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Click to visit VeggieCooking.com NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012

News from the Week of 23rd to 29th of June 2013

USDA approves horse slaughterhouse to produce meat for human consumption (29 June 2013)
(NaturalNews) The next burger you bite into might be a horsemeat burger, thanks to the U.S. government approving horse slaughterhouses to produce meat for human consumption. Valley Meat Co in Roswell, New Mexico, is being green-lighted by the USDA, which will routinely send inspectors to make sure it is slaughtering horses and processing horse meat in a "clean" way.

Additional horse meat plants are expected to be approved by the USDA in Missouri and Iowa. While horse meat can't legally be sold in the USA for human consumption, it can be used in pet food. It may also turn up in the U.S. food supply despite its legal status because it can be sold to Mexico for human consumption, then re-labeled and shipped back into the USA for use as a low-cost meat filler. Horse meat has already been identified in a scandalous food operation in Europe, where meatballs sold throughout European grocery stores were found to be made with horse meat.

Under the Obama administration, horse slaughterhouses became legal again
Horse meat slaughterhouses were banned during the Bush administration, but under President Obama, the ban expired (in 2011), allowing horse meat slaughterhouses to restart operations. Obama says he wants Congress to ban horse meat slaughterhouses in the USA, but then again, Obama says a lot of things he doesn't actually intend to make a reality (closing of Guantanamo, labeling GMOs, making health care free, reducing the budget deficit, etc.).

The USDA says, "it was required by law to issue the grant of inspection because Valley Meat met all federal requirements," reports Reuters, which also says that 130,000 horses are slaughtered each year in Canada and Mexico.
[Read more...]

Questions about effect of over-the-counter Plan B for all ages (29 June 2013)
When it comes to the morning-after pill, one thing is clear: Girls of any age who have unprotected sex or a birth-control mishap will soon be able to walk into a local pharmacy or big-box store and get emergency contraception without a doctor's prescription.

But many questions remain. For example, the placement and cost of the product -- Plan B One-Step -- might vary, depending on the store and other factors. And larger societal questions about the repercussions of easier access to emergency contraception, including its effect on behavior or unplanned pregnancies, won't be settled for years.

Before the Food and Drug Administration approved Plan B One-Step without restrictions this month, ending a decade-long battle, girls 16 and younger needed a prescription to obtain the pill. Girls 17 and older had to present proof of age to a pharmacist for the product, which was kept behind the counter.

Now, Plan B One-Step, which is made by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, will be on shelves in many stores, perhaps as early as August. CVS, for example, said the pill would be displayed in the family-planning aisle, in special security packaging. But some independent pharmacists have said they will keep the medicine behind the counter.

David Toth, owner of Tschiffely Pharmacy in Dupont Circle, said he intends to keep Plan B, which he sells for $42.50, behind the counter, along with other expensive items, to prevent shoplifting. "Anything over $20 is not going to be out front," Toth said.
[Read more...]

Detroit faces exodus of police, firefighters (29 June 2013)
(Reuters) - After years of pay cuts and reduction in their ranks, Detroit police officers and firefighters in the next week face a tough decision: Retire now or put their careers in the hands of Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr, who has the power to unilaterally cut their pay and benefits.

At least several dozen police officers and firefighters will retire early as they try to lock in benefits before Orr imposes new labor contracts, union officials told Reuters.

A large flight of veteran public safety workers could cause disruption in a city facing some of the nation's highest violent crime rates and a rash of arson fires. This in turn would raise the level of difficulty for Orr as he seeks to address Detroit's myriad urban problems.

Uncertainty over future pay and benefits for the city's 500 mid-level unionized police officers and 917 unionized firefighters is causing some to seek the exit, presidents of the two unions said.

Mark Young, president of the Detroit Police Lieutenants & Sergeants Association (LSA), said 200 of the 500 officers he represents are eligible to retire. He said many are "on the bubble" regarding a decision to retire before the union's contract expires next week.
[Read more...]

Disabled duck gets new foot thanks to 3D printing (29 June 2013)
So far, from what I've seen, the greatest purpose of 3D printing is making spare parts for birds. First there was the injured bald eagle with the 3D-printed beak, and now a duck named Buttercup, born with a twisted foot, is getting a brand new one thanks to the same technology.

Mike Garey, owner of the Feathered Angels Waterfowl Sanctuary in Arlington, Tenn., has been working on a prosthetic foot prototype for Buttercup, who was born with his left foot turned backwards and after a prophylactic amputation has only a stump remaining. Garey modeled the new foot using 3D software, then sent the design to a printing company.

The usual hard plastic used in 3D printing isn't appropriate for a duck foot, which has to be flexible enough for walking and swimming, so the company, NovaCopy, instead printed a mold that can be used to cast a silicone foot. They've been testing various designs for Buttercup, who will get his final f0ot within a few weeks.

And now, for no particular reason, here is a photo from Buttercup's Facebook page where he's snuggling a teddy bear.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: What's wrong with helping disabled birds?

California reduced trash to record low in 2012 (29 June 2013)
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Californians reduced the amount of trash sent to landfills to a record low last year, according to new figures from the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery.

State residents and businesses together discarded an average of 4.3 pounds of garbage per day, which is down from 4.4 pounds per person in 2011, according to U-T San Diego (http://bit.ly/15PjZ4m ).

By comparison, the state used to dump more than 8 pounds per person a day in 1989, the year the state's Integrated Waste Management Act went into effect, U-T-San Diego reports.

The average is calculated by dividing the state's total trash disposal -- 29.3 million tons in 2012 -- by the state's population of 37.7 million that year.
[Read more...]

Amazon's $600 Million CIA Deal Really Is For A Game-Changing 'Private' Cloud (AMZN, IBM) (29 June 2013)
Amazon's $600 million contract to build a cloud for the CIA might not happen. But if it does, it will be something Amazon has never done before: a so-called 'private' cloud built in a customer's data center.

If the project proceeds as planned, that would be a game-changer in the fledgling $131 billion cloud computing market.

To recap: In March, news broke that Amazon won a massive contract with the CIA but the details were sketchy. Amazon and the CIA were tight-lipped.

AWS is the largest "public" cloud provider, meaning the hardware is stored in its own data center and many users share it. That's what keeps the costs down. Private clouds use the same technologies, but are located in a company's own data center and not shared with others.

Amazon at one point argued against private clouds and instead offered things like a "Virtual Private Cloud" adding extra security to make the shared hardware more secure and private. Most of the companies that compete with Amazon market themselves by offering private clouds or private/public combo, called a hybrid cloud. This includes IBM, HP, VMware and many others.
[Read more...]

Gettysburg, through the eyes of two Ontario doctors (28 June 2013)
Being a physician during the Civil War (1861 to 1865) meant cutting off limbs, though at the outbreak of war most American doctors had never done an amputation. U.S. medical schools traditionally did not use cadavers and, indeed, most states forbade it, a result of the Protestant belief that dissecting a body imperilled both body and soul.

Prof. Cheryl Wells, editor of Wafer's memoir, A Surgeon in the Army of the Potomac, notes, "The first time most picked up a scalpel was on the battlefield."

And they picked up many a scalpel: 75 per cent of all operations during the Civil War were amputations, including more than 15,000 at Gettysburg, a sleepy town of 2,400 in southern Pennsylvania.

Secord and Wafer, both products of Canadian medical schools, were highly sought by recruiters. Canadian schools, patterned on British and European systems, were at the forefront of medical science, with curriculums that included surgical and dissection classes.

As Wells notes: "Even though Wafer had just one year under his belt at Queen's, he was already more qualified than many practicing American doctors." Secord, with six years' practice, was pure gold.
[Read more...]

Don't let DOMA fool you -- the Supreme Court is restricting your rights (28 June 2013)
The Supreme Court's 5 to 4 decision to strike down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act was undeniably historic, a victory not just for gay rights advocates but for anyone committed to advancing equal rights in America.

It was also an anomaly.

For all the celebration Wednesday -- and who will forget the Gay Men's Chorus of Washingtonsinging the national anthem outside the court? -- the underlying theme of the Supreme Court's term was not the recognition of rights, but their dilution. Time and again, in closely divided decisions on issues as disparate as antitrust law, privacy and discrimination, the court either watered down rights or made it difficult or impossible to enforce them effectively. (Unless, of course, you are a white college applicant challenging affirmative action.)

In two cases, the justices made it impossible for plaintiffs alleging serious violations of federal law even to have their claims heard. In Clapper v. Amnesty International, the court denied a constitutional challenge to the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which vastly expanded the National Security Agency's surveillance powers. This law authorizes the recently disclosed surveillance programs, which involve the interception of international e-mails, phone conversations and social-network communications. The act permits surveillance without having to show that the target is suspected of anything, thereby jettisoning the bedrock requirement of the Fourth Amendment. The plaintiffs in Clapper included lawyers, human rights advocates and journalists, all of whom communicated frequently with people overseas whom the government was likely to be targeting under the statute, and therefore had to take expensive and burdensome measures to preserve the confidentiality of their communications.
[Read more...]

With Africa's eyes on Obama trip, a continent takes stock of its progress (27 June 2013)
And instead of the 20th-century pattern of wealthy nations competing for influence with aid, rising countries from Brazil to China are vying for the new opportunities in trade and investment. It is the United States that has been slow to catch on.

Since 2009, for example, China has surpassed the US in trade with Africa. The US accounts for only 10 percent of the continent's foreign investment. Mr. Obama's visit is a way to play catch-up with China and others.

The US has not been idle, however, in the pursuit of one American interest. It helped fell a dictator in Libya, sent marines to hunt down the Lord's Resistance Army in Central Africa, helped quell Islamic militants in Somalia, and set up a drone base in Niger to track Al Qaeda-linked militants in Mali. North Africa's struggle with violent Muslims and other militants will still need US aid, but in many cases, African militaries are doing the job.

Most of the continent's old woes remain, reflected in the fact that it is home to about half of the world's children who die before the age of 5. Too many countries have leaders with authoritarian streaks or poor human rights records. And Africa is a laggard in manufacturing exports despite the lure of low wages.
[Read more...]

Construction lobbyists fall short in push for more foreign workers (28 June 2013)
The sprawling Senate immigration legislation now headed to the House is packed with provisions designed to help businesses hire foreign workers, whether for computer labs in Silicon Valley, cruise ships docked in Florida and other U.S. ports, or seafood-processing centers in Alaska.

Yet in the frenetic push by K Street to cram in as many new guest-worker visas as possible, lobbyists for one industry came up short: construction.

While industry advocates say the companies will need to hire more than 200,000 new workers per year, under the Senate bill the number of foreign-worker construction visas can never exceed 15,000 per year.

The setback, unusual for an otherwise powerful special-interest lobby, reflects the political tightrope being walked by each party as leaders try to pass an immigration overhaul while balancing concerns from influential skeptics.
[Read more...]

Genetically modified wheat: With investigation unresolved and harvest about to start, Oregon farmers seek answers (28 June 2013)
With the wheat harvest set to begin within a week, farmers are pressing for a resolution of the federal investigation of genetically-modified wheat plants found growing in eastern Oregon.

Japan and South Korea, the two largest buyers of soft white wheat grown in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, have suspended wheat purchases. Both countries reject genetically-modified food, and do not want to buy transgenic wheat.

That leaves Oregon growers wondering if they'll have problems selling this summer's crop, valued annually at $300 million to $500 million. Questions about storing and shipping wheat remain unanswered, and growers don't know if they'll have to pay for tests to prove their wheat is not genetically modified.

In meeting with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in mid-June, Oregon wheat industry representatives said foreign buyers want direct communication regarding the investigation. The agency appears to be responding by sharing more information with customer nations than it had before, said Blake Rowe, chief executive of the Oregon Wheat Commission.

Part of the USDA's job, Rowe said, is to help farmers maintain good relations with customers.
[Read more...]

Snowden asked to brief Russian parliament on US espionage (28 June 2013) [InfoWars.com]
Russia's parliament has invited former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden to assist Moscow in investigation whether US Internet firms gave information about Russian citizens to Washington.

"We invite Edward Snowden to work with us and hope that as soon as he settles his legal status, he will collaborate with our working group and provide us with proof of US intelligence agencies' access to the servers of Internet firms," Russia's Ria Novosti news agency quoted Senator Ruslan Gattarov as saying on Thursday.

Snowden is wanted by the United States on charges that are based on his extraction of classified documents from servers of the NSA -- a move that led to revelations about the spy agency's espionage programs, targeting millions of people.

Gattarov's remarks come a day after Russia's upper house of parliament decided to establish a special working group to launch a probe into Snowden's claims. Gattarov will lead the group.
[Read more...]

Ecuador revokes Edward Snowden asylum documents as Assange frustration grows (28 June 2013)
The plan to spirit the surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden to sanctuary in Latin America appears to be unravelling amid tension between Ecuador's government and Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.

President Rafael Correa halted an effort to help Snowden leave Russia amid concern Assange was usurping the role of the Ecuadoran government, according to leaked diplomatic correspondence published on Friday.

Amid signs Quito was cooling with Snowden and irritated with Assange, Correa declared invalid a temporary travel document which could have helped extract Snowden from his reported location in Moscow.

Correa declared that the safe conduct pass issued by Ecuador's London consul -- in collaboration with Assange -- was unauthorised, after other Ecuadorean diplomats privately said the WikiLeaks founder could be perceived as "running the show".

According to the correspondence, which was obtained by the Spanish-language broadcaster Univision and shared with the Wall Street Journal, divisions over Assange have roiled Ecuador's government.
[Read more...]

Search for Snowden in Moscow airport hotel turns up empty (28 June 2013)
SHEREMETYEVO AIRPORT -- "An interesting route, Mr. Phillips," says the airport transit-desk employee. "This activity makes for suspicion."

It was the start of an Orwellian adventure in which I deliberately got myself sequestered in the hopes of finding Edward Snowden at Moscow's main airport.

The experience leaves me feeling that if the former National Security Agency worker who leaked classified information is indeed in the airport's transit zone, as President Vladimir Putin claims, he may already have a taste of what it's like to be in prison.

Snowden is possibly holed up in the wing of an airport hotel reserved for travelers in transit who don't have visas to enter Russia. The Novotel's main building, outside the airport, has a plush lobby with a fountain, a trendy bar and luxury shops. One wing, however, lies within the airport's transit zone, a kind of international limbo that is not officially Russian territory.
[Read more...]

"Nothing to see here, soldier" -- US army blocks access to Guardian website (28 June 2013)
The US army has admitted to blocking access to parts of the Guardian website for thousands of defence personnel across the country.

A spokesman said the military was filtering out reports and content relating to government surveillance programs to preserve "network hygiene" and prevent any classified material appearing on unclassified parts of its computer systems.

The confirmation follows reports in the Monterey Herald that staff at the Presidio military base south of San Francisco had complained of not being able to access the Guardian's UK site at all, and had only partial access to the US site, following publication of leaks from whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The Pentagon insisted the Department of Defense was not seeking to block the whole website, merely taking steps to restrict access to certain content.
[Read more...]

Obama meets with Mandela family (29 June 2013)
U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama are meeting privately with the family of Nelson Mandela today.

The meeting is taking place at the Nelson Mandela Center of Memory, which is part of the former South African president's foundation.

The White House didn't say which Mandela family members the Obamas are meeting with.

The president and First Lady will not meet with the ailing 94-year-old Mandela, who has been in hospital since June 8 with a lung infection. The White House said that decision was made in accordance with the Mandela family's wishes.
[Read more...]

Obama hails Mandela 'inspiration' in South Africa visit (29 June 2013)
US President Barack Obama has praised Nelson Mandela as "an inspiration to the world", during his visit to South Africa.

He was speaking in the executive capital, Pretoria, after talks with President Jacob Zuma.

Mr Mandela, South Africa's first black president, has been critically ill for nearly a week.

Mr Obama said he would not visit the 94-year-old in hospital, but would meet his family in private.
[Read more...]

Nelson Mandela family goes to court over his burial site (28 June 2013)
The anti-apartheid leader built his retirement home in Qunu and was living there until his repeated hospitalizations, which started at the end of last year. Nelson Mandela attended the burial of his son at the family plot in Qunu in 2005, and it was widely expected that the leader himself will be buried there.

But his grandson exhumed the bodies of Mandela's three children and moved them to nearby Mvezo, which is the former president's birthplace and where the grandson holds authority as chief.

Eldest daughter Makaziwe and other Mandela family members want the family bodies returned to their original graves in Qunu, according to the reports.

The family court struggle came as Mandela's ex-wife said that he had improved in recent days, but remained critical.
[Read more...]

South Africa: Outpouring Over Mandela Challenges Obama (29 June 2013)
Nearly half a century before this weekend's trip to South Africa by President Barack Obama, a visit by Robert F. Kennedy at the height of apartheid oppression was described by a newspaper editor as "the best thing that has happened to South Africa for years."

"It is as if," wrote the editor of the Rand Daily Mail in 1966, "a window has been flung open and a gust of fresh air has been swept into a room in which the atmosphere had become stale and foetid."

Robert and Ethel Kennedy's car was mobbed in Soweto. More than 30,000 people heard him speak in four cities. He took a helicopter to visit the banished 1960 Nobel Peace laureate and African National Congress leader, Albert Luthuli, and pronounced him "one of the most impressive men I have met." He met students and business leaders in the Afrikaner university town of Stellenbosch. There was no reported contact with the apartheid government.

Americans remember the keynote speech of the trip for Kennedy's imagery evoking the "ripple of hope" sent out -- in the language of the time -- "each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice..."
[Read more...]

It's Whitey Bulger on trial, but FBI's bad behavior is recounted, too (28 June 2013)
Officially it is former crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger who's on trial, but this week a lot of incriminating evidence pointed in another direction: at Boston FBI agents whose job was to take down organized crime.

Retired FBI supervisor John Morris was on the witness stand Thursday and Friday, describing behavior that could have landed him in jail if he hadn't gotten an immunity deal for his willingness to testify.

Mr. Morris acknowledged that he accepted money and gifts from Mr. Bulger, that he helped to feed sensitive information to Bulger, and that he signed off on misleading reports about what information Bulger was sharing with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Bad behavior by the FBI doesn't mean that Bulger is likely to win the "not guilty" jury verdict that he hopes for. He's being tried on racketeering counts that include 19 alleged murders.
[Read more...]

N.C. becomes 1st state to drop federal jobless funds (28 June 2013)
With changes to its unemployment law taking effect this weekend, North Carolina not only is cutting benefits for those who file new claims, it will become the first state disqualified from a federal compensation program for the long-term jobless.

State officials adopted the package of benefit cuts and increased taxes for businesses in February, a plan designed to accelerate repayment of a $2.5 billion federal debt. Like many states, North Carolina had racked up the debt by borrowing from Washington after its unemployment fund was drained by jobless benefits during the Great Recession.

The changes go into effect Sunday for North Carolina, which has the country's fifth-worst jobless rate. The cuts on those who make unemployment claims on or after that day will disqualify the state from receiving federally funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation. That money kicks in after the state's period of unemployment compensation -- now shortened from up to six months to no more than five -- runs out. The EUC program is available to long-term jobless in all states. But keeping the money flowing includes a requirement that states can't cut average weekly benefits.

Because North Carolina leaders cut average weekly benefits for new claims, about 170,000 workers whose state benefits expire this year will lose more than $700 million in EUC payments, the U.S. Labor Department said.
[Read more...]

Deep-water drilling expansion will strain workforce, study says (28 June 2013)
Global spending on deep-water wells will surge to $114 billion by 2022, compared to $43 billion last year, creating a critical need for offshore rig workers, according to a new analysis by Wood Mackenzie.

Deep-water markets are expanding rapidly, the research and consulting firm notes, projecting a 150 percent jump in the number of exploration, appraisal and development wells drilled by 2020. It also projects expansion of Arctic drilling by the end of the decade, though Arctic wells will remain a fraction of all wells drilled -- just three percent through 2022.

"To meet the forecasted well demand, the fleet will require 95 additional deep-water rigs to be constructed between 2016 and 2022, representing $65 billion of investment," Malcolm Forbes-Cable, senior management consultant at Wood Mackenzie and author of the study, in a written statement. "This will require the longest period of deep-water rig construction to date, representing a change for the deep-water sector from cyclical to sustained growth."

The Future of Global Deepwater Markets report projects rig contractors will need to expand their payrolls by 37,000 workers over the next decade to meet demand for rigs. That's an impossible target to meet under the current rate of recruitment, Wood Mackenzie says.
[Read more...]

Senators protest cuts to wildfire prevention funds (28 June 2013)
DENVER -- A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators is urging the Obama administration to focus more on preventing wildfires.

The administration is proposing a 31 percent cut in funding for fire prevention programs one year after record blazes burned 9.3 million acres. The federal government routinely spends so much money fighting increasingly-destructive fires that it uses money meant to be spent on clearing potential fuels like dead trees and underbrush in national forests.

In a letter to the administration, four senators call the habit "nonsensical" and said it just leads to bigger fires. They also strongly object to the proposed budget cut.

The senators who signed the letter are U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore), U.S. Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo), U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and U.S. Senator James Risch (R-Idaho).
[Read more...]

DNR yanks research permit from Ely bear expert Lynn Rogers (28 June 2013)
He hand-fed wild black bears to get up close in his research, collaring his subjects for satellite tracking. He posted live Internet video feeds from their dens, attracting more than 140,000 Facebook followers who got to know bears such as Lily and Hope on a first-name basis.

But renowned bear researcher Lynn Rogers says that's all over now because the state Department of Natural Resources pulled his permit on Friday after 14 years.

"I'm devastated," said Rogers, 74, from his North American Bear Center near Ely, Minn. "It's the end of my 46 years of black bear research."

Tension between Rogers and the DNR has been rising for years, with heated written volleys. Commissioner Tom Landwehr, in a letter dated Friday, accused Rogers "of extremely unprofessional behavior with research bears."

DNR Wildlife Research Manager Lou Cornicelli said Rogers' methods of cozying up to the bears, including hand-feeding, has created a public safety threat with 50 so-called habituated bears increasingly dependent on human contact roaming the woods near Rogers' sprawling center outside Ely.

"Bears are breaking into cabins, sticking their heads in cars and behaving in ways wild bears would not otherwise do," Cornicelli said. "The public safety issues have become intolerable from our perspective."
[Read more...]

High-carb meals pique cravings for more, study says (27 June 2013)
Tucking into a breakfast of buttermilk pancakes and maple syrup, or a great bowl of white pasta for lunch, not only sends your blood sugar soaring--and then, suddenly, plummeting. Four hours after you've put down your fork, such a meal makes you hungrier than if you'd eaten one with more protein and fiber and fewer carbohydrates, a new study finds.

The study also demonstrates that four hours later, the echo of that meal activates regions of the brain associated with craving and reward seeking more powerfully than does a meal with a lower "glycemic load."

The result: At your next opportunity to eat, you'll not only be hungrier; you'll be looking for more of the same.

The study, conducted by researchers from Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's Hospital, was published this week in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The team was led by Dr. David S. Ludwig, director of Boston Children's Hospital Obesity Prevention Center and author of Ending the Food Fight: Guide Your Child to a Healthy Weight in a Fast Food/Fake Food World.
[Read more...]

People with heart problems warned to avoid common painkiller (28 June 2013)
Health officials have advised patients with heart problems to avoid a common painkiller used by millions after research found it can significantly increase the risk of a heart attack or a stroke.

The British medicines regulator last night said that patients with an underlying heart condition, such as heart failure, heart disease or circulatory problems, or patients who have previously suffered heart attacks or strokes, should no longer use diclofenac, which is contained in popular brands such as Difene and Voltorol.

A spokesman said the advice on the drug has been updated after a European review which found an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Research published in the journal 'PLOS Medicine' found that patients using diclofenac were found to be 40pc more at risk than those who were not using the drug.
[Read more...]

Metal dog bowls can start house fires from focused sunlight reflections (28 June 2013)
(NaturalNews) Terry and Shay Weisbrich from Santa Rosa, California were astonished when a fire was ignited from a focused ray of sun powerfully reflected onto their wooden house by the dog's chrome water bowl.

Even Rene Torres, the Bennett Valley Fire Department engineer and his fellow firefighters were perplexed as to what had started the fire until Torres spied a dog's shiny, empty bowl on the porch.

Terry explained that he had kicked the bowl out of the way as he aimed a fire extinguisher on the smoldering blaze. Torres asked Terry to place the bowl back to its original position.

He wondered if the bowl could be to blame for the small charred section of Cedar siding on the porch. But how? After Weisbrich had returned the bowl "It was uncanny", Torres exclaimed. "There was a dot of concentrated light right in that exact area where the fire had started."

The Weisbrichs, a retired couple speculated on what could have happened considering the dry, hot, breezy weather, if they had been away from home when their dog, Toby, a Retriever began barking to alert them that something was wrong.
[Read more...]

Now fish oil could hurt your heart (25 June 2013)
A study of fish oil's benefits to the heart lends support to the adage that you can have too much of a good thing.

Moderate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish, cut the chances of suffering an abnormal heart beat -- but the risk went up for those consuming high levels.

Excessive amounts of omega-3 were actually more harmful than having a zero intake.

Researchers discovered a "U-shaped" association between marine omega-3 intake and the risk of developing atrial fibrillation, which causes haphazard heartbeats.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Once again they refer to Omega-3 fatty acids as though the term is interchangeable with fish oil. The animal form is needed in only small amounts, and is not to be confused with the plant form found in flaxseed oil.

Safe and easy ways to get rid of body odor (28 June 2013)
(NaturalNews) Body odor can be one of the biggest problems people have. This provides a potentially humiliating scenario for any individual, limits his/her ability to interact with others, and even ruins one's self-confidence. It is for this reason that the use of deodorants is on the rise, especially among younger people, but there are many other ways to treat body odor and thus prevent it from ruining your self esteem. Most of these remedies can be done within the comfort of your home.

8 home remedies for getting rid of body odor
1. Keep it clean - This may seem very simple. One of the main causes of bad body odor is a general lack of physical hygiene. You can dramatically improve the scent of your body by improving your hygienic approach. Wash away bacteria that cause body odor by having regular baths using antimicrobial soap. Apply soap especially on odor "danger spots" such as the underarms.

2. Control your emotions - Emotions such as anger and anxiety can trigger sweating in a big way. With extra volume of sweating comes sweat, and with sweat comes potential body odor. Controlling your emotions can go a long way in controlling bad body odor.

3. Wardrobe management - More than just keeping yourself clean, you need to keep your clothes clean as well. It's not recommended that you wear the same pieces of clothing the next day as these can actually contribute to body odor. Effective clothes washing can also help you out immensely.

4. Eating management - Particular foods have the ability to create body odor. For instance, spicy foods have the ability to make you sweat more than usual. What's more, particular substances in spices (particularly sulfur) mix with your sweat and create a distinctively unpleasant odor.
[Read more...]

U.S. sets birth control rule for employers with religious ties (28 June 2013)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Friday made it final that employees of religiously affiliated, nonprofit institutions would receive insurance coverage for birth control amid mounting legal challenges to a rule in the recent healthcare law.

The White House proposed in early 2012 an arrangement that allows universities, hospitals and other employers with a religious affiliation to avoid paying directly for contraceptives. Instead, insurance companies provide coverage and foot the bill under the law.

The rule requires an institution's health insurer or third-party insurance administrator to notify employees about birth control benefits and provide beneficiaries with direct payments that cover the cost of contraceptive services.

The announcement was made by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It puts into effect a requirement that has been beset by more than a year of talks between administration officials and religious employers.
[Read more...]

Why a flood in Calgary is different from floods in other cities (28 June 2013)
EDMONTON - The flooding that ravaged some of Calgary's wealthiest neighbourhoods makes it stand out from past major floods in North American cities, says an expert in disaster sociology.

Most cities feature impoverished neighbourhoods near geographically vulnerable areas, making them more prone to flooding, said Timothy Haney, an assistant professor of sociology at Calgary's Mount Royal University. That was the case when hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005.

But real estate development in Calgary has led to high-end neighbourhoods springing up along the river where residents can enjoy walking and biking paths.

One of the first neighbourhoods evacuated and flooded was Elbow Park, an affluent area bordered to the south and east by the river.

"I have never heard of any other city where that's happened," said Haney, a Calgarian of four years who lived in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina.
[Read more...]

Report rebuts a concern about Keystone XL tar-sands oil (28 June 2013)
WASHINGTON -- The type of crude oil that would be pumped through the Keystone XL pipeline is no more likely to corrode pipelines or heighten the chance of leaks than other kinds of petroleum, according to a study by the National Research Council, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.

The finding rebuts one concern raised by opponents of the 1,700-mile Canada-to-Texas pipeline. They have long argued that pipelines are more prone to corrosion and leaks if they carry diluted bitumen, the tar-like substance that would be extracted in Alberta mostly by strip mining, mixed with chemicals and pumped at high pressure to refineries.

The National Research Council study did "not find any causes of pipeline failure unique to the transportation of diluted bitumen." The study was done at the behest of the Transportation Department.

Keystone XL's critics have contended that pipelines carrying diluted bitumen are more susceptible to leaks because they operate at a higher temperature, increasing the risk of a rupture from external corrosion. But the study found that diluted bitumen "is moved through pipelines in a manner similar to other crude oils with respect to the flow rate, pressure and operating temperature."
[Read more...]

When the U.S. doesn't need Canadian oil (29 June 2013)
Could it be that a keystone belief and a bedrock of prosperity in Canada might disappear over the next two decades?

For a long time, it has been assumed that whatever surplus oil (and natural gas) Canadians could produce would be gladly purchased by the United States. "Pump it and they will come" has been an underpinning reality for Canada's economy.

Recently, the U.S. Energy Information Agency produced an estimate that the U.S. has almost 60 billion barrels of "technically recoverable" shale oil. Now, "technically recoverable" does not mean that all this supply will be used. Nor does it mean, however, that supplies the agency knows about today will not increase, perhaps substantially, as new deposits are discovered or innovative technologies for discovery and extraction are found. All that can be said is that 60 billion barrels of "technically recoverable" oil is a godsend for the United States.

These barrels, or a portion thereof, could be a game-changer in a country with 7.4 million barrels of daily net imports of oil. U.S. dependence on imported oil has declined since peaking in 2005. The recession of 2008 and its aftermath knocked down consumption. So did improved energy efficiency measures, switching to natural gas, more renewable energy and consumers watching their pennies.
[Read more...]

News Corp splits after Friday close (28 June 2013)
The movie and TV division is being renamed Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. Its preliminary stock closed at $28.99 on Friday.

Shares of both entities will begin trading normally on Monday, with new News Corp. shares trading under the tickers "NWSA" for non-voting Class A shares and "NWS" for voting Class B shares. Twenty-First Century Fox shares will trade under the tickers "FOXA" for non-voting Class A shares and "FOX" for voting Class B shares.

Rupert Murdoch, who will be chairman of both companies and CEO of Twenty-First Century Fox, will retain his grip on both companies by controlling nearly 40 percent of the voting stock in each.

The split completes a process that the company announced a year ago, and responds to investor concerns that the newspaper and book publishing divisions were dragging on the faster growing pay TV business.
[Read more...]

Feds seeking stake in Jesse, Sandi Jackson homes: Three issues for the judge (28 June 2013)
WASHINGTON--Federal prosecutors on Friday asked a judge to approve an order to allow the federal government to stake a claim to any cash that may come from the sale of the homes of Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife Sandi here and in Chicago, with the request timed to the July 3 sentencing of the couple.

"The Jacksons will not be compelled to sell their homes. Restitution issues will be discussed at sentencing," said William Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia.

Jesse Jackson Jr., a former Congressman and Sandi Jackson, a former alderman, pled guilty last February to looting their campaign funds of some $750,000 over a seven-year period; Sandi Jackson also admitted to not paying income taxes on some $600,000 that she stole.

When the couple come to court on Wednesday, there will be several issues before U.S. District Court Amy Berman Jackson (no relation):
• The sentences.
• The amount of forfeiture and restitution to be paid.
• And if they both get prison time, who should serve time first so that one parent could stay home to care for their children, who are 9 and 13.
[Read more...]

NSA collected US email records in bulk for more than two years under Obama (27 June 2013)
The Obama administration for more than two years permitted the National Security Agency to continue collecting vast amounts of records detailing the email and internet usage of Americans, according to secret documents obtained by the Guardian.

The documents indicate that under the program, launched in 2001, a federal judge sitting on the secret surveillance panel called the Fisa court would approve a bulk collection order for internet metadata "every 90 days". A senior administration official confirmed the program, stating that it ended in 2011.

The collection of these records began under the Bush administration's wide-ranging warrantless surveillance program, collectively known by the NSA codename Stellar Wind.

According to a top-secret draft report by the NSA's inspector general -- published for the first time today by the Guardian -- the agency began "collection of bulk internet metadata" involving "communications with at least one communicant outside the United States or for which no communicant was known to be a citizen of the United States".

Eventually, the NSA gained authority to "analyze communications metadata associated with United States persons and persons believed to be in the United States", according to a 2007 Justice Department memo, which is marked secret.
[Read more...]

Ecuador turns away US trade benefits, makes defiant offer amid Snowden asylum request (27 June 2013)
Ecuador's government gave the Obama administration a defiant response in the face of warnings not to grant asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden, sending the message that it does not need U.S. aid and assistance.

According to Reuters, Ecuador said Thursday it was waiving favorable trade rights under a trade agreement with the U.S. In a dig at Washington, officials there also offered the U.S. $23 million in aid for "education about human rights."

The moves were a signal that Ecuador was not considering its own U.S. benefits in weighing Snowden's asylum request.

In Washington, some analysts have said the U.S. could use both its direct aid and the trade benefits as leverage against Ecuador. That's because in recent months, Ecuadorean officials have made trips to Washington, jockeying for preferential treatment for some of its country's key native products like frozen broccoli and fresh-cut roses.
[Read more...]

Will Snowden join ranks of airport denizens? (27 June 2013)
LONDON (AP) -- Amid the thousands of people passing through Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, Edward Snowden is -- if Russia's government is to be believed -- staying put. That makes his situation unusual, but for all its extraordinary elements of intrigue, it's not unique.

The former National Security Agency contractor who leaked U.S. surveillance secrets is not the first person to be stranded in the legally ambiguous zone between the arrivals gate and the immigration desks of an international airport.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says Snowden is in the airport's transit area after flying in from Hong Kong on Sunday. Authorities in Moscow say he is not officially in Russia and is free to leave.

But U.S. officials have issued a warrant for his arrest and have revoked his passport -- meaning that there are few places he can go.

Snowden could end up joining the roster of unwilling airport residents whose ordeals, suspended between states, have stretched on for months or even years.
[Read more...]

The Supreme Court highlights a hidden cost of generic drugs (27 June 2013)
The ruling that threw out Karen Bartlett's legal victory over Mutual Pharmaceutical Co. would seem to fall into the same category. To treat Bartlett's shoulder pain, her doctor prescribed the anti-inflammatory medication Clinoril. Her pharmacist substituted the generic version of the drug (sulindac), which was made by Mutual. After taking the drug, however, Bartlett experienced what Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. described as "horrific" injuries.

"Sixty to sixty-five percent of the surface of [Bartlett's] body deteriorated, was burned off, or turned into an open wound," Alito wrote in the majority opinion. "She spent months in a medically induced coma, underwent 12 eye surgeries, and was tube-fed for a year. She is now severely disfigured, has a number of physical disabilities, and is nearly blind."

Bartlett sued, claiming that Mutual violated New Hampshire law by selling an unreasonably unsafe product. A jury awarded her more than $21 million, and after Mutual appealed, the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the verdict.

Split 5 to 4, the justices held that the federal law governing generic drugs pre-empted state laws like New Hampshire's. To avoid being held liable for a drug found to be unreasonably dangerous, Alito wrote, Mutual would have to change the drug's chemistry or the warnings on its label -- either of which would violate federal law, which requires generic-drug makers to duplicate the design and warnings of their brand-name counterparts in order to obtain speedier approval.
[Read more...]

Academic achievement gap is narrowing, new national data show (27 June 2013)
The nation's 9-year-olds and 13-year-olds are posting better scores in math and reading tests than their counterparts did 40 years ago, and the achievement gap between white students and those of color still persists but is narrowing, according to new federal government data released Thursday.

The scores, collected regularly since the 1970s from federal tests administered to public and private school students age 9, 13, and 17, paint a picture of steady student achievement that contradicts the popular notion that U.S. educational progress has stalled.

"When you break out the data over the long term and ask who is improving, the answer is . . . everyone," said Kati Haycock, president of the Education Trust, a nonprofit organization that works to close the achievement gap between poor and privileged children. "And the good news, given where they started, is that black and Latino children have racked up some of the biggest gains of all."

The data, part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress long-term trend study, come from tests given every four years in math and reading. The most recent results, from tests 50,000 students took in 2012, show that 9-year-olds and 13-year-olds did better in both math and reading than students who took the first reading test in 1971 and the first math test in 1973.
[Read more...]

In rebuff to Bloomberg, New York City Council curbs police power (27 June 2013)
(Reuters) - The New York City Council passed two measures to restrain police powers early on Thursday in direct defiance of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has defended procedures such as "stop and frisk" as necessary to fight crime.

One creates an independent inspector general to monitor the New York Police Department (NYPD) over a seven-year period and make recommendations on how it could be improved. The other expands the definition of racial profiling and allows people who believe they have been profiled to sue police in state court.

Both were aimed at restricting the New York City Police Department's use of stop-and-frisk, a policy of stopping, questioning and frisking people suspected of wrongdoing. Minority groups, civil libertarians and some Democratic mayoral candidates have argued that police disproportionately target minorities, particularly young black and Hispanic men.

"I want to speak from my heart. I implore you, if you've never been a young black or Latino, male or female, in New York City, to please listen to us," said Jumaane Williams, a council member from Brooklyn who sponsored the bill.

Shortly after the vote, Bloomberg, who has made the fight against crime a centerpiece of his three terms in office, promised to veto both bills, forcing the council to hold another vote to override his veto.
[Read more...]

New rules aim to rid schools of junk foods (27 June 2013)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- High-calorie sports drinks and candy bars will be removed from school vending machines and cafeteria lines as soon as next year, replaced with diet drinks, granola bars and other healthier items.

The Agriculture Department said Thursday that for the first time it will make sure that all foods sold in the nation's 100,000 schools are healthier by expanding fat, calorie, sugar and sodium limits to almost everything sold during the school day.

That includes snacks sold around the school and foods on the "a la carte" line in cafeterias, which never have been regulated before. The new rules, proposed in February and made final this week, also would allow states to regulate student bake sales.

The rules, required under a child nutrition law passed by Congress in 2010, are part of the government's effort to combat childhood obesity. The rules have the potential to transform what many children eat at school.
[Read more...]

High water disrupting Mississippi River traffic (27 June 2013)
All three locks on the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities were closed to commercial boat traffic Thursday morning because of high and fast-moving water.

The locks include Lock and Dam No. 1 near the former Ford plant in St. Paul, and the Upper and Lower St. Anthony Falls locks in downtown Minneapolis near the Stone Arch Bridge. The locks had been closed to recreational boats last weekend.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the river's lock and dam system, is required to close them to commercial boat traffic when flows reach 40,000 cubic feet per second (cfs), said George Stringham, corps spokesman. The standard for recreational boats is 30,000 cfs.

Stringham said that, depending on the weather, the locks are unlikely to open to commercial boat traffic any sooner than the middle to later part of next week. The locks typically operate a half dozen times a day, Monday through Saturday, allowing about a dozen or more barges to pass. For recreational boats, it's too far out to predict when it will be safe again, he said.
[Read more...]

Heat-related disasters? There's a map for that (27 June 2013)
Last summer, record high temps across the country unleashed the Horsemen of the Apocalypse on the country -- mostly in the form of catastrophic wildfires, droughts, and superstorms. Hold on to your butts: This summer could be worse. In an effort to know the enemy, we've created this Google disaster map to track the scars.

But we've only scratched the surface: That's where you come in. We've deliberately left this map open to the public so you, the informed Grist reader, can log heat-related mishaps in your 'hood. A few rules: Add links, sources, and photos where you can -- and keep it clean. (Your soaked underwear tally does not count as a national emergency.) Never mucked with a Google Map before? Learn more about how here.

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Heat, fire danger to rapidly increase in parts of Montana (27 June 2013)
Areas of the Sapphire Mountains and regions of the Bitterroot Valley east of the Bitterroot River remain in drought conditions. Forecasters are predicting an above-average fire season, with much of the burning concentrated in southwestern Montana.

"I was speaking to a farmer down the Bitterroot this morning and he said the soil was dry down to 17 inches," said Bryan Henry of the Northern Rockies Coordination Center. "My main concern this year is for the Sapphire Mountains. That part of the state has missed out on the bulk of this wet weather."

Henry believes the fire season will kick off in roughly two weeks south of Butte and areas west through the Missoula and Bitterroot valleys, including areas of central Idaho.

Henry said about 200,000 acres burn across the Northern Rockies over the course of an average fire season. He expects this year to be no different, though the burning will be more concentrated than in years past.
[Read more...]

Documents: States pushed feds to delist wolves (27 June 2013)
BILLINGS -- Documents show state officials lobbied for sharp limits on federal protections for gray wolves in the lead-up to the Obama administration's recent proposal to take the animals off the endangered list across most of the Lower 48.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service documents reveal that state officials pressed their federal counterparts to exclude millions of acres in Colorado and Utah from wolf recovery efforts.

Service biologists earlier identified those states as suitable for wolves. The administration plan unveiled this month retains protections only in a small area of the Southwest.
[Read more...]

Va., W.Va. get grants to for bat disease project (27 June 2013)
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Virginia and West Virginia have been awarded federal grants for white-nose syndrome projects.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Thursday that the grants will support research and detection of the fatal bat disease, and response to it. States also will use the funds to monitor bat populations.

The agency awarded a $38,500 grant to Virginia and a $47,500 grant to West Virginia. They are among 28 states receiving grants.

Fish and Wildlife officials say the disease has been reported in 22 states and five Canadian provinces since it was discovered in New York in 2007. It has killed more than five-and-a-half million bats.
[Read more...]

Tanker cars perched over river after derailment on Calgary bridge (27 June 2013)
Five tanker cars full of flammable petroleum are perched on a cracked and sinking bridge over the Bow River in Calgary, the city's acting fire chief says.

Crews planned to orchestrate a precarious salvage operation over the next four to five hours, said Acting Chief Ken Uzeloc.

The rest of the CP Rail freight train that derailed at 3:30 a.m. local time has been removed, Uzeloc said at an 8 a.m. news conference at the scene.

Neither CP nor city officials could say if the derailment was flood related.
[Read more...]

Author, Harvard LSD tester Philip Slater dies (26 June 2013)
Philip Slater, an author, social critic and one of the first Americans to take LSD, died at his home in Santa Cruz on June 20. Mr. Slater, who had cancer, was 86.

He was the author of the best-selling book "The Pursuit of Loneliness," published in 1970 and described by Harvard Magazine as "a searing critique of American culture." He wrote 11 other books of sociology and social commentary, as well as 25 novels and plays.

He also taught at Harvard and Brandeis universities, moved later to Santa Cruz and spent nearly 40 years there as a teacher, actor, playwright and novelist. When he was in his 80s, he taught a graduate course at the San Francisco-based California Institute of Integral Studies.

Mr. Slater was everything from a merchant seaman to what Harvard Magazine called "an intellectual hero of the counterculture." He was named one of Ms. magazine's "male heroes" in 1982.
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Putin rules out handing Snowden over to United States (26 June 2013)
Snowden has not been seen in public but Russian officials say he is at the airport, awaiting a response to an appeal for asylum in Ecuador. The logical route to be taken - and one for which he at one point had a reservation - would be an Aeroflot flight via Havana.

The choice of alternative flights, while the United States presses other countries not to take him in or to arrest him on arrival, would be limited.

Putin denied Snowden was being interviewed by Russian intelligence and said any U.S. accusations that Moscow was aiding him as "ravings and rubbish".

That prompted a new extradition demand by Washington, which said there was a "clear legal basis" to do so.
[Read more...]

Supreme Court strikes down Defense of Marriage Act (26 June 2013)
The Supreme Court Wednesday struck down as unconstitutional the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that denies federal benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married in the states where they reside.

The court said it violated equal protection to provide benefits to heterosexual couples while denying them to gay couples in the 12 states plus the District of Columbia where same-sex couples may marry. The law passed by bipartisan majorities in Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton recognized marriage as only between one man and one woman.

It passed at a time when same-sex marriage was not legal anywhere in the world.
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Abortion bill dies after late-night chaos, confusion (26 June 2013)
The vote was taken after a filibuster to try to kill it by Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, was abruptly ended when Dewhurst upheld objections that she hadn't strictly abided by filibuster rules, a disputed assessment.

Dewhurst's announcement that the bill failed came after 3 a.m., following a Senate caucus meeting.

"Regrettably, the constitutional time for the first called session of the 83rd Legislature has expired. Senate Bill 5 cannot be signed in the presence of the Senate at this time. Therefore, it cannot be enrolled," Dewhurst said.

He added, "It's been fun, but see ya soon."

Gov. Rick Perry can call another special session, but he had not said by Tuesday night whether he would.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Before the election, Republicans claimed they'd fix the economy. After the election, they ignored the economy, instead squandering most of their time attacking women and minorities -- who, incidentally, are voters.

A nice photo gallery is located above the main picture in this article.

Edward Snowden leaks force Al Qaeda, other militants to change how they communicate (26 June 2013)
Two U.S. intelligence officials say members of virtually every terrorist group, including core Al Qaeda, are attempting to change how they communicate, based on what they are reading in the media, to hide from U.S. surveillance -- the first time intelligence officials have described which groups are reacting to the leaks. The officials spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to speak about the intelligence matters publicly.

The officials wouldn't go into details on how they know this, whether it's terrorists switching email accounts or cellphone providers or adopting new encryption techniques, but a lawmaker briefed on the matter said Al Qaeda's Yemeni offshoot, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has been among the first to alter how it reaches out to its operatives.

The lawmaker spoke anonymously because he would not discuss the confidential briefing by name.

Shortly after Edward Snowden leaked documents about the secret NSA surveillance programs, chat rooms and websites used by like-minded extremists and would-be recruits advised users how to avoid NSA detection, from telling them not to use their real phone numbers to recommending specific online software programs to keep spies from tracking their computers' physical locations.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: That's a little hard to believe, considering they were already taking countermeasures like using coded language. Sounds like a desperate attempt to build a weak public relations case against Snowden.

Clergy abuse case filled with silent bystanders (26 June 2013)
They stared at each other, the detective and the priest. Kelli McIlvain found interrogating him somewhat surreal. She had been raised Catholic and taught that a man in a black clerical shirt and white collar was nothing less than an emissary of God.

Father Donald Patrick Roemer was 5 feet 5, maybe 150 pounds. Hazel eyes. Blondish hair. A Ventura County Sheriff's Office report described him that night as "cooperative, seems stable," though McIlvain remembered how he repeatedly buried his head on the desk and wept.

To her surprise, his confession came easily. Yes, he said, he molested the 7-year-old boy.

McIlvain lit a cigarette. She hushed her voice, slowed her cadence to match his. Were there others, she asked. Yes, he said, according to court papers, and offered name after name.
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No, fast food isn't actually good for you: In defense of Pollanites (26 June 2013)
Picking a fight has always been a surefire way of getting attention. Whether it's on a schoolyard, or in the national media, conflict changes the center of gravity and attracts a circle of onlookers. For journalists, this incentive to be pugnacious is powerful -- but sometimes the urge to scrap overwhelms substance and fairness.

That's what happens in David H. Freedman's 10,000 word cover story for this month's Atlantic: How Junk Food Can End Obesity.

Freedman's story has one good argument. The bulk of the media conversation about nutrition has been about how to help the privileged healthy be healthier. Freedman argues (persuasively, I think) that we need to focus more on fighting obesity where it strikes hardest: among the poor. So, he says, let's do some jujitsu with the food-processing and mind-control tricks that Big Food uses to get us to eat more, and instead use those tricks to get people to eat less.

That point alone is enough for a provocative article of, maybe, 4000 words. In fact, I recommend that you do what Freedman's editor should have done -- trim his piece down and just read its third section: The Food Revolution We Need.

The rest of the piece -- well, it just gets weird. Freedman uses his remaining 6000 words to build some very tortured logic accusing "the Pollanites" -- meaning those influenced by Michael Pollan to seek out "wholesome" food -- of thwarting this healthier junk food revolution by failing to eat their share of Big Macs and McMuffins.
[Read more...]

Africa: Obama's Coming - So's the Navy & the Air Force (26 June 2013)
Cape Town -- The citizens of Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania are about to be hit over the coming week with the full panoply of an American presidential visit.

Normally, few details of the logistical operations required to move heads of state around the world, and the disruptions they cause, are published -- unless security measures become obvious to the public, or things go wrong.

In 1998, manholes in the streets of Cape Town were welded down on a state visit to South Africa by President Bill Clinton. In 2000, his entourage of 1,500 -- including business leaders and journalists -- reportedly filled two major hotels in the Nigerian capital of Abuja.

Infamously, Vice-President Al Gore's cavalcade disrupted Cape Town traffic so badly on a 1995 visit that Gore was prompted to apologise to irate Capetonians. On a later visit to the city, the Secret Service backed down in the face of resistance from South African security to their plan to surround the private home of Archbishop Desmond Tutu with U.S. agents while Gore and his family visited the cleric.
[Read more...]

Ancient, cow-sized knobby lizard discovered in Africa (26 June 2013)
Even by paleontology standards, this newly discovered lizard was unusual-looking, an outcast in the ancient Earth's nearly empty deserts.

The cow-sized animal, called Bunostegos, or "knobby roof" for the quantity of huge bulbs that dot its face, looking like bubbling cooking oil, presided over a lonely desert some 260 million years ago, when Earth was home to a single continent, Pangaea.

Found in modern Niger's north desert, the lizard belongs to the genus pareiasaur, herbivore animals that lumbered around the Earth in its Permian period. Most pareiasaurs had knobs protruding from their skulls, but Bunostegos's bulbous ones are unusual even for that class of animals, as the largest ever seen.

"Imagine a cow-sized, plant-eating reptile with a knobby skull and bony armor down its back," said lead author Linda Tsuji, of the University of Washington, in a statement.
[Read more...]

Cambodian tailorbird: new species discovered in Phnom Penh (26 June 2013)
A previously unknown species of bird has been found hiding in plain sight after scientists photographed what was thought to be more abundant species at a construction site on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capitol and largest city. Subsequent analysis revealed the species to be distinct.

Known as the Cambodian tailorbird (Orthotomus chaktomuk), the new bird is one of only two species endemic to Cambodia, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the group whose researcher Ashish John snapped the first pictures of the bird.

"The modern discovery of an undescribed bird species within the limits of a large populous city -- not to mention 30 minutes from my home -- is extraordinary," said Simon Mahood, a WCS scientist who described the species -- together with researchers from WCS, BirdLife International, the University of Kansas, Louisiana State University, and the Sam Veasna Centre -- in a special online early-view issue of the Oriental Bird Club's journal Forktail. "The discovery indicates that new species of birds may still be found in familiar and unexpected locations."

Despite living on the edge of an urban area, the Cambodian tailorbird escaped detection due to its dense scrub habitat.
[Read more...]

Eve Ensler on New Memoir & Confronting Gender Violence with Congolese Activist Christine Deschryver (25 June 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: According to the study, 40 percent of women killed worldwide were slain by a partner. Christine Schuler Deschryver is with us, as well, Congolese human rights activist who founded Body of Joy.

EVE ENSLER: City of Joy.

AMY GOODMAN: City of Joy. Eve Ensler is with us, author of In the Body of the World. City of Joy, what is it, Christine?

CHRISTINE SCHULER DESCHRYVER: City of Joy, I think--you know, they used to say that Congo is the worst place to be a woman, but I think City of Joy is like one of the best place, because it's a place where we empower women. We don't assist women; we empower them. And it's a V-Day program. And until now, we are on our fourth session, and we already trained 222 women. They do have different--a different training, and when they go back into their villages, they are sort of role models to become leaders.

AMY GOODMAN: Why do they come to the City of Joy? Who are these women?

CHRISTINE SCHULER DESCHRYVER: You know, these women are girls and women from 15 'til 30, and all of them are survivors of gender violence. We've worked with grassroots, with the local NGOs, and we have a different kind of criterias, like ages and survivors of different kind of violence. And then we go and interview them on the ground, and after that, we select 90 of them to come to City of Joy, and they stay for six months.
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Donor bought Rolex watch for Virginia Gov. McDonnell, people familiar with gift say (25 June 2013)
A prominent political donor purchased a Rolex watch for Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, according to two people with knowledge of the gift, and the governor did not disclose it in his annual financial filings.

The $6,500 luxury watch was provided by wealthy businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr., the people said. He is the chief executive of dietary supplement manufacturer Star Scientific and the person who paid for catering at the wedding of the governor's daughter. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because of an ongoing federal investigation into the relationship between Williams and the McDonnell family.

Williams's gift came in August 2011 -- about two weeks after he met with a top state health official to pitch the benefits of his company's health products at a meeting arranged by first lady Maureen McDonnell, according to people who know of the meeting.

Williams bought the watch at the urging of Maureen McDonnell, who admired Williams's own Rolex and suggested that he buy her a similar one she could give to her husband, the people said. Her proposal occurred moments before the meeting she had arranged with the state official, according to one person familiar with the request.

The Rolex, engraved with the inscription "71st Governor of Virginia," represents the first undisclosed gift known to have been used personally by McDonnell (R) among tens of thousands of dollars of undisclosed gifts given to the governor's family.
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Insider Threat: Government Employees Urged to Tattle On Coworkers in Effort to Stop Classified Leaks (25 June 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
JONATHAN LANDAY: Well, this is a program that was launched in the wake of the WikiLeaks disclosures by Private Manning. It follows also the shooting at Fort Hood by Major Hasan--allegedly by Major Hasan. And it's an attempt--another attempt by the government--and this follows a long history of attempts by the government--to crack down on leaks of classified information. The problem here is, though, that the definition, or at least the instructions from the White House to the agencies in implementing the program, is exceedingly broad and has left many of the details to the agencies and departments themselves to implement. And some of these departments, we've found, are not only going after leaks of classified information, but leaks, unauthorized leaks, of any information at all. It involves what we--what appears to be profiling by workers of their co-workers and admonitions to supervisors that they had better make sure that any suspicious behavior is reported, because that could be a sign of a security risk among their staff.

And beyond that, it exhorts employees of these federal agencies, at least within the Pentagon and other agencies, to treat leaks like espionage. In other words, if anybody leaks to the press, that's like leaking to the enemies of the United States. We asked the Pentagon, "How do you accommodate something like the leak of the Pentagon Papers with this kind of policy, i.e. the leak of information that showed that successive American governments had misled and lied to their people about the conduct of the war in Indochina?" And we received no answer, no direct answer to our question, from the Pentagon.

AARON MATÉ: Jonathan, you spoke to a senior Pentagon official who is critical of Insider Threat, and he says, quote, "It's about people's profiles, their approach to work, how they interact with management. Are they cheery? Are they looking at Salon.com or The Onion during their lunch break? This is about 'The Stepford Wives.'" That's a reference to the movie of the '70s. What are you hearing about what kind of a work environment this is creating in government?

JONATHAN LANDAY: Well, it's already--the work environment is already one where people who used to talk to me--and, I suspect, other reporters--are no longer willing to talk about it--talk to us, simply for fear that they're going to encounter retaliation for talking to a journalist, and not disclosing simply--not disclosing classified information, but simply trying to give us context--at least in my experience, trying to give me context about stories that we report normally, trying to get an idea of where the U.S. government--how the U.S. government views a particular issue. They're not willing--at least some of the people that I know are no longer willing to even do that. So, the environment, as a result of this, seems to be pretty toxic and seems to be--there seems to be the possibility or the distinct possibility that it could get even more toxic. I think--
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Four habitable planets orbiting three tiny suns? New first in planet-hunting. (25 June 2013)
Three, perhaps even four potentially habitable planets are orbiting a star in a triple-star system some 22 light-years from Earth, a team of astronomers announced Tuesday.

It's the first time researchers have found so many planets orbiting within a star's habitable zone -- a region around a star where a planet receives enough energy for water to gather and remain stable on the planet's surface.

Three of the planets are so-called super-Earths, with masses ranging from 2.7 to 3.8 times Earth's mass. At 1.1 times Earth's mass, the fourth is the smallest and least well observed of the group -- an object that the researchers say will require more observations to determine if it truly orbits in the habitable zone.

It's a packed neighborhood. All four orbit their star, Gliese 667C, in a 11.5-million-mile-wide belt that would comfortably fit within the distance between the orbits of Earth and Venus. In this case, however, the planets' orbits are much closer to their star -- a red dwarf with only one-third the sun's mass and perhaps 1 percent of the sun's brightness.
[Read more...]

Supreme Court halts use of key provision in landmark Voting Rights Act (25 June 2013)
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a key provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act cannot be enforced unless Congress comes up with an up-to-date formula for deciding which states and localities still need federal monitoring.

The justices said in 5-4 vote that the law Congress most recently renewed in 2006 relies on 40-year-old data that does not reflect racial progress and changes in U.S. society.

The court did not strike down the advance approval requirement of the law that has been used, mainly in the South, to open up polling places to minority voters in the nearly half century since it was first enacted in 1965. But the justices did say lawmakers must update the formula for determining which parts of the country must seek Washington's approval, in advance, for election changes.

Chief Justice John Roberts said for the conservative majority that Congress "may draft another formula based on current conditions."
[Read more...]

Mystery deepens over Snowden whereabouts (25 June 2013)
Details of the US whistleblower Edward Snowden's current whereabouts remain unclear, a day after he was reported to have left Moscow for Havana, apparently en route to Ecuador.

Ricardo Patino, the foreign minister of Ecuador, where Snowden is seeking asylum to evade being arrested by the United States for leaking classified details about its spying programme, said on Tuesday that the country knew nothing about his whereabouts or what documents he might be using to travel.

The Russian foreign minister added to the confusion further during the day, insisting that Snowden had not crossed into Russia. Earlier reports suggested that Snowden took a flight out of Moscow on Monday, having arrived there from Hong Kong the previous day.

The United States has annulled Snowden's passport and wants him returned to face espionage charges for revealing details of two widespread surveillance programmes. Washington has strongly criticised China for allowing Snowden to leave Hong Kong.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Breaking news from Reuters this morning is that "Putin says Snowden still in transit area at Moscow airport."

Dirty Wars author Jeremy Scahill: is journalism being criminalised? -- video interview (25 June 2013)
In the wake of whistleblower Edward Snowden's leak of NSA files, Jeremy Scahill, author of Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield and featured reporter in the new documentary film of the same name, says under the Obama administration journalists are being intruded upon and whistleblowers are being charged with crimes. Scahill is also a national security correspondent for the Nation [Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: This video starts playing, with sound, without the reader taking any action.

Russia, China defend their conduct in Snowden saga (25 June 2013)
MOSCOW-- Russia and China on Tuesday rejected U.S. criticism of their roles in the legal drama surrounding Edward Snowden, saying their governments complied with the law and did not illegally assist the former government contractor charged with revealing classified information about secret U.S. surveillance programs.

Snowden, 30, has not been seen in public since he reportedly arrived in Moscow on Sunday, after slipping out of Hong Kong. Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Monday strongly urged Russian officials to transfer Snowden to U.S. custody. "We think it's very important in terms of our relationship," Kerry said. "We think it's very important in terms of rule of law."

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Snowden had not actually crossed into Russian territory, apparently remaining in a secure transit zone inside the airport or in an area controlled by foreign diplomats. Moscow therefore has had no jurisdiction over his movements, Lavrov said, and has no legal right to turn him over to U.S. authorities.

"He independently chose his route, about which we learned from the media, and he did not cross the Russian border," Lavrov said, adding: "There are no legal grounds whatsoever."
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Snowden saw what I saw: surveillance criminally subverting the constitution (12 June 2013)
What Edward Snowden has done is an amazingly brave and courageous act of civil disobedience.

Like me, he became discomforted by what he was exposed to and what he saw: the industrial-scale systematic surveillance that is scooping up vast amounts of information not only around the world but in the United States, in direct violation of the fourth amendment of the US constitution.

The NSA programs that Snowden has revealed are nothing new: they date back to the days and weeks after 9/11. I had direct exposure to similar programs, such as Stellar Wind, in 2001. In the first week of October, I had an extraordinary conversation with NSA's lead attorney. When I pressed hard about the unconstitutionality of Stellar Wind, he said:

"The White House has approved the program; it's all legal. NSA is the executive agent."

It was made clear to me that the original intent of government was to gain access to all the information it could without regard for constitutional safeguards. "You don't understand," I was told. "We just need the data."

In the first week of October 2001, President Bush had signed an extraordinary order authorizing blanket dragnet electronic surveillance: Stellar Wind was a highly secret program that, without warrant or any approval from the Fisa court, gave the NSA access to all phone records from the major telephone companies, including US-to-US calls. It correlates precisely with the Verizon order revealed by Snowden; and based on what we know, you have to assume that there are standing orders for the other major telephone companies.
[Read more...]

LA loses Supreme Court appeal against ruling that bars city from removing homeless' belongings (25 June 2013)
LOS ANGELES -- The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to reverse lower court rulings that prevent Los Angeles city workers from summarily removing and destroying homeless people's property left on Skid Row sidewalks.

The high court's ruling, which came without comment on Monday, left standing an order that prevents city workers and police from disposing of belongings that homeless people leave temporarily unattended, the Los Angeles Times reported (http://lat.ms/11ZX58Q).

City Attorney Carmen Trutanich had argued that allowing homeless people to leave belongings on sidewalks creates a health hazard and violates municipal ordinances.

The suit was brought by eight homeless people who said they lost important personal documents, medications, family photos, clothing and electronics when they temporarily left their bundles unattended while they went to shower or eat in nearby shelters or attend court hearings.

Carol Sobel, attorney for the homeless plaintiffs, said the city could find no evidence of a public health crisis.
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Google vindicated by EU court opinion on search results (25 June 2013)
(Reuters) - Google must respect EU privacy law but is not obliged to delete sensitive information from its search index, an adviser to the highest European Union court said, in a case that tests whether people can have harmful content erased from the Web.

The adviser backed the internet search giant's position that it cannot erase legal content from the internet even if it is harmful to an individual. But he rejected the view of many U.S. internet firms that they are not bound by EU privacy law.

"Requesting search engine service providers to suppress legitimate and legal information that has entered the public domain would entail an interference with the freedom of expression," the Luxembourg-based court said in a statement setting out Advocate General Niilo Jaaskinen's opinion.

While internet-based firms operating in the European Union must adhere to national data protection laws, that did not oblige them to remove personal content produced by third parties, the statement said.

"Search engine service providers are not responsible, on the basis of the (EU's) Data Protection Directive, for personal data appearing on web pages they process."
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Senators: NSA must correct inaccurate claims over privacy protections (24 June 2013)
Two senators on the intelligence committee on Monday accused the National Security Agency of publicly presenting "inaccurate" information about the privacy protections on its surveillance on millions of internet communications.

However, in a demonstration of the intense secrecy surrounding NSA surveillance even after Edward Snowden's revelations, the senators claimed they could not publicly identify the allegedly misleading section or sections of a factsheet without compromising classified information.

Senators Ron Wyden (Democrat, Oregon) and Mark Udall (Democrat, Colorado) wrote to General Keith Alexander, the director of the NSA, to correct "inaccurate" portrayals about restrictions on surveillance published in a factsheet available on the NSA's homepage. The factsheet, concerning NSA's powers under Section 702 of the 2008 Fisa Amendments Act, was also supplied to members of Congress.

"We were disappointed to see that this factsheet contains an inaccurate statement about how the section 702 authority has been interpreted by the US government," Wyden and Udall wrote to Alexander, in a letter dated 24 June and acquired by the Guardian.
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Where is Edward Snowden? Glenn Greenwald on Asylum Request, Espionage Charge; More Leaks to Come (24 June 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald, Ed Snowden turned 30 on Friday. Also, then, the charges against him were made known. Can you explain what he has been charged with by the United States?

GLENN GREENWALD: He's been charged so far with three felony counts, one of which is essentially stealing property that doesn't belong to him. The other two are the much more serious ones. They're offenses under the Espionage Act of 1917 that has been amended several times since then, and the statute--the provisions of that law under which he's been charged were amended most recently in 1950. And they essentially accuse him of releasing classified information that he knew or should have known was likely to harm the United States or result in benefit to its adversaries.

This is the statute that, until President Obama was inaugurated, had only been used a grand total of three times in all of American history to prosecute leakers, people who disclose classified information, as opposed to those who actually do espionage, which is passing secrets to an enemy of the United States or selling it. But for pure leakers, it's almost never been used. There's only been three cases before Obama, one of which was Daniel Ellsberg. Since President Obama's inauguration, there have now been seven--he is now the seventh--leakers or whistleblower who has been prosecuted under the statute, so more than double the number of all previous presidents combined.

The charges, at the moment, each carry a penalty of 10 years in prison, so you're talking about 30 years in prison. But he's not even been indicted yet. The pattern of the Obama administration has been to add many more charges once there's an indictment. And so, it's almost certain that he will face life imprisonment if the United States ever apprehends him and is able to bring him to trial.
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WikiLeaks Attorney Praises Ecuador for Considering Snowden Asylum Request Despite U.S. Pressure (24 June 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
MICHAEL RATNER: I mean, WikiLeaks has said that they have given legal and diplomatic advice to Edward Snowden. They have also said that he left Hong Kong and that he was on his way on a safe route to Ecuador. That's really all we know right now, that he is on--he's left Hong Kong, and he is on a safe route to Ecuador, where he has applied for political asylum. And as you explained, they had given political asylum already to Julian Assange, and I believe there is a strong basis for giving political asylum to Edward Snowden, as well, which I can explain.

AMY GOODMAN: In the midst of all this, we understand the United States has revoked Edward Snowden's passport. What's the significance of this?

MICHAEL RATNER: No, the United States here is trying to bully Snowden, other countries, in particular, into trying to get him back into the United States. They don't really have a legal basis for it. As far as I know, there's no international arrest warrant for Edward Snowden. There's these three charges that they unsealed in a--in a leak, apparently, that's not even a spokesperson saying, "Here they are. This is what they are." They're trying to bully other countries, not only by pulling his passport away so that he can't travel, but by saying, "Send him back to us. Don't take him in. There will be consequences." But none of those are legal. They're all just a big country beating up on small countries, and to the extent--or other countries that they just want to intimidate, whether it's China or Russia or whatever. But the real point here is that some countries are willing to stand up to the United States right now. Ecuador seems to be one of them.
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A Guardian guide to US government Whistleblowers (24 June 2013)
Ellsberg, while working for the RAND corporation, made photocopies of a set of classified documents that later became known as the Pentagon Papers. These documents were a history of US involvement in Vietnam, and included numerous unreported incidents as well as information indicating the US government mislead the public about the war.

Ellsberg faced charges under the Espionage Act of 1917 and other charges including theft and conspiracy. The 1973 trial was dismissed due to the gross governmental misconduct and illegal evidence gathering.
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The top secret rules that "allow" NSA to use US data without a warrant (20 June 2013)
Top secret documents submitted to the court that oversees surveillance by US intelligence agencies show the judges have signed off on broad orders which allow the NSA to make use of information "inadvertently" collected from domestic US communications without a warrant.

The Guardian is publishing in full two documents submitted to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (known as the Fisa court), signed by Attorney General Eric Holder and stamped 29 July 2009. They detail the procedures the NSA is required to follow to target "non-US persons" under its foreign intelligence powers and what the agency does to minimize data collected on US citizens and residents in the course of that surveillance.

The documents show that even under authorities governing the collection of foreign intelligence from foreign targets, US communications can still be collected, retained and used.

The procedures cover only part of the NSA's surveillance of domestic US communications. The bulk collection of domestic call records, as first revealed by the Guardian earlier this month, takes place under rolling court orders issued on the basis of a legal interpretation of a different authority, section 215 of the Patriot Act.
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No sign of Snowden as Aeroflot plane lands in Havana (24 June 2013)
(Reuters) - An Aeroflot flight from Moscow that was being closely tracked by media organizations in case Edward Snowden, the former security contractor who revealed details of U.S. surveillance programs, was on board, landed in Cuba uneventfully on Monday.

Russian reporters on board the flight and foreign press gathered at Havana airport reported no sightings of Snowden or any unusual security.

When the captain of the Aeroflot plane emerged from customs he was surrounded by photographers. He pulled out his own camera, took picture of the photographers and said "No Snowden, no."

Members of the aircraft's crew also told reporters on the plane soon after take-off that Snowden was not on board, according to a Reuters reporter who was on the flight.
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New study links over 7,000 cancer deaths to cell phone tower radiation exposures (22 June 2013)
(NaturalNews) Could exposure to radiation from cell phone towers really responsible for over 7,000 cancer deaths? According to research findings from Brazil, the facts speak for themselves. The study established a direct link between cancer deaths in Belo Horizonte, Brazil's third largest city, with the cell phone network.

What does this direct link stem from?
Over 80 percent of those who succumbed to certain types of cancer resided approximately a third of a mile away from one of the hundreds of cell phone antennae that populate the city.

These cancers, primarily found in the prostate, breasts, lungs, kidneys, liver, are the ones associated with exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs).

This is a real concern for cell phone users and even non- cell phone users. Those who shun mobile phone technology still suffer the consequences of cell phone tower radiation.
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FBI chases anti-GMO activists while ignoring Monsanto's transgressions (24 June 2013)
Some experimental GMO crops were torn out of a field in Oregon this month. That means it's time for the federal government to freak the fuck out and do its best to clamp down again on eco-activism.

The sugar beet plants, which were genetically engineered by Syngenta to survive applications of the herbicide Roundup, were uprooted in the middle of the night from a couple of fields, presumably by anti-GMO activists. The destruction of the experimental crops occurred in the same state where a strain of Monsanto's illegal herbicide-resistant wheat recently showed up in a farmer's field, threatening America's multibillion-dollar wheat export market.

Guess which crime the FBI is desperate to crack?

That's right: The sugar beet one. The agency announced that it "considers this crime to be economic sabotage and a violation of federal law involving damage to commercial agricultural enterprises." According to the FBI, a $10,000 reward is being offered for clues by Oregonians for Food and Shelter, a corporate forestry and agriculture group that lobbies for pro-GMO and pro-pesticide legislation.
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PAM COMMENTARY: Amazing how the FBI finds time for local property crimes, while so many violent crimes go unsolved.

Unauthorized genetically-modified flax found to have been exported to more than 30 countries around the world (24 June 2013)
(NaturalNews) Illegal genetically-modified (GM) wheat is not the only surprise transgenic crop being discovered unexpectedly on the commercial market. As it turns out, a long-abandoned variety of GM flax known as FP967 has reportedly been identified in at least 30 countries worldwide over the past few years, a discovery that has greatly stifled the Canadian flax market, which supplies most of the world's flax.

The GM Contamination Register explains that the earliest discoveries of unapproved FP967 turned up in Germany back in late 2009. Since that time, the same illegal GM flax has turned up in Austria, Romania, Sweden, Cyprus, Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Slovenia, France, Greece, and Switzerland, not to mention dozens of other mostly European countries to which the crop was also distributed.

Back in the late 1980s, the publicly-funded Crop Development Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, first developed FP967, which was later renamed Triffid, specifically for the commercial market. The "Frankencrop" was later authorized in the late 1990s for commercial use both in Canada and the U.S., that is until concerns about the safety of the crop by the European export market prevented Triffid from ever actually being produced and sold for commercial production.

Discovery of transient GM flax proves agricultural coexistence is impossible
By 2001, Triffid was officially de-registered, and all known stocks of the seed were believed to have been identified and destroyed. But this was apparently not the case. Triffid is still showing up in flax stocks more a decade later, which calls into question the integrity of the entire global supply of flax. This just goes to show that, once released, even test runs of GM crops can lead to lasting and potentially even permanent damage to the food supply.
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Fracking raises risk of contaminated drinking water: study (24 June 2013)
New evidence that fracking may contaminate drinking water was published Monday in a study sure to add fuel to the fight over the controversial method of extracting natural gas from cracks in rocks.

Researchers at Duke University analyzed 141 drinking water samples from private water wells across the gas-rich Marcellus shale basin in northeastern Pennsylvania.

They found methane concentrations were six times higher and ethane concentrations were 23 times higher at homes within a kilometer of a shale gas well.

Propane was detected in 10 samples, all of them from homes within a kilometer of drilling.

"The methane, ethane and propane data, and new evidence from hydrocarbon and helium isotopes, all suggest that drilling has affected some homeowners' water," said study author Robert Jackson, an environmental sciences professor.
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Smart Pills Snitch You Out to Your Doctor (24 June 2013) [InfoWars.com]
Proteus Biomedical Inc., a California based company, has developed a smart pill also known as the Helius system, that has the capability of notifying your physician once a prescription drug has been ingested. The drug comes with a tiny digestible silicon-based chip that contains trace amounts of magnesium and copper. Once digested, the metals mix with your stomach acids, creating an electrical charge that's sent to an external skin patch worn by the patient. This skin patch transmits the information to your iPhone or computer, and is then sent directly to your doctor.

The information not only notifies your doctor that you've taken the pill, but it also offers up a full body health check reporting your current heart rate, body temperature, exercise levels and even decides whether or not you're sleeping well. The Helius system also reminds the patient when the next dosage is due.

Big Pharma claims the technology is absolutely vital in ensuring that elderly patients are reminded to take their prescribed medications.

The smart pill has been in development since 2010 but was given market approval by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) just last year. Proteus Biomedical made their first deal using the Helius system with a UK-based retail pharmacy called Lloydspharmacy, allowing British citizens to act as the first test subjects for the new computer-chipped drugs.
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PAM COMMENTARY: They may have good intentions (or a profit motive), but tracking chips have been shown to grow cancer tumors, and any extra metals or chemicals in pills can also cause adverse reactions. A weekly pill box helps patients to remember to take their meds, without the extra cancer risk or expense.

Satellites to bring cheap, multi-gigabit Internet speeds to 3 billion people (24 June 2013)
The first four of 12 satellites in a new constellation to provide affordable, high-speed Internet to people in nearly 180 "under-connected" countries, will be shot into space on Tuesday, the project's developers said.

The orbiters, part of a project dubbed O3b for the "other 3 billion" people with restricted Internet access, will be lifted by a Russian Soyuz rocket from Kourou in French Guiana at 1854 GMT.

"We are very close to launching a network that has the potential to change lives in very tangible ways and that is a tremendous feeling," O3b Networks chief technical officer Brian Holz said in a statement.

The first four of 12 satellites in a new constellation to provide affordable, high-speed Internet to people in nearly 180 "under-connected" countries, will be shot into space on Tuesday, the project's developers said.

The orbiters, part of a project dubbed O3b for the "other 3 billion" people with restricted Internet access, will be lifted by a Russian Soyuz rocket from Kourou in French Guiana at 1854 GMT.

"We are very close to launching a network that has the potential to change lives in very tangible ways and that is a tremendous feeling," O3b Networks chief technical officer Brian Holz said in a statement.
[Read more...]

Military Aviation Museum owner selling plane collection (24 June 2013)
The owner of one of the world's largest collections of World War I- and World War II-era planes is selling off his aircraft and said he may have to close the Military Aviation Museum in Pungo.

Gerald Yagen said on Monday he no longer can afford to keep the collection and, likely, the museum. The announcement shocked warplane enthusiasts and city officials who'd embraced the unique attraction in the city's rural south.

"I'm subsidizing it heavily every year and my business no longer allows me to do that financially, and therefore I don't have a solution for it," Yagen said.

He said the four vocational trade schools he owned, including the Aviation Institute of Maintenance, Centura College and Tidewater Tech, have been acquired by another business. He declined to elaborate.

For years, Yagen, an avid pilot, has scoured the globe looking for old planes to refurbish and fly. In 2008, he opened the Military Aviation Museum and has expanded it several times, once to include a two-story 1941 British air tower that he had shipped piece-by-piece to Virginia Beach. In the past, Yagen has teamed up with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra to coordinate events featuring music and vintage planes, and has shown warplane-themed movies in a museum hangar.

Last spring, Yagen brought to Virginia Beach what is believed to be the world's last flying de Havilland Mosquito, a Canadian-built fighter plane used by the British in World War II.
[Read more...]

Glitch hits third United Dreamliner in week (24 June 2013)
United Airlines over the weekend endured the third mechanical glitch in a week with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, after a flight Sunday was forced to return to Houston because of a brake-system indicator issue.

Sunday's incident followed two others last week on United. Last Thursday, a Heathrow-to-Houston flight was diverted to Newark, N.J., due to a low-oil indicator. And last Tuesday, a Tokyo-to-Denver flight diverted to Seattle after a problem with an oil-filter indicator.

The aircraft from Sunday's incident is now back in service, according to a statement from United Airlines.

While the diversions were a headache for fliers -- United accommodated them on other flights -- such minor mechanical problems are relatively common and expected with new-model planes.

However, the 787 attracts special scrutiny, not only because its design is revolutionary -- being more than half made of composite materials instead of metals -- but also because it was grounded by aviation regulators worldwide for 100 days this year after problems with overheating onboard batteries. The model was also plagued by more than three years of production delays, with the first being flown commercially in 2011.
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U.S. factory boss held hostage in China by workers demanding severance packages (24 June 2013)
BEIJING--An American executive said Monday he has been held hostage for four days at his medical supply plant in Beijing by scores of workers demanding severance packages like those given to 30 co-workers in a phased-out department.

Chip Starnes, 42, a co-owner of Specialty Medical Supplies based in Coral Springs, Fla., said local officials had visited the 10-year-old plant on Beijing's outskirts and coerced him into signing agreements Saturday to meet the workers' demands even though he sought to make clear that the remaining 100 workers weren't being laid off.

The workers were expecting wire transfers by Tuesday, Starnes said, adding that about 80 of them had been blocking every exit around the clock and depriving him of sleep by shining bright lights and banging on windows of his office. He declined to clarify the amount, saying he wanted to keep it confidential.

"I feel like a trapped animal," Starnes told The Associated Press on Monday from his first-floor office window, while holding onto the window's bars. "I think it's inhumane what is going on right now. I have been in this area for 10 years and created a lot of jobs and I would never have thought in my wildest imagination something like this would happen."
[Read more...]

Smithfield Foods drops Paula Deen as spokeswoman (24 June 2013)
What seemed like a perfect marriage -- between America's "Butter Queen" and the corporate king of pork -- is over.

Smithfield Foods Inc. announced Monday that it has dropped its best-known spokeswoman, Paula Deen, after an admission by the celebrity Southern cook that she has used racial slurs.

The decision by the Smithfield-based company, the world's largest pork producer, came days after the Food Network said it would not renew Deen's TV contract. Deen's past use of racial slurs came to light last week in reports on her deposition in a discrimination lawsuit.

In its statement Monday, the company said: "Smithfield condemns the use of offensive and discriminatory language and behavior of any kind. Therefore, we are terminating our partnership with Paula Deen."
[Read more...]

Twin baby pandas, first this year, born in China (24 June 2013)
Xinhua news agency is reporting that the baby pandas were born at Wolong Nature Reserve in Sichuan province to a mom named Haizi. They were born 10 minutes apart on Saturday afternoon local time.

They are the first twin panda pair born this year, Xinhua reports.

In totally adorable news, the gender and weight of the first baby are unknown because momma Haizi hasn't yet released the cub from her arms. But conservation staff report that the cub is probably healthy, based on its size and the "volume of the sounds it has been making."

The second cub is a female that weighs 79.2 grams -- about as heavy as half a grapefruit. Newborn pandas are tiny and pink and weird looking, as the picture below illustrates. Only later do they grow into the black and white rapscallions we know and love from YouTube.
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Rusty the runaway red panda found, safe and sound (24 June 2013)
Rusty the red panda's run through the wilds of Washington, D.C., is over.

Officials at the Smithsonian's National Zoo confirmed Monday afternoon their runaway resident is on the way home.

Crews had been looking for the almost year-old red panda since 8 a.m. Monday, said Pamela Baker-Masson, a communications director at the zoo.

Rusty was spotted in the northwest D.C. neighborhood of Adams-Morgan and shortly later, was "recovered, crated & is headed safelty back to the National Zoo!" the zoo tweeted.
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IRS targeting included liberal groups (24 June 2013)
Washington (CNN) -- The Internal Revenue Service targeted liberal groups as well as conservatives seeking tax-exempt status, a Democratic congressman charged on Monday after the agency acknowledged the inappropriate practice continued until last month.

Rep. Sander Levin said the term "progressives" was included on IRS screening lists of applicants for tax-exempt status made available to Congress on Monday.

It was the first confirmation that the "Be on the Lookout" or BOLO lists used criteria targeting liberal groups after an inspector general's report made public last month said the IRS had used words such as "tea party" to determine possible extra scrutiny.

Earlier, the first substantive review of the controversy by the IRS showed the agency used multiple lists of inappropriate criteria in assessing tax-exempt applications up until this month, more than a year later than previously revealed.
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Edward Snowden seeks asylum in Ecuador amid diplomatic storm (23 June 2013)
The intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden will on Monday attempt to complete an audacious escape to the relative safety of South America after his departure from Hong Kong escalated already fraught diplomatic relations between the United States and China.

In a move that appeared to bewilder the White House, Snowden was allowed to flee Hong Kong on Sunday morning and head to Moscow on a commercial flight despite a formal request from the US to have the 30-year-old detained and extradited to face espionage charges for a series of leaks about the National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain's spy centre, GCHQ.

Arriving in Moscow, Snowden disappeared again, leaving the aircraft without being spotted, but being pursued by the Ecuadorian ambassador, Patricio Chávez, amid speculation that he will fly to Quito on Monday, possibly via Cuba.

Snowden has asked for political asylum in Ecuador, the country that has also given shelter to the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, at its embassy in London.
[Read more...]

Pelosi booed at Netroots while defending espionage charges against Snowden (23 June 2013)
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) drew boos and heckling from members of the crowd at a progressive conference on Saturday while defending President Barack Obama's administration and the recently-discovered surveillance policies by the National Security Agency (NSA).

About 47 minutes into Pelosi's speech at Netroots in San Jose, California, a growing commotion can be heard coming from the audience. While moderator and MSNBC contributor Zerlina Maxwell urged the audience to submit questions online instead of shouting, Pelosi continued, saying, "I think it's really important to subject all of this to the transparent and harshest scrutiny, to say, 'We want a balance between privacy and security.'"

At that point, a man identified by Politico as 57-year-old Marc Perkel can be heard shouting, "It's not a balance. It's not constitutional! No more secret laws!"

Perkel was ejected from the room by security, while other audience members shouted for him to be left alone. Shortly thereafter, loud boos can be heard coming from the audience after she said former NSA contractor Edward Snowden " did violate the law" in releasing details about NSA programs like PRISM. The government charged Snowden with crimes related to the Espionage Act on Friday.
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WikiLeaks aids Snowden on the run (23 June 2013)
LONDON -- They made the most obvious of bedfellows: Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks.

When the former contractor who leaked top-secret details of U.S. and British surveillance operations landed in Moscow on Sunday, Snowden disembarked from Aeroflot Flight SU213 with Sarah Harrison, a member of the WikiLeaks legal team, by his side. His arrival in Russia, en transit to a third country in search of asylum from a U.S. extradition request, came after what appeared to be a Hollywoodesque plan to spirit him out of hiding in Hong Kong that was orchestrated with the aid of the whistleblower Web site.

On Sunday, WikiLeaks said in a statement that Snowden would petition Ecuador for asylum. The government in Quito -- which has already granted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange asylum at its embassy in London -- confirmed that it had received an official request for asylum from Snowden.

"This was an obvious thing for us to do, to support him in any way we can," said Kristinn Hrafnsson, an Icelandic journalist and WikiLeaks spokesman. "His revelations have been explosive and extremely important, and we've offered our full help and assistance."
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Hospitalized Nelson Mandela In Critical Condition (23 June 2013)
Nelson Mandela, the former South African president and anti-apartheid leader, is in critical condition in a hospital in Pretoria where he was admitted two weeks ago with a recurring respiratory infection.

A statement from South African President Jacob Zuma said the 94-year-old Mandela's condition had become critical over the past 24 hours.

"The doctors are doing everything possible to get his condition to improve and are ensuring that Madiba is well-looked after and is comfortable. He is in good hands," said Zuma, referring to Mandela by his clan name.

NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports that Zuma has also met with Mandela's wife, Graca Machel, to discuss his health.
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In New Orleans, a Vietnamese community bounces back with urban agriculture (23 June 2013)
In 1975, after the fall of Saigon, many of the Christian Vietnamese who supported the U.S.-allied government in the south fled. Some ended up in camps in the Midwestern U.S., at least until the Archdiocese of New Orleans invited them to come to the Gulf of Mexico, where the climate was more like what they were used to in Vietnam. Many of the Vietnamese were also fisherman, so the Roman Catholic church thought they'd have a better chance if they could pick up their old trade in Louisiana.

Now, almost 40 years later, there are 8,000 Vietnamese concentrated in a one-mile radius in New Orleans East. The community of fisherman was hit hard by Hurricane Katrina, and then the Deepwater Horizon debacle, but found ways to come together. At a recent EPA conference on repurposing industrial areas, or brownfields, Tap Bui, a community organizer at the Mary Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corporation, discussed how this unique community recovered with sustainable aquaponics.

New Orleans East has 60 percent of the land mass of New Orleans but only 20 percent of its population. Before Katrina, there were high levels of poverty and unemployment. As the community fled the storm in late August, 2005, many residents wondered what they would come back to, Bui says. The storm destroyed the community's hospital and other basic services. Still, by the end of October, more than 2,000 people had returned, and the majority of residents eventually came back.

Meanwhile, implementing an "emergency master plan," then-Mayor Ray Nagin turned a green space near their community into a landfill. The debris from damaged homes and commercial buildings across New Orleans had to be dumped somewhere. But soon pesticides and other chemicals were being dumped there, too, near a wetland and nature preserve. According to Bui, this spurred one of the first "cross-racial" collaborations ever in New Orleans East, a mass protest to shut down the landfill.
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Eastern Shore 'Can Man' is healing (23 June 2013)
PAINTER, Va. Since May, area residents have missed the enigmatic Phillip W. Sharp, known locally as "the Can Man."

He and his bicycle laden with bulging plastic trash bags filled with aluminum cans, and pulling an equally over-burdened trailer, are known and respected -- and usually granted a little extra room on the roadway.

But while making his rounds on May 4, Sharp's bike was struck by a vehicle on Occohannock Neck Road near Ebenezer Baptist Church.

The injuries have kept him from making his rounds, plucking cans from ditches and picking up sacks of donated aluminum.
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Japan nuclear safety upgrades dazzle, mask industry woes (23 June 2013)
(Reuters) - Japan's nuclear utilities face shareholders this week promising restarts of idled plants as soon as next month after costly safety upgrades, plans that look wildly optimistic given they are yet to secure either regulatory or local approval.

A glaring example is the Hamaoka nuclear plant, once dubbed the world's most dangerous for its location near a major earthquake fault zone. Operator Chubu Electric Power Co's $1.5 billion upgrade is unlikely to convince opponents galvanized by ongoing problems from the Fukushima meltdown.

Chubu says it may apply to reboot reactors before March 2015, but others are much more ambitious as they try to cut back on imports of replacement fuels that have added billions to their costs, with firms saying they expect to restart seven reactors by the end of July.

Tokyo Electric Power Co, the operator of the Fukushima plant, and five other listed nuclear operators laid out the schedules to restart reactors in documents submitted to the government to support applications to raise residential electricity prices.
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AP PHOTOS: Largest and brightest full moon of year [photo gallery] (23 June 2013)
Stargazers are still abuzz over the biggest and brightest full moon of the year, which graced the skies over the weekend.

The so-called supermoon appeared up to 14 percent larger than normal as our celestial neighbor swung closer to Earth, reaching its closest distance early Sunday morning.
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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.)