Pam Rotella's Vegetarian FUN page -- News on health, nutrition, the environment, politics, and more!
NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2012
News from the Week of 4th to 10th of August 2013
Kidnapping, murder suspect killed, teen girl 'safe' after Idaho manhunt (10 August 2013)
DiMaggio and Hannah were first spotted from a plane near the lake, according to Ada County Sheriff's Office spokesman Patrick Orr. But smoky conditions made it difficult for the teams to see consistently or fly safely.
Officials then decided to send in two FBI hostage rescue teams, and the area's steep terrain forced helicopters to drop the teams into the wilderness. It took the agents more than two hours to hike the rugged land and reach DiMaggio's camp.
Once the camp was surrounded, the teams held their ground, not wanting to alert DiMaggio, according to Orr. The FBI agents waited until he and Hannah were separated and moved in, escorting her to safety.
One of the FBI agents killed DiMaggio, said Mary Rook, special agent in charge of the Salt Lake City office of the FBI. Authorities did not disclose whether agents tried to get DiMaggio to give himself up or whether he was shot on sight.
Singing a Song In Wisconsin Can Land You In Jail (10 August 2013) [InfoWars.com]
Police Chief David Erwin called the Solidarity Sing Along an "unlawful event."
The warnings continued for a about a week and then arrests were made.
The singing comes in the wake of a July 8 ruling by U.S. District Judge William Conley that the Capitol Police's requirement for a permit for any gathering of four or more people is unconstitutional.
Conley ruled that the police could only require a permit for groups larger than 20.
UPDATE: 33 arrested Wis. singers request jury trials (10 August 2013)
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- More than 40 protesters arrested by Capitol Police during a crackdown on a daily sing-along conducted without permits have pleaded not guilty, and 33 have requested jury trials.
A Wisconsin State Journal report (http://bit.ly/13r78oJ ) says police have issued 223 citations or recommended charges in the last two weeks against people participating in the noontime Solidarity Sing-along.
The protesters sing against Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Police began arresting them last month after a federal judge ruled officers can require large groups to get a permit to gather in the building. The protesters refuse to apply for permits, saying they shouldn't need the government's permission to protest the government.
State Justice Department spokesman Steven Mean says a judge will determine whether people will be tried individually or as a group.
Filipino farmers destroy genetically modified 'Golden Rice' crops (10 August 2013)
A group of activist farmers in the Philippines stormed a government research facility and destroyed an area of genetically modified rice crops the size of 10 football fields. According to New Scientist, the farmers say that genetically modified organism (GMO) foods have not been established to be safe for consumption and that the real solution to world hunger isn't biologically engineered plants, but a reduction in worldwide rates of poverty.
"The Golden Rice is a poison," said Willy Marbella to New Scientist. Marbella is a farmer and deputy secretary general of a group of activists known as KMP -- Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas or Peasant Movement of the Philippines.
The farmers attacked the fields at the research facility in Pili, Camarines Sur out of concern that their own crops could be pollinated and thereby contaminated by the GMO plants, possibly resulting in a boycott of their products like U.S. farmers of soft white wheat saw when a strain of Monsanto herbicide-resistant wheat abruptly appeared in an Oregon field. South Korea and Japan both halted imports of U.S. wheat in the wake of the discovery.
Golden Rice is a strain of rice that has been modified by scientists to contain beta carotene, a source of vitamin A. An estimated 2 million people die from vitamin A deficiency worldwide every year. Annually, about 500,000 children -- mainly in the developing world -- go blind from lack of the nutrient.
PAM COMMENTARY: The argument against "golden rice," not covered in this article, is that GMOs have documented health risks, and the companies marketing "franken-seeds" haven't been honest about them. Also, food advocates have pointed out that money is better spent on carrot seeds or other Vitamin A-rich vegetables rather than patented grain seeds, for those who can afford the extra money for seeds at all.
Six easy steps to avoid common genetically modified foods (10 August 2013)
(NaturalNews) Awareness about the presence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the food supply is at an all-time high throughout America, thanks in large part to the Proposition 37 ballot initiative in California. But many people are now asking the question, "If GMOs aren't labeled, how can I know whether or not the foods I buy contain them?" To help you make the best effort at avoiding GMOs while shopping at the grocery store, here are six recommendations on what to look for and what to avoid.
1) Avoid purchasing foods that contain non-organic soy, corn, cottonseed or canola ingredients. Practically every processed food found in the "middle aisle" section of the grocery store contains some form of soy, corn, cottonseed, or canola, all crops of which are typically GMO if not certified organic. Everything from cookies and crackers to cereals and snack food items contain them, which means you will want to avoid them like the plague.
Common ingredients to specifically watch out for include some of the more obvious ones like high-fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, and canola oil. But several others you will want to be aware of include soy lecithin, an emulsifier added to all sorts of foods, including "health" foods, as well as soy protein, textured vegetable protein, mixed tocopherols (vitamin E), and food starch. Unless certified organic, all of these ingredients are likely GMO.
2) If PLU code on fruits, vegetables starts with an "8," avoid such produce. When shopping for fruits and vegetables, your first choice will want to be those labeled with a five-digit PLU that begins with a "9," which indicates that it is certified organic. Produce items containing a four-digit PLU are considered "conventional," which means they are not technically GMO, but may still contain pesticides and other toxic residues. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has created a helpful shopping guide for picking out safe produce.
Produce items you will want to specifically and always avoid are those bearing a five-digit PLU beginning with the number "8," as these are GMOs. The vast majority of non-organic papaya, as well as several varieties of non-organic zucchini and squash are also of GM origin, so you will want to specifically purchase organic varieties of these foods as well. Genetic manipulators are also now working on a GM apple that does not turn brown, so watch out for any apple that stays unnaturally white when sliced or bruised.
Smoky Mountains National Park a hotbed for ginseng poaching (10 August 2013)
CHEROKEE, N.C. -- The first thing National Park Service Ranger Lamon Brown noticed was an illegal campsite, littered with food wrappers and marked by a smoldering fire ring.
Then the ranger spotted two figures skulking out of the dense forest near Andrews Bald in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Their hands were filthy. Their clothes were muddy. One toted a bulging backpack.
These were the Hurley boys, notorious for rustling wild ginseng roots, a federal crime in the park. Inside the backpack were 805 wild ginseng roots, resembling dirty wrinkled fingers and weighing in at a hefty 11.22 pounds -- worth $600 a pound in local markets at the time.
Billy Joe and Jeffrey Hurley were later convicted, and more than 650 of the roots they had illegally harvested were replanted by park botanists. But even with the replanting program and vigilant rangers, the park is losing its battle against poachers. High ginseng demand and soaring prices have sent thieves tramping through the vast park to strip the landscape.
"We're barely putting a dent in it," said District Ranger Joe Pond, an enforcement officer who has chased ginseng poachers through the forest. "For every one we catch, at least 10 more get away."
EMF exposures destroy health and well-being, claims panel of top international scientists (10 August 2013)
(NaturalNews) Nearly 8 million people worldwide die from cancer on an annual basis. Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death, killing almost 17 million people in 2011; both of these statistics are spiraling out of control. Now three top scientists, Dr. Panagopoulos of the University of Athens , Associate Prof. Johansson of the Karolinska Institute, and Dr. Carlo of the Science and Public Policy Institute, are sounding the alarm bell.
Leaders in their respective fields, Panagopoulos, Johansson, and Carlo, claim electromagnetic field (EMF) exposures significantly below international safety levels exposures are destroying the public's health and well-being.
Recent study findings
This latest study concluded the present standard of measuring EMFs, Specific Absorption Rate (SAR), to be totally inappropriate. SAR measures the heating effect of EMF based technologies like microwave ovens, cell phones, cordless phones, Wi-Fi and the like. But countless studies have brought to light adverse biological effects at radiation levels significantly below levels where a thermal effect is detected.
Dr. Carlo points out the life-threatening consequences of using SAR as an exposure metric in establishing the outcomes of EMF studies:
• "Studies which show 'no effect' are likely "false negatives."
• "Studies that show an effect are likely under-reporting the true risk."
Wyden: Obama's NSA Proposals Are Nice, But They Don't Go Far Enough (9 August 2013)
On Friday afternoon, President Obama held a press conference where he promised to bring increased transparency to the NSA's digital surveillance programs. He announced a series of proposed reforms to the way the NSA collects data and to how the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) operates, along with plans to convene a group of "outside experts to review our entire intelligence and communications technologies."
US Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has been one of the biggest thorns in the administration's side when it comes to raising questions about how mass surveillance programs threaten civil liberties. After the president's remarks, he said that he was encouraged by Obama's suggestions, several of which the Senator and others have been pushing to get for years.
The press conference came on the heels of the Guardian's latest scoop based on documents it obtained from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Contrary to President Obama's oft-repeated claim that Americans' data is protected from warrantless bulk collection and analysis, the paper reported on Friday morning that the NSA can access US citizens' email and phone calls without a warrant using a "secret backdoor into its vast databases."
While Wyden said he appreciated Obama announcing his support for reforming the section of the Patriot Act that the government has secretly interpreted to justify gobbling up millions of Americans' records, and praised his plan to make proceedings at the foreign intelligence court more adversarial, the senator pointed out areas where he thought the president didn't go far enough.
Oil and gas jobs have grown 40 percent since 2007 (9 August 2013)
Jobs in the oil and gas sector have grown 40 percent in the last five years, helping to counteract the tepid one percent increase in total U.S. employment.
The oil and natural gas industry created more than 162,000 jobs from 2007 to 2012 in drilling, extraction and support services, according to a report by the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics released Friday.
These new jobs helped build up the ranks of the more than 971,000 people working in the industry in the U.S., including about 379,800 in Texas, according to an April report by The Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association.
Oil and gas jobs make up just one-half of one percent of private sector employment, but have created a host of new opportunities, especially in Texas and North Dakota, as the shale boom continues. Texas now produces more than 74 million barrels of crude a month, about a third of all US production.
While the recession and the moratorium had a temporary impact on oil and gas jobs, the dramatic increase of oil and gas production created the need for additional employees. Monthly crude oil production increased 39 percent and natural gas production increased 25 percent during the five year time period, according to the Energy Information Administration.
World's best cop saves nearly 100 baby sea turtles (9 August 2013)
OK, I don't want to hear anything negative about the police for at least ... five minutes. Because we must spend that time recognizing Florida officer Derek Conley as a sea turtle hero.
While patrolling near Florida's Lido Beach Resort at around 1 a.m., Conley noticed a bunch of baby turtles tooling around the parking lot, some of them heading for the door of the hotel. If cops' attitude towards underage turtles in parking lots resembles their attitude towards underage non-turtles in parking lots, I'm going to guess that he originally intended to hassle them, maybe see if they were drinking. But they weren't, and instead he ended up personally escorting the hatchlings into the water. Conley and some resort guests put the babies in a box and dropped them off in the nearby Gulf of Mexico.
At least three of the turtles did not survive their parking lot adventure, but Conley estimates that he and his helpers transported 90 to 100 turtles safely into the sea. That's a survival rate of at least 97 percent, which is pretty good considering their odds from here on out -- only about 1 in 1,000 sea turtle hatchlings survives into adulthood.
The outlook has always been a bit grim for baby turtles -- hence why some of them learn ninjitsu -- but it's definitely not improved by human influence; a newly hatched turtle instinctually moves towards the brightest source of light, which is fine when it's the horizon but not great when it's the lobby. Thankfully, there are conscientious police officers like Derek Conley to help even out the odds.
PAM COMMENTARY: There are cops who are more heroic than this. But I'm posting the link because he reminds me of myself, rescuing baby toads from getting squashed in a parking lot they populated during summer rainstorms (or my past "road turtle" rescues).
Sometimes a hybrid is greener than an electric car (9 August 2013)
If you live in California, the most climate-friendly car you can drive is a Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid. If you live in Ohio, you could go easier on the climate by driving a regular ol' non-plug-in Prius. And in Vermont, the best pick would be an all-electric Honda Fit.
That's according to a new report from Climate Central: "A Roadmap to Climate-Friendly Cars." Here's how the researchers explain the state-by-state differences:
"An electric car is only as good for the climate as the electricity used to power it. And in states that rely heavily on fossil fuels like coal and natural gas for their electricity there are many conventional and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles that are better for the climate than all-electric cars."
The report includes a handy interactive map that shows you the top 10 choices for your state.
Google Glass sees all -- and that raises privacy concerns (9 August 2013)
Glass won't be widely available for purchase until early next year, but it's one of the most anticipated new technologies in years. The question many are asking: Can Google make digital goggles the world's next must-have gadget?
As Google sees it, Glass is a revolutionary new way to quickly and effortlessly connect people with information.
Critics view Glass as an invasive new technology that -- if it takes off -- could rob people of what few shreds of privacy they have left.
Lawmakers are alarmed by the privacy implications and have begun asking pointed questions of Google. And some commercial establishments -- most notably casinos and bars -- have already banned Glass.
Google is downplaying the privacy and security risks, assuring the public that it will not permit facial recognition apps (or porn apps, for that matter). Google says it's obvious when someone is taking pictures or recording a video on Glass.
NSA surveillance: the long fight to close backdoor into US communications (9 August 2013)
For more than a year, two US senators on the intelligence committee have fought a lonely, unsuccessful battle to prevent the National Security Agency from combing through its vast email and phone records databases for Americans -- a battle waged almost entirely in the shadows.
In letters, hearings and one big legislative push last year, senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall have tried to close what Wyden calls a "backdoor search loophole", to ensure that communications from Americans that inadvertently turn up in NSA databases are promptly purged. And they have tried to stop intelligence officials from publicly saying they can do no such thing when, behind closed doors, the officials acknowledge to the Senate intelligence committee they have that authority.
Thus far, Wyden and Udall have failed.
The NSA's dragnet of emails, phone calls, web searches and affiliated metadata occurs under the legal authority of Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, or FAA. It is supposed to target foreigners: foreign spies and foreign terrorists. A host of officials, including the NSA director, General Keith Alexander, have said that when they come across American data in so-called "702" databases, they purge it -- unless it contains information about ongoing threats to national security, criminal activity or espionage.
Child porn arrests made in Rehtaeh Parsons cyberbullying case (9 August 2013)
The arrests of two young men on child pornography charges, announced Thursday in Nova Scotia, bring renewed attention to the case of Rehtaeh Parsons, a teen who killed herself last spring after what her parents describe as relentless taunting prompted by the circulation of a photo of her being sexually assaulted.
The case, along with similar situations in the United States in which teens have circulated online images of sexual violence, has prompted soul-searching discussions across North America -- and even new legislation -- aimed at preventing such behavior.
Child pornography laws are not a perfect fit for dealing with such images, legal experts say, but they are one tool, along with laws against sexual harassment and cyberbullying, that prosecutors can use at their discretion to hold teenagers accountable and sometimes to impose education or counseling.
Rehtaeh's parents say the assault took place in November 2011, and police originally brought no charges. Now police say that new evidence prompted more investigation in April and led to two men, now 18, being charged: one with making and distributing child pornography, the other with two counts of distributing. Because the men were minors at the time, they will appear in youth court, on Aug. 15.
Same Old ALEC (9 August 2013)
Chicago--The American Legislative Exchange Council wraps up its fortieth annual conference in Chicago today, after facing what organizers estimate to be the largest protest in the organization's history on Thursday.
Despite the recent exodus of dozens of corporations and a public attempt to tamp down some pieces of its more explicitly far-right agenda, this year's ALEC conference made clear that the group still wants to operate in secret, away from potential criticism--and with a group of corporations and interest groups that are as committed as ever to anti-worker, anti-environment, pro-gun legislation.
On Wednesday, I headed to the hotel's third floor to receive a press pass for the conference at a table staffed by two interns. Upon hearing the publication's name and receiving an editor's letter on Nation letterhead, one stiffened. He quickly disappeared behind a curtained-off area a few feet away to make a call, while his partner seemed unaffected.
"We just have to confirm; we'll be able to print one out in a moment," she stated, without explaining what was being confirmed.
Amber Alert: Massive dragnet in Idaho for missing teen (10 August 2013)
The break came after suspect James Lee DiMaggio's blue Nissan Versa was found in central Idaho about 8 a.m., San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said. Federal, state and local authorities were scouring the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in Valley County, where the vehicle was found.
A group of horseback riders told local authorities that they had spoken to two people believed to be DiMaggio, 40, and his alleged captive, Hannah Anderson, 16. The riders came across the pair Wednesday morning but said it wasn't until they returned later that day that they realized the girl may have been Anderson.
The witnesses said the man and girl had a tent and backpacks but looked out of place in the rugged terrain because they had light camping equipment, Gore said.
The witnesses said the girl appeared to be well, he added.
"I'm very confident and I think we should all be optimistic that she appeared to be in somewhat good health and alive on Wednesday," Gore said.
NY County officials use body parts of dead citizen for police dog training (10 August 2013)
Officials in Niagara County, in western New York, are being sued by the parents of Roger Dunn over allegations that a coroner took a piece of his body for canine police training following his death last year.
According to The Associated Press, Dunn, 32, was killed in a car accident in Cambria on April 13, 2012. His body was then taken to the office of Niagara County Coroner Russell Jackman, but not before he gave some of Dunn's tissue to volunteer Fire Chief Vincent Salerno who was engaged in training a dog to track human remains.
Both men have since resigned and have pleaded guilty to misdemeanors regarding their conduct. Both were also fined $1,000, as well as sentenced to 100 hours of community service for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Both have also written letters of apology to the parents, Danny and Anita Dunn.
Nevertheless, the The Buffalo News reported, "the suit filed by Lewiston attorney Michael J. Dowd, says that the victim's parents didn't know until they heard media reports that Jackman had removed a piece of their son's body tissue, which he gave to Salerno for use in training a dog to sniff out cadavers."
Why you should be eating fermented food (10 August 2013)
The benefits of probiotic-packed yogurt have been well-publicized. But those helpful bacteria are naturally abundant in some foods with a smaller PR budget: fermented foods like kimchi, miso, kefir and kombucha.
Fermented foods are loaded with lactobacillus acidophilus, the most common strain of probiotic. It's essential for gut health, helping with digestion, stomach upset and gas, as well as your immune system.
"A boosted resistance to colds, flu, infections -- including yeast and urinary tract -- and disease is one of the biggest health benefits (of fermented foods)," says Peggy Kotsopoulos, a Toronto-based holistic nutritionist and author of Must Have Been Something I Ate.
Plus, findings published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science showed a link between probiotics and to lower levels of stress hormones and protective effects against depression.
Dying lawyer Lynne Stewart denied early release from prison despite cancer (9 August 2013)
NEW YORK (Reuters) -- A former New York lawyer convicted of helping a jailed Egyptian militant cleric smuggle messages out of prison lost her bid on Friday to be released from prison because she is suffering from terminal cancer.
Lynne Stewart, 73, is three years into a 10-year prison sentence after being convicted of aiding her client, blind cleric Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was convicted in 1995 of conspiring to attack the United Nations and other New York City landmarks.
Stewart, known for her advocacy of left-wing causes, is suffering from stage IV breast cancer and asked that her sentence be vacated or modified to time-served.
U.S. District Court Judge John Koeltl denied Stewart's request, noting that the Federal Bureau of Prisons recently denied her application for compassionate release.
The Bureau of Prisons must agree before a court can reduce a sentence based on compassionate release, he said in court documents.
Obama touts NSA surveillance reforms to quell growing unease over programs (9 August 2013)
Barack Obama announced the first public review of US surveillance programs since 9/11 on Friday, in what amounts to the president's first concession that the mounting public concern in response to disclosures by whistleblower Edward Snowden justifies reform.
After weeks in which the Obama and senior intelligence officials have insisted that the privacy of US citizens was sufficiently protected, the president announced a series of measures aimed at containing the controversy prompted by the Guardian's revelations.
At a White House press conference -- his first full question-and-answer session in three months -- Obama said that revelations about the National Security Agency's activities had led Americans to question their trust in government and damaged the country's reputation abroad. But he made it clear that the programs themselves would remain in place.
Announcing that a panel of independent figures would "review our entire intelligence and communications technologies", reporting before the end of the year, Obama said: "We need new thinking for a new era."
Obama promises to boost oversight of NSA surveillance operations (9 August 2013)
Obama announced four new steps:
• Reforms to Section 215 of the Patriot Act that would enhance oversight, transparency, and constraints on the program, which collects telephone records but not the content of calls.
• Changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) -- the federal court that requires judicial review of certain intelligence activities -- such that the government's position is challenged by an adversary. The goal is to make sure that concerns over civil liberties are given voice.
• Greater transparency of the government's data collection activities under Section 215 by making public their legal rationale.
• Creation of a website by the intelligence community that informs the public about what it does and does not do -- and why.
PAM COMMENTARY: I don't see anything in the proposed changes that would protect women from government agents using cell phone data for purposes of sexual predation.
Son of Victim in Sikh Temple Attack Unites with Former White Supremacist to Fight Violence and Hate (9 August 2013)
AMY GOODMAN: --Arno Michaelis, and ask about your background. You were a racist skinhead, a white supremacist. Talk about how you ended--how you started there and ended up working together against violence and hate with Pardeep.
ARNO MICHAELIS: I'd be happy to, Amy. Good morning. Thanks for having us on.
I got involved in white power skinhead groups really just as a angry, bored, unchallenged teenager. I don't believe anyone really has an excuse to be violent, but I absolutely had no excuse. I came from a privileged background in Midwestern Wisconsin, born into the middle class. I really had everything going for me. But I came from an alcoholic household; there was a lot of emotional violence. My parents were pretty miserable, and that made me want to distance myself from them, and it also kind of got me lashing out at a early age. I was a bully on the school bus as early as kindergarten. In elementary school, I started getting in fights in the schoolyard. This kept escalating to breaking and entering and vandalism in middle school. By the time I was a teenager, I started drinking, myself. I got into punk rock, which I was--I still love, and I--you know, I really appreciate the DIY attitude and question-authority aspect of punk, but back then, to me, it was just about smashing things and hurting people and lashing out.
And that's kind of who I was when I came across the idea of getting involved with white power skinheads. And I initially donned a swastika really for shock value, because it was the most effective way to piss people off that I had come across by that time. And so, I wasn't really a racist looking for other racists; I was just a bored, angry kid, like looking for something to make me feel worthwhile and a cause to kind of join up with. And I found very quickly that once I started radiating hate and violence out into the world around me, the world reflected it back. And as I was expressing my hostility and the hostility was being returned to me, it made me more hateful and violent. That ultimately led me through a seven-year involvement in hate groups.
I got out in '94. The two milestone events in me leaving were becoming a single parent and, about a couple months after that, a second friend of mine was murdered in a street fight. And by that time, I had lost count of how many friends had been incarcerated, so it struck me that if I didn't change my ways, death or prison was very likely to take me from my daughter. Beyond those milestones, though, I truly believe that it was acts of kindness that I had been given to me by strangers and people that I was openly hostile to. There were times when black people, Jewish people, gay and lesbian people treated me as a human being, even though I refused to acknowledge their humanity. And while those acts of kindness didn't change me on the spot, they did plant seeds that kind of stuck with me and built on a growing sense that what I was doing was wrong.
Va. doctor who lent governor's firm $50,000 was offered medical board appointment (8 August 2013)
A Virginia Beach radiologist lent $50,000 to a real estate corporation owned by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and his sister in 2010 -- the same year the doctor was offered an appointment to a state medical board.
Paul Davis, who said he met McDonnell in church and has been friends with the governor for about 12 years, said he believes the appointment offer was unrelated to the financial assistance he provided the governor.
Davis said he declined the appointment because he believed it would take him away from his lucrative medical practice.
But the loan offers a new example of how McDonnell's personal finances became entangled with his public role as the governor struggled to keep up with payments on property investments he and his family made during the height of the real estate boom.
Davis's loan also appears to have been handled differently than a subsequent $70,000 payment made to the same real estate company by Jonnie R. Williams Sr., the chief executive of a dietary supplement company.
How Sir Francis Drake sailed into West Marin (9 August 2013)
Drake had indeed succeeded in annoying the King of Spain: Twenty-five years later, when an ailing Phillip II was informed of his nemesis' death, he merrily chirped, "This good news will help me get well rapidly."
Drake sailed north, searching for the Strait of Anian. Failing to find it, but fearing to sail back south where Spanish warships would be looking for him, he sought out a place on the coast to repair his ship and take on supplies before heading across the Pacific.
The exact location of his landing is still debated - his own journal was lost, and Drake himself deemed his chaplain's record unreliable. But most scholars believe that he sailed into Drake's Bay, anchoring in a shallow cove.
Drake stayed at Point Reyes for three weeks, repairing his ship and meeting the friendly Miwok Indians who came down to the shore to stare at the strange wooden apparition that had suddenly glided into their unchanging universe.
Pete Seeger Remembers His Late Wife Toshi, Sings Civil Rights Anthem "We Shall Overcome" (9 August 2013)
AMY GOODMAN: You didn't play at the March on Washington, but your songs were played, and, of course, the song you helped popularize, Joan Baez sang "We Shall Overcome." And you sang at President Obama's first inauguration, and you sang the forbidden verses of "This Land is Your Land."
PETE SEEGER: Yes. They didn't get on the recording, but Woody Guthrie had that great line: "Was a great high wall there that tried to stop me, great big sign there said 'private property.'" Isn't that wonderful, to rhyme "stop me" with "property"? "But on the other side, it didn't say nothin'. That side was made for you and me." This guy was one of the greatest geniuses, and he made lots of mistakes, too, in his life.
AMY GOODMAN: Woody Guthrie.
PETE SEEGER: But he didn't stop trying to create. And in spite of the mistakes that you make, you keep on trying.
NSA loophole allows warrantless search for US citizens' emails and phone calls (9 August 2013)
The National Security Agency has a secret backdoor into its vast databases under a legal authority enabling it to search for US citizens' email and phone calls without a warrant, according to a top-secret document passed to the Guardian by Edward Snowden.
The previously undisclosed rule change allows NSA operatives to hunt for individual Americans' communications using their name or other identifying information. Senator Ron Wyden told the Guardian that the law provides the NSA with a loophole potentially allowing "warrantless searches for the phone calls or emails of law-abiding Americans".
The authority, approved in 2011, appears to contrast with repeated assurances from Barack Obama and senior intelligence officials to both Congress and the American public that the privacy of US citizens is protected from the NSA's dragnet surveillance programs.
The intelligence data is being gathered under Section 702 of the of the Fisa Amendments Act (FAA), which gives the NSA authority to target without warrant the communications of foreign targets, who must be non-US citizens and outside the US at the point of collection.
Chicken Plant Chemicals Might Mask Salmonella (9 August 2013)
As Kindy shows, even without the new rules in place, the "number and strength of chemicals used on poultry-processing lines is [already] increasing," in response to a separate USDA effort to slash the pathogen load on chicken. But get this: Kindy reports that there's mounting evidence that the chemical cascade is masking, rather than reducing, the amount of disease-causing bacteria on your supermarket bird.
Here's how the system is supposed to work, Kindy writes:
"As the chicken moves down the processing line, the bird is sprayed with, and bathed in, an average of four different chemicals. To check that most bacteria have been killed, occasional test birds are pulled off the line and tossed into plastic bags filled with a solution that collects any remaining pathogens. That solution is sent to a lab for testing, which takes place about 24 hours later. Meanwhile, the bird is placed back on the line and is ultimately packaged, shipped and sold."
But for the pathogen tests to be accurate, the bacteria-killing chemicals must be rapidly neutralized by the solution--"something that routinely occurred with the older, weaker antibacterial chemicals," Kindy writes. If the chemicals aren't neutralized and instead continue working, the tests will deliver results indicating that the birds are more free of pathogens--and safer to eat--than they actually are.
There's evidence that new, stronger chemicals are indeed compromising the validity of the tests. For one thing, according to the USDA's testing program, the rate at which salmonella is found on chicken carcasses has plunged by half over the past few years, Kindy reports. Great, right? Except that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the actual rates of salmonella infection among the general public have barely budged. Salmonella still leads to more hospitalizations and deaths than any other food-borne pathogen. Poultry products are a major source of salmonella poisoning, the CDC reports.
How courts stopped unpaid interns from filing sexual harassment lawsuits (9 August 2013)
In 1994, Bridget O'Connor began an internship at Rockland Psychiatric Center, where one of the doctors allegedly began to refer to her as Miss Sexual Harassment, told her that she should participate in an orgy, and suggested that she remove her clothing before meeting with him. Other women in the office made similar claims.
Yet when O'Connor filed a lawsuit, her sexual harassment claims were dismissed because she was an unpaid intern. A federal appeals court affirmed the decision to throw out the claim.
Unpaid interns miss out on wages and employment benefits, but they can also find themselves in "legal limbo" when it comes to civil rights, according to law professor and intern labor rights advocate David Yamada. The O'Connor decision (the leading ruling on the matter, according to Yamada) held that because they don't get a paycheck, unpaid interns are not "employees" under the Civil Rights Act -- and thus, they're not protected.
Federal policies echo court rulings. The laws enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, including the Civil Rights Act, don't cover interns unless they receive "significant remuneration," according to commission spokesperson Joseph Olivares.
PAM COMMENTARY: Usually internships are used for college credit, and so the college providing interns should intervene and move mistreated intern to a different company, or even ban the offending company from receiving its interns.
Another e-mail service shuts down over government spying concerns (9 August 2013)
A prominent supplier of secure communications services has decided to shutter its e-mail service to avoid having to turn over confidential customer information to the government. The move comes hours after another e-mail service provider called Lavabit made the same decision in order to avoid becoming "complicit in crimes against the American people" -- likely a reference to government surveillance.
Silent Circle offers a suite of secure communications tools, including e-mail, chat, and voice calling to customers in 126 countries. The chat and voice services employ "end-to-end" encryption, which means that the company itself does not have the capability to unscramble customers' communications and turn them over to the government. But e-mail services need to interoperate with other e-mail providers. That makes end-to-end encryption impractical and creates a danger that the company could be compelled to hand over information to the government.
For Silent Circle, that was a major concern because Silent Circle's business is based on promising absolute confidentiality to its clients. "There are some very high profile, highly targeted groups of people" among the firm's customers, says Silent Circle CEO Mike Janke. "We felt we were going to be targeted, without a doubt."
"We see the writing the wall, and we have decided that it is best for us to shut down Silent Mail now," the company wrote in a Thursday blog post. "We have not received subpoenas, warrants, security letters, or anything else by any government, and this is why we are acting now."
Edward Snowden's email service Lavabit mysteriously shuts down (8 August 2013)
gigaom.com) -- Less than a month after it was identified as the email service that Edward Snowden used to leak NSA documents, LavaBit has suddenly and mysteriously shuttered.
The service's creator, Ladar Levison, cited pending legal woes for the shutdown. Although he remained vague about the details, it's likely to have something to do with the June scandal that rocked the nation:
"I feel you deserve to know what's going on--the First Amendment is supposed to guarantee me the freedom to speak out in situations like this. Unfortunately, Congress has passed laws that say otherwise. As things currently stand, I cannot share my experiences over the last six weeks, even though I have twice made the appropriate requests."
The privacy-minded email service had plenty of features that make it more secure than your typical email service -- particularly asymmetrical encryption, which encrypts a message on Lavabit's servers, requiring a password for anyone to read it. Lavabit's focus on privacy means that not even the platform could read or analyze messages as they were transmitted, although that doesn't seem to have stopped the site from being criminally implicated.
Exclusive: PetroChina to join Exxon at giant Iraqi oilfield (9 August 2013)
(Reuters) - China's biggest energy firm PetroChina (0857.HK) will join Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) in developing Iraq's giant West Qurna oilfield and is in talks with Russia's Lukoil (LKOH.MM) to buy into a second project at the field, industry sources said.
China is already the top foreign player in Iraq's oilfields. A deal at West Qurna, which is around 50 km northwest of the southern oil hub of Basra, would boost its dominance and could make PetroChina the biggest single foreign investor in Iraqi oil.
West Qurna is central to Iraq's oil expansion plans, with enough reserves to pump more than 5 million barrels per day (bpd), and it could rival the world's biggest producer, Saudi Arabia's Ghawar field, when its two phases are running fully.
"PetroChina will participate in developing the field," an industry source with direct knowledge of the deal with Exxon said on Friday.
The agreement would be announced in weeks, the source said, but declined to give further details on how the world's two most valuable listed energy firms would work together in Iraq. Both PetroChina and Exxon declined to comment.
Federal government seeks independent review of European directive that would penalize oilsands (9 August 2013)
The European Union has given a greenhouse gas intensity value to fuel derived from the oilsands that is 22 per cent higher than conventional crude.
This makes the Alberta fuel less attractive to the European market because it is categorized as more polluting.
The assertion has drawn the ire of Ottawa, which has been fighting to get Europe to withdraw the directive.
The successful bidder for the federal government study is expected to review the analysis by a consortium made up of European Commission researchers and researchers who follow the auto and gas industries.
It is supposed to determine if the data and methodology are "sufficiently robust" and, if not, it would suggest a "more accurate" intensity value, says the Natural Resources online bid solicitation.
Africa will not be Europe's digital dumping ground, say leaders (9 August 2013)
African countries have demanded action to stem the import of electronic waste, including old computers and mobile telephones from Europe, where stringent environmental laws make exporting used goods cheaper than disposing of them at home.
In a document released this week, African countries that adopted an international convention on hazardous waste called for uniform action to end the import of discarded electronic goods containing dangerous components. In some cases, the products are sent as donations for re-use, even though they are no longer useful.
In response to the trade in e-waste, the EU took steps in 2012 to strengthen its export laws to prevent the dumping of electronic goods in Africa.
The update to the 2003 waste from electrical and electronic equipment (Weee) directive followed hard-fought bargaining over how to improve the recovery of computers and other electronic and electrical waste, much of which was either dumped in landfills or shipped abroad for disposal because of the high cost of recycling in Europe.
Treat your stretch marks with these effective home remedies (9 August 2013)
Aloe vera gel - A classic remedy for many skin-based ailments, including sunburn and acne, aloe vera is arguably the greatest cure for stretch marks due to its impressive levels of vitamins C and E. Simply apply some aloe vera gel to the affected areas every morning, ensuring it has time to soak into the skin and dry. The gel's healing properties will help discolor the marks and, in time, possibly remove them altogether.
Warm olive oil - Olive oil's high levels of vitamins A, K, and D have made it a popular choice for treating stretch marks, since deficiencies in these nutrients can deepen their color. Since aloe vera contains two vitamins lacking in olive oil (vitamins C and E), some people like to combine aloe vera gel with warm olive oil to make a vitamin-rich 'supercure' for particularly prominent marks.
Cocoa butter - Loved for its anti-aging and anti-wrinkling properties, cocoa butter is also effective at treating stretch marks since its ability to moisturize your skin helps improve blood circulation, thus improving the skin's natural elasticity. Unlike aloe vera gel, which can be applied once per day, cocoa butter should be applied to the affected areas at least twice per day, ideally once in the morning and once during the evening. It is especially potent if applied after a warm shower.
Almond oil - Almond oil is rich in omega-3, a polyunsaturated fatty acid that is famously good for the skin. To maximize its healing properties, apply the oil to the affected areas two to three times a day.
Awesome farmer builds his pigs a mudslide, just for kicks (9 August 2013)
Have you ever been at a waterpark and thought, "Why don't PIGS have their own version of this?!" Erik Stegink did. The impish Dutch farmer all but built a bubbling mud jacuzzi and passed out piglet waterwings for his four-legged walking-bacon friends. According to British site The Metro:
"A farmer in Holland has installed a mud slide for his pigs after being inspired by the flumes at a water park.
"Erik Stegink mounted a disused slide he had bought from a nearby pool on his farmland.
"And in no time at all his pigs were enjoying their own amusement park, but instead of water they were diving into mud."
New York Police Ends Practice of Keeping Innocent New Yorkers in Stop-and-Frisk Database (8 August 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
CLIVE LINO: I've been stopped so many times that now I've lost count. It's a waste of my time, and it's an embarrassment, especially when you haven't done anything at all. I get stopped just coming out of my building. [inaudible] and intimidated, harassed. I feel--I get, like, kind of on edge now when I see officers. I feel like I'm going to be stopped, like a hostage in my own neighborhood.
DARYL KAHN: I was running an errand for my sister in Brooklyn. I was riding my bike, when I was pulled over by a couple of members of the NYPD.
CLIVE LINO: Usually I'm not doing anything when I get stopped. And it proves it, because I'm usually let go.
DARYL KAHN: They started asking me a series of questions, none of which I felt comfortable with, since I hadn't done anything wrong. When I protested, the--it counter-escalated. More police officers were called over.
PAM COMMENTARY: What makes it worse is that the NYPD is so lazy when called to actual crimes, with actual victims and actual witnesses. They allow violent criminals to stay on the streets all the time, but then they seem to find PLENTY of time to harass people doing nothing wrong.
India: Dolphins declared non-human persons (8 August 2013)
Cetaceans should be regarded as non-human persons with their own rights and therefore it is morally unacceptable to keep them in captivity - this is the new ruling by the Government of India, which in a landmark decision has taken an important first step in establishing global animal welfare rights.
The decision was taken by India's Minister of the Environment and Forests, who banned dolphin shows. All Indian states have been warned by the Government to reject proposals to hold dolphin shows or open dolphinariums, be these requests public or private.
The Central Animal Authority issued the following statement: "Cetaceans...should be seen as 'non-human persons' and as such should have their own specific rights." The direct result is that dolphin parks which have opened recently in India will close and proposals for new ones will be shelved. The move makes it illegal to capture or confine cetacean species, which include whales and dolphins, the reasoning being that these animals are highly intelligent and sensitive.
India thus takes an important first step in establishing a universal code of animal ethics and rights. The heroine in this ruling is Puja Mitra, a leading Indian animal rights activist, whose research drive focused on, and introduced, the concept of non-human persons. Other countries to have banned the use of cetaceans for entertainment are Costa Rica, Hungary and Chile.
Virginia governor's race: down, dirty, and a gigantic mess (8 August 2013)
During off-election years, the political class regularly watches the gubernatorial race in Virginia, a swing state that has backed President Obama twice and President George W. Bush before him, for signs of the national climate's evolution.
So far the 2013 contest, pitting two fierce partisans against each other at a time when the incumbent Republican governor is under federal investigation, has proven nothing if not entertaining. It's gotten so down and dirty, in fact, that Virginia's Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) called the race for governor "disgusting" Thursday and issued a plea for at least one of the two candidates to step "above the fray" to "elevate the discussion."
Who, then, are the players, and, this year, should they and the battle for the state's top job matter to voters outside of the Commonwealth?
The Democrats have fielded former Democratic National Committee chief Terry McAuliffe. Mr. McAuliffe, who lives just outside of Washington in McLean, Va., ran for governor unsuccessfully in 2009. A powerful party moneyman during the 1990s and longtime regular on the Sunday chat shows, he counts former President Clinton as his golfing partner and tight buddy. McAuliffe is exuberant, unpredictable, affluent, and provides decades of quotes his opponents can mine for fodder against him. Adversaries view him as a political animal, first and foremost, and question his ties to the state and knowledge of its issues.
Activists Accuse Washington, D.C. Police Officer of Infiltrating Bangladesh Sweatshop Protests (8 August 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: We end today's show by looking at a startling new article detailing how an undercover police officer infiltrated peaceful protests and got caught. The article is written by In These Times magazine reporter Mike Elk. It's called "Activists Identify DC Cop Who Infiltrated Bangladesh Sweatshop Protests."
Elk writes that D.C. activists had long suspected police routinely infiltrated and spied on their protests, but until now were unable to conclusively identify any specific undercover police officer. After months of gathering evidence, attorneys Jeffrey Light and Sean Canavan worked with United Students Against Sweatshops, or USAS, to confirm the true identity of a Metro police officer named Nicole Rizzi, who had posed as a protester named "Missy." At one point, the police officer pretended to participate in a USAS protest against companies doing business in Bangladesh -- companies that refused to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety following the death of over 1,100 Bangladeshi garment workers in the Rana Plaza factory collapse in April.
Well, on Monday, USAS filed suit against the District of Columbia seeking an injunction to stop police from spying on the group's activities. Activists were able to uncover Nicole Rizzi's identity, because she left several clues on social media sites. In a photo posted on the site YFrog, Officer Rizzi points out a typo on a piece of mail addressed to the "DC Metropolation Police Department." Rizzi's finger partially covers up the address line, but it appears to identify her as director of the Intelligence Branch. On her now-deleted Twitter account, Rizzi tweeted, "They used to call me No Sweat Nico because no matter how hot it was at academy, I never sweat." And in a post on Rizzi's since-deleted Tumblr account, she wrote, quote, "In the position I'm in, it's beneficial to wear ordinary clothes. Plainclothes assignments too, you wear what would blend in."
PAM COMMENTARY: Again, the DC cops have a lot of real crimes with real victims to investigate. It's strange that they have time for these kinds of non-activities.
U.S. defense lawyers to seek access to DEA hidden intelligence evidence (8 August 2013)
(Reuters) - Criminal defense lawyers are challenging a U.S. government practice of hiding the tips that led to some drug investigations, information that the lawyers say is essential to fair trials in U.S. courts.
The practice of creating an alternate investigative trail to hide how a case began - what federal agents call "parallel construction" - has never been thoroughly tested in court, lawyers and law professors said in interviews this week.
Internal training documents reported by Reuters this week instruct agents not to reveal information they get from a unit of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, but instead to recreate the same information by other means. A similar set of instructions was included in an IRS manual in 2005 and 2006, Reuters reported.
The DEA unit, known as the Special Operations Division, or SOD, receives intelligence from intercepts, wiretaps, informants and phone records, and funnels tips to other law enforcement agencies, the documents said. Some but not all of the information is classified.
"I Do Not Want to Die in Prison": Cancer-Stricken Lawyer Lynne Stewart Seeks Compassionate Release (8 August 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: I also want to get response to a comment made by Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor who was Lynne Stewart's adversary during the 1995 trial of Mr. Abdel Rahman. He said he had no problem with the idea that prisoners like Abdel Rahman, who are serving life sentences for heinous offenses, should have to die in prison. But regarding Lynne Stewart's case, he said, quote, "As a private citizen who was very fond of Lynne when we dealt with each other, I prefer to keep my thoughts to myself and my prayers for Lynne and her family." I want to turn to Lynne's daughter, to Dr. Zenobia Brown. What will happen if Lynne were to be released? How will she be cared for?
DR. ZENOBIA BROWN: She would probably continue with the same treatment she's been getting in prison. I think the piece that most people are not sort of cognizant of is that at this stage of cancer there is no cure. So, basically, it is a battle for time. And at this point, she is losing that battle, and that is clear. That is why it was so shocking when the BOP denied her compassionate release based on really what was not the case. There were 200 pages of medical records that went into--that went up to Washington and that would appear that none of them were reviewed, that no specialist in palliative care or no one who has any prognostic background looked at a single document.
AMY GOODMAN: You are a special in palliative--a specialist in palliative care?
DR. ZENOBIA BROWN: Right, and people facing life-limiting illness. So, just sort of looking through it, they literally made this decision based on a single physician's comment that the patient was responding well. No doctor in this country is really trained to deal out justice. And basically, the entire case of whether my mother would be released or not was on a two-sentence letter from her treating oncologist. So, just the--sort of the injustice of that and the fact that there really was no sort of objective party looking at this data is--it really is mind-boggling.
"I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave": Reporter Mac McClelland on Life Inside the Online Shipping Machine (7 August 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
MAC McCLELLAND: I can tell you that I was west of the Mississippi and sort of in the middle of no place. A lot of these warehouses are in kind of industrial wasteland areas, and people commute from nearby cities from all over. The warehouse that I was working in had thousands of people in it. And since it was the run-up to Christmas, they were hiring 4,000 additional temporary workers just for the last four months of the year.
So, basically, from the moment I arrived in town, even before I got to the warehouse, I stopped by the local Chamber of Commerce, and they told me, "Don't start crying, and don't take anything that happens to you personally, because it's a very ugly scene in there. And there's lots and lots of people who would be willing to take your job, because the economy is so bad. So, basically, put up with whatever they throw at you, and, you know, leave your dignity at the door." And so, that's what I did, and that's what everybody else there did every day.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Mac, could you talk about what prompted you to get this temporary job? How did you become interested in conditions in these kinds of warehouses?
MAC McCLELLAND: I had done another story about basically the death of the middle class in Ohio in the run-up to Governor Kasich's, you know, budget slashes that he was doing, and so I stopped by a warehouse that one of my ex-girlfriends actually from college was running. I didn't have any agenda. I just went in there to look at it, and I was shocked at the conditions. And I come from a labor background. I worked for years and years and years in moving and storage. Actually, I was a mover and worked in warehouses and things like that. And I couldn't believe how tough and dehumanizing and low-paying these positions were. And my friend, who is a really nice person, was being sort of a monster. I was there for 20 minutes, and she was firing people for going to the bathroom and for talking to each other, even though they were continuing to work while they did it. And those were the orders that she had from up top, and she just--if she wanted to keep her job, she had to enforce them. And so, since this sector is gigantic and is continuing to grow and will continue to grow, we decided to devote a whole story to it.
Nutrition kicks the cigarette fix (8 August 2013)
(NaturalNews) How can someone wean themselves off nicotine by infusing the proper nutrition that kills the cravings, replenishes a depleted system, and helps bring back positive feelings and experiences associated with smoking? How is this done? From Maca to Mucuna, to alkalizing the body, nutrition is the yellow brick road for quitting smoking for good. In fact, the little "pep" smokers get from nicotine can easily be replaced with natural remedies, if the smokers only knew how, but hardly any cessation programs even mention nutrition, herbs or tinctures, and when they do, it's only "touch and dismiss," so the smokers don't really ever research it, try it, or succeed with it. There is a method that has proven results, and quitting smoking isn't just about ending a nicotine fix, it's about reclaiming your healthy life and helping everyone around you that has to deal with second hand and yes, third hand smoke.
In case you weren't aware, second hand smoke kills 600,000 people worldwide every year. (http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com). Add to that a newfound mutagenic known as third hand smoke, which is toxic residue from cigarette smoke that adheres to practically every surface, including hair, skin, clothing, carpeting, ceilings, furniture and paint. Plus, it becomes increasingly dangerous over time. I've personally seen a ceiling turn completely yellowish-brown from a smoker who filled a single room with exhaled tar and pesticide at 2 packs a day for one year. Living in conditions like this affect the body's ability to detoxify at all, and this leads to major nutrient deficiencies for anyone spending time in that environment.
Superfoods "Dynamic Duo" ends the nicotine cravings
The key to quitting smoking and never lighting up again, or even ever wanting to, is to combine superfoods and behavior modification, and then you can escape cigarettes! And just what is the "Dynamic Duo Secret" to killing the cravings and escaping the nicotine prison? Well, without the "nic" patch, the pills, the gum, or electronic cigarettes, what other option is out there besides cold turkey, which only works for about 5% of those who attempt it? The dynamic duo "M&M" entails supplementing with Maca and Mucuna, two superfood/powder supplements most people have never even heard of, much less consumed. Superfood enthusiasts know all about the incredible nutritional powers of Maca. Grown in the high Andes mountains of Peru, Maca is packed with proteins, tannins and complex alkaloids, and can be added to any smoothie. (http://www.naturalnews.com) Where do you get high quality Maca? Mike Adams recommends this superfood and sells it at the Natural News Store online. (http://store.naturalnews.com). Most health food stores carry it also.
Mucuna is the amazing herbal adaptogen
Then you have Mucuna, also known as velvet bean, which is capturing the interest of thousands of smokers worldwide who have the will to quit smoking but just can't clip that "nic-fix." Mucuna helps the weaning smoker balance out mood swings and dampen or even remove withdrawal symptoms
(http://www.naturalnews.com). This amazing herbal adaptogen is also a potent herbal aphrodisiac! An Indian herb also known as buffalo beans, the pod is simply ground up into a powder and put into capsules to help regulate dopamine efficiency in the body. This is where most smokers fall off the "cold turkey" attempts, because their dopamine levels are low or even non-existent without nicotine. Infuse Mucuna and they feel like they just took a drag, except this is all natural, so bye-bye cancer sticks! Mucuna is even known to treat Parkinson's disease. There is excellent research on this: (http://www.secrets-of-longevity-in-humans.com). So where do you get high quality Mucuna? Puritan's Pride, of course. (http://www.puritan.com)
PAM COMMENTARY: A customized alternative health researcher in Wisconsin told me that it's hard for drug addicts, including smokers, to kick their habit without a strong cleansing herb like goldenseal.
Coronavirus spreading in Middle East may be linked to camels (8 August 2013)
It is the million-dollar question in the hunt for the deadly new coronavirus in the Middle East: where is this virus lurking?
The Middle East respiratory syndrome -- or MERS -- has now infected 94 people and killed 46. Investigators believe the virus originally came from bats but suspect it is also circulating in a more people-friendly animal -- which, in turn, is now infecting humans.
Yet more than a year after MERS first emerged, scientists still haven't identified a culprit. But on Thursday, The Lancet published the first study to offer a potential lead.
"I would quickly look into the camels," said senior author Dr. Marion Koopmans, a professor of public health virology and head of virology at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands. "(We're) not ruling out other possibilities but I would certainly seriously look into it."
The humpbacked ungulate was already on the radar of investigators. There have been anecdotal accounts of some MERS patients being exposed to camels before getting sick. Every infection so far has also been linked to four Middle Eastern countries -- Qatar, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- where camels are common. In 2011, an estimated 1.6 million camels roamed the Arabian Peninsula, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) -- 53 per cent lived in Saudi Arabia, where most MERS cases have occurred.
Sea turtle nests near record at Cape Hatteras (8 August 2013)
Sea turtle nests number 219 on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, three short of the record set last year.
"With sea turtles still lumbering up the beach, we may very well surpass 2012's total," said Cyndy Holda, a park spokeswoman.
Last year, the first nest was seen May 11 and the last Aug. 26, Holda said. Hatching season lasts into November. So far, 722 of an estimated 7,300 eggs have hatched on the park's more than 60 miles of beach, according to the state's sea turtle monitoring website.
It is not certain why nesting totals are up this year, said Matthew Godfrey, sea turtle biologist for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. Some years, a majority of mature females nest; other years, it's fewer, Godfrey said.
Dogs help sniff out ovarian cancer in Pa. study (8 August 2013)
PHILADELPHIA -- Researchers trying to develop a diagnostic tool for ovarian cancer are hoping dogs' keen sense of smell will lead them down the right path.
An early detection device that combines old-fashioned olfactory skills, chemical analysis and modern technology could lead to better survival rates for the disease, which is particularly deadly because it's often not caught until an advanced stage.
Using blood and tissue samples donated by patients, the University of Pennsylvania's Working Dog Center has started training three canines to sniff out the signature compound that indicates the presence of ovarian cancer.
If the animals can isolate the chemical marker, scientists at the nearby Monell Chemical Senses Center will work to create an electronic sensor to identify the same odorant.
"Because if the dogs can do it, then the question is, Can our analytical instrumentation do it? We think we can," Monell organic chemist George Preti said.
Mass dolphin deaths along coast prompt NOAA alert (8 August 2013)
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared an Unusual Mortality Event on Thursday in response to an increase in dolphin deaths in the Mid-Atlantic.
To recognize an event as unusual, it must meet at least one of seven criteria set by NOAA, including a marked change in morbidity or strandings compared to previous years.
Virginia has borne the brunt of the strandings, with 49 in July and more than 100 total to date this year. New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland have also seen an increase in dolphin deaths.
With the declaration of a UME, additional funding through the National Contingency Fund is now available, and an independent team of scientists will investigate and develop a response plan. This step may take months or years, according to the release.
Scientists are still searching for answers as to why the dolphins have washed up dead in the affected states. No obvious signs of entanglement or gashes have been noted.
That dolphin you used to hang out with back in high school probably still remembers you, research shows (8 August 2013)
At your 20-year high school reunion, you might not quite remember the name of the girl you took to 11th grade homecoming. (Is she wearing a name-tag? Yes? Oh thank goodness. Hi, Kelsey.)
But a dolphin, well -- a dolphin would remember the name of its crush from two decades ago. In fact, dolphins have the longest memories of any animal besides humans, according to a new paper published Tuesday in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a finding that joins rapidly accumulating evidence that dolphins are smart -- very smart.
Last month, researchers at Scotland's University of St Andrews found that wild dolphins call back to a recorded copy of their own signature whistle, in effect answering to their name. That finding suggested that dolphins have developed a sophisticated means of communication with each other that is similar to human language, in that meaning is attached to sounds.
Now, Jason Bruck, a researcher at The University of Chicago, has used dolphins' signature whistles to assess whether or not the animals could remember the names of friends they had not seen in up to two decades. Call it a 20-year reunion of sorts: could the dolphins remember long-lost siblings? Could they remember past girlfriends and boyfriends? How about old friends?
Memory lapses? Forget about it (8 August 2013)
"When my memory gets too bad, just promise you'll shoot me." I've heard some version of that refrain from most of the older people in my life. Unable to recall, say, the name of a former neighbor's long-dead cocker spaniel, they're convinced they're experiencing early signs of dementia.
I have many close friends and family members older than 60, and all of them are certain they are losing their marbles. I attempt logic, pointing out that they are whipping up their grandmother's brisket without consulting the recipe, while recounting their favorite scenes of Bates and Anna from last season's "Downton Abbey." The fact that they're momentarily unable to name the architect of the new downtown art museum doesn't mean it's time to put the hospice on speed dial.
Besides, I can state with authority that people of my generation, with our supposedly more supple brains, have memory lapses too. How many times have I, at 27, been discussing a film and been completely unable to remember the name of the third lead even though he was in that great thing and also had a recurring role on that comedic crime procedural on USA? How often has a contemporary asked me to remind them what corner that artisanal cheese shop is on or who won "So You Think You Can Dance," Season 6?
Of course, we have so much to remember. Take for example that girl I met last weekend. I not only have to recall her actual name, but also her Twitter and Instagram handles. I think at least one of them was "IncapaciKatie." Or something....
Analysis: Oil majors to stay onshore Nigeria despite grumbles (8 August 2013)
(Reuters) - A wave of planned sales of onshore Nigerian assets by oil majors has prompted speculation that they are finally leaving the Niger Delta because of oil theft, gangsterism and political uncertainty.
In reality, though, foreign firms such as Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, Eni and Total are here to stay, industry sources say.
The majors are likely to sell only small blocks that are not worth their while -- those assets worst affected by theft and sabotage or fields that risk expropriation in a government push to promote local ownership.
Meanwhile, the large oil producing blocks, huge gas deposits, key pipelines and the export terminals that control the passage of onshore oil to international markets will most likely stay in their hands -- enabling them to retain infrastructure for which they can charge rent to other users.
Complaints by oil majors that Nigeria has done little to combat oil theft or end uncertainty over changes to the fiscal regime by passing the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) are genuine, but they won't drive the firms away from the country.
Ariel Castro's Seymour Avenue home reduced to rubble (7 August 2013)
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Ariel Castro's home is no more.
The modest house at 2207 Seymour Ave., where Castro kept Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight locked up for more than a decade, is nothing more than a pile of rubble after crews used an excavator to tear down the property.
"This house represented evil incarnate, which is Ariel Castro," said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty. "Now, it is gone."
A crush of media and onlookers gathered before daybreak as crews from the Cuyahoga Land Bank, in charge of the demolition, and Independence Excavating prepared to tear down the home.
Knight showed up just before demolition began to hand out and release yellow balloons to neighbors of the home she spent years locked inside.
Ariel Castro's home smashed to bits (slideshow) (7 August 2013)
Ariel Castro's home has been reduced to splinters.
Manning sentencing: judge rejects claim leaks had 'chilling effect' (7 August 2013)
The judge at US soldier Bradley Manning's sentencing hearing rejected some government evidence Wednesday that the classified information he disclosed through the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks had a "chilling effect" on US foreign relations.
The judge ruled that such testimony is admissible only if the effect came directly after the information was published.
She threw out State Department undersecretary Patrick Kennedy's testimony that leaked information published more than two years ago continues to hurt US foreign relations and policymaking.
The judge also has rejected acting assistant secretary Michael Kozak's testimony that the leaks had made some foreign citizens, including human rights activists, less willing to speak privately with US diplomats.
Japan says Fukushima leak worse than thought, government joins clean-up (7 August 2013)
(Reuters) - Highly radioactive water from Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is pouring out at a rate of 300 tonnes a day, officials said on Wednesday, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered the government to step in and help in the clean-up.
The revelation amounted to an acknowledgement that plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) has yet to come to grips with the scale of the catastrophe, 2 1/2 years after the plant was hit by a huge earthquake and tsunami. Tepco only recently admitted water had leaked at all.
Calling water containment at the Fukushima Daiichi station an "urgent issue," Abe ordered the government for the first time to get involved to help struggling Tepco handle the crisis.
The leak from the plant 220 km (130 miles) northeast of Tokyo is enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool in a week. The water is spilling into the Pacific Ocean, but it was not immediately clear how much of a threat it poses.
A Domestic Surveillance Scandal at the DEA? Agents Urged to Cover Up Use of NSA Intel in Drug Probes (6 August 2013)
AMY GOODMAN: The Justice Department has begun reviewing a controversial unit inside the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration that uses secret domestic surveillance tactics, including intelligence gathered by the National Security Agency, to target Americans for drug offenses. According to a series of articles published by the Reuters news agency, agents are instructed to recreate the investigative trail in order to conceal the origins of the evidence--not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges. DEA training documents instruct agents to even make up alternative versions of how such investigations truly begin, a process known as "parallel construction."
On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked about the Reuters investigation.
PRESS SECRETARY JAY CARNEY: It's my understanding, our understanding, that the Department of Justice is looking at some of the issues raised in the story. But for more, I would refer you to the Department of Justice.
AMY GOODMAN: The unit of the DEA that distributes the secret intelligence to agents is called the Special Operations Division, or SOD. Two dozen partner agencies comprise the unit, including the FBI, CIA, NSA, Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security. The unit was first created two decades ago, but it's coming under increased scrutiny following the recent revelations about the NSA maintaining a database of all phone calls made in the United States. One former federal judge, Nancy Gertner, said the DEA program sounds more troubling than recent disclosures that the NSA has been collecting domestic phone records. She said, quote, "It is one thing to create special rules for national security. Ordinary crime is entirely different. It sounds like they are phonying up investigations."
For more, we're joined by the reporter who broke this story, John Shiffman, correspondent for Reuters, which published his exclusive story Monday, "U.S. Tells Agents to Cover Up Use of Wiretap Program."
Here's the anti-Keystone ad one NBC station doesn't want you to see (7 August 2013)
NextGen Climate Action, the group founded by billionaire climate-action booster Tom Steyer, had submitted the ad to run on D.C.-area NBC affiliate WRC-TV during Obama's Tuesday appearance on The Tonight Show, with the aim of reaching the influential inside-the-Beltway crowd. But at the last minute Tuesday evening, the station informed NextGen that the ad wouldn't run after all, because it violated guidelines as "an attack of a personal nature."
The ad does feature an actor playing TransCanada CEO Russ Girling as a disingenuous, over-the-top oil baron at his, well, oiliest. But rather than defaming him as a serial sexter or making another such "personal" attack, it skewers farfetched claims Girling and his company have put forward about the Keystone XL pipeline's economic benefits.
The Hill published a story about the ad Tuesday afternoon, before it was scrapped, that included criticism from Oil Sands Fact Check, a group that supports the pipeline. Now, according to Politico's Morning Energy , NextGen wants NBC to sign an affidavit swearing it didn't drop the ad as a result of industry pressure.
This doesn't mean NBC is staying out of the pipeline fight altogether. The network ran a pro-Keystone ad this past Sunday during Meet the Press. And it's not like TransCanada's voice is being drowned out by anti-pipeline advertising; the company launched a multi-platform ad campaign in the capital and around the country a couple weeks ago, and is even sponsoring Politico Playbook this week. And don't forget that the Canadian government itself is shelling out millions for its own pro-pipeline campaign aimed at the D.C. bubble.
Researchers at UW, elsewhere propose experiments on deadly bird flu virus (7 August 2013)
World-renowned flu researchers, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Yoshihiro Kawaoka, are proposing the same kinds of experiments on China's deadly bird flu virus that scientists voluntarily agreed to halt last year on a different, potentially deadly strain of bird flu.
The proposed new experiments, outlined in a letter jointly published Wednesday by the journals Nature and Science, would make the H7N9 avian flu virus from China more transmissible or virulent in labs to predict how it might evolve in nature, what it would take for the virus to spread efficiently from poultry to people, and what drugs or vaccines could stop it.
A new sense of urgency emerged Tuesday, after the British Medical Journal published a study by Chinese scientists who discovered the first case of human-to-human transmission of H7N9 bird flu. The scientists reported that a 32-year-old woman was infected while caring for her father in March. Both the woman and her father have since died.
The H7N9 bird flu virus killed at least 43 people in China earlier this year -- about a fourth of those it infected -- before live poultry markets were closed to stem its spread.
Wisconsin lawmaker threatened with arrest for observing progressive protest (7 August 2013)
A Wisconsin lawmaker and a state official were both threatened with arrest on Tuesday for observing a progressive "Solidarity Sing Along" protest at the state Capitol.
State Rep. Sondy Pope (D-Middleton) and executive secretary Tia Nelson of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands told Isthmus they were threatened with arrest by a Capitol Police officer. The officer told the two women that anyone who stood to watch the protest rather than moving along was subject to arrest.
"As a legislator I swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States. I think what [the police] are doing is unconstitutional. How can you arrest me for observing?" told Isthmus.
A video uploaded to YouTube on Tuesday showed another woman being warned by a police officer.
PAM COMMENTARY: Emmet: "She'll sing at me! She always sings at me."
State officials say they won't issue citations to Solidarity Singalong observers (7 August 2013)
Observers of the Solidarity Singalong won't be cited, state officials said Wednesday, just hours after police told people in the Capitol rotunda they could be arrested for watching the regular noontime protest.
Capitol Police have been issuing arrest warnings to observers since the first week police started citing singers for failing to get a permit to gather in the Capitol rotunda. The warnings gained greater attention this week when state Rep. Sondy Pope, D-Cross Plains, received one.
Department of Administration spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis said in an email that "observers will not receive citations" in response to a State Journal inquiry about what authority the state had to cite observers. DOA officials declined to discuss why police were warning observers.
UW-Madison political science professor Donald Downs said the right to listen is an inherent part of the First Amendment protection of free speech.
Newspapers for sale: Are new billionaire owners good for the business? (+video) (7 August 2013)
While billionaire Jeffrey Bezos's $250 million purchase of the Washington Post came as a surprise -- some say shock -- to many, it is just the latest in a recent back-to-the-future trend of wealthy businessmen taking up the helm of ailing newspapers across the country.
Over the weekend, Red Sox owner John Henry announced plans to buy The Boston Globe, while magnates from the real estate and greeting card industries have snapped up publications such as The San Diego Union Tribune and the Orange County Register.
"Clearly we are seeing notable great dailies come into the hands of very wealthy individual owners," says Mark Jurkowitz of the Pew Research Center.
"These are a new class of owners," points out Mr. Jurkowitz. "They are more unfettered."
In the case of Mr. Bezos, he notes for instance, the Amazon founder and new Globe owner will be able to operate without having to explain his actions to outside shareholders.
How The Washington Post's New Owner Aided the CIA, Blocked WikiLeaks & Decimated the Book Industry (7 August 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
ROBERT McCHESNEY: Well, I think what's important is to have a structural understanding and context for this purchase, because the real story, the back story, is that the value of The Washington Post, like all other news media in this country, has plummeted in the last five or 10 years to maybe one-tenth, one-fiftieth of what it was in the late 1990s, and at this point they aren't wise commercial investments. As the blip you had at the top of the show said, Amy, commercial journalism no longer is profitable. That's why investors are jumping ship.
But they still have great political value, monopoly newspapers, especially The Washington Post, in the nation's capital. It might not be a commercially viable undertaking, but it still has tremendous political power. And I think when we understand it that way, that's the appeal of these remaining legacy monopoly newspapers, like the _Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, to wealthy people, is that it won't make them money in the short term on that exact investment, but it gives them great political power to advance their political agenda, which, in the case of someone like Jeff Bezos, could give him a great deal of money down the road.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Jeff Cohen, could you respond to the sale of The Washington Post Company to Jeff Bezos and respond also to what Bob McChesney said about how the value of The Washington Post has been declining for several consecutive years, and talk about why Jeff Bezos might have made this purchase?
JEFF COHEN: Well, I think that when Jeff Bezos, in that older quote, talks about it being a luxury item--printed newspapers--I've got a good feeling, a good sense, that Jeff Bezos' Washington Post will not remain a luxury item around Capitol Hill. It may go online heavily, but it's going to stay there at Capitol Hill, because Bezos, I think, wants that kind of influence in the nation's capital.
And I've been reading all this about Bezos' politics, which of course is important when you're a singular owner of a paper as influential as The Washington Post, a paper that actually urged us to get into the invasion of Iraq about a decade ago. But Bezos is like a lot of corporate executives: He's liberal on social policy--he gave money to the pro-gay-marriage initiative--but he's very conservative on economic policies that affect the corporation that made him wealthy and powerful. So, we learn about Bezos that he's donated money to the initiative in the state of Washington--big money--that was trying to institute a tax, an income tax, on the top 1 percent of people in the state of Washington. It was supported by Bill Gates of Microsoft and Bill Gates's dad. But Bezos was one of the billionaires that put money in to try to stop that. He's conservative on labor policy, and we know what a bad labor policy Amazon has.
And the most important thing is, the biggest issue facing American journalism in the last month or so has been the surveillance state and these corporations that profit from the surveillance state, because 70 percent of the intelligence agency's budgets, that come from the taxpayers, is delivered to private contractors. And as you guys mentioned, Amazon just brought down a huge CIA contract to provide cloud services. And we know that that's not the only one. They want more contracts.
California City Threatens to Use Eminent Domain to Stop Bank Foreclosures (6 August 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: As President Obama heads to Phoenix today to talk about housing, I want to turn now to how Richmond, California, is tackling its foreclosure crisis. Almost half the city's residential mortgage holders are underwater. In a major development last week, Richmond became the first city in the country to offer to purchase mortgages of distressed homeowners from Wall Street banks and other lenders. Under a plan approved by the Richmond City Council in April, Richmond can also use its eminent domain authority to purchase loans in order to modify them and allow families to avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. Other cities are advancing similar bills, like Newark, New Jersey, and here in New York City.
Well, Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, who's a member of the Green Party, remains with us now from Berkeley, California, to discuss this new way of addressing the foreclosure crisis. Lay it out for us, Mayor McLaughlin.
MAYOR GAYLE McLAUGHLIN: Yes, of course. First of all, the housing crisis in Richmond is not over, far so from being over. We had 900 foreclosures last year and just as many in the pipeline this year. So, this situation is something that we feel in the city of Richmond we have to address. It's destabilizing our families. It's destabilized neighborhoods. And it's caused a huge impact to the city as a whole.
So, the city is stepping in to fix the situation. The banks sold our community predatory loans, and now they have no solution that they're presenting for this crisis. So we are stepping in to fix the situation. We're stepping in by taking these troubled loans off the hands of the banks. And we're paying them fair market value for these loans, and then we're working with the homeowners to refinance and modify loans in line with current--current home values. So we call on the banks to voluntarily sell us these loans. And if they don't cooperate, we will be considering eminent domain--again, paying them fair market value for these mortgages. So--
Justin Slaby will be first FBI agent with prosthetic limb (7 August 2013)
Alexandria, Va. -- In a decision that could have wide-ranging implications for disabled veterans, a federal jury in Alexandria, Va., on Wednesday found that the FBI discriminated against Oak Creek native Justin Slaby, who lost his left hand during a military training accident.
The decision means that Slaby, 30, who was stripped of his job as an FBI special agent trainee after officials concluded he could not safely fire a handgun with his prosthesis, will get his job back. He will be the first person with a prosthetic limb to serve as an FBI agent.
In addition, the jury awarded $75,000 in damages to Slaby, an Army veteran whose left hand had to be amputated after a defective stun grenade exploded prematurely in 2004. He also will receive back pay.
During an eight-day trial, Slaby's attorneys argued that Slaby, who is right-handed, can shoot well with that hand. They contended that FBI trainers were prejudiced against Slaby before he arrived at the academy, that he was subjected to extreme and unfair scrutiny, and that he was held to a standard not applied to other trainees.
Chevron to Pay $2 Million for 2012 Refinery Fire in Richmond, CA; 200 Arrested at Protest (6 August 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: It was a year ago today when a massive fire at a Chevron refinery in Richmond, California, sent toxic smoke billowing into the air about 10 miles northeast of San Fransisco. In the aftermath, more than 15,000 people were hospitalized with respiratory problems. On Monday, Chevron pleaded no contest to six criminal charges related to the fire and agreed to submit to additional oversight over the next few years and pay $2 million in fines and restitution as part of a plea deal with state and county prosecutors.
On Saturday, thousands of people marched to condemn safety issues at Chevron's plant and to call for renewable alternatives to fossil fuels. The protest was part of a wave of "Summer Heat" actions led by the environmental group 350.org. It included a march to Chevron's refinery, where 210 people were arrested. This is 350.org founder Bill McKibben, who was among those arrested.
BILL McKIBBEN: The reason that we're here is because Chevron is a really bad actor. OK? In the places where they get their oil, they're a bad actor. Ask the people in Canada fighting their fracking. Ask the people in Ecuador who have had to live with their waste. When they get it here to refine it, they're a bad actor. They sent 15,000 of their neighbors to the hospital. And they are bad, bad actors on this planet. They have nine billion barrels of oil in their reserves. OK? If they burn most of those, then we cannot deal with climate change.
AMY GOODMAN: Just before the protest, the city of Richmond filed a lawsuit against Chevron over the fire, claiming it followed more than a dozen similar incidents. This is longtime environmental organizer Andrés Soto of Communities for a Better Environment.
NRA attacks "shadowy network" of enviros and zoos fighting to ban lead bullets (6 August 2013)
You might think the NRA would be busy enough fighting its current battles, fending off crazy ideas like expanded background checks for gun sales. But no. The group is now picking a whole new fight, this one against activists who want to ban lead bullets.
Studies have shown that as many as 20 million birds, including endangered California condors, die each year from lead poisoning after ingesting bullet fragments. Ammunition is likely the greatest unregulated source of lead released into the environment, according to a statement [PDF] from scientific experts in lead and environmental health. Some states, notably California, are now weighing regulations to outlaw the use of lead in bullets.
The NRA isn't going to stand by and let that happen. The group has launched a campaign called Hunt for Truth to fight back against "the assault on traditional lead ammunition" by targeting the groups and individuals -- mostly scientists, nonprofits, and government agencies -- behind this unconscionable attack on American values.
But the thing is, requiring hunters to use lead-free bullets wouldn't cause them any great hardship, the Huffington Post reports:
"Lead-free bullets are widely available from top manufacturers, and have not been shown to function any differently than bullets containing the highly toxic element."
Lawsuit Challenges EPA's Failure to Protect Wildlife From Lead Poisoning; Millions of Birds, Other Wildlife, Poisoned Yearly by Lead Ammunition Left in Wild -- Including Eagles, Condors, Swans, Loons (FLASHBACK) (7 June 2012)
WASHINGTON-- Seven conservation groups today filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency for refusing to address toxic lead in hunting ammunition that frequently poisons and kills eagles, swans, loons, endangered California condors and other wildlife, as well as affecting human health. Ignoring well-established science on the dangers of lead poisoning from spent ammunition, the EPA refuses to acknowledge or evaluate risks to wildlife and human health. The EPA in April denied a petition requesting a public process to consider regulations for nontoxic hunting ammunition. Today's lawsuit challenges that decision.
"The EPA has the ability to immediately end the unintended killing of eagles, swans, loons, condors and other wildlife," said Jeff Miller with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Unfortunately, the agency refuses to address this needless poisoning. We've removed toxic lead from gasoline, paint and most products exposing humans to lead poisoning; now it's time to do the same for hunting ammunition to protect America's wildlife."
"Expended lead shot persists in the environment for a long time, and thousands of trumpeter swans have died recently from ingesting lead shot deposited by hunters decades ago," said hunter John Cornely, executive director of The Trumpeter Swan Society. "Hunters and anglers can provide leadership to prevent killing of non-target wildlife. Getting the lead out is in line with traditional conservation and hunting values."
"Wildlife hospitals across the country see a dramatic rise in lead-poisoned eagles and other raptors during hunting season each fall," said Louise Shimmel, executive director of the Cascades Raptor Center in Oregon. "Lead poisoning is a major cause of death and injury for wildlife, and is easily preventable by taking action to prohibit lead shot."
Millions of nontarget birds and other wildlife are poisoned each year from scavenging carcasses containing lead-bullet fragments or from ingesting spent lead-shot pellets. Spent ammunition causes lead poisoning in 130 species of birds and animals and frequently kills bald eagles, trumpeter swans and endangered California condors, especially condors in Arizona, where lead is the leading cause of these birds' deaths. Nearly 500 scientific papers document the dangers to wildlife from this kind of lead exposure. Lead ammunition also poses health risks for people eating game contaminated with lead bullet fragments.
At Congressional Cemetery, goats eating their way through an acre of poison ivy (7 August 2013)
The herd of 25 goats rumbled into Congressional Cemetery in Southeast Washington on Wednesday morning, passing tombstones engraved with words such as "The Honorable" and "HOOVER" (as in FBI legend J. Edgar.)
They had been taken there for a mission. Over the next week, the goats are supposed to eat more than an acre's worth of poison ivy and English ivy, which are imperiling the historic cemetery's trees and endangering the gravestones.
The 206-year-old cemetery, owned by Christ Church of Washington and run by a nonprofit group, figures the goats are a cheaper, less toxic way of cleaning up the 35-acre property, which borders the Anacostia Watershed.
But before the goats could step off their trailer and get to work, they had to face another form of invasive species that crops up in the nation's capital on slow news days in August: reporters, armed with cameras, tripods and microphones, and dressed more appropriately for live stand-ups outside a courthouse than for live stand-ups with goats.
Super-upsetting photo shows a polar bear killed by climate change (6 August 2013)
A polar bear was found dead this July in northern Svalbard, the north-most bit of Norway, located well up into the Arctic Ocean. He was, the scientists who examined him said, "little more than skin and bones," and if you want to and you can handle it, you can click below the fold to see what that looks like.
What's particularly distressing about this polar bear's death is that scientists had examined him just a couple of months before, in April, when he "appeared healthy," the Guardian reports. But the seas around Svalbard are warming up, and there was not enough sea ice for the bear to go out hunting seals. Scientists think that this particular bear generally hunted in the south, but his body was found well out of his normal range, far to the north of Svalbard.
"From his lying position in death, the bear appears to simply have starved and died where he dropped," [polar bear expert Dr. Ian] Stirling said. "He had no external suggestion of any remaining fat, having been reduced to little more than skin and bone."
You can see him below... [click article link for photo]
Ice ages: Why North America is key to their coming and going (7 August 2013)
For the last 900,000 years, mile-thick ice sheets have waxed and waned in the Northern Hemisphere with remarkable regularity -- building over periods of about 100,000 years and retreating in the space of only a few thousand years, only to repeat the cycle.
Now, a team of scientists from Japan, the US, and Switzerland suggests that the North American continent is the breeding ground for these cycles. It's a region where climate and the ice's effect on the Earth's crust play off each other to draw out the length of a glacial cycle triggered by changes in solar radiation that come with changes in Earth's orbit.
This feedback between climate and ice becomes most dramatic at the end of the cycle, when an ice sheet that has bulldozed its way too far south and gotten too heavy for its own good meets up with a warming climate.
"When the ice sheets get to this huge state, they are very hard to keep that way," says Maureen Raymo, a paleoclimatologist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Geophysical Observatory in Palisades, N.Y., and a member of the team conducting the study.
Tesla's biggest foe -- car dealers (7 August 2013)
Sometimes, when a young tech firm tries to disrupt an established industry, the established industry fights back.
Witness Tesla Motors.
The Palo Alto company wants to revolutionize the automotive market with electric cars that are more luxurious and flat-out sexier than their gas-burning rivals. Tesla also aims to change the way people buy cars, with direct sales that cut out the middleman.
But the middleman -- the traditional franchise auto dealership -- is in no mood to be cut out.
Ancient whale emerges along the Potomac River (7 August 2013)
WASHINGTON--To reach the 15-million-year-old whale, the paleontologists and their entourage hiked about a kilometre Tuesday, trudging along the slim shoreline of the Potomac River which separates Maryland and Virginia and wading into knee-deep water not far from the birthplace of Robert E. Lee.
For more than five hours, they chipped away at clay covering the bones of the ancient goliath, which likely belong to an extinct baleen whale that would have been eight metres long. Based on the cliffs where it was discovered in Stratford, Va., the whale lived during the Miocene Epoch, 5 million to 23 million years ago.
"You're seeing stuff for the first time in 15 million years. You're seeing history be exposed," said John Nance, paleontology collections manager at the Calvert Marine Museum in southern Maryland and a member of the team that made news by extracting a 1.8-metre-long, 1,000-pound whale skull from the site last month.
They have been working here ever since mid-June, when a staff member at Stratford Hall, the ancestral home of the Lee family, spotted the whale skull poking out of the sandy cliffs while accompanying researchers on a pollen study.
Google Chrome security flaw offers unrestricted password access (7 August 2013)
A serious flaw in the security of Google's Chrome browser lets anyone with access to a user's computer see all the passwords stored for email, social media and other sites, directly from the settings panel. No password is needed to view them.
Besides personal accounts, sensitive company login details would be compromised if someone who used Chrome left their computer unattended with the screen active.
Seeing the passwords is achieved simply by clicking on the Settings icon, choosing "Show advanced settings..." and then "Manage saved passwords" in the "Passwords and forms" section. A list of obscured passwords is then revealed for sites - but clicking beside them reveals the plain text of the password, which could be copied, or sent via a screenshot to an outside site.
But the head of Google's Chrome developer team, Justin Schuh, said he was aware of the weakness and that there were no plans to change the system.
Manning's max possible sentence cut to 90 years (6 August 2013)
FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) -- A military judge has reduced Army Pfc. Bradley Manning's maximum possible sentence in the WikiLeaks case to 90 years in prison.
Manning had faced up to 136 years in prison after he was convicted of charges related to his disclosure of classified information to the anti-secrecy website. But the judge, Army Col. Denise Lind, found during his sentencing hearing Tuesday that a number of the charges refer to the same actions and therefore were duplicative for sentencing purposes.
Manning was convicted at his court-martial of 20 counts. His defense attorneys had argued that some of the counts amounted to multiple convictions for a single act.
Testimony during Manning's sentencing hearing was to continue at Fort Meade, near Baltimore.
Young woman's ovaries destroyed by Gardasil: Merck 'forgot to research' effects of vaccine on female reproduction (6 August 2013)
(NaturalNews) A newly-published study has revealed that Merck & Co., the corporate mastermind behind the infamous Gardasil vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV), conveniently forgot to research the effects of this deadly vaccine on women's reproductive systems. And at least one young woman, in this case from Australia, bore the brunt of this inexcusable failure after discovering that her own ovaries had been completely destroyed as a result of getting the vaccine.
Published in the peer-reviewed British Medical Journal (BMJ), the harrowing recount of this young 16-year-old girl's experience should give pause to all parents currently being pressured by their doctors into having their young daughters jabbed with Gardasil. Robbed of her natural ability to experience full womanhood, this young woman experienced early menopause, in which her ovaries completely shut down before they were even able to fully develop.
Entitled Premature ovarian failure 3 years after menarche in a 16-year-old girl following human papillomavirus vaccination, this latest case study provides solid evidence that Gardasil is, at the very least, a serious threat to normal ovarian function. Not only was the damaged girl examined and verified to have had healthy ovaries prior to the shots, but there were no other identified factors besides Gardasil that could have possibly been involved in her sudden ill-fate.
Worse is the fact that information later obtained from the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for the case -- TGA is Australia's equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. -- revealed that Merck had never even conducted safety testing on Gardasil in relation to its effects on women's ovaries. According to the report, Merck had only tested Gardasil's effects on male testes.
Environmentalists call well methane leaks 'alarmingly high' (6 August 2013)
Almost a tenth of the methane produced from oil and gas operations in a Utah site escapes into the atmosphere, according to a federally backed study published Monday.
An analysis of the report from the Environmental Defense Fund called the emissions rates "alarmingly high."
The study, which included researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration among others, was published Monday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
It found that 9 percent of methane produced from drilling sites in a portion of Utah's Uintah Basin escaped, said Colm Sweeney, one of the study's main authors and a scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Earth Systems Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo.
Brian Straessle, a spokesman for the American Petroleum Institute, said the industry trade association hasn't reviewed the new report, but cited other studies that found the portion of methane that escapes from wells is less than 2 percent.
Number of dead dolphins washed up in Va. hits 100 (6 August 2013)
The number of dead dolphins that have washed ashore this year in Virginia reached 100 over the weekend.
Since Thursday, 13 dolphin corpses have been recovered in the state, bringing the total for 2013 well above the typical 64 found annually by the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team.
Some of the dolphins have been severely decomposed, making it difficult for marine biologists to understand what is causing the die-off.
"We get calls from people who see them floating, but we don't have the equipment to track them down," said Joan Barns, spokeswoman for the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. "Unfortunately, there are probably more dead dolphins out there, but they just haven't landed yet."
According to marine biologists, dolphin strandings peak in May and June. But this year, 44 dolphins were found dead on Virginia beaches in July, most in the southern part of the Chesapeake Bay. On average, only six or seven dead dolphins are picked up by the team in July.
Update: Python escapes from pet store, kills two young boys in New Brunswick (6 August 2013)
CAMPBELLTON, N.B. -- Residents of this small town said they were in shock Monday after two young boys were apparently strangled by a python as they slept in an apartment above a pet store.
RCMP Const. Jullie Rogers-Marsh said the boys, aged five and seven, had been visiting the apartment of a friend above Reptile Ocean.
"My body is in shock. I don't know what to think," Jean-Claude Savoie, the store's owner in whose apartment the children were found, told Global News. Savoie said the two youngsters were his best friend's children and that they often slept at his apartment.
Savoie told Global News he found the children in the living room with a hole in the ceiling above them. "I thought they were sleeping until I (saw) the hole in the ceiling. I turned the lights on and I (saw) this horrific scene," he told the news outlet. "(The snake) went through a ventilation system. I don't understand how it did it." Savoie said he found the python and put it in a cage until authorities could take it away.
Rogers-Marsh said police arrived at the apartment around 6:30 a.m., at which point officers found the two dead boys. RCMP confirmed to the CBC that the snake was an African rock python, measuring between 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 metres long. Police said it weighed about 45 kilograms.The snake typically kills its victims by constricting them.
15-tonne ball of congealed fat removed from London sewer after 10-day operation (6 August 2013)
A 15-tonne ball of congealed fat -- dubbed Britain's biggest ever "fatberg" -- was removed from a London sewer after a 10-day operation following complaints from local residents that their toilets would not flush.
The monstrous lump of festering food fat mixed with wet wipes -- the size of a bus -- formed in drains under a major road in Kingston, southwest London, utility firm Thames Water said Tuesday.
Had it not been removed, the deposit could have led to sewage flooding homes, streets and businesses in the leafy London suburb, Thames Water said.
"While we've removed greater volumes of fat from under central London in the past, we've never seen a single, congealed lump of lard this big clogging our sewers before," Gordon Hailwood, waste contracts supervisor for the company, said in a statement.
Zen break: Check out China's gorgeous stripey mountains (6 August 2013)
Ready for some chamomile tea for the eyes? Because these wild, striated mountains are oddly soothing:
"The mountains are part of the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park in China," explains the Huffington Post. "Layers of different colored sandstone and minerals were pressed together over 24 million years and then buckled up by tectonic plates." (HuffPo's versions of the photos seem to have gotten the Photoshop treatment. Alas, not reserved for magazine covers anymore.)
Rain + wind + red sandstone + 24 million years = awesome nature porn.
Ahhh. Anyone else ready for some layer cake?
Greenwald: Is U.S. Exaggerating Threat to Embassies to Silence Critics of NSA Domestic Surveillance? (5 August 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: That was Senator Chambliss. Glenn Greenwald, your response?
GLENN GREENWALD: You know, it's so ludicrous. For eight straight years, literally, Democrats, every time there was a terrorist alert or a terrorist advisory issued by the United States government in the middle of a debate over one of the Bush-Cheney civil liberties abuses, would accuse the United States government and the national security state of exaggerating terrorism threats, of manipulating advisories, of hyping the dangers of al-Qaeda, in order to distract attention away from their abuses and to scare the population into submitting to whatever it is they wanted to do. And so, here we are in the midst of, you know, one of the most intense debates and sustained debates that we've had in a very long time in this country over the dangers of excess surveillance, and suddenly an administration that has spent two years claiming that it has decimated al-Qaeda decides that there is this massive threat that involves the closing of embassies and consulates throughout the world. And within literally an amount of hours, the likes of Saxby Chambliss and Lindsey Graham join with the White House and Democrats in Congress--who, remember, are the leading defenders of the NSA at this point--to exploit that terrorist threat and to insist that it shows that the NSA and these programs are necessary.
What that has to do with the ongoing controversy about the NSA is completely mystifying. Nobody has ever questioned or disputed that the U.S. government, like all governments around the world, ought to be eavesdropping and monitoring the conversations of people who pose an actual threat to the United States in terms of plotting terrorist attacks. The controversy is over the fact that they are sweeping up billions and billions of emails and telephone calls every single day from people around the world and in the United States who have absolutely nothing to do with terrorism. And, if anything, the only thing that that controversy--the warning has to do with the current controversy is that the argument that a lot of analysts have made, very persuasively, is that when you have an agency that collects everything, it actually becomes harder, not easier, to detect actual terrorist plots and to find the actual terrorists. And if this agency really were devoted, if these surveillance programs were really devoted to finding terrorism, they would be much more directed and discriminating. But they're not. They're indiscriminate and limitless, and that's one of the problems.
Exclusive: U.S. directs agents to cover up program used to investigate Americans (5 August 2013)
(Reuters) - A secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.
Although these cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin - not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.
The undated documents show that federal agents are trained to "recreate" the investigative trail to effectively cover up where the information originated, a practice that some experts say violates a defendant's Constitutional right to a fair trial. If defendants don't know how an investigation began, they cannot know to ask to review potential sources of exculpatory evidence - information that could reveal entrapment, mistakes or biased witnesses.
"I have never heard of anything like this at all," said Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law School professor who served as a federal judge from 1994 to 2011. Gertner and other legal experts said the program sounds more troubling than recent disclosures that the National Security Agency has been collecting domestic phone records. The NSA effort is geared toward stopping terrorists; the DEA program targets common criminals, primarily drug dealers.
"It is one thing to create special rules for national security," Gertner said. "Ordinary crime is entirely different. It sounds like they are phonying up investigations."
Washington Post to be sold to Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon (5 August 2013)
Post Co. chairman and chief executive Donald E. Graham and Post publisher Katharine Weymouth, his niece, broke the news of the sale to a packed meeting of employees at the company's headquarters in downtown Washington on Monday. The mood was hushed; several veteran employees cried as Graham and Weymouth took turns reading statements and answering questions. "Everyone who was in that room knows how much Don and Katharine love the paper and how hard this must have been for them," said David Ignatius, a veteran Post columnist who was visibly moved after the meeting.
But for much of the past decade, The Post has been unable to escape the financial turmoil that has engulfed newspapers and other "legacy" media organizations. The rise of the Internet and the epochal change from print to digital technology have created a massive wave of competition for traditional news companies, scattering readers and advertisers across a radically altered news and information landscape and triggering mergers, bankruptcies and consolidation among the owners of print and broadcasting properties.
"Every member of my family started out with the same emotion -- shock -- in even thinking about" selling The Post, Graham said in an interview Monday. "But when the idea of a trans-action with Jeff Bezos came up, it altered my feelings."
He added: "The Post could have survived under the company's ownership and been profitable for the foreseeable future. But we wanted to do more than survive. I'm not saying this guarantees success, but it gives us a much greater chance of success."
Bezos, 49, will take the company private, meaning he will not have to report quarterly earnings to shareholders or be subjected to investors' demands for ever-rising profits, as the publicly traded Washington Post Co. is obligated to do now. As such, he will be able to experiment with the paper without the pressure of showing an immediate return on any investment. Indeed, Bezos's history of patient investment and long-term strategic thinking made him an attractive buyer, Weymouth said.
EAA AirVenture 2013 in Oshkosh meets its goals (5 August 2013)
The annual gathering of the general aviation world at the EAA AirVenture festival in Oshkosh, Wis., wrapped up Sunday, and the organization said it was a big success.
In a post on EAA's website, the organization's chairman, and former Cessna Aircraft Co. CEO, Jack Pelton, says his goals for the week were accomplished.
The event remained safe, which Pelton said is always the primary goal.
Secondly, he said it was an accomplishment to have the air show at all in light of the Federal Aviation Administration's actions to charge EAA for air traffic controllers for the week.
EAA eventually agreed to pay the fees, under protest, and an appeal against the fees continues.
Third, Pelton said, was to have an entertaining show -- despite the fact that defense budgets did not allow for the traditional amount of military aircraft at the show.
First lab-grown hamburger gets full marks for 'mouth feel' (5 August 2013)
All it took was a little butter and sunflower oil and, in less than 10 minutes, the world's most expensive burger, grown from muscle stem cells in a lab, was ready to eat.
"I was expecting the texture to be more soft," said Hanni Rützler of the Future Food Studio, who researches food trends and was the first to get a taste of the synthetic beef hamburger at a lavish event in London on Monday that bore more resemblance to a TV set than a scientific press conference.
The lack of fat was noticeable, she added, which meant a lack of juiciness in the centre of the burger. If she had closed her eyes, however, she would have thought the cultured beef was definitely meat rather than a vegetable-based substitute.
The fibres had been grown in the lab and bound together, coloured with beetroot juice and shot through with saffron to complete the burger that, from a distance at least, looked perfectly ordinary. The chef tasked with cooking it was Richard McGeown of Couch's Great House Restaurant in Polperro, Cornwall, who said it was slightly more pale than the beefburgers he was accustomed to but that it cooked like any other burger, was suitably aromatic and looked inviting.
Purple potatoes pack serious antioxidants compared to their white-fleshed counterparts (5 August 2013)
Study shows purple potatoes aid in lowering blood pressure
A small study that was presented at the American Chemical Society National Meeting in Denver in 2012 found that eating these potatoes lowered the blood pressure of the subjects who consumed them compared to non-consumers. This is likely due to their therapeutic effect on the capillaries and blood vessels as mentioned earlier and the purple potato's high concentration of another phytochemical called chlorogenic acid which has been linked to lower blood pressure in mice.
Potatoes are typically associated with weight gain and by some as a "forbidden food" due to their high starch content. So to many it was a surprising outcome that consuming six to eight small purple potatoes per day not only lowered the blood pressure of the participants but also caused no weight gain at all.
Is there a flavor or texture compromise for the increased nutrition?
So you may be thinking since the purple potato has so much more nutrition than the standard white potato that there must be some flavor or texture compromise? It turns out that the purple potato tastes remarkably similar to standard white-fleshed potatoes.
It has a slightly nutty flavor and a creamier texture when compared to traditional potatoes. This makes it ideal for baking, mashing, pan frying and doing pretty much anything else that you might do with a standard potato. It can be delicious when blended with various herbs and garlic and makes a great mashed potato dish since it has a creamier texture when cooked.
PAM COMMENTARY: At first I wasn't going to post this link at all, because purple potatoes have been on the market for years, blue potatoes for an especially long time (in fact there are even brands of blue potato chips, which have been on the market since the 90s or so). They're not "new" as this article implies. I've purchased them from first health food stores and then supermarkets for close to ten years already.
Also, I've noticed personally that people who get hives from strawberries say that they also get hives from blue/purple potatoes. I'm not sure if a study has been done on this problem yet, but I want to put it out there as a possibility for people who have food allergies.
I'm not saying that people shouldn't try them if they want them -- just watch for an allergic reaction, especially if you already have other food allergies.
Climate change pushing marine life towards the poles, says study (5 August 2013)
Rising ocean temperatures are rearranging the biological make-up of our oceans, pushing species towards the poles by 7kms every year, as they chase the climates they can survive in, according to new research.
The study, conducted by a working group of scientists from 17 different institutions, gathered data from seven different countries and found the warming oceans are causing marine species to alter their breeding, feeding and migration patterns.
Surprisingly, land species are shifting at a rate of less than 1km a year in comparison, even though land surface temperatures are rising at a much faster rate than those in the ocean.
"In general, the air is warming faster than the ocean because the air has greater capacity to absorb temperature. So we expected to see more rapid response on land than in the ocean. But we sort of found the inverse," said study researcher Dr Christopher Brown, post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Queensland's Global Change Institute.
U.S. pageant winner accused of throwing homemade bombs from car (5 August 2013)
SALT LAKE CITY--A young beauty pageant winner in the U.S. is accused of throwing makeshift explosives from a car.
Kendra McKenzie Gill -- recently crowned Miss Riverton, Utah -- and three others were arrested Saturday after allegedly throwing the homemade bombs at least nine times.
Police said they admitted buying plastic bottles, aluminum foil and household chemicals before assembling the devices.
"They were throwing them at both property and people," Unified Fire Authority Capt. Clint Mecham told KUTV-TV, adding that nobody was injured. "This goes well beyond a teenage prank."
Wendy Davis: Ready to ride for governor of Texas? (5 August 2013)
Governor of Texas or another term in the state Senate?
Wendy Davis, a rising Democratic star in the Lone Star State, narrowed her campaign choices to those two Monday in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, telling reporters afterward she'd announce which one she's running for "hopefully in just the next couple of weeks."
State Senator Davis shot to national fame on June 25 during an epic 13-hour filibuster in the Texas Legislature over restrictive new abortion regulations. Her effort killed the legislation, only to see it passed when Gov. Rick Perry (R) called another special session.
Still, Davis is now a hot political commodity, and it's not hard to imagine her seizing the moment and going for the open governor's seat. Governor Perry is not running for reelection. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is favored to win the Republican nomination.
Virginia gun sales rise, firearm-related crimes fall (5 August 2013)
Firearms sales in Virginia are increasing while gun-related violent crimes are declining.
Firearms sales rose 16 percent in 2012 to a record 490,119 guns purchased in 444,844 transactions, according to federally licensed gun dealer sales estimates obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. During the same period, major crimes committed with firearms dropped 5 percent to 4,378.
"This appears to be additional evidence that more guns don't necessarily lead to more crime," said Thomas R. Baker, an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University's L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs who specializes in research methods and criminology theory.
"It's a quite interesting trend given the current rhetoric about strengthening gun laws and the presumed effect it would have on violent crimes," Baker told the newspaper. "While you can't conclude from this that tougher laws wouldn't reduce crime even more, it really makes you question if making it harder for law-abiding people to buy a gun would have any effect on crime."
August recess now high season for interests lobbying lawmakers (4 August 2013)
Lawmakers hoping for a respite from Washington's intense lobbying climate won't get a break back home during the August recess.
Once a lull in the political calendar, August is now officially part of the high season. An array of interest groups has methodically plotted how to use the congressional recess to press causes.
The sophisticated operations aim to drive a political narrative throughout the month, hoping to produce a strong display of voter sentiment that lawmakers will not be able to ignore when they return to Washington after Labor Day. At that point, they will immediately contend with a showdown over the budget, a House debate on immigration reform and the launch of new state health insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act.
So this month, the pressure is on. At town hall meetings, lawmakers will face activists calling for a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. On walks in local neighborhoods, they could run into gun-control advocates, who plan to blanket key districts with fliers. During visits to the county fair, they are likely to encounter voters demanding defunding of President Obama's signature health-care law.
Donor Jonnie Williams, Star Scientific are cooperating in probe of Gov. Robert McDonnell (3 August 2013)
A prominent political donor and his dietary supplement company have been cooperating for several months with federal prosecutors in a fast-moving public corruption investigation of Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, according to three people familiar with the probe.
Jonnie R. Williams Sr., chief executive of Star Scientific, has turned over personal financial records and sat for interviews in which he provided firsthand accounts of luxury gifts and more than $120,000 given to McDonnell (R) and his family members since 2011, the people said.
Star has given prosecutors access to corporate records and offered information from other company officials. The three spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is in a sensitive stage.
The cooperation is an ominous sign for McDonnell, suggesting that federal prosecutors are focused on trying to build a potential criminal case against him.
McDonnell has not been charged, and prosecutors ultimately must determine whether they have the evidence to proceed against him.
Documents show FBI allowed informants to commit 5,600 crimes (4 August 2013)
WASHINGTON -- The FBI gave its informants permission to break the law at least 5,658 times in a single year, according to newly disclosed documents that show just how often the nation's top law enforcement agency enlists criminals to help it battle crime.
The U.S. Justice Department ordered the FBI to begin tracking crimes by its informants more than a decade ago, after the agency admitted that its agents had allowed Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger to operate a brutal crime ring in exchange for information about the Mafia. The FBI submits that tally to top Justice Department officials each year, but has never before made it public.
Agents authorized 15 crimes a day, on average, including everything from buying and selling illegal drugs to bribing government officials and plotting robberies. FBI officials have said in the past that permitting their informants -- who are often criminals themselves -- to break the law is an indispensable, if sometimes distasteful, part of investigating criminal organizations.
"It sounds like a lot, but you have to keep it in context," said Shawn Henry, who supervised criminal investigations for the FBI until he retired last year. "This is not done in a vacuum. It's not done randomly. It's not taken lightly."
USA TODAY obtained a copy of the FBI's 2011 report under the Freedom of Information Act. The report does not spell out what types of crimes its agents authorized, or how serious they were. It also did not include any information about crimes the bureau's sources were known to have committed without the government's permission.
Citrus growers import wasp to fight disease threatening groves (4 August 2013)
Pesticides haven't worked. Quarantines have been useless. Now California citrus farmers have hired an assassin to knock off the intruder threatening their orchards.
The killer-for-hire is Tamarixia radiata, a tiny parasitic wasp imported from Pakistan.
Its mission: Rub out the Asian citrus psyllid, which has helped spread a disease that turns citrus fruit lumpy and bitter before destroying the trees.
The pest is wreaking havoc in Florida's 32 citrus-growing counties. In California, it's been detected in nine counties, most of them south of the commercial growing areas in the Central Valley. Farmers are hoping the Tamarixia wasp can help keep it that way.
The wasp, which flew coach in a carry-on bag from Pakistan's Punjab region, is a parasite half the size of a chocolate sprinkle. But it kills psyllids like a horror movie monster, drinking their blood like a vampire. The female wasp can lay an egg in the psyllid's belly. When it hatches, it devours its host.
NSA X-KEYSCORE Server Sites (4 August 2013) [InfoWars.com]
While some server sites are known NSA-Echelon spy stations of the Five-Eyes -- US, UK, CA, AU and NZ -- many of the server sites are shown at, or near, national capitals. These may be symbolic locations or, intriguingly, may indicate X-Keyscore servers at US embassies.
A surprise is the dot at Moscow. Another is a site shown in south-central China, far from Beijing, located nowhere obvious (a long-shot: it's a covert server).
The NSA station in Hawaii where Edward Snowden worked is not shown on the map.
There are about 85 red dots on the site map which claims "approximately 150 sites," with 25 of the dots along the Antarctica coast.
Dots appear to be shown in 51 countries, plus seemingly circumscribed Anarctica. The densest concentration is in Europe, Middle East, South Asia, Central America. But none shown in top of the world, CA, NO, SW, IS, PT, most of South America, the Pacific and Atlantic islands, a slew of others.
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Sources (if found on major news boards):
[AJ] - InfoWars.com, PrisonPlanet.com, or other Alex Jones-affiliated sites
[BF] - BuzzFlash.com
[DN] - DemocracyNow.org
[R] - Rense.com
[WRH] - WhatReallyHappened.com