groups vowed on Wednesday to block three multibillion-dollar oil pipelines that are planned to transport oil from the Alberta tar sands, saying they are prepared to take physical action to stop them.
The Canadian government, faced with falling revenues due to pipeline bottlenecks and a glut that has cut the price for Alberta oil, says the projects are a national priority and will help diversify exports away from the US market.
But the alliance of 10 native bands - all of whose territories are either near the crude-rich tar sands or on the proposed pipeline routes - complain Ottawa and Washington are ignoring their rights.
They also say building the pipelines would boost carbon-intensive oil sands production and therefore speed up the pace of climate change.
Woman's tea addiction led to loss of teeth, bone problems (21 March 2013) [Rense.com]
A case study reported in the March 21 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine shows how habitually drinking an extreme form of highly concentrated tea over almost 20 years created a hard-to-diagnose case of severe bone damage in a 47-year-old woman.
Worried that she had cancer, the patient told her primary care doctor in Lansing, Mich., that she was concerned about bone pain she had been having in her lower back, arms, legs and hips for five years. She also had had all her teeth extracted due to brittleness.
Her X-rays showed her bones were unusually dense, but there was no sign of disease. The fluoride level in her blood was also high. She was referred to Dr. Sudhaker Rao, section head of bone and mineral metabolism and director of the bone and mineral research laboratory at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, for a bone biopsy.
The patient's intake of brewed tea was astronomically high, said Rao, who learned that the patient had been regularly drinking a pitcher a day of tea made from about 100 to 150 tea bags, which gave her more than 20 milligrams (mg) of fluoride. She had a fluoride concentration in her blood of 0.43 milligrams per liter, while the normal concentration is less than 0.10 mg per liter, Rao reported.
Salt, sugar, and fat: Why we can't quit junk food's holy trinity (21 March 2013)
Q. Salt Sugar Fat reveals parallels between the food industry and tobacco industry's efforts to get us hooked on their products -- not just through creative marketing, but by focusing on the way our bodies react to key ingredients. Does this mean we could legally go after food companies in the same way?
A. The processed-food industry is entirely confident it can withstand tobacco-type litigation. I think their confidence comes from the difference between tobacco and food, inherently, and the difficulty that a lawyer would have blaming any one company or any one product for the obesity crisis or diabetes.
That said, there's certainly nothing stopping the states from going after processed food collectively, because the estimates are that obesity is causing as much as $300 billion in extra medical expenses and lost productivity every year. So it's probably a [bigger] issue financially for the health system than even tobacco.
What really struck me in reporting the book was how the tobacco industry plays another role. Philip Morris, the largest tobacco company, became the largest food manufacturer in North America, by buying first General Foods and then Kraft. Starting in the late '90s, Philip Morris kind of gets religion on tobacco -- it's under increasing regulatory pressure, it starts worrying that it's losing the public trust, it's constantly polling consumers, and its reputation is plummeting. It becomes the first tobacco company to embrace government regulation as a way of avoiding complete disaster. So they turn to their food division, and said to them, you guys are going to face as great, if not a greater, problem with salt, sugar, and fat as we are with nicotine and tobacco. You've got to start doing something to reexamine your dependence on [those ingredients].
I found it really startling that tobacco would be the entity warning the food companies about obesity.
Naturally eliminate cancer with the Gonzalez therapy (21 March 2013)
Originally, Dr. Beard hypothesized that pancreatic enzymes needed to be injected - to prevent its destruction from hydrochloric acid in the stomach. But, as more recent data emerged, clinical evidence proves that orally-ingested pancreatic enzymes are effective. Unfortunately, after Dr. Beard's death in 1923, the enzyme approach to treating cancer was largely forgotten due to the growing popularity of "modern" medicine.
Every cancer patient needs to understand the "protein-cancer connection"
For over 25 years, Dr. William Kelley (a dentist by training) created a unique way of treating many chronic and degenerative diseases - including cancer. Dr. Kelley believed that the root cause of cancer came from the body's inability to digest protein properly. Dr. Kelley also warned cancer patients about the dangers of untreated (disorderly) protein metabolism. In fact, Dr. Kelley said:
"it will give rise to more tumors in the future, even if the first one is successfully removed. This, by the way, is the unfortunate reason why so many seemingly successful cancer operations end up in recurrences a year or two later. The tumor was removed, but the cause-improper protein metabolism-remained."
Today, Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez is a recognized leader in field of nutritional therapies for cancer patients - especially with the use of pancreatic enzymes along with diet and detoxification techniques. On the next NaturalNews Talk Hour - cancer patients will find hope and become inspired. Spread the news - this is one show you will not want to miss!
PAM COMMENTARY: There are many different alternative approaches to cancer. I don't link to this one because I endorse it, but in this case because it seems to support the fact that Rife and Kendall had to use a protein broth to grow the cancer virus in Rife's laboratory (for Rife machine fans).
Blizzard causes pileup near Edmonton, sends 100 people to hospital (21 March 2013)
A blizzard that has been blasting through the Prairies is blamed for a multi-vehicle crash south of Edmonton that has injured about 100 people.
Sharman Hnatiuk with Alberta Health Services initially said about 300 people were hurt, but she has revised that number downward to 100.
She says only one person has been seriously injured and the others suffered minor to moderate injuries.
Many have been treated on Greyhound buses and others have been taken to area hospitals.
RCMP have closed a portion of Highway 2 -- the main road between Edmonton and Calgary -- and have been redirecting traffic away from the collision scene.
Hamilton lottery winner fritters away $10 million (21 March 2013)
Nine years after cashing her $10.5-million cheque, Hamilton lotto winner Sharon Tirabassi is catching the bus to her part-time job so she can support her kids and pay the rent.
Tirabassi, 35, has gone from rolling in dough to living paycheque to paycheque.
The Lotto Super 7 payout didn't come with a financial adviser and before she knew it -- big house, fancy cars, designer clothes, lavish parties, exotic trips, handouts to family, loans to friends -- the money was gone.
"You don't think it'll go (at the time), right?" Tirabassi says.
She'd check her account now and again, but there were always so many zeroes that she figured it was fine -- until one day there was just three-quarters of a million left.
Migrants Seek Refuge Underground in Mexican Border City (21 March 2013) [Rense.com]
TIJUANA, Mexico -- Hundreds of deported migrants, fearing detection and harassment by police and drug smugglers and unable to return to their homes, have sought refuge in below-ground makeshift dwellings in this Mexican border metropolis.
Around 200 migrants are living in about 30 "pocitos," tunnels up to 15 meters (50 feet) long and a meter deep that have been dug into the rain-softened earth along a section of the Tijuana River near the U.S.-Mexico border.
Some 100,000 people are sent back to Tijuana every year from the United States, making that area of Mexico the recipient of the largest number of deportees.
In that metropolis, a half-mile stretch of the intermittent river known as "El Bordo" -- notable for raised concrete embankments, or levees, on either side of a foul-smelling wastewater conduit -- is a gathering point for some 3,000 Mexican and Central American migrants who became stranded there after being deported from the United States.
Until recently, hundreds of fragile homes erected on the banks of the narrow river were visible at El Bordo, located just west of the busy San Ysidro Port of Entry and adjoining the San Ysidro district of south San Diego.
Hackers who hit South Korea used an old tactic (21 March 2013)
The malware was a relatively simple virus similar to one used last summer, purportedly by the Iranians, to attack Saudi oil giant Aramco. Despite the relative lack of sophistication, the programmers displayed some classical flair.
The word used to overwrite the master boot drive in the disabled computers was the Latin "hastati," referring to a Roman light infantry, according to a South Korean security company. Another word that appeared in the programming was "principes," a heavy artillery.
"It is not very sophisticated at all. Thing was one of the first viruses we saw in the 1980s, but nowadays people want to make money or steal secrets," said Richard Bejtlich, chief of security at Mandiant, an Alexandria, Va.-based computer security firm. "People use this kind of virus only because they are immature or out of spite to cause damage to the victim."
Known as a "wiper,'' the malware starts by shutting down antivirus and security software. Then, it overwrites the master boot record on the hard disk. Then it does the same to other drives.
Visas for high-skilled workers could double under bipartisan Senate plan (20 March 2013)
A Senate immigration plan would dramatically increase the number of high-skilled foreign workers allowed into the country and give permanent legal status to an unlimited number of students who earn graduate degrees from U.S. universities in science, technology, engineering or math, according to people familiar with the negotiations.
The agreement would be a major victory for the tech industry, which has backed an intense lobbying campaign on Capitol Hill in recent months arguing that Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other companies are having trouble finding qualified workers because of visa limits.
The expansion of the visas, known as H1Bs, is one element of talks among a bipartisan group of eight senators, whose legislation is expected to serve as the basis for a deal between Congress and the White House to retool the immigration system. The number of visas available would approximately double from the current limit of 65,000 per year.
The H1B program was created in 1990 to attract high-skilled workers from around the world, but it has become a way for outsourcing firms to bring lower-paid employees to the United States.
Ten Years Later, U.S. Has Left Iraq with Mass Displacement & Epidemic of Birth Defects, Cancers (20 March 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Dahr, as we--as you speak, I just want to say we're going to be showing images, and I want to warn our TV audience. For our radio listeners, if you want to go to the website, you'll be able to see the kind of images that you captured, Dahr, when you were in Iraq. Go ahead. Keep saying what you were saying.
DAHR JAMAIL: The most recent statistic, I'll end with, before I get into Fallujah. And what these images are showing is that in 2005 we saw 1,600 Iraqis with cancer out of 100,000, so a massive escalation that continues.
And going on to Fallujah, because I wrote about this a year ago, and then I returned to the city again this trip, we are seeing an absolute crisis of congenital malformations of newborn. There is one doctor, a pediatrician named Dr. Samira Alani, working on this crisis in the city. She's the only person there registering cases. And she's seeing horrific birth defects. I mean, these are extremely hard to look at. They're extremely hard to bear witness to. But it's something that we all need to pay attention to, because of the amount of depleted uranium used by the U.S. military during both of their brutal attacks on the city of 2004, as well as other toxic munitions like white phosphorus, among other things.
And so, what this has generated is, from 2004 up to this day, we are seeing a rate of congenital malformations in the city of Fallujah that has surpassed even that in the aftermath of--in the wake of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that were--that nuclear bombs were dropped on at the end of World War II. So, Dr. Samira Alani actually visited with doctors in Japan, comparing statistics, and found that the amount of congenital malformations in Fallujah is 14 times greater than the same rate measured in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in the aftermath of the nuclear bombings. These types of birth defects, she said--there are types of congenital malformations that she said they don't even have medical terms for, that some of the things they're seeing, they've never seen before. They're not in any of the books or any of the scientific literature that they have access to. She said it's common now in Fallujah for newborns to come out with massive multiple systemic defects, immune problems, massive central nervous system problems, massive heart problems, skeletal disorders, baby's being born with two heads, babies being born with half of their internal organs outside of their bodies, cyclops babies literally with one eye--really, really, really horrific nightmarish types of birth defects. And it is ongoing.
Dahr Jamail Returns to Iraq to Find Rampant Torture and a Failed State Living in "Utter Devastation" (20 March 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Dahr Jamail, a lot of people say that what's going on in Iraq now is not so much the result of the U.S. invasion but rather sectarian war between Sunnis and Shias. Could you respond to that? Do you agree?
DAHR JAMAIL: I don't agree. I think all of this is a direct result of--either direct or indirectly a result of the U.S. invasion and occupation and the strategy applied. I mean, we saw something come out just last week in a joint investigation of BBC Arabic and The Guardian, which gave hard evidence, insider evidence, of the machinations of the U.S. using retired Lieutenant Colonel James Steele, infamous during the Reagan administration of orchestrating so many of the death squads in Central America along with Negroponte. Well, Negroponte happened to be the U.S. ambassador to Iraq for some of the occupation and, of course, brought in his old buddy James Steele to set up the same types of tactics, the detentions, the types of torture techniques that we're seeing rampant across today--across Iraq today, the blatant attempts to foment sectarian violence, sort of a divide-and-conquer policy. Even Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld under Bush, back around 2006, 2007, referred to kind of casually using the "Salvador Option" in Iraq, and that's precisely what he was describing.
So, the sectarianism fomented where, you know, we don't have a natural sectarianism or animosities between the sects in Iraq, but it was only after the occupation began and these strategies were applied by the Bush administration that we saw the violence, the purging in the mixed neighborhoods, that continues to this day, and the sectarianism, and basically turning Iraqis against one another very effectively. And this is a direct result of the Bush administration policy, as well as bringing in Maliki as prime minister himself.
We have to remember that when neoconservative Zalmay Khalilzad was the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Maliki was basically the guy that the U.S. government and Iran could agree with as having as prime minister. And so, there wasn't a whole lot of democracy involved in that whatsoever. I say, tongue in cheek, he was basically appointed by Zalmay Khalilzad and agreed upon by the powers that be in Iran, and he of course remains prime minister to this day despite--we've had elections that clearly he has not won, yet he remains in power.
Pro-Palestinian protesters wear Martin Luther King masks in clash with Israeli army as Obama arrives in Tel Aviv (20 March 2013) [Rense.com]
A mixed group of Israeli, Palestinian and overseas protesters, wearing Barack Obama and Martin Luther King masks, clashed with the army and Jewish settlers in Hebron earlier today as they marched down a street off limits to Palestinians in protest at the occupation, and timed to coincide with Barack Obama's visit.
As the American president landed 60km away at Ben-Gurion airport, the group of about 25 protesters shouting, "one, two, three, four occupation no more", most of them wearing black T-shirts that carried Luther King's famous civil rights slogan, "I have a dream," walked down Shuhada Street in the West Bank city, waving Palestinian flags.
"We were trying to remind Obama that thanks to the American civil rights movement in the 1960s, a black man like him can be president -- he now seems to be on the side of the powerful," said Yonathan Shapiro, an Israeli who took part in the protest and who was detained by the Israeli army, or IDF, for about 30 minutes before being released.
In total nine of the protesters were held, according to organisers, including two Israelis who were quickly released. Three overseas passport holders and four Palestinians were all also arrested.
Secret report raises alarms on intelligence blind spots because of AQ focus (20 March 2013)
A panel of White House advisers warned President Obama in a secret report that U.S. spy agencies were paying inadequate attention to China, the Middle East and other national security flash points because they had become too focused on military operations and drone strikes, U.S. officials said.
Led by influential figures including new Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and former senator David L. Boren (D-Okla.), the panel concluded in a report last year that the roles of the CIA, the National Security Agency and other spy services had been distorted by more than a decade of conflict.
The classified document called for the first significant shift in intelligence resources since they began flowing heavily toward counterterrorism programs and war zones after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The findings by the President's Intelligence Advisory Board may signal a turning point in the terrorism fight. The document was distributed to senior national security officials at the White House whose public remarks in recent weeks suggest that they share some of the panel's concerns.
MIT agrees to release Aaron Swartz documents -- with redactions (20 March 2013)
The president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced on Tuesday that the school will voluntarily release public documents related to the prosecution of the free-information activist Aaron Swartz, who killed himself in January as he faced trial on hacking charges.
The email announcement by MIT president L Rafael Reif came in response to a request on Friday by lawyers for Swartz's estate to have the US district court in Boston make the documents public. The university has come under fire for what critics say is its compliance with federal prosecutors in the legal case against Swartz. Supporters of Swartz have painted him as a zealous advocate of public online access, a martyred hero hounded to his death by the government he antagonized.
To prosecutors, the 26-year-old Swartz was a thief whose aims to make information available didn't excuse the illegal acts he was charged with: breaking into a wiring closet at MIT and tapping into its computer network to download millions of paid-access scholarly articles, which he planned to share publicly. Swartz was facing possibly decades in prison after being indicted in Boston in 2011 when he hanged himself in his Brooklyn, New York, apartment.
The documents will be released at the same time as an internal analysis of MIT's role in the Swartz case is made public. No date has been set for the release of that analysis, which is being conducted by professor Hal Abelson. The documents will have MIT employees' names blacked out in order to protect their safety, Reif wrote. The university will also black out information that might open it to further hacking attacks.
Feds say Native Mob gang dented but work remains (20 March 2013)
Federal prosecutors say they've weakened a violent American Indian gang known for terrorizing people in the Upper Midwest now that an alleged leader and two members have been convicted in one of the largest gang cases to come out of Indian Country.
But investigators acknowledge their work isn't done in Minnesota or other states where the Native Mob is active, noting that the gang has been around for a long time.
"We have some conservative confidence that we did put a dent (in the gang) but we're also very realistic and know that law enforcement will continue to pursue gang activity including the Native Mob," Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Winter said after jurors handed down convictions Tuesday on an array of racketeering and other charges.
"The verdicts reflect the seriousness of the crimes that were being committed by the Native Mob, which includes not only drug trafficking, but discharging of firearms at innocent people, and trafficking firearms, and basically wreaking havoc through communities throughout the state of Minnesota," he said.
Never again! The real history of psychiatry (20 March 2013)
Consider as a start the several-hundred year history of the state mental hospital system. Given the power to lock up people at their own discretion, psychiatrists "put away" untold millions of people over several hundred years in the Western World. In its heyday in the 1930s, by turning innumerable state hospital patients into guinea pigs, psychiatry invented and practiced lobotomy, insulin coma shock, and electroshock. Despite overwhelming evidence for its damaging effects, electroshock continues to flourish and to be pushed by advocates, probably afflicting several hundreds of thousand patients each year in the US.
Psychiatry never reformed itself. It became so costly to the states to maintain these facilities and the federal government obliged by providing Social Security Disability Insurance for "mental illness." This enabled the states to throw out the inmates from their giant facilities to live on the streets or to languish in oppressive nursing homes with meager federal support.
How devoid has psychiatry been of any self-critical restraint? In the early 1970s, when a resurgence of lobotomy threatened another wave of brain mutilation, I stood alone as the first psychiatrist to publically oppose this "treatment." My successful international campaign against psychosurgery launched my psychiatric reform career (see here also) in earnest. The violent reaction from psychiatry to my reform efforts taught me how dearly psychiatry holds onto its power and even its most barbaric treatments.
A few years later, I became the first psychiatrist to speak out in public against electroshock. Now I'm the first one to have been a medical expert in successful malpractice suits against a psychosurgeon and more recently against a shock doctor. I tell you this not only to share some of what I've been doing as a psychiatrist these past 50 years, but also to tell you that psychiatry cannot be trusted to monitor itself. It always seeks to aggrandize itself with power with resultant severe injuries to those it alleges to help.
It has grown unfashionable to talk about Nazi Germany. But the information I am about to convey is still known to only a tiny fraction of our Americans. More than anything else in history, it teaches us to beware increasing psychiatric power.
State study seeks answers to Back Bay, river pollution (20 March 2013)
Mary Tilton, executive director of the Back Bay Restoration Foundation, said the cleanup work, if performed, would greatly help water quality in the large, shallow estuary at the southern edge of Virginia Beach.
"There doesn't appear to be any real smoking guns," she said of obvious pollution sources. "So the key to this definitely will be figuring out where this stuff is coming from."
Sections of four creeks fronting Back Bay are being diagnosed: Beggars Bridge Creek, Hell Point Creek, Muddy Creek and Asheville Bridge Creek. Two pieces of the North Landing River, including the river itself, along with the Pocaty River, are being investigated.
Bacteria typically stems from human sewage or animal wastes. So far, the state has found only a handful of failing septic systems - 243 out of more than 54,000 housing units in the affected area - though officials caution that it doesn't take much to trigger health violations.
The state also has estimated pets in the area at more than 76,000 dogs and cats, and it says the local livestock population on farms is more than 2,000 cows and horses. The area used to be active with hog farms, but almost all of them are gone.
Could micro-algae free America from foreign wars, debt and environmental destruction? 'Green crude oil' and 'living buildings' may hold the secret to liberation (20 March 2013)
$3.7 trillion price tag and counting
Warfare in Afghanistan and Iraq has created staggering debt for the American people with estimates reaching close to $4 trillion. While some believe the Afghan war was in response to the September 11 attacks, many suspect it's the result of a proposed central Asia oil pipeline which would travel through the country. And most don't doubt the war in Iraq was waged in the name of oil as well. A hefty price is paid for this 'black gold.' With these two wars alone, over 224,000 people have died directly because of the violence and many more indirectly due to the destruction of clean drinking water, healthcare and nutrition. Financial and human losses are not the only consequence of petroleum addiction -- the environment is in serious jeopardy too.
Global warming is just the tip of the (disappearing) iceberg
Between global warming and pollution of the air, soil and water, oil is a dirty business. Creating tremendous amounts of CO2 while contaminating the environment with heavy metals and sulfur, burning any kind of fossil fuel puts an enormous strain on nature and our physical health. Not to mention the byproducts of oil refining that destroy surrounding ecosystems -- threatening animals, insects and humans alike. Intelligent and responsible solutions are desperately needed. Surprisingly, algae may be the answer.
A true green technology
Slated to open in March 2013 in Germany, the world's first algae powered building is a game changer for green design. Utilizing bioreactive louvers filled with micro-algae, the facade of the structure traps heat from the sun which is then used as a power source. It also provides cooling shade when outside temperatures rise. Additionally, the algae is harvested as biomass, providing yet another source of energy. The technology is estimated to generate 10 percent of the building's electrical demands without harmful pollution or waste. But algae is put to good use in other forms of green technology as well.
Enter fledgling companies like Sapphire Energy who turn four basic elements (algae, CO2, water and sunlight) into 'green crude oil.' As of 2012, the company has the world's largest algae farm on 300 acres of New Mexican desert scrub. The goal is to produce around 100 barrels of oil a day, equating to 1.5 million gallons a year. The major stumbling block is cost -- between $240-$332 a barrel, far higher that standard petroleum. Be that as it may, if we compare the expense of American wars over the last decade, the cost of manufacturing this green petrol is a true bargain.
The Costs of War: 10 Years After Iraq Invasion, New Study Tallies the Massive Human, Financial Toll (19 March 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Then there's the U.S. soldiers--the U.S. soldiers who went there, the thousands who were killed and the soldiers who come back wounded. Can you talk first about the deaths of U.S. soldiers and also those who came back physically ill? For example, respiratory illnesses, like--almost like we saw in the Gulf War.
NETA CRAWFORD: Well, the illnesses for the--well, let's just first begin with the deaths of U.S. soldiers: 4,488 soldiers died in the Iraq War. That is of all kinds of causes--IEDs, which we're familiar with, but also being crushed by their own vehicles in traffic accidents. They died in the many ways that people die in war--shot and so on. Many come back wounded, complex injuries, more complex than in previous wars because of the higher survival rates in the field.
And what you also see, which you've just mentioned, are chronic respiratory problems. So, they have something called constrictive bronchiolitis, which is a disease caused by small particles, 2.5 to 10 microns, embedded inside the lungs of these returning soldiers. And that's caused by dust and burn pits. So this particulate matter gets inside the soldiers' lungs, and it decreases their ability to exercise. They're no longer elite athletes as they were when they deployed. Now they're having difficulty running a mile or two.
And these soldiers also come back with higher rates of heart problems. And more than a third of them who have become subject to the Veteran Administration's care are seeking help for mental disturbances.
AMY GOODMAN: Which brings us to suicide. In August [May 16, 2012], we spoke to Iraq War veteran Aaron Hughes about suicides in the military.
AARON HUGHES: Every day in this country 18 veterans are committing suicide. Seventeen percent of the individuals that are in combat in Afghanistan, my brothers and sisters, are on psychotropic medication. Twenty to 50 percent of the individuals that are getting deployed to Afghanistan are already diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, military sexual trauma or a traumatic brain injury. Currently one-third of the women in the military are sexually assaulted. It's clear that these policies of the global war on terror has had a profound effect on the military, my brothers and sisters, while simultaneously perpetuating a failed policy. And unfortunately, we have to live with that failed policy on a daily basis, and we don't want to be a part of that failed policy anymore.
Wish George W. Bush a Happy Iraq War Day: Here is His Private Email Address (19 March 2013)
As we mentioned earlier, a hacker calling himself (or herself) Guccifer has penetrated the electronic worlds of George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, and a number of other political figures. Screengrabs of various email conversations that Bush, Clinton, and others have participated in have been floating around the internet. And it has come to our attention on this, the day of the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq on the orders of George W. Bush, that one of those screengrabs credibly displays Bush's private email address. It is: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please let him know that you're thinking of him today.
COMMENT: "It's wrong to print this email information. I can't stand GWB but he is the former President of the U.S. For that reason alone, not even considering safety, etc., this shouldn't be disseminated to the publc. I didn't like it when his paintings were put online and people made fun of him, but that's much more tolerable than this. If the guy likes to paint, who cares? But this, to unleash people on him via a private email address, is wrong. Maybe the Secret Service will come tapping at your door."
COMMENT: "If you think his private email address sits on his Presidential Center's website, have I got stuff to sell you."
COMMENT: "Do you actually think that Laura spends her days reading him his email since it's obvious he's a functional illiterate?"
COMMENT: "I don't know what's wrong with me, but I find that I miss that goofy face a little bit. Maybe it's because it is like a true reflection of the American mindset; arrogant and stupid. It's like a window into our national soul.
"But really, the people crying foul over this: George is directly responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths, I think forcing him to change his email address by a few characters is not really all that bad considering."
PAM COMMENTARY: Oh, please! I'd swear the old mass murderer hired the hacker himself, he's so detested and starved for attention these days. And if he doesn't like e-mail from Gawker's readers, he can always get a new e-mail account. G-mail is good -- it's great at catching spam (and malicious software like the hacker supposedly used) that other e-mail services miss, although you have to keep an eye on it to be sure your "real" e-mail makes it through. Is PresidentMORON@gmail.com available?
Elizabeth Colbert Busch wins South Carolina Democratic primary (19 March 2013)
Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert, has won the Democratic nomination for a South Carolina House seat by a landslide, while the former state governor Mark Sanford will progress to a Republican run-off.
Polling took place on Tuesday in a US congressional primary race that threw together a colourful cast of candidates including Colbert Busch, whose brother joined her on the campaign trail; Ted Turner's son; and a former governor of the state who once gave new meaning to "hiking the Appalachian trail".
The primary, to select nominees for South Carolina's first district congressional seat, drew a crowded field, with two contenders for the Democratic nomination and 16 for the Republican. Colbert Busch, a businesswoman who is on the staff of Clemson University, lived up to her status as favourite to secure the Democratic nomination and was boosted by her brother's campaigning. Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert, who rarely abandons his satirical conservative persona in public, told CNN's Jake Tapper on Monday: "I'm willing to, you know, break the jewel of my own creation to try to do something for her.
"I'm not worried about what it would do to me or my show to try to help her as myself -- not as my character, to help her as myself. And you know, if people think that's not the right thing for me to do, I don't care. It's my sister, and I'm willing to help her."
Serial arsonist targets Virginia's Eastern Shore (19 March 2013)
ACCOMACK COUNTY, Va. -- The massive blaze erupted in the decrepit Whispering Pines Motel last week not far from a sign advertising a $25,000 reward for tips on one of the worst arsonists in Virginia history.
The person torched a shuttered restaurant the next night and burned an old schoolhouse to the ground Thursday, slipping away into the darkness long before anyone even knew the fires had been set.
The relentless series -- more than 70 arsons -- has sent flames shooting into the sky over this rural Eastern Shore county about every other night since mid-November and created a deepening urgency and mystery with each new spark.
The culprit or culprits seem to be taking great care to evade detection. Virginia State Police said the fires have been set in ways that they go undetected for an hour or two, although authorities declined to discuss those methods. Officers said the burned buildings, although scattered across the 450-square-mile county, are in areas with multiple escape routes.
Caffeine helps prevent road crash risk: study (18 March 2013)
Research among long-distance commercial drivers in Australia has given weight to those who say coffee, tea or caffeine energy drinks or tablets help prevent dangerous drowsiness at the wheel.
Investigators looked at crashes between 2008 and 2011 in New South Wales and Western Australia that involved vehicles of at least 12 tonnes.
They compared 530 drivers who had crashed while on a long trip with 517 drivers who had not had an accident in the previous 12 months.
After factoring in age, sleep patterns and breaks taken during the trip, the researchers found that drivers who consumed caffeine to help them stay awake were 63 percent less likely to crash than those who did not take a caffeinated substance.
Taking caffeine "should be considered as an effective adjunct strategy" for keeping alert while driving, but breaks, sleep and regular exercise are also essential, said the study, published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on Tuesday.
The political media's declining power (19 March 2013)
A new Pew report on the state of the media exposes one of the worst-kept secrets in politics: reporters are losing their power to frame presidential contests for the average citizen.
"Campaign reporters were acting primarily as megaphones, rather than investigators, of the assertions put forward by the candidates and other political partisans," according to the report. "Only about a quarter of statements in the media about the character and records of the presidential candidates originated with journalists in the 2012 race, while twice that many came from political partisans."
Here's a look at how those 2012 numbers compared to past presidential elections...
Fukushima loses cooling power (19 March 2013)
Four fuel storage pools at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant have been without fresh cooling water for more than 15 hours due to a power outage. The plant's operator has said it is trying to repair or replace a broken switchboard that might be the problem.
The 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami destroyed the plant's power and cooling systems, causing three reactor cores to melt and fuel storage pools to overheat. The plant has since been using makeshift systems.
Plant operator Tepco said pool temperatures remained within safe levels and the pools would remain safe for at least four days without fresh cooling water.
Tepco was preparing a backup system in case the repairs didn't work, said Masayuki Ono, a company official. "If worse comes to worst we have a backup water injection system."
Stumps of ancient forest arise yearly on Outer Banks (19 March 2013)
"When you get to that section, you've got to watch out," he said. "Fog is the worst."
Bowden says he believes two storms in 1846 may have leveled the forest. About 100 years ago, area resident and historian Henry B. Ansell wrote in his memoirs of a massive storm in March 1846 and another in September that sent ocean breakers over the banks and all the way to Knotts Island, more than a mile inland. He wrote of trees being uprooted.
"For the old of this island to recall the dire, terrible and still lasting disaster of that year could bring nothing but depression," he wrote, as recorded in a document at the Currituck County Library.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Bowden dug canals within the Carova Beach neighborhood and remembers uncovering large, ancient trees lying some eight feet below the surface all pointing in the same direction.
"I have to believe that 1846 hurricane leveled all those trees," he said.
Lost Sleep Can Lead to Weight Gain (18 March 2013)
The best path to a healthy weight may be a good night's sleep.
For years researchers have known that adults who sleep less than five or six hours a night are at higher risk of being overweight. Among children, sleeping less than 10 hours a night is associated with weight gain.
Now a fascinating new study suggests that the link may be even more insidious than previously thought. Losing just a few hours of sleep a few nights in a row can lead to almost immediate weight gain.
Sleep researchers from the University of Colorado recruited 16 healthy men and women for a two-week experiment tracking sleep, metabolism and eating habits. Nothing was left to chance: the subjects stayed in a special room that allowed researchers to track their metabolism by measuring the amount of oxygen they used and carbon dioxide they produced. Every bite of food was recorded, and strict sleep schedules were imposed.
Virginia government prosecutes homeowner with criminal charges for backyard chickens that produce organic eggs (18 March 2013)
(NaturalNews) An ongoing debate over the rights of homeowners to raise and keep their own chickens may soon gain an audience in the Virgina Supreme Court. Attorneys at the Rutherford Institute have filed a Petition for Appeal on behalf of Virginia Beach resident Tracy Gugal-Okroy, who faces criminal charges related to zoning ordinance violations for keeping chickens in her backyard. The organization, a nationally active group which is dedicated to upholding constitutional and property rights, is urging the court to protect local residents against what it referred to in a statement posted online as "onerous regulations that render otherwise law-abiding individuals as criminals simply for attempting to grow or raise their own food in a sustainable manner."
Gugal-Okroy's friendly flock has grown to 22 since 2011, when she purchased her first dozen baby chicks from a local farm. Each one is a family pet, she says, and her family has named them all. In addition to the enjoyment of their beloved companionship, Gugal-Okroy's family has come to reap additional benefits from looking after the chickens -- namely, the continual production of fresh, organic eggs, a steady supply of sustainable garden compost and fertilizer the chicken's manure provides, and even natural pest elimination as the chickens feed on mosquitoes and other bugs. The chickens are quiet and well-protected from predators, keeping either to their coop or fenced-in quarters. And all are there with blessings from Gugal-Okroy's neighbors, with whom she had consulted beforehand.
But her neighborly courtesy doesn't mean much to local officials in the City of Virginia Beach. A January 2012 notice from the city inspector alerted Gugal-Okroy that by keeping her chickens on her property, she may be in violation of a local zoning ordinance referring to "agricultural and horticultural uses" within residential districts, and excepting "poultry." Despite her subsequent appellate fight, which included multiple letters of support from neighbors, the City's Zoning Board of Appeals maintained that chickens were not allowed in the city. A later subsequent to the circuit court also ended poorly for Gugal-Okroy, when in an October 2012 ruling, the court upheld the zoning board's decision, finding that Gugal-Okroy had, in fact, violated the zoning ordinance. By that time, Gugal-Okroy had also received a summons charging her with violating the city's ordinance, which included a possible fine of up to $1,000.
Attorneys at the Rutherford Institute are now hoping they can help to shift momentum in Gugal-Okroy's favor. In their petition to the Virginia Supreme Court, they challenge the lower court's interpretation of the ordinance, arguing that restrictions pertaining to keeping fowl or "poultry" within the city do not apply to animals raised as companions and pets. Nonetheless, the case does carry potentially serious implications for individuals who prefer to raise their own wholesome food.
Steubenville Rape Trial: Blogger Who Exposed Case Speaks Out After Ohio Teens Found Guilty (18 March 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask you about the role of cyber-activists in exposing what happened. In January, we spoke to, well, he called himself "X," a member of the hacktivist group Anonymous, using a pseudonym.
"X": I think it's apparent to anybody who can stomach watching it for the entire 12 minutes. I, myself, here at our location--we've been working night and day on this operation, and I've watched it at least a dozen times, and it makes me sick each time we watch it. I think it speaks for itself.
AMY GOODMAN: He's talking, of course, about this video. However, special prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter claimed the actions of the cyber-activist group Anonymous put more pressure on the rape victim.
MARIANNE HEMMETER: No matter how you cut this case, she was the center of the storm. And it wasn't just Steubenville or Ohio; it became international. She's a 16-year-old girl. She didn't want to go forward on charges. She knew something bad had happened. But she was piecing it together like everybody else. And here is a girl who's 16 who's going to have to testify to the most intimate details of her life, some of which might be embarrassing. And to have not just a local stage, but an international stage, was unbelievably pressure-filled for her--and other witnesses. You know, we had pretty good working relationships with some of the witnesses that you heard from, but once Anonymous hit, there was a chilling effect.
AMY GOODMAN: That was special prosecutor Marianne Hemmeter standing next to Ohio's attorney general, Mike DeWine. Alexandria, your response?
ALEXANDRIA GODDARD: You know, those--the kids put it on the Internet, and the Internet is an international audience. You know, I believe that Anonymous did bring attention to the case, and--you know, but it's also empowered others to speak out and demand that justice be meted out.
More than half a billion Internet-connected devices in U.S. homes (18 March 2013)
Thanks to the increasing popularity of tablets and smartphones, the number of Internet-connected devices in U.S. homes has surpassed half a billion.
The number of connected devices per U.S. household with Internet access has grown to 5.7, up from 5.3 devices three months ago, according to a report released Monday by market research firm NPD Group. During that period, the "installed base" of tablets grew by nearly 18 million units, and smartphone users increased by nearly 9 million.
Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. remained the top two smartphone brands that consumers own, and Apple dominates the tablet market with its iPad.
"Even with this extraordinary growth in the smartphone and tablet market, PCs are still the most prevalent connected device in U.S. Internet households, and this is a fact that won't be changing anytime soon," said John Buffone, director of devices for NPD Connected Intelligence.
A cool new way climate change is killing bivalves (18 March 2013)
We already know that carbon-dioxide-filled, acidic ocean water is no-good, very-bad news for mussels and other underwater shelled creatures, causing their shells to dissolve. But, as these things so often go, it turns out that climate change is even worse for bivalves than we thought: It's unleashing an awkward kind of anti-puberty on them. They're growing smaller and weaker, and now we find out that they're basically losing their hair.
New research published in the journal Nature shows that mussels' proteinaceuous byssal threads -- the little stringy bits that allow them to stick their bodies on stuff -- are particularly susceptible to ocean acidification. The researchers found mussels' little stringy bits were 40 percent weaker when exposed to elevated CO2 levels, even when their shell strength and tissue growth weren't affected.
"Byssal threads are non-calcified structures, yet the researchers found that as carbon dioxide levels increased, the byssal threads snapped more easily," Think Progress reports. "It's a hard life for a mussel when it can't attach itself to the ocean floor."
It also might be a hard life for us if those mussels lose their muscles. Bivalves filter water and even act as a shoreline buffer against storm surges. Mussels in particular are "often referred to as a foundation species," says University of Washington biology professor Emily Carrington. Mussel cultivation is also a $1.5 billion industry -- at least for now.
Green jobs growing, but not as fast (18 March 2013)
Each year, the Next 10 public policy group issues a report on the state of California's green economy.
As green job reports go, it's pretty exacting. The researchers actually count real jobs at real companies, rather than relying on estimates or projections. The drawback is that the jobs figures are always two years out of date. Precision has its price.
The latest report shows green jobs in California growing in between the start of 2010 and January, 2011. But the pace of growth slowed from prior years, for once lagging behind the growth of employment throughout California's economy.
It's hard to know exactly what to make of that.
Since the job counting stopped at the start of 2011, the figures don't include the 1,100 positions lost when Solyndra closed its doors later that year. The solar manufacturing industry was consolidating in 2010, but that consolidation only appears to have accelerated since then. The market has become so brutally competitive that some of the Chinese companies blamed with driving Solyndra and other U.S. manufacturers out of business are now struggling to survive.
Then again, considering how fast the number of solar installations has risen in California in the last two-plus years, you'd expect to see some healthy job growth among installers. And some other subsets of clean tech have been doing well. The report's job figures, for example, don't count the people now working at Tesla's factory in Fremont, making luxury electric cars. Production there didn't start until last year.
Houston oak tree at MLK memorial site struggling (18 March 2013)
Metro spokesman Jerome Gray said that over the weekend crews removed dead leaves from the live oak, known as the Memorial Tree, "and noticed some new green buds from the top. Crews are watering the tree and it will probably take a couple of weeks to determine if new growth is occurring."
Last spring, Houston community activist Ovide Duncantell tied himself to the tree, then located in the esplanade where MLK Boulevard intersects Old Spanish Trail, after Metropolitan Transit Authority officials said it would have to be removed to make way for Metro's Southeast light rail line.
Controversy over the tree and memorial has its origins in the Black Heritage Society's 1980 request that the city build a memorial to King in the esplanade. The project never materialized, so the society planted the tree to honor King in 1983.
Metro officials spent about $100,000 to relocate the tree to MacGregor Park on May 3 to a spot where Duncantell, who heads the society, wants to see the memorial go up. The society launched a fundraising campaign to build the memorial, and construction is slated to begin this fall, Duncantell said.
Louisiana pipeline fire, now extinguished, sickened residents (18 March 2013)
Air pollution from a huge pipeline and tug boat fire, which raged 30 miles south of New Orleans from Tuesday until it was extinguished on Friday, sickened nearby residents with respiratory ailments and other conditions.
Two days after the fire ignited, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade went door-to-door in LaFitte, La., just east of the bayou where the accident happened, and found that one out of every 10 residents surveyed suffered breathing difficulty, sore eyes, headaches, or other health problems triggered by the acrid pollution plume. About twice that number reported smelling the smoke, and nearly two-thirds said they saw the smoke or fire. "I have bronchial asthma, and I couldn't breathe very well," one resident told the nonprofit.
Health problems could have been far worse had northerly winds not blown the smoke away from the tiny Jefferson Parish community.
The Coast Guard said no oil spilled into the water because of the accident, which happened when a tug boat pushing a crude-oil-filled barge crashed into a submerged pipeline owned by Chevron. The liquid petroleum gas from the pipeline triggered a fire on the tug boat that burned for days, but the oil barge was unharmed.
On a wing and without a prayer -- the decline of the monarch butterfly (17 March 2013)
Last week, however, brought alarming news. According to the new census by the Mexican authorities, the number of returning monarchs last winter was the lowest in two decades. Obviously, the number of butterflies cannot be counted, but the area of forest occupied by their colonies dropped by 60 per cent from the year before, to just 2.94 acres. And while year-on-year fluctuations are normal, a long-term downward trend is unmistakable.
The reasons are several. A prime one used to be logging that destroyed the butterflies' winter habitat. But the Mexican authorities have created a 200 square mile biosphere reserve where tree harvesting is banned. More important, local people have realised that the butterflies are a tourist attraction far more valuable than hardwood.
Another factor, inevitably, has been climate change. On their journey north, the butterflies were assailed by the hottest year on record in the US. The early onset of heat upset the monarchs' breeding rhythm, while the scorching summer dried out eggs, and reduced the nectar content of flowers. On the way back, they encountered Texas's worst drought in decades.
Most serious of all have been farming developments in North America, where genetically modified corn and soybean allow the use of herbicides that wipe out the milkweed whose nectar feeds the caterpillars. Milkweed is not only an essential food; it provides a poisonous toxin that monarchs store in their bodies, making them unpalatable to birds and other predators. Indeed, the gaudy stripes of both caterpillar and mature butterfly are nature's way of saying "don't touch".
Police flood Eastern Shore, but arsonist a step ahead (17 March 2013)
Firefighters appeared as black silhouettes against bright orange flames and billowing smoke. The vacant Whispering Pines Motel, a local landmark, was burning down before their eyes, and there was little they could do.
State troopers leaned on patrol cars watching the spectacle Tuesday night. A reddish haze hung over a nearby patch of trees. Drivers pulled off U.S. 13, switching on flashing hazard lights and snapping pictures of what officials would confirm was the county's 66th arson since November.
From across the street, county Sheriff Todd Godwin chatted with reporters as he watched the blaze, the largest to date. About 140 officials, including deputy sheriffs, had recently finished a weekend of informational checkpoints, passing out about 6,500 fliers and netting 75 tips about the arsons.
Then, on Monday, a house in Oak Hill burned to the ground. Smoke still drifted from the charred rubble the next day. Around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, someone called 911 about Whispering Pines.
Northern Gateway panel tangled in complex web of aboriginal rights, title (17 March 2013)
"There are some interests that are impossible for us to incorporate, and we get that," Holder said under questioning by Rosanne Kyle, lawyer for the Gixaala Nation.
Getting First Nations on board has proven to be a difficult task for the Calgary-based pipeline company, exacerbated by Ottawa's decision to designate the environmental and regulatory review as the primary means of Crown consultation.
"The federal government would not support a process for aboriginal consultation separate from the (joint review panel) process...," said an internal Aboriginal Consultation Plan obtained by The Canadian Press using an Access to Information request.
John Carruthers, president of Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines, said about 60 per cent of aboriginal groups affected have signed equity agreements. He said efforts to engage aboriginal groups are ongoing and will continue after the panel issues its report.
What's efficiency got to do with capitalism? Nothing. (17 March 2013)
Corporations rarely count, let alone compensate for, the resources and lives wasted because of their relocation decisions. They only count the benefits to their profits, growth, and market share from moving. Moving is advantageous for them; they neither worry about nor count whether moving is efficient for the economy or society at large.
They simply calculate that they will do better elsewhere than in the US and western Europe. Wages elsewhere are far lower. Levels of pollution are allowed that save corporations the environment-protection costs required in Europe and the US. Bribes or political "contributions" cost less and/or buy more favors, tax breaks, and subsidies there than back home. Efficiency for the economy or society has nothing to do with it: advantage for them is all that matters to them.
That is how the system works.
Capitalism's last 250 years in Europe and the US repeatedly devastated the natural environment and imposed horrific conditions on working people. Multinational corporations are now reproducing that history elsewhere around the globe. China displays some of the most polluted industrial cities on the planet, alongside another "gilded age" of new millionaires. India and Russia display equally stunning inequalities. And so on.
The 'Lean In' debate: Women in tech speak out (17 March 2013)
Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg has stirred up a national debate over the possibilities and problems facing women who aspire to lead in the workplace with her new book "Lean In."
But while pundits and reviewers have had their say, we wanted to hear from other women leaders in the Bay Area's tech scene, from newly minted startup CEOs to veteran executives. What has their experience been, and how would they change things?
Jamie Walker, 30, CEO of online health community Fit Approach, told of outright insensitivity. She recalled once inquiring of a panel of venture capitalists how many female startups were in their portfolios. One panelist responded: "We're not looking at whether you have boobs are not."
Ann Scott Plante, 29, co-founder of online workout site Wello, said her goal as a female executive is to aim to make high-achieving women like Sandberg no longer the exceptions.
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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