Pam Rotella's Vegetarian FUN page -- News on health, nutrition, the environment, politics, and more!
NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012
News from the Week of 21st to 27th of July 2013
Ariel Castro avoids death penalty with plea deal in Cleveland kidnappings (26 July 2013)
CLEVELAND -- A former Cleveland school bus driver, Ariel Castro, agreed today to plead guilty and be imprisoned for life for kidnapping and raping three women he held captive in his house for about a decade in one of the most sensational criminal cases in the United States in recent years.
At a court hearing, Ohio prosecutors in turn agreed that Castro will not be eligible for the death penalty over the disappearance of the women from 2002 to 2004 before they were freed in May along with a 6-year-old girl who, according to DNA evidence, was fathered by Castro with one of his captives.
Many Americans were alternately elated when the three women were freed from Castro's house in a rundown neighborhood of Cleveland on May 6, and stunned by the details of his brutal treatment of them. The women had been bound for periods of time in chains or ropes and endured starvation, beatings and sexual assaults, according to court documents and a police report.
The avoidance of a trial spares the women from having to testify.
Roundup: The sneaky and cheap contraceptive hiding in your food (27 July 2013)
(NaturalNews) The dirty truth about glyphosate, the active chemical in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide formula, keeps rearing its ugly head, this time in a new study published in the journal Free Radical Medicine & Biology. According to this latest indictment of Roundup, researchers affirmed that Roundup is essentially a destroyer of fertility, particularly in men, and at levels far below what is commonly found as residue in the conventional food supply.
A team of scientists from the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina in Florianopolis-Santa Catarina, Brazil, set out to verify the merits of an existing body of research on glyphosate, which has previously determined the chemical to be a powerful endocrine disruptor. They looked specifically at how exposure to low doses of glyphosate affects Sertoli cells, which live in the testicles, sustain healthy sperm, and are required for normal and healthy male sexual development.
As it turns out, when Sertoli cells are exposed to relatively low doses of glyphosate, they end up dying through a series of glyphosate-induced changes. According to the team's analysis, Roundup exposure at a mere 36 parts per million (ppm), or 0.036 grams per liter (g/L), led to both oxidative stress and the activation of multiple stress-response pathways that ultimately led to Sertoli cell death in test mice. The herbicide also increased levels of intracellular calcium (Ca2+) in cells, an overload of which can also lead to cell death.
"Glyphosate has been described as an endocrine disruptor affecting the male reproductive system," wrote the authors in their study abstract. "We could propose that Roundup toxicity, implicating in Ca(2+) overload, cell signaling misregulation, stress response of the endoplasmic reticulum and/or depleted antioxidant defense could contribute to Sertoli cell disruption of spermatogenesis that could impact male fertility."
New lake at North Pole? More of a pond, really (27 July 2013)
Yes, there is a new foot-deep body of water in the Arctic. But this isn't unusual. This is another Arctic pond caused by seasonal (summer) warming. And the camera lens distorts the size.
"I have seen much more extensive ponding," James Morison, the principal investigator for the North Pole Environmental Observatory told The Atlantic. "Because we use wide angle lenses the melt pond looks much bigger than it is."
Note the use of the word "pond" to describe this body of water.
The Atlantic goes on to note that last summer's Arctic ice melt was one of the worst, and this year's hasn't been as bad, so far. The now-famous pond was the result of an early July heat wave.
The best natural remedies for treating poison ivy rashes (27 July 2013)
(NaturalNews) Experienced campers and hikers will be familiar with the unpleasant itching caused by contact with poison ivy, the innocent-looking North American plant with a truly venomous bite. Indeed, many summer camping or hiking trips have been cut short because a team member was afflicted with contact dermatitis - a skin condition caused by an allergen found in poison ivy, urushiol, which produces an extremely itchy rash that can make outdoor excursions a misery for those allergic to it.
While conventional treatments for poison ivy rashes are plentiful, these creams and gels are almost always made from synthetic ingredients that have little appeal to health-minded individuals. So, let's take a look at some natural alternatives instead. Please note that the following treatments can also be used for poison oak and poison sumac rashes.
List of remedies
Firstly, it should be noted that urushiol does not absorb into the skin immediately. If you come into contact with poison ivy and happen to have some rubbing alcohol on you, you can actually wash the affected area with it to prevent an allergic reaction in the first place. However, the majority who weren't prepared for contact and are now suffering the consequences might consider applying one of the following:
Baking soda - A paste comprised of baking soda and water can do wonders for a poison ivy rash. Freshen the application every 2 hours for up to 3 applications per day. You could even take a baking soda bath before retiring to bed.
White vinegar - The efficacy of standard white vinegar to ease itches has been known for centuries. Simply apply it to a cotton ball and gently rub it onto the affected area several times a day.
PAM COMMENTARY: According to an interview with Dr. Stafford on the documentary about Royal Raymond Rife "Rise and Fall of a Scientific Genius," Rife said that poison ivy rash was caused by a fungus, and he'd found the frequency to treat it. Dr. Stafford used that frequency to successfully treat his daughter and her friends for poison ivy.
I'd assume that people might find some relief by using the Clark zapper, although I've never had the opportunity to try that myself. Just remember not to put the zapper cuffs on irritated skin.
Why Bradley Manning's court-martial matters for civilians (27 July 2013)
Can a government employee be convicted of espionage for leaking classified information to the media? The Obama administration has charged at least seven individuals with violations of the Espionage Act, but so far none of those cases have been ruled on by a judge or jury. The military trial against WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning could therefore set an important precedent about the legal treatment of leakers.
"No Espionage Act charge brought by this administration in connection with media leaks has ever been resolved on its merits by a judge or jury," said Elizabeth Goitein, the top national security lawyer at New York University's Brennan Center for Justice.
The 25-year-old is the fifth person to be charged by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act, a 96-year-old statute. It's this law that President Obama's been using to accuse civilian leakers of betraying the state. But while it's been used many times before in complaints, none of these cases have reached the legal merits.
That's because previous trials involving the Act have always been resolved in other ways. For example, in the case of Thomas Drake, who leaked information about NSA spending, the government's case fell apart. Some leakers have gone to jail, but that has been the result of plea bargains, not a conviction by a judge or jury. For example, espionage charges against John Kiriakou, the CIA employee who leaked details of the agency's waterboarding practices, were dropped after he agreed to plead guilty to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.
Jet fuel spill in B.C. creek sparks evacuation order (27 July 2013)
Officials in British Columbia's Central Kootenay region have issued an evacuation order affecting about 800 people after a tanker truck carrying 35,000 litres of jet fuel crashed into a creek.
Bill Macpherson of the Regional District of Central Kootenay said the regional medical officer issued the order around 9 p.m. Friday for an area stretching several kilometres along both sides of the Lemon Creek in the Slocan Valley.
Emergency Management B.C. said on its website that all areas 10 kilometres downstream of the accident site to the community of Winlaw are included in the order.
A precautionary do not use order has also been issued to all users of water supplies within 10 km downstream of the accident site.
"The reason for the evacuation-order area being as broad as it is is strictly precautionary, but you always have to be concerned with jet fuel," said Macpherson.
"There are serious potential health concerns, especially with fumes in confined spaces and there's always the potential of the explosiveness of the fumes."
Google Engineer Wins NSA Award, Then Says NSA Should Be Abolished (27 July 2013) [InfoWars.com]
Last week, Dr. Joseph Bonneau learned that he had won the NSA's first annual Science of Security (SoS) Competition. The competition, which aims to honor the best "scientific papers about national security" as a way to strengthen NSA collaboration with researchers in academia, honored Bonneau for his paper on the nature of passwords.
And how did Bonneau respond to being honored by the NSA? By expressing, in an honest and bittersweet blog post, his revulsion at what the NSA has become:
"On a personal note, I'd be remiss not to mention my conflicted feelings about winning the award given what we know about the NSA's widespread collection of private communications and what remains unknown about oversight over the agency's operations. Like many in the community of cryptographers and security engineers, I'm sad that we haven't better informed the public about the inherent dangers and questionable utility of mass surveillance. And like many American citizens I'm ashamed we've let our politicians sneak the country down this path."
South African chef 'too fat' to live in New Zealand (27 July 2013)
Authorities in New Zealand have told a South African chef he is too fat to be allowed to live in the country.
Immigration officials said Albert Buitenhuis, who weighs 130kg (286 pounds), did not have "an acceptable standard of health".
He now faces expulsion despite shedding 30kg since he moved to the city of Christchurch six years ago.
New Zealand has one of the highest obesity rates in the developed world, with nearly 30% of people overweight.
Mr Buitenhuis and his wife, Marthie, moved from South Africa to Christchurch in 2007. At the time, the chef weighed 160kg.
Programmer Barnaby Jack dies a week before showing off heart-attack hack that can kill a man from 30 feet away (26 July 2013)
BOSTON (Reuters) -- Well-known hacker Barnaby Jack has died in San Francisco, a week before he was due to show off techniques for attacking implanted heart devices that he said could kill a man from 30 feet away.
The San Francisco Medical Examiner's office said he died in the city on Thursday. It gave no details.
Jack, a security expert, became one of the most famous hackers on the planet after a 2010 demonstration in which he forced ATMs to spit out cash, dubbed "Jackpotting," (reut.rs/gIGXVq )
The hacking community expressed shock as the news of his death spread via Twitter early on Friday. Jack was due to appear at the Black Hat hacking convention in San Francisco next week, demonstrating how he could attack heart devices.
Phishing attacks get sneakier than ever (26 July 2013)
LOS ANGELES -- At least 2 million people received the email May 16 notifying them that an order they had just made on "Wallmart's" website was being processed, though none of them had done any such thing.
Still, thousands of people clicked on the link in the email, taking many of them to a harmless Google search-results page for "Walmart." Others weren't so fortunate. The link led to the invisible download of malware that covertly infected their personal computers, turning them into remotely controlled robots for hackers, according to email security firm Proofpoint.
These sorts of "phishing" attacks are not only becoming more common but also are getting more lethal, with fake emails becoming harder to distinguish from real ones.
In the fake-Wal-Mart attack, people missed clear warning signs -- such as the company name being misspelled and the sender's address being very long and strange. But in another case a month later, an email claiming to be from American Airlines carried no visible hints that it was illegitimate.
The sophisticated attacks are targeting the likes of attorneys, oil executives and managers at military contractors. The phishers are increasingly trying to get proprietary documents and pass codes to access company and government databases.
Nearly every incident of online espionage in 2012 involved some sort of a phishing attack, according to a survey compiled by Verizon, the nation's largest wireless carrier.
Snowden's father: Son better off now in Russia (26 July 2013)
MCLEAN, VA. - The father of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden said Friday his son has been so vilified by the Obama administration and members of Congress that he is now better off staying in Russia.
Lon Snowden of Allentown, Pa., had been working behind the scenes with lawyers to try to find a way his son could get a fair trial in the U.S. Edward Snowden has been charged in federal court in Alexandria with violating the Espionage Act by leaking details of NSA surveillance.
But in a telephone interview with The Associated Press, the elder Snowden said he has lost faith in recent weeks that his son would be treated fairly by the Justice Department. He now thinks his 30-year-old son is better off avoiding the U.S. if possible until an administration that respects the Constitution comes into office.
"If it were me, knowing what I know now, and listening to advice of sage people like (Pentagon Papers leaker) Daniel Ellsberg ... I would attempt to find a safe haven," Snowden said.
NSA surveillance critics to testify before Congress (26 July 2013)
Congress will hear testimony from critics of the National Security Agency's surveillance practices for the first time since the whistleblower Edward Snowden's explosive leaks were made public.
Democrat congressman Alan Grayson, who is leading a bipartisan group of congressman organising the hearing, told the Guardian it would serve to counter the "constant misleading information" from the intelligence community.
The hearing, which will take place on Wednesday, comes amid evidence of a growing congressional rebellion NSA data collection methods.
On Wednesday, a vote in the House of Representatives that would have tried to curb the NSA's practice of mass collection of phone records of millions of Americans was narrowly defeated.
However, it exposed broader-than-expected concern among members of Congress over US surveillance tactics. A majority of Democrat members voted in support of the amendment.
Whitey Bulger prosecution rests: What does case add up to? (26 July 2013)
Federal attorneys tied a ribbon around their case against alleged killer and organized crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger Friday, presenting physical evidence found at the California apartment where he was arrested: guns, fake IDs, and stacks of cash totaling $822,000.
The prosecution rested its case after more than six weeks of witness testimony, bringing the man who long topped the FBI's "Most Wanted" list closer to a jury verdict.
The defense will begin presenting its case -- a much shorter one -- Monday.
Mr. Bulger, the reputed leader of a crime gang that was feared in Boston for more than two decades, faces a 32-count racketeering indictment, with alleged activities in his enterprise including money extortion, money laundering, and involvement in 19 murders.
Folate makes you smart and happy. Lack of folate makes you depressed and stupid: Research (26 July 2013)
(NaturalNews) Some things boil down pretty simply and thanks to science.naturalnews.com, we have greater access than ever to the plain truth as validated by science.
A simple search for folate (vitamin B9) on science.naturalnews.com yields several interesting studies that have been done to understand this vital nutrient. One study in particular discovered that folate deficiency correlates with lower overall intelligence.
If not, then you may be prone to lower intelligence, higher depression, lower coordination and poor memory.
If you lack the vitamin folate, then you are denying your brain what it needs. Over the long haul, some researchers suggest than can lead to greater occurrence of dementia.
Sources of folate
Folate can be found in romaine lettuce, spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, mustard greens, calf's liver, parsley, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, and lentils.
Va. Health Officials: Take Precautions with Pigs (26 July 2013)
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is reminding anyone attending agricultural fairs this summer and fall to take precautions when coming in contact with swine.
An influenza virus that normally circulates in pigs, called influenza A H3N2v, may spread to humans more easily than usual. This H3N2v virus was circulating in pigs in 2010 and was first detected in people in 2011.
"We encourage people to enjoy the many agricultural fairs around the Commonwealth," said State Health Commissioner Cynthia C. Romero, MD, FAAFP. "However, it is important that they take certain precautions to protect their health while having a good time."
In 2012, a multi-state outbreak of H3N2v resulted in 309 cases nationwide, though there were no cases in Virginia.
Since June of this year, Indiana has reported 12 cases of H3N2v infection. The majority of infections are associated with exposure to pigs, with many exposures occurring at agricultural fairs.
Virginia H3N2v Case Raises Concerns (26 July 2013) [Rense.com]
An additional case of H3N2v infection has been confirmed in a non-Virginia resident who had close and prolonged contact with pigs at a fair in the northwest region of the state
The above comments from a Virginia Department of Health July 26 press release describe the first H3N2v case linked to a Virginia agricultural fair. The above location and exposure date correspond to the [Fauquier] County Fair, which ran from July 16-July 23 and is located in northwest Virginia (see map). The attendee is a resident of Ohio and was diagnosed in Ohio, so the patient is cited as an Ohio case in today's CDC FluView and H3N2v case count.
The early appearance of an H3N2v case in Virginia, coupled with the 13th 2013 H3N2v case in Indiana, raises concerns that the 2013 total may top the record number of confirmed H3N2v cases in 2012, when the first cases linked to fairs were cited exactly one year ago for the LaPorte County Fair in Indiana. It is not clear if the latest case from Indiana is again linked to that fair, but the CDC has released the sequence, A/Indiana/10/2013, from a July 16 collection, and the H3 sequence has N145R and is viritually identical to the 2013 cases linked to the Hancock County Fair (see map).
Scientists find farm pesticides in Sierra frogs (26 July 2013)
Dozens of pesticides widely used on Central Valley farm crops have been detected in the bodies of frogs throughout the remote High Sierra, government scientists report in a study demonstrating how pervasive the chemicals are in the mountain environment.
The study published Friday was conducted by specialists with the U.S. Geological Survey who reported finding residues of 98 potent agricultural chemicals in the tissues of the common amphibians, Pacific Chorus Frogs, and in the sediments of the Sierra ponds where they live.
The compounds had apparently been blown by the wind as dust, or carried in rains sweeping eastward for scores of miles from the great valley to the mountains, the scientists concluded.
Biologist Vance T. Vredenberg of San Francisco State University, who was not involved in the new report, said the research "provides solid evidence that pesticides are making their way into natural ecosystems."
Clean energy clash: Solar advocates and conservationists butt heads (26 July 2013)
It's out with the old and in with the photovoltaic -- or the CSP.
The Obama administration is pushing forward with plans for renewable energy projects on public land. Last week, it banned new mining claims on more than 300,000 acres in the West to make sure the areas are available for solar power installations.
But as more government land is earmarked for solar, wind, and geothermal projects, some conservationists are not happy. The Center for Public Integrity reports:
"The administration generally wins plaudits from environmentalists for its effort to expand energy that doesn't belch smoke, cancer-causing chemicals or heat-trapping carbon dioxide. But there is growing concern among a number of environmentalists, particularly in the West, about the impact on fragile ecosystems, plants and animals. Some have filed lawsuits that could slow the effort to devote more public land to renewable energy. ..."
EV market threatened by spat over charger standards (26 July 2013)
It's like a rerun of the 1980s clash between VHS and Betamax.
The nascent electric-vehicle market is being served by two incompatible styles of rapid chargers. There's the Japanese-developed CHAdeMO standard, favored by Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Toyota. And then there's the Society of Automotive Engineers' (SAE) International J1772 Combo standard, which is backed by GM, Ford, Volkswagen, and BMW.
While the two sides duke it out, cities have to gamble as they choose which kind of system to install at public charging stations. From ClimateWire:
"Tension between the two camps is palpable. At a California hearing last year Shad Balch, GM's manager of environment and energy policy, called for the boycott of CHAdeMO chargers. CHAdeMO supporters, in turn, have called the SAE Combo charger "the plug without cars." Meanwhile, experts warn the feud could kill the momentum of the electric vehicle market."
In India, a rise in surrogate births for West (26 July 2013)
NEW DELHI -- When 24-year-old Komal Kapoor handed over the twins she had just borne to a visiting American couple last month, she said she felt "something like sadness."
But that lasted just a few minutes.
"In my head I kept saying, 'These are not my children, these are not my children,' " recalled Kapoor, a surrogate mother who lives in a New Delhi slum. After delivering what she called two "very beautiful, fair-skinned, black-haired babies" for the couple, she signed a document relinquishing all rights to the infants in return for a little over $8,000 -- more than 12 times her annual earnings as a garment worker. "With the money, I want to secure my daughter's future," she said.
This nation of more than 1.2 billion people has emerged as the preferred destination for a growing number of couples from around the world who are looking for a low-cost, trouble-free way of becoming parents. But a government-funded survey released this month said that in the absence of regulation, some unscrupulous agents are luring poor, uneducated women into signing surrogacy contracts that they do not fully understand.
North Korea to put captured U.S. spy ship on display (26 July 2013)
If there was ever any doubt about what happened to the only U.S. Navy ship that is being held by a foreign government, North Korea has cleared it up. It's in Pyongyang. And it looks like it's here to stay.
With a fresh coat of paint and a new home along the Pothong River, the USS Pueblo, a spy ship seized off North Korea's east coast in the late 1960s, is expected to be unveiled this week as the centerpiece of a renovated war museum to commemorate what North Korea calls "Victory Day," the 60th anniversary this Saturday of the signing of the armistice that ended hostilities in the Korean War.
The ship is North Korea's greatest Cold War prize. Its government hopes the Pueblo will serve as a potent symbol of how the country has stood up to the great power of the United States, once in an all-out ground war and now with its push to develop the nuclear weapons and sophisticated missiles it needs to threaten the U.S. mainland.
Many of the crew who served on the vessel, then spent 11 months in captivity in North Korea, want to bring the Pueblo home. Throughout its history, they argue, the Navy's motto has been "don't give up the ship." The Pueblo, in fact, is still listed as a commissioned U.S. Navy vessel, the only one being held by a foreign nation.
39 Places You Want To Sleep Right Now (26 July 2013)
Try not to nod off.
Full moon can disturb human sleep (25 July 2013)
Tossing and turning under a full moon? Turns out you're no lunatic, just subject to lunar cycles.
In folk tales, and around dinner tables -- not to mention on Halloween -- people have long talked about the effects of the moon on human behavior. But science hasn't backed up belief. Now scientists at the University of Basel in Switzerland say there's evidence that people sleep worse around the time of a full moon.
Their work was published Thursday in the journal Current Biology.
Scientists, led by Christian Cajochen, analyzed the sleep of 17 volunteers ages 20 to 31 and 16 volunteers ages 57 to 74 in a laboratory, looking at brain patterns, eye movements and hormone secretions. They set up conditions so that light and time cues, and the potential for biased beliefs about the moon and sleep were not factors. The participants did not know the researchers were looking at the effect of lunar cycles on sleep.
The moon's effects on tides and on various marine species have been documented, but the researchers say this is the first time it has been shown that "a lunar rhythm can modulate sleep structure in humans."
U.S. agents 'got lucky' pursuing accused Russia master hackers (25 July 2013)
(Reuters) - The two Russians arrested in what prosecutors call the largest online fraud case brought in the United States were caught through a combination of high-tech tools, dogged detective work and sheer luck.
The propensity of the wealthy young Russians to travel provided authorities with their big opportunity to collar them in the Netherlands last year.
The alleged moneyman, Dmitriy Smilianets, 29, has been extradited to the United States to face the indictment, unsealed on Thursday in federal court in Newark, New Jersey, while one of the most-sought alleged hackers on the planet, Vladimir Drinkman, 32, is still fighting his move from the Netherlands.
Three other suspects remain at large, and prosecutors took the unusual step of naming them in what law enforcement sources said was a slap at uncooperative Russian authorities.
People working on the case said they believe Drinkman is one of the key conspirators in a credit card fraud case involving Miami's Albert Gonzalez. Gonzalez was arrested in 2008 and is now serving a 20-year sentence for crimes including stealing 130 million credit cards from Heartland Payments Systems.
Drinkman and one of the men still free in Russia, Alexandr Kalinin, 26, of St. Petersburg, were identified only as Hacker 1 and Hacker 2 in the main indictment of Gonzalez, when the U.S. Secret Service did not know their names.
Florida To Resume Voter Purge Following Supreme Court VRA Ruling (25 July 2013) [BuzzFlash.com]
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- A federal court is dismissing a lawsuit that a Hispanic civic group and two naturalized citizens filed last year to block a voter purge in Florida.
The lawsuit became moot after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June. That decision halted enforcement of a federal law that required all or parts of 15 states with a history of discrimination in voting to get federal approval before changing the way they hold elections.
The groups fighting the state had argued that Florida's efforts to remove suspected non-U.S. citizens needed to be cleared by federal authorities first because five counties in the state had been subject to the federal law.
Also on Wednesday, the U.S. District Court in Tampa lifted a five-month old stay that had prevented Florida from sending any new names of potential non-U.S. citizens to county election officials.
Supreme Court's Gutting of Voting Rights Act Unleashes GOP Feeding Frenzy (26 July 2013)
When the Supreme Court recently gutted Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, it did so under the theory that there was little evidence of continuing racial discrimination in the states that were required to get preclearance before changing their voting laws. Congress had rather pointedly disagreed when it renewed the VRA in 2006, but no matter. The Supreme Court knew better.
So how has that theory worked out? Normally we'd have to wait a while to find out. Even Citizens United, which gutted campaign financing law, took a few years before its full effect was obvious. But in this case, a few weeks has been enough. A couple of days ago, the North Carolina Senate voted to approve a draconian set of changes to its voting laws, and there's not much question that final passage will come shortly. Check out this astonishing list of changes in the bill:
• Require voter ID at polling places.
• Reduce the early voting period from 17 days to 10 days.
Hormone therapy for prostate cancer causes kidney failure: Study (26 July 2013)
(NaturalNews) Men who undergo conventional hormone therapy treatments for prostate cancer could be setting themselves up for another potential health problem later on in life: renal failure. This was the shocking finding of a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), which found that androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), which suppresses testosterone, may lead to a rapid reduction in kidney function, and thus induce kidney failure.
Researchers from McGill University in Canada came to this conclusion after studying the effects of ADT in more than 10,000 men diagnosed with non-metastatic prostate cancer. Though the treatment can sometimes help induce prostate cancer regression in some men, it may also cause a hypogonadal condition that can eventually develop into acute kidney injury (AKI). In a worst-case scenario, ADT can lead to full renal failure, which can ultimately lead to death.
Among the 10,250 men evaluated as part of the study, 232 cases of first-ever AKI admission were identified during post-treatment followup evaluations. Compared to men who had never received ADT, those who did were found to be up to 250 times more likely to develop AKI, a finding that the study's researchers later quantified as a "significant" association between AKI and ADT. From this, the team deduced that ADT directly affects the likelihood of developing AKI.
"To our knowledge, this is the first population-based study to investigate the association between the use of ADT and the risk of AKI in men with prostate cancer," wrote the authors about their findings. "In this study, the use of ADT was associated with an increased risk of AKI, with variations observed with certain types of ADTs. This association remained continuously elevated, with the highest odds ratio observed in the first year of treatment. Overall, these results remained consistent after conducting several sensitivity analyses."
Mers: New virus 'not following Sars' path' (26 July 2013)
The new Mers virus, which has killed half of those infected, is "unlikely" to reach the same scale as Sars, ministers in Saudi Arabia say.
Most of the 90 Mers cases reported so far have been in Saudi Arabia.
Mers is from the same group of viruses as the common cold and Sars, which killed 774 people.
However, a detailed analysis of the Saudi cases, published in Lancet Infectious Diseases, did warn of "major gaps" in understanding of the virus.
The Middle East respiratory-syndrome coronavirus (Mers) emerged in 2012 and has infected 90 people worldwide, 45 of them have died.
160 million credit cards later, 'cutting edge' hacking ring cracked (25 July 2013)
For nearly a decade, a band of cybercriminals rampaged through the servers of a global business who's who: Among the victims were 7-Eleven, Dow Jones, Nasdaq, JetBlue and JC Penney. Prosecutors say the hackers stole "conservatively" 160 million credit card numbers, and the dollar value of the crimes they helped facilitate is enormous -- just four of the victims are out $300 million. The suffering caused to identity theft victims was "immeasurable," say prosecutors.
On Thursday, five of the gang's members were indicted. One is in custody in the U.S., a second is awaiting extradition in the Netherlands, and three more are still at large in what U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said is the largest data heist case ever prosecuted.
Dmitriy Smilianets, 29, of Moscow, is in custody, while Vladimir Drinkman, 32, of Syktyykar, is awaiting an extradition hearing. The other three -- Aleksandr Kalinin, 26, Roman Kotov, 32, and Ukrainian Mikhail Rytikov, 26, remain at large.
Originally part of a crime ring led by Albert Gonzalez, who was arrested back in 2008, the five continued their data conquests even after Gonzalez was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Blown out well seals off gas leak by itself; operators 'lucky', experts say (25 July 2013)
Natural gas stopped flowing from a runaway well in the Gulf of Mexico after sediment in the well blocked the uncontrolled flow, federal authorities reported Thursday.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said the well "bridged over," meaning small pieces of sediment and sand flowed into the well path, restricting the flow and countering the pressure. A fire that had engulfed a portion of the Hercules 265 jack-up rig was put out early Thursday morning, according to a Coast Guard report to Congress.
"They are lucky," said Bud Danenberger, a consultant and former chief of offshore regulatory programs at the Minerals Management Service, which has now been reorganized into the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
"What really happened is that natural sediment flowed into the well bore and essentially blocked the flow," Danenberger said.
A leak in the natural gas well, owned by Walter Oil & Gas, had ignited a fire on a jack-up rig operated by Hercules Offshore late Tuesday night, hours after its 44 workers had been evacuated, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
The fire possibly was caused by friction from sand in the blowout preventer, which also burst into flames, according to a Coast Guard report to Congress.
Halliburton pleads guilty to destroying Gulf spill evidence (25 July 2013)
(Reuters) - Halliburton Co has agreed to plead guilty to destroying evidence related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Thursday.
The government said Halliburton's guilty plea is the third by a company over the spill and requires the world's second-largest oilfield services company to pay a maximum $200,000 statutory fine.
Halliburton also agreed to three years of probation and to continue cooperating with the criminal probe into the April 20, 2010, explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.
Court approval is required. Houston-based Halliburton also made a separate, voluntary $55 million payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Justice Department said.
Pope: Rich must do more to help poor (25 July 2013)
RIO DE JANEIRO -- He started Thursday with the poorest of the poor, people living in ramshackle homes near open sewage in Rio's northern fringe. And he ended the day in one of the world's most exclusive enclaves, on the glitzy beach of world-famous Copacabana.
But Pope Francis's message was the same: Don't let money and greed steal your soul; they can only "bring the illusion of being happy."
"All together -- show your faith!" the 76-year-old pontiff said at night before a crowd that local television commentators estimated at 1 million on the white sand of Copacabana. "Show your hope. Show love."
He called faith "revolutionary" and asked: "Are you ready to ride this wave of revolution of faith?"
Why North Carolina's Voter ID Bill Might be the Nation's Worst (25 July 2013)
For decades, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 required cities, counties and states with histories of discriminatory voting laws to seek federal permission--preclearance, in legal parlance--before changing their election rules. When the Supreme Court invalidated part of the VRA last month, that all changed. The high court's decision made it easier for jurisdictions with troubled pasts to enact restrictive voting laws. Now North Carolina is set to do just that.
North Carolina's GOP-led legislature has taken many controversial steps in recent weeks--sneaking anti-abortion measures into a motorcycle safety law and cutting unemployment benefits for 70,000 North Carolinians, to name two. But new revisions (pdf) to a photo ID voting bill, which passed the House in April and is up for a Senate vote today, might take the cake. The revised bill prohibits same-day registration, ends pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, eliminates one week of early voting, prevents counties from extending voting hours due to long lines (often caused by cuts in early voting) or other extraordinary circumstances, scratches college ID cards and other forms of identification from the very short list of acceptable state-issued photo IDs, and outlaws certain types of voter registration drives.
It's quite possibly the most restrictive voter ID bill in recent years, says Denise Leiberman, senior attorney for Advancement Project, a nonprofit civil rights organization.
"The list of acceptable identification has been whittled away to such a small list, and that's really what makes it so repressive," she says. "The list is so small that many, many people in North Carolina aren't going to have an acceptable ID."
Illinois Commission finds evidence of police torture in cases of 5 convicted murderers (25 July 2013)
It was almost 30 years ago when five Chicago police detectives working under disgraced former Cmdr. Jon Burge burst into Jerry Mahaffey's South Side apartment to question him in the home invasion, rape and slaying of a Rogers Park couple and near-fatal beating of their son.
When Mahaffey denied knowledge of the attack, one detective punched him in the nose and another threw him into a wall and put a gun to his head, according to a court records. The detectives allegedly pummeled Mahaffey, nearly suffocated him with a plastic garbage bag and threatened to put his children in an orphanage. Mahaffey eventually confessed, was convicted and is serving life in prison.
On Thursday, the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission found credible evidence that Chicago detectives had tortured Mahaffey -- as well as four others sentenced to lengthy prison terms -- into confessing to murder. Each of the five cases will now be assigned to a Cook County Criminal Court judge to decide whether a new trial is warranted.
The commission has found 17 credible instances of torture since it began inquiries in 2011, and investigations into more than 100 additional claims continue, said David Thomas, the commission's executive director. New claims continue to come in "at a fairly steady trickle," he said Thursday.
Feds: Pot farmers kept rape victim in box (25 July 2013)
A 15-year-old kidnap victim was held in a metal toolbox fitted with breathing holes by two Lake County marijuana growers, who sexually assaulted the girl and forced her to trim their plants, federal prosecutors allege.
According to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, one of the men, 30-year-old Ryan Alan Balletto, kidnapped the girl from Los Angeles sometime before late April. He allegedly took her to his rural property near Clear Lake, where he kept an arsenal of weapons and a collection of sexual bondage gear.
The girl told a federal investigator that Balletto and Patrick Steven Pearmain, 24, twice put her in a 4-foot-long, 2-foot-wide and 2-foot-tall box for a total of three days. The girl said Balletto called her a "trouper" because she didn't scream, records show.
The complaint was filed July 16. Both men, who are being held without bail, face federal charges that they conspired to distribute 1,000 or more plants of marijuana, used a minor in drug operations, and possessed a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. The men also face state charges of rape and kidnapping.
Richard Wolff: Detroit a "Spectacular Failure" of System that Redistributes Pay from Bottom to Top (25 July 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: The federal government bails out banks, bails out corporations. What about Detroit?
RICHARD WOLFF: Well, Detroit is the most extreme example. A few years ago, in the depths of this current crisis--2008, '09, '10--the United States government bailed out General Motors and Chrysler. It bailed out the two big companies in Detroit. But it never bailed out Detroit. I mean, you could not have a starker arrangement. The worst of it? One example: Part of the deal that brought together the federal government bailout, the state and the city, was to get the agreement of the United Auto Workers, the union, for what's called a two-tier wage system. The old workers that were already in position kept getting their old wage. But all new workers to be hired would be hired at half the old wage. Instead of about $28 or $29 an hour, roughly $14 to $16 an hour, which meant that if the car companies could come back, Detroit couldn't, because the return of workers to the automobile industries would be workers paid $14 or $15 an hour, and that puts you below the poverty wage in the United States. So this is an abomination in which the top, the industry, the big corporations, are bailed out, and the very cities that depend on them are told to fend for themselves.
AMY GOODMAN: What's the alternative to gutting the pensions of workers?
RICHARD WOLFF: Well, what we have now is a classic struggle. On the one hand, the creditors--by the way, the same big banks that were bailed out before--they want all their money back. The only way the city could pay off the creditors, even partially, would be by not doing what? Either spending for current services or taking the money out of the pensioners, the people who worked a lifetime for the city and now depend on medical care and, for their livelihood, on these pensions. And that is being fought out.
NSA amendment's narrow defeat spurs privacy advocates for surveillance fight (25 July 2013)
The razor-thin defeat of a congressional measure to rein in domestic surveillance galvanized civil libertarians on Thursday for what they expect to be a drawn-out political and legal struggle to clip the wings of the intelligence apparatus in the US.
While a measure by Representative Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican, failed in the House on Wednesday night, the tight vote was the closest that privacy advocates have come since 9/11 to stopping the National Security Agency from collecting Americans' data in bulk.
Members of Congress, liberties groups and former surveillance officials pointed to a variety of measures, from new legislation in both the Senate and House to court cases, as means to reset the much-contested balance between liberty and security in the US over the coming weeks and months.
"There are many voices concerned in the Senate about this same issue," said J Kirk Wiebe, a former senior NSA analyst turned whistleblower. "It doesn't mean it's the end of it. It's the beginning."
Taller women are more at risk from a host of cancers after reaching middle age, a study has shown. (25 July 2013)
The research linked height to many common cancers, including those affecting the skin, breast, bowel, womb, kidney, thyroid and ovaries.
An association was also seen with the blood cancer multiple myeloma.
Every 10 centimetre (3.94 inches) increase in height raised the risk of post-menopausal women developing any cancer by 13%, the US study showed.
Being 10 centimetres taller boosted the risk of kidney, rectum, thyroid and blood cancers by between 23% and 29%.
New Research: Average Person Exposed to Cancerous Levels of Toxins (25 July 2013) [InfoWars.com]
We know there are toxins in our foods. These toxins exist in varying levels and come from sources like pesticides, soil contamination, and even the seeds themselves. We can minimize our exposure to these toxins by eating organic and growing our own foods. But, we are all still being exposed at one level or another. A recent, frightening study indicates even the "average" person is being exposed to cancerous levels of toxins like arsenic, dioxins, and DDE.
The research comes from the University of California, Davis, where scientists looked at the diets and related toxin-levels of 364 children between the ages of 2 and 7, 446 parents of young children, and 149 older adults. What they found was not only troubling, but truly scary.
Using dietary surveys and toxin content datasets, the scientists were able to determine an estimated toxin level and compare this to the "cancer benchmark" of each compound. (The "cancer benchmark" is a term used to describe the "exposure level that would generate one excess cancer per million people over a 70-year lifetime", according to NaturalNews.
In both children and adults, cancer benchmarks were exceeded for dioxins, DDE, dieldrin, lead, and arsenic. Children also exceeded the cancer benchmark for the toxin chlordane. In all cases, children had greater exposure margins than adults. When it came to DDE, children exceeded the cancer benchmark level by more than 10 times. For dieldrin, arsenic, and dioxins, their exposure level was 100 times over the cancer benchmark levels.
The Mysterious New Owner of Blackwater Worldwide (25 July 2013) [InfoWars.com]
Joseph Cofer Black, a former CIA official who led the Office of Counterterrorism for the U.S. State Department until 2004, is now chairman of Total Intelligence Solutions.
Black, harboring a reputation of being particularly vicious, according to a report from the Political Blind Spot, initiated contact with Monsanto in 2008 in an attempt to establish a working relationship with the company. If proceeded, the relationship would entail providing intelligence services to the biotech giant through infiltration of animal rights activists, anti-GM activists and other potential oppositions.
The Political Blind Spot writes when Monsanto's security manager for global issues Kevin Wilson was contacted by Scahill, he initially declined to comment, but later confirmed to The Nation that they did in fact hire Total Intelligence in 2008-09. Wilson says they hired the company to keep track of "public disclosure" of its opponents. He also made it a point to maintain that Total Intelligence was a "totally separate entity from Blackwater."
According to Scahill, documents obtained by The Nation revealed that "Total Intelligence, sought to become the 'intel arm' of Monsanto by offering to provide operatives to infiltrate activist groups organizing against the multinational biotech firm."
Yemeni Reporter Who Exposed U.S. Drone Strike Freed from Prison After Jailing at Obama's Request (25 July 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Well, let's talk about the White House's response to the release of Shaye. Jeremy Scahill contacted the National Security Council for a response. This is what the National Security Council spokesperson, Bernadette Meehan wrote. She wrote, quote, "We are concerned and disappointed by the early release of Abd-Ilah-Shai, who was sentenced by a Yemeni court to five years in prison for his involvement with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula." Jeremy Scahill, talk about what they have said.
JEREMY SCAHILL: First of all, we should--we should let that statement set in. The White House is saying that they are disappointed and concerned that a Yemeni journalist has been released from a Yemeni prison. The White House is citing his conviction, that he supposedly was a supporter of al-Qaeda, in a kangaroo court, a court that was condemned by every major international media freedom organization, every major international human rights organization, that it was a total sham trial, where he was kept in a cage during the course of his prosecution and was convicted on trumped-up charges. So, Mr. Constitutional Law Professor President is saying that this Yemeni court, that has been condemned by every international human rights organization in the world, is somehow legitimate.
Secondly, when I've asked the White House and the State Department for a shred of evidence that Abdulelah Haider Shaye was guilty of anything other than journalism, critical journalism, they won't provide it. They just say what they often do: "State secrets. Trust us."
The fact is, Abdulelah Haider Shaye is a journalist who did very critical interviews with people like Anwar al-Awlaki. If you go back and you read his interviews with Awlaki, he's challenging him on his praise of the underwear bomb attempt, saying, "But that was a plane full of civilians. How was that a legitimate target?" In fact, I would put forward that Abdulelah Haider Shaye asked more critical questions of figures within the al-Qaeda organization in Yemen than a single member of the "Caviar Correspondents Association" in the United States, those jokers who sit in the front row and pretend to play journalists on television.
Photographer charged over topless photos of Britain's Kate (25 July 2013)
A photographer suspected of having taken topless photographs of the wife of Britain's Prince William published last September in French magazine Closer was charged in June, sources close to the case told AFP Thursday.
A second photographer is also under judicial inquiry, the sources said.
The editor of the magazine Laurence Pieau was also charged earlier this month for having published the surreptitiously taken photographs of Kate, the sources also said.
Crowds flock to New Mexico for sight of rare tropical bird (25 July 2013)
America's first Rufous-necked Wood Rail may have already ended its improbable stop among New Mexico cattails, but his celebrity hasn't diminished.
Thousands of people in recent weeks have made a pilgrimage to Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge to see what, in the birding world, is a singular discovery: the first North American sighting of the Wood Rail, a native to South and Central American tropical forests.
The Wood Rail hasn't been spotted since last Thursday, stirring speculation of a retreat into the brush or a return to the tropics, but birders are still buzzing over the unlikely find.
Jeffrey Gordon, president of the American Birding Assn., jumped into his car in Colorado Springs the moment he heard of the bird's sighting on June 7.
Six and a half hours later, against his more prudent expectations, Gordon was standing before his tropical quarry in a New Mexico marsh. He said Wood Rails spend their lives trying to remain concealed, making them a rare find even in their native habitat.
Chincoteague pony swim [Pictures] (24 July 2013)
For 87 years, the herd of ponies on Assateague Island, owned by the island's volunteer fire company, has plunged into the shallow water separating the wildlife refuge from Chincoteague, where the youngest ponies are auctioned at a carnival to raise funds for the fire company.
98 million Americans were given polio vaccine contaminated with cancer-causing virus, admits CDC (25 July 2013)
(NaturalNews) The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has once again been caught removing pertinent but indicting information about vaccines from its website. This time it involves the infamous polio vaccine, up to 98 million doses of which have been exposed as containing a cancer-causing virus that is now believed to be responsible for causing millions of cancers in America, according to the CDC.
The information was posted on an official CDC fact sheet entitled Cancer, Simian Virus 40 (SV40), and Polio Vaccine, which has since been removed from the CDC's website. Fortunately, RealFarmacy.com was able to archive the damning page before the CDC ultimately removed it, presumably because SV40 has been receiving considerable attention lately due to its connection to causing cancer.
You can view the link to the original CDC page on SV40 and polio vaccines, which is no longer active, here:
You can view the full archived CDC page here:
As you will notice on the archived CDC page, the SV40 virus was allegedly first discovered in monkeys back in 1960, and not long after began appearing inexplicably in polio vaccines. The SV40 virus, according to this same page, has been linked to causing a variety of human cancers, including childhood leukemia, lung cancer, bone cancer, and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.
Some non-organic foods contain upwards of 180 times the fluoride level of tap water, says expert (24 July 2013)
Fluoride-based pesticide chemicals such as cryolite (sodium hexafluoroaluminate) are commonly used on non-organic food crops because they are highly effective at both killing pests and protecting crops against pest damage. But these same chemicals tend to persist in, and on, produce, where unsuspecting consumers regularly consume them with their everyday meals. According to Green, about one-third of the average person's fluoride exposure comes from non-organic food grown using fluoride chemicals.
"Cryolite is actually sodium aluminum fluoride ... this sodium aluminum fluoride is especially effective at killing bugs," says Green. "It's also very sticky, so when they spray it, it's more likely to stick on your produce, unless you're ... really working at trying to get it off of it."
Many common fruits, vegetables loaded with fluoride
Citrus fruits, it turns out, are allowed by law to be contaminated with up to 95 parts per million (ppm) of sodium aluminum fluoride, while potatoes are permitted to have up to 22 ppm on the outside skin, and two ppm on the inside flesh. Raisins are allowed to have 55 ppm of the chemical, while romaine lettuce can have up to 40 ppm. But perhaps the worst offender is iceberg lettuce, which is allowed to have a whopping 180 ppm of sodium aluminum fluoride, or 180 times the amount of fluoride typically added to municipal water supplies.
Conventional cereals, which are often made with pesticide-ridden grains, tend to contain high levels of fluoride as well. According to Green, tests have revealed that the popular breakfast cereal Wheaties, for instance, contains an average 10 ppm of fluoride, while Post Shredded Wheat contains 9.4 ppm. Conventional juices made using highly-fluoridated fruits such as grapes, apples, and cranberries also tend to test high for fluoride as well.
Hackers Reveal Nasty New Car Attacks--With Me Behind The Wheel (Video) (24 July 2013) [InfoWars.com]
Stomping on the brakes of a 3,500-pound Ford Escape that refuses to stop--or even slow down--produces a unique feeling of anxiety. In this case it also produces a deep groaning sound, like an angry water buffalo bellowing somewhere under the SUV's chassis. The more I pound the pedal, the louder the groan gets--along with the delighted cackling of the two hackers sitting behind me in the backseat.
Luckily, all of this is happening at less than 5mph. So the Escape merely plows into a stand of 6-foot-high weeds growing in the abandoned parking lot of a South Bend, Ind. strip mall that Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek have chosen as the testing grounds for the day's experiments, a few of which are shown in the video below. (When Miller discovered the brake-disabling trick, he wasn't so lucky: The soccer-mom mobile barreled through his garage, crushing his lawn mower and inflicting $150 worth of damage to the rear wall.)
"Okay, now your brakes work again," Miller says, tapping on a beat-up MacBook connected by a cable to an inconspicuous data port near the parking brake. I reverse out of the weeds and warily bring the car to a stop. "When you lose faith that a car will do what you tell it to do," he adds after we jump out of the SUV, "it really changes your whole view of how the thing works."
This fact, that a car is not a simple machine of glass and steel but a hackable network of computers, is what Miller and Valasek have spent the last year trying to demonstrate. Miller, a 40-year-old security engineer at Twitter, and Valasek, the 31-year-old director of security intelligence at the Seattle consultancy IOActive, received an $80,000-plus grant last fall from the mad-scientist research arm of the Pentagon known as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to root out security vulnerabilities in automobiles.
New IRIS telescope sends stunning images of sun to befuddled scientists (25 July 2013)
A new solar observatory, launched less than a month ago, is revealing remarkably fine details about a little-explored region of the sun's atmosphere, where temperatures leap from tens of thousands of degrees Fahrenheit at the sun's surface to to millions of degrees in its extended atmosphere.
Dubbed the interface region by the observatory's science team, this first 2,000 to 3,000 miles of the sun's atmosphere is thought to play a key role in a range of processes, including those that power solar flares and even more potent coronal-mass ejections. These events can endanger satellites, disrupt radio communication and GPS navigation, as well as disrupt the power grid on Earth.
For all their excitement at seeing the first images from this new orbiting observatory, mission scientists aren't quite ready yet to hazard informed guesses about what the new observations mean.
"I'm not brash enough to tell you what new and exciting things there are, but there are enough hints that people are very excited," said Alan Title, a solar physicist with aerospace giant Lockheed Martin and the lead scientist for NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS), during a briefing Thursday.
In general, the team has been surprised "that there is so much structure in areas that are relatively quiet" on the sun's surface, Dr. Title said, referring to small-scale regions of varying temperatures and looping eruptions of hot gas. "We're seeing a lot more structure than we anticipated."
MIT scientists implant a false memory into a mouse's brain (25 July 2013)
Sometime soon, a lab mouse could wake up thinking he had snuggled up to a girl mouse the night before. But he hadn't. The memory would be fake.
Scientists have successfully implanted a false memory into a mouse's brain -- a seemingly far-fetched idea reminiscent of a science fiction film.
"If mice had Hollywood, this would be 'Inception' for them," said one of the lead researchers, MIT neuroscientist Steve Ramirez, whose study was published online Thursday in the journal Science.
Ramirez and his colleagues tagged brain cells associated with a specific memory and then tweaked that memory to make the mouse believe something had happened when it hadn't.
Bill Gates invests $1 million in toilet that recycles human waste (25 July 2013)
The benefits of toilets for the 2.5 billion people worldwide who don't have them extend well beyond health issues. In many countries, girls can't go to school because of a lack of toilets. Pit latrines and in-the-open defecation are often norms that convince parents to keep their daughters at home. An affordable toilet, one that fits with local needs, could transform communities in a number of ways.
So the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2011 kicked off a novel competition, offering cash prizes for anyone who could come up with a next-generation toilet for the third world and last August, Gates announced the winners of his "Reinvent the Toilet Challenge."
The California Institute of Technology in the United States won a $100,000 first prize for designing a solar-powered toilet that generates hydrogen and electricity. Loughborough University in the United Kingdom won the $60,000 second place prize for a toilet that produces biological charcoal, minerals, and clean water. University of Toronto in Canada won the third place prize of $40,000 for a toilet that sanitizes feces and urine and recovers resources and clean water. (While U of T professors plan to role out a pilot project in Bangladesh, they aren't ready to showcase its toilet yet, a professor told The Star.)
Now, there's more news on the challenge, this time out of Duke University and the University of Missouri, where researchers have been given $1.18 million to continue developing a toilet that conceivably - wait for it - can recycle sewage into drinking water.
The idea, according to a report by WUNC public radio in North Carolina, features a waste recycling system that fits into a standard shipping container: "people empty their latrines into a sewage receptacle (currently, latrines are often emptied into rivers), the waste gets funnelled through a series of tubes and is pressurized at extreme temperatures, and the byproduct is clean, possibly drinkable water."
SPECIAL REPORT: How the Muslim Brotherhood lost Egypt (25 July 2013)
The dinner on a terrace around the swimming pool of Nour's 8th-floor duplex apartment was cut short when journalists got wind of the meeting. Moussa left convinced that the Brotherhood were over-confident, incompetent in government and had poor intelligence on what was brewing in the streets and the barracks.
Yet many Egyptian and foreign observers still expected the tightly knit Islamist movement, hardened by decades of repression, to dominate Egypt and the region for a prolonged period, after 60 years of rule by army-backed strongmen. Instead, Mursi was bundled out of office and into military detention on July 3 amid huge anti-government protests, barely a year after he became the first democratically elected leader of the Arab world's most populous nation.
Mursi's failure sends a powerful message: winning an election is not sufficient to govern Egypt. Post-Mubarak rulers need the acquiescence of the security establishment and of the population at large. Upset either and your position is not secure.
Egypt's Islamists may draw the bitter lesson that the "deep state" will not let them wield real power, even with a democratic mandate. This report, compiled from interviews with senior Muslim Brotherhood and secular politicians, youth activists, military officers and diplomats, examines four turning points on Egypt's revolutionary road: the Brotherhood's decision to seek the presidency; the way Mursi pushed through the constitution; the failures of the secular opposition; and the military's decision to step in.
Egypt's wheat problem: how Mursi jeopardized the bread supply (25 July 2013)
(Reuters) - The biggest mistake deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi made during his year in power was dramatically reducing wheat imports, according to Mohamed Abu Shadi, the country's new minister of supplies.
Lack of money and a quixotic attempt at making Egypt self-sufficient spurred the decline, say officials familiar with the matter. Mursi dreamt of making Egypt grow all its own wheat and allowed imported stocks to fall to precariously low levels. It hurt both the country's wheat stocks and Mursi's government.
With a quarter of Egypt's 84 million people living below the poverty line of $1.65 a day, millions depend on subsidized bread that sells for less than 1 U.S. cent per loaf. That supply relies on foreign wheat.
The country is the world's largest wheat importer, bringing in about 10 million tonnes a year, around half its annual consumption. Keeping the system running smoothly was vital when Mursi, backed by the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, took over as president in June 2012.
Real food: Not just for fancy people (25 July 2013)
In a recent cover story in the Atlantic, David Freedman scolds writers Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman for their misguided, faddish, foodie ways. Grist food writer Nathaniel Johnson has already pointed out some of the weaknesses in Freedman's argument that better junk food is the key to solving the obesity epidemic, but I wanted to spend some time focusing on this notion, forwarded by Freedman and others, that real food is just the latest yuppie health fad.
There's no question that the food movement (which isn't simply made up of "foodies") encompasses many fads. But Freedman and other critics tend to conflate Pollan and Bittman the recipe writers with Pollan and Bittman the policy crusaders. Just because they offer cooking suggestions does not mean that the core idea they write about is just a passing bubble.
Here's Slate columnnist Daniel Engber, in a reaction to the Atlantic piece, summing up this yuppified view of the food movement:
"The rich decide what's healthy and what isn't, then pass their habits down the line. Since the rules on healthy eating drift from one fixation to the next, the habits of the leisure class are in a state of constant flux: Old ideas of what to eat -- low-fat ice cream, diet soda, whatever -- are shunted from the bobos to the masses, and new ones take their place. The intelligentsia tend to eat according to the latest fashions, so we say (as Freedman does) that they're "increasingly health-conscious," as if that quality would ever ebb from one generation to the next. With each new wellness fad -- from buttermilk to baby vegetables, corn flakes to kale -- we feel as if we've ascended to a higher circle of enlightenment. We're increasingly health-conscious these days ... just like always."
Train derails at Port of Tampa; Crews containing ethanol spill (25 July 2013)
Hazmat crews are at the scene of a CSX train that derailed early this morning at the Port of Tampa, causing ethanol to spill on the roadway.
The derailment occurred around 2 a.m. and involved 88 cars, including 15 that overturned, police say.
Capt. Lonnie Benniefield of Tampa Fire Rescue told News Channel 8 that crews from Atlanta are expected to arrive this afternoon with equipment to bring the rail cars upright - a process that could take 24 hours.
The roadways near the Port of Tampa, are open, but the entrance to the Port off Causeway Boulevard is closed, according to News Channel 8.
Plague found in squirrel; parts of Angeles National Forest closed (25 July 2013)
Los Angeles County health officials confirmed this week that a trapped ground squirrel tested positive for plague, and as a precaution parts of the Angeles National Forest near Wrightwood have been closed.
The areas closed, since 1 p.m. Wednesday, include the Twisted Arrow, Broken Blade and Pima Loops of the Table Mountain campgrounds.
The areas will be closed for at least a week, according to a health advisory from the county Department of Public Health.
"Plague is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted to humans through the bites of infected fleas, which is why we close affected campgrounds and recreational areas as a precaution while preventive measures are taken to control the flea population," Jonathan E. Fielding, head of the health department, said in the advisory.
Scientists warn of overwhelming costs of mental illness: 'We will be overwhelmed by brain disorders' (25 July 2013)
LONDON (Reuters) -- Health systems could be "overwhelmed" by the costs of coping with mental illnesses such as dementia, depression and addiction if nothing is done now to boost investment in research, leading neuroscientists said on Thursday.
Publishing a study that put the estimated costs of brain disorders in Britain alone at more than 112 billion pounds ($172 billion) a year, they said mental illness research needed to attract the same funding levels as illnesses such as cancer and heart diseases to be able to reduce the burden.
"No group of chronic diseases costs the world more than brain disorders," said Barbara Sahakian, a professor at Cambridge University and president of the British Association of Psychopharmacology.
She told reporters that with a third of the adult population suffering from a mental disorder every year and ageing populations increasing that proportion, "if we don't do something soon ... we will be overwhelmed by brain disorders".
The study, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, found that in 2010, there were around 45 million diagnoses of brain disorders in Britain.
The diagnosed illnesses included more than 8 million cases of anxiety disorder and nearly 4 million cases of mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder.
PAM COMMENTARY: Somehow being depressed or anxious isn't a part of everyone's life? They're "brain disorders" now?
I don't post this because I think it's true -- I post to show how the mental health field tries to find a diagnosis for everyone, and then prescribe drugs.
Fukushima: Radioactive cesium levels jump 9,000 percent in just three days, nobody knows why (24 July 2013)
(NaturalNews) Some of the highest levels of ionizing radiation yet detected since the disaster first occurred were recently recorded at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility in Japan, according to shocking new reports. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which runs the crippled nuclear plant, says levels of radioactive cesium in a water well were 9,000 percent higher on July 8, 2013, than they were three days earlier, and nobody knows why this is the case.
The Asahi Shimbun reports that TEPCO observed the spike after testing water in a well on the seaward side of Fukushima's No. 2 reactor. According to readings taken, radioactive cesium levels registered at an astounding 27,000 becquerels per liter (Bq/l), which is the highest ever since March 11, 2011, when the tsunami and earthquake first struck the plant. At this point, the cause of the spike is still unknown.
"It is unclear whether the radioactive water is leaking into the sea," said a TEPCO official, following the discovery. "After gathering needed data, we will conduct analyses."
As you may recall, radioactive water from the No. 2 well was found to have been leaking about a month after the disaster struck in April 2011. At that time, about 9,000 Bq/l of cesium-134 and 18,000 Bq/l of cesium-137 were detected in water samples. These amounts are 150 and 200 times higher, respectively, than the maximum level legally permitted.
At the same time, levels of other harmful forms of radiation, including strontium, have remained oddly consistent, which has many officials scratching their heads. According to the most recent data, radioactive strontium levels remained mostly steady around 890,000 Bq/l both before and after the cesium spike.
Edward Snowden Allowed Into Russia Weeks After Outing Himself as the NSA Leaker (24 July 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
The National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has been given permission leave the Moscow airport where he has been stranded for over a month. Snowden applied for temporary asylum in Russia last week after the the Obama administration revoked his passport, leaving him unable to travel to Latin America where he has received offers of asylum. Russian authorities have now granted Snowden provisional authorization to enter Russia while his bid is reviewed, a process that could take up to three months. In an hour-long special on whistleblowers, we begin with an excerpt of the June interview in which Snowden came forward as the source behind the recent disclosures of widespread warrantless NSA surveillance of phone and Internet data within the United States and around the world.
NSA surveillance: narrow defeat for amendment to restrict data collection (24 July 2013)
The first major legislative challenge to the National Security Agency's bulk collection of phone records from millions of Americans was defeated by only a narrow margin on Wednesday, sending a clear signal to the Obama administration that congressional anger about the extent of domestic surveillance is growing.
Despite a concerted lobbying effort by the White House and senior intelligence figures, the attempt to rein in the NSA failed by only 12 votes. The final vote was 205 in favor and 217 against, exposing deep restiveness in Congress over the wisdom and constitutionality of the bulk surveillance on Americans less than two months after the Guardian exposed it, thanks to leaks from whistleblower Edward Snowden. A shift of seven votes would have changed the outcome.
Civil libertarians disappointed by the vote promised not to relent in opposing what they consider an unnecessary and unconstitutional violation of Americans' privacy.
The principal author of the effort, Michigan Republican Justin Amash, said he introduced his amendment to the annual Defense Department appropriations bill to "defend the fourth amendment, to defend the privacy of each and every American."
How the Pentagon Papers Came to be Published By the Beacon Press Told by Daniel Ellsberg & Others (24 July 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
DANIEL ELLSBERG: There were 7,000 pages of top-secret documents that demonstrated unconstitutional behavior by a succession of presidents, the violation of their oath and the violation of the oath of every one of their subordinates--I, for one--who had participated in that terrible, indecent fraud over the years in Vietnam, lying us into a hopeless war, which has, of course--and a wrongful war--which has, of course, been reproduced and is being reproduced right now and may occur again in Iran. So the history of that, I thought, might help us get out of that particular war.
Let me skip over the intervening 22 months then, really, which passed after I first copied the Pentagon Papers, when I was trying to get them out, and the senators and others who were not up to the task of putting them out, people who were otherwise very admirable and very credible in their antiwar activities: Senator Fulbright, Senator McGovern, Gaylord Nelson, Senator Gaylord Nelson, various others. Except for Nelson, Fulbright, McGovern and Senator Mathias, some of the best people in the Senate, had, in fact, contrary to the way it's often reported, not refused to bring out these papers when I discussed them with them. Each one agreed to bring them out and then thought better of it over a period of time, said they just couldn't do it, take the risk--in effect, in other words, "You take the risk, but I've got an important position here, and I can't ruffle the waters here."
I read in--I did give them to The New York Times -- sorry, to Neil Sheehan, but with no assurance that they would come out in the Times, and for reasons not clear to me still, Neil, who, again, acted very admirably and credibly, as did the Times, which took a great risk in deciding to publish the papers, did not tell me they were bringing them out. I'm not clear to this day quite why that was. But so I continued up--while they were working to get the papers ready for publication in the spring of 1971, I was still worrying and trying to see where I could get them out. I approached Pete McCloskey, who, again, agreed to do it, but took efforts to get them officially from the Defense Department before he did that. He was very supportive of me during my trial later.
And I also thought then--I read in the paper about a Senator Gravel, whom I really didn't know much about, from Alaska, who was conducting a filibuster against the draft, which was exactly what should have been done. By the way, I had raised as a litmus test--I probably never told Mike this--I had raised the idea of a filibuster with a number of senators as a litmus test to see whether they were the kind of person who might go one step beyond that and maybe put out these papers. And in every case I got serious answers--they weren't frivolous--but the point was, as Senator Goodell put it to me, "Dan, in my business, you can't afford to look ridiculous. You cannot afford to be laughed at." And he said, "If I could find other people who would join me, I would do it." I heard that, by the way--I'll mention--each name I'm mentioning here is very--the top people in the Senate. Senator--oh, darn, at my age I forget some of these names--but anyway, other senators said much the same: "If I could find somebody else to go with me, I would do it, but I can't do it by myself. I would look foolish. I can't afford that."
Genetic engineering: Do the differences make a difference? (24 July 2013)
Last week, I asked how different genetic engineering was from conventional breeding. My answer (to boil some 2,000 words down to three) was: just a little bit.
But there's more than one way to think about this little bit of difference. I think it's important to recognize -- as we hash this out, as you try to convert your friends, or your local politician, or me -- that there really are fundamentally opposed values here, and they influence how we see the same things. Two smart people with different perspectives might look at the same evidence, and come away with radically different conclusions about risk.
And so a couple of people suggested revisiting the conclusions I took home from my visit to Pam Ronald's lab. One of these people was Jack Heinemann, a New Zealand scientist who works on risk assessment of genetically modified organisms.
One real difference between genetic engineering and good old sexual reproduction, Heinemann suggested, is that genetic engineering frequently creates bits of double-stranded RNA (imagine a free-floating chunklet of DNA). We don't know if this happens with conventional breeding or not.
Student loan deal passes Senate (24 July 2013)
The Senate on Wednesday approved a bipartisan deal that ensures lower interest rates on loans for students heading to college this fall.
Senators voted 81 to 18 to lower interest rates for undergraduates taking out government loans this school year to 3.86% -- cheaper than the 6.8% interest rate that kicked in on July 1. The new rates would be retroactive and apply to loans taken out after July 1.
However, the bill has provisions for rates to go higher in coming years. It is expected to become law, with support from the White House and the House of Representatives, which will likely take up the bill in coming days.
"This fall, all undergraduates, subsidized or unsubsidized, would only have to pay 3.86% interest rate for the life of the loan," said Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, whose support was key to a Washington deal. "That means real savings for borrowers."
Principal In Indian Lunch Poisoning Tragedy Is Arrested (24 July 2013)
More than a week after 23 children in India died after eating an insecticide-laced lunch, the principal in charge of the school's mid-day meal program has been arrested.
The New York Times reports that Meena Kumari, who fled when the children started getting sick, had become one of the most wanted fugitives in India. She was on her way to surrender, when authorities detained her.
The Times adds:
"Forensic tests have confirmed that the cooking oil used to prepare the meal of rice, beans, potato curry and soy balls was contaminated with pesticide. Ms. Kumari bought the cooking oil from a store owned by her husband, who might have stored the cooking oil in a container once filled with pesticide, the police said.
"Since the only other adult at the school was the school's cook, who also fell deathly ill, Ms. Kumari's departure meant that the ailing children were left to fend for themselves, according to villagers and state officials. Some staggered home to die in the arms of their parents."
Willie Reed, who risked his life to testify in the Emmett Till murder trial, dies at 76 (24 July 2013)
Willie Reed did not know Emmett Till, the young black man whose murder in the Mississippi Delta became one of the most infamous lynchings in the history of the Jim Crow South. Mr. Reed saw him only once -- on Aug. 28, 1955, during the last hours of Till's life -- in the back of a green and white Chevrolet pickup truck.
Mr. Reed, an African American sharecropper, risked his life at 18 to appear as a surprise witness in the prosecution of the white men accused of the crime. He became the momentary hero of the Till trial, an event that helped spur the civil rights movement but left a moral stain on the American legal system.
Mr. Reed died July 18 at a hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill. He was 76, and he had lived in Chicago under a different name -- first in secrecy and later in relative obscurity -- since fleeing Mississippi for his safety nearly 60 years ago. For decades, he had worked as a hospital orderly.
Till, who would have turned 72 on Thursday, was, in 1955, a Chicago teenager unacquainted with the strain of racism prevalent in the South. Accused of whistling at or otherwise affronting a white woman, he was abducted from his relatives' home near the hamlet called Money, then beaten and executed.
New blood test might predict sepsis deaths (24 July 2013)
Researchers looking for a test to predict whether someone has a potentially deadly condition called sepsis have made a surprise finding -- they can predict who will die from it.
Their test accurately picked out who would develop severe sepsis and die, versus those who had fairly innocuous infections and lived.
They hope they can develop it into a tool that will help doctors decide who needs immediate hospitalization and intensive treatment, versus those who can tough it out. Eventually, they hope they may be able to predict who might be susceptible to infections of all kinds.
"The test is looking for a signature that will guide a physician -- is this patient going to have a catastrophic illness or is he going to have a mild infection?" said Dr. Stephen Kingsmore, president and chief executive of the National Center for Genome Resources in Santa Fe, N.M., who led the team.
Historic lawsuit seeks billions in damages from oil, gas, pipeline industries for wetlands losses (24 July 2013)
Faced with a continuing loss of wetlands and the protection they provide to newly rebuilt levees in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the authority that oversees East Bank levee districts filed a historic lawsuit Wednesday against 97 oil, gas and pipeline companies, demanding that they immediately restore damage to the wetlands.
Activities related to oil and gas exploration and production -- including dredging and the cutting of canals through the wetlands -- has long been blamed for contributing to the loss of land along the Louisiana coast and making the area more vulnerable to flooding during hurricanes.
Astronomers reveal how galaxies go from burst to bust (24 July 2013)
Images from a nearby galaxy may have explained how star factories can bizarrely slow down, astronomers reported on Wednesday.
Astrophysicists have long puzzled why the Universe has very few galaxies with a high mass, even though there are many galaxies that create stars at a phenomenal rate, sometimes a hundred times greater than our own Milky Way.
In theory, these "starburst" galaxies should have become super-sized -- but until now, no one has known why.
Using a new telescope perched high above Chile's Atacama desert, where ultra-dry air makes for great viewing conditions, astronomers have seen billowing clouds of hydrogen and other gases -- the fuel for making new stars -- fleeing a starburst galaxy called NGC 253.
Located 11.5 million light years away, NGC 253 was discovered in 1783 by Caroline Herschel, sister of William Herschel, who was the first to spot the planet Uranus.
As Poland's fracking future turns cloudy, so does Europe's (24 July 2013)
"The desire for energy independence is strongest in Poland because they suffered a lot by Russia in the last two centuries," says Martin Ehl, a business and energy reporter in Prague, Czech Republic.
It's also about price. Poland imports two-thirds of its gas from Russia, paying prices that are four or five times higher than current prices in the US, says Katarzyna Kacperczyk, the director of the economic cooperation department in Poland's Foreign Ministry. "If we maintain the difference in prices between the US and Europe, European industry is going to lose competitiveness," she says.
But Poland's initial enthusiasm has been tempered since 2011, as hurdles have arisen.
EIA estimates initially showed Poland had 5.3 trillion cubic meters of gas, but Polish geological studies, using different methodologies, estimate potential at only a fraction of that. And according to the EIA's new assessment report from June, potential has been reduced by 20 percent, in part because of more complicated geological conditions for retrieving shale gas.
It's a familiar tale in Europe, where companies weigh whether harder-to-access gas is commercially viable with current technology and unclear regulations that could affect investment gains. Last year, ExxonMobil left Poland after drilling two vertical test wells; two other major energy companies followed suit this spring.
Gulf of Mexico natural gas well catches fire; 44 workers safely evacuated after blowout (24 July 2013)
NEW ORLEANS -- An out-of-control natural gas well off the Louisiana coast has caught fire, hours after a blowout that prompted the evacuation of 44 workers.
Meanwhile, officials stressed that Tuesday's blowout wouldn't be close to as damaging as the 2010 BP oil spill, in which an oil rig, the Deepwater Horizon, exploded off the Louisiana coast, killing 11 workers and eventually spewing millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
No injuries were reported as a result of Tuesday night's fire, Eileen Angelico, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, told The Associated Press.
She said it wasn't known what caused the gas to ignite. It also wasn't clear early Wednesday how and when crews would attempt to extinguish the blaze. BSEE said earlier Tuesday that a firefighting vessel with water and foam capabilities had been dispatched to the scene.
CDC: 250 in 6 states have unidentified stomach bug (24 July 2013)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- More than 250 people in at least six states have come down with a stomach bug that could be linked to foodborne illness.
The Centers for Disease Control says the cyclospora infection causing diarrhea and other flu-like symptoms has been reported in Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, Wisconsin, Georgia and Connecticut. The CDC said 10 people have been hospitalized and most of the reported illnesses occurred from mid-June to early July.
The Food and Drug Administration is investigating the cyclospora infections, which are most often found in tropical or subtropical countries and have been linked to imported fresh produce in the past.
The illness is usually spread when people ingest foods or water contaminated with feces. The agency said it isn't yet clear whether the cases from all of the states are linked.
Lac Megantic: Mayor says town stuck with $4 million in unpaid bills for cleanup (24 July 2013)
LAC-MÉGANTIC, QUE--The American rail company behind the deadly explosion that destroyed a swath of this picturesque Quebec town has ignited a fury by failing to pay more than $4-million in cleanup bills and forcing Lac-Mégantic and the provincial government to pick up the tab.
"This situation is highly deplorable on the part of MM&A and completely unacceptable," said Lac-Mégantic Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche. "The town of Lac-Mégantic can no longer tolerate this situation at a time when efforts are multiplying to deal with this tragedy."
There was no clarification Tuesday from the office of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic's president and chief executive Robert Grindrod other than a "no comment" from his secretary.
The mayor's comments came within hours of the federal government on Tuesday imposing a series of nation-wide safety directives that set more rigorous standards for brake application and procedures for leaving trains unattended. The regulations also outlaw one-person crews, the likes of which were standard with Montreal, Maine & Atlantic at the time of the accident.
Saskatchewan scientists work to protect rarely seen blood-spurting lizard (24 July 2013)
Biologists are conducting a study of the creature, which is also found in southeast Alberta, aiming to help move it off Canada's list of "at-risk" species.
Dr. Shelley Pruss is a species conservation specialist, part of a group of biologists with Parks Canada who are trying to learn more about the lizard.
She says they've only seen it once, partly because it is hard to spot due to its camouflaging armour.
As for the spurting-blood party trick, Pruss says the lizard isn't likely to do it if approach by a human, though the one she saw did have a bit of blood dripping from its eyes.
Student: 'I was victimized' by USC's mishandling of more than 100 rape cases (23 July 2013)
Two University of Southern California students criticized campus officials on Monday for their response to sexual assault victims, which is now being investigated by the U.S. Education Department for the third time regarding the issue.
"Students who go to receive counseling are promised services they never receive," Tucker Reed told KNBC-TV. "They're not informed of their rights, they're not treated with the same respect and they're not provided the same material as the students accused of raping them."
Reed and fellow student Ariella Mostov said in a press conference they and members of their new campus organization, Student Coalition Against Rape (SCAR), filed a complaint with the department containing reports from more than 100 students who said the university stifled their accounts of being raped on campus. Both women also said they are appealing decisions by campus authorities.
"I was really victimized by student counseling and all the resources here," Ariella Mostov said to KNBC, explaining that university police refused to investigate her case, while school officials both misrepresented her testimony to police and refused to let her transfer out of a class she shared with her assailant.
"It was five weeks into the semester, and they could not change it," Mostov said she was told.
White House urges Congress to reject moves to curb NSA surveillance (23 July 2013)
The Obama administration has forcefully urged the defeat of a legislative measure to curb its wide-ranging collection of Americans' phone records, setting up a showdown with the House of Representatives over domestic surveillance.
A statement from the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, late on Tuesday evening capped an extraordinary day of near-revolt on Capitol Hill concerning the secret National Security Agency surveillance programes revealed by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden and published by the Guardian and Washington Post.
The White House urged House members to vote against a measure from Representative Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican, that would stop the NSA siphoning up the telephone records of millions of Americans without suspicion of a crime.
"This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open or deliberative process," said the statement emailed from the White House late on Tuesday in anticipation of a House debate on the Amash measure scheduled for Wednesday.
FDA considers tightening rules on menthol cigarettes (23 July 2013)
WASHINGTON/GENEVA (Reuters) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday it may place restrictions on menthol cigarettes following a scientific review that showed the products are likely to be more addictive than regular cigarettes.
The FDA published preliminary results from a study it conducted that suggests "menthol cigarettes pose a public health risk above that seen with non-menthol cigarettes."
The report found that while menthol cigarettes, which account for about a quarter of all cigarettes sold in the United States, are no more or less toxic than regular cigarettes, menthol's cooling and anesthetic properties can reduce the harshness of cigarette smoke, increasing their appeal to new smokers.
"Menthol smokers show greater signs of nicotine dependence and are less likely to successfully quit smoking," the FDA said.
The FDA is seeking public comment on whether a limit could be set on the amount of menthol in cigarettes. It is also seeking information on how menthol cigarettes are marketed to young people and minorities.
Why breast cancer is more likely to kill black women (23 July 2013)
A diagnosis of breast cancer is more likely to lead to early death for black women than for white women, a disparity that's mainly the result of having more health problems before cancer develops, new research shows.
Of the black women on Medicare who were told they had breast cancer, 55.9% were still alive five years later. That compared with 68.8% of white women who were the same age, lived in the same area and were diagnosed in the same year, according to a study published in Wednesday's edition of the Journal of the American Medical Assn.
But the more that white women had in common with black women, the smaller the discrepancy became. When the researchers compared the black breast cancer patients with white patients who had similar demographic characteristics as well as similar tumors, the survival gap of 12.9 percentage points shrank to 4.4 points. And when the researchers focused on white patients who had not only similar demographics and tumors but who also got similar breast cancer treatments, the gap narrowed further, to 3.6 percentage points.
To the research team, this suggested that black women with breast cancer fared worse than whites because they were sicker to start with. For example, they noted, 26% of the black patients already had diabetes when they were told they had breast cancer; among the group of white women matched for age, year of cancer diagnosis and area of residence, 15.3% had diabetes.
Detroit Goes Bankrupt: Will Unelected Manager Pit City's Needs Against Rights of Pensioners? (23 July 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and, before that, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. The Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing has set off what could be a prolonged legal battle with thousands of current and former city employees entitled to pensions and medical benefits. Detroit's Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr has told public unions to brace for "significant cuts" but hasn't laid out details. Speaking to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Orr said he is talking about a "significant sum of money."
KEVYN ORR: We're going to have a dialogue with the pension funds about what we can do. And there are two different funds: police and fire, and general services. And they may have different levels of funding. And all we're talking about in this restructuring is the unfunded component of those pension funds. So I want to be clear, the pensioners--
CHRIS WALLACE: But that's billions of dollars.
KEVYN ORR: It's a significant sum of money. Make no mistake about it. And there are going to have to be concessions. Concessions may be different for each fund, and they're going to be focused on the unfunded portion. But they will have some component of their pensions.
East Bank levee authority to file lawsuit Wednesday aimed at getting oil, gas, pipeline firms to restore wetlands and ridges (23 July 2013)
The regional levee authority overseeing East Bank flood protection will file a lawsuit Wednesday against dozens of oil, gas and pipeline companies aimed at forcing them to repair damage to a buffer zone of wetlands and ridges "that helps protect the greater New Orleans region from catastrophic flooding," according to a press release from the agency.
Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East officials would not publicly comment Tuesday on what could be a historic lawsuit that, if successful, would require the energy companies to fill in canals and restore wetlands and other land features that scientists say help reduce the size of storm surges caused by hurricanes.
Activities related to oil and gas exploration -- including dredging and the cutting of canals through the wetlands -- has long been blamed for contributing to the loss of land along the Louisiana coast and making the area more vulnerable to flooding during hurricanes.
The East Bank authority oversees the East Jefferson, Orleans and Lake Borgne levee districts and also has authority over future flood protection projects in St. Tammany and Tangipahoa parishes.
Iron County officials start push to evict tribal harvest camp near mine site (23 July 2013)
Members of the Iron County board are urging criminal and civil penalties against a tribal encampment on public land near a controversial proposed iron mine.
The county board's forestry committee voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend that the full board authorize such charges, prompting the local prosecutor to question whether any serious offenses are being committed and the leader of a second tribe to say he'll soon establish another camp in the area.
The effort to remove the camp is the latest flashpoint in the polarizing mine project, which in recent weeks has seen complaints lodged against a heavily armed but unlicensed security detail hired by the mine company and criminal charges against a protester.
The camp was established in April to draw attention to the natural resources of the Penokee Hills by members of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe. Tribal elder Melvin Gasper couldn't be reached for comment.
Officers who pepper-sprayed UC Davis students can be named, court rules (23 July 2013)
A state appellate court ruled Tuesday that newspapers have a right to learn, and publish, the names of all the UC Davis campus police officers involved in the controversial and much-publicized pepper-spraying of student protesters in 2011.
However, the court held that the Los Angeles Times and the Sacramento Bee cannot immediately obtain the names, which were redacted from two UC-commissioned reports on the incident. The UC police officers union, which has sought to maintain the confidentiality of the officers, now will decide whether to appeal the matter to the state Supreme Court, the union attorney said.
Following a similar ruling last year by a Superior Court judge in Alameda County, the three-judge appeals court in San Francisco unanimously held that the California Public Records Act allows the newspapers to obtain names of the dozen or so UC police who planned, participated or witnessed the pepper spraying.
The UC system issued two reports on the Nov. 18, 2011, incident, which criticized the police actions in general terms. The police union contended that those reports were a form of citizens' complaints of misconduct against specific officers who deserve confidentiality; the appeals panel rejected that position.
Appeal court upholds sea lions decision (23 July 2013)
ANCHORAGE, ALASKA -- A federal agency was correct when it restricted fishing in the Aleutian Islands to protect endangered Steller sea lions, which are nutritionally stressed because of a lack of food, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.
The decision from the appeals court, written by Judge Mary M. Schroeder, said the National Marine Fisheries Service did not violate the Endangered Species Act when it based the restrictions on declines in sub-regions of the species and not the entire population.
Schroeder also said "the agency utilized appropriate standards to find that continuing previous fishing levels in those sub-regions would adversely modify the critical habitat and jeopardize the continued existence of the entire population."
The court's decision upholds an earlier judgment from the U.S. District Court in Anchorage against the plaintiffs, the state of Alaska and commercial fishing interests.
Climate activists to march on Google's campus in protest of Inhofe fundraiser (23 July 2013)
Demonstrators will amass on Google's Mountain View headquarters Wednesday morning to protest the search giant's decision to host a fundraiser earlier this month for climate change denier Sen. James Inhofe.
The Oklahoma Republican famously declared that "global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people," despite a wide body of science research to the contrary.
Members of 350 Silicon Valley, Forecast the Facts and other organizations will deliver a petition signed by 50,000 people calling on the company to "stop funding climate denial."
The activists say they hope to point out to Google's "environmentally-minded and science-oriented employees and management," that their company helped raise funds for one of the most prominent and enthusiastic global warming deniers in Congress. He's also got a horrendous record on gay rights.
Anthony Weiner, wife Huma Abedin at his side, says he will stay in mayoral race after admitting to sexually explicit chats (23 July 2013)
Anthony Weiner's comeback campaign was rocked Tuesday by a new cybersex shocker, but he said he won't quit the mayoral race -- and his wife said she won't quit their marriage.
Spouse Huma Abedin, in an extraordinarily candid state of their union address, declared her commitment to Weiner despite revelations he had X-rated online liaisons with a woman a year after he resigned from Congress for similar behavior.
Weiner used the nom de perv "Carlos Danger" as he sent lewd photos of himself to the woman and engaged in sex chats with her.
"Our marriage, like many others, had its ups and downs," said Abedin, wearing a tight smile, as she faced a media horde. "It took a lot of work and a whole lot of therapy . . . but I made the decision to stay in this marriage."
Alaska's latest climate worries: Massive wildfires and gushing glaciers (23 July 2013)
Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice. Alaska, by the looks of it, is on track for a double apocalypse.
The home of Sarah "global warming my gluteus maximus" Palin faces a daunting confluence of climate-related challenges, from rising seas to gushing glaciers to massive wildfires. Even Mayor Stubbs (who we'd expect to be cool about this kind of thing) won't answer questions about the state's fate.
Raging blazes in Arizona and Colorado have dominated wildfire news in recent years, but the biggest fires of the past decade burned in Alaska, which is warming twice as fast as the lower 48 states. There, flames have swallowed more than a half-million acres at a time (that's 781 square miles) of boreal forest, the landscape of spruce and fir trees dominant below the Arctic Circle. And a new study says that this fiery phase is here to stay. From the L.A. Times:
"A warming climate could promote so much wildfire in the boreal zone that the forests may convert to deciduous woodlands of aspen and birch, researchers said."
Cabela's building on gun sale gains by leveraging data (23 July 2013)
Data collection begins as customers, whether in-store, online or from one of the more than 100 catalogs the company publishes each year, are lured into joining Cabela's Club Rewards loyalty program or sign up for its Club Rewards Visa card. Customers are prompted to use accumulated points at checkout, creating a positive feedback loop.
All told, 29 percent of sales at the company are made using its Cabela's credit card, which is issued by a company-owned bank called The World's Foremost Bank and accounts for 10 percent of revenues. Competitors like Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS.N) and Target (TGT.N), by comparison, do not own their own banks.
"This is by far the easiest and best loyalty rewards program that I've ever seen," Anderson said, noting that customers do not need rebates or face other restrictions on purchases.
In 2007, Cabela's launched a new data analytics program, built by Teradata Corp (TDC.N), that integrated figures from across all of its retail channels. The system allows someone in the marketing department, say, to access a single day's sales data by the next morning, and launch an email marketing campaign to boost sales. Previously, that process would have taken several days.
Few retailers streamline their data to the same degree, says Jeff Tanner, a professor of marketing at Baylor University who has studied retailers' use of data.
Censoring Howard Zinn: Former Indiana Gov. Tried to Remove "A People's History" from State Schools (22 July 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to a battle over the work of the late historian Howard Zinn, author of many books, including his classic, A People's History of the United States. The book sold over a million copies, is still used in high schools and colleges across the country.
Howard Zinn died at the age of 87 on January 27, 2010. Less than two weeks after Zinn's death, then-Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels sought the removal of Zinn's work from the schools of Indiana. The revelation was made last week by the Associated Press after it obtained Daniels' emails through a public records request.
In an email exchange with top Indiana education officials, Daniels wrote, quote, "This terrible anti-American academic has finally passed away." After he described A People's History of the United States as a, quote, "truly execrable, anti-factual piece of disinformation that misstates American history on every page," Governor Daniels asked, quote, "Can someone assure me that it is not in use anywhere in Indiana? If it is, how do we get rid of it before more young people are force-fed a totally false version of our history?'' Daniels asked.
Governor Daniels' comments have sparked outrage within the academic world, in part because he recently became the president of Purdue University, the second largest school in Indiana. On Friday, the American Historical Association issued a statement saying it, quote, "deplores the spirit and intent" of Daniels' emails. The association wrote, quote, "Attempts to single out particular texts for suppression from a school or university curriculum have no place in a democratic society."
New study shows rare birth defect is becoming more common (22 July 2013)
In 1995, there were 8 babies with gastroschisis out of every 10,000 babies born to women under age 20. By 2005, that number was 15 out of every 10,000 babies.
The proportion of babies with gastroschisis born to Asian women and Native American women remained steady over the study period.
White, black and Hispanic mothers, however, experienced a roughly four to six percent increased risk each year of having a baby with the malformation.
Researchers have not identified what's behind these increases.
A previous study of women in Washington state found that exposure to the weed killer atrazine was tied to an increased risk of having a baby with gastroschisis, although it did not show that the chemical caused the malformation (see Reuters Health story of February 8, 2010 here: reut.rs/l9aVTl).
Kirby speculated that it's possible nutrition could have something to do with the trend, but more research is needed to figure it out. "We know that there are influences of different vitamins and nutrients that definitely affect fetal development," he said. But as far as their relation to gastroschisis, "that's just a suspicion."
North Dakota law restricting abortion blocked by federal judge (22 July 2013)
A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked a new North Dakota law that bans abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected -- as early as six weeks into pregnancy, calling the law "clearly invalid and unconstitutional."
U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland in Bismarck granted a temporary injunction Monday that blocks the law from taking effect on August 1.
"There is no question that (the North Dakota law) is in direct contradiction to a litany of United States Supreme Court cases addressing restraints on abortion," Hovland wrote. "(It) is clearly an invalid and unconstitutional law based on the United States Supreme Court precedent in Roe v Wade from 1973 ... and the progeny of cases that have followed."
New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing Fargo's Red River Women's Clinic, filed the lawsuit after the law was passed this year by the North Dakota legislature. It would outlaw the procedure as early as six weeks into pregnancy and before some women even know they are pregnant.
Dolphins use signature whistles to call each other by 'name' (22 July 2013)
Flipper probably already had a name long before his human family named him. Researchers have discovered that bottlenose dolphins address each other using "signature whistles" -- indicating that other species came up with names for individuals before humans did, new research shows.
Scientists already knew that dolphins that were closely related would copy each other's whistles. But it wasn't clear whether the sounds were signature whistles or other whistle types.
For the new study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, marine biologists from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland applied a technique they published in January to identify signature whistles using several criteria, such as their tendency to be repetitive and remain constant over time.
For more than four months, the team followed different groups of wild dolphins off the east coast of Scotland, and identified and recorded each individual's signature whistle. Using an onboard computer, they created synthetic versions of the whistles that could be played back. But there was a twist: They removed the vocal characteristics of the dolphins that uttered them. That way, if the whistlers responded, it meant they were reacting to the whistle pattern itself, not simply because they had recognized their own voices.
Boehner Says He Can't Take a Stand on the Issues Because It Makes His Job Harder (22 July 2013) [InfoWars.com]
(CNSNews.com) - House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) apparently sees his role as more of a facilitator than a leader.
Asked repeatedly if he favors a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal aliens, Boehner told CBS's "Face the Nation" that his job is not to take a stand, but to let the House "work its will."
"My job in this -- in this process is to facilitate a discussion and to facilitate a process so the American people can see what we're doing and so the members understand that we're dealing with this in a deliberative way," Boehner said.
Pressed repeatedly on whether he personally favors a pathway to citizenship, Boehner demurred:
Training or work? Unpaid interns want companies to pay up (22 July 2013)
In the year since Patel first filed her complaint she hasn't heard from Bell, but remains hopeful because interns across North America have been winning cases like hers.
Last month, two unpaid interns working on the Oscar-winning film Black Swan successfully sued Fox Searchlight pictures. A New York district judge ordered the film production company to pay back wages because the interns did the same work as regular employees, provided value to the company and performed low-level tasks that didn't require any specialized training. Fox is appealing the ruling.
Shortly after the decision, interns at Gawker, an American celebrity website, also filed a suit for unpaid wages.
Here in Canada, interns are also starting to file complaints -- and win. In 2012, Kyle Iannuzzi was awarded almost $1,000 in back wages from Platinum Events Group in what he believes was the first successful complaint against a company for an unpaid internship in Ontario.
WHO had asked India to ban toxin that killed children (22 July 2013)
(Reuters) - The pesticide that killed 23 Indian schoolchildren last week is a nerve poison banned by many countries because of what the World Health Organization (WHO) describes as its "high acute toxicity".
As early as 2009, the United Nations health agency urged India to consider a ban on the pesticide monocrotophos - the substance said by a magistrate investigating the deaths to be the cause of the poisoning.
It had also warned that in India - against strong international health warnings - many pesticide containers are not thrown away after use but recycled and used for storing water, food and other consumables.
In last week's case in the Indian state of Bihar, the children fell ill within minutes of eating a meal of rice and potato curry in their one-room school. They were vomiting and convulsing with stomach cramps - symptoms that experts say would be common in poisoning with such a toxic chemical.
The man who gave away $7.5billion: Philanthropist who inspired Bill Gates and Warren Buffet wants his money all spent on good causes by the time he's dead (22 July 2013)
An Irish-American billionaire who kept his philanthropy secret for 15 years has given away $7.5billion (£4.9billion) - and plans for it all to go to charity before his dies.
Chuck Feeney, 82, wears a $15 Casio watch, travels in coach, does not own a car is a self-confessed 'shabby dresser' and sensibly made his children work their way through college.
He has given away 99 per cent of his fortune to health, science, education and civil rights causes around the world through his Atlantic Philanthropies foundation.
Feeney, who still has a sizeable $2million left in the bank, made his money from duty free shopping and quietly began giving his money away in the 1980s.
His generosity went unknown until 1997 and he even made charities keep the source of their donations secret because he did not want the attention.
Feeney's 'giving while living' philosophy inspired Bill and Melinda Gates to set up their charitable foundation as well as Warren Buffet's Giving Pledge, where some of the richest people in the world have promised to give away half of their fortune during their lifetime.
Half a billion SIM cards could be bugged or have information stolen from them because of 'serious security flaws' (22 July 2013)
An eighth of all SIM cards used around the world could be at risk of fraud, theft, or being bugged, a German security expert has claimed.
Karsten Nohl, a cryptographer, discovered the serious security flaw that could let hackers send hidden text messages to affected handsets and infect them with a virus - regardless of what operating system the phone runs on.
The findings have implications for almost half a billion people worldwide.
Once a handset is infected, hackers can remotely access the phone to send premium rate text messages, steal money and personal information, record calls and even bug owners to track their location.
Air Force aims to land more top guns amid pilot shortage (22 July 2013)
It may be hard to imagine that life as a high-flying fighter jock has lost its swagger, but the Air Force revealed it has a shortage of 200 fighter pilots this year. And if something isn't done, the Air Force, which has about 3,000 fighter pilots, fears it may face a shortfall of 700 by 2021.
Empty cockpits are bad news for the military, which is already shoveling money into the development of the world's most expensive program, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet -- expected to cost nearly $400 billion. The cost is a double whammy for taxpayers, because the Air Force said it costs taxpayers about $6 million to train a fighter pilot.
Several factors are behind the exodus of pilots, officials said, including a surge in demand for better-paying commercial pilots, the stresses of deployments and reassignments to fly combat drones, the remote-controlled technology that has reshaped modern warfare.
As a result, the Air Force is offering a souped-up incentive package under something called the Aviator Retention Program, which was first rolled out in 1989. The program now offers a $25,000 signing bonus per year for nine years -- nearly twice as long as the usual contract.
Rig that hit Asiana crash victim didn't have heat sensor installed (21 July 2013)
San Francisco airport officials had purchased heat sensing equipment that experts say might have prevented a 16-year-old Asiana Airlines victim from being hit by a fire rig, but the infrared technology to detect and map obstacles was not acquired for the rig that ran over the girl.
Ye Meng Yuan, a student from China, was covered with fire retardant foam when she was hit by at least one of the airport's rigs shortly after the plane crashed on landing on July 6. On Friday, the San Mateo county coroner said Ye was alive when she was hit by the rig.
The two-axle truck is believed to have run her over as it moved to get a better position to spray foam on the fire, police investigators have said. The older-model engine - No. 37 - did not have infrared forward-looking imaging technology now required by federal law, fire officials acknowledge. Other airport rigs are equipped with the technology.
The system measures heat given off from objects on the ground as well as hot spots left in burning debris. The equipment is designed to detect objects that are otherwise invisible in fog, smoke and debris. It is especially vital on giant airport rigs, which are difficult to see around because of their size.
Leaked memo reveals big pharma's strategy to combat regulators who want drug trial results published (21 July 2013)
The pharmaceutical industry has "mobilised" an army of patient groups to lobby against plans to force companies to publish secret documents on drugs trials.
Drugs companies publish only a fraction of their results and keep much of the information to themselves, but regulators want to ban the practice. If companies published all of their clinical trials data, independent scientists could reanalyse their results and check companies' claims about the safety and efficacy of drugs.
Under proposals being thrashed out in Europe, drugs companies would be compelled to release all of their data, including results that show drugs do not work or cause dangerous side-effects.
While some companies have agreed to share data more freely, the industry has broadly resisted the moves. The latest strategy shows how patient groups -- many of which receive some or all of their funding from drugs companies -- have been brought into the battle.
100 percent of children are found to be exposed to excessive arsenic, dioxins and pesticides in latest study (21 July 2013)
(NaturalNews) A new study on dietary toxin exposure found that all the participating children exceeded the cancer benchmark levels for arsenic, dioxins, dieldrin, and DDE, while 95 percent of preschoolers exceeded the non-cancer benchmark for acrylamide. More worrying was that the cancer risk ratios were exceeded 100-fold for arsenic and dioxins.
Children and adults exceed cancer benchmark levels for six toxins
Researchers at the University of California, Davis recently carried out the first-ever study to consider dietary exposure to 11 toxins simultaneously, including acrylamide, arsenic, lead, mercury, dioxins and several banned pesticides (chlordane, DDE, dieldrin). The study's participants included 364 children aged two to seven, 446 parents of young children, and 149 older adults, all living in California. To assess exposure levels, researchers used food-frequency questionnaires along with toxin content datasets from the Environmental Protection Agency. Exposure levels were then compared with the "cancer benchmark" of each toxin, which is the exposure level that would generate one excess cancer per million people over a 70-year lifetime. Non-cancer benchmark levels were also considered, for health effects other than cancer.
The researchers found that average exposure levels of the children and adults exceeded cancer benchmark levels for arsenic, lead, dieldrin, DDE and dioxins, while the children also exceeded cancer-benchmark levels of chlordane. Both children and adults also exceeded the non-cancer benchmark for acrylamide exposure. Most worrying was that for each of these toxins, children showed greater exposure margins than adults. In fact, children exceeded the cancer benchmark levels 10-fold for DDE, nearly 100-fold for dieldrin, and over 100-fold for arsenic and dioxins. Researchers noted that children are most at risk from these toxins because they are still developing.
Health effects of the most prevalent toxins
Arsenic has been linked to liver, lung, kidney, and bladder cancers. Dieldrin is a banned insecticide suspected to cause cancer, Parkinson's disease and low birth weight. DDE is a metabolite of the banned pesticide DDT, and is known to damages cells' genetic material. Chlordane is also a banned pesticide and has been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity and low birth weight. All of these toxins, and especially dioxins, are also suspected endocrine disruptors and may therefore also disturb the development of the children's immune, nervous and reproductive systems.
Gorilla bean harvest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo -- in pictures (22 July 2013)
Protein-rich gorilla beans have been bred to target malnutrition in DRC's North and South Kivu provinces. They contain up to double the iron and 70% more zinc than regular beans, and are often used as a meat substitute. Much of the scientific research into the purple and white kidney-shaped pulses, which have been produced without genetic modification, has been conducted by African research institutions
Violent attacks amid seasonal rise in homeless population raise tension in city (20 July 2013)
The group of street kids, none of whom would provide last names, knows the site of Monday's assault well: They regularly sit outside the Portland Outdoor Store at Southwest Third Avenue and Oak Street. They say they've had ongoing confrontations with Larry Allen, 70, an employee there for 30 years.
On Monday afternoon, a young man struck Allen in the head with a skateboard. Allen has been hospitalized since.
The incidents come at a tense time downtown. Every summer the homeless population balloons, as do the area's assault, vandalism and disorderly conduct crimes. In 2012, police responded to about 150 more such incidents in the summer than the winter.
Whether crime stems from hot weather, more people outdoors, or more transients on the sidewalk is a matter of dispute. Regardless, the downtown assault, an alleged related assault on another Portland Outdoor Store employee, two recent stabbings of TriMet drivers, and clashes with food-cart operators have turned attention to what many see as increasing problems with Portland's growing homeless population.
Whitey Bulger trial: 'Rifleman' Flemmi details murder after grisly murder (19 July 2013)
In matter-of-fact tones that made him appear completely unmoved at recalling the many violent deaths he admits causing or helping plan, Stephen "the Rifleman" Flemmi on Friday detailed murder after grisly murder committed alongside defendant James "Whitey" Bulger.
Mr. Flemmi's graphic testimony at the federal courthouse in Boston may be the most important part of the case for prosecutors who are trying to provide the jury with chapter-and-verse insider testimony to nail shut each of the 32 racketeering charges, including 19 murders, against Mr. Bulger. Flemmi detailed about half of those murders Friday -- with his testimony expected to continue next week.
Bulger and Flemmi ran the South-Boston-based Winter Hill Gang for more than 20 years, making millions by extorting bookies, loan sharks, and drug dealers, prosecutors say. But the pair also planned -- and mopped up after -- the killing of mob figures, businessmen, potential informants or "rats" -- including even Flemmi's own girlfriend, Debra Davis.
Bulger strangled Ms. Davis in 1981 "because I couldn't do it -- and he knew it," Flemmi testified.
'Highly toxic': Fatal Indian school meal contained concentrated pesticide (21 July 2013)
PATNA, India - The free school lunch that killed 23 Indian children last week was contaminated with concentrated pesticide which is not widely available, the district magistrate overseeing the police investigation told Reuters on Sunday.
The children fell ill within minutes of eating a meal of rice and potato curry in their one-room school in Bihar state on Tuesday, vomiting and convulsing with stomach cramps.
The deaths sparked protests in Bihar. The lunch was part of India's Mid-Day Meal Scheme that covers 120 million children and aims to tackle malnutrition and encourage school attendance. It had already drawn widespread complaints over food safety.
An initial forensic investigation found that the meal had been prepared with cooking oil that contained monocrotophos, an organophosphorus compound that is used as an agricultural pesticide, Ravindra Kumar, a senior police official, told reporters on Saturday.
How do we use electricity? (21 July 2013)
We use electricity virtually every minute of every day, yet few of us know exactly how much or where it goes. By answering the simple question "how do we use electricity," this post will help us understand.
Electricity use by sector
Before we dive in, some perspective is useful: Although this breakdown varies from country to country, household electricity use generally makes up about a third of total electricity consumption in most developed nations. Here's how electricity use breaks down among the 27 countries that make up the European Union: [see original article for graph]
So when we talk about household electricity use, it is worth remembering homes only account for about a third of total electricity use.
How do we use electricity at home?
Average household electricity use varies greatly among countries.
The average American home uses 2.5 times that of a U.K. household, more than four times that of an Italian home, and over 10 times that of an Indian house.
FEMA's flood maps aren't ready to go: Editorial (21 July 2013)
It makes no sense for FEMA to issue maps that are lacking in significant ways. The agency argued that the maps are preliminary and that parishes have 90 days to express their concerns.
That's true, but 90 days isn't very long to sort out what in some cases are complicated disagreements. FEMA also says that many residents will see their insurance rates go down because of improvements in the federal flood protection system since Hurricane Katrina.
But that will be small comfort to residents and businesses that get slammed despite doing everything FEMA told them to do when they rebuilt.
There are very real consequences to the new maps. Flood insurance rates for residents will be based on the level of risk indicated by them. And if the flood protection in place isn't accurately reflected, homeowners and businesses are going to take an unfair financial hit.
Unless Congress intervenes, the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act passed last year will make the insurance rate increases much worse for some homeowners. The act is phasing in market rates for coverage. It also did away with the grandfather provision that shielded property owners from rate spikes if they had built to proper specifications but later were reclassified because of new flood maps.
The combination of bad maps and Biggert-Waters could put some residents in a serious bind.
Gold rush-era discards could fuel cellphones, TVs (21 July 2013)
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Across the West, early miners digging for gold, silver and copper had no idea that one day something else very valuable would be buried in the piles of dirt and rocks they tossed aside.
There's a rush in the U.S. to find key components of cellphones, televisions, weapons systems, wind turbines, MRI machines and the regenerative brakes in hybrid cars, and old mine tailings piles just might be the answer. They may contain a group of versatile minerals the periodic table called rare earth elements.
"Uncle Sam could be sitting on a gold mine," said Larry Meinert, director of the mineral resource program for the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, Va.
The USGS and Department of Energy are on a nationwide scramble for deposits of the elements that make magnets lighter, bring balanced hues to fluorescent lighting and color to the touch screens of smartphones in order to break the Chinese stranglehold on those supplies.
How Microsoft spent a decade 'sleeping on the job' (21 July 2013)
Because most of the expense in creating software is incurred upfront, once it's been written every subsequent copy is, effectively, free to produce. And because for a long time Microsoft Windows was the only game in the corporate town, all Bill and his mates had to do was collect their monopoly rents. Which they did.
Indeed, they were so focused on the revenue stream that flowed from the world's desktops into their coffers that they failed to notice an important development. It was called the internet and a cheeky start-up company called Netscape was busy exploiting it.
Netscape's leaders even talked boldly about the likelihood that a program called a "web browser" might one day replace operating systems like Windows.
Now that did get Bill's attention, and in 1995 he composed a famous internal memo that likened the net to a tidal wave. "Developments on the internet over the next several years," he wrote, "will set the course of our industry for a long time to come... I have gone through several stages of increasing my views of its importance. Now I assign the internet the highest level of importance. In this memo I want to make clear that our focus on the internet is crucial to every part of our business. The internet is the most important single development to come along since the IBM PC was introduced in 1981."
Back to Pam's NEWS ARCHIVES
Back to Pam's vegan vegetarian FUN page
Pam's vegan vegetarian cookbook, with vegan vegetarian recipes
Sources (if found on major news boards):
[AJ] - InfoWars.com, PrisonPlanet.com, or other Alex Jones-affiliated sites
[BF] - BuzzFlash.com
[DN] - DemocracyNow.org
[R] - Rense.com
[WRH] - WhatReallyHappened.com