Pam Rotella's Vegetarian FUN page -- News on health, nutrition, the environment, politics, and more!
NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012
News from the Week of 21st to 27th of April 2013
Mississippi man suspected in ricin case has been arrested, FBI says (27 April 2013)
The FBI believes it has the right man this time in the tangled case of the ricin-laced letters mailed to President Obama and two other public officials. In the early-morning darkness Saturday, four days after authorities dropped charges against an Elvis impersonator in Mississippi, FBI agents arrested a man the impersonator had been feuding with -- a former radio announcer and onetime candidate for the state legislature who recently was charged with child molestation.
James Everett Dutschke, 41, was taken into custody about 12:50 a.m. Saturday at his home in Tupelo, Miss., the FBI said. He could face life in prison on federal charges of "knowingly developing, producing, stockpiling, transferring, acquiring, retaining and possessing a biological agent, toxin and delivery system, for use as a weapon," according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Oxford, Miss.
Dutschke proclaimed his innocence last week, saying he had cooperated with investigators and insisting he had no idea how to manufacture ricin, a toxin derived from the castor bean plant that can kill quickly if inhaled. Lori Nail Basham, Dutschke's attorney, declined to comment Saturday on her client's arrest.
Dutschke had been the target of the investigation since the release from jail last week of Paul Kevin Curtis, 45, of Corinth, Miss. Curtis is the Elvis impersonator whom federal investigators initially charged with sending the poison letters to Obama, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland.
Join the Perpetual Patient Program (27 April 2013)
The slippery slope
Now let's keep track. You started with being stressed, over-tired, eating poorly and the resulting effects on your digestion. Your physician prescribed one of those ever-popular "acid-blockers", (Rx #1). By impairing the production of stomach acid necessary for the ionization and absorption of essential minerals, including iron, the anemia you had previously corrected, returned. The iron supplement your physician prescribed was unfortunately a poorly absorbed inorganic form, such as iron sulfate, (Rx #2), which gave you constipation.
While the stool softener helped your bowels, you remain tired and prone to brain fog as your iron stores remained low. After years of silent mineral-malabsorption from these two drugs, your tissue stores of magnesium became depleted, resulting in muscle spasms, irregularities in heart rate, increased fatigue, irritability, easily-aroused anger and other signs of low magnesium. The cardiologist prescribed a calcium-channel blocker, (Rx #4), to deal with the cardiac symptoms and a statin drug, (Rx #5), to reduce your body's production of cholesterol. You were not told to take Co-enzyme Q10 to offset the inevitable negative impact of the statin drug on mitochondrial function.
Your fatigue, moodiness and irritability continued. You received a prescription to help your sleep, (Rx #6), and a bisphosphonate drug, (Rx #7) to "help your osteoporosis" which resulted from the severe demineralization. Your physician didn't check your magnesium level properly, so you were then prescribed an SSRI to treat "your depression", (Rx #8). After years of relying on fast foods laced with aspartame, MSG and other excitotoxins, the signs of dementia eventually began to appear. At this stage "aggressive treatment" was recommended and two drugs were prescribed to help offset the cognitive decline, (Rx #9 and #10). What a way to begin your retirement.
Gut bugs are implicated in heart attacks and stroke (27 April 2013)
(Reuters) - Thousands of heart attack victims every year have none of the notorious risk factors before their crisis - not high cholesterol, not unhealthy triglycerides. Now the search for the mystery culprits has turned up some surprising suspects: the trillions of bacteria and other microbes living in the human gut.
In a study released on Wednesday, scientists discovered that some of the bugs turn lecithin - a nutrient in egg yolks, liver, beef, pork and wheat germ - into an artery-clogging compound called TMAO. They also found that blood levels of TMAO predict heart attack, stroke or death, and do so "independent of other risk factors," said Dr Stanley Hazen, chairman of cellular and molecular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute, who led the study.
That suggests a TMAO test could enter the arsenal of blood tests that signal possible cardiovascular problems ahead. "TMAO might identify people who are at risk (for heart attacks and strokes) despite having no other risk factors," Hazen said.
The discovery also suggests a new approach to preventing these cardiovascular events: altering gut bacteria so they churn out less TMAO.
Part of landing gear from 9/11 plane is found wedged between luxury condos and Ground Zero Islamic center - 11 years after attacks (27 April 2013) [InfoWars.com]
Police have found a sizable piece of one of the engines from a plane that crashed into the World Trade Center, more than 11 years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The piece of landing gear was found wedged between two buildings just blocks from Ground Zero- in between the buildings at 51 Park Place and 50 Murray Street in downtown Manhattan.
The location is particularly noteworthy because 51 Park Place is the site of the Islamic Cultural Center that stirred up controversy and months of protests two years ago when the site developers wanted to turn it into a mosque.
Just before 7pm Friday, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly arrived on the scene and was escorted inside the rundown building, where he put on a crime scene suit and was led to the site of the unexpected discovery.
Big brains, no fur, sinuses ... are these clues to our ancestors' lives as 'aquatic apes'? (27 April 2013)
It is one of the most unusual evolutionary ideas ever proposed: humans are amphibious apes who lost their fur, started to walk upright and developed big brains because they took to living the good life by the water's edge.
This is the aquatic ape theory and although treated with derision by some academics over the past 50 years, it is still backed by a small, but committed group of scientists. Next week they will hold a major London conference when several speakers, including David Attenborough, will voice support for the theory.
The theory was first proposed in 1960 by British biologist Sir Alister Hardy, who believed apes descended from the trees to live, not on the savannah as is usually supposed, but in flooded creeks, river banks and sea shores, some of Earth's richest sources of food. To keep their heads above water, they evolved an upright stance, freeing their hands to make tools to crack open shellfish. Then they lost their body hair and instead developed a thick layer of subcutaneous fat to keep warm in the water.
Scientists have since added other human attributes of claimed aquatic origin -- a recent addition being the sinus, said Rhys Evans, an expert on head and neck physiology at the Royal Marsden hospital, London.
PAM COMMENTARY: The theory at the end about Omega-3 fatty acids isn't the whole story. Humans don't need much DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), the animal form of Omega-3 fatty acids. We make our own DHA from the plant form of Omega-3s, Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA). We and all animals, including fish, get our ALA from greens, seeds, and nuts.
American tourist faces death penalty in North Korea (27 April 2013)
North Korea has announced that an American tourist is to be tried on charges of plotting to overthrow the government, a crime that carries a possible death penalty.
The case against Korean-American Kenneth Bae, who has been imprisoned in North Korea since early November, could further stoke tensions between Pyongyang and Washington.
Responding to the development, the US State Department said the welfare of US citizens overseas remained a "critical priority" and that it was working with the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang - which looks after American interests in North Korea - in regards to the case.
Bae, 44, was arrested in Rason, a special economic zone in North Korea's far north-eastern region bordering China and Russia, according to official state media.
FBI's longtime director faces criticism of bureau again (27 April 2013)
This month, the FBI has faced fresh assaults over its failure to spot the potential danger from Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a suspect in the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings, after Russia asked the bureau to investigate him two years ago. Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in a police shootout and his brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, has been charged in the bombings that killed three people and injured more than 200.
Two senior Republican lawmakers complained Tamerlan Tsarnaev was yet another in a series of cases in which a person investigated by the agency had later taken part in attacks.
Soon after the Boston bombings, the FBI accused an Elvis impersonator of sending letters containing ricin to Obama and other officials, only to quickly drop the charges for a lack of evidence.
Mueller and his leadership team have briefed members of Congress about the cases, but further inquiries are likely.
"I think he is ready to go home. He has had 12 years," said Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee. He praised Mueller, who was first nominated to the job by a Republican president, George W. Bush.
"He has had some major issues to confront, including 9/11, then Russian and China threats, cyber threats," he said.
Did FBI Focus on Controversial Stings Distract from Pursuit of Tsarnaev Before Boston Attacks? (26 April 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Trevor, we've seen this over and over again, and you've looked at it, the tendency of the FBI to use undercover informants who actually become instigators or co-conspirators in a plot to snag folks who otherwise would not be able to commit these crimes.
TREVOR AARONSON: That's right. You know, since 9/11, there have been more than 175 defendants who have been caught in terrorism sting operations. And this is due to a very aggressive policy that has its roots in the current FBI mission of preventing the next attack at whatever cost. And so, what the FBI is looking for are men who they believe, you know, will become the terrorists of tomorrow. They want to catch today that terrorist of tomorrow. And so they look for people who are espousing radical beliefs, who say they want to commit some sort of act of violence, and then they set up, through undercover agents and informants posing as al-Qaeda operatives, these elaborate sting operations in which they provide everything that the target of the sting operation would need. You know, it can be the transportation. That can be the guns and the weapons. In some cases, that can be even the idea for the terrorist attack. And then they put it all together, let the person move forward in the plot, and when they push the button that would detonate the bomb, they then arrest them and announce to the public another terror plot foiled.
But if you look closely at these cases, it's very clear that the men caught in these cases never could have committed their crimes were it not for the FBI providing the means and the opportunity. You know, these are men who are far more aspirational than operational, in the FBI's parlance, and yet the FBI then arrests them and charges them, with the full extent of the law, as if they were terrorists. And, you know, the question I raised in my book, which came out in January before the Boston bombing, is: What are we missing as a result of pursuing these men, who are really of questionable importance, who are really of questionable danger? And I think what the Boston bombing shows is that as we're--as the FBI has been pursuing these men in sting operations whose danger is very questionable, perhaps we're missing the real dangerous guys, such as Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his brother Dzhokhar.
San Francisco and 10 other cities move toward dumping stocks in fossil-fuel companies (26 April 2013)
Oil companies might be awfully profitable right now, but political leaders in San Francisco and 10 other U.S. cities want to dump their investments in them anyway.
San Francisco's Board of Supervisors voted this week to urge the city's investment fund managers to sell off more than $583 million worth of shares in Chevron, ExxonMobil, and some 200 other fossil-fuel companies. This makes San Francisco the biggest city to join the divestment campaign being pushed by 350.org, which began with a focus on colleges and universities. Seattle was the first city to join the campaign; its mayor got on board late last year. Divestment might still be months or years off, if it happens at all, but civic leaders calling for action is a critical first step.
Other cities where leaders have taken moves toward dumping their dirty stocks: Boulder, Colo.; Eugene, Ore.; Ithaca, N.Y.; Madison and Bayfield, Wis.; Sante Fe, N.M.; State College, Pa.; and Berkeley and Richmond, Calif., both in the San Francisco Bay area. Activists in 100 more cities have started circulating petitions calling on their leaders to divest, 350.org says.
Richmond is an interesting example: It's home to a nearly 3,000-acre Chevron oil refinery, so its residents know firsthand about the evils of the oil industry. Not only does the refinery sicken its neighbors -- with an extreme example coming last year when a huge explosion blackened the air and sent 15,000 people to the hospital -- but Chevron is suing Contra Costa County, claiming it was overcharged tens of millions of dollars in property taxes. (And this is a company that made $26 billion in profits last year.)
Mark Zuckerberg's New Political Group Spending Big On Ads Supporting Keystone XL And Oil Drilling (26 April 2013)
Mark Zuckerberg's new political group, which bills itself as a bipartisan entity dedicated to passing immigration reform, has spent considerable resources on ads advocating a host of anti-environmental causes -- including driling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and constructing the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
The umbrella group, co-founded by Facebook's Zuckerberg, NationBuilder's co-founder Joe Green, LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman, Dropbox's Drew Houston, and others in the tech industry, is called FWD.US. Its initial priority is the passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill, including enhanced border security, more visas for workers with special skills, and a pathway to citizenship for those living in the U.S. without legal status. Other long-term priorities for the group include education reform and expanded scientific research.
Watch the ad: [see original article for link]
FWD.US is bankrolling two subsidiary organizations to purchase TV ads to advance the overarching agenda -- one run by veteran Republican political operatives and one led by Democratic strategists. The GOP-lead group, called Americans For A Conservative Direction, has created an ad in support of Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) which praises him for supporting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and expanded drilling elsewhere. The ad, which does not mention immigration policy, also attacks Obamacare, "wasteful stimulus spending," and "seedy Chicago-style politics." Politico reports the group plans a seven-figure buy with this and other ads.
The other group, called Council for American Job Growth and purportedly intended to appeal to liberals, lauds Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) for "working to open ANWR to drilling." The ad also does not mention immigration reform but does highlight Begich's support of a balanced budget amendment.
PAM COMMENTARY: Drilling in ANWR would cause caribou herds that Native people in Alaska and Canada depend upon to decline, permanently. And his "immigration reform" is the same old argument from technology companies for cheap foreign labor.
I don't use Facebook, mostly because it exposes detailed information on peoples' personal lives to stalkers and predators. They've also had problems with their security settings -- something I'd expect from a company that does everything on the cheap.
Solar panels can protect you from terrorism (26 April 2013)
Holy crime-fighting photovoltaic generation, Solar Panelman!
America's top energy regulator says the solar panels that are proliferating on rooftops all over the country could protect against power outages triggered by terrorists.
"The U.S. power grid is vulnerable to terrorist attacks, and the growing use of rooftop solar panels will provide protection against lengthy blackouts, the chairman of the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said."
Smithfield shareholder pushes to break up company (26 April 2013)
One of Smithfield Foods Inc.'s largest shareholders escalated its attack on the pork company Thursday, complaining of "underperformance on every level." It slammed overpaid executives, inexperienced board members and sluggish strategies, and said it would take its case to fellow shareholders later this year.
Smithfield's president and CEO, C. Larry Pope, challenged the shareholder's review, saying in a statement that it was "inherently flawed" and that Smithfield "has a strong track record of taking aggressive action to enhance value for all shareholders."
The shareholder, Continental Grain Co. of New York, last month released a sharply critical analysis of Smithfield, the largest Fortune 500 company based in Hampton Roads. It said Smithfield should spin off its money-losing hog farms and some international holdings and concentrate on its profitable packaged-meats business.
In a filing Thursday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Continental Grain enlarged on its critique in unusually fiery language. One page heading read: "Value has Been Destroyed on Current Management's Watch."
Congress finds it hard to let Federal Helium Program run out of gas (26 April 2013)
President Ronald Reagan tried to get rid of it. So did President Bill Clinton. This October, their wish is finally set to come true.
The Federal Helium Program -- left over from the age of zeppelins and an infamous symbol of Washington's inability to cut what it no longer needs -- will be terminated.
Unless it isn't.
On Friday, in fact, the House voted 394 to 1 to keep it alive.
"The Trials of Muhammad Ali": Boxing Champ's Refusal to Serve in Vietnam Was the Fight of His Life (26 April 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Let's go to another clip from this film you chose to produce, The Trials of Muhammad Ali. This is later in the movie, after Ali has refused to fight in Vietnam. We hear from Ali's former wife, Khalilah Ali; Ali himself; and Captain Sam, who helped bring Muhammad Ali into the Nation of Islam; as well as Ali's brother, Rahman Ali.
KHALILAH ALI: Somebody would come out of nowhere and say, "You draft-dodging nigger, go home!" Well, he didn't like that at all. I said, "We have to do this for a living, man. Don't worry about what people say about you. You've got to keep going." And then he talked back at me and says, "You're not out there getting embarrassed. I'm out there getting embarrassed. What would you do if somebody did that to you?"
MUHAMMAD ALI: I'm not going to help nobody get something our Negroes don't have. If I'm going to die, I'll die now right here fighting you. You're my enemy. My enemy is the white people, not the Viet Cong or Chinese or Japanese. You're my opposer when I want freedom. You're my opposer when I want justice. You're my opposer when I want equality. You won't even stand up for me in America for my religious beliefs, and you want me to go somewhere and fight, but you won't even stand up for me here at home.
KHALILAH ALI: The exiled years were the worst years of me and Ali's life.
Japan tsunami boat found in California to be reunited with home city (26 April 2013)
A small, battered and barnacle-encrusted boat that recently washed ashore in California has been traced to a Japanese city that was devastated by the March 2011 tsunami.
The 20ft panga washed ashore at Crescent on 7 April, prompting an investigation which sourced it to Takata high school in Rikuzentakata, a city in Iwate prefecture, a coastal area still reeling from the earthquake and giant waves of two years ago. The news had made Rikuzentakata "giddy" with delight and it wished to reclaim the boat, said a spokesperson for the city.
The National National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration confirmed the origin of the boat on Thursday after conferring with the Japanese consulate in San Francisco. "As of 4 April, NOAA has received approximately 1,691 official debris reports, of which we have been able to confirm that 27 items are definite tsunami debris as of today. The skiff is the first confirmed item for California," NOAA spokeswoman Keeley Belva said in an email.
The 26 other confirmed tsunami debris have been found in Alaska, British Columbia, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington.
Dozens feared dead in Russian psychiatric hospital fire (26 April 2013)
Andrei Vorobyov, interim governor of the Moscow region, said a nurse had led two patients to safety. He said 36 others were believed to have been in the hospital when the fire broke out, but another local official said 38 were feared dead.
"Those who were in there said it happened in a flash. The nurse opened the door to the room and there was smoke, and even when she saw the fire she could not get to the fire extinguisher. It all happened very quickly," he told Russia 24 television.
He said some windows had been barred to meet regulations while others had not, so the investigators would be able to determine whether they had prevented people from escaping.
"Obviously, all the patients were sleeping and they were sick people ... so they would have needed help to get out," he said, adding that the nearest fire station was a 40-minute drive away.
President Vladimir Putin called for an explanation of the "tragedy" and told emergency services to do all they could to help.
Obama's Bush Library Speech Leaves Iraq And More Unspoken (25 April 2013)
So there Obama was Thursday, forced by the demands of the occasion to utter words both respectful to his predecessor yet true to his many past criticisms of same. Not the easiest task, but that's what speechwriters are for.
Obama confronted the difficulty by suggesting that, like all presidents, Bush made missteps. The president didn't get specific.
Obama included the mention of "mistakes" in a section of his speech in which he expressed sympathy with Bush:
"The first thing I found in that desk the day I took office was a letter from George, and one that demonstrated his compassion and generosity. For he knew that I would come to learn what he had learned -- that being president, above all, is a humbling job. There are moments where you make mistakes. There are times where you wish you could turn back the clock. And what I know is true about President Bush, and I hope my successor will say about me, is that we love this country and we do our best."
PAM COMMENTARY: I suppose it's hard to come up with something polite to say to America's version of Adolf Hitler. How about, "Thanks for making me into a hero, just for not being you!"
Bill Clinton Calls Out (With a Smile) George W. Bush for Rewriting History (25 April 2013)
Leave it to former president Bill Clinton to point out that the Bush Library is the latest attempt by an ex-president to rewrite history. Clinton began his speech by calling the library, "latest grandest example of the eternal struggle of former Presidents to rewrite history."
Former President Clinton's speech maintained his friendly tone, and highlighted the personal friendship between himself and Bush, but his not so subtle dig at rewriting history was something that everyone has been thinking.
Clinton lavished plenty of praise on former President Bush for his commitment to aid for Africa as president, but the Democratic icon largely kept away from the policies of the Bush years that he disagreed with so vehemently. It must drive former President Clinton up the wall that Bush came into office and wrecked the budget surplus that he left behind. Former President Clinton was also a vocal critic of the Bush tax cuts while campaigning for President Obama last year.
What Bill Clinton said wasn't devastating, but it was a knowing nod to the dog and pony show that has been the Bush Library dedication. His remarks about rewriting history were a bit of wink and a nod. It was his gentle way of letting the audience know that he is in on the joke, and understands that this whole thing in terms of politics, is a load of bull.
Chris Hayes explains how Dick Cheney's son-in-law was responsible for Texas plant explosion by blocking chemical plant regulation (25 April 2013)
MSNBC host Chris Hayes on Thursday night explained the key role Dick Cheney's son-in-law played in keeping chemical plants free of regulations.
Concerns were raised in 2002 that chemical plants in populated areas -- like the one that recently exploded in West, Texas -- were vulnerable to terrorist attacks.
The heads of Department of Homeland Security and Environmental Protection Agency had planned to regulate the security of chemical sites, but Dick Cheney's son-in-law Philip Perry stepped in and informed them they lacked the authority to do so without congressional legislation.
At the time, Perry was serving as the general counsel of the Office of Management and Budget at the White House.
"Basically, the Bush administration from above pulled support for that bill because the chemical industry does not want to be regulated by the EPA," Hayes said.
"Fast forward to 2007, and Philip Perry -- again, Dick Cheney's son-in-law -- is at the Department of Homeland Security as general counsel. What he managed to do in an appropriations rider is slip in industry friendly language into the bill that moves the task of regulating chemical plants from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Department of Homeland Security. But DHS is given none of the tools it would need to do that."
Falsely Identified 'Boston Bomber' Found Dead In River (25 April 2013) [InfoWars.com]
One of the individuals identified by 4chan users as a possible Boston bombing accomplice has been found dead in the Providence River.
"Police in Providence pulled a man's body from the Providence River on Tuesday, and authorities said it is "very possible" that it is Sunil Tripathi, 22, a former Brown University student who has been missing since mid-March," reports the Boston Globe.
Tripathi's possible connection to the Boston bombing was first raised by users of the 4chan website when it was pointed out that his image bore a similarity to one of the suspects first named by the FBI who later turned out to be Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev.
Users of the Reddit website later apologized to Tripathi's family for making the erroneous connection, with one moderator writing, "We cannot begin to know what you're going through and for that we are truly sorry."
Damage From Large Fire Closes JFK Library Indefinitely (25 April 2013) [Rense.com]
The John F. Kennedy (JFK) Library across the street from UMass Boston is closed until further notice due to a fire that broke out on April 15.
Firefighters from Dorchester, South Boston, Roxbury, and Jamaica Plain responded to the large fire, which was called in around 3 p.m. Freshman Nolan O'Brien saw the fire and said he saw "very, very dark smoke." He added that "the wind kinda blew it, and [the fire] looked larger than it really was."
O'Brien lives in Squantum, a part of Quincy where residents can see the library across the harbor. Just before 3 p.m., O'Brien said he saw smoke rising from the area. O'Brien recalled, "I was outside with my mother and my younger cousin, and we just were out in the yard. All of a sudden, we looked across the bay, and a huge plume of smoke was rising from JFK Library that was not there 30 seconds before... It was very instantaneous."
During firefighting operations, police officials from the Massachusetts State Police, MBTA Transit Police, and Boston Police Department arrived on the scene in order to investigate whether the fire might have had some relation to the Boston Marathon bombings.
Police were not the only ones who thought that there may have been a link. O'Brien said that he "ran inside and turned on the news, and at that same time the breaking news had just come on about the marathon bombing." After seeing the newsflash, his first thought was, "They may have been connected."
Bomb squad technicians and canine units examined the area, but did not come up with any evidence of a bomb or suspicious device.
HIV vaccine study halted by US government over unsuccessful shots (25 April 2013)
The US government halted a large HIV vaccine study on Thursday, saying the experimental shots were not successful in preventing infection.
Nor did the shots reduce the amount of the Aids virus in the blood when people who had been vaccinated later became infected, the National Institutes of Health said.
"It's disappointing," said Dr Anthony Fauci, head of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. But he said there was "important information" gained from the study that will help determine what to try next.
The study had enrolled 2,504 volunteers, mostly gay men, in 19 cities since 2009. Half received dummy shots, and half received a two-part experimental vaccine developed by the NIH. All were provided free condoms and given extensive counseling about the risks of HIV.
Over 200 Killed in Bangladesh Factory Collapse After Workers Forced to Ignore Building's Dangers (25 April 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Kalpona Akter, some of the press reports say that there had been a--there was a bank in the first floor of the building, as well as some other commercial establishments, that after the crack was discovered Tuesday did close down, but meanwhile the factory--the factories above the first floor stayed open? Is that accurate?
KALPONA AKTER: Yes, it was accurate. Like, the bank did move their staff, so there wasn't any staff from the bank. And in the other stories, there was shops; those was closed. But the workers themselves, they were forced to go. And I had a chance to see a video of the building owner, who was saying, "Oh, it doesn't matter. There is a crack only. And engineers, they came, and they said workers can work," which is a lie, which is lie. This building was totally damaged, and it wasn't ready to work--I mean, ready to have a factory even.
AMY GOODMAN: And how large was this crack, that so many people noticed it?
KALPONA AKTER: It was large. The crack was like from fifth floor to, yeah, above to the downstairs, so it was a big crack.
New bird flu show signs of direct jump to humans (25 April 2013)
There's evidence the new H7N9 bird flu virus is transmitted from chickens at poultry markets in China to humans, a small study suggests.
In Thursday's online issue of the medical journal The Lancet, researchers gave some of the first detailed information about how H7N9 affects people.
Scientists compared throat and lower respiratory swabs from four people who caught the virus to swabs from 86 birds at live markets in eastern China. They also examined the genetic sequence of the virus.
"Cross species poultry-to-person transmission of this new ... H7N9 virus is associated with severe pneumonia and multiorgan dysfunction in human beings," Dr. Yu Chen of Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, and co-authors concluded.
Off-duty Navy sailor blocks Dubai rape attempt with leg stranglehold (25 April 2013)
A female off-duty U.S. Navy sailor who was attacked by a bus driver in Dubai wrestled her would-be rapist into submission with a leg strangle hold, according to court testimony on Tuesday reported by The National.
The woman, whose identity was not disclosed, was on 24-hour shore leave on Jan. 19 and was attempting to hail a cab when a bus pulled up beside her. After boarding, the sailor became suspicious of the route the driver took.
"I noticed he did not take the main road and when I asked him he told me not to worry," she said during court proceedings.
The driver pulled over 10 minuts [sic] later and tried to kiss her. When she refused her advances, he threatened her with a knife. The sailor then knocked the knife out of his hand and wrestled him to the ground using a leg stranglehold. She later reported the incident to her commander.
Police said the driver, identified only as 21-year-old KS from Pakistan, was drunk when he was arrested and claims not to remember what happened. He was charged with "attempted rape, threatening to kill, assault and consuming alcohol illegally," but he has only pleaded guilty to the alcohol charge.
Joe Fresh customers vow boycott after Bangladesh factory collapse (25 April 2013)
Joe Fresh customers horrified by scenes of carnage and destruction after a deadly garment factory collapse in Bangladesh warned they would boycott the Toronto fashion label until there was proof of change.
The building in an industrial suburb of Dhaka collapsed Wednesday, killing at least 238 people, many of them poorly paid workers who were forced to keep producing clothes even after police ordered an evacuation due to deep, visible cracks in the walls.
Loblaw confirmed Wednesday that suppliers for its Joe Fresh clothing line made garments in the eight-storey building, which housed multiple factories.
"I may look good in your clothes, but I no longer feel good," customer Karine LeBlanc posted on the Joe Fresh Facebook page.
Bush's legacy keeps getting worse (25 April 2013)
In retrospect, George W. Bush's legacy doesn't look as bad as it did when he left office. It looks worse.
I join the nation in congratulating Bush on the opening of his presidential library in Dallas. Like many people, I find it much easier to honor, respect and even like the man -- now that he's no longer in the White House.
But anyone tempted to get sentimental should remember the actual record of the man who called himself The Decider. Begin with the indelible stain that one of his worst decisions left on our country's honor: torture.
Hiding behind the euphemism "enhanced interrogation techniques," Bush made torture official U.S. policy. Just about every objective observer has agreed with this stark conclusion. The most recent assessment came this month in a 576-page report from a task force of the bipartisan Constitution Project, which stated that "it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture."
Child Hunger Is Exploding In Greece -- And 14 Signs That It Is Starting To Happen In America Too (25 April 2013) [InfoWars.com]
The world is heading into a horrific economic nightmare, and an inordinate amount of the suffering is going to fall on innocent children. If you want to get an idea of what America is going to look like in the not too distant future, just check out what is happening in Greece. At this point, Greece is experiencing a full-blown economic depression. As I have written about previously, the unemployment rate in Greece has now risen to 27 percent, which is much higher than the peak unemployment rate that the U.S. economy experienced during the Great Depression of the 1930s. And as you will read about below, child hunger is absolutely exploding in Greece right now. Some families are literally trying to survive on pasta and ketchup. But don't think for a moment that it can't happen here. Sadly, the truth is that child hunger is already rising very rapidly in our poverty-stricken cities. Never before have we had so many Americans unable to take care of themselves. Food stamp enrollment and child homelessness have soared to brand new all-time records, and there are actually thousands of Americans that are so poor that they live in tunnels underneath our cities. But for millions of other Americans, the suffering is not quite so dramatic. Instead, they just watch their hopes and their dreams slowly slip away as they struggle to find a way to make it from month to month. There are millions of parents that lead lives that are filled with constant stress and anxiety as they try to figure out how to provide the basics for their children. How do you tell a child that you can't give them any dinner even though you have been trying as hard as you can? What many families go through on a regular basis is absolutely heartbreaking. Unfortunately, more poor families slip through the cracks with each passing day, and these are supposedly times in which we are experiencing an "economic recovery". So what are things going to look like when the next major economic downturn strikes?
A recent New York Times article detailed the horrifying child hunger that we are witnessing in Greece right now. At some schools there are reports of children actually begging for food from their classmates...
"As an elementary school principal, Leonidas Nikas is used to seeing children play, laugh and dream about the future. But recently he has seen something altogether different, something he thought was impossible in Greece: children picking through school trash cans for food; needy youngsters asking playmates for leftovers; and an 11-year-old boy, Pantelis Petrakis, bent over with hunger pains.
"'He had eaten almost nothing at home,' Mr. Nikas said, sitting in his cramped school office near the port of Piraeus, a working-class suburb of Athens, as the sound of a jump rope skittered across the playground. He confronted Pantelis's parents, who were ashamed and embarrassed but admitted that they had not been able to find work for months. Their savings were gone, and they were living on rations of pasta and ketchup."
NASA measures effects of jet engine biofuel (25 April 2013)
HAMPTON, Va. (AP) -- NASA researchers say a series of test flights in California has shown a commercial jet could safely fly with a blend of jet fuel made from camelina plant oil while producing fewer emissions.
Scientists at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton released the preliminary results of their research on Thursday.
Among other things, they said there was no noticeable difference in the engine performance of a DC-8 airplane flying as high as 39,000 feet on the biofuel mix. The researchers also said that under certain conditions the biofuel mix produced 30 percent fewer emissions.
Researchers used a specially outfitted airplane to analyze the DC-8's contrails, coming as close as 300 feet to the aircraft while in flight. The flights occurred near Edwards Air Force Base between February and April.
Massive, uncontained leak at Fukushima is pouring over 710 billion becquerels of radioactive materials into atmosphere (24 April 2013)
(NaturalNews) The tsunami-caused nuclear accident at the Fukushima power station in Japan is the disaster that never ends, as new reports indicate that a wealth of new radioactive materials have been spewed into the atmosphere.
According to Singapore-based news outlet AsiaOne, the Tokyo Electric Power Co., which owns the multi-nuclear reactor power station at Fukushima, announced April 6 that some 120 tons of water that had been contaminated with radioactive substances had leaked from an underground storage facility at the No. 1 atomic power plant site.
Running out of storage room?
TEPCO officials announced the leak late in the day April 5, a Friday, "but said measures to address the problem had not been taken for two days because the cause had not been identified," AsiaOne reported. The company "assumed the water was still leaking."
According to company officials TEPCO estimates that the leaked water contains about 710 billion becquerels of radioactive substances, making it the largest leak of radioactive materials ever at the plant. Discovery of the leak led the company to transfer about 13,000 tons of polluted, radioactive water in the questionable storage area to a neighboring underground storage unit.
Diabetes warning over soft drinks (24 April 2013)
Drinking one or more cans of sugary soft drinks a day is linked to an increased risk of diabetes in later life, a study suggests.
A can a day raises the relative risk of Type-2 diabetes by about a fifth, compared with one can a month or under, say European scientists.
The report in the journal Diabetologia mirrors previous US findings.
A diabetes charity recommends limiting sugary foods and drinks as they are calorific and can cause weight gain.
Federal bill would require labeling of genetically modified food (24 April 2013)
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) on Wednesday introduced legislation that would require labeling for all genetically engineered foods.
The Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act (PDF) would require any food that contains genetically engineered ingredients be labeled accordingly by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. If approved by Congress and signed into law, the United States would join more than 60 countries that require food labels to disclose genetically engineered ingredients.
"Americans have the right to know what is in the food they eat so they can make the best choices for their families," Boxer said. "This legislation is supported by a broad coalition of consumer groups, businesses, farmers, fishermen and parents who all agree that consumers deserve more -- not less -- information about the food they buy."
Experts generally regard genetically engineered foods as safe to eat, but debate has raged over the long-term health and environmental consequences of tinkering with the genetic composition of food. Scientists have sought to increase the yield or nutritious value of crops by introducing genes from different organisms. Agricultural giant Monsanto has used genetic engineering to produce "Roundup Ready" crops, which are resistant to the company's herbicides.
Smithfield focuses on pork sales to China as Virginia opens trade office there (24 April 2013)
Virginia opened a Shanghai office Tuesday to promote the export of agricultural and forestry products from the commonwealth.
An announcement from Gov. Bob McDonnell's office says the northern China office reflects an effort to build on past marketing efforts in the world's most populous country, already a major buyer of Virginia products. The office will be run by Annie Kang, president of Shanghai Rui Nian Investment Management Co.
Kang has worked in a similar capacity with the Virginia Port Authority in Shanghai before, and she is currently listed as part of state-formed port operator Virginia International Terminals' international sales team.
In a press release, McDonnell said total agricultural exports for Virginia are $2.61 billion, with China responsible for more than 20 percent of that business. That, he said, shows tremendous progress.
EPA settles with Wis. utilities on coal plant air pollution (22 April 2013)
Wisconsin utilities are spending $1.2 billion to clean up aging coal-fired power plants and shutting down older plants under a settlement announced Monday with federal environmental regulators.
Under the settlement, filed in federal court in Madison on Earth Day, the utilities will be assessed a civil penalty of $2.45 million for alleged violations of air pollution laws over the years.
Wisconsin Power & Light Co. and the other utilities also agreed to pay $8.5 million to fund a series of environmental projects over the next five years. The projects include a $5 million investment in solar power and a $2 million investment to boost power production at wind and hydroelectric projects in Wisconsin.
But the big-ticket item in the settlement is the nearly $1.2 billion the utilities are spending to keep the largest of the coal plants operating by adding more modern pollution controls.
Troubled slaughter: Big Ag fights to keep out prying eyes (24 April 2013)
There's a Paul McCartney quote popular with veg-heads: "If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian." It may not be quite as simple as all that, but he's definitely got a point.
For a little over 10 years, groups such as Mercy for Animals, the Humane Society of the United States, and Compassion Over Killing have conducted undercover investigations into abuses and rules violations on factory farms, and publicized what they've documented to lobby for change.
It's worked: Individual campaigns have resulted in business closures, criminal charges, and even broader changes in social behavior. That has got Big Animal Ag scared.
So it has done what Big Ag does best: crafted legislation and lobbied for it. State farm-protection laws, or "ag-gags," as The New York Times' Mark Bittman lovingly called them, come in many different forms, mixing various combinations of restrictions on undercover filming and activist access to farms and slaughterhouses. Some of the laws give a nod to the value of whistleblowers but require that damning footage be handed over to law enforcement within a day or two, immediately blowing the cover of investigations that would typically last from two to six weeks.
George W. Bush Tells Jeb to 'Run,' Says Jeb vs. Hillary Would Make 'Fantastic Photo' (24 April 2013) [InfoWars.com]
[...] "He'd be a marvelous candidate if he chooses to do so. He doesn't need my counsel 'cause he knows what it is, which is 'run,' " the elder Bush brother said about Jeb's possible candidacy, in an interview that first aired Wednesday on "World News with Diane Sawyer." "But whether he does or not, it's a very personal decision."
The former president even allowed himself to picture the potential 2016 matchup: Jeb Bush vs. Hillary Rodham Clinton. It would be a family rematch of the 1992 election, when George H.W. Bush lost to Bill Clinton.
"It'll be a fantastic photo here. It would certainly eclipse the museum and the center," Bush said on the eve of the formal opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University, just outside Dallas. "I'm interested in politics. I'm, you know, I'm fascinated by all the gossip and stuff that goes on. But the field won't be become clear 'til after the midterms."
PAM COMMENTARY: More bad advice from George W. Bush. Jeb's guaranteed to lose, thanks to his brother and father leaving a legacy of mass murder and economic ruin.
Three injured in fuel barge explosion in Mobile River near Austal (live updates, videos) (25 April 2013)
Update at 2:30 a.m. A seventh explosion rocked the Mobile River at roughly 2 a.m. A Coast Guard official told AL.com the safety zone is still in place. The official also re-iterated it is gasoline - not LNG - that keeps the fire burning. Firefighters are still standing by as the fire burns through the night.
MOBILE, Alabama -- Three people were hurt in a fuel barge explosion on the east side of Mobile River on Wednesday night, Mobile Fire-Rescue reported.
The fuel barges were at Oil Recovery Co. of Alabama's Marine Gas Free Facility at 200 Dunlap Drive on the Mobile River's east bank.
The barges were partially emptied, according to Steve Huffman, spokesperson for Mobile Fire-Rescue.
Fuel barges explode, catch fire in Ala.; 3 injured (25 April 2013)
MOBILE, Ala. (AP) -- Multiple explosions aboard two fuel barges near Mobile, Ala., led to a major fire Wednesday night that left three people critically injured with burns and created a situation so unstable that fire and rescue officials decided to let the fire burn into the night.
Firefighters from Mobile and U.S. Coast Guard officials responded after 8:30 p.m. CDT to a pair of explosions involving the gas barges in an area of the Mobile River east of downtown, authorities said.
As they were responding, a third explosion occurred at about 9:30 p.m., Mobile Fire and Rescue spokesman Steve Huffman wrote in an email to The Associated Press. Three more explosions followed over the next few hours.
The Coast Guard said early Thursday that a one-nautical-mile safety zone had been established around one barge, which it said was "at the dock for cleaning."
Authorities said three people were transported to University of South Alabama Medical Center after suffering burn-related injuries. Huffman identified them as workers with Oil Recovery Co. The three were in critical condition early Thursday, according to hospital nursing administrator Danny Whatley.
Fire officials said they planned to let the barges burn overnight.
Many trapped in Bangladesh building rubble as toll climbs to 187 (25 April 2013)
(Reuters) - Survivors from a building that collapsed in Bangladesh killing at least 187 mainly women workers described hearing a deafening crack before the complex housing factories supplying Western clothes retailers crashed down in a matter of seconds.
Many more were feared trapped in the rubble after the disaster, which comes five months after a factory fire killed 112 people and could further hurt Bangladesh's reputation as a source of low-cost goods for European and North American firms.
Local residents helped pull survivors from the twisted wreckage of the eight-storey Rana Plaza building in Savar, 30 km (20 miles) outside the capital Dhaka, which collapsed on Wednesday. More than 1,000 people were injured.
Relatives identified their dead among rows of corpses.
"An unspecified number of victims are still trapped," said Mizanur Rahman, a rescue worker with the fire brigade, as he clambered over the wreckage. "We can't be certain of getting them all out alive. We are losing a bit of hope."
2013 New Orleans Jazz Fest will be old and new, local and national (25 April 2013)
The 44th annual New Orleans Jazz Fest, which opens on Friday, April 26, follows the similar, successful blueprint of recent festivals. That blueprint seeks to strike an agreeable balance between old and new, local and national.
Categorically speaking, this year's headliners match up neatly with 2012's. Both years boasted mass-appeal baby boomer bands as the closing Acura Stage acts on the two Saturday nights. In 2012, it was The Eagles and Tom Petty. This year, it's Billy Joel and Fleetwood Mac.
Once again, a younger-skewing rock band is in the penultimate Acura Stage slot on the final Sunday. In place of last year's Foo Fighters are this year's Black Keys.
At Congo Square, alternate new school R&B (last year: Cee-Lo Green, Ne-Yo, Janelle Monae; this year, Jill Scott, Kem) and old-school (Frankie Beverly & Maze, both '12 and '13). Also include a major Latin artist (last year, Paulina Rubio; this year, Juan Luis Guerra y 440).
Spilled tar sands oil could be creeping toward the Arkansas River (24 April 2013)
On his brief journey, Young undoubtedly saw crews without respirators working in an area locals call the Cove. They are hard to miss. The Cove -- along with nearby Lake Conway, a popular fishing and boating spot -- has become a point of contention in Mayflower.
ExxonMobil has insisted that it stopped the oil from seeping from the Cove into Lake Conway. But Mayflower residents and environmental activists say they smell something fishy, and it's not in the lake. It is a scheme by ExxonMobil to make everything look copacetic, when in fact it is not. Considering what we now know about how BP handled the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, that wouldn't be surprising.
And one oil spill specialist isn't taking ExxonMobil's word. He says there's crude in the lake, and he has the tests to prove it.
Scott Smith, CEO of the company Opflex Solutions, dropped a bombshell this week when he told a group of Mayflower residents that water samples tested by an independent lab show chemicals such as barium and methylene chloride -- often found in tar sands oil -- in Lake Conway.
Many locals fish in Lake Conway and eat what they catch. Both barium and methylene chloride have been shown to cause health problems including cancer.
Norfolk hospital criticized for stopping water births (24 April 2013)
Errica Swartwood first heard the news on a Facebook page frequented by fans of natural childbirth:
Water births at the Midwifery Center at DePaul were being discontinued.
The news traveled quickly. The idea of sitting in a tub of warm water to help ease labor pain and childbirth is one reason mothers-to-be seek out the Midwifery Center - the only facility like it in the region.
The center is staffed by certified nurse midwives who help women deliver their babies with as little medical intervention as possible. For some women who don't want to use medications such as anesthetic shots, the birthing tub can help them relax through the pain of childbirth.
WHO says new bird strain is "one of most lethal" flu viruses (24 April 2013)
(Reuters) - A new bird flu strain that has killed 22 people in China is "one of the most lethal" of its kind and transmits more easily to humans than another strain that has killed hundreds since 2003, a World Health Organization (WHO) expert said on Wednesday.
The H7N9 flu has infected 108 people in China since it was first detected in March, according to the Geneva-based WHO.
Although it is not clear exactly how people are being infected, experts say they see no evidence so far of the most worrisome scenario - sustained transmission between people.
An international team of scientists led by the WHO and the Chinese government conducted a five-day investigation in China, but said they were no closer to determining whether the virus might become transmissible between people.
Massive Malaysia monkey cull spurs concerns (24 April 2013)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - On the hilly eastern fringes of Kuala Lumpur, where the suburbs meet the jungle, people run, bike and play golf. Others simply come to watch the ever-present monkeys.
That's why many Malaysians were shocked to discover that the country's wildlife department viewed the long-tailed macaque as a pest - and killed 97,119 last year across the country.
"I come here because I want my daughter to know about the monkeys," said local businessman Zul Kamarulzaman, cradling his one-year-old girl in his arms and protecting her from the rain.
"I think the word pest is quite inappropriate. They shouldn't be killing them," Zul said.
Why the American public isn't mad as hell about the failure of the gun bill (in numbers) (24 April 2013)
The Senate's defeat of a package of popular proposals aimed at curbing gun violence last week seemed certain to foment public outrage at out-of-touch politicians who don't listen to their constituents.
Not so much, according to a new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll. Yes, a plurality (47 percent) describe themselves as either "angry" or "disappointed" about the failure of the gun legislation but 39 percent call themselves "relieved" or "happy" about what happened. That's a far cry from the 90-ish percent support that expanding background checks -- the centerpiece of the proposed legislation -- enjoyed.
And, among those who said they were "very closely" keeping tabs on the vote, the split was even closer; 48 percent said they were angry/disappointed while 47 percent were relieved or happy. (That piece of data is indicative of the passion gap on the issue between those supporting gun rights and those pushing for more restrictions.)
Viewed broadly, the new Post-Pew poll numbers suggest that, in the end, the Senate vote last week wound up functioning in the minds of most Americans as a sort of stand-in for how they feel about gun rights more generally as opposed to the specifics (background checks in particular) of the legislation.
Australia originally settled by 1,000-3,000 people 50,000 years ago: study (24 April 2013)
Australia was first settled by between 1,000 and 3,000 humans around 50,000 years ago, but the population crashed during the Ice Age before recovering to a peak of some 1.2 million people around five centuries ago, a study said on Wednesday.
Estimating the early population of Australia is a source of debate in anthropology, partly because it touches on how European colonisation affected the country's indigenous people.
In an paper published by Britain's Royal Society, Alan Williams of the Australian National University in Canberra took a fresh look at investigations into ancient settlements where charcoal and other sources have been carbon-dated.
Using this data as a telltale of population change, Williams believes the first inhabitants of Australia arrived around 50,000 years ago and comprised a "founding group" of between 1,000 and 3,000 people.
Charges dropped against Elvis impersonator accused of sending poison letters to Obama after lawyer claims he was framed by former friend (23 April 2013)
Charges have been dropped against a Mississippi man charged with sending ricin-laced poison letters to President Barack Obama, a U.S. senator and a state judge after his lawyer argued that he has been framed by a former friend.
'I've never heard of ricin or whatever. I thought they said rice. I told them I don't eat rice,' Kevin Curtis said at a press conference today, describing the moment he was questioned by federal authorities.
Defense lawyer Christi McCoy said whoever framed her client was able to lead the FBI to his door simply by including Curtis' catch-phrase 'I'm KC and I approve this message' and a few other clues in the threatening notes that were mailed to Washington.
McCoy suggested in court on Monday that federal authorities should instead investigate J. Everett Dutschke, an accused child molester who unsuccessfully ran for a Mississippi state House seat against the son of one of the ricin targets.
McCoy said Dutschke recently had a falling out with Curtis after an argument over email. Dutschke and Curtis' brother are former business partners.
On Tuesday local police and federal agents searched Dutschke home and asked him to take a lie detector test. Dutschke has denied any involvement in the threats and has not been accused of wrongdoing by authorities.
Boston bombing suspect cites U.S. wars as motivation, officials say (23 April 2013)
The 19-year-old suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings has told interrogators that the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan motivated him and his brother to carry out the attack, according to U.S. officials familiar with the interviews.
From his hospital bed, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has acknowledged his role in planting the explosives near the marathon finish line on April 15, the officials said. The first successful large-scale bombing in the post-Sept. 11, 2001, era, the Boston attack killed three people and wounded more than 250 others.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe an ongoing investigation, said Dzhokhar and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed by police as the two attempted to avoid capture, do not appear to have been directed by a foreign terrorist organization.
Rather, the officials said, the evidence so far suggests they were "self-radicalized" through Internet sites and U.S. actions in the Muslim world. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has specifically cited the U.S. war in Iraq, which ended in December 2011 with the removal of the last American forces, and the war in Afghanistan, where President Obama plans to end combat operations by the end of 2014.
PAM COMMENTARY: Yet another reason that Bush/Cheney should have been impeached and booted from office.
Jeremy Scahill: The Secret Story Behind Obama's Assassination of Two Americans in Yemen (23 April 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
JEREMY SCAHILL: There's this a whole other part of this story, which is that Awlaki, at his mosque in San Diego, two of the 9/11 hijackers had been--had attended services at his mosque, and a third one had also attended services with one of the other guys at his mosque in Virginia. And the FBI--he was already on their radar, but they brought Awlaki in a number of times for questioning, and they basically cleared him and said that he had--you know, had nothing to do with those guys except knowing them peripherally in his mosque. But that's been the source of a lot of--of intense scrutiny in the aftermath of the attack and everything that happened with Awlaki, because some people believe that he was directly attached to the 9/11 attacks, which I think is a preposterous--I mean, it's nonsensical to think that these guys would have keyed in Anwar Awlaki to the 9/11 attacks at a time when he was viewed as a very moderate guy. He endorsed George Bush for president in the 2000 election. In fact, Bush had a lot of support in the Arab-American community, because many people felt that he would be better than Al Gore on the issue of Palestine. And so, you know--but Awlaki had had this contact with these 9/11 hijackers. He also had been busted twice on solicitation of prostitute charges, and then those were resolved through community service and probation. But--
AMY GOODMAN: And were they real?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, we don't know. Awlaki says that they weren't, that it was a--that it was a setup. You know, I've--
AMY GOODMAN: To try to flip him?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, so what happened is that he gets busted, I think the first time in '96 in San Diego on a solicitation charge, and then he's pulled in. And he claimed--Awlaki claimed that the FBI tried to get him to start informing on people in his mosque and keeping an eye on them and telling them who was coming in and out of his mosque, and, you know, claimed that he told them to get lost. There was actually an interesting sort of development with this whole story, in that Awlaki had repeated interactions with the FBI. And I talked to a former senior FBI agent who had worked the Awlaki case, and said he believed that the bureau was trying to flip him or that they maybe had in fact gotten Awlaki to start doing some informing.
And so, when Awlaki then, years later, leaves the United States, he's looking--you know, in terms of his public persona, he's looking at the impending invasion of Iraq, he's looking at Guantánamo starting to grab headlines around the world and the images that we saw coming out of that, people being dressed in orange jumpers with hoods on their head, and, you know, eventually then the Abu Ghraib photos. But he also had this private battle that he was waging with the FBI. They were really putting pressure on him to become a full-blown informant.
New York City moves to outlaw cigarette sales to smokers under 21 (23 April 2013)
New York City took the first step on Monday in outlawing sales of cigarettes to anyone under age 21, in an effort to reduce smoking among the age group in which most smokers take up the habit.
The bill, which was introduced by the city council and has the backing of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, would make New York City, which already has the highest cigarette taxes in the nation, the first big city or state to set the smoking age at 21. Currently, individuals must be 18 to buy cigarettes.
Eight in 10 adult smokers in the city started smoking regularly when they were below the age of 21, and most smokers who are under age 18 obtain cigarettes from individuals who are just a few years older than them, city officials said.
While an increase in cigarette taxes contributed to a 15-point drop among youth smokers from 1999 to 2007, the number of high-school-aged smokers has held steady at about 8.5 percent over the last six years.
Controlling the Corolla horse numbers, 1 dart at a time (23 April 2013)
Wesley Stallings, the herd manager for Corolla Wild Horse Fund, kept a bead on the herd, looking for a chance at a clean shot at one of the black stallion's possible partners -- a red mare nicknamed Terra Ceia. As the herd slowed to a walk, Stallings stuck an air pistol out of the window of his SUV, pulled the trigger and sent the dart on target into her right rear hip.
"Last week, we didn't miss a single horse," he said.
It's not open season on horses in the Outer Banks. But it's always mating season.
Stallings' job is to prevent the herd from growing, and he uses a contraceptive dart to do his bidding. He started his hunt a week ago for 53 mares. So far, he has darted 17.
Use your personal smartphone for work email? Your company might take it (23 April 2013)
If you use your personal smartphone or tablet to read work email, your company may have to seize the device some day, and you may not get it back for months.
Employees armed with a battery of smartphones and other gadgets they own are casually connecting to work email and other employer servers. It's a less-than-ideal security arrangement that technology pros call BYOD -- bring your own device.
Now, lawyers are warning there's an unforeseen consequence of BYOD. If a company is involved in litigation -- civil or criminal -- personal cellphones that were used for work email or other company activity are liable to be confiscated and examined for evidence during discovery or investigation.
It's a possibility even technology pros rarely consider, said Michael R. Overly, a technology law expert in Los Angeles.
Light drinking during pregnancy affects IQ in children (22 April 2013)
(NaturalNews) For several decades, consuming alcohol during pregnancy was considered a no-no. Many neurological studies on young children whose mothers were heavy drinkers helped derive a set of developmental and behavioral impairments known as fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).
Mothers who are borderline alcoholic or worse often give birth to FAS children, who are impaired with learning disabilities, decision making disabilities, growth and sociability impairments, and sometimes with an IQ that falls into the retarded range.
Not a politically correct term, but one that was used in a 1999 Wayne University (Detroit) meta-study analysis of several other studies on FAS and alcohol-related neurodevelopmental disorder (ARND).
ARND is the lesser of two evils, a shadow of FAS symptoms, but often marked by attention or impulsive behavior, even Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ARND was observationally discovered among children whose mothers drank moderately, usually one or two drinks daily for a few days each week.
Earth Day Exclusive: Tim DeChristopher Speaks Out After 21 Months in Prison for Disrupting Oil Bid (22 April 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Start with the day. Tell us what you did, and then take us through that period of incarceration.
TIM DECHRISTOPHER: Well, that day in 2008, I showed up at the auction and walked in and decided to do whatever I could to stand in the way of it and thought that might be, you know, making a speech or disrupting it somehow. But when I walked in, they asked me if I wanted to be a bidder. And so, I said, "Yes," and saw right away that there was an opportunity to have a serious impact on it. And so I took that opportunity and started bidding, started outbidding all the oil companies. And that caused enough of a delay then that it drew a lot of attention to the auction and to the laws that the government wasn't following in holding that auction. So it was ultimately overturned by the new Obama administration. And then, a few months later, I was indicted on a couple of felony charges. And that led to a very long legal process and also my new role as an activist, traveling around the country and kind of developing a new skill set for myself. And--
AMY GOODMAN: Tim, a quick question: Since you were able to pay for the land, not that you had those finances yourself, but in raising money, why weren't you able just to buy the land?
TIM DECHRISTOPHER: The Bureau of Land Management just decided not to accept my payment when I offered it to them a couple weeks after the auction. They said that I wasn't a normal bidder, so they simply didn't accept it. And that's also something that I wasn't able to tell the jury during the trial.
Earth Day 2013: What's in danger is Earth Day, not just Earth (22 April 2013)
Maybe not, but if we've read the tree rings correctly, it may be dying. Which is why 2013 is the year we don't need to save the Earth -- we need to save Earth Day.
Consider this: A new Huffington Post/YouGov poll finds Americans are less concerned about the environment now than when Earth Day began. A lot less.
In 1971, the year after Earth Day was founded, 63 percent of Americans said it was "very important" to work to restore and enhance the national environment, according to an Opinion Research Corp. poll for President Richard Nixon. This year, only 39 percent of respondents said it was very important, according to a 2013 HuffPost/YouGov poll.
Other categories show similar disinterestedness. In 1971, 25 percent said working to restore the environment is "fairly important," and 8 percent said it was "not too important." In 2013, 41 percent said it was fairly important, and 16 percent said it was not too important.
Who can help stop river killers? Guided homeowners (22 April 2013)
Environmentalists trying to restore the Elizabeth River and its scenic offshoot, the Lafayette River, have known for years that without help from homeowners, they are dead.
They've known that pollutants washing off countless lawns, gardens, roofs, concrete driveways and streets are enough to stymie the gains made by riverfront businesses and industries. Something had to be done to lighten the footprint of these private properties.
What the Elizabeth River Project came up with is a free consulting service, in which landscape professionals schooled in green design and organic solutions visit homes and advise owners on ways to be more environmentally sensitive and pollute less.
The advocacy group even found grant money to help pay for some of the improvements -- money that has helped dozens of landowners plant shoreline grasses, buy rain barrels to conserve water and install organic lawns that require no chemicals.
Don't take the cinnamon challenge: Doctors warn teens after surge in calls to poison centers (22 April 2013)
CHICAGO -- Don't take the cinnamon challenge. That's the advice from doctors in a new report about a dangerous prank depicted in popular YouTube videos but which has led to hospitalizations and a surge in calls to U.S. poison centers.
The fad involves daring someone to swallow a spoonful of ground cinnamon in 60 seconds without water. But the spice is caustic, and trying to gulp it down can cause choking, throat irritation, breathing trouble and even collapsed lungs, the report said.
Published online Monday in Pediatrics, the report said at least 30 teens nationwide needed medical attention after taking the challenge last year.
The number of poison control center calls about teens doing the prank "has increased dramatically," from 51 in 2011 to 222 last year, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
"People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are at greater risk of having this result in shortness of breath and trouble breathing," according to an alert posted on the association's website.
Woolly mammoth, dodo and Neanderthal man: Scientists debate ethics of reviving extinct species (22 April 2013)
Woolly mammoths stomp through the Siberian tundra as the giant moa strides the forest floor of New Zealand and Tasmania's dog-like "tigers" stalk their prey under the cover of night.
This is not a snapshot of times past, nor next year's sequel to Steven Spielberg's "Jurassic Park."
Instead, it is a scenario that some biogeneticists see as plausible in our own lifetimes: the resurrection of species driven to extinction, sometimes thousands of years ago.
Next Thursday will be 60 years since Francis Crick and James Watson published their paper unveiling the structure of DNA, the double-helix genetic code for life.
Today, some experts believe that by harnessing this breakthrough knowledge, the first extinct species could be revived within years.
They could be cloned from genetic material teased from preserved tissues, with the reprogrammed egg implanted in a cousin species.
Ahead of reform, medical care slowdown hits companies (22 April 2013)
(Reuters) - As the clock ticks down to the start of a U.S. healthcare overhaul, companies from device makers to hospital chains have been surprised to see Americans make even fewer trips to the doctor's office.
Use of non-emergency medical services has been weak for several years in the wake of a deep recession, high joblessness and the steadily rising cost of care.
Those trends now may be exacerbated in the months before President Barack Obama's healthcare law takes full effect in 2014, analysts said. Part of the reason is that employers are shifting more of the insurance benefits they offer to so-called high-deductible plans, requiring employees to pay more for their medical care upfront, to buffer new costs they face under "Obamacare".
This is all starting to show in some weak and disappointing earnings reports for the first quarter.
Criminal complaint - United States vs. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (22 April 2013)
The Justice Department said Tsarnaev was charged in a criminal complaint unsealed Monday in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
PAM COMMENTARY: This is the actual Criminal Complaint document, for those who want to read it.
All Boston Marathon bombing patients likely to live, doctors say (22 April 2013)
Remarkably, all of the more than 180 people injured in the Boston Marathon blasts one week ago who made it to a hospital alive now seem likely to survive, doctors say.
That includes several people who arrived with legs attached by just a little skin, a 3-year-old boy with a head wound and bleeding on the brain, and a little girl riddled with nails. Even a transit system police officer whose heart had stopped and was close to bleeding to death after a shootout with the suspects now appears headed for recovery.
"All I feel is joy," said Dr. George Velmahos, chief of trauma surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, referring to his hospital's 31 blast patients. "Whoever came in alive, stayed alive."
Hospitals quick to implement lessons from Boston
Doctors describe horrors, chaos after Boston Marathon bombings
Three people did die in the blasts, but at the scene, before hospitals even had a chance to try to save them. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer who police say was fatally shot Thursday by the suspects was pronounced dead when he arrived at Massachusetts General.
A tale of two Earth Day heroes: Tim DeChristopher and Sandra Steingraber (21 April 2013)
Earth Day, oddly, has never been a huge deal for me. I'm just a little too young to really remember its remarkable debut in 1970, when one American in 10 went out in the streets to demand action on clean air and water. That unprecedented activism laid the groundwork for the swift passage of legislation, and the almost-as-swift rehabilitation of lakes and rivers. But in the years after, many Earth Day celebrations drifted in a slightly more corporate direction; there wasn't anything wrong with them, but they didn't seem to be helping arrest environmentalism's slide into relative impotence.
This year, however, the holiday really resonates, because there are two heroes reminding us of the sacrifices they've made to move the fight forward, and the way the rest of us need to step up our game.
One is Tim DeChristopher, who will be out of federal custody today after serving 18 months for an inspired act of civil disobedience. He participated in an auction for federal leases to drill for gas and oil even though he ... wasn't a rich oilman. The federal government was unamused--instead of charging him as an activist who'd pulled off a creative stunt, they treated him as a financial criminal whose intent had been to defraud. (This was the same Department of Justice that didn't manage to find anyone to prosecute for bringing down our financial system with their greed.) And so he's given up a year and a half of his life.
I got to visit Tim when he was in federal prison in the California desert, and then again when he was in a halfway house in Salt Lake City. I know he's going to be fine -- I know he's going to be more than fine, since he is already signed up to start at Harvard Divinity School come fall. I also know his story is going to inspire many to join in with Peaceful Uprising, the group he helped found. A documentary about his fight, Bidder 70, is showing all over the country on Monday night. Find a local screening (and watch a trailer for the movie below).
NYT: FBI Hatches Terror Plots (21 April 2013) [InfoWars.com]
In an April 2012 New York Times article titled, "Terrorist Plots, Hatched by the F.B.I.," it is revealed that many of the high-profile terror attacks foiled by the FBI, were in fact fabricated from start to finish by the FBI itself. The article states:
"The United States has been narrowly saved from lethal terrorist plots in recent years -- or so it has seemed. A would-be suicide bomber was intercepted on his way to the Capitol; a scheme to bomb synagogues and shoot Stinger missiles at military aircraft was developed by men in Newburgh, N.Y.; and a fanciful idea to fly explosive-laden model planes into the Pentagon and the Capitol was hatched in Massachusetts.
"But all these dramas were facilitated by the F.B.I., whose undercover agents and informers posed as terrorists offering a dummy missile, fake C-4 explosives, a disarmed suicide vest and rudimentary training. Suspects naïvely played their parts until they were arrested."
The report would also reveal that a fabricated, then foiled attack in Portland in 2010, even included a van and an inert bomb parked next to a real crowd of thousands during the city's annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony:
"When an Oregon college student, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, thought of using a car bomb to attack a festive Christmas-tree lighting ceremony in Portland, the F.B.I. provided a van loaded with six 55-gallon drums of 'inert material,' harmless blasting caps, a detonator cord and a gallon of diesel fuel to make the van smell flammable. An undercover F.B.I. agent even did the driving, with Mr. Mohamud in the passenger seat. To trigger the bomb the student punched a number into a cellphone and got no boom, only a bust."
Trying to buy a single-family home? Good luck beating Wall St. on deals. (21 April 2013)
MIAMI -- Big investors are pouring unprecedented amounts of money into real estate hard hit by the housing crash, bringing those moribund markets back to life but raising the prospect of another Wall Street-fueled bubble that won't be sustainable.
Drawn by the prospect of double-figure profit margins on rents and the resale of homes whose prices plummeted in the crash, hedge funds, Wall Street investors and other institutions are crowding out individual home buyers.
If the chain of easy credit and dangerous leverage that started on Wall Street fanned the housing bubble and eventual crash, some analysts find it disturbing that major investors are the ones snapping up the bargains -- and eventual big profits -- left in its wake.
"There is the possibility that Wall Street and the banks and the affluent 1 percent stand to gain the most from this," said Jack McCabe, a real estate consultant based in Deerfield Beach, Fla. "Meanwhile, lower-income Americans will lose their opportunity for the American Dream of building wealth through owning a home."
Florida man saves child by punching alligator into submission (21 April 2013)
A Florida man saved his six-year-old son on Friday by punching an alligator into submission after the beast clamped onto the child's right arm.
The boy's father, still reeling from the harrowing ordeal, told reporters he thinks it's a "miracle" that not only does little Joey Welch still have his arm, it's almost completely unharmed.
The child fell off a pier into shallow waters as his father, Joseph Welch, was preparing to take him canoeing in Boynton Beach. Without warning, a large gator latched onto Joey's right arm.
"So I ran in to the water, it was about waist deep," Welch told WSVN-TV. "I had my son like this here, because I didn't want to play tug-of-war with the alligator and get his arm ripped off. So while I'm doing that I started punching the alligator on top of the head as hard as I could."
Another man who witnessed the struggle rushed over and began kicking the creature in the belly as Welch wrested his son free, stunningly without even any punctures on the arm.
UK's only female giant panda Tian Tian is artificially inseminated at Edinburgh zoo (21 April 2013)
Britain's only female giant panda has been artificially inseminated at Edinburgh Zoo.
Despite male Yang Guang showing "consistently encouraging behaviour," Tian Tian was showing signs that were not "conducive to mating," according to the zoo's panda experts.
Natural mating was not attempted.
There are only 1,600 of the animals - the rarest bears on earth - left in the wild. They are currently on the World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) endangered list, mostly because of habitat loss.
According to the WWF, the Chinese government has established more than 50 panda reserves, but only around 61% of the country's panda population is protected by these reserves.
An ancient mating dance offers ranchers, grassland birds a lifeline (21 April 2013)
BURWELL, Neb. -- Under an indigo pre-dawn sky, as a frigid wind whipped across the plains, a half-dozen brown-and-white birds emerged from tufts of dry grass. They emitted a low cooing sound, akin to the hooting of an owl.
Then the greater prairie chickens started their show, scurrying around to mark their territory. When one encroached on another's turf, the defending animal charged, forcing the interloper to leap in the air with a flurry of feathers. As the birds became more animated, the orange air sacs on each side of their necks swelled, allowing them to make a louder coo known as "booming."
The entire display had a single intended beneficiary -- a female greater prairie chicken that selects the dominant male for mating -- that never bothered to appear. It might have been too cold for her. But the birds still had an audience: tourists sitting silently in a pair of parked yellow school buses with their windows cracked open. These humans may represent the prairie chickens' best chance for survival.
The northern Great Plains -- 180 million acres stretching across five states and two Canadian provinces -- is one of the last three large swaths of grasslands in the world, along with two in Mongolia and Patagonia. Prairie chickens have roamed the Plains for millennia, but this region is under pressure from competing financial incentives to grow corn and soybeans or pursue wind energy and shale-oil extraction.
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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