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Click to visit VeggieCooking.com NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012

News from the Week of 12th to 18th of May 2013

10 years later: How the Mad Cow crisis changed an industry and a province (with videos) (18 May 2013)
The Sundre-area rancher has always been one to look to the future and not to the past. Under his management, Red Deer River Ranches -- a 118-year-old cattle ranch in the foothills of the Rockies -- has made major changes, transitioning from a traditional cow-calf operation to an all-natural ranch that sells beef directly to consumers. He has also diversified by creating a guest ranch on the property. Each year, 800 visitors come seeking peace and quiet and the authentic Western lifestyle.

On a glorious May day, with the sun sparkling on the Red Deer River and a gentle breeze stirring the grasses, Bradley finds it easy to be hopeful about his future on the ranch. But there have been darker days, for him and his thousands of counterparts around the province. Ten years ago come Monday, a discovery was made that shook the beef industry to its very core.

Bradley can't recall where he was or what he was doing that day in 2003 when the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed a case of BSE, or mad cow disease, had been discovered in northern Alberta.

What he does remember is how his anxiety gradually escalated throughout the following weeks, as auction marts across the province cancelled sales and international borders remained closed to Canadian beef.

For Bradley, Canada's BSE crisis didn't arrive with the sudden shock of a car accident or natural disaster, but with the slow-growing realization that the future of his whole industry was in jeopardy.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: WARNING: This article has a video, with sound, that starts to play without the reader taking any action.

Mad cow crisis put brakes on trucking (18 May 2013)
On the morning of May 20, 2003, Mark Wendorff's trucks rolled across the Montana border loaded with cattle.

Hours later, Alberta's beef industry was in chaos with ranchers, feedlot operators and truckers facing financial ruin after a case of mad cow disease surfaced on an Alberta farm.

"It's like someone woke up that day and turned the switch off," Wendorff recalls ruefully. "Everything changed for good."

The discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, in a single cow, slammed the door shut on the $2-billion annual beef trade with the United States.

Canada's largest beef market banned all imports -- and it would be 26 months before live Canadian cattle crossed the border again.

The decision all but crippled Canada's export-dependent beef sector, leaving various industry players struggling with multibillion-dollar losses.
[Read more...]

Mark Purdey's Organophosphate Model of Mad Cow Disease (FLASHBACK) (1 November 2004)
In 2002-03, CWD was a hot news topic. Deer and elk in the area of Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, were eradicated in a brutal and controversial government-sponsored shooting spree. The mass kill-off was allegedly designed to stop the spread of CWD to other herds, but was widely attacked as a public relations ploy, useful for little else than trying to convince hunters in Wisconsin that the wild meat supply was safe and covering up the true causes of the disease.

The infectious "prion" model of these diseases claims that prions found in diseased animals are then transmitted to other animals through rendered animal products in their feed. The prions in animal feed then go on to infect many animals who consume that feed. At least that's the official line in the U.S. and Great Britain. However, at the height of the Mad Cow epidemic in England, an organic farmer's personal observations led him to a different conclusion.

Mark Purdey and the Organophosphate model of Mad Cow Disease
Somerset farmer Mark Purdey observed that the UK's Mad Cow outbreak immediately followed the government's attempt to eradicate the parasite warble fly from cattle. Most farmers were required to treat their cows' spines and skulls with Phosmet, an organophosphate pesticide. Because Purdey was an organic farmer, he obtained special permission to avoid treating his cattle. He then observed that his neighbors' treated herds went on to contract Mad Cow Disease (BSE), whereas Purdey's untreated herds did not. Purdey also had purchased a non-organic herd which had been treated with Phosmet before he acquired it. That particular herd also went on to develop Mad Cow Disease.

"Cambridge University prion biochemist, David R. Brown is dismissive of the science behind the infectious model of BSE. He terms it 'a very limited amount of science by a few assumed-reputable scientists.' He insists there is 'no evidence an infectious agent is present in either meat or milk.' " (Fintan Dunne, "Organophosphates Implicated In Mad Cow Disease")
[Read more...]

The bacterial model of Mad Cow Disease (FLASHBACK) (19 November 2004)
The mainstream media has embraced the prion theory of Mad Cow Disease since BSE ( Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, known as Mad Cow Disease) became an epidemic in the 1990s. Other than a few alternative news sources, the press largely ignores other theories of the disease. The bacterial model of Mad Cow Disease is a competing theory with extensive supporting scientific evidence. In his article Is Mad Cow Disease caused by a bacteria?, Lawrence Broxmeyer, M.D., presents documentation supporting the Bovine Tuberculosis model of Mad Cow Disease.

Broxmeyer is a researcher who has concentrated much of his time on Tuberculosis (TB), and is familiar with how TB can cause symptoms like those found in the Spongiform Encephalopathies. His full article Is mad cow disease caused by a bacteria? (.pdf version) can be found by clicking here.* The text version (does not include epidemic maps) can be found by clicking here.

Bovine TB has a long history in Great Britain, with symptoms often similar to those of Mad Cow Disease. The deformed "prions" implicated in other research may be another symptom of the disease and not the cause, according to Broxmeyer, and "many animals that die of spongiform TSE's never show evidence of misfolded proteins." Broxmeyer says the infectious capability of a protein without genetic material is unlikely, and "Prions" were found to be proteins occurring naturally in normal tissues, although changes were sometimes noticed in the diseased animals. However those prion changes wouldn't explain damage to healthy tissues, and a causative agent is needed to explain prion "misfolding" at the outset. Moreover, prions have not been proven as necessary to cause the disease, and an increased level of prions in laboratory experiments has not been shown to increase the likelihood of infection. What researchers are calling prions, according to Broxmeyer, could in fact be "amyloids," a type of "deposition that took place due in the course of chronic inflammatory disease, mainly tuberculosis, the usual precipitating cause." Britain's historical battle with Bovine TB is documented by Broxmeyer, with the disease often appearing in the best stables, and creating a slight risk of infection to humans consuming the flesh of diseased animals. Broxmeyer provides maps to show that the concentration of bovine TB in the southwestern area matches the outbreak of mad cow disease. He claims that the link between eating beef diseased with Bovine TB and the human disease is well established.

Broxmeyer, a doctor who has treated TB in patients and studied it extensively, cites symptoms of TB which match the encephalopathy and neurological damage seen in Mad Cow Disease (BSE), Scrapie in sheep, and CJD in humans. He explains that Tuberculosis often assumes "L-forms," or cell-wall deficient forms, which are hard for researchers to detect using standard methods, and evade the animal's immune system. (This is also related to the bacterium's pleomorphic nature.) Mad Cow tissue was shown to be infectious in experimentation even without "prions" present, which could indicate that an agent like L-forms are at work. Bovine TB can also cause "downer cows" and both meningitis and encephalitis in cattle and humans.

"...Current mad cow diagnosis lies solely in the detection of late appearing "prions", an acronym for hypothesized, gene-less, misfolded proteins, somehow claimed to cause the disease. Yet laboratory preparations of prions contain other things, which could include unidentified bacteria or viruses. Furthermore, the rigors of prion purification alone, might, in and of themselves, have killed the causative virus or bacteria. Therefore, even if samples appear to infect animals, it is impossible to prove that prions are causative..." (Lawrence Broxmeyer, M.D., Is mad cow disease caused by a bacteria?)
[Read more...]

Corporations are manufacturing uncertainty about scientific findings. Now scientists are fighting back. (18 May 2013)
Science is under attack. With corporations manufacturing uncertainty to undermine studies that hurt their bottom lines and the sequester cutting billions in funding for scientific research, you'd think the American science community would be hunkered down in their labs avoiding outside interference at all costs.

A new project of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the Center for Science and Democracy, is encouraging scientists to do just the opposite. The center encourages scientists to speak out and help others to better understand scientific information and to distinguish evidence from political positioning. We spoke with the Center's director Dr. Andrew Rosenberg by phone this week. This is an edited version of our conversation.

Theresa Riley: In Bill's conversation with public health historians David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz, they talk about a "war on science" that is being waged by industries to prevent and weaken regulations. In Heads They Win, Tails We Lose, a report released last year, UCS investigators showed how widespread the practice is. What tactics do they use?

Andrew Rosenberg: In the political arena, there are lots of avenues where corporate influence comes in. Sometimes it's directly lobbying elected officials. For example, on fracking, Common Cause found that the industry has spent almost $750 million over the last decade lobbying to try to ensure that regulation isn't increased, that the federal government stays out of fracking -- even, to some extent, in the monitoring and evaluation of impacts of fracking. And that's unfortunately a pretty common picture. On medical devices it's a similar sum, $700 million, to lobby on behalf of medical devices and pharmaceuticals to try to keep the rules as business friendly as possible. People understand that there's lobbying. I'm not sure they understand the magnitude.
[Read more...]

Feds rooting out 'unwelcome speech' on campus: But what is that? (18 May 2013)
The failure of the University of Montana to respond adequately to rape and sexual assault allegations against popular football players has led to a broadening of how the federal government defines sexual harassment, causing free speech advocates to worry that the new policy will be used to punish "unwelcome" flirting and chill the right to speak freely on campus.

A detailed "resolution agreement" with the University of Montana, dated May 9, outlines what the US Department of Education and Justice Department describe as a new "blueprint" for how colleges should view sex discrimination, assault, and harassment on campuses. The new policy is seen as binding, because colleges can lose federal funding, including Stafford and Pell grants, if they don't abide.

Key among the federal findings at the University of Montana, where the university acknowledged it failed to properly address allegations of sexual assault against several football players, is the necessity to broaden the definition of sexual harassment to "unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature," including "verbal conduct," or speech.

The new policy also suggests that harassment does not have to be "objectively offensive" to warrant complaints, and demands colleges take action against alleged aggressors even before judicial hearings are held.
[Read more...]

How the IRS spun out of control (18 May 2013)
The inquiry has put a spotlight on an obscure branch of the IRS, the Tax Exempt/Government Entities Division, which is largely housed in an office building in downtown Cincinnati.

Former employees describe staff in the Cincinnati office as well-intentioned but overworked, struggling to keep up with more than 60,000 applications a year from groups that want to be classified as tax-exempt, such as churches, chambers of commerce, PTAs and advocacy groups.

The applications are reviewed by about 200 people in a "determinations unit," about 140 of those in Cincinnati. To keep ahead of the flood, former employees say, the staff frequently resorts to shortcuts.

"That office is given direction to move as quickly as possible, but also be accurate," said Philip Hackney, an assistant law professor at Louisiana State University who worked in the IRS chief counsel's office from 2006 to 2011. "It's impossible. They miss a lot of stuff."
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: I don't see the scandal here. Political groups don't get tax-exempt status. Groups with a political mission shouldn't be tax deductible any more than the Democratic or Republican Parties. The agents were just trying to do their jobs.

IRS probe ignored most influential groups (18 May 2013)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- There's an irony in the Internal Revenue Service's crackdown on conservative groups.

The nation's tax agency has admitted to inappropriately scrutinizing smaller tea party organizations that applied for tax-exempt status, and senior Treasury Department officials were notified in the midst of the 2012 presidential election season that an internal investigation was underway. But the IRS largely maintained a hands-off policy with the much larger, big-budget organizations on the left and right that were most influential in the elections and are organized under a section of the tax code that allows them to hide their donors.

"The IRS goes AWOL when wealthy and powerful forces want to break the law in order to hide their wrongful efforts and secret political influence," said Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat who is among a small Senate group pushing campaign finance reform measures that would force these big outside groups to disclose their donors. "Picking on the little guy is a pretty lousy thing to do."

Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS and the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity were among those that spent tens of millions of dollars on TV ads and get-out-the-vote efforts to help Republicans. Democrats were aided in similar fashion by Priorities USA, made up of former Barack Obama campaign aides, and American Bridge 21st Century Foundation, an opposition research group led by a former adviser to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

And yet those groups so far have escaped investigations into whether they have crossed the blurry line under the law between what constitutes a tax-exempt "social welfare" organization that is free from donor reporting requirements and a political committee subject to taxes and disclosures.
[Read more...]

Victims: Marines failed to safeguard water supply (18 May 2013)
A simple test could have alerted officials that the drinking water at Camp Lejeune was contaminated, long before authorities determined that as many as a million Marines and their families were exposed to a witch's brew of cancer-causing chemicals.

But no one responsible for the lab at the base can recall that the procedure -- mandated by the Navy -- was ever conducted.

The U.S. Marine Corps maintains that the carbon chloroform extract (CCE) test would not have uncovered the carcinogens that fouled the southeastern North Carolina base's water system from at least the mid-1950s until wells were capped in the mid-1980s. But experts say even this "relatively primitive" test -- required by Navy health directives as early as 1963 -- would have told officials that something was terribly wrong beneath Lejeune's sandy soil.

A just-released study from the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry cited a February 1985 level for trichloroethylene of 18,900 parts per billion in one Lejeune drinking water well -- nearly 4,000 times today's maximum allowed limit of 5 ppb. Given those kinds of numbers, environmental engineer Marco Kaltofen said even a testing method as inadequate as CCE should have raised some red flags with a "careful analyst."

"That's knock-your-socks-off level -- even back then," said Kaltofen, who worked on the infamous Love Canal case in upstate New York, where drums of buried chemical waste leaked toxins into a local water system. "You could have smelled it."
[Read more...]

Dark clouds hang over air shows after budget cuts (18 May 2013)
Patty Wagstaff is a Hollywood stunt pilot, three-time U.S. aerobatic champion, inductee to the National Aviation Hall of Fame and favorite on the air show circuit. One of her tricked-out planes is on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

But this weekend, she's grounded.

Federal budget cuts that eliminated military flying acts triggered the cancellation of dozens of air shows, meaning lost income for performers, air show announcers, concessionaires, vendors and others who depend on air shows and the millions of spectators.

Locally, Joint Base Langley and Oceana Naval Air Station each cancelled air shows.

The cancellations also mean disappointed fans, fewer events that celebrate aviation and inspire youngsters and lost military recruiting opportunities.
[Read more...]

Students can't resist distraction for two minutes ... and neither can you (18 May 2013)
Are gadgets making us dumber? Two new studies suggest they might be. One found that people who are interrupted by technology score 20 percent lower on a standard cognition test. A second demonstrated that some students, even when on their best behavior, can't concentrate on homework for more than two minutes without distracting themselves by using social media or writing an email.

Interruptions are the scourge of modern life. Our days and nights are full of gadgets that ping, buzz and beep their way into our attention, taking us away from whatever we are doing.

We've known for a while that distractions hurt productivity at work. Depressing research by Gloria Mark at the University of California, Irvine, says that typical office workers only get 11 continuous minutes to work on a task before interruption. With smartphones reaching near ubiquity, the problem of tech-driven multitasking -- juggling daily tasks with email, text messages, social media etc -- is coming to a head.

Multitasking has been the subject of popular debate, but among neuroscientists, there is very little of that. Brain researchers say that what many people call multitasking should really be called "rapid toggling" between tasks, as the brain focuses quickly on one topic, then switches to another, and another. As all economics students know, switching is not free. It involves "switching costs" -- in this case, the time it takes to re-immerse your mind in one topic or another.
[Read more...]

Psychologists find being positioned above others buffers against effects of ostracization (18 May 2013)
Being physically above others can buffer against some of the negative psychological consequences of social exclusion, according to research published online May 16 in Social Psychological and Personality Science.

"Our study investigated whether participants' spatial position has an influence on their reactions to being ostracized," Christiane Schoel of the University of Mannheim and her colleagues wrote in the study.

"Drawing on embodiment research, we hypothesized that excluded participants would react less aggressively toward the perpetrators when positioned above (vs. below), and thus 'aloof' from the situation."

For their study, Schoel and her colleagues had 40 university students play the computer game Cyberball. The 3-player game was developed by psychologists to study social exclusion and ostracization.
[Read more...]

From "bunga bunga" to "pianists" - Italy's political slang (18 May 2013)
The confusing nature of Italian politics has come to the fore in recent months, with an electoral result in which the leading party won the lower house but not the senate, a resulting two-month stalemate, and the final formation of a government led by none of the candidates who campaigned.

Here is a selection of the words that best sum it all up in the encyclopaedia 'Il Crollo' ('The Downfall'), compiled by journalist Lorenzo Pregliasco:

The term for a "mysterious sexual ritual" supposedly enjoyed by guests at Silvio Berlusconi's parties. It originated from testimony from the Moroccan nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug, or 'Ruby the Heartstealer', in October 2010.

The phrase became synonymous with Italy's then prime minister, and its viral spread through international media in 2011 accompanied the collapse of both his reputation and the financial markets' trust in Italy's ability to repay its debt.

Originally meaning caste, the word now refers to a clique of politicians keeping a grip on privilege and power. It was a favorite term of the 5-Star Movement that stormed to 25 percent of the vote in its first national election, promising to kick the 'casta' out of parliament.
[Read more...]

Judge blocks Arkansas' tough new abortion law (17 May 2013)
A federal judge barred Arkansas from implementing one of the nation's most restrictive abortion laws Friday, calling it "more than likely unconstitutional."

The law, which the Legislature enacted over Gov. Mike Beebe's veto in March, makes abortions illegal after only 12 weeks of pregnancy. It's scheduled to take effect in August.

At a hearing Friday in Little Rock, U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright granted a temporary injunction sought by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights, which argued that doctors who provide abortions would suffer "irreparable harm."

Wright said the 12-week standard criminalizes some abortions before the generally accepted medical standard of viability for a fetus, which is 24 weeks.

"The Supreme Court has consistently used viability as a standard with respect to any law that regulates abortion," Wright said. "This act defines viability as something viability is not."
[Read more...]

Only 2 of 13 small SUVs do well in crash tests (16 May 2013)
DETROIT (AP) -- Only two of 13 small SUVs performed well in front-end crash tests done by an insurance industry group. Several popular models fared poorly.

Subaru's 2014 Forester was the only vehicle to get a "good" rating. The 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport received an "acceptable" rating. But top-selling models such as the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Jeep Wrangler received only "marginal" or "poor" ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The ratings, released Thursday, are for the institute's new "small overlap" crash test that covers only 25 percent of a vehicle's front end.

The group's tests are more stringent than the U.S. government's full-width front crash test. The institute says that in many vehicles, a crash affecting one-quarter of the front end misses the main structures designed to absorb the impact of a crash. Yet such crashes account for nearly a quarter of the collisions that cause serious or fatal injuries to people in the front seats.
[Read more...]

More Americans Committing Suicide than During the Great Depression (17 May 2013) [InfoWars.com]
Suicide rates are tied to the economy.

The Boston Globe reported in 2011:

"A new report issued today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that the overall suicide rate rises and falls with the state of the economy -- dating all the way back to the Great Depression.

"The report, published in the American Journal of Public Health, found that suicide rates increased in times of economic crisis: the Great Depression (1929-1933), the end of the New Deal (1937-1938), the Oil Crisis (1973-1975), and the Double-Dip Recession (1980-1982). Those rates tended to fall during strong economic times -- with fast growth and low unemployment -- like right after World War II and during the 1990s."
[Read more...]

Australian dancer contradicts testimony, says Michael Jackson sexually abused him (17 May 2013)
An Australian choreographer alleged Thursday that Michael Jackson sexually abused him for seven years as a child, a claim the late singer's estate described as "outrageous and sad."

Wade Robson -- who testified at Jackson's infamous 2005 molestation trial that the star never touched him -- told a TV interviewer that the self-styled King of Pop was a "pedophile and a child sexual abuser."

"He sexually abused me from 7 years old until 14 .. . He performed sexual acts on me and forced me to perform sexual acts on him," the 30-year-old former dancer told NBC's the Today show.

The allegations surfaced last week, when it was reported that Robson had filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles on May 1 claiming "childhood sexual abuse" by Jackson, who died in 2009 aged 50.
[Read more...]

U.S. Military Grants Itself the Authority to Deploy Troops in American Cities Without Presidential or Local Approval (17 May 2013) [Rense.com]
In a move that makes clear the direction that our country is increasingly heading towards, the Department of Defense has published an update to a US code that outlines military power during civil unrest.

The code, ""Defense Support of Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies," was slightly altered during a May 13th update which now allows the military to unilaterally declare martial law without presidential approval.

Multiple sections of the code outline plans and policies for a martial law scenario and should be considered a must read for any American worried about their freedoms in what has become a hostile American police state.

The rule seems to actually contradict itself, in one part claiming that the military can only be used during extreme circumstances with Presidential approval and then, in an updated part of the code, declaring that the military can put troops on the streets without approval from the president or local law enforcement.
[Read more...]

Robbers Shove Homeowner In Closet, Where He Kept His Guns (17 May 2013) [InfoWars.com]
In yet another pro-Second Amendment story that the national media dare not touch, a homeowner in Sharpstown, Houston was assaulted by three robbers who broke into his house and shut him in a closet -- unaware that the closet was where he kept his guns.

With the homeowner thinking the three men had left, he exited the closet armed and proceeded to walk downstairs, before confronting one of the burglars and exchanging shots.

The homeowner was unharmed but the wounded robber stumbled outside and collapsed onto the floor, where he was watched by Neighbor Craig Gaddis who had heard the gunfire. The other two men fled the scene.

Neighbors said that the area had been plagued by a spate of recent robberies. The wounded suspect was hospitalized and the homeowner faces no charges for defending his property.

"Guess what? The owner had a gun," Gaddis told local ABC 13 news. "He did exactly what he was supposed to do -- with the gun, that's what they're made for -- protect his home."
[Read more...]

Argentina ex-military leader Jorge Rafael Videla dies (17 May 2013)
Argentina's ex-military leader Jorge Rafael Videla has died aged 87 while serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity, local media report.

He is said to have died of natural causes in prison.

The general was jailed in 2010 for the deaths of 31 dissidents during the 1976-83 military dictatorship, of which he was overall leader until 1981.

Up to 30,000 people were tortured and killed during this period, in a campaign known as the "Dirty War".

Gen Videla had been sentenced to life in prison for torture, murder and other crimes in 1985, but was pardoned in 1990 under an amnesty given by the president at the time, Carlos Menem.

In April 2010, the Supreme Court upheld a 2007 federal court move to overturn his pardon.
[Read more...]

Jorge Rafaél Videla dies in jail aged 87 (17 May 2013)
The former Argentinian dictator Jorge Rafaél Videla was a prominent member of the group of uniformed tyrants who in the 1970s seized power in Latin America and turned "disappear" into a transitive verb. If he never achieved the worldwide notoriety of his contemporary Augusto Pinochet, in Chile, it was not for want of trying. He has died aged 87 while in prison.

"As many people as is necessary will die in Argentina," Videla told the region's army commanders, gathered in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1975, "to protect the hemisphere from the international communist conspiracy." He was true to his word. Months later, on 24 March 1976, the armed forces overthrew the inept and chaotic government of María Estela Martínez ("Isabelita"), the widow of Juan Domingo Perón.

They installed a ferocious military regime. During the next six years, it murdered up to 30,000 people in the name of "national reorganisation" and western, Christian civilisation.

For Videla, who as army commander was chosen to head the junta, the decision to "disappear" the victims was purely pragmatic. "Argentinian society would not have tolerated firing squads," he told a journalist many years later. "Yesterday two in Buenos Aires, today six in Córdoba, tomorrow four in Rosario ... There was no other way. We all agreed on that."
[Read more...]

Deadly blasts hit mosques in Pakistan (17 May 2013)
Police say bombings in two mosques in northwest Pakistan have killed at least 12 people.

Sources tell Al Jazeera that 50 have been wounded and many are in critical condition.

Both of the Sunni Muslim mosques were badly damaged, and the roof of one of them collapsed, said tribal police officer Badshah Rehman. The mosques were located in Baz Darrah village in the Malakand district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Al Jazeera's Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from Islamabad, said the blasts happened shortly after Friday prayers.

He said the area has had a very heavy military presence since the Pakistan Swat Valley offensive in 2009.
[Read more...]

'Kai the hitchhiker' charged with homicide in bludgeoning death of lawyer (17 May 2013)
Galfy's body was found Monday after he didn't show up for work at his law firm. An autopsy determined that he died from blunt-force trauma, Romankow said.

A spokesman for the prosecutor's office said there was a host of evidence that led police to McGillvary, including video of him with the victim at a New Jersey train station.

Investigators believe the two men met recently in New York City, but it was unclear how they linked up.

The day after the killing, McGillvary met up with "fans" in southern New Jersey and told them he was on his way to Philadelphia, the prosecutor's office said.
[Read more...]

Frackers get their own clothing line (17 May 2013)
Clothing retailers don't have it easy. It's very hard to keep up with what's in style. And what's in style now? Fracking! Which means flame-retardant clothing for when shit gets out of hand.

Last year in the United States, sales of flame-retardant clothing rose from $1.5 billion to $1.6 billion. By 2017, sales for protective clothing are expected to reach $2.3 billion. To this end, companies like Carhartt and Cabela's are sending people out into the field to check out what's new in the world of flame-retardant clothes. They're looking to make stuff that's hard to set on fire, but also, well, cute. Which is to say that although the motivation is safety, workers also want clothing that they can perhaps wear outside of the job site. So manufacturers are looking to make clothing that does the job but is lighter and cooler than the usual flame-retardant clothing.

The reason for this fashion trend? An abundance of fires, not just at fracking sites but at drilling sites and refineries. It's a hazardous world, and you can't just wear a T-shirt and jeans to work at a place where there's stuff that catches on fire. I suppose you could move the country towards a less mortally dangerous fuel source, but I dunno, that sounds hard.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: I remember when flame-retardant pajamas were promoted as something that every child should wear to bed each and every night, just in case their house caught fire. It seemed like a good idea, but then the flame-retardant chemicals were found to be carcinogenic.

Harvard researchers, (hopefully) on the road to useful discoveries, instead make tiny chemical flowers (17 May 2013)
A team of scientists at Harvard have discovered how to make crazy, beautiful, very tightly controlled shapes that are so tiny they're invisible to the naked eye. Just by making simple changes in the environment in which salt and silicon crystals grow, they've made gardens of flower-like structures. Wim Noorduin, a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University, grew a variety of these "flowers," recently featured in the journal Science.

The process starts with a solution of salt and and silicon. By altering the acidity, alkalinity, and temperature of the solution, Noorduin discovered he could make his structures grow outward or inward. In other words, he could control the way the petals on his flowers are furled or unfurled. The thickness of the flowers' petals is determined by how much carbon dioxide is introduced to the compounds. Combining various steps allowed him tighter control to manipulate the shape. He once created an entire field of these flowers on a penny, picturesquely planted along the base of the Lincoln Memorial. Noorduin, who is Dutch, also grew a tulip, because Dutch people are obsessed with tulips, even microscopic ones.

To be clear, Harvard's main goal here was not to make teeny tiny beautiful flowers. That was just something that sort of happened as the researchers went about the very serious business of making "industrial applications." The reason the flowers are significant is they demonstrate how precisely scientists can control shapes, even at this scale. But I bet a lot of people will just settle for the flowers.
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WADE ROBSON: MICHAEL FORCED ME TO HAVE SEX And to Keep Quiet About It (16 May 2013)
Wade Robson says the only reason he's now changing his story ... accusing Michael Jackson of sexually abusing him for 7 years is because Michael engaged in a campaign of manipulation to keep him silent, especially during MJ's 2005 child molestation trial.

Robson went on NBC Today and said, Michael "performed sexual acts on me and forced me to perform sexual acts on him" from the age of 7 ... until Robson was 14.

Robson claimed he testified in 2005 that Michael did NOT sexually abuse him because Michael told him what they were doing was "an expression of love" ... and added, "if you ever tell anyone what we're doing both of our lives and our careers will be over."

TMZ broke the story ... Robson filed a creditor's claim against Michael Jackson's estate last week, insisting MJ sexually abused him during his childhood for years, but according to sources he didn't take action until he saw a therapist following a nervous breakdown.

Robson referenced the breakdown on Today, saying ... "For the first time in my life I began to realize that my completely numb and unexplored feelings in relation to what Michael did to me might be a problem and maybe I need to speak to someone about it."

Interestingly, Robson denied repressing memories of the alleged abuse ... instead saying he was merely "psychologically and emotionally completely unable and unwilling to understand that it was sexual abuse."
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Google 'Knows When You're Home' (16 May 2013) [InfoWars.com]
Google has devised yet another ingenious way of convincing people to hand over their real-time location data, by offering location specific "reminders" as part of its Google Now feature.

During the company's Google I/O conference for developers in San Francisco yesterday, it was announced that Google Now, the voice-recognizing search product, will soon be available on desktop computers and will network seamlessly with mobile devices.

Google Now enables users to perform Internet searches by speaking to their computers, but it also allows Google to provide both time and location specific reminders that function via GPS technology.

"For example, you can, from your desktop at work, tell Google Now: "Remind me to take out the garbage when I get home," and when it senses through your smartphone that you are back at home, Google Now will send you a reminder," reports Business Insider.
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Habitat for Humanity homes among those lost to Texas tornado cluster (16 May 2013)
GRANBURY, Texas -- Habitat for Humanity spent years in a North Texas subdivision, helping build many of the 110 homes in the low-income area. But its work was largely undone during an outbreak of 13 tornadoes Wednesday night that killed six people and injured dozens.

On Thursday, authorities combed through debris in Granbury, while residents awaited the chance to see what was left of their homes. Witnesses described the two badly hit neighborhoods as unrecognizable, with homes ripped from foundations and others merely rubble.

Granbury, about 40 miles southwest of Fort Worth, bore the brunt of the damage. The National Weather Service's preliminary estimate was that tornado had wind speeds between 166 mph and 200 mph. Other tornadoes spawned from the violent spring storm damaged nearby Cleburne and Millsap.

"I tell you, it has just broken my heart," said Habitat for Humanity volunteer Elsie Tallant, who helped serve lunch every weekend to those building the homes in a Granbury neighborhood and those poised to become homeowners.
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Invasive ladybirds wage 'biological war' on natives (16 May 2013)
The Asian ladybird was originally brought in to control aphids in greenhouses.

But it has escaped and is increasing uncontrollably across Europe, wiping out native species.

The alien is winning, say scientists, because its body fluid contains a parasite toxic to other insects.

The research is published in the Journal, Science.
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Analysis: West Fertilizer report details sequence of a catastrophe (16 May 2013)
It could have been an old golf cart stored there, or a problem with the warehouse's electrical wiring, or arson. The evidence, investigators from the Texas State Fire Marshal's Office and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Thursday, is insufficient to prove any of them.

Still, they reconstructed most of what happened and laid it out in public for the first time:

The seed room was on the building's north end, blown to oblivion along with most of the rest of the company's assets. The crater, 93 feet across and 10 feet deep, marks its location.

Parked inside the seed room was "a rickety old golf cart," West Mayor Tommy Muska said, having seen workers driving it many times. It was battery-operated, recharged by plugging it into an outlet.

Nearby, in the same building, were wooden bins that held about 50 tons of ammonium-nitrate fertilizer, piles of a solid chemical formed into tiny spheres -- think of the look of DippinDots ice cream. Outside, a rail car held an additional 100 tons of fertilizer.
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Canadian government doubles advertising spend on tar sands (16 May 2013)
The Canadian government has nearly doubled its advertising spending to promote the Alberta tar sands in an aggressive new lobbying push ahead of Thursday's visit to New York by the prime minister, Stephen Harper.

The Harper government has increased its advertising spending on the Alberta tar sands to $16.5m from $9m a year ago.

The Canadian Press news agency, which first reported on the increase in advertising spending by the Department of Natural Resources, said the television advertising was just one part of a broad promotion for tar sands.

It said the Canadian government was planning another big advertising buy in America aimed at winning White House approval for the Keystone XL pipeline project and promoting exports of crude oil from the Alberta tar sands.

Those high-profile ad buys included sponsoring Politico's Playbook, an influential site that is well-read by administration officials. The Canadian government has also been despatching a series of officials to US and European cities.
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Swine flu found in elephant seals off California (16 May 2013)
DAVIS, Calif. (AP) -- Researchers have detected swine flu in elephant seals off the Central California coast, saying it was the first time a human pandemic strain has been found in marine mammals.

However, none of the animals showed clinical signs of the illness.

A University of California, Davis study found the seals contracted the H1N1 virus in 2010, as the pandemic caused by the virus was winding down in humans, the Contra Costa Times (http://bit.ly/16keoIU ) reported Wednesday.

The influenza virus commonly crosses species barriers, and it wasn't the first time a marine mammal has been found to carry a human strain, UC Davis professor Tracey Goldstein told the newspaper. However, until now researchers had never found a human pandemic strain in marine mammals, Goldstein said.

Researchers still aren't sure exactly how the seals contracted the virus but said it's unlikely it came from direct contact with people. The researchers raised the possibility that seabirds may have passed on the virus.
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Heady Colo. farmers plowing ahead with hemp farming (16 May 2013)
What do you do when the federal government won't let you plant a sustainable, super-useful crop on your own land? Well, if you're Ryan Loflin, you do it anyway.

As of this week, Loflin has planted America's first real crop of industrial hemp in more than a half-century.

The 40-year-old farmer from Springfield, Colo., has been scheming for months. "I believe this is really going to revitalize and strengthen farm communities," Loflin told the Denver Post in April. Now he's leased 60 acres of his father's alfalfa farm to plant and tend the hundreds of hemp starters he's already been grooming.

Hemp, for those who aren't familiar, is a variety of cannabis that -- sorry kids! -- won't get you high. Strong, nutritious, and super sustainable to grow, hemp is used for everything from rope to cereal. It requires few herbicides, and has even been called carbon negative by some boosters. And while it's illegal to grow it in the U.S., it's not illegal to sell. Right now imported hemp -- the only legal kind -- accounts for about $500 million in annual U.S. sales, according to the Hemp Industries Association.
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US military leaders vow to tackle sexual assault issue as Congress pledges action (16 May 2013)
US military leaders are "ashamed" of their failure to get to grips with the problem of sexual assault in the armed services, Barack Obama said on Thursday.

The president pledged to "leave no stone unturned" in the effort to combat sexual assault in the military, which he said undermined the armed services.

Obama also said he has asked defence secretary Chuck Hagel and joint chiefs of staff chairman Martin Dempsey to lead a process to root out the problem.

"They care about this and they are angry about it," Obama said at the White House, after he summoned the nation's top defence leaders for a meeting to discuss the problem. "I heard directly from all of them that they are ashamed by some of what's happened."

The meeting follows a recent string of misconduct cases and a Pentagon report showing that as many as 26,000 military members may have been sexually assaulted last year.
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Federal judge lifts LAPD consent decree (16 May 2013)
The federal judge who oversaw a dramatic, forced transformation of the Los Angeles Police Department has freed the department from the final vestiges of federal oversight.

In a brief, three-line order Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Gary Feess formally lifted the binding agreement the U.S. Department of Justice imposed on the LAPD in 2001, which spelled out dozens of major reforms the police agency had to implement and frequent audits it was required to undergo by a monitor who reported to Feess.

The dismissal of the so-called consent decree, which arose largely out of the Rampart corruption scandal and addressed basic problems of accountability that stretched back decades, delivered a largely symbolic, but nonetheless important milestone for the LAPD as it continues to disassociate itself from a past marked by abuses and turmoil. Following revelations in 1999 that officers assigned to the LAPD's Rampart Division were implicated in serious misconduct, including physical abuse of suspects, evidence tampering and perjury, public trust in the police plummeted and federal officials responded to calls from a growing chorus of critics for intervention.

Though many in the department bitterly disliked the idea of federal oversight, Department of Justice officials threatened to sue the city for complete control of the LAPD if department and city officials resisted the idea of the consent decree.
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Cambodia shoe factory collapse kills workers (16 May 2013)
Cambodian clothing industry workers have been killed in the partial collapse of the shoe factory where they worked, adding to the loss of life in the Asian industry of making garments for the west.

A concrete ceiling fell in at the Wing Star Shoes plant in Kampong Speu province, west of the capital, Phnom Penh, authorities said. Police officer Khem Pannara said heavy equipment stored above may have caused the collapse.

Authorities told the Associated Press that two bodies had been pulled from the wreckage and at least seven people were injured, while a union official speaking to the Reuters news agency put the death toll at six or more. There were estimates of up to 50 people trapped in the wreckage.

"We were working normally and suddenly several pieces of brick and iron started falling on us," said an injured 25-year-old Kong Thary, recounting the scene from a nearby clinic.
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ECSU police omitted sex-assault claims from reports (16 May 2013)
As many as 11 sexual assaults were reported to campus police at Elizabeth City State University from before 2008 to 2011, according to city police, but they were not disclosed in annual campus crime reports as required by the federal government, a review shows.

The assaults were among more than 120 crimes reported that city police have discovered were not investigated by the school, leading to the resignation of the campus police chief. He already was on leave pending a state investigation into allegations of witness intimidation and obstruction of justice by campus police in a sexual assault case this year.

Not making campus crime complaints public under what's known as the Clery Act could lead to fines of $35,000 per offense and the loss of federal financial-aid funds.

The Clery Act requires colleges and universities that receive federal funding to report crimes to the Department of Education and make the reports available to the public. It is intended to provide students and their families with information about safety on campuses so that they can make informed decisions.
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Man Attacked by Bear in Marinette County (16 May 2013)
A call came into the Sheriff's Department about 1:25 p.m. Wednesday from Marie Ninnemann who said a bear had bitten her husband and it was circling the home and wouldn't leave.

Ninnemann told the deputy he heard his dog barking and saw a bear going after the dog. He was able to call the dog back to the cabin, but when Ninnemann tried to run inside, the bear took him to the ground and started biting and clawing his back.

Ninnemann was able to get up and made it to the corner of the cabin when the bear caught him and attacked him again.

Marie Ninnemann grabbed a gun and some shells, but she didn't know how to load the weapon, so she hit the bear over the head, according to the deputy's report. The bear let go and Gerre was able to use the gun to keep the bear away while they made their way into the cabin.
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"The Other IRS Scandal": David Cay Johnston on Dark Money Political Groups Seeking Tax Exemption (16 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: While the IRS targeting of tea-party groups has made headlines for days, far less attention has been paid to the roots of the crisis. After the 2010 landmark Supreme Court decision Citizens United, there was a spike in new political organizations seeking tax-exempt status under tax code Section 501(c)(4). Groups such as Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS have claimed to be social welfare organizations while spending tens of millions of dollars on political operations. The number of 501(c)(4) applications rose to 3,400 in 2012, more than double the level in 2010.

To talk more about the IRS, we're joined by David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who writes about taxes issues, former New York Times reporter, author of several books, including the most recent, The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use "Plain English" to Rob You Blind . His latest article is entitled "The Other IRS Scandal." It appears on the Columbia Journalism Review website.

Welcome to Democracy Now! from Rochester, David Cay Johnston. First talk about the resignation of the head of the IRS and the scandal, and then we'll go on to the second part of the scandal, as you see it.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Well, Miller didn't resign; he was fired. The president said that Jack Lew, the treasury secretary, asked for his resignation. What's a little strange about this is that Miller had nothing to do with this, as best we know. He's the acting commissioner. The misconduct--and it's absolutely misconduct; it's no different than stopping young men on the street based on the color of their skin, as we know is going on a lot in New York City--took place under the watch of Douglas Shulman, who was an appointee of President George W. Bush, which shows how complicated this story is.
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Corolla wild horse recovers after rescue from riptide (16 May 2013)
A blind and aging stallion is recovering after a rip current swept him seaward and lifeguards carried out the coastal community's first wild-horse rescue.

On May 2, two stallions battled for supremacy over a harem of mares, a common occurrence among the wild horses on the Currituck Outer Banks. Already blind in one eye, the older stallion injured his other eye during the fight, said Karen McCalpin, director of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.

He ran into the ocean and was caught in a riptide that carried him away from the beach and more than a mile down the shore.

The stallion reached a sandbar where he was able to stand. Directed over the phone by herd manager Wesley Stallings, lifeguards used rescue buoys to push the horse from behind and gradually guide him to land, McCalpin said.
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Lawyer: Ohio kidnap suspect will plead not guilty (15 May 2013)
CLEVELAND (AP) -- The man accused of keeping three women in captivity for about a decade will plead not guilty but it's uncertain if he can receive a fair trial anywhere, a member of his defense team said Wednesday.

Craig Weintraub, a former prosecutor representing Ariel Castro, 52, on rape and kidnapping charges, said in an interview that the location of a trial is "always an issue when you have a case that has such fantastic notoriety."

Castro's defense team, including Weintraub colleague Jaye Schlachet, must decide at some point whether to ask to have any trial moved out of Cleveland, Weintraub said.

"Then that begs the question: 'Well, where can he get a fair trial based on the circumstances?' This is such a sensationalistic type case which has received international coverage."
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How Angelina Jolie was duped by cancer doctors into self mutilation for breast cancer she never had (15 May 2013)
The very idea that breast cancer is a "percent risk" is a complete lie. In reality, everyone has cancer micro-tumors in their bodies, including myself. Cancer is not a disease you just "get" like being randomly struck by lightning. It's something you must "manage" or "prevent" day by day, meal by meal, through a lifestyle choice that involves vitamin D supplementation, nutrition, superfoods, vegetable juices and avoidance of cancer-causing chemicals and radiation.

So when a doctor says you have a "chance" of getting cancer, what he's implying is that you have no control over cancer, and that's an outright lie. Cancer quackery, in other words.

Even Jolie with her BRCA1 gene that's linked to breast cancer can quite easily follow a dietary and lifestyle plan that suppresses BRCA1 gene expression. It's not rocket science. It's not even difficult. It can be done with simple foods that cost a few dollars a day. Those foods include raw citrus, resveratrol (red grapes or red wine), raw cruciferous vegetables, omega-3 oils and much more. Those same foods also help prevent heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's and other chronic diseases.

Indole-3-carbinol (I3C), by the way, a natural chemical found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage, offers powerful prevention against BRCA1 gene expression. But you don't hear cancer doctors telling women to "eat more cabbage" because that doesn't make the cancer industry any money. You can buy I3C as a potent nutritional supplement from a variety of sources. It's literally cancer prevention in a capsule.

So the whole "chance" argument is pure quackery. There is no chance involved in whether you get cancer. It's all cause and effect. You are either living a pro-cancer lifestyle and therefore growing cancer, or you're living an anti-cancer lifestyle and keeping cancer in check so that it never becomes a problem. Cause and effect is what results in either the growth of cancer tumors or the prevention of cancer tumors. There is no "luck" involved.
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One-third of honeybee colonies in US died last winter: The food collapse approaches (15 May 2013)
(NaturalNews) The Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) recently published preliminary data from its annual review of bee colony declines in the U.S., and the findings from this report are mind-boggling. According to the latest survey results, an astounding 31.3 percent, or roughly one-third, of all managed bee colonies in the U.S. were wiped out during the most recent 2012/2013 winter season, a rate that represents a 42 percent increase compared to the number of colonies lost during the previous 2011/2012 winter season.

According to BIP, which works in collaboration with both the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. beekeepers on average lost more than 45 percent of their colonies during the 2012/2013 winter season, a 78.2 percent jump in losses over the previous season. And overall, more than 70 percent of respondents, most of whom were backyard beekeepers, experienced losses beyond the 15 percent "acceptable" threshold, illustrating a monumental problem not only for bee survival but also for the American food supply.

Since 2006, total bee colony losses have hovered around 30 percent, sometimes a little higher and sometimes a little lower. And the situation was believed by some to be improving when the overall percentage of colony losses declined sharply during the 2011/2012 winter season by almost 10 percent. But now that the death toll has jumped once again beyond the 30 percent mark, many are worried that this year-after-year compounded increase will very soon make it impossible for grow enough food.

"We're getting closer and closer to the point where we don't have enough bees in this country to meet pollination demands," says Dennis vanEngelstorp, an entomologist at the University of Maryland who led the survey. "If we want to grow fruits and nuts and berries, this is important. One in every three bites [of food consumed in the U.S.] is directly or indirectly pollinated by bees."
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Billion-year-old water found in Ontario could reveal clues about ancient life (15 May 2013)
Two and a half kilometres below northeastern Ontario, within the volcanic rock of the Canadian Shield, a primordial waterway has sat undisturbed for more than one billion years. But now a team of Canadian and British scientists have tapped this ancient liquid hoping to discover clues about the origins of life on our planet -- and beyond.

In a paper published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, researchers say water they have found in a copper and zinc mine near Timmins, Ont., has been isolated for one to 2.64 billion years, far longer than anything previously discovered. And the water contains high levels of methane and hydrogen, possible indicators of life.

"These are the oldest waters that have ever been identified," Barbara Sherwood Lollar, a geoscientist at the University of Toronto and one of the study's authors, told The Canadian Press. "We don't know yet if there's life in this, but what we've been able to show is it is habitable, meaning (having the) potential to support life because of the energy that's there."

The team painstakingly extracted the water through cracks in sulphide deposits, ensuring that it was never contaminated by contacting the air in the rest of the mine. And by examining the levels of certain isotopes of noble gases -- elements that rarely interact with their surroundings -- they determined the water hadn't been exposed to the atmosphere for at least a billion years.
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Allan Nairn: After Ríos Montt Verdict, Time for U.S. to Account for Its Role in Guatemalan Genocide (15 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: As we wrap up, investigative journalist Allan Nairn, the compensation end of the trial, what you feel needs to be done now? You have covered this throughout these decades.

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, all of the crimes that Rigoberta Menchú just described were crimes not just of General Ríos Montt, but also of the U.S. government. The U.S. prosecutors in Washington should immediately convene a grand jury with two missions: first, coming to the aid of the Guatemalan attorney general, who has just been ordered by the court to investigate all others involved in Ríos Montt's crimes, by releasing all classified U.S. documents about what happened during the slaughter, which U.S. personnel were involved, providing to the Guatemalan attorney general a list of all Guatemalan army officials and security force officials who were on the payroll of the American CIA, and then proceeding to issue indictments against U.S. officials who acted in the role of accessory or accomplice to the crimes for which Ríos Montt has already been convicted.

AMY GOODMAN: And those people, you believe, would include?

ALLAN NAIRN: The top officials of the Reagan administration who made the policy--President Reagan is deceased, but his top aides, including Elliott Abrams and many others, are still alive; the U.S. CIA personnel on the ground who worked within the G2, the military intelligence unit that coordinated the assassinations and disappearances; the U.S. military attachés who worked with the Guatemalan generals to develop this sweep-and-massacre strategy in the mountains. There would be hundreds of U.S. officials who were complicit in this and should be subpoenaed, called before a grand jury and subjected to indictment. And the U.S. should be ready to extradite them to Guatemala to face punishment, if the Guatemalan authorities are able to proceed with this. And General Pérez Molina is one who should be included. And Pérez Molina, himself, was among--

AMY GOODMAN: The president.

ALLAN NAIRN: Yes--is among those who was on the CIA payroll.
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Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchú Hails Genocide Conviction of Ex-Guatemalan Dictator Ríos Montt (15 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
RIGOBERTA MENCHÚ: [translated] I don't want to be controversial, but I do see that under Ronald Reagan and Bush's administration there was a fantasy created of a third World War. And this fantasy really damaged the mentality of the military in Guatemala and Guatemalan fascists, and they still believe that communism exists. I don't know what they're referring to, but the truth is that here in Guatemala, women were raped, girls were raped, they strangled children, they assassinated and wiped out entire indigenous peoples, just because they thought they were so-called subversives and communists. So humanity really has to look into what occurred.

AMY GOODMAN: We're going to break and then come back to our discussion with Rigoberta Menchú, Nobel Peace laureate. She has just flown from attending the trial in Guatemala City to Mexico City, where we're speaking to her, and we'll be joined by investigative journalist Allan Nairn. This is Democracy Now! We'll be back in a minute.


AMY GOODMAN: Our guest in Mexico City is the Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchú. It was her lawsuit that helped to lead to the conviction--first trial, then conviction and 80-year sentence of the former U.S.-backed dictator of Guatemala, Efraín Ríos Montt. He began his sentence on Friday night, after the sentence was read. Rigoberta Menchú, can you describe what happened to your own father?

RIGOBERTA MENCHÚ: [translated] Yes. Yes, well, as you know, the conviction of Ríos Montt has awakened the suffering that we carry, and we're going to always feel that suffering as victims. In the case of my own family, my brother Patrocinio was burnt to death in the Ixil region. We never found his remains. We have looked for them. He may be on a farm that's called the San Francisco Ranch, and he's probably just in one of the mass graves.
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A fascinating map of the world's most and least racially tolerant countries (15 May 2013)
When two Swedish economists set out to examine whether economic freedom made people any more or less racist, they knew how they would gauge economic freedom, but they needed to find a way to measure a country's level of racial tolerance. So they turned to something called the World Values Survey, which has been measuring global attitudes and opinions for decades.

Among the dozens of questions that World Values asks, the Swedish economists found one that, they believe, could be a pretty good indicator of tolerance for other races. The survey asked respondents in more than 80 different countries to identify kinds of people they would not want as neighbors. Some respondents, picking from a list, chose "people of a different race." The more frequently that people in a given country say they don't want neighbors from other races, the economists reasoned, the less racially tolerant you could call that society. (The study concluded that economic freedom had no correlation with racial tolerance, but it does appear to correlate with tolerance toward homosexuals.)

Unfortunately, the Swedish economists did not include all of the World Values Survey data in their final research paper. So I went back to the source, compiled the original data and mapped it out on the infographic above. In the bluer countries, fewer people said they would not want neighbors of a different race; in red countries, more people did.

If we treat this data as indicative of racial tolerance, then we might conclude that people in the bluer countries are the least likely to express racist attitudes, while the people in red countries are the most likely.
[Read more...]

Here's a map of the best and worst countries to be a mother (8 May 2013)
A new report by Save the Children, a London-based NGO, gauges and ranks the conditions for mothers in almost every country in the world. Their annual report, just out, shows that Nordic countries are the best places to be mothers. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are the worst.

The Mother's Index, based on a wide range of data gathered from the United Nations and other sources, are mapped out above. Bluer countries are best for mothers, red countries are worst and purple are somewhere in the middle.

The report measures conditions for mothers using five different metrics: risk of maternal death, infant mortality rate, the number of years an average child will spend in school, gross national income per capita and participation of women in government. Those last two variables are built on the inferences, fleshed out in the report, that mothers with more money will be more likely to secure food and medical care, and that countries where women participate in governance are more likely to pass laws promoting womens' health and well-being.

Here are a few interesting details from the report.

(1) In India, 309,300 babies die every year within 24 hours of birth
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Chris Hedges: Monitoring of AP Phones a "Terrifying" Step in State Assault on Press Freedom (15 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Your response to this revelation about the--about what happened with AP and the U.S. government?

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, it's part of a pattern. That's what's so frightening. And it's a pattern that we've seen, with the use of the Espionage Act, to essentially silence whistleblowers within the government--Kiriakou, Drake and others, although Kiriakou went to jail on--pled out on another charge--the FISA Amendment Act, which allows for warrantless wiretapping, the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows for the stripping of American citizens of due process and indefinite detention. And it is one more assault in a long series of assault against freedom of information and freedom of the press. And I would also, of course, throw in the persecution of Julian Assange at WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning as part of that process.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Chris Hedges, you wrote in the recent article that was published, your article "Death of Truth" in Truthdig and Nation magazine--you also write about the significance of the Espionage Act and how often it's been invoked, and you say that it eviscerates the possibility of an independent press. So could you talk about the Espionage Act and how it also is somehow related to this AP story?

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, it's been used six times by the Obama administration. It was written in 1917 and was--is our Foreign Secrets Act. It is never meant--it was not designed to shut down whistleblowers, first used against Daniel Ellsberg in the Pentagon Papers. So, three times from 1917 until Obama takes office in 2009, six times. And if you talk to investigative journalists in this country, who must investigate the inner workings of government, no one will talk, even on background. People are terrified. And this is, of course--the seizure of two months of records, of AP records, is not really about going after AP; it's about going after that person or those people who leaked this story and shutting them down. And this canard that it endangered American life is--you know, there's no evidence for this. He's not--yeah.
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North Pole wanders, thanks to climate change (15 May 2013)
As if the swelling number of kids in the world isn't enough to keep him busy, Santa Claus is being forced to shift his home eight inches every year to keep up with climate change.

Assuming I'm getting this fable right, the jolly old dude who rose from the dead and ascended to the North Pole to construct a toy-building redoubt and a reindeer-based delivery system could consider himself one of the many refugees of the changing climate.

That's according, more or less, to the findings of a new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, which used satellite gravity measurements from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment to monitor the recent meanderings of the precise location of the North Pole.

The North and South Poles are always shifting, influenced in part by the ceaseless redistribution of mass all around the Earth. And all that melting ice and all those rising seas had enough of an effect to swing the poleward shift in a new direction in 2005. The pole is now moving in the direction of Greenland by seven milliarcseconds per year -- an angular measurement that lead author Jianli Chen says equates to movement of a little more than eight inches every year.
[Read more...]

Utilities vs. rooftop solar: What the fight is about (15 May 2013)
The conflict between electric utilities and distributed energy -- mainly rooftop solar panels -- is heating up. It's heating up so much that people are writing about electric utility regulation, the most tedious, inscrutable subject this side of corporate tax law. The popular scrutiny is long overdue. So buckle up. We're getting into it.

I wrote about the fight a while back -- "solar panels could destroy U.S. utilities, according to U.S. utilities " -- but it's worth taking a closer look at what's under dispute. Some bits are unavoidably wonky and technical, but it's important to understand exactly what's happening. This is a pivotal issue, a trial run for many such struggles to come.

There's a short-term problem and a long-term problem. The former is about how electricity rates are structured, specifically how utilities compensate (or don't) customers who generate power with rooftop solar PV panels. The latter is about developing an entirely new business model for utilities, one that aligns their financial interests with the spread of distributed energy. The danger is that fighting over the former could delay solving the latter.

Today, let's dig into the fight at hand. It's about utility rates, specifically "net metering," yet another nerdy green term no one understands. I will endeavor to make clear what it is and why the fight over it is so damn interesting and exciting. Exciting, I tell you! Wake up!
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World's fish have been moving to cooler waters for decades, study finds (15 May 2013)
Fish and other sea life have been moving toward Earth's poles in search of cooler waters, part of a worldwide, decades-long migration documented for the first time by a study released Wednesday.

The research, published in the journal Nature, provides more evidence of a rapidly warming planet and has broad repercussions for fish harvests around the globe.

University of British Columbia researchers found that significant numbers of 968 species of fish and invertebrates they examined moved to escape the warming waters of their original habitats.Previous studies had documented the same phenomenon in specific parts of the world's oceans. But the new study is the first to assess the migration worldwide and to look back as far as 1970, according to its authors.

The research is more confirmation that "global change is real and has been real for a long time," said Boris Worm, a professor of marine biology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who was not part of the study. "It's not something in the distant future. It is well underway."
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Charge for keeping chickens in Va. Beach dropped (15 May 2013)
A General District judge on Tuesday dismissed a misdemeanor charge against a Virginia Beach woman for keeping chickens in her backyard.

Attorney Gary Byler, who represents Tracy Gugal-Okroy, said the judge ruled that testimony submitted was not sufficient to convict her.

Last year, Gugal-Okroy told The Pilot she bought a dozen chicks from a Suffolk farm in 2011 and began raising them in her Aragona Village backyard. She had 22 chickens last year.

A city zoning inspector in 2012 issued Gugal-Okroy a violation, which she appealed and the city's zoning board upheld.

Having poultry in areas that aren't rural is illegal in Virginia Beach. Gugal-Okroy has been trying to persuade the City Council to change the rule.
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Dr. Paul Farmer on Rwanda's Health Leap, Haiti's Struggles & How Communities Can Repair the World (14 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Our guest is Dr. Paul Farmer. He's been working in Haiti and around the world for decades. Twenty-five years ago, Dr. Farmer helped found the charity Partners in Health, which provides care to those living in poverty in central Haiti as well as other places around the world. And he's written a new book called To Repair the World: Paul Farmer Speaks to the Next Generation. Dr. Paul Farmer is the department chair of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women's Hospital, where many of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings were brought. Can you talk about the significance of that? And then we'll talk about Haiti.

DR. PAUL FARMER: Well, I think, in my view, they're related topics, and not just because I work at both the Brigham and in Haiti. First of all, there's a reason that everyone who made it to a hospital, like the Brigham, survived. You have in a place like that an incredible set of options to help people who are seriously injured or seriously ill. You have redundant systems, in the sense that--if you have, as happens with an earthquake or a bombing, everybody shows up at once, you need redundant systems, meaning you need backup teams and backup teams. So you can't have, like we have all over the Third World, the power suddenly goes out. You know, the generator dies. You know, that's never going happen at a place like the Brigham. There is so much capacity there that it's no wonder--in my experience, it's no wonder that people did really well, the patients did really well, once they got there.

And it's a reminder. You know, every time something like this happens in our country, in our affluent country, we get a chance to think how much humans need safety nets. And that's what we're trying to build in Rwanda and Haiti. And if you don't have--you know, if you have only a community health system and no hospitals, and someone is injured, then that--the person who's injured is out of luck. Or that could be a minor injury, you know, a minor injury that could be fatal because there's no hospital. If you only have the hospitals and no community-based care, you don't do well with chronic disease management. And so, what we've been trying to do in Haiti, Partners in Health and the Ministry of Health and many partners, has been to rebuild some of the destroyed capacity for hospital care and teaching in the rural area, decentralizing from Port-au-Prince and the quake zone, and we've done that.
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Turmeric compounds improve heart health as much as exercise (14 May 2013)
(NaturalNews) A chemical that naturally occurs in turmeric root appears to improve heart health as much as moderate aerobic exercise, according to a trio of studies conducted by researchers from the University of Tsukuba in Japan.

Turmeric root has been an important component of traditional Asian medicinal systems for hundreds of years. In recent decades, scientific studies have confirmed the potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties of the trio of turmeric chemicals known as "curcuminoids," which give the root its distinctive yellow-orange color. Although only one of these chemicals is properly known as "curcumin," the name is commonly used to refer to all of them collectively.

The three new studies all compared the effects of exercise and curcumin on heart health and postmenopausal women over an eight-week period. All the studies were randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled. Curcumin was delivered by means of colloidal nanoparticles.

Can turmeric prevent heart disease?
In the first study, researchers assigned 32 women to either take a curcumin supplement, engage in moderate aerobic exercise training, or undergo no intervention at all. The researchers measured participants' vascular endothelial function - the responsiveness of the layer of cells that line the blood vessels, a key indicator of overall cardiovascular health - both at the beginning and end of the study. They found that while there was no improvement in the control group, endothelial function significantly increased in both the exercise and curcumin groups. Most surprisingly, the improvement in the two experimental groups was identical.
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1.3 million wrongly treated after false positives from mammograms (14 May 2013)
(NaturalNews) The Susan G. Komen for breast cancer awareness reports on their site that breast cancer will strike more than 1.3 million women annually over the next 20 years. They are proud to report that 70 percent of women 40 and older receive regular mammograms now. What they aren't telling the public is that their pharmaceutical and radiation-funding "awareness" project is giving millions of women false diagnoses by the very mammogram technology they promote. As a matter of fact, the New England Journal of Medicine has identified approximately 1.3 million cases of misdiagnosed breast cancer, concluding that mammograms are leading millions of women astray, making them believe they have cancer when they really don't.

This means that the highly entrusted mammograms are manifesting millions of fake cancers, sending millions of unsuspecting women through further unneeded tests, procedures, medications, and radiation.

Where's the breast cancer awareness money going?
Instead of "ending breast cancer forever", as the Susan G. Komen cause claims, they are actually funding perpetual mammogram testing and subsequent medication and radiation that is only feeding the medical industry and the cancer itself. The Komen Race for the Cure alone has raised $2 billion. Where is this money going? It's definitely not going to find a cure, but rather fooling millions of women into believing they have cancer, when they really don't.

It's all very much a corporate scam. The Susan G. Komen awareness is really a company, with a long list of high paid employees, marketers and executives, who do nothing but promote a color and a title. Thirty-nine-point-one percent of their $390 million worth of assets goes toward public health education, which obviously doesn't point anyone toward proper nutrition utilization, but instead teaches women to get their routine screening and swallow their pill. The money they raise practically goes straight into buying the very mammogram testing machines that are perpetuating the problem. According to the cause, the single most effective screening tool to fight breast cancer is in fact, the holy mammogram The rest of their money goes right into fundraising and radio ads that promote their deceptive process.

Breast cancer reality check
Most mammograms detect cancer at 'stage zero.' This non-invasive cancer, left untreated, does not progress, does not cause further harm, and does not become invasive. It regresses without medication, without radiation. Sadly though, millions of women are being put through the system, unintentionally lied to, even as evidence suggests that all these stage zero breast cancer detections are misleading. The whole screening system is just bloating statistics of breast cancer in the US and ramming new patients through the system.

The Komen cause proudly reveals that the largest group of cancer survivors in the US is breast cancers survivors (3 million). This fact is only true because most breast cancer survivors "survived" cancer that was non-invasive or was regressive in the first place. In fact, according to the journal Lancet Oncology, a cohort study verified that even most "invasive" cancers appear to regress with time if left untreated.
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Eric Holder says he recused himself from leak probe that obtained AP phone records (14 May 2013)
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Tuesday that he recused himself from involvement in a Justice Department leak investigation that secretly acquired telephone records of Associated Press journalists.

But in response to questions at a news conference, he defended the department's conduct in probing what he described as one of the damaging leaks he has seen.

In a letter to Holder and his deputy Tuesday, a media coalition rejected what it called "an overreaching dragnet for newsgathering materials," demanded that the Justice Department destroy the phone records and called on Congress to pass a federal shield law. The Washington Post joined more than 50 other news organizations in endorsing the letter.

Holder said he testified in June 2012 that he was interviewed by the FBI in connection with the probe into a leak of classified information to the AP. "To avoid any potential appearance of a conflict of interest," he said, "I recused myself from this matter."
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Are Creepy Dudes Now Using Drone Technology For Their Nefarious Ends? (14 May 2013)
Why is it that so many technological innovations are immediately pounced upon by creepy dudes whose only thought is, "How can I use this to abuse and punish women for their continuing insistence that they are full human beings instead of walking sex toys that I should be able to use how I like?" Most news coverage regarding drones is about the debate over their use as weapons, so you might not know that drones--which are basically just flying robots--are sold commercially and can be used for all sorts of stuff. Mostly as toys, frankly, but that's okay. That's mostly what smart phones are used for, and that's a good thing, since fun is good.

Except, of course, the Creeps of America have decided to use them to spy on women in their homes. In Seattle, a woman reported to the media a confrontation with a man who kept flying a drone around her house, one that had a camera.

"This afternoon, a stranger set an aerial drone into flight over my yard and beside my house near Miller Playfield. I initially mistook its noisy buzzing for a weed-whacker on this warm spring day. After several minutes, I looked out my third-story window to see a drone hovering a few feet away. My husband went to talk to the man on the sidewalk outside our home who was operating the drone with a remote control, to ask him to not fly his drone near our home. The man insisted that it is legal for him to fly an aerial drone over our yard and adjacent to our windows. He noted that the drone has a camera, which transmits images he viewed through a set of glasses. He purported to be doing "research". We are extremely concerned, as he could very easily be a criminal who plans to break into our house or a peeping-tom."

Now, there's a lot of possibilities here, but the proliferation of men in parking lots and public transportation trying to get "creep shots" suggests that on the list of likely possibilities, that this guy is trying to win Reddit by getting the creepiest shot ranks high. Unfortunately, as Rebecca Rosen reports at The Atlantic, this is a legal gray area--this is a consistent problem when it comes to men forcing unwilling women into amateur porn--meaning that remedies outside of just legal prosecution of these [a**holes] might have to be considered.
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Wildfire risk runs high, but budget cuts mean fewer firefighters (13 May 2013)
WASHINGTON -- The drought that caused record wildfires in California and other Western states last year is expected to persist through the summer, but fewer firefighters will battle this year's blazes in other regions because of federal budget cuts, top federal officials said Monday.

The U.S. Forest Service will hire 500 fewer firefighters this year, the result of "line by line" budget reductions required by Congress, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a conference call with reporters. The reduced staffing also means 50 fewer fire engines will be available, Vilsack said.

Vilsack and Interior Secretary Sally Jewel said much of the West would face severe fire danger this summer.

"We will no doubt be seeing some fires of significant size," Vilsack said.

The Interior Department is also expected to cut its firefighting forces.

The Forest Service hires firefighters in spring and retains them through fall, Tom Harbour, the Forest Service's national director of fire and aviation management, said in an interview Monday. Last year, when 9.3 million acres burned in the United States, the Forest Service hired 10,500 firefighters. The Interior Department fielded another 2,500.
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2,300-year-old Mayan pyramid bulldozed by Belize construction crew (14 May 2013)
Officials in Belize say a construction company has destroyed one of the country's largest Mayan pyramids.

Head of the Belizean Institute of Archaeology Jaime Awe said the Noh Mul temple was levelled by a road-building company seeking gravel for road filler.

The Mayan temple dates back to pre-Columbian times and is estimated to be 2,300 year old. Only a small core of the pyramid was left standing.

Police said they were investigating the incident.

Archaeologists said this was not the first incident of its kind.
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Senators to debate immigration bill amendment on foreign students (14 May 2013)
A Senate panel took up amendments to a comprehensive immigration bill Tuesday and was expected to consider a proposal aimed at tightening the monitoring of foreign students in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings.

The measure, offered by Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), would require the Department of Homeland Security to transfer all student visa information to border control agents at ports of entry. Aides on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is overseeing the amendment process, said the proposal was inspired by reports that alleged accomplices of the accused Boston bombers were living in the country on expired student visas.

In opening the committee's session Tuesday, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), the panel's chairman, said a key consideration for him in the immigration bill was that "the pathway to citizenship" for illegal immigrants in the United States "not be a false promise." He called on senators to reject efforts to set up procedures that he said would be "nothing but obstacles to that goal."

Before considering Grassley's amendment, the committee took up changes related to border security. On a voice vote, the panel approved an amendment offered by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that would limit the use of drones along the border with Mexico to three miles of the border in the San Diego and El Centro sectors.
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Angelina Jolie has double mastectomy to elude breast cancer (14 May 2013)
(Reuters) - Hollywood star Angelina Jolie has had a double mastectomy to reduce her chances of getting breast cancer and says she hopes her story will inspire other women fighting the life-threatening disease.

Jolie wrote in the New York Times on Tuesday the operation has made it easier for her to reassure her six children that she would not die young from cancer, like her own mother did at 56.

"We often speak of 'Mommy's mommy', and I find myself trying to explain the illness that took her away from us. They have asked if the same could happen to me," wrote Jolie, 37.

"I have always told them not to worry, but the truth is I carry a 'faulty' gene."

The Oscar-winning actress said her doctors had estimated she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer.
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PAM COMMENTARY: My Aunt Sharon was "inspired" to get a double mastectomy by her doctor, but she died anyway, of cancer. That's despite having only a small lump in one breast, with no medical reason for the more radical operation. The double mastectomy was a lot of pain and expense that she didn't need, and it may have negatively impacted her chances of survival.

Cancer has more to do with exposure to environmental carcinogens, unhealthy diet and lifestyle choices, and poor treatment options from the US medical system.

Under sweeping subpoenas, Justice Department obtained AP phone records in leak investigation (13 May 2013)
In a sweeping and unusual move, the Justice Department secretly obtained two months' worth of telephone records of journalists working for the Associated Press as part of a year-long investigation into the disclosure of classified information about a failed al-Qaeda plot last year.

The AP's president said Monday that federal authorities obtained cellular, office and home telephone records of individual reporters and an editor; AP general office numbers in Washington, New York and Hartford, Conn.; and the main number for AP reporters covering Congress. He called the Justice Department's actions a "massive and unprecedented intrusion" into newsgathering activities.

The aggressive investigation into the possible disclosure of classified information to the AP is part of a pattern in which the Obama administration has pursued current and former government officials suspected of releasing secret material. Six officials have been prosecuted, more than under all previous administrations combined.

In a letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., the AP's president and chief executive, Gary B. Pruitt, said that the Justice Department sought information beyond what could be justified by any specific probe and demanded that the government return the phone records and destroy all copies.
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PAM COMMENTARY: No doubt a blatant violation of the First and Fourth Amendments, and puzzling, considering the number of VIOLENT crimes that are still unsolved and need more attention.

Fashion chains sign accord to help finance safety in Bangladesh factories (13 May 2013)
Some of the world's biggest fashion chains, including H&M, Zara, C&A, Tesco and Primark, have signed up to a legally binding agreement to help finance fire safety and building improvements in the factories they use in Bangladesh.

The move came on Monday, as the Bangladeshi government agreed to allow the country's four million garment workers to form trade unions without permission from factory owners, a major concession to campaigners lobbying for widespread reforms to the industry following the collapse of the Rana Plaza building last month that killed more than 1,100 people.

On Sunday, the government also announced a plan to raise the minimum wage for garment workers, who are paid some of the lowest wages in the world to sew clothing bound for global retailers. Those working at the eight-storey Rana Plaza, which housed five garment factories when it collapsed on 24 April, were paid as little as £25 ($38) a month.

"I believe labour should be justly appraised. We want to save the industry but at the same time we want to uplift the standard of living of our workers. We do not want slave labour," Abdul Latif Siddiqui, minister for textiles, told the Guardian.
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Mother's Day second-line shooting suspect is named, sought (13 May 2013)
One suspect in the Mother's Day second-line shooting that injured 19 people, including two 10-year-olds, has been identified by the New Orleans Police Department.

Akein Scott, 19, is being sought by the NOPD in connection with the shocking shooting that has shaken the New Orleans community.

NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas said Monday night that police have searched two Frenchmen Street locations -- both blocks away from the shooting site -- plus building in the 3600 block of North Roman Street for Scott.

"Akein Scott needs to do the right thing, and turn himself in," Serpas said. "What happened yesterday was an atrocity, and we want to make sure that everyone who took part in that violence faces consequences of the criminal justice system."
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Supreme Court hands a big win to Monsanto on GMO seeds (13 May 2013)
In a blow to opponents of GMOs and Monsanto, the Supreme Court today ruled unanimously that an Indiana soybean farmer violated the company's patent by saving its trademark Roundup Ready seeds.

Every time a farmer buys seeds from Monsanto, she or he must sign a contract agreeing not to save seeds from the crop. Monsanto's many vociferous critics condemn this practice for the way it traps farmers in a costly cycle of dependence on the company's products. The farmer in this case, Vernon Bowman, signed such an agreement when he originally bought Monsanto's Roundup Ready soybeans. But he found a clever way to get around the restrictions. Tom Laskawy explains:

"For years, Bowman would grow a first crop of Monsanto seed, which he would purchase legally, and then would buy some commodity seed from his local grain elevator for his second crop. While aware he could not save seeds from the first crop he grew, Bowman would later plant the commodity seeds, spray the plants with Roundup, and was then able to identify which were resistant to the herbicide when they didn't die. Bowman saved those seeds and saved money, since he had bought the commodity seeds for his second crop at a steep discount without paying Monsanto or signing its licensing agreement."
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Pennsylvania's ag-gag law could protect frackers (13 May 2013)
Film a fracker, go to jail?

It could become illegal to document many of the fracking operations in Pennsylvania under an ag-gag bill being considered in the state House.

Ag-gag laws have been introduced or passed in more than a dozen states, aiming to prevent animal-welfare activists from documenting systemic abuses at corporate farms and slaughterhouses. They do this in a variety of ways, mostly by making it illegal to film such abuse; by requiring any such footage be handed over immediately to law enforcement officials (thereby hobbling activists' ability to document patterns of abuse, rather than one-off instances); and/or by requiring job applicants to reveal any activist affiliations.

But experts warn that Pennsylvania House Bill 683 would go further by also protecting frackers from unwanted scrutiny when they operate on farmland. A fracking spree is underway in the state, which sits atop the natural-gas-rich Marcellus Shale deposit, and much of the fracking is conducted on agricultural lands.
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Exclusive: Allan Nairn Exposes Role of U.S. and New Guatemalan President in Indigenous Massacres (13 May 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about how this campaign, this slaughter, was carried out and how it links to, well, the current government in Guatemala today.

ALLAN NAIRN: The army swept through the northwest highlands. And according to soldiers who I interviewed at the time, as they were carrying out the sweeps, they would go into villages, surround them, pull people out of their homes, line them up, execute them. A forensic witness testified in the trial that 80 percent of the remains they've recovered had gunshot wounds to the head. Witnesses have--witnesses and survivors have described Ríos Montt's troops beheading people. One talked about an old woman who was beheaded, and then they kicked her head around the floor. They ripped the hearts out of children as their bodies were still warm, and they piled them on a table for their parents to see.

The soldiers I interviewed would describe their interrogation techniques, which they had been taught at the army general staff. And they said they would ask people, "Who in the town are the guerrillas?" And if the people would respond, "We don't know," then they would strangle them to death. These sweeps were intense. The soldiers said that often they would kill about a third of a town's population. Another third they would capture and resettle in army camps. And the rest would flee into the mountains. There, in the mountains, the military would pursue them using U.S.-supplied helicopters, U.S.- and Israeli-supplied planes. They would drop U.S. 50-kilogram bombs on them, and they would machine-gun them from U.S. Huey and Bell helicopters, using U.S.-supplied heavy-caliber machine guns.
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Aurora cinema shooting: Judge approves 'truth serum' interrogation (13 May 2013) [InfoWars.com]
James Holmes, the student accused of the 'Batman' movie massacre in a Colorado cinema, could be given a truth serum as part of a narcoanalytic interview to determine whether he is insane, as a judge enters a not guilty plea on his behalf.

James Holmes, 25, a former neuroscience PhD student, is accused of killing 12 people and injuring 70 others during a shooting rampage during a 'Batman' movie premiere at a cinema in Aurora, Colorado, last July.

Holmes faces a total of 166 different counts relating to the shootings.

His defense team had initially said he was not ready to enter a plea, so the judge entered a not guilty plea on is behalf. Judge William Blair Sylvester said Holmes could change his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity later, if he chooses to.

His defense lawyers had indicated that he may plead not guilty by reason of insanity. If he does enter an insanity plea, the judge has ruled that he may have to undergo an interview under the influence of drugs --dubbed a 'truth serum' -- in order to evaluate his mental state.
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Airplane Handgun Smuggle Bid Is Foiled By Feds (13 May 2013)
MAY 13--A man who apparently thought that a pistol wrapped in aluminum foil would be undetectable to airport X-ray machines is facing a federal criminal charge for allegedly trying to smuggle the loaded weapon on a flight from San Francisco to Europe.

Kerry Lee Bobo, 53, was planning to fly last Thursday afternoon to Amsterdam when Transportation Safety Administration screeners "noticed what appeared to be a handgun" in a checked suitcase, according to a U.S. District Court complaint.

When federal agents opened Bobo's luggage they found a loaded Sig Sauer .45-caliber handgun "wrapped in aluminum foil" and a taser. They then boarded Bobo's KLM flight and escorted the Atwater, California resident from the aircraft.

During questioning, Bobo said that he was continuing on to Nairobi from Amsterdam and had packed the gun "to protect himself from animals while in Kenya." Bobo, who was traveling alone, claimed that he had encased the weapon in aluminum foil to "thwart airport baggage personnel from stealing it."
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Lipstick found to contain alarmingly high levels of aluminum, cadmium and lead (12 May 2013)
(NaturalNews) A popular cosmetic product since time immemorial, lipstick has long been used by women in many diverse cultures to accentuate their femininity and emanate their own unique expressions of elegance and style to the outside world. But a new study released by the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) School of Public Health raises fresh concerns about the safety of using conventional lipstick products, as many of them were found to contain dangerously high levels of aluminum, cadmium, lead and other toxins.

UCB researchers tested 32 common lipstick and lip gloss products widely sold in stores today and found that many of them are loaded with cadmium, chromium, aluminum and at least five other metals. Published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives, the findings revealed that women who use such products even at modest levels could be greatly increasing their risk of developing a host of potential health conditions, including gastrointestinal upset, nerve damage, and cancer.

"Lipstick and lip gloss are of special concern because when they are not being blotted on tissue or left as kiss marks, they are ingested or absorbed, bit by bit, by the individual wearing them," explains a UCB press release about the study. "Using acceptable daily intakes derived from this study, average use of some lipsticks and lip glosses would result in excessive exposure to chromium, a carcinogen linked to stomach ulcers."

Most conventional beauty products contain a multitude of toxins at varying levels
Of the 32 products tested, researchers found that 24 of them, or 75 percent, also contained lead, which is known to cause brain, cellular, and DNA damage. Since no level of lead exposure is considered safe for young children, this discovery is particularly concerning as many younger girls use lipstick with their friends when they play dress up and other childhood games.
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Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says "drones are here to stay," weighs in on Benghazi, North Korea, 2016 (12 May 2013)
Even after his retirement, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta -- back home in Monterey County and his Panetta Institute for Public Policy -- is never far from the issues in the headlines.

We sat down with Panetta recently in his offices at California State University, Monterey Bay, to talk about life outside the fast lane, and his views on some of the issues -- including drones, Benghazi and the 2016 election.

You can read our full profile of Panetta -- former head of the CIA, nine-term Congressman, head of the Office of Management and Budget and Office of Civil Rights -- in our interview published Sunday in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Here's Panetta, in his own words, on some key issues:

On North Korea: "This is a rogue regime that has been unstable, unpredictable and uncertain for almost sixty years -- not just with Kim but with his father and his grandfather. This new leader, we really don't know what exactly motivates him and what's making him do what he's doing. We've been through this cycle of provocation ... but there's no question that the level of provocation has been much more bellicose in these last few months. That means that he's taken steps that we haven't seen in the past -- closing the industrial areas, even threatened missile launches.
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Drones move one step closer to unmanned pizza delivery (12 May 2013)
CAMP BASTION, AFGHANISTAN--The small group of U.S. marines at a remote base in northern Helmand province was running low on ammunition after days of fierce fighting.

The road in to the base near the village of Shurakay was too dangerous for a resupply convoy, and there were so many Taliban fighters that a helicopter crew trying to fly in would have been at serious risk.

Still, the marines soon heard the soft thwack of rotor blades. As they looked up that January day, a glimpse of aviation's future flew into view.

An unmanned K-MAX helicopter eased into a hover and gently descended until a pallet of ammunition dangling beneath it touched the ground. The cargo hook released itself and the helicopter rose again, turned and flew off.
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Sources (if found on major news boards):
[AJ] - InfoWars.com, PrisonPlanet.com, or other Alex Jones-affiliated sites
[BF] - BuzzFlash.com
[DN] - DemocracyNow.org
[R] - Rense.com
[WRH] - WhatReallyHappened.com


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All original content including photographs © 2013 by Pam Rotella. (News excerpts copyright by their corresponding authors, news organizations, or other copyright holders, and quoted here typically as "fair use" or "teaser" paragraphs to generate interest in the full articles.)