Pam Rotella's Vegetarian FUN page -- News on health, nutrition, the environment, politics, and more!
NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012
News from the Week of 28th of April to 4th of May 2013
Author Michael Pollan: 'If you're letting a corporation cook it, the odds are you're not getting healthy food' (By PBS Newshour) (4 May 2013)
JEFFREY BROWN: If I can have access to so much even good healthy food without having to prepare it myself, never mind all the junk food that's there, why bother cooking?
MICHAEL POLLAN: Well, it's a question for a lot of people, and a lot of people are conflicted about it.
It is something you can outsource very easily and fairly cheaply. But I would quibble with you that you can get healthy food outsourced. In general, you know, the most important question about your diet is who is cooking it. If you're letting a corporation cook it, the odds are you're not getting healthy food. They just don't cook very well.
They use lots of salt, fat and sugar. They buy the cheapest possible raw ingredients, and then they have to dress it all up with lots of additives, because the food was cooked so long ago and so far away. So one of the -- and they cook differently than you do, in that they make -- they specialize in those labor-intensive foods made with cheap raw ingredients.
The French fry is a classic example. Right? They can make French fries so efficiently that you can have them twice a day, no problem. And a lot of Americans do. Try making French fries at home. It's a lot of work and it's a big mess. And you won't do it more than once a month, which is probably about how often you should eat French fries.
Guantanamo camp burns through $900,000 a year per inmate (4 May 2013)
(Reuters) - It's been dubbed the most expensive prison on Earth and President Barack Obama cited the cost this week as one of many reasons to shut down the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, which burns through some $900,000 per prisoner annually.
The Pentagon estimates it spends about $150 million each year to operate the prison and military court system at the U.S. Naval Base in Cuba, which was set up 11 years ago to house foreign terrorism suspects. With 166 inmates currently in custody, that amounts to an annual cost of $903,614 per prisoner.
By comparison, super-maximum security prisons in the United States spend about $60,000 to $70,000 at most to house their inmates, analysts say. And the average cost across all federal prisons is about $30,000, they say.
The high cost was just one reason Obama cited when he returned this week to an unfulfilled promise to close the prison and said he would try again. Obama also said that the prison, set up under his Republican predecessor George W. Bush and long the target of criticism by rights groups and foreign governments, is a stain on the reputation of the United States.
Jodi Arias: How sex and murder created a tabloid trial and killer ratings (4 May 2013)
PHOENIX--Do you know who Jodi Arias is? No? Then you don't watch HLN. Or CNN. Or ABC News, Dateline, 48 Hours or Inside Edition.
You don't read People.com, or the National Enquirer or the Huffington Post. You don't follow the #JodiArias hashtag.
In short, you have a life.
Jodi Arias is the new Casey Anthony. And who begat Casey Anthony? Well, O.J. Simpson, of course, the granddaddy of them all.
Unlike Simpson, Jodi Arias's story doesn't begin with fortune or celebrity. She wasn't a millionaire sporting icon or a Hollywood starlet -- just a young woman who killed her ex-boyfriend.
Texas fertilizer plant that exploded carried only $1 million in liability coverage (4 May 2013)
McALLEN, Texas -- The Texas fertilizer plant that exploded last month, killing 14 people, injuring more than 200 others and causing tens of millions of dollars in damage to the surrounding area had only $1 million in liability coverage, lawyers said Saturday.
Tyler lawyer Randy C. Roberts said he and other attorneys who have filed lawsuits against West Fertilizer's owners were told Thursday that the plant carried only $1 million in liability insurance. Brook Laskey, an attorney hired by the plant's insurer to represent West Fertilizer Co., confirmed the amount Saturday in an email to The Associated Press, after the Dallas Morning News first reported it.
"The bottom line is, this lack of insurance coverage is just consistent with the overall lack of responsibility we've seen from the fertilizer plant, starting from the fact that from day one they have yet to acknowledge responsibility," Roberts said.
Roberts said he expects the plant's owner to ask a judge to divide the $1 million in insurance money among the plaintiffs, several of whom he represents, and then file for bankruptcy.
He said he wasn't surprised that the plant was carrying such a small policy.
"It's rare for Texas to require insurance for any kind of hazardous activity," he said. "We have very little oversight of hazardous activities and even less regulation."
Decades-old stroke damage reversible with oxygen therapy, say researchers (VIDEO) (4 May 2013)
Up to 20 years after suffering a stroke, patients in Israel are reporting remarkable improvements in brain function with calibrated oxygen treatments inside hyperbaric chambers. While treating stroke patients with hyperbaric oxygen is nothing new, the fact that it can be effective after so many years is an exciting new development according to specialists at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center. Jim Drury went to see the therapy demonstrated.
PAM COMMENTARY: This video, with sound and a preceding commercial, starts without the reader taking any action.
Solid job gains in April ease fears about economy (4 May 2013)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. economy showed last month why it remains the envy of industrialized nations: In the face of tax increases and federal spending cuts, employers added a solid 165,000 jobs in April -- and far more in February and March than anyone thought.
The hiring in April drove down the unemployment rate to a four-year low of 7.5 percent and sent a reassuring sign that the U.S. job market is improving.
The economy is benefiting from a resurgent housing market, rising consumer confidence and the Federal Reserve's stimulus actions, which have helped lower borrowing costs and lift the stock market.
The stock market soared after the Labor Department issued the April jobs report Friday. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 142 points, or nearly 1 percent, to a record a record 14,973. It briefly broke 15,000 for the first time.
Coming after a poor March jobs report and some recent data showing economic weakness, the April figures helped ease fears that U.S. hiring might be slumping for a fourth straight year.
Fracking ourselves to death in Pennsylvania (4 May 2013)
More than 70 years ago, a chemical attack was launched against Washington state and Nevada. It poisoned people, animals, everything that grew, breathed air, and drank water. The Marshall Islands were also struck. This formerly pristine Pacific atoll was branded "the most contaminated place in the world." As their cancers developed, the victims of atomic testing and nuclear weapons development got a name: downwinders. What marked their tragedy was the darkness in which they were kept about what was being done to them. Proof of harm fell to them, not to the U.S. government agencies responsible [PDF].
Now, a new generation of downwinders is getting sick as an emerging industry pushes the next wonder technology -- in this case, high-volume hydraulic fracturing. Whether they live in Texas, Colorado, or Pennsylvania, their symptoms are the same: rashes, nosebleeds, severe headaches, difficulty breathing, joint pain, intestinal illnesses, memory loss, and more. "In my opinion," says Yuri Gorby of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, "what we see unfolding is a serious health crisis, one that is just beginning."
The process of "fracking" starts by drilling a mile or more vertically, then outward laterally into 500-million-year-old shale formations, the remains of oceans that once flowed over parts of North America. Millions of gallons of chemical and sand-laced water are then propelled into the ground at high pressures, fracturing the shale and forcing the methane it contains out. With the release of that gas come thousands of gallons of contaminated water. This "flowback" fluid contains the original fracking chemicals, plus heavy metals and radioactive material that also lay safely buried in the shale.
The industry that uses this technology calls its product "natural gas," but there's nothing natural about upending half a billion years of safe storage of methane and everything that surrounds it. It is, in fact, an act of ecological violence around which alien infrastructures -- compressor stations that compact the gas for pipeline transport, ponds of contaminated flowback, flare stacks that burn off gas impurities, diesel trucks in quantity, thousands of miles of pipelines, and more -- have metastasized across rural America, pumping carcinogens and toxins into water, air, and soil.
Guantanamo detainee says prison 'shakedown' sparked hunger strike (4 May 2013)
WASHINGTON -- Obaidullah, an Afghan villager captured with diagrams of improvised bombs, has marked nearly 11 years as a detainee at the U.S. naval base on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Three months ago, outraged by what he called another prison "shakedown," he joined a hunger strike there, and now is locked in solitary confinement with at least 100 fellow detainees.
"I have seen men who are on the verge of death being taken away to be force-fed," Obaidullah said in a federal court affidavit declassified Friday. "I have also seen some men coughing up blood, being hospitalized, losing consciousness, becoming weak and fatigued."
His observations are the most extensive yet by a detainee about conditions at the military prison and what prompted the hunger strike. He and others tell of a Feb. 6 search when guards confiscated toiletries, family pictures and copies of the Koran. For the detainees, the trigger was "U.S. soldiers rifling through the pages of many Korans and handling them roughly."
Boston bombing inquiries prompt new look at student visas (3 May 2013)
The federal government will tighten oversight to help ensure that foreign students seeking to enter the United States have valid student visas -- the latest step to increase security after the Boston Marathon bombings.
The heightened scrutiny by U.S. Customs and Border Protection is effective immediately, sources with knowledge of the issue said Friday. Officials would not discuss what they called operational details. But the move is designed to give border agents better and faster access to computerized databases that track the status of student visas.
The measures come amid continuing investigation into the April 15 bombings that killed three and injured more than 260, and on the day that the body of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the suspected bombers, was sent to a private funeral home in preparation for Muslim rites.
Tsarnaev died after a gun battle during the fierce manhunt that forced a lockdown of the Boston metropolitan area. His younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is facing federal charges of using a weapon of mass destruction. Three of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's friends are facing federal charges on allegations of trying to hide evidence after the explosions.
One of the friends, Azamat Tazhayakov, 19, was allowed to reenter the U.S. on a student visa even though he was no longer attending the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev also studied.
Most women back over-the-counter birth control pill (3 May 2013)
(Reuters Health) - Close to two-thirds of women favor making contraceptive pills available over the counter, according to a new nationally-representative survey.
In addition, about 30 percent of women using either no birth control or a less effective method - such as condoms - said they would likely take the Pill if it was sold without a prescription, researchers found.
"Of course it's a hypothetical question, and it remains to be seen how this would play out in reality," said Dr. Daniel Grossman, from the University of California, San Francisco and the nonprofit Ibis Reproductive Health, who led the new study.
But the finding "gives us some indication that making the Pill over the counter could help improve use of more effective contraception and help women use the method they'd like to use," Grossman told Reuters Health.
China arrests 900 in fake meat scandal (3 May 2013)
Police in China have arrested 904 people for "meat-related offences" over the past three months, including a gang that made more than £1m by passing off fox, mink and rat meat as mutton, the country's public security ministry has announced.
Since January, authorities have seized 20,000 tonnes of illegal products and solved 382 cases of meat-related crime -- primarily the sale of toxic, diseased and counterfeit meat.
One suspect, named Wei, earned more than £1m over the past four years by purchasing fox, mink and rat meat, treating it with gelatin, carmine (a colour produced from ground beetles) and nitrate, then selling it as mutton at farmers' markets in Jiangsu province and Shanghai. Authorities raided Wei's organisation in February, arresting 63 suspects and seizing 10 tonnes of meat and additives.
Suspects in the Baotou city produced fake beef and lamb jerky from duck meat and sold it to markets in 15 provinces. Levels of E coli in the counterfeit product "seriously exceeded standards", the ministry said.
Justice Dept. admits flaws in forensic testimony in Mississippi death-row case (3 May 2013)
Federal officials found Manning's case as part of a broad review of the FBI's handling of scientific evidence in thousands of violent crimes in the 1980s and 1990s.
The Justice Department announced last summer an effort to correct past errors in forensic hair examinations before 2000 -- at least 21,000 cases -- to determine whether agents exaggerated the significance of purported hair "matches" in lab reports or trial testimony.
The reviews were prompted by a series of articles in The Washington Post that found that the Justice Department ignored warnings about widespread problems in cases that relied on hair identification.
Manning's case presents a difficult first test of the Justice Department review. Last week, the Mississippi Supreme Court denied a request by Manning's lawyers to reexamine a rape kit, fingernail scrapings, hairs and fingerprint evidence in the case, ruling narrowly that even if Manning's DNA was absent, that would not be enough to overturn his 1994 conviction.
Toronto clinic gives blind animals the gift of sight (3 May 2013)
If Godzilla had a pillow fight, it would have looked like the inside of the Toronto home of Cyd and David Fraser.
That's their analogy.
"If it was puffy and soft, it was taped to the walls and furniture,'' says Cyd Fraser, explaining that this was the only way they could keep their house safe for their dog, Halo, who had suddenly gone blind just a little over a year ago.
They had adopted the female poodle-cross from a shelter in Niagara Falls about three years ago. She could be between 5 and 7 years old.
Last May she suddenly developed pancreatitis (cause unknown), then her condition lapsed into diabetes and before the month was over, Halo had developed cataracts on her eyes and was blind.
Texas fertilizer plant targeted by thieves in past (3 May 2013)
WEST, Texas (AP) -- Burglars occasionally sneaked into and around a Texas fertilizer plant in the years before a massive, deadly explosion -- sometimes looking for a chemical fertilizer stored at the plant that can be used to make methamphetamine, according to local sheriff's records.
Sheriff's deputies were called more than 10 times to West Fertilizer in the 11 years before an April 17 blast that killed 14 people, injured 200 and leveled part of the tiny town of West, according to McLennan County sheriff's office files released through an open-records request. Multiple calls involved suspicion that anhydrous ammonia was being stolen.
The records portray a plant with no outer fence that was a sporadic target of intruders. Law enforcement was occasionally called because someone had noticed the smell of gas outside or signs of an intruder.
Anhydrous ammonia is a fertilizer that is a frequent target of burglars trying to manufacture methamphetamine. In the right conditions it can be flammable or explosive, though that is nearly impossible outdoors. However, a leak of the gas could create a potentially fatal toxic chemical cloud. The plant also had an unspecified amount of ammonium nitrate, a chemical that has been used in explosives, like in the Oklahoma City bombing.
Assata Shakur in Her Own Words: Rare Recording of Activist Named to FBI Most Wanted Terrorists List (3 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
ASSATA SHAKUR: My name is Assata Shakur, and I was born and raised in the United States. I am a descendant of Africans who were kidnapped and brought to the Americas as slaves. I spent my early childhood in the racist segregated South. I later moved to the northern part of the country, where I realized that Black people were equally victimized by racism and oppression.
I grew up and became a political activist, participating in student struggles, the anti-war movement, and, most of all, in the movement for the liberation of African Americans in the United States. I later joined the Black Panther Party, an organization that was targeted by the COINTELPRO program, a program that was set up by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to eliminate all political opposition to the U.S. government's policies, to destroy the Black Liberation Movement in the United States, to discredit activists and to eliminate potential leaders.
Under the COINTELPRO program, many political activists were harassed, imprisoned, murdered or otherwise neutralized. As a result of being targeted by COINTELPRO, I, like many other young people, was faced with the threat of prison, underground, exile or death. The FBI, with the help of local police agencies, systematically fed false accusations and fake news articles to the press accusing me and other activists of crimes we did not commit. Although in my case the charges were eventually dropped or I was eventually acquitted, the national and local police agencies created a situation where, based on their false accusations against me, any police officer could shoot me on sight. It was not until the Freedom of Information Act was passed in the mid-'70s that we began to see the scope of the United States government's persecution of political activists.
At this point, I think that it is important to make one thing very clear. I have advocated and I still advocate revolutionary changes in the structure and in the principles that govern the United States. I advocate self-determination for my people and for all oppressed inside the United States. I advocate an end to capitalist exploitation, the abolition of racist policies, the eradication of sexism, and the elimination of political repression. If that is a crime, then I am totally guilty.
3D Printed Gun is Now a Reality (3 May 2013) [InfoWars.com]
"So consider this, a CAD file containing the information for a 3D printable weapon system. If that file was seeded by 30 people, let's say, as long as there's a free Internet, that file is available to anyone at any time, all over the world. A gun can be anywhere. Any bullet is now a weapon," group spokesman Cody Wilson stated in a Youtube video at the time.
Fast-forward to May 2013 and the idea has very nearly come to full fruition.
Defense Distributed has announced it is in its final stages of testing a gun completely made out of 3D printed parts, titled the "Liberator," a salute to the single-shot pistol the FP-45 Liberator from the World War II era.
"All sixteen pieces of the Liberator prototype were printed in ABS plastic with a Dimension SST printer from 3D printing company Stratasys, with the exception of a single nail that's used as a firing pin. The gun is designed to fire standard handgun rounds, using interchangeable barrels for different calibers of ammunition," writes Forbes Magazine's Andy Greenberg.
Harvard scientists successfully make fly-like robots that can hover, fly around (3 May 2013)
US scientists have devised tiny winged robots inspired by flies that could one day help pollinate crops or aid the search for survivors at collapse sites -- once they get off the leash, that is.
The prototypes by researchers at Harvard University weigh 80 milligrams and have managed short controlled flights by flapping their mechanical wings while still tethered to a tiny power cable, the journal Science said this week.
The coin-sized robots sport two thin wings that flap 120 times per second.
Flight tests have shown they can make basic maneuvers, including hovering in place for about 20 seconds before crashing.
Suicides soar among US middle-aged people (2 May 2013)
The suicide rate among middle-aged Americans rose 28% in a decade, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has found.
Among adults 35-64, white people and American Indians saw the sharpest increases from 1999 to 2010.
The CDC did not investigate causes behind the trend, but noted many suicide prevention programmes were geared towards youths and the elderly.
The report found no significant change among other age groups.
Cancer drug Avastin linked to two cases of flesh-eating disease (2 May 2013)
The cancer-treatment drug Avastin has been linked to the rare but life-threatening infection necrotizing fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating disease, according to Health Canada, which issued a public warning Thursday.
In Canada, two patients on Avastin developed flesh-eating disease, one of whom died. The cases came to light when the drug's manufacturer, Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd, did a safety review.
The company identified 52 serious cases of necrotizing fasciitis worldwide between November 1997 and September 2012. (The Canadian cases surfaced after 2005, when the drug was approved for use here.) Of the total, there were 17 fatalities, including the one death in Canada.
The risk of someone on Avastin developing the disease "is rare," said company spokeswoman Nancy Zorzi, noting it occurs in less than 0.1 per cent of the cases.
Terror database too big to flag Boston suspect, critics say (2 May 2013)
WASHINGTON -- When a Russian intelligence service told the CIA that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had become an Islamic radical looking to join underground groups, the agency put his name in the government's catch-all database for terrorism suspects.
The Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment list, known as TIDE, was the government's attempt after the Sept. 11 attacks to consolidate a hodgepodge of watch lists, and ensure that every law enforcement agency would be alerted when it came into contact with a possible terrorist.
But TIDE has ballooned to 875,000 records, and critics say it is so all-encompassing that its value has been diminished. The database includes the names of young children of suspected terrorists and of people who have been cleared of suspected links to terrorism, officials say. A single credible tip raising "reasonable suspicion" is enough to add someone to the list.
TIDE is not a watch list -- it is a highly classified intelligence database, a master list that feeds information at various secrecy levels to agencies that maintain their own watch lists.
Punishing Vieques: Puerto Rico Struggles With Contamination 10 Years After Activists Expel U.S. Navy (2 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Congressman Joe Serrano, what about the cleanup? You have been lobbying fiercely in Congress to get the money, but Robert Rabin is saying some of that money is being wasted and is not really doing the job.
REP. JOSÉ SERRANO: Well, absolutely. Robert has a key word here that I was going to use, and he used it first, which is "punishment." I really saw, I believe, the first couple of years after that May 1st 10 years ago, that there was a resentment, and by members of Congress, sort of "How dare you defeat the military? How dare you push us out?" and in the administration. And so it was very hard to get dollars. In fact, we didn't cry over it, but I think the closing of Roosevelt Roads was also sort of a punishment. "Oh, yeah? Well, you want that closed? Well, we're going to close this one that has jobs and so on involved with it." And so, this--
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Both Roosevelt Roads and Fort Buchanan, right?
REP. JOSÉ SERRANO: Exactly. So there's been that sense: "How dare you do it?" Then there is the fact that in this country, and perhaps throughout the world, 10 years becomes a long time, and people forget that there's a loss of memory of what happened there. My understanding, yesterday I learned that less than 5 percent of the munitions have been removed. So we continue to push in the Appropriations Committee, where I sit. We continue to push the administration. But there is a new emphasis now. I'm seeing a new mobilization, similar to what I saw 10 years ago or 15 years ago, to say, "OK, now the cleanup has to really take a serious role here."
California fires at a glance (2 May 2013)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A look at fires burning around California on Thursday:
--A blaze of more than 10 square miles that began along U.S. 101 in Ventura County was uncontained. It prompted the evacuation of neighborhoods in Camarillo and Thousand Oaks, along with the 5,000-student campus of California State University, Channel Islands. A store of highly toxic pesticides was burning on a farm near the university, prompting air quality warnings. Embers scattered along ridges and into neighborhoods abutting the brush lands and smoke streamed for miles. More than 500 firefighters were called in, aided by water- and fire retardant-dropping aircraft.
--A 12-acre grass fire in Riverside County was fully contained after destroying two homes and damaging two others in the Jurupa Valley area. Ten vehicles and a boat also burned. An elementary school and a gas station were evacuated. Fire officials believe it was started by a discarded cigarette.
--A 41/2-square-mile Riverside County fire that began Wednesday north of Banning was 40 percent contained after destroying one home. Nearly 700 firefighters and aircraft worked the fire in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains. Most of the area was being mopped up but active flames remained in some areas. Two firefighters received minor injuries.
CA.gov's current fire information (2 May 2013)
This is the complete list of 2013 major incidents that have been posted to this site. You can see the location of Major Incidents on the Google Statewide Fire Map.
Map: Southern California fires (2 May 2013)
A brush fire that started near the 101 Freeway in Camarillo is still burning, fire officials said. A fire near Banning has burned 3,000 acres of vegetation and is 40% contained. Another small fire burned four residential structures in Jurupa Valley in Riverside County. A grass fire in San Bernardino threatened a mobile home park.
Atlantic coastal waters are the hottest since measurements began (2 May 2013)
Would you like some broiled flounder with your serving of climate apocalypse?
Well, you're going to have to broil it yourself, because record-breaking temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean are driving the fish away from fast-heating waters toward more hospitable depths and latitudes.
The Atlantic Ocean's surface temperatures from Maine to North Carolina broke records last year, reaching an average of 57.2°F, nearly three degrees warmer than the average of the past 30 years.
That's according to new data published by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which says the jump in average temperature from 2011 to 2012 was the largest recorded one-year spike in the marine region, which is known as the Northeast Shelf Ecosystem. Last year's average temperature was also the highest recorded there since measurements began 150 years ago.
Petro-Can stations running dry across Prairies as refinery repaired (2 May 2013)
CALGARY -- Some Petro-Canada stations are running out of gasoline because of repairs taking place at a refinery in Edmonton.
Gasoline-producing units at the Edmonton refinery were supposed to keep running during a period of planned maintenance work, which began about a month ago.
But during routine inspections, Petro-Canada discovered that repairs needed to be done and the gasoline units were taken out of service temporarily.
"So as a result, we have had to stop providing gasoline to some of our stations in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan," said Nicole Fisher a spokeswoman for Suncor Energy Inc. (TSX:SU), the oil giant that owns the Petro-Canada stations and refineries.
Clean technology investors shift focus to drilling (2 May 2013)
NEW YORK (AP) -- A decade ago, large investors in so-called clean technology had a straightforward goal: finance companies that would help eliminate the world's dependence on oil, natural gas and coal.
But as profits from wind, solar, biofuels and other alternatives consistently fell short of expectations -- and as the fossil fuel business boomed -- things got complicated. Venture capitalists and other investment funds started stretching the definition of clean technology almost beyond recognition in an effort to make money while clinging to their environmental ideals.
Today, clean technology investment funds are not trying to replace the fossil fuel industry, they're trying to help it by financing companies that can make mining and drilling less dirty. The people running these funds acknowledge the apparent hypocrisy, but defend a more liberal definition of clean technology.
"Oil and gas will be with us for a long time. If we can clean that up we will do the world a great service," says Wal van Lierop, CEO of Chrysalix, a Vancouver, Canada-based venture capital firm founded in 2001.
Guantanamo hunger strike renews debates over indefinite detention (2 May 2013)
Twice a day at the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, guards take a group of detainees from their cells, one at a time, to a camp clinic or a private room on their block.
The detainees are offered a hot meal or a liquid nutritional supplement and, if they refuse, they are strapped into a chair. A nurse then passes a tube through their noses and down into their stomachs; for one to two hours, they are fed a drip of Ensure while a Navy corpsman watches.
Those who have experienced force-feeding have described it as painful. But, as the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are well aware, fasting and then enduring the procedure can also bring political advantage.
From British-run prisons in Ireland to detention facilities in Israel, the hunger strike has long been a political weapon wielded by the imprisoned or the powerless. With their protest, the 100 men refusing food at Guantanamo Bay -- 23 of whom are being fed via nasogastric tube -- have pushed the largely forgotten issue of their indefinite detention back on to Washington's agenda.
AP Exclusive: Calif. spends big on anti-psychotics (1 May 2013)
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Under federal court oversight, California's prison mental health system has been spending far more on anti-psychotic drugs than other states with large prison systems, raising questions about whether patients are receiving proper treatment.
Figures compiled by The Associated Press show that California has been spending a far greater percentage on anti-psychotic medication for inmates than other states with large prison systems. While the amount has been decreasing in recent years, anti-psychotics still account for nearly $1 of every $5 spent on pharmaceuticals purchased for the state prison system.
Questions about the spending have been raised by the state budget analyst and by the court-appointed authority in charge of buying prison pharmaceuticals, who concluded that California's inmate mental health professionals appear to overmedicate their patients. Even a former top prison mental health administrator acknowledged that fear of lawsuits often drove the decisions about inmates' treatment.
Nearly 20 percent of the $144.5 million California spent on all prison pharmaceuticals last year went for anti-psychotic drugs, according to the AP's figures, which were obtained through requests under the state Public Records Act.
Is U.S. manufacturing making a comeback -- or is it just hype? (1 May 2013)
It's hardly news when a U.S. firm moves its manufacturing operations abroad to China. But what about when a Chinese company sets up a factory in the United States?
That actually happened in January, when Lenovo, a Beijing-based computer maker, opened a new manufacturing line in Whitsett, N.C., to handle assembly of PCs, tablets, workstations and servers.
The rationale? The company is expanding into the U.S. market and needs the flexibility to assemble units for speedy delivery across the country, says Jay Parker, Lenovo's president for North America.
But also -- and this was crucial -- the math added up. While it's still cheaper to build things in China, those famously low Chinese wages have risen in recent years. "We reached the point where we could offset a portion of those labor costs by saving on logistics," Parker says.
Thousands rally against European austerity on May Day (1 May 2013)
(Reuters) - Workers hit by lower living standards and record high unemployment staged May Day protests across Europe on Wednesday, hoping to persuade euro zone governments of the case for easing austerity measures and boosting growth.
Thousands of protesters marched in Madrid, snaking up the Gran Via central shopping street, waving flags and carrying placards reading "austerity ruins and kills" and "reforms are robbery".
"The future of Spain looks terrible, we're going backwards with this government," said former civil servant Alicia Candelas, 54, who has been without a job for two years.
The Spanish economy has shrunk for seven consecutive quarters, and unemployment stands at a record 27 percent.
There had "never been a May 1 with more reason to take to the streets", said Candido Mendez, head of UGT, one of two main unions that called on workers and the unemployed to join more than 80 demonstrations across the country.
GM withdraws 'offensive' Chevrolet Trax ad (1 May 2013)
Carmaker General Motors (GM) says it is withdrawing a TV commercial for its Chevrolet Trax four-wheel drive after its soundtrack was deemed "offensive".
The ad features vocals from a 1938 recording which refers to China as "the land of Fu Manchu" where people say "ching ching, chop suey".
It had been running on Canadian TV since early April and was also posted on Chevrolet's European website.
The lyrics have now been removed from the advert, which has been reissued.
Ricin found during investigation into poison letters sent to Obama (1 May 2013)
Ricin was found in the former martial arts studio of the man suspected of sending poison letters to Barack Obama and other officials, prosecutors have said.
The affidavit, made public on Tuesday, says an FBI surveillance team saw James Everett Dutschke remove several items from the studio in Mississippi on 22 April and dump them in a rubbish bin down the street. The items included a dust mask that later tested positive for ricin, it said.
Traces of ricin also were found in the studio, and Dutschke used the internet to buy castor beans, from which the poison is derived, the court document added.
Dutschke, 41, was arrested on Saturday as part of the investigation into poison-tainted letters sent to Obama, Senator Roger Wicker and Judge Sadie Holland in Mississippi. Dutschke faces up to life in prison if convicted.
EXCLUSIVE: Saudi Arabia 'warned the United States IN WRITING about Boston Bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2012' (1 May 2013)
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia sent a written warning about accused Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2012, long before pressure-cooker blasts killed three and injured hundreds, according to a senior Saudi government official with direct knowledge of the document.
The Saudi warning, the official told MailOnline, was separate from the multiple red flags raised by Russian intelligence in 2011, and was based on human intelligence developed independently in Yemen.
Citing security concerns, the Saudi government also denied an entry visa to the elder Tsarnaev brother in December 2011, when he hoped to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, the source said. Tsarnaev's plans to visit Saudi Arabia have not been previously disclosed.
The Saudis' warning to the U.S. government was also shared with the British government. 'It was very specific' and warned that 'something was going to happen in a major U.S. city,' the Saudi official said during an extensive interview.
It 'did name Tamerlan specifically,' he added. The 'government-to-government' letter, which he said was sent to the Department of Homeland Security at the highest level, did not name Boston or suggest a date for his planned attack.
Study: More North Carolina workers die on the job than reported (30 April 2013)
Far more workers die on the job in North Carolina than the state reports, according to a new study by workplace safety advocates.
While the N.C. Department of Labor reported that just 35 workers were killed on the job in 2012, the report by the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health estimates that the true number is more than three times higher.
That's chiefly because the state doesn't count deaths due to vehicle accidents and workplace violence, or fatalities among the self-employed.
The report, titled "North Carolina Workers Dying for a Job," also concludes that penalties are too low to deter unsafe working conditions and that "even repeat offenders get off easy."
Action Alert: Demand that Similac take GMOs out of its infant formulas (30 April 2013)
(NaturalNews) Recognizing the fact that Americans are becoming increasingly uneasy about the unlabeled presence of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) throughout the food supply, the shareholders of a major U.S.-based pharmaceutical and nutritional products company are now considering their prompt removal. As promoted by the corporate accountability group As You Sow, a new resolution soon to be voted on by the shareholders of Abbott Laboratories, maker of Similac baby formula, would eliminate GMOs from all the company's products if passed - and you have the opportunity to help make this effort a reality.
For years, Abbott has been selling Similac baby formula products laced with GM corn, soy, and other derivatives that independent studies have repeatedly shown to be risky health-wise. The 2012 publishing of the Gilles-Eric Seralini study, for instance, revealed that both GM corn and the chemicals commonly applied to this commodity crop are dangerous, having caused cancerous tumors to develop in more than 70 percent of laboratory rats fed a steady diet of it. Other studies have exposed similar outcomes for GM soy and other transgenic crops.
And yet ingredients made from these "Frankencrops" continue to be used in American food products, including in baby formulas like the kind produced by Abbott under its Similac brand. This is simply unacceptable, as it puts the long-term health of millions of babies at risk, which is why As You Sow decided to approach the company's shareholders and urge them to take action. Because there have been few long-term studies on the safety of GMOs, and none that have proven their safety, As You Sow is urging Abbott's shareholders to have them removed immediately, or at least have them properly labeled.
"Removing GMOs from nutritional products like infant formula can only benefit Abbott," says Andrew Behar, CEO of As You Sow. "As new and credible scientific concerns are raised, consumers are demanding to be given a choice in what foods they eat and feed their families. Abbott has an opportunity to lead the industry in being proactive on this important issue."
20 Signs That The Next Great Economic Depression Has Already Started In Europe (30 April 2013) [InfoWars.com]
The following are 20 signs that the next Great Depression has already started in Europe...
#1 The unemployment rate in France has surged to 10.6 percent, and the number of jobless claims in that country recently set a new all-time record.
#2 Unemployment in the eurozone as a whole is sitting at an all-time record of 12 percent.
#3 Two years ago, Portugal's unemployment rate was about 12 percent. Today, it is about 17 percent.
#4 The unemployment rate in Spain has set a new all-time record of 27 percent. Even during the Great Depression of the 1930s the United States never had unemployment that high.
#5 The unemployment rate among those under the age of 25 in Spain is an astounding 57.2 percent.
PAM COMMENTARY: I'm not sure whether this could cause a future depression elsewhere, or if it's a result of the recession here in the United States.
San Onofre insider says NRC should not allow nuclear restart (30 April 2013) [WhatReallyHappened.com]
Japanese manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) built replacement generators for the aging nuclear plant in 2010 and 2011.
"There were many, many changes," said Dr. Joe Hopenfeld, a former employee of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). He described himself as pro-nuclear.
Hopenfeld spent his entire professional life working with steam generators and nuclear power. Though he lives in Maryland, he is familiar with San Onofre, which is run by Southern California Edison (SCE).
The new generators were designed to provide low cost power for decades. Instead, they shut it down in just eleven months because of a radiation leak.
"The manufacturer didn't have experience in this size unit," said Hopenfeld. "I have reviewed thousands of pages of assessment and reports that Edison has submitted."
He says the 2011 radiation leak that shuttered the plant revealed a potentially catastrophic problem with the tubes that carry scalding water.
Kimberly Rivera, Pregnant Mom of 4, Sentenced to Military Prison for Refusing to Serve in Iraq (30 April 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Mario, how old are your kids, and what are their names?
MARIO RIVERA: Christian is 11, Rebecca is eight, Katie is five, and Gabriel is two.
AMY GOODMAN: James, James Branum, you're her attorney. When she was in Iraq, she turned to a chaplain to say she could not do this, that she could not, when she looked at Iraqi children, she said, open fire?
JAMES BRANUM: Yes, she talked to the chaplain, expressed her concerns. She said that she didn't think she should--could pull the trigger, if asked to. And this is a critical issue, because she was a gate guard at FOB Loyalty in Baghdad. Her job was a critical--critical thing, as far as security coming on and off the base. And so, she felt that she morally could not do what she was asked to do; at the same time, she realized that she would put other soldiers in danger if she didn't pull the trigger when the time came. She talked to a chaplain about it. The chaplain largely pushed her aside, did not give her the counsel that she really needed. And so, when she came home on leave, she took other steps. And it's unfortunate that she did not get the legal advice and information she needed to seek status as a conscientious objector.
GOVERNMENT DISAPPEARS VACCINE TOXICITY IN ADHD DRUG DIVERSION (30 April 2013) [WhatReallyHappened.com]
On March 31, 2013, the New York Times performed the magician's "slight of hand" routine disappearing mercury toxicity's impact on children's brains citing "nearly one in five high school age boys in the United States and 11 percent of school-age children over all have received a medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder."
The "propaganda, issued by the pharmaceutical cartel," is under protest by Dr. Leonard Horowitz, a Harvard-trained expert in media persuasion and emerging diseases. The report "diverts attention from the horrific damage to children's brains caused by vaccination ingredients, especially heavy metals."
The data, claimed to source from "the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," appears to have been "fed" to "spin doctors" at the NY Times to "protect drug makers from the most murderous assault against children in human history," said Dr. Horowitz.
The alleged findings are supposedly part of "a C.D.C. study of children's health issues, taken from February 2011 to June 2012," according to The Times.
Is the Afterlife What We Think It Is? A Challenge from Near-Death Studies (29 April 2013) [Rense.com]
Arthur E. Yensen died in 1932, at least as near as we can tell he did, from severe injuries in an automobile accident. The vividness of what happened next remained fresh in his memory, not only after he revived, but throughout what later became a long and productive life. As Yensen put it: "Gradually the earth scene faded away, and through it loomed a bright, new, beautiful world -- beautiful beyond imagination! For half a minute I could see both worlds at once. Finally, when the earth was all gone, I stood in a glory that could only be heaven.
"In the background were two beautiful, round-topped mountains, similar to Fujiyama in Japan," Yensen continued. "The tops were snowcapped, and the slopes were adorned with foliage of indescribable beauty. The mountains appeared to be about fifteen miles away, yet I could see individual flowers growing on their slopes. I estimated my vision to be about one hundred times better than on earth. To the left was a shimmering lake containing a different kind of water -- clear, golden, radiant, and alluring. It seemed to be alive. The whole landscape was carpeted with grass so vivid, clear, and green, that it defies description. To the right was a grove of large luxuriant trees, composed of the same clear material that seemed to make up everything."
Yensen described the people there as young-looking and lively, yet possessing a weightless grace in their movements. Their bodies were somewhat translucent, so was the grass and trees; their clothing minimal. One man told him: "Everything over here is pure. The elements don't mix or break down as they do on earth. Everything is kept in place by an all-pervading Master Vibration, which prevents aging. That's why things don't get dirty, or wear out, and why everything looks so bright and new." Yensen learned how heaven could be eternal from this man (Atwater, 1994, 53-55).
Muriel E. Kelly, weakened by rheumatic fever and a serious heart murmur, became very ill and passed into another world. "I found myself standing on a cobble-stone road with people around me dressed in bright robes -- red, blue, pink. Everything was so bright and sunny. Birds were singing. Baby angels were smiling and flying around. I saw all different sizes of angels. The music was hauntingly beautiful."
Beware the rise of the government scientists turned lobbyists (29 April 2013) [Rense.com]
What happens to people when they become government science advisers? Are their children taken hostage? Is a dossier of compromising photographs kept, ready to send to the Sun if they step out of line?
I ask because, in too many cases, they soon begin to sound less like scientists than industrial lobbyists. The mad cow crisis 20 years ago was exacerbated by the failure of government scientists to present the evidence accurately. The chief medical officer wrongly claimed that there was "no risk associated with eating British beef". The chief veterinary officer wrongly dismissed the research suggesting that BSE could jump from one species to another.
The current chief scientist at the UK's environment department, Ian Boyd, is so desperate to justify the impending badger cull -- which defies the recommendations of the £49m study the department funded -- that he now claims that eliminating badgers "may actually be positive to biodiversity", on the grounds that badgers sometimes eat baby birds. That badgers are a component of our biodiversity, and play an important role in regulating the populations of other species, appears to have eluded him.
But the worst example in the past 10 years was the concatenation of gibberish published by the British government's new chief scientist on Friday. In the Financial Times, Sir Mark Walport denounced the proposal for a temporary European ban on the pesticides blamed for killing bees and other pollinators. He claimed that "the consequences of such a moratorium could be harmful to the continent's crop production, farming communities and consumers". This also happens to be the position of the UK government, to which he is supposed to provide disinterested advice.
Valley Fever Prison Outbreak Sweeps Through California Prisons (29 April 2013) [WhatReallyHappened.com]
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The federal official who controls medical care in California prisons on Monday ordered thousands of high-risk inmates out of two Central Valley prisons in response to dozens of deaths due to Valley fever, which is caused by an airborne fungus.
Medical receiver J. Clark Kelso ordered the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to exclude black, Filipino and other medically risky inmates from Avenal and Pleasant Valley state prisons because those groups are more susceptible to the fungal infection, which originates in the region's soil.
Aside from the racial minorities, high-risk inmates include those who are sick, infected with HIV, are undergoing chemotherapy or otherwise have a depressed immune system. In addition to the deaths, the fungus has hospitalized hundreds of inmates.
The order will affect about 40 percent of the more than 8,200 inmates at the two prisons, said Joyce Hayhoe, a spokeswoman for the receiver's office.
MY LAST POST : Final thoughts on Zionism's success and Arab failure (29 April 2013) [WhatReallyHappened.com]
One of the most influential of Zionism's follow-up propaganda lies asserted that Israel was given its birth certificate and thus its legitimacy by the United Nations Partition Resolution of 29 November 1947. As I document in detail in my book and have indicated over the years in more than a few articles and presentations of public platforms of all kinds, that is propaganda nonsense.
In the first place the UN without the consent of the majority of the people of Palestine did not have the right to decide to partition Palestine or assign any part of its territory to a minority of alien immigrants in order for them to establish a state of their own.
Despite that, by the narrowest of margins, and only after a rigged vote (rigged by Zionist pressure amounting to blackmail on the leaders and governments of some member states), the UN General Assembly did pass a resolution to partition Palestine and create two states, one Arab, one Jewish, with Jerusalem not part of either. But the General Assembly resolution was only a proposal -- meaning that it could have no effect, would not become policy, unless approved by the Security Council.
The truth is that the General Assembly's partition proposal never went to the Security Council for consideration. Why not? Because the US knew that, if approved, it could only be implemented by force; and President Truman was not prepared to use force to partition Palestine.
FDA to Investigate Safety of Added Caffeine (30 April 2013)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Monday that it will reexamine the safety of caffeine added to foods.
The decision was prompted by the release of a new caffeinated gum called Alert, manufactured by Wrigley, which hit markets Monday.
The last time FDA looked at caffeine as a food additive was in the 1950s when the agency set a limit on the amount of the substance that could be added to colas. Caffeine is on the agency's list of ingredients that are "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) when it comprises .02 percent of a cola beverage, but has not been regulated in other contexts.
"Today, the market has changed," said FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine in a statement posted on the agency's website Monday. "Children and adolescents may be exposed to caffeine beyond those foods in which caffeine is naturally found and beyond anything FDA envisioned when it made the determination regarding caffeine in cola."
FBI looking into relationship between Virginia Governor's family and donor's gifts (30 April 2013)
McDonnell previously has said that he and his wife have known Williams for about five years, that they consider him a personal friend and that the first family's efforts on behalf of Virginia-based Star Scientific are typical of what any governor would do to promote the state's businesses and products.
But the FBI interviews represent a potential escalation of the growing controversy about McDonnell and his wife's relationship with Williams, which has consumed the state capital in recent weeks.
Williams and Star Scientific have given McDonnell and his political action committee more than $120,000 in publicly disclosed campaign donations and gifts, while the McDonnell family has received other benefits, such as a vacation at Williams's lake house in western Virginia.
The McDonnells have taken actions to promote Star Scientific, including allowing the company to hold a 2011 luncheon marking the launch of Anatabloc at the governor's mansion.
Fired LAPD officers seek reviews of their cases in wake of Dorner rampage (29 April 2013)
More than three dozen fired Los Angeles police department officers are seeking reviews of their cases after another former officer, Christopher Dorner, took revenge on the LAPD's disciplinary process by going on a murderous rampage.
Forty former officers have filed review requests since Dorner killed four people in February and prompted the department to reconsider cases of former officers with dismissal grievances.
The requests have put the department's disciplinary procedures under scrutiny. Many officers feel that there are genuine problems of institutional racism and capriciousness in the force.
The 40 former officers, who have not been named, have had their requests tallied by their union, the Protective League, Gary Ingemunson, a lawyer for the union, said in a column in its monthly magazine.
"I personally received two calls from terminated officers who abhor what Dorner did but both independently stated that Dorner's description of the discipline system resonated with them. Each said they knew exactly what he was talking about."
Country Musician Willie Nelson Turns 80: "One Person Carrying a Message Can Change the World" (29 April 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: And for the people you sing for, which is people in this country and all over the world--you're one of the most famous musicians in the world today--your sense of their feeling about our country, about your country, about the United States of America?
WILLIE NELSON: Well, I've traveled around over the years; over the last several years, I've traveled around a lot, and I got a lot of different feedback from people around. And we're not as loved as we think we are around the world. That's for sure. I think most people realize that our problems are our government, not me and you individually, except that we can--must have some sort of responsibility, because they're in there and they were elected, so we have to defend ourselves on those lines. But a lot of people realize that, you know, now that they're in there, what are you going to do about it? So I say get them out.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Your message, if you had to give to young people today, from the experience that you've had as a musician and as a social activist in terms of what the potential that they have to do something about where our country is headed?
WILLIE NELSON: Well, somebody one time said you can--you know, one person can't change the world, but one person carrying a message can change the world. And that's what I think is going on now. I think a lot of young people are realizing that their voice is ready to be heard. They are really important, and they feel that importance, and they know that they have to do something. You know, when you see something wrong, you sit around, and you can say, "Well, I'm either going to do something," or "I'm going to do nothing." You have to make the decision. A lot of the kids out there are saying, "Wait a minute, we can do something."
GMO multi-toxin crops continue to backfire as more insects become resistant to crop chemicals (29 April 2013)
(NaturalNews) Promises made by the biotechnology industry about the alleged robustness of its genetically modified (GM) crops are proving to be false, as research out of the University of Arizona (UA) uncovers a growing resistance by pests to even the most advanced crop chemical technologies in use today. Published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the new study explains how multi-toxin GM crops are quickly losing their ability to fend off pests, which could lead to a complete GMO failure in the very near future if alternate interventions are not enacted.
The study evaluated specific GM crops like corn and cotton that have been infused with a genetic mutation involving the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), as well as several other toxins that grow inside the plant to target pests. This so-called "pyramid" strategy, which involves using multiple GM toxins to target the same pests, is said to have been designed for the purpose of thwarting pesticide and insecticide resistance by targeting pests with two or three different toxins all at once rather than just one at time.
But according to the UA report, insects and other pests are outsmarting this approach. After evaluating a series of laboratory experiments they conducted, as well as various computer simulations and other published data on the subject, the team learned that multi-toxin GM crops do not necessarily kill pests redundantly -- that is, if a pest is resistant to one toxic GM trait, it does not necessarily respond automatically to the other toxic GM traits. In fact, the pest response to multi-toxin GMOs is so complex and unpredictable that it is already shaping up to be a complete failure.
"[T]he team's analysis of published data from eight species of pests reveals that some degree of cross-resistance between Cry1 and Cry2 toxins occurred in nineteen of twenty-one experiments," explains Homeland Security News Wire about the study's findings. Cry1 and Cry2 are two types of GM toxins used in conjunction with each other in some multi-toxin GM crops. "Contradicting the concept of redundant killing, cross-resistance resistance means that selection with one toxin increases resistance to the other toxin."
Hospitals see wave of products to fight superbugs; penalties loom if patients catch infections (29 April 2013)
NEW YORK - They sweep. They swab. They sterilize. And still the germs persist.
In U.S. hospitals, an estimated 1 in 20 patients pick up infections they didn't have when they arrived, some caused by dangerous `superbugs' that are hard to treat.
The rise of these superbugs, along with increased pressure from the government and insurers, is driving hospitals to try all sorts of new approaches to stop their spread:
Machines that resemble "Star Wars" robots and emit ultraviolet light or hydrogen peroxide vapors. Germ-resistant copper bed rails, call buttons and IV poles. Antimicrobial linens, curtains and wall paint.
Elephant meat now on the menu as poaching grows (29 April 2013)
There were up to 5 million elephants in Africa 70 years ago. Today, just several hundred thousand are left and in the past year, an estimated 32,000 elephants were killed for their ivory.
There is more bad news. World Wildlife Fund and World Conservation Society say that pachyderms are being slaughtered in huge numbers in the Central African Republic.
The two agencies say they have received "alarming reports from their field operations" that elephants are being slaughtered in the violence-ridden country as a new government scrambles to take control of the situation.
CAR has been plagued with violence for decades but things came to a head in March when rebels seized control and the president Francois Bozize fled the capital, Bangui.
Keystone XL oil would be processed in sick East Texas community (29 April 2013)
For many, the battle over the Keystone XL pipeline is about national energy strategy and global climate change.
For residents of the Manchester neighborhood in Houston, it's also about what will be processed and spewed into the air in their backyards.
Activist Doug Fahlbusch recently brought some attention to the community when he held up a sign at a Valero-sponsored golf tournament that said, "TAR SANDS SPILL. ANSWER MANCHESTER." That protest got him carried away from the links by security guards and arrested.
What did Fahlbusch mean? Why are he and his colleagues at Tar Sands Blockade so concerned about Manchester?
Louisiana Senate kills a bill that tried to rein in dispersants (29 April 2013)
Oil companies can keep on spraying toxic oil dispersants willy-nilly over toxic oil spills in Louisiana waters.
An effort to encourage -- not to require, just to encourage -- oil companies to use nontoxic alternatives to dispersants when cleaning up their spills was killed amid oil industry opposition in the Louisiana state Senate.
When BP sprayed dispersants over oil slicks from its 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill, the company sickened residents and cleanup workers and added another layer of environmental catastrophe to the cataclysm in the Gulf. Yet dispersants like Corexit -- which push spilled oil down from the water's surface and into the water column, where fish and dolphins and other wildlife live -- remain perfectly legal in the U.S. And they are being used here and elsewhere around the world by oil companies exhibiting utter indifference to human suffering and environmental damage.
Better fuel economy matters to more US consumers, survey finds (29 April 2013)
America's transition is well under way to higher mileage standards and to vehicles that sip rather than slurp gasoline, with manufacturers and consumers both supporting the shift, according to new research by the Consumer Federation of America.
Just six months ago, the federal government finished a plan to boost fuel economy standards of new cars to an average of 54.5 miles per gallon (m.p.g.) by 2025, up from 35 m.p.g. in 2017. Those mileage increases were authorized under the Energy Independence and Security Act passed by Congress in 2007.
Unknown, however, was how quickly automakers would shift production to go after those targets -- and whether consumers would accept higher vehicle prices up front in exchange for lower gasoline costs over the lifespans of their vehicles. In a first cut at answering those questions, the CFA polled consumers and analyzed fuel efficiency of new vehicles, including plug-in vehicles.
It found a shift in consumer sentiment and manufacturer output, including the following:
• A large majority of Americans support the higher fuel-economy standards approved by Congress and amplified by the Obama administration. Today's consumers say they expect the next vehicle they buy to get many more miles to the gallon than their current vehicles, the CFA survey found.
Why the wealthy-poor gap keeps on growing in the U.S. (29 April 2013)
The American dream continues to be a struggle divided along racial lines.
The wealth-inequality gap is growing, shows a new study, released Monday by the Washington, D.C. based-Urban Institute, a non-profit think tank.
Middle-income African and Latin Americans have seen little progress in their economic status compared to their white American counterparts, the institute found after studying the U.S. Federal Reserve Board's Survey of Consumer Finances from 1983 to 2010.
In fact, white families averaged six times the wealth of black and Hispanic households, or, $632,000 (U.S.) versus $98,000 and $110,00 respectively, research showed.
A Desperate Situation at Guantánamo: Over 130 Prisoners on Hunger Strike, Dozens Being Force-Fed (29 April 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Carlos Warner, you spoke to one of your clients at Guantánamo on Friday. Who did you speak to, and what did he say?
CARLOS WARNER: Fayiz al-Kandry, he--I've been--this is the third conversation I've had with him since the strike began. I visited him in person twice, and then on Friday I got a phone call. And things have gone downhill. He started to be force-fed, according to him, last Monday. And I got a notice about this last Wednesday from the government that he's being force-fed. And he told me that they're force-feeding him with what's called a size 10 tube, a bigger tube than is required. He said that this makes it difficult for him to breathe, and it induces vomiting. And he has asked them to give them--give him a smaller tube, and the military refuses to do so. Why they would not do these things, we have no idea.
But he underscored to me, because they--the military has clamped down, made it harder for the information to come out, since this began. But he wanted me to emphasize that this is a peaceful protest, that any detainee that's striking out in anger is wrong, that this is a peaceful hunger strike to protest, first of all, the military's tactics, but most importantly also the indefinite detention. And he wanted to make that clear, that this is not a violent protest, that he wants the hunger strike to end. But so long as it goes on, he intends for it to be peaceful.
Study: There may not be a shortage of American STEM graduates after all (29 April 2013)
If there's one thing that everyone can agree on in Washington, it's that the country has a woeful shortage of workers trained in science, technology, engineering and math -- what's referred to as STEM.
President Obama has said that improving STEM education is one of his top priorities. Chief executives regularly come through Washington complaining that they can't find qualified American workers for openings at their firms that require a science background. And armed with this argument in the debate over immigration policy, lobbyists are pushing hard for more temporary work visas, known as H-1Bs, which they say are needed to make up for the lack of Americans with STEM skills.
But not everyone agrees. A study released Wednesday by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute reinforces what a number of researchers have come to believe: that the STEM worker shortage is a myth.
The EPI study found that the United States has "more than a sufficient supply of workers available to work in STEM occupations." Basic dynamics of supply and demand would dictate that if there were a domestic labor shortage, wages should have risen. Instead, researchers found, they've been flat, with many Americans holding STEM degrees unable to enter the field and a sharply higher share of foreign workers taking jobs in the information technology industry. (IT jobs make up 59 percent of the STEM workforce, according to the study.)
PAM COMMENTARY: I've said the same thing here, because it's been obvious to all of us working in technical fields. It's not that employers can't find technical workers -- it's that they don't want to pay for a well-educated professional.
Bee deaths: EU may ban neonicotinoid pesticides (29 April 2013)
The European Commission will restrict the use of pesticides linked to bee deaths by researchers, despite a split among EU states on the issue.
There is great concern across Europe about the collapse of bee populations.
Neonicotinoid chemicals in pesticides are believed to harm bees and the European Commission says they should be restricted to crops not attractive to bees and other pollinators.
But many farmers and crop experts argue that there is insufficient data.
New Suspect in Ricin Case to Appear in Court (28 April 2013)
A martial-arts instructor and former political candidate is scheduled to appear before a federal judge Monday after he was arrested this weekend on charges that he mailed ricin-laced letters to government officials, including President Barack Obama.
J. Everett Dutschke, 41 years old, of Tupelo, Miss., was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents early Saturday, four days after another Mississippi man initially charged with sending the letters, Paul Kevin Curtis, was released. Evidence and testimony in federal court following Mr. Curtis's arrest led investigators to focus instead on Mr. Dutschke. The two men had quarreled for years, according to court testimony.
FBI agents last week searched Mr. Dutschke's home and martial-arts studio. Investigators also searched places recently visited by Mr. Dutschke, who also performed as a rock musician and earlier unsuccessfully ran for political office.
His attorney, Lori Nail Basham, didn't return calls or emails for comment Saturday or Sunday. She said earlier last week that Mr. Dutschke was cooperating fully.
In a first, black voter turnout rate passes whites (28 April 2013)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- America's blacks voted at a higher rate than other minority groups in 2012 and by most measures surpassed the white turnout for the first time, reflecting a deeply polarized presidential election in which blacks strongly supported Barack Obama while many whites stayed home.
Had people voted last November at the same rates they did in 2004, when black turnout was below its current historic levels, Republican Mitt Romney would have won narrowly, according to an analysis conducted for The Associated Press.
Census data and exit polling show that whites and blacks will remain the two largest racial groups of eligible voters for the next decade. Last year's heavy black turnout came despite concerns about the effect of new voter-identification laws on minority voting, outweighed by the desire to re-elect the first black president.
William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, analyzed the 2012 elections for the AP using census data on eligible voters and turnout, along with November's exit polling. He estimated total votes for Obama and Romney under a scenario where 2012 turnout rates for all racial groups matched those in 2004. Overall, 2012 voter turnout was roughly 58 percent, down from 62 percent in 2008 and 60 percent in 2004.
New 3D ultrasound software improves focus on fetus (28 April 2013)
The picture is getting clearer for expectant parents and baby doctors, thanks to recent 3D imaging ultrasound technology.
"The technology and the quality of ultrasound has been improving. But since 2000, it's been improving exponentially," said Dr. Greg Davies, professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Queen's University and chair of the division of maternal fetal medicine at Kingston General Hospital.
"We're getting better at identifying abnormalities and patients are getting more information before a baby is born," he said.
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada recommends all expectant mothers have ultrasound scanning at between 18 to 22 weeks of pregnancy.
Millions of users abandoning Facebook as newer services pop up (28 April 2013)
Facebook has lost millions of users per month in its biggest markets, independent data suggests, as alternative social networks attract the attention of those looking for fresh online playgrounds.
As Facebook prepares to update investors on its performance in the first three months of the year, with analysts forecasting revenues up 36% on last year, studies suggest that its expansion in the US, UK and other major European countries has peaked.
In the last month, the world's largest social network has lost 6m US visitors, a 4% fall, according to analysis firm SocialBakers. In the UK, 1.4m fewer users checked in last month, a fall of 4.5%. The declines are sustained. In the last six months, Facebook has lost nearly 9m monthly visitors in the US and 2m in the UK.
Users are also switching off in Canada, Spain, France, Germany and Japan, where Facebook has some of its biggest followings. A spokeswoman for Facebook declined to comment.
"The problem is that, in the US and UK, most people who want to sign up for Facebook have already done it," said new media specialist Ian Maude at Enders Analysis. "There is a boredom factor where people like to try something new. Is Facebook going to go the way of Myspace? The risk is relatively small, but that is not to say it isn't there."
iTunes turns 10: How Apple music store killed old music industry (28 April 2013)
When Tower Records, a hallowed music store chain with a 46-year history, shuttered its doors at the end of 2006, The Nation called it "the day the music died."
Some cried murder, blaming iTunes and the digital music revolution it fueled. An era of musical discovery -- rifling through stacks of records or CDs while chatting up a staff that ate, drank and breathed music -- had ended. Who'd want to carry a clunky Discman when the sleek little iPod was around? "Even Bob Dylan was shilling for iTunes in a television ad," wrote the article's author, Max Fraser.
Apple launched iTunes just a few years before, on April 28, 2003, and quickly reigned supreme. The iconic commercials -- dancing silhouettes against brightly-colored backgrounds -- were impossible to ignore. "A thousand songs, in your pocket," the voiceover in some crowed. All your music with you, wherever you go.
Once you had an iPod, the iTunes Store had you. Who wanted to purchase an overpriced CD, go home, pop it into a computer, rip the tunes and then sync them to a gadget?
Fired lesbian teacher fights to get job at Catholic high school back (28 April 2013)
A diocese in Ohio is under siege -- receiving numerous threatening calls as well as heated online criticism -- and a veteran teacher is out of a job because of publicly revealing a lesbian relationship in violation of the Catholic school's morality code.
But the firing has raised a fervent debate over tolerance both online and in the Columbus, Ohio, community where the incident took place.
Physical education teacher Carla Hale, 57, was fired in March after her name appeared in her mother's obituary, which also noted Hale's longtime lesbian partner.
Hale was summoned to a meeting with school administrators after she returned from her mother's funeral.
PAM COMMENTARY: That's pretty extreme -- digging through obituaries for a reason to fire people.
Bangladesh collapsed building's owner arrested (28 April 2013)
The owner of the Bangladesh factory building that collapsed, killing more than 370 people, has been arrested while attempting to flee to India, police said.
Mohammed Sohel Rana, a leader of the ruling Awami League's youth front, was arrested on Sunday by the elite Rapid Action Battalion in the Bangladesh border town of Benapole, Dhaka district police chief Habibur Rahman told Reuters.
Police had put border authorities on alert and arrested his wife in an attempt to bring him out of hiding.
Speaking near the site of the wreckage of Rana Plaza, which housed several factories making low-cost garments for Western retailers, junior minister for local government Jahangir Kabir Nanak told reporters that Rana would be brought to Dhaka by helicopter. Rescue workers cheered and clapped at the news.
Russia caught bomb suspect on wiretap (28 April 2013)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Russian authorities secretly recorded a telephone conversation in 2011 in which one of the Boston bombing suspects vaguely discussed jihad with his mother, officials said Saturday, days after the U.S. government finally received details about the call.
In another conversation, the mother of now-dead bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was recorded talking to someone in southern Russia who is under FBI investigation in an unrelated case, officials said.
The conversations are significant because, had they been revealed earlier, they might have been enough evidence for the FBI to initiate a more thorough investigation of the Tsarnaev family.
As it was, Russian authorities told the FBI only that they had concerns that Tamerlan and his mother were religious extremists. With no additional information, the FBI conducted a limited inquiry and closed the case in June 2011.
Back to Pam's NEWS ARCHIVES
Back to Pam's vegan vegetarian FUN page
Pam's vegan vegetarian cookbook, with vegan vegetarian recipes
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