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Click to visit VeggieCooking.com NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2013

News from the Week of 18th to 24th of August 2013

SIGN THE WHITE HOUSE PETITION: Reverse the decision to grant immunity to George W Bush and the members of his administration who planned the Iraq War (100,000 signatures needed by 23 September) (24 August 2013)
"We ask the Obama administration to reverse its decision to grant Westfall immunity to George W Bush. The Bush administration committed serious war crimes and needs to be brought to justice in a court of law. The Obama Administration should be aiding the plaintiffs in this case, not trying to obstruct justice. Instruct Attorney General Holder to reverse this decision immediately." [Read more...]

Thousands march to Mall to mark 'Dream' anniversary (24 August 2013)
The gathering began Saturday under crystal-clear skies that set a new summer standard for perfection, even as the rhetoric of freedom sought and freedom realized soared to near a standard of perfection set 50 years before.

It was a day when people dreamed of future evolution and spoke of one man's dreams so forcefully delivered that five decades later the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. rank with the Gettysburg Address and Franklin D. Roosevelt's Dec. 8, 1941, speech to Congress as the most iconic in American history.

One of the last major speakers at the historic 1963 March on Washington rally still alive, U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), challenged his listeners to push back against a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June that struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

"I gave a little blood on that bridge in Selma, Ala.," he said, referring to his brutal beating by gas-masked police that was captured by photographers in 1965 and awakened many Americans to repression in southern states.

"The vote is precious. It is almost sacred," said Lewis, who was a student civil rights organizer 50 years ago. "It is the most powerful non-violent tool that we have. We must say to Congress: fix the voting rights act.

"I got arrested 40 times during the 60s, beaten and left bloodied and unconscious," he said. "But I'm not tired. I am ready to fight and continue to fight, and you must fight."
[Read more...]

Fifty years later, Marylanders recall the March on Washington (PHOTO GALLERY) (24 August 2013)
U.S. civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. (C) waves to supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963 on the Mall in Washington D.C. during the March on Washington. August 28 marks the 50th anniversary of the famous "I Have a Dream" speech, which is credited with mobilizing supporters of desegregation and prompted the 1964 Civil Rights Act. (AFP/Getty Images) [Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: This is a nice photo gallery, although the Sun might put up a big ad trying to get you to sign up for their paid service. If you scroll down a little, the photo gallery is still free.

UPS drops health benefits for 15,000 spouses. An Obamacare bellwhether? (24 August 2013)
One of the basic pledges President Obama has made regarding his health-care reforms is that "if you like the plan you have, you can keep it." It's also a pledge that could come back to bite, politically.

The latest sign of that is the news, made public this week, that shipping company UPS will no longer make health insurance benefits available to some 15,000 employee spouses. In announcing the change, the company referred to Obamacare as a reason it is having to battle to contain health-care costs.

This news comes alongside other signs that employers -- the largest source of health insurance for Americans -- aren't finding it easy to continue with health coverage as usual.

Delta Airlines has voiced its own recent complaint about Obamacare's impact on its health costs. And other news reports chronicle employers who are paring hours for some workers, saying the reason is to curb their health costs under the law.

In the case of UPS, the 15,000 spouses are husbands or wives whose employers also offer health benefits. This appears to be a case where they like the plan they have (they've opted for the UPS plan rather than their employer plan) and can't keep it.
[Read more...]

'Data is the new oil': Tech giants may be huge, but nothing matches big data (24 August 2013)
"Data is the new oil," declared Clive Humby, a Sheffield mathematician who with his wife, Edwina Dunn, made £90m helping Tesco with its Clubcard system. Though he said it in 2006, the realisation that there is a lot of money to be made -- and lost -- through the careful or careless marshalling of "big data" has only begun to dawn on many business people.

The crash that knocked out the Nasdaq trading system was only one example; in the past week, Amazon, Google and Apple have all suffered breaks in service that have affected their customers, lost sales or caused inconvenience. When Amazon's main shopping site went offline for nearly an hour, estimates suggested millions of dollars of sales were lost. When Google went offline for just four minutes this month, the missed chance to show adverts to searchers could have cost it $500,000.

Michael Palmer, of the Association of National Advertisers, expanded on Humby's quote: "Data is just like crude. It's valuable, but if unrefined it cannot really be used. It has to be changed into gas, plastic, chemicals, etc to create a valuable entity that drives profitable activity; so must data be broken down, analysed for it to have value."

For Amazon and Google especially, being able to process and store huge amounts of data is essential to their success. But when it goes wrong -- as it inevitably does -- the effects can be dramatic. And the biggest problem can be data which is "dirty", containing erroneous or garbled entries which can corrupt files and throw systems into a tailspin. That can cause the sort of "software glitch" that brought down the Nasdaq -- or lead to servers locking up and a domino effect of overloading.
[Read more...]

Russia Doubts Syrian Chemical Weapons Claims (24 August 2013) [InfoWars.com]
CBS News reports that the U.S. is finalizing plans for war against Syria -- and positioning ships to launchcruise missiles against the Syrian government -- based on the claim that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its people.

The last time the U.S. blamed the Syrian government for a chemical weapons attack, that claim was was debunked.

But is the claim that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its people true this time?

It's not surprising that Syria's close ally -- Russia -- is expressing doubt. Agence France-Presse (AFP)notes:

"Russia, which has previously said it has proof of chemical weapons use by the rebels, expressed deep scepticism about the opposition's claims.

"The foreign ministry said the timing of the allegations as UN inspectors began their work "makes us think that we are once again dealing with a premeditated provocation.'"
[Read more...]

Prescription drug death epidemic continues: Can Big Pharma be stopped? (24 August 2013)
(NaturalNews) Death by prescription drug continues to be a major health problem in the United States, as Big Pharma remains influential and dominant in traditional medical practice. But a noted neurosurgeon and contributing CNN health expert may represent the first chink in Big Pharma's formidable armor, according to a recently published commentary he authored, in which he discussed the scope of the problem.

"It's the biggest man-made epidemic in the United States. That's how a doctor in Washington state described it to me as we sat outside the state Capitol in Olympia," wrote Dr. Sanjay Gupta, in paraphrasing a discussion he had with Gary Franklin, medical director for Washington state's Department of Labor and Industries.

Franklin was lamenting a litany of "terrifying" cases where scores of innocent patients were killed by the very medications they had been prescribed, a worsening situation that had become "the saddest thing he had ever seen."

Alcohol + pain medications = Accidental overdose

In one particularly gloomy case, Franklin told Gupta about a teenager he'd heard about that had died after taking too much narcotic medication following a dental procedure.

The most common occurrences; however, according to Franklin, involve men in their 40s or 50s who went to see a doctor for back pain, and who then walked out of the office with a prescription for painkillers. An average of three years later, many of those same men die in their sleep from taking too many pills and mixing them with alcohol.

They're not trying to kill themselves, say the medical professionals, but some 20,000 times annually, or once every 19 minutes on average, that's what happens.
[Read more...]

Patent confirms that aspartame is the excrement of GM bacteria (24 August 2013)
(NaturalNews) In 1999, The Independent published an article entitled "World's top sweetener is made with GM bacteria," which revealed that Monsanto was knowingly adding aspartame to soft drinks in the United States - and that aspartame is made from GM bacteria. This report, which remains one of the earliest disclosures on aspartame in a mainstream newspaper, received little attention after its publication - possibly because its implications were underestimated at the time - and it has long been forgotten.

Since 1999, the world has become a little more attentive to Monsanto and aspartame, but ignorance still abounds about the latter's genesis. While more and more people are starting to awaken to aspartame's destructive effects on our health, do they know how it is actually made? Fortunately, a 1981 patent for aspartame production, once confined to the drawers of patent offices, is now available online for everyone to see - and it confirms everything that Monsanto was happy to tell us in 1999 before their meteoric growth necessitated greater prudence.

The production process
The patent, which is entitled Process for producing aspartame and is credited to Bahl, Rose, and White, summarizes the process as follows:

"The artificial sweetener aspartame, a dipeptide with the formula Asp-Phe-me, is produced using a cloned micrcorganism [sic]. A DNA which codes for a large stable peptide comprised of the repeating amino acid sequence (Asp-Phe)n is inserted into a cloning vehicle which in turn is introduced into a suitable host microorganism. The host microorganism is cultured and the large peptide containing the repeating Asp-Phe sequence is harvested therefrom. The free carboxyl group of the large peptide is benzylated and then hydrolysed to benzyl Asp-Phe dipeptides. This dipeptide is methylated and then debenzylated to form aspartame."
[Read more...]

Secret world of insects revealed in fascinating science photos from the Natural News Forensic Food Lab (24 August 2013)
(NaturalNews) When I'm working in the Natural News Forensic Food Lab, I like to put the equipment to use for much more than just food investigations. Recently, I gathered some insects and brought them to the lab to take a closer look. At 200X magnification, fascinating details emerge.

What you see below is a collection of photos (and a video) resulting from my "insect investigation" at the lab. You'll see the tiny shingles that make up a butterfly wing and the structural support columns of a dragonfly wing.

Also check out the amazing grasshopper foot, the dragonfly head and the close-up of a scorpion's stinger, showing the poison reservoir that's pumped into the insect's victims.

You'll also see the stinger of a wasp, the claw arm of a scorpion and much more.
[Read more...]

NSA paid millions to cover Prism compliance costs for tech companies (23 August 2013)
The National Security Agency paid millions of dollars to cover the costs of major internet companies involved in the Prism surveillance program after a court ruled that some of the agency's activities were unconstitutional, according to top-secret material passed to the Guardian.

The technology companies, which the NSA says includes Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook, incurred the costs to meet new certification demands in the wake of the ruling from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (Fisa) court.

The October 2011 judgment, which was declassified on Wednesday by the Obama administration, found that the NSA's inability to separate purely domestic communications from foreign traffic violated the fourth amendment.

While the ruling did not concern the Prism program directly, documents passed to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden describe the problems the decision created for the agency and the efforts required to bring operations into compliance. The material provides the first evidence of a financial relationship between the tech companies and the NSA.
[Read more...]

NSA Admits: Okay, Okay, There Have Been A Bunch Of Intentional Abuses, Including Spying On Love Interests; from the and-we're-just-now-telling-congress dept (23 August 2013) [InfoWars.com]
So, this week, we wrote about the NSA quietly admitting that there had been intentional abuses of its surveillance infrastructure, despite earlier claims by NSA boss Keith Alexander and various folks in Congress that there had been absolutely no "intentional" abuses. Late on Friday (of course) the NSA finally put out an official statement admitting to an average of one intentional abuser per year over the past ten years. The AP is reporting that at least one of the abuses involved an NSA employee spying on a former spouse. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal suggests that spying on love interests happens somewhat more often:

"The practice isn't frequent -- one official estimated a handful of cases in the last decade -- but it's common enough to garner its own spycraft label: LOVEINT."

A handful is still significantly more than once. And it's a lot more than the "zero" times we'd been told about repeatedly by defenders of the program.

While the NSA says it takes these abuses seriously, there's no indication that the analyst was fired.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: A couple of observations:
1.) This is only what the NSA will admit THIS week, and historically, reality is much worse than what the NSA will admit.
2.) Where does that data go after NSA collects it? Other agencies and private subcontractors all have their fingers in the big information pie.

ACLU seeks names of arrestees in Oakland (23 August 2013)
The American Civil Liberties Union asked Oakland police Friday to immediately release the names of the individuals who were arrested last week and this week under the city's primary crime-fighting program.

The city has refused to identify eight men police arrested on Aug. 14 and 15 as part of Operation Ceasefire, a strategy to end violence in East Oakland in which the city offers social support to gang members and vows arrests if they do not stop engaging in criminal activity.

Seven more people were arrested on Thursday, and police again refused to identify those suspects or divulge their alleged crimes.

"Our system of law prohibits secret arrests and detentions, and that is clear from the California code," said Michael Risher, a staff attorney for the ACLU of Northern California and the author of the letter. "I don't understand why, a week after these arrests, Oakland is refusing to release the most basic information about these individuals."
[Read more...]

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner resigns, faces criminal investigation (23 August 2013)
SAN DIEGO -- After six weeks of civic turmoil over his treatment of women, Mayor Bob Filner submitted his resignation Friday, and the City Council approved a deal to pay for some of his expenses from a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former aide.

In an emotional and defiant address to the council after the vote was announced, Filner apologized to his victims and supporters but also said he had been victimized by "the hysteria of the lynch mob" caused by politicians and the media once the allegations by some 18 women became public.

"I faced lynch mobs many times when I was younger," Filner said, a reference to his activism in the 1960s as a Freedom Rider in the segregated South when he spent two months in a Mississippi jail.

But, Filner added, his voice breaking, "The city should not have been put through this, and my own personal failings were responsible." The resignation is effective Aug. 30.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: The mainstream press was really after this guy, and you'll notice that I wasn't. There are more serious cases of harassment and even assault on the job that rarely get a mention in the press. Yet this case was a top story for weeks. It all seemed to be more about politics than women's rights in the workplace. With that said, if these allegations are true, the job of Mayor probably isn't the best place for him.

Charm: A pedophile's secret weapon (25 July 2013)
Knowing her ex is a pedophile, but forbidden by a gag order to warn any of the parents of her children's friends. Unable to say, "Look, don't let your child out of your sight when he's around my ex." Unable to say to authorities at her child's school, "Do not allow this man to chaperone any field trips." Unable to say to scout leaders, "Do not let him participate in campouts and sleepovers."

Because John's pedophile status was hidden away in closed family court records, it was not visible to anyone who may have done a background check on him. So, when he applied to a mentoring program to partner with a preteen boy, John was welcomed with open arms. All he needed was recommendations from people who were charmed by him and didn't believe, or didn't know about, his status.

For two years, John sexually abused the boy, his mentee. A vulnerable child whose father had died, the boy was an easy target for the attention, the gifts, and the rapes. When the boy reached adult status, he took his tormentor to criminal court, where John was charged with forcible rape of a child, a charge that carries a sentence of life in prison. John died before a verdict could be issued.

We have no way to know whether this man had other victims, and some molesters will obsess over one child throughout a long period, but consider this: The average serial child molester victimizes nearly 400 children during his lifetime.

How do they get away with it? According to Dr. Salter, a major weapon in their arsenal is charm. These are the guys you would never suspect. Their gaze is steady, they're not creepy or shifty-eyed.

They're the guys you would trust, date, marry. The youth minister, coach, pediatrician, lawyer, volunteer. Guys you've known for years, shared your life with. Men you would go to the mat for, would testify for in court if a child came forth with an accusation of sexual molestation. Impossible! I know this man. He's kind and generous. He would never do such a thing. That's what you'd say in defending him.

And that's why they get away with it. No one believes the child. Not the judges, not the therapists, not the mothers, no one wants to believe that Mr. Nice Guy can be both nice to them AND a cruel sexual predator. But that's how it works.
[Read more...]

Fish License Fine Is Latest Stumble in Cheney Senate Bid (23 August 2013)
For a candidate trying to parlay the notion of politics as a family business, Liz Cheney has made a lot of rookie mistakes in her first month as a Wyoming candidate for the U.S. Senate.

She faced immediate push back from state Republicans for challenging an incumbent and a first poll that showed her at an almost 30-point deficit. She received an overdue property tax bill and, this week, she was forced to pay a $220 fine related to a false statement in the purchase of a fishing license.

Yet Cheney, 47, the daughter of former vice president and Wyoming Representative Dick Cheney, enters her second month with a singular sentiment among Wyoming party operatives and even some of the supporters of Republican incumbent Senator Mike Enzi: she's staying in the primary race.

"Nobody should be looking at this as she's simply running on the basis of her name or that she's simply running on the basis of money that can be raised from outside Wyoming," James King, the head of the University of Wyoming's political science department, said in a phone interview. "She's running a good on-the-ground campaign, at least from the start of it."
[Read more...]

Serial San Francisco tree-snapper back at it, cops say (23 August 2013)
(08-23) 10:25 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- A 65-year-old man cited last month for vandalizing trees in Golden Gate Park is in trouble again for the same crime, authorities say.

Ken Frisch of San Francisco was spotted by a passerby around 7:30 p.m. Sunday breaking branches off trees near the intersection of Chain of Lakes and Martin Luther King, Jr. drives, said Richmond Station police Capt. Sharon Ferrigno.

The witness reported Frisch to park rangers, who searched the area and reported finding him still breaking branches. He was arrested on suspicion of vandalism.

Frisch had been cited July 10 in the same area for damaging trees, feeding park wildlife and doing unauthorized labor while altering a park path, police said. Park and Recreation officials were familiar with him because he had been reported for harassing city gardeners in the past, said spokesman Elton Pon.
[Read more...]

Alaska's new oil tax rules drawing complaints from industry (23 August 2013)
State revenue officials struggling to implement Alaska's new oil tax law are getting complaints from the industry that their proposed new rules are both bewildering and too demanding.

While the overall effective date was Monday, the big oil tax changes, including a flat tax on oil profits, become law on Jan. 1. As the Parnell administration tries to craft rules to implement the controversial law, Democrats who fought it all along are launching fresh attacks on it.

The oil companies want the broadest possible definition of "new oil" because new production will be entitled to the biggest tax breaks. That is intended as an incentive for the companies to invest and produce oil that wouldn't have been produced otherwise.

The Parnell administration insists it's not going to give the tax breaks freely and proposes that in some cases the flow of oil be metered from individual wells to prove that new oil is being produced. But industry officials are protesting, saying such metering is impractical.

Democrats in the Legislature warn that too loose a standard could allow vast volumes of oil that was going to be produced anyway to escape the oil profits tax, the state's main source of revenue.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Watch out for the video ad that starts playing, with sound, without the reader taking any action.

Yahoo tops U.S. Web traffic, beats Google for first time since 2011 (22 August 2013)
There's some good news for Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer: Yahoo topped Google in Web traffic for the first time since May 2011.

Research firm comScore reported Yahoo logged 196.6 million unique visitors in July, compared with its rival's 192.3 million.

The bump in traffic should be encouraging news for Mayer, a Google alum who has focused on overhauling Yahoo's image in the year since she took the helm at the technology giant. When Mayer started at Yahoo last July, the company trailed Google by 5 million page views -- with 163 million unique visitors to Google's 190 million -- and was fighting public perception that it would never catch up.

Yahoo slowly narrowed the gap with Google this year as Mayer focused on overhauling the company's Web properties, such as its e-mail service and the photo-sharing site Flickr.

"Those things matter," said Andrew Lipsman, an analyst for comScore. "When a company can re-engage or re-spark interest, it has ancillary benefits" across the network.
[Read more...]

Autism linked to deficiency in healthy gut bacteria: Research (23 August 2013)
(NaturalNews) Parents and caregivers of autistic children have been saying it for decades, and now the scientific community is finally catching up with reality: gastrointestinal abnormalities are a common marker associated with the diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). And a new study recently published online in the journal, PLoS One, has specifically identified imbalanced and deficient gut flora as a major symptom, and potentially even a primary cause, of autism in many of the children diagnosed with the condition.

Researchers from Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe came to this conclusion after evaluating several groups of children between the ages of 3 and 16. One of the groups was composed of 20 healthy children, while the other was composed of 20 autistic children. Fecal samples were taken from all the children and analyzed for probiotic, or healthy bacteria, content using a testing process known as pyrosequencing, which uses a special form of synthesis to analyze DNA.

Upon review of the obtained data, the team determined that children in the autistic group generally had a lower diversity of gut microbiomes compared to healthy children in the control group. The autistic children were also lacking in three specific types of gut bacteria responsible for breaking down carbohydrates and fermenting foods to make them digestible and their nutrients assimilable. These two variances in microbial composition shed new light on the physiological nature of what is otherwise a poorly understood condition.

"[We] demonstrated that autism is closely associated with a distinct gut microflora that can be characterized by reduced richness and diversity as well as by altered composition and structure of microbial community," wrote the study team, led by Dr. Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown, Ph.D. "Most notably, we also discovered that the genera Prevotella, Coprococcus, and unclassified Veillonellaceae were significantly reduced in autistic children."

You can view the study in its entirety here:

Childhood vaccines oftentimes responsible for underlying gastrointestinal damage linked to autism
These findings speak volumes, particularly with regards to observations made by premier gastroenterologist Dr. Andrew Wakefield more than 15 years ago. Though it ultimately cost him his career and reputation at the hands of Big Pharma-controlled governments and media outlets, Dr. Wakefield was one of the first medical professionals to identify a solid link between childhood vaccines and gastrointestinal damage.

Why is this significant? Because vaccine-induced gastrointestinal damage is a primary cause of many of the symptoms associated with ASD. As it turns out, a damaged gut, particularly during a child's developmental years, prevents the proper absorption of nutrients required for healthy neurological development. Forward-thinking scientists and medical professionals are finally connecting the dots and discovering that, in many cases, childhood vaccines are directly responsible for causing the systemic gastrointestinal damage that produces the body of symptoms we now know as autism.
[Read more...]

NEW Barrie Trower WiFi Report - Humanity At The Brink (24 August 2013) [Rense.com]
As stated by University Researchers, Government Scientists and International Scientific Advisors; a minimum of 57.7% of schoolgirls exposed to low-level microwave radiation (Wi-fi) are at risk of suffering stillbirth, foetal abnormalities or genetically damaged children, when they give birth. Any genetic damage may pass to successive generations.

Wifi - a Thalidomide in the Making - Who Cares?
Professor John R Goldsmith, International / Advisor Consultant for R.F. Communication, Epidemiology and Communications Sciences Advisor to the World Health Organisation, Military and University Advisor, Researcher; wrote concerning the low level exposure of microwave irradiation (below thermal level) incident upon women:

"Of the microwave-exposed women, 47.7% had miscarriages prior to the 7th week of pregnancy...."(1)

The level of irradiation incident upon the women was stated, as from, five microwatts per centimetre squared. This level of irradiation may seem meaningless to a non-scientist; however, when I say that it is below what most schoolgirls will receive in a classroom of wi-fi transmitters, from the age of approximately five years upwards, this level becomes more meaningful.

A distinction here must be made and a very important one: schoolgirls are not women. Schoolgirls are children and children are both neurologically and physiologically different from adults. A child's brain tissue / bone marrow has different electrical conductivity properties than adults due to the higher water content (2) (this renders the Specific Absorption Rate obsolete). Children's absorption of microwave radiation can be ten times higher than adults. Permanent low-level microwave exposure can induce chronic nitrosative and oxidative 'stress' thence, damage the cellular mitochondria (mitochondropathy). This 'stress' can cause irreversible mitochondrial DNA damage (mitochondrial DNA is ten times more susceptible to oxidative and nitrosative 'stress' than the DNA in the cell nucleus). Mitochondrial DNA is irreparable due to its low histone protein content, therefore any damage (genetic or otherwise) can be transmitted to all successive generations through the maternal line. (3)

Hence, we are subjecting each successive female generation to harm. Whether these two ten-fold increases 'merge' to become 57.7% or are additional, thence equal 67.7% of those to suffer, is a moot point. Either way we are facing the equivalent of a pandemic. I was invited to present a lecture at Brighton University recently and one Doctor commented on a +60% foetal birth rate damage from exposed farm animals. All mammalian species will of course suffer the same consequence resulting from low-level microwave irradiation. There is very little difference 'biologically' between our embryonic cells.
[Read more...]

Fukushima nuclear leaks: Cs 1,000% Over Norm In Ocean - Eat Nothing From Pacific (23 August 2013) [Rense.com]
More than two years after a massive earthquake and tsunami destroyed the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan, public confidence in the plant's operators continues to sink as fresh leaks are being discovered in the plant's defence system.

Earlier this week, Tokyo Electric Power Co. revealed that approximately 300 tons of highly radioactive water had escaped from the temporary storage tanks hastily built in the aftermath of the massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

According to the cash-strapped utility company, the leaking water tanks were made using a rubber seam that was intended to last only five years.

TEPCO says it will build additional storage tanks with welded seams that are more watertight, but that it will continue to use the rubber-seamed tanks despite at least five of them having leaked since last year.
[Read more...]

This teenager saved a stranded sea turtle's life (23 August 2013)
"On this beach, there is a river that usually flows into the ocean" Pereira wrote, on imgur (where you can see more pictures, too), "but due to a recent storm, it had been blocked off." Instead, at the end of the river, there was what Pereira calls "a lake type of thing." And in this "lake type of thing," there was a sea turtle.

Now, if you've ever seen a sea turtle in real life, you know that they're big. And awesome, in the most technical sense of the word. They're like living dinosaurs. They drag themselves onto the beach and dig holes in which they lay eggs, then slowly turn back towards the water -- they know which direction to go because, with the moon glinting off the water, it's the direction that, in the absence of people, is less dark.

But this turtle, who had already laid her eggs, had gotten confused and ended up in this blocked-off lake. She didn't know which way to go.

So Pereira decided to help her out.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: The original article has some great pictures! Thanks to his mom, who probably took the pictures as it happened.

In this case, I'm glad he shared his story with the online community, but I used to document some of my own turtle rescues, and feel I should offer this disclaimer, especially when teenagers are attempting wildlife rescues:

When you're rescuing wildlife from a bad situation, be careful not to injure yourself or the animal. Turtles can bite, and you have to assess how best to pick them up (or in this case block them), without giving their mouth access to your hands (or feet and legs). Taking a turtle off of the road also requires a constant awareness of traffic in the area. And don't forget to wash your hands after any contact with animals, wild or domestic, as soon as you can get to a sink. Especially avoid touching food until you can wash your hands.

It's great to save an animal's life, even better to share the experience in pictures afterwards. But only attempt the rescue if you can do it safely.

Cronut burger is the source of food-borne CNE illness: Toronto Public Health (23 August 2013)
The cronut burger has been positively identified as the cause of an outbreak of food-borne illness at the CNE.

Samples of the dish were contaminated by Staphylococcus aureus toxin, said Dr. David McKeown, Toronto's medical officer of health, who added that it can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and cramping within two to four hours of ingestion.

The bacteria tend to multiply in food in the presence of inadequate temperature control or food hygiene, however, the resulting toxin -- which is what makes you sick -- is resistant to heat.

"It has happened in other outbreaks where the bacteria grow, they produce the toxin and then you cook the food, which kills the bacteria, but it doesn't kill the toxin," said McKeown, who added that Toronto Public Health doesn't yet know if that's the case in this investigation.
[Read more...]

Too much red meat 'could raise Alzheimer's risk' (23 August 2013)
EATING too much red meat could raise the risk of Alzheimer's disease by increasing levels of iron in the brain, American researchers claim.

A study of Alzheimer's patients found that iron had begun to accumulate in part of the brain that is generally damaged in the early stages of the disease, but not in a region that tends to be affected much later.

Comparing the results against a separate set of brain scans, they also found that iron levels were linked to tissue damage in Alzheimer's patients but not in healthy older people.

Although the study did not prove that iron is responsible for the disease, researchers said the results suggest it "may indeed contribute to the cause".

Lowering the amount of red meat and iron dietary supplements people consume can reduce the amount of iron that builds up in the brain, they said.
[Read more...]

Budweiser tops list of beers linked most to emergency room visits (22 August 2013)
Five beer brands were most consumed by emergency room patients, Johns Hopkins researchers have found.

Budweiser, Steel Reserve, Colt 45, Bud Ice and Bud Light were found to have been drunk by patients at Johns Hopkins Hospital over a one-year period more than any other brands.

Three of the beers are malt liquors, which typically have higher alcohol contents, according to a pilot study by researchers at the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Published in the journal Substance Use and Misuse, the study is the first to look at alcohol consumption by brand and type from patients reporting to the emergency department with injury.

Nearly a third of emergency department level 1 injuries are alcohol related.
[Read more...]

Scientists add electrolytes to beer in effort to create 'hangover-free' alcohol (24 August 2013)
(NaturalNews) If you choose to imbibe a few beers or cocktails every now and then to take the edge off, staying hydrated and avoiding the ever-dreaded hangover the next day is often as simple as just following up with plenty of clean water and electrolyte-rich coconut water. Or you may eventually be able to try a new electrolyte-enhanced beer currently being developed by researchers from Australia who claim to have possibly found the holy grail for alcohol-induced dehydration.

After tinkering around with potential new ways to make beer more hydrating, a team of scientists from the Griffith University Health Institute found that simply adding electrolytes to beer may be the simplest and most effective method. That, and reducing the overall alcohol content of beer, according to reports, has been shown in tests to help reduce the incidence of hangovers and improve the hydrating potential of beer.

For their study, researchers modified two commercially-available beers, one labeled as regular and the other labeled as "light," by supplementing them with electrolyte compounds, which are found both naturally in foods like coconut water and synthetically in sports drinks like Gatorade. The team gave these electrolyte-enhanced beers to a group of volunteers who have just worked out at the health club, and evaluated fluid recovery and hydration levels compared to individuals given beer without electrolytes.

As expected, those who drank the electrolyte-enhanced beer fared the best in terms of overall re-hydration and recovery, while the regular beer drinkers experienced typical alcohol-induced dehydration. Comparatively, the group that experienced the most benefits was the one that drank the electrolyte-enhanced light beer, presumably due to the fact that it generally contains less alcohol content than regular beer.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: I've said for years that I think dehydration plays a big role in alcohol intoxication.

US agents dupe foreigner into selling uranium in undercover sting (23 August 2013)
AUGUST 22--A foreigner who agreed to sell undercover Homeland Security agents 1000 tons of yellowcake uranium for shipment to Iran was arrested yesterday when he flew into the United States with uranium samples hidden inside the soles of shoes in his luggage, The Smoking Gun has learned.

A 15-month sting operation concluded Wednesday afternoon with the arrest of Patrick Campbell inside a terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Campbell, 33, traveled to New York from Paris on an Air France flight. It is unclear where Campbell is being held, or when he will make an appearance in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.

In communications with an undercover agent, Campbell said he was affiliated with a Sierra Leone firm that mined and exported uranium, chromite, gold, and diamonds from the western Africa nation.

Campbell was arrested for knowingly brokering material that was destined for Iran in violation of the Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Iranian Transaction Regulations, according to a felony complaint filed today. When taken into custody, Campbell had a connecting ticket to Miami, where he had arranged to meet with an undercover agent.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Of course, all this proves is that they duped some desperate foreigner into trying to sell uranium. The buyer wasn't Iran, and in fact Iran had nothing to do with this transaction.

In Indonesia, buzzers are not heard, but tweet for money (23 August 2013)
(Reuters) - In Indonesia's capital Jakarta, a buzzer is not an alarm or a bell, but someone with a Twitter account and more than 2,000 followers who is paid to tweet.

Jakarta is the world's tweet capital and advertisers eager to reach the under-30 crowd are paying popular Twitter users to spread their word through social media, starting at about $21 per tweet.

While celebrity endorsements via Twitter are common worldwide, Indonesia is unusual because advertisers are paying the Average Joes too.

These Twitter "buzzers" send short messages promoting brands or products to their followers, usually during rush hour, 7 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 8 p.m., when Jakarta's notorious traffic jams create a captive audience with time to scan their mobile phones.
[Read more...]

Syrian Activist on Ghouta Attack: "I Haven't Seen Such Death in My Whole Life" (23 August 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]

First of all, just let me explain a bit about our area. This liberated East Ghouta is being shelled every day from air and land, and is--and under brutal siege. For more than 10 months, there's no electricity, no communications. Hospitals and other facilities are using generators only when there is a fuel. All medications have expired or were run out time ago. This siege prevented locals get even any bread. With all this terrible human conditions, the regime launched a chemical attack on civilians two days ago.

At the beginning, we thought that it's like the previous times, that there will be only dozens of injured cases and number of murders, but we were surprised by the great numbers which the medical points received during only the first half of hour following the shelling. Things started to become clearer after that. Hours later, we started to visit the medical points in Ghouta to where injured were removed, and we couldn't believe our eyes. I haven't seen such death in my whole life. People were lying on the ground in hallways, on roadsides, in hundreds.

There haven't been enough medical staff to treat them. There is not enough medications for more serious cases. They were just to choose to whom they will give the medication, because there is no medication for everybody. Even doctors were crying because they couldn't help the injured people, because the lack of the medication and oxygen. The paramedics were telling us how they were breaking in doors and houses in Zamalka and Ain Terma, where the shelling took place, and get inside and find whole families dead in their beds. Most of the children didn't make it.

In cemeteries which we visited, victims were buried in mass graves, 15 or 20 dead bodies in every grave because the large number of injured people. People were--also there was hysterical between the people. Families are searching for their children. People were searching for their children in every town in Ghouta. Children in the medical points were crying and asking for their parents. It wasn't believable.
[Read more...]

Military jury convicts soldier in Fort Hood attack (23 August 2013)
FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) -- A military jury on Friday convicted Maj. Nidal Hasan in the deadly 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, making the Army psychiatrist eligible for the death penalty in the shocking assault against American troops by one of their own on home soil.

There was never any doubt that Hasan was the gunman. He acknowledged to the jury that he was the one who pulled the trigger on fellow soldiers as they prepared to deploy overseas to Iraq and Afghanistan. And he barely defended himself during a three-week trial.

The unanimous decision on all 13 counts of premeditated murder made Hasan eligible for execution in the sentencing phase that begins Monday.

"This is where members (of the jury) decide whether you will live or whether you will die," said Col. Tara Osborn, the trial judge.
[Read more...]

Sierra fire reaches Yosemite, threatens towns (23 August 2013)
Firefighters worked Friday to save thousands of homes in the Sierra foothills as the massive Rim Fire nearly doubled in size from a day earlier and, for the first time, crossed into Yosemite National Park.

There was some good news, though: Firefighters gained the upper hand in a battle to save San Francisco's Camp Mather, just a mile west of Yosemite, which has long served as a retreat for city families.

The camp, from which 200 seniors were evacuated on Tuesday, was in the path of the blaze, which has charred more than 150 square miles of rugged forest land and altered the late-summer plans of thousands of people. But crews of firefighters held back the flames.

"We're not out of the woods yet," said camp caretaker Paul Spring. "But we're a little safer."
[Read more...]

These giant singing flowers are also creating solar power (23 August 2013)
In Seattle, artist Dan Corson has partnered with the city to create this installation of solar panels that look like giant flowers, right out of a Dr. Seuss book. The project is called Sonic Bloom. designboom writes:

"created on behalf of seattle city light's green up program, which supports the development of renewable energy systems, five giant solar flowers absorb the sun's energy -- reflecting it at night with patterned LED lighting. sensors located in each flower are triggered by people's movement, as the 40' high by 20' wide super-sized flowers set off a chorus of interactive harmonic tones."

That's right -- they also sing. Here's what that sounds (and looks) like:
[Read more...]

"Empowering, So Brave": Trans Activists Praise Chelsea Manning, Raise Fears over Prison Conditions (23 August 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
So, you knew Chelsea when Chelsea was Bradley and was involved with a man in a gay relationship. Is that right, Lauren?


AMY GOODMAN: And what did he--at that time, what did Chelsea talk to you about when it came to what she was doing at that point? Did you have any idea what was happening--the release of the documents, for example? And what did you testify at the trial, the court-martial of Bradley Manning?

LAUREN McNAMARA: At the time, when we spoke, there was no indication that she was planning any sort of leaks of classified material. And that happened after our chats, several months after that. At the time when she spoke about her role as an intelligence analyst, this was something that she was proud of, and it was a job that she enjoyed and took pride in. She often spoke about how she wanted to do her best and compile the best information, to provide it to soldiers working in the field, and hopefully reduce conflict around the world. As she said at one point in our conversations, she wanted to make sure that everyone got home safely to their families, both the soldiers and the local nationals in the countries where the military is operating.
[Read more...]

Insight: In small American town, a window into Egyptian general's past (23 August 2013)
(Reuters) - Unlike today's ubiquitous images of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in crisp uniform decorated with medals, the U.S. Army War College yearbook shows the officer who would one day seize power in Egypt smiling at a party in a small Pennsylvania town, looking relaxed in a yellow polo shirt.

There is a picture of Sisi visiting a U.S. Civil War battleground and another of his family taken at a Halloween party they attended, with his wife and daughter grinning next to a woman dressed like the Egyptian pharaoh Cleopatra.

The yearbook from the Class of 2006 is tucked away in the War College library in Carlisle. Its images offer a reminder that not that long ago, the army chief who now effectively rules Egypt spent an academic year on a military fellowship in the more peaceful surroundings of small-town America.

In Carlisle, Sisi made an impression at the local mosque and at the college itself as a serious student whose writings reflected an awareness that ensuring democracy in the Middle East might be fraught with difficulties.
[Read more...]

Federal budget to fight wildfires is depleted (22 August 2013)
For the second straight year, the federal government has run through its budget for fighting wildfires amid a grueling, deadly season and will be forced to move $600 million from other funds, some of which help prevent fires.

This year's budget depletion reflects the new normal in firefighting, where parched seasons last at least two months longer than in previous decades and wildfires burn bigger and hotter, according to the U.S. Forest Service and conservationists who track fires.

More than 31,900 fires have burned 3 million acres in the United States this year, according to the Forest Service.

Compared with other fire seasons in the past decade, that is mild. Last year produced the second-worst season on record: 67,700 fires burned 9.3 million acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. In 2006, more than 96,300 fires burned 9.8 million acres.
[Read more...]

Bradley Manning: "Sometimes You Have to Pay a Heavy Price to Live in a Free Society" (22 August 2013)
On Wednesday, defense attorney David Coombs announced he plans to ask President Obama to pardon Manning. At a news conference outside Fort Meade, Coombs read a statement from Manning.

DAVID COOMBS: "The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We've been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we've had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.

"I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country. It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.

"In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.

"Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power. When these cries of patriotism drown out any logically based dissension, it is usually the American soldier that is given the order to carry out some ill-conceived mission.
[Read more...]

Review of US surveillance programs to be led by panel of intelligence insiders (22 August 2013)
Obama trumpeted what he said would be a "high-level group of outside experts" tasked with assessing all of the government's "intelligence and communication technologies".

However a report by ABC News, which has not been denied by the administration, said the panel would consist of Michael Morell, a recent acting head of the CIA, and three former White House advisers.

The list of apparent panel members prompted criticism among privacy and civil liberty advocates, who said the review would lack credibility and was unlikely to end the controversy over US surveillance capabilities.

When Obama announced the review earlier this month, he said it would "step back and review our capabilities -- particularly our surveillance technologies". The panel would also be asked to ensure there is "absolutely no abuse" government spying programs, Obama added, in order to ensure "the trust of the people".
[Read more...]

MSHA sends new black lung rules to White House (22 August 2013)
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Federal regulators are asking the White House to give final approval to new rules aimed at ending deadly black lung disease among the nation's coal miners.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration submitted a final draft of its rules for review by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Last month, MSHA said in its latest regulatory agenda that it hoped to issue its final rule by September. But OMB reviews of other major mine safety rules have taken many months, and MSHA can't act without the White House's approval.

Still, advocates of tougher rules to reduce miners' exposure to coal dust that causes black lung were pleased to finally see the MSHA rule starting to move.
[Read more...]

Adverse vaccine reactions have become a "pandemic of shaken baby syndrome" (17 August 2013)
This is yet another tragic case in which parents have been accused of shaking their baby, after a possible vaccine injury has occurred. Baby A's vaccination card showed that at the tender age of five months she had received a total of 21 routine vaccinations. This is a vast number of vaccinations and it is becoming evident that many babies of this age cannot tolerate an onslaught of toxins, chemicals and poisons of this magnitude.

It is important to recognize that some parents do physically abuse their children and while I appreciate that this is not acceptable, doctors must appreciate that not every injury is the result of child abuse.

Over recent years, there has been a dramatic rise in the number of parents being accused of shaken baby syndrome after a possible vaccine injury has occurred. In 1998, Dr. Viera Scheibner called this rise an "epidemic." In a paper published by Nexus, she wrote:

"Some time ago I started getting requests from lawyers or the accused parents themselves for expert reports. A close study of the history of these cases revealed something distinctly sinister: in every single case, the symptoms appeared shortly after the baby's vaccinations." [1]

I would go one step further than Dr. Scheibner and say that this epidemic has now become a "pandemic of shaken baby syndrome."

Baby A's vaccine card states that on the September 25 she received the Prevanar vaccine, a vaccine that has been known to cause severe adverse reactions, including convulsions, difficulty in breathing, swelling of the face, hands and feet and death. [2]
[Read more...]

Canadian doctors to tackle unnecessary medical tests (22 August 2013)
The Canadian Medical Association has put its stamp of approval on a growing movement of doctors tackling unnecessary, possibly even harmful, over-testing and over-treating.

Following a widely supported resolution at the CMA's general council meeting in Calgary on Tuesday, the organization representing Canada's doctors will form a working group to determine practices "for which benefits have generally not been shown to exceed the risks."

The CMA has asked societies of medical specialists to come up with lists of five to 10 tests and procedures that may be used too often or even be risky for patients.

"If we're going to try and improve the efficiency, and reduce errors, in our health-care system, then what we should be doing is only things that we know will be beneficial to patients," said CMA president Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti.
[Read more...]

'Vice' reporter explores the strange world of psytrance (22 August 2013)
Clive Martin, a staff writer for Vice, recently ventured into a forest in the United Kingdom in hopes of understanding the electronic dance music known as a psytrance.

Psytrance, short for psychedelic trance, is a subgenre of electronic music that has remained mostly underground. While trance music and house music have both found their way into clubs and onto the radio, psytrance has never enjoyed a similar mass appeal.

"Most dance music is designed to sound better on drugs, but psytrance just sounds like drugs," Martin remarked.

The ceaseless throbbing of the music wasn't particularly enjoyable for him, but Martin described the theatrical nature of the psytrance party as a "breath of fresh air." Not only was the forest elaborately decorated, but the attendees were as well. Jugglers mingled with dancers and poi spinners.
[Read more...]

NSA gathered thousands of Americans' e-mails before court ordered it to revise its tactics (22 August 2013)
For several years, the National Security Agency unlawfully gathered tens of thousands of e-mails and other electronic communications between Americans as part of a now-revised collection method, according to a 2011 secret court opinion.

The redacted 85-page opinion, which was declassified by U.S. intelligence officials on Wednesday, states that, based on NSA estimates, the spy agency may have been collecting as many as 56,000 "wholly domestic" communications each year.

In a strongly worded opinion, the chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court expressed consternation at what he saw as a pattern of misleading statements by the government and hinted that the NSA possibly violated a criminal law against spying on Americans.

"For the first time, the government has now advised the court that the volume and nature of the information it has been collecting is fundamentally different from what the court had been led to believe," John D. Bates, then the surveillance court's chief judge, wrote in his Oct. 3, 2011, opinion.
[Read more...]

Hannah Anderson talks DiMaggio letters, criticism in first interview (22 August 2013)
Nearly two weeks after FBI agents rescued her from the Idaho wilderness, San Diego County teenager Hannah Anderson gave her first interview, thanking those who helped find her and dismissing others who have criticized her online.

The first segment of the 16-year-old's interview with NBC aired Thursday morning at the top of the "Today" show. Hannah, who officials say was kidnapped by family friend James DiMaggio after he killed her mother and 8-year-old brother, said if it wasn't for the group of horseback riders who spotted her in the Idaho wilderness, "I probably wouldn't be here right now."

The search for Hannah began Aug. 4 after her mother and brother were found dead at DiMaggio's burning property in eastern San Diego County, and ended six days later at a remote campsite more than 1,000 miles away.

After the horseback riders reported seeing the two near Idaho's Morehead Lake, FBI agents raided the camp and whisked Hannah to safety. DiMaggio was shot and killed.
[Read more...]

Why Syria chemical weapons claims are unlikely to prompt US actio (22 August 2013)
Syrian activists claimed Wednesday that horrific images of dead and dying children from near Damascus depicted the results of a chemical-weapons attack by forces loyal to President Bashar Assad. But even if those claims were verified, observers believe they're unlikely to change the strategic calculus that has thus far restrained the U.S. from direct intervention in the conflict -- President Obama's previous warning that the use of chemical weapons were a game-changing "red line" notwithstanding.

The White House on Wednesday expressed "deep concern" over the reports, while admitting it had no "independent verification" of activist claims. "We are formally requesting that the United Nations urgently investigate this new allegation," said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

But although the U.N. Security Council discussed the incident at an emergency session on Wednesday afternoon and sought urgent clarification of the alleged attack, Russian and Chinese objections prevented it from endorsing the proposal by the U.S. and other Council members that a U.N. chemical weapons inspection team currently in Damascus be dispatched to investigate.

Video and photos posted online have shown the purported victims of chemical attacks in three different locations outside of Damascus. Bodies of men, women, and children with no visible injuries and shrouded in white sheets or blankets, were laid out on floors, sometimes labeled.
[Read more...]

Bradley Manning tells 'Today' he wants to live as a woman (22 August 2013)
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning wants to live out the remainder of his life as a woman, according to a statement read on the "Today" show Thursday morning by his attorney.

Manning was sentenced Wednesday to 35 years in prison for releasing secret documents to WikiLeaks. Manning was found guilty last month of 20 crimes, including six violations of the Espionage Act.

In the statement posted on Today.com, Manning said he thanks supporters and says he wants them to "know the real me."

"I am Chelsea Manning," the statement says. "I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition."
[Read more...]

New high-radiation spots found at quake-hit Fukushima plant (22 August 2013)
(Reuters) - The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant said on Thursday new spots of high radiation had been found near storage tanks holding highly contaminated water, raising fear of fresh leaks as the disaster goes from bad to worse.

The announcement comes after Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) said this week contaminated water with dangerously high levels of radiation was leaking from a storage tank.

A tsunami crashed into the Fukushima Daiichi power plant north of Tokyo on March 11, 2011, causing fuel-rod meltdowns at three reactors, radioactive contamination of air, sea and food and triggering the evacuation of 160,000 people.

It was the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986 and no one seems to know how to bring the crisis to an end.
[Read more...]

Rare bird's growth might be bad news (22 August 2013)
Circling in the sky, a raptor bird scans the water for its next meal. It's an endangered Everglade snail kite, and it's looking for a certain mollusk. That's because the kites are picky eaters and eat only freshwater apple snails. Gliding over the marsh close to the surface, the bird plucks a snail in its talon. In early spring, Jimenez spotted more than a half-dozen of the extremely rare birds foraging for food.

"Now it's real easy to find them. I'm seeing twice as many kites as before," he said.

The imperiled snail kite's resurgence in Florida's vast Everglades region should spell good news, but wildlife biologists aren't celebrating. Like the proverbial canary in the mine, this rare bird is an indicator species of appropriate water levels in the Everglades. When the levels rise too high, the birds' food disappears. Too low, and drought conditions encourage the kites to abandon their nests. Like a Goldilocks of the Glades, they need the water levels to be just right, and what's good for the kites is usually good for the Everglades and humans.

But a new, invasive giant mollusk could be the reason for the snail kites' increasing numbers -- and could be throwing off the way researchers track the health of the sensitive environment.
[Read more...]

Rabid stray cat bites girl in Isle of Wight County (22 August 2013)
ISLE OF WIGHT, Va. (AP) -- A stray cat that bit a girl in Isle of Wight County has tested positive for rabies.

County health officials say the girl had tried to pick up the cat this week in the Smithfield Heights area.

The Virginian-Pilot (http://bit.ly/16gk6pb ) reports the girl will receive treatment for rabies exposure.

Health officials recommend that people and pets stay away from wild or stray animals and seek treatment immediately for animal bites.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Better yet, don't dump your cat in the woods when your college semester is over, or when you can no longer provide a good home for the pet. There are options like animals shelters, networking to find an acceptable adoptive family, or free advertising to find the cat a good home.

Huffington Post ends commenter anonymity because 'trolls are getting more aggressive' (22 August 2013)
The Huffington Post is to end anonymity for commenters by requiring them to use their real identities. The change was announced by the site's founder, Arianna Huffington, after speaking at a conference yesterday (21 August) in Boston.

She said: "Trolls are just getting more and more aggressive and uglier and I just came from London where there are rape and death threats."

Explaining the "need to evolve a platform to meet the needs of the grown-up internet," she said: "I feel that freedom of expression is given to people who stand up for what they say and not hiding behind anonymity."

HuffPo is reputed to have logged more than 260m comments in the course of its existence. It has 40 moderators and also uses algorithms to track comments.
[Read more...]

Georgia school shooting averted by a brave bookkeeper -- and prayer (+video) (21 August 2013)
A 20-year-old gunman who was talked into surrendering his assault rifle by a cool-as-a-cucumber bookkeeper after he allegedly stormed a school in Dekalb County, Ga., on Tuesday told police afterwards, "I'm sorry, I'm off my meds."

Coming as America's schoolchildren begin filtering back to school for a new year, the shots fired at the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy by a possibly unstable young man with a deadly arsenal may have only reinforced perceptions that people experiencing mental illness pose a serious risk to children's safety.

The incident also gave schools a chance to examine security plans put into place after the shootings last December in Newtown, Conn., including potential weaknesses in various front-door security apparatus.

More than 800 students escaped without injury from the confrontation, after Michael Douglas Hill allegedly gained entry to the heavily secured school by "piggy-backing," or following another person, through the doors, and eventually shot 12 rounds at police from the school's front office before surrendering.
[Read more...]

Bradley Manning to request pardon from Obama over 35-year jail sentence (21 August 2013)
Bradley Manning will send a personal plea to Barack Obama next week for a presidential pardon after he was sentenced on Wednesday to 35 years in prison for passing hundreds of thousands of classified military documents to WikiLeaks.

The sentence was more severe than many observers expected, and is much longer than any punishment given to previous US government officials who have leaked information to the media.

Manning showed no emotion, neither when the sentence was delivered, nor after being escorted into a side room, where his lawyers and members of his family were waiting, some of them in tears.

"Everyone in his defence team was emotional, including myself," his lawyer, David Coombs, told the Guardian. "The only person that wasn't emotional was Brad. He looked to us and said: 'It's OK. I'm going to move forward and I'm going to be all right'."
[Read more...]

Bradley Manning's sentence and the zealous national-security state (21 August 2013)
Pfc. Bradley Manning got a dishonorable discharge at his sentencing, but he received it with an honorable disposition.

When the judge read out the young soldier's 35-year sentence Wednesday morning for giving classified information to WikiLeaks, family members wept and supporters cried out, "We are with you! You are a hero!"

But Manning, 25, whisked quickly from the room after the brief sentencing, was philosophical. "It's okay. It's all right,'" he told his attorney, Lt. Col. David Coombs, who was in tears over his client's fate. "I'm going to be okay. I'm going to get through this."

Manning was bound for prison at Fort Leavenworth, but Coombs, free to speak his mind at the end of the three-year legal saga, held a news conference at a nearby hotel in the afternoon and read a statement from Manning to President Obama requesting a pardon.

"I understand that my actions violated the law. I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States," the statement said. "When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others. If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have a country that is truly conceived in liberty."
[Read more...]

NSA illegally collected thousands of emails before Fisa court halted program (21 August 2013)
The secretive court that oversees surveillance programs found in 2011 that the National Security Agency illegally collected tens of thousands of emails between Americans in violation of the fourth amendment to the US constitution.

The foreign intelligence surveillance (Fisa) court ruling stemmed from what intelligence officials told reporters on Wednesday was a complex technical problem, not an intentional violation of American civil liberties.

In his 86-page opinion, declassified on Wednesday, Judge John Bates wrote that the government informed the court that the "volume and nature of the information it has been collecting is fundamentally different from what the court had been led to believe".

The ruling is one of three documents released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and comes amid growing public and congressional concern over the scope of NSA surveillance programs.
[Read more...]

Ralph Nader to Canada: Don't open door to Verizon (22 August 2013)
The report found that Verizon enjoyed some $14 billion in federal and state corporate income tax subsidies in the 2008-2010 period, even though it earned $33.4 billion in pre-tax U.S. income during that time.

At the federal level, Verizon should have paid about $11.4 billion at the statutory rate of 35 per cent during the three-year period.

Instead, it actually got $951 million in rebates, putting its federal tax subsidies at $12.3 billion.

Its effective federal tax rate was 2.9 per cent.
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Who's paying for GMO-labelling initiative campaigns? (21 August 2013)
Groups opposed to labeling genetically modified food outspent those in favor 5 to 1 last year when Californians voted on a labeling ballot measure. But the tables are turned in the run-up to an initiative vote in Washington state. So far, pro-labeling groups have spent more than $4 for every $1 spent by those opposed, according to an analysis by MapLight.

Contributions in support of Washington Ballot Initiative 522 ("The People's Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act") add up to nearly $4 million, while the opposition has raised about $950,000. The big money comes from the same interests that ponied during the California campaign, as you can see in this chart (click to embiggen).

That chart only shows the biggest contributors. Pro-labeling contributions come from a broader base; the money supporting the initiative comes from 5,698 supporters, compared to just 12 contributors in opposition.

The relative weight of contributions, however, is likely to shift rapidly as the Washington initiative approaches its Nov. 5 moment of truth at the ballot box. Last year, the campaign against the California proposition spent $42 million in the six weeks before the vote. That proposition failed, with 6.4 million "no" votes, and 6.1 million votes in favor.
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6 mind-boggling facts about farms in China (21 August 2013)
Ever since May, when a state-controlled Chinese company agreed to buy U.S. pork giant Smithfield, reportedly with an eye toward ramping up U.S. pork imports to China, I've been looking into the simultaneously impressive and vexed state of China's food production system. In short, I've found that in the process of emerging as the globe's manufacturing center -- the place that provides us with everything from the simplest of brooms to the smartest of phones -- China has severely damaged its land and water resources, compromising its ability to increase food production even as its economy thunders along, its population grows (albeit slowly), and its people gain wealth, move up the food chain, and demand ever-more meat.

Now, none of that should detract from the food miracle that China has enacted since it began its transformation into an industrial powerhouse in the late 1970s. This 2013 report from the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) brims with data on this feat. The nation slashed its hunger rate -- from 20 percent of its population in 1990 to 12 percent today -- by quietly turbocharging its farms. China's total farm output, a broad measure of food churned out, has tripled since 1978. The ramp-up in livestock production in particular is even more dizzying -- it rose by a factor of five. Overall, China's food system represents a magnificent achievement: It feeds nearly a quarter of the globe's people on just 7 percent of its arable land.

But now, 35 years since it began reforming its state-dominated economy along market lines, China's spectacular run as provider of its own food is looking severely strained. Its citizens' appetite for meat is rising along with incomes, and mass-producing steaks and chops for 1.2 billion people requires tremendous amounts of land and water. Meanwhile, its manufacturing miracle -- the very thing that financed its food miracle -- has largely fouled up or just plain swallowed those very resources.

In this post from a few weeks ago, I told the story of the dire state of China's water resources, which are being increasingly diverted to, and fouled by, the country's insatiable demand for coal to power the manufacturing sector.
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Ex-dolphin trainer now looking into mass die-off (21 August 2013)
"It's worst when you get a female come ashore and she's lactating and you see the milk come out onto the stretcher," said Schoelkopf, co-director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center. "That means there's a baby out there swimming around without a mother. That baby is going to become shark bait."

So far this summer, there have been about 230 dolphin deaths along the East Coast, prompting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to declare an unusual mortality event. That clears the way for an intensive scientific inquiry into what is causing the deaths.

No definitive conclusions have been reached, but many suspect the morbilli virus. The naturally occurring virus was ultimately blamed for the last major dolphin die-off, in 1987, when 740 dolphins died.

This year, several of the dolphins that washed ashore in New Jersey have tested positive for the virus.

The waves of dead dolphins started appearing in New Jersey in early July, and it hasn't let up. Wednesday morning, the stranding center got a call about a dead dolphin that washed ashore in Sea Bright, the 62nd in New Jersey this year. But it was too badly decomposed and chewed up by sharks to warrant taking it for a necropsy at a veterinary center near Kennett Square, Pa., a four-hour round trip that's exhausting volunteers.
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Bear on Bear Violence: Grizzly bear eats black bear on popular Banff hiking trail (21 August 2013)
A large male grizzly bear is showing everyone who's boss in the mountain parks.

Earlier this month, officials closed the Sundance Canyon area in Banff National Park after a group of hikers came upon a bear known as No. 122 feeding on a carcass. They reopened the trail late Tuesday after he moved on.

During the investigation into the incident, officials determined the carcass was a small black bear.

"It had been completely consumed," said Steve Michel, a human wildlife conflict specialist with Banff National Park. "There was nothing remaining other than a skull, a hide, the four paws and some bones."
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Solar-powered gizmos are making your wine taste better (21 August 2013)
We like to imagine that being a vintner mostly involves hanging out in a vineyard, soaking up the sun and finding oneness with the grapes. But in fact, it involves an increasing number of robots. Not grape-stomping androids, although that would be cool and we're going to patent that -- rather, winemakers are finding that there are machines that are doing a much better job of sun-soaking and grape-oneness-finding than they ever could, the Verge reports.

For instance, if winemakers hung out all day, every day in the field, they'd get sunburned, or at least a deep, deep skin-damaging tan. These solar-powered gizmos not only don't get sunburned, they turn sunlight into energy.

And while winemakers can tell if it's a hot or cool or humid day, they could never be as accurate about it as Picovale Services' weather station, a "giant, solar-powered pole" with "sensors for monitoring real-time temperatures, humidity, solar radiation, soil moisture and numbers other data points."

Winemakers might be able to look at plants and see if they look thirsty. But that's not as good as Fruition, which "works by attaching tiny, solar powered plastic sap-flow sensors around a few vines themselves" and monitors exactly how much water the plants are using.
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Judge sentences Bradley Manning to 35 years (21 August 2013)
A military judge on Wednesday morning sentenced Army Pfc. Bradley Manning to 35 years in prison for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.

Manning, 25, was convicted last month of multiple charges, including violations of the Espionage Act for copying and disseminating the documents while serving as an intelligence analyst at a forward operating base in Iraq. He faced up to 90 years in prison.

According to the military, Manning is required to serve one-third of the sentence before he becomes eligible for parole.

The government had asked Judge Denise Lind, an Army colonel, to sentence Manning to 60 years. "There is value in deterrence, your honor; this court must send a message to any soldier contemplating stealing classified information," said Capt. Joe Morrow, a military prosecutor. "National security crimes that undermine the entire system must be taken seriously."
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Egyptian court orders Mubarak's release from prison (21 August 2013)
CAIRO -- A court ordered former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak freed from prison Wednesday in a stunning turn of fortunes that highlights the prospect that the old guard is reemerging amid unrelenting political unrest following the nation's 2011 revolution.

The court ruled that the 85-year-old Mubarak be released from Tora prison after a financial corruption charge against him was set aside. It was unclear if the toppled leader would be freed immediately or remain in custody, pending an appeal by the prosecution, according to his lawyer, Yousry Adel Razek.

Mubarak, who has lately only been glimpsed peering from behind sunglasses in a defendant's cage, is still on trial for murder-related charges in the deaths of more than 800 protesters during the uprising against him.

The court ordered his release after he had paid restitution in connection with graft charges that he received illegal gifts from the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper. He had earlier been granted bail on the murder charges, and the judicial time limits to hold him in connection with other cases had expired.
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Japan's nuclear crisis deepens, China expresses 'shock' (21 August 2013)
(Reuters) - Japan's nuclear crisis escalated to its worst level since a massive earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima plant more than two years ago, with the country's nuclear watchdog saying it feared more storage tanks were leaking contaminated water.

The U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Wednesday it viewed the situation at Fukushima "seriously" and was ready to help if called upon, while nearby China said it was "shocked" to hear contaminated water was still leaking from the plant, and urged Japan to provide information "in a timely, thorough and accurate way".

"We hope the Japanese side can earnestly take effective steps to put an end to the negative impact of the after-effects of the Fukushima nuclear accident," China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement faxed to Reuters in Beijing.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga called the situation "deplorable", and the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) said it feared the disaster - the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl a quarter of a century earlier - was "in some respects" beyond the plant operator's ability to cope.
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9/11 defendant leaves Guantánamo hearing, citing 'psychological torture' (21 August 2013)
In a strange twist in an increasingly unusual case, a defendant in the 9/11 military commission trial at Guantánamo suddenly asked midway through a pre-trial hearing on Tuesday to be taken back to his cell after complaining of being subjected to "psychological torture" by military guards.

Ramzi Bin al-Shibh asked the judge to be returned to the terror detention camp rather than remain in the courtroom for the rest of the day's proceeding.

The judge, US Army Col. James Pohl, asked the defendant whether he was voluntarily waiving his right to be present during the hearing.

"I cannot remain here," Mr. Bin al-Shibh told the judge in open court. "There are problems with the food that was provided."

He said he was experiencing a "daily problem" with food and that when he had meetings with his lawyers during the lunch hour sometimes he was not provided any lunch at all.
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Facebook pushes to get more people online (21 August 2013)
NEW YORK (AP) -- Facebook wants to get more of the world's more than 7 billion people -- all of them, actually -- online through a partnership with some of the world's largest mobile technology companies.

Facebook Inc. announced a partnership called Internet.org on Wednesday. In addition to the world's biggest online social network, the group also includes Korean electronics giant Samsung, Finnish handset maker Nokia and wireless chip maker Qualcomm Inc.

Facebook said the group's goal is to "make Internet access available to the two-thirds of the world who are not yet connected" -- about 5 billion people.

The group's plans include developing cheaper smartphones and tools that would reduce the amount of data required to run apps. For Facebook, the move would certainly add more users to its current 1.15 billion, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg paints it as something bigger.
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Plants alter their chemistry and taste in response to attacks by predators (21 August 2013)
(NaturalNews) There are a variety of ways in which prey animals are known to naturally disguise themselves or flee certain areas to avoid being eaten by predators. But new research out of Wisconsin has found that stationary plants also employ their own protective mechanisms to avoid becoming predator lunch, which includes eavesdropping on the anticipated behavior of herbivores in order to preemptively alter their own chemistry and taste to become more unappealing to predators.

You may have dealt with the problem in your own backyard garden: snails that attack your kale leaves or grubs that feed on the roots of your tomato plants. Insect and animal invaders can be highly problematic when growing food at home, and treating these pests naturally is often a challenge. But plants themselves, it turns out, are naturally capable of thwarting some pests on their own by producing internal repellant chemicals, for instance, or by developing tougher leaves or defensive thorns.

Though the process is by no means foolproof, as plants everywhere are constantly being eaten by predators, it still exists, which may come as a surprise to many people. It sure did to a group of researchers from the University of Wisconsin - Madison (UW-Madison), anyway, which discovered recently that many plants are a whole lot smarter in terms of defending themselves than previously believed.

"You can't run, you can't necessarily hide, so what can you do?" asks John Orrock, a zoology professor at the UW-Madison who helped lead the new research, about how plants naturally defend themselves against predators. "Some plants make themselves less tasty," he says.
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Combined efforts help keep the western pond turtle from extinction (21 August 2013)
A revolving cadre of kids, zoologists, foresters, government officials and conservationists have spent 23 years bringing the western pond turtle back from the brink of extinction in the Columbia River Gorge.

They believe they are succeeding, although non-native American bullfrogs and bass are making the job difficult.

Kids from the Skamania Youth Forest Success Program and the Zoo Animal Presenters program at the Oregon Zoo pushed the project forward on Aug. 1 by helping release 10 of the endangered 2-ounce turtles in Pierce National Wildlife Refuge near Stevenson, Wash.

The baby turtles had been well fed and kept warm through the winter at the zoo.

Another 41 turtles were released on June 21 and Aug. 9 at other ponds in the Columbia Gorge. The exact locations are kept confidential so turtles have the best chance of living undisturbed. Populations are growing in ponds where they had disappeared by 1990.
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Windows to the world: How to maintain healthy vision (21 August 2013)
(NaturalNews) Albert Einstein once said "Small is the number of people who see with their eyes and think with their minds." So true even today but the focus, if you will pardon the pun, will be on maintaining and improving literal vision as you work on your figurative one.

Most people live with a decrease in vision and as they get older, their vision will deteriorate. Decreases in our vision, much like any other aspect of our body, are more likely linked to poor nutrition, stress and prescription drug use. It is given that slight variations in the shape and the length of the eye may cause abnormal vision (e.g. near or farsightedness) but this reason does not affect the majority of people experiencing eye troubles. All too often conditions like macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts are attributed to factors listed above as well as nutrient imbalances, exposure to chemicals, and cigarette smoking.

Optimizing eye health
Diet and supplements: Highly processed foods wreak havoc on our sight because they provide little to no nutrition while robbing our body's nutrient stores. Avoid this vision trap and consume minimally processed and organic foods. Any supplements taken should be all natural. Avoid supplements that contain artificial or synthetic vitamins and minerals to maximize bio-availability and absorption. Focus on the following nutrients to maintain or improve eye health:

• Zinc
• Selenium
• Vitamin C
• Vitamin A
• Vitamin E
• N-acetyl-cysteine
• Ginkgo biloba
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Sgt. Robert Bales confronted by Afghan massacre victim (20 August 2013)
An Afghan farmer shot during a massacre in Kandahar Province last year took the witness stand Tuesday against the U.S. soldier who attacked his village, cursing him before breaking down and pleading with the prosecutor not to ask him any more questions.

Haji Mohammad Naim appeared in the courtroom at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle, where a sentencing hearing began for Staff Sgt. Robert Bales in the slayings of 16 civilians killed during pre-dawn raids on two villages in March 2012.

The hearing afforded some victims and relatives their first chance to confront Bales face-to-face.

With a thick gray beard, a turban and traditional Afghan dress, Haji Mohammad Naim testified in his native Pashto through an interpreter, speaking loudly and quickly and frequently waving a finger in the air. He pointed to where he was shot in the cheek and neck.
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NSA files: why the Guardian in London destroyed hard drives of leaked files (20 August 2013)
The Guardian's lawyers believed the government might either seek an injunction under the law of confidence, a catch-all statute that covers any unauthorised possession of confidential material, or start criminal proceedings under the Official Secrets Act.

Either brought with it the risk that the Guardian's reporting would be frozen everywhere and that the newspaper would be forced to hand over material.

"I explained to British authorities that there were other copies in America and Brazil so they wouldn't be achieving anything," Rusbridger said. "But once it was obvious that they would be going to law I preferred to destroy our copy rather than hand it back to them or allow the courts to freeze our reporting."

Any such surrender would have represented a betrayal of the source, Edward Snowden, Rusbridger believed. The files could ultimately have been used in the American whistleblower's prosecution.

"I don't think we had Snowden's consent to hand the material back, and I didn't want to help the UK authorities to know what he had given us," the Guardian editor said.
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Editor of The Progressive Arrested Covering Solidarity Singers' Protest of Wisconsin Gov. Walker (19 August 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
MATTHEW ROTHSCHILD: Hi, Amy. Thanks for having me on.

Well, it was kind of crazy on Thursday. It's been crazy in Madison for two-and-a-half years now, and it got crazier in the last three weeks because Scott Walker's Capitol cops have started to crack down on these Solidarity Singers. The Solidarity Singers have been singing in the Capitol--they should be in the Guinness Book of World Records. They've been there for two-and-a-half years now, every day, Monday through Friday. Fridays, they go outside. On Thursday, they were inside, and I was there. I've been covering them over the last two-and-a-half years. And over the last three weeks, I've been down there six or seven times.

So, I went there with my reporter's pad and my--you know, my iPhone, doing what we do as reporters. I was taking pictures of people with interesting signs and then taking quotes from the people who were carrying those signs. And then the cops came in and started to arrest one of these Raging Grannies, elderly women who have been active around the country singing protest songs at demonstrations. And one of these Raging Grannies, I happen to know. Her name is Bonnie Block. So, whenever the police are arresting people, I get out my iPhone and take pictures. I was doing that, and then they were moving Bonnie Block out down a hallway toward an elevator--this is in the Capitol, a public space--and I was following them down there, and I was taking pictures. And they said, "You can't come here." And I said, "Well, you know, I'm a reporter. I'm with The Progressive magazine." They said, "No, you can't come here." I said, "I'm with the press. I have a right to be here."

And with that, I didn't get another word out, because they grabbed my hands, put them behind my back and handcuffed me right then and there. And then they took me to the basement of the Capitol and held me 'til all the protesters they were arresting had been processed. And then they put me in a police car and took me to the Dane County jail and photographed me and took my fingerprints and put me in a holding cell with three other inmates for about an hour and 20 minutes.

AMY GOODMAN: And then what happened?

MATTHEW ROTHSCHILD: Well, then they let me go on $300 bond. They actually added a $15 processing fee that I'm never going to get back. And they gave me a court date for September 23rd.
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IRS faces lawsuit for failing to enforce church electioneering ban (20 August 2013)
The Internal Revenue Service was unable to suppress a lawsuit over its failure to audit thousand of churches that allegedly violated federal tax law by engaging in partisan advocacy.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman of the Western District of Wisconsin on Monday denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the Freedom From Religion Foundation against the IRS.

"If it is true that the IRS has a policy of not enforcing the prohibition on campaigning against religious organizations, then the IRS is conferring a benefit on religious organizations (the ability to participate in political campaigns) that it denies to all other 501(c)(3) organizations, including the Foundation," Adelman wrote.

The Internal Revenue Code prohibits tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations, including churches, from intervening or participating in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate.
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Tesla Model S rocks safety tests, gets highest possible score (20 August 2013)
First the Tesla Model S got the highest score of any car Consumer Reports had ever reviewed, blowing testers away with its "innovation," "world-class performance," and "impressive attention to detail." Now, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has awarded the car its highest rating possible, a five out of five in every category. (Note to luxury sports-car enthusiasts: Grist does not condone reckless driving no matter how high a car's safety rating or how low its emissions.)

According to Tesla, "approximately one percent of all cars tested by the federal government achieve 5 stars across the board." More from the company's press release:

"Of all vehicles tested, including every major make and model approved for sale in the United States, the Model S set a new record for the lowest likelihood of injury to occupants. While the Model S is a sedan, it also exceeded the safety score of all SUVs and minivans. This score takes into account the probability of injury from front, side, rear and rollover accidents."

The Model S achieved such a high score in large part because it's an electric vehicle. The front of the car has only trunk space where a gasoline engine block would normally be, so it has a much longer "crumple zone" -- the part of the car that absorbs impact in a head-on collision. And the battery pack's location beneath the floor gives the car a low center of gravity that substantially lowers its rollover risk.
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Groklaw legal site shuts over fears of NSA email snooping (20 August 2013)
The award-winning legal analysis site Groklaw is shutting because its founder says that "there is no way" to continue to run it without using secure email - and that the threat of NSA spying means that could be compromised.

"There is now no shield from forced exposure," writes the site's founder, Pamela Jones, an American paralegal who has run the site from its start in 2003, in a farewell message on the site.

Jones cites the revelations that the US National Security Agency (NSA) can capture any email, and can store encrypted email for up to five years, as having prompted her decision to shutter the site: "the simple truth is, no matter how good the motives might be for collecting and screening everything we say to one another, and no matter how "clean" we all are ourselves from the standpont of the screeners, I don't know how to function in such an atmosphere. I don't know how to do Groklaw like this," she writes.

The abrupt decision - which Jones had not hinted at in any previous article since the revelations about the extent of the NSA's surveillance first came out in June - shocked people.

Privacy International criticised the climate that had led to Jones's decision. "The closing of Groklaw demonstrates how central the right to privacy is to free expression. The mere threat of surveillance is enough to [make people] self-censor", it said in a statement.
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Matt Taibbi: U.S. Student Loan Bubble Saddles a Generation With Debt and Threatens the Economy (20 August 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: So, lay it out for us. What is this scandal, as you describe it?

MATT TAIBBI: Well, there's this overall connection between the sort of end--it's very much like the housing crisis, where there was a limitless availability of credit that drove housing prices upward and upward until finally they collapsed. We have a similar dynamic going on here, where there's sort of this bottomless well of government credit that keeps driving college costs up. And the difference here is not that it's a market-based problem; it's more that the government has limitless collection powers, so it has no fear of lending, and it continues to lend and lend and lend. And no matter how many defaults they get, they actually--some have argued that they actually make money on defaults, and they're projecting a profit of $185 billion over the next 10 years.

AMY GOODMAN: How do they make money on the defaults?

MATT TAIBBI: Through fees and penalties. So, even when people default, even--and it's not clear exactly how high the number is of defaults, but they're able to farm those accounts out to collection services and the--for instance, a couple of years ago the government projected a recovery rate of 122 percent for all forms of Stafford loans that were in default. Now this year it's a little bit lower; it's somewhere between 103 and 109 percent. But it's still above 100 percent, which gives you an indication of how easily they're able to collect from people in default.
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Ravaged churches reveal sectarian split feeding Egypt's violence (20 August 2013)
BENI MAZAR, Egypt -- The fire burned all night long. It was only after desperate town residents borrowed the keys to a firetruck that they were able to quell the blaze. By then, the evangelical church was all but destroyed.

It was one of more than 60 churches that have been attacked, vandalized and in many cases set aflame across Egypt in a surge of violence against Christians that has followed the bloody Aug. 14 raid by Egyptian security forces on two Islamist protest camps in Cairo.

The attacks, most of them in Egypt's Nile Valley, have lent legitimacy to the military-backed government's claims that it is fighting a war against terrorism.

But one week after the attacks, the Egyptian government has yet to investigate any of the incidents or provide any additional security to most churches, Christian activists and church officials said.
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Ahdaf Soueif: Amidst Egypt's Bloodshed, "We Are Trying Keep the Discourse of the Revolution Alive" (19 August 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Ahdaf Soueif, do you think this could have been predicted? I mean, you had this unusual alliance, you know, progressives like Tamarod and others calling for the ouster of Mohamed Morsi, but that required the military and putting their faith with the military--and then, what their statements are today?

AHDAF SOUEIF: Well, I mean, there is a big question mark on Tamarod, really. I think we have to wait and see what information comes out and what other positions they take up.

I don't know about whether--I mean, I'm uncomfortable with questions about whether things could have been predicted. I think that from the point when the military decided or the state decided to take--to take a physical, violent line with the sit-ins, then we were on this path without a possibility of change. I mean, we need, of course, to remember that the sit-ins were to varying degrees armed, the Nahda sit-in more than the Rabaa sit-in. We need to remember that the sit-ins caused death and that we know that people were taken into these sit-ins and were tortured. We need to remember that the Brotherhood, in their year of ruling the country, resorted to violence, and that also that they did not--that Mohamed Morsi's government did not make any moves towards clipping the wings of the Ministry of the Interior, which is a very brutal force in the country. And, in fact, what the Brotherhood tried to do when they were in power was that they tried to court the institutions of brute authority: They courted the military, and they courted the Ministry of the Interior. In other words, they courted the bits of Mubarak regime that were--of the Mubarak regime that were his instruments in enforcing his rule, and they tried to make them work for them. And so, what we are seeing now is we're seeing these very instruments turn, naturally, against the Brotherhood. And I think, yeah, it's not--it's not surprising that we are where we are once the decision had been made to break up the Brotherhood sit-ins by force.

And also, Amy, we have--with the Ministry of the Interior, we have such a combination of willingness and a kind of natural willingness to use brute force together with inefficiency, and that is really a very, very dangerous and lethal combination. And so, for example, the fact that last night we had 38 prisoners dying in personnel carriers, prisoners who--I mean, they weren't convicted; they were people who had been taken off the streets and were being held on remand. And they were in--they were being moved from one jail to another, and they were killed, in--while they were in the care of the Ministry of the Interior. It's very possible that this was not intended, but that doesn't matter, because, basically, the proclivity, the natural tendency of the Ministry of the Interior is to use force. And I think that--I think that the very important shift that has happened in this last set of incidents is that the Ministry of the Interior has moved back into central position in the state. And because what it has done now in breaking up these--breaking up the sit-ins violently and the huge numbers of people it has killed, because it has been done with the cover of the state, it's going to be extremely difficult in the future to take it to account for having done this previously during the two-and-a-half years before that, the two-and-a-half years of the revolution. And this is partly what this is about.
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In rare whale necropsy, beach becomes lab (20 August 2013)
(08-20) 11:43 PDT STINSON BEACH -- It was a sad sight for some - a young fin whale methodically measured, sliced open and dismantled on a Marin County beach. But for the team of marine mammal veterinarians doing the work, it was a rare and special opportunity.

The whale, a 42-foot juvenile male, had washed onto Upton Beach near Stinson Beach early Monday morning and stayed alive for hours, struggling to breathe as the pressure of being on land - not suspended in water - weighed on its internal organs.

It died only a few hours before the necropsy began.

"Because it was so fresh, we were able to collect samples that were very rare, like urine," said Shawn Johnson, director of veterinary science at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito. "You can't get it from a live whale, and most beached whales that have been dead for a while begin to decompose so quickly. Their insides turn to mush. This was a rare opportunity for us to get some really amazing samples."

Crowding around caution tape Monday afternoon, beachgoers witnessed an incomparable science lesson: a whale necropsy, which happens just a few times a year in the marine center's jurisdiction from Mendocino to San Luis Obispo counties.
[Read more...]

Fracking frenzy slows as oil and gas assets plummet in price (20 August 2013)
You know that domestic oil-and-gas boom that's been sweeping the country for the past few years, turning places like Williston, N.D., into Sin City? Well, the party's winding down -- or maybe it was never that ragin' in the first place. Oil and gas shale assets, possibly overvalued to begin with, are plunging in price thanks to an oversaturated market and wells whose production hasn't always lived up to expectations.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports:

"The deal-making slump, which may last for years, threatens to slow oil and gas production growth as companies that built up debt during the rush for shale acreage can't depend on asset sales to fund drilling programs. The decline has pushed acquisitions of North American energy assets in the first-half of the year to the lowest since 2004. ...

"North American oil and gas deals, including shale assets, plunged 52 percent to $26 billion in the first six months from $54 billion in the year-ago period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. During the drilling frenzy of 2009 through 2012, energy companies spent more than $461 billion buying North American oil and gas properties, the data show."
[Read more...]

David Miranda's lawyers threaten legal action over unlawful detention (20 August 2013)
Lawyers for the partner of the Guardian journalist who exposed mass email surveillance have written to home secretary Theresa May and the head of the Metropolitan police warning them that they are set to take legal action over what they say amounted to his "unlawful" detention at Heathrow airport under anti-terror laws.

In their letter to May and Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe they warn they are seeking immediate undertakings for the return David Miranda's laptop and all other electronic equipment within seven days.

His lawyers at the London firm Bindmans are seeking an official undertaking that there will be "no inspection, copying, disclosure, transfer, distribution or interference, in any way with our client's data".

But they say if there has already been an inspection of his laptop and other equipment it should not be disclosed to any third party, domestic or foreign and should be kept secure pending the outcome of the legal action.

Miranda, whose partner Glenn Greenwald has been working since May with the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, was transiting in Heathrow airport en route from Berlin to Brazil on Sunday when he was detained under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
[Read more...]

Guardian says Britain made it destroy Snowden material (20 August 2013)
(Reuters) - The British authorities forced the Guardian newspaper to destroy material leaked by Edward Snowden, its editor has revealed, calling it a "pointless" move that would not prevent further reporting on U.S. and British surveillance programs.

In a column on Tuesday, Alan Rusbridger said he had received a call from a government official a month ago who told him: "You've had your fun. Now we want the stuff back." The paper had been threatened with legal action if it did not comply.

Later, two "security experts" from the secretive Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) had visited the paper's London offices and watched as computer hard drives containing Snowden material were reduced to mangled bits of metal.

Asked by the BBC who he thought was behind those events, Rusbridger said he had "got the sense there was an active conversation" involving government departments, intelligence agencies and the prime minister's Downing Street office.
[Read more...]

Musharraf indicted in Bhutto murder case (20 August 2013)
Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's former military ruler, has been charged with murder of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who died in a gun and bomb attack in December 2007, court officials say.

The case of Bhutto's murder is one of several that Musharraf is facing since his return from self-imposed exile earlier this year.

"He was charged with murder, criminal conspiracy for murder and facilitation for murder," public prosecutor Chaudhry Azhar said at the anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi hearing the case on Tuesday.

Musharraf, 69, who attended court proceedings amid high security, denied the charges and the case was adjourned until August 27.
[Read more...]

CIA admits organising 1953 Iran coup (20 August 2013)
The CIA has admitted to orchestrating the August 1953 coup that toppled Iran's prime minister after he tried to nationalise his country's oil wealth from Britain, according to a declassified document.

George Washington University's National Security Archive, which obtained the documents under the Freedom of Information Act, a law that promotes government transparency, said that a secret internal history marked
the most explicit CIA admission, on Sunday.

"The military coup that overthrew Mosadeq and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of US foreign policy," the document said, using an alternative spelling of Mossadegh.

The CIA's role in the overthrow of Mohammad Mossadegh has long been known, with the coup haunting relations between the United States and Iran six decades later.
[Read more...]

Egypt arrests Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie (20 August 2013)
CAIRO -- Egyptian authorities early Tuesday arrested the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, another demoralizing blow to the Islamist organization amid a crackdown by the military to silence dissent and build support for its control of the nation.

Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie was arrested in a Cairo apartment. Dressed in a gray tunic, the 70-year-old spiritual leader looked shaken, sitting next to a bottle of water in police custody. The image distilled the desperation the world's most influential Islamist organization faces against an army that appears determined to crush it.

Most of the Brotherhood's top leaders, including Khairat Shater, its chief strategist and financier, and former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, who was overthrown in a coup last month, are in detention or have gone underground. Much of the group's strategy appears to have shifted to the Anti-Coup Alliance, an umbrella group the Brotherhood organized to protest Morsi's downfall.

The army's crackdown on the Brotherhood has been ferocious. Police raids on two Brotherhood sit-ins last week and the protests and violence that ensued killed more than 900 Morsi supporters, many of them shot by live ammunition fired by security forces that have shown little restraint.
[Read more...]

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Names Mahmoud Ezzat Temporary Leader (20 August 2013)
The Muslim Brotherhood announced Mahmoud Ezzat as its temporary leader on Tuesday following the arrest of its Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie.

The Brotherhood said in a statement on its Freedom and Justice Party's website that the decision is in accordance with Article (2) of its code which states that the first deputy replaces the supreme guide when he is unavailable.

Security forces arrested Badie from an apartment in Nasr City earlier for investigations into allegations that he incited violence earlier this year.
[Read more...]

US quietly suspends military aid to Egypt, but won't call uprising a coup (20 August 2013)
Obama administration officials and the office of US Sen. Patrick Leahy, head of the appropriations subcommittee on state and foreign operations, say that the White House had quietly suspended military aid to Egypt. But any leverage gained over Egypt's increasingly recalcitrant, violent military leaders may be negated by Saudi Arabia's pledge to fill the funding gap.

"To those who have announced they are cutting their aid to Egypt, or threatening to do that, [we say that] Arab and Muslim nations are rich ... and will not hesitate to help Egypt," Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said yesterday in a statement, according to Agence France-Presse.

The number of international allies of Egypt's interim government has dwindled as the death toll rises, yesterday cresting over 900. But Saudi Arabia has only doubled down on its backing of the military government, which it has said is fighting "terrorism and sedition."

One of the biggest questions prompted by Egypt's bloodshed has been whether the United States would classify the military ouster of elected President Mohamed Morsi as a coup, thus requiring it to cut off aid. But it appears as if the US has already put a hold on the money under the radar. That avoids a public determination on the coup question that would be hard to walk back from.
[Read more...]

Boston marathon bombing suspect had multiple wounds, fractured skull when captured: Report (20 August 2013)
BOSTON--Accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was badly injured when taken into custody by federal agents in April, with multiple gunshot wounds, including one that had fractured his skull, according to unsealed court papers.

A trauma surgeon detailed the suspect's condition in a hearing the day the Chechen immigrant, who was lying in a Boston hospital bed, was first charged over the bombing attacks that killed three people and wounded about 264.

Tsarnaev, now 20, is the survivor of a pair of brothers accused of carrying out the worst mass-casualty attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. A pair of homemade pressure-cooker bombs exploded on April 15 at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, which was crowded with thousands of spectators, volunteers and athletes.

"He has multiple gunshot wounds, the most severe of which appears to have entered through the left side inside of his mouth and exited the left face, lower face. This was a high-powered injury that has resulted in skull-base fracture," Dr. Stephen Ray Odom of Beth Israel Medical Center testified on April 22, according to court papers unsealed late Monday.
[Read more...]

Sun will flip its magnetic field in 3-4 months, warns NASA (20 August 2013)
(NaturalNews) Major changes are about to take place with regards to the sun, and the effects of these changes will reportedly impact our entire solar system. It is known systematically as a solar magnetic flip, or a reversal of the sun's magnetic field, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) says this incredible phenomenon is set to occur as soon as within the next three-to-four months.

A recent NASA announcement explains that this unusual magnetic field reversal is part of a polarity change event that occurs every 11 years at the peak of each individual solar cycle. When this next magnetic flip eventually takes place, it will mark the midpoint of Solar Cycle 24, or the half point of what is known as the current "Solar Max." And you and I will notice it, say experts, in the form of increased space weather and other space events around planet Earth.

"It looks like we're no more than three to four months away from a complete field reversal," says Todd Hoeksema, director of Stanford University's Wilcox Solar Observatory, in a recent statement about the event. "The magnetic field from active regions makes its way toward the poles and eventually causes the reversal. This change will have ripple effects throughout the solar system."

As it turns out, the extent of the sun's magnetic influence, also known as its "heliosphere," is incredibly large, extending out beyond Pluto, the furthest planet from the sun. Polarity changes, such as a magnetic field reversal, have the potential to significantly alter the pattern of the sun's "current sheet," the surface that jets out from the sun's equator and induces electrical currents in its magnetic field.
[Read more...]

Virginia bottlenose dolphin deaths skyrocket in August (20 August 2013)
The number of bottlenose dolphins that have washed up dead in Virginia so far in August reached 77 Monday - more than the average found in a full year.

On Friday and Saturday alone, 25 dolphin corpses were recovered, according to the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center.

"It's the most we've had in that small amount of time," said Joan Barns, spokeswoman for the aquarium.

Although Virginia has seen the most strandings this year, other states on the Eastern Seaboard have experienced an increase as well.

In New Jersey, 62 dolphins have been picked up on shore since July 9, according to Robert Schoelkopf, director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine. New York, Delaware and Maryland are also seeing an increase, although not as substantial.
[Read more...]

Kidnap suspect leaves money to victim's family (19 August 2013)
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- A man who died in a shootout with FBI agents after kidnapping a 16-year-old girl and killing her mother and brother named a member of the victims' family as his life insurance beneficiary, a spokesman for the man's family said Monday.

James Lee DiMaggio left $112,000 to Hannah Anderson's paternal grandmother, said Andrew Spanswick. He didn't know why but believes it was for the benefit of Hannah, the girl abducted by DiMaggio.

Hannah was rescued in the FBI shootout on Aug. 10 in the Idaho wilderness and returned home to San Diego.

DiMaggio, 40, had been like an uncle to the Anderson children and the father's best friend.

DiMaggio named Bernice Anderson as the sole beneficiary of his employer-issued life insurance policy in 2011, substituting her for his sister Lora Robinson, the lone survivor of his immediate family, Spanswick said.
[Read more...]

Texas begins replacing paved roads with gravel due to lack of funding (19 August 2013)
The oil and gas boom in Texas has produced an unintended effect: The state plans to covert some roads to gravel to save money.

The oversized vehicles and overweight loads used by energy companies has had a devastating impact on many roads, but the state has not appropriated enough money to fix them.

The Texas Department of Transportation began converting more than 80 miles of paved roads to gravel on Monday, according to the Texas Tribune. The speed limit on the new gravel roads will be reduced to 30 mph.

Texas lawmakers approved $225 million for the repair of roadways and bridges within the state highway system this year. Texas lawmakers also approved a ballot measure that would provide $1.2 billion a year for state transportation projects. If approved by voters in 2014, the measure would divert money from the state's rainy day fund to the state highway fund.

But the Texas Department of Transportation said $400 million was needed to repair immediate damage caused by energy sector traffic across the state. The department said it needed an additional $1 billion per year to keep the roadways in good condition. It won't get that funding until next year.
[Read more...]

McDonnell should go (19 August 2013)
The Post reports: "Attorneys for Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, will spend Monday locked in separate hours-long meetings trying to convince federal prosecutors that the first couple should not be charged in the gifts scandal that has dominated state politics." This doesn't bode well for the marriage, either of them or McDonnell's continued tenure as governor.

McDonnell seems to be following the Mary Todd Lincoln defense, the notorious wife of our 16th president remembered, in large part, for her lavish spending that caused her husband considerable angst. In McDonnell's case, his wife got a load of gifts and cash and bought stock in Jonnie R. Williams Sr.'s company, keeping him largely in the dark, he says. It was she, the governor says, who really went to bat for Star Scientific.

That may be all true, but McDonnell and his entire family benefited from the mega-donor's largess. If he was blind or chose to avert his eyes from what his wife was up t,o he might escape criminal liability, but it sure doesn't meet the standard Virginians expect of public servants, let alone their governor. McDonnell's apology is the classic too little, too late damage control we've become used to in Washington, D.C. But Virginians pride themselves on having a clean, responsible state government.

Whatever the feds' decision, it would behoove McDonnell to consider resigning. His effectiveness as governor is over. His behavior doesn't warrant his continued presence in the executive mansion. And he is doing his party's candidates no favors by hanging around until November. There is a respected, capable lieutenant governor in Bill Bolling (who ironically stepped aside to let McDonnell avoid a primary in 2009) who would make an appropriate substitute until the new governor is installed.
[Read more...]

When Will Solar Get Cheap Enough for Everyone to Use? (19 August 2013)
Solar is not like other energy sources. Photovoltaic cells are a transformative technology, Alexis Madrigal, The Atlantic's senior technology editor, argues in the short video above. The faster the price of solar energy falls, the more viable it becomes as a source of clean power -- and the sooner we'll see it on roofs across America. Animated by Lindsey Testolin, this clip is part of a six-part video series in The User's Guide to Energy special report. For a more in-depth look at this topic, check out Kyle Thetford's "Charting the Fall of Solar Prices." [Read more...]

Nevada could face suit for dumping patients in S.F. (19 August 2013)
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera is demanding that Nevada reimburse California cities and counties for treatment of about 500 indigent psychiatric patients who were given one-way bus tickets to the Golden State in recent years.

Those costs include about $500,000 that Herrera says San Francisco spent on medical care, housing and other aid for 20 people shipped here in a practice sometimes called Greyhound therapy.

In a letter to be sent Tuesday to Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, a draft of which was obtained by The Chronicle, Herrera threatened to file a class-action lawsuit accusing Nevada of misappropriating public funds from California unless the neighboring state agrees within 20 days to reimburse cities and counties and to adopt interstate transfer rules for patients.

Those would include confirming that a patient is a resident of the city where he or she is being sent, or has family there.

Herrera's office, which subpoenaed bus company records, says it has the names of nearly 500 patients who have been discharged from a state-run psychiatric hospital in Las Vegas since April 2008 and sent by Greyhound bus to California. Of those, 24 sent to San Francisco were indigent, homeless and suffering from mental illness, according to the letter. Twenty of those received medical care or other city-funded treatment in San Francisco.
[Read more...]

What you need to know about camu camu (19 August 2013)
Peruvian folk medicine says native Amazonians used camu camu for a variety of things including as a pain reliever and to fight infections, an infusion of the bark or stem for diabetes, and poultice from the bark for topical treatment of rheumatism or wounds. It was an easily transportable and available food source, but not always their first choice because of the tart, acidic taste, which is due to the high vitamin C. (http://food-nutrition.knoji.com)

Why scientists are interested in camu camu
Camu camu is a powerhouse of nutrients, including 30-50 times the vitamin C - the most of any botanical source in the world, 10 times the iron, three times the niacin, twice the riboflavin, and 50 percent more phosphorous as oranges and other citrus fruits. It also has beta-carotene, potassium, calcium, bioflavonoids, antioxidants, and amino acids (http://superfruits.com/index.php/camu-camu-superfrukter-99). This fruit has one of the highest concentrations of phytochemicals in the world. It is considered to be an antioxidant, astringent, emollient, and nutritive. It also has fiber and protein.

There are several important amino acids in camu camu, such as valine, leucine, and serine. The branch-chained amino acids valine and leucine are essential, meaning they must be obtained through diet. Serine is a proteinogenic amino acid, and important to metabolism as it is the precursor to several other amino acids, such as glycine, cysteine, and tryptophan. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serine)

Additional phytochemicals of note in camu camu include multiple flavonoids such as: anthocyanins, flavonols, flavanols, catechins, glucosides, rutin, and hydrolyzed tannins such as gallic acid and ellagic acid, as the color of the fruit would suggest. These polyphenols are important because their antioxidant and antiproliferative properties work on the cellular level to inhibit DNA from binding to carcinogens. They also help to prevent heart disease and other chronic and degenerative diseases. The chemoprotective effect is due to the prevention of oxidative stress. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myrciaria_dubia)
[Read more...]

Whooping cough vaccine can cause brain damage and death (19 August 2013)
(NaturalNews) In July, the state of Missouri began offering for free a vaccine aimed at preventing, among other ailments, whooping cough. According to officials, the TDap vaccine, which reportedly prevents tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, was necessary because "of the rising incidence of whooping cough is reported to be related to the vaccine wearing off if given more than ten years earlier," says an online report.

Citing a St. Louis Post Dispatch article, Michelle Goldstein of VacTruth.com says some 41,000 cases of pertussis occurred in the U.S. in 2012, compared to less than 19,000 cases in the previous year - thus the need for the new vaccine.

"The news story emphasized that whooping cough is highly dangerous and can lead to vomiting and death, especially in children. The report indicates that diphtheria is a bacterial disease that is highly contagious and can also lead to death," Goldstein writes, adding that tetanus can cause severe muscle spasms.

Natural remedies, treatments can work without risk
What the paper failed to report, however, is that there are serious health risks associated with the Tdap vaccines. Also, there are relatively benign health implications that are commonly associated with the diseases the vaccine is intended to prevent - "along with the important fact that vaccines have never been proven to prevent any disease," Goldstein said.

She adds:
The risks that whooping cough, diphtheria and tetanus pose to health are low compared to the potential, serious dangers reported as a result of this vaccine. Whooping cough can be treated successfully through a vitamin C protocol developed by Dr. Suzanne Humphries which has been shown to greatly reduce symptoms. In contrast, antibiotic treatments, given routinely by conventional, allopathic physicians to treat whooping cough, have never been shown to positively impact the course of the illness.
[Read more...]

Glenn Greenwald: detaining my partner was a failed attempt at intimidation (18 August 2013)
But they obviously had zero suspicion that David was associated with a terrorist organization or involved in any terrorist plot. Instead, they spent their time interrogating him about the NSA reporting which Laura Poitras, the Guardian and I are doing, as well the content of the electronic products he was carrying. They completely abused their own terrorism law for reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism: a potent reminder of how often governments lie when they claim that they need powers to stop "the terrorists", and how dangerous it is to vest unchecked power with political officials in its name.

Worse, they kept David detained right up until the last minute: for the full 9 hours, something they very rarely do. Only at the last minute did they finally release him. We spent all day - as every hour passed - worried that he would be arrested and charged under a terrorism statute. This was obviously designed to send a message of intimidation to those of us working journalistically on reporting on the NSA and its British counterpart, the GCHQ.

Before letting him go, they seized numerous possessions of his, including his laptop, his cellphone, various video game consoles, DVDs, USB sticks, and other materials. They did not say when they would return any of it, or if they would.

This is obviously a rather profound escalation of their attacks on the news-gathering process and journalism. It's bad enough to prosecute and imprison sources. It's worse still to imprison journalists who report the truth. But to start detaining the family members and loved ones of journalists is simply despotic. Even the Mafia had ethical rules against targeting the family members of people they felt threatened by. But the UK puppets and their owners in the US national security state obviously are unconstrained by even those minimal scruples.
[Read more...]

Former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak may be freed from jail soon (19 August 2013)
CAIRO -- Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who is on trial for murder-related charges in the deaths of hundreds of protesters in 2011, may be released from prison this week after a judge set aside a corruption case against him.

"He'll be out in a couple of days," said Mubarak's lawyer, Farid Deeb.

The 85-year-old former leader remains in custody in connection with another graft case but is expected to be cleared of those charges after his family reportedly paid restitution.

Reuters news service quoted a judicial source as saying Mubarak "would spend another two weeks behind bars before judicial authorities made a final decision in the outstanding case against him." There is also the possibility that prosecutors could file new charges against the former president.

Mubarak's release would essentially mean he would be free on bail while he stands trial for the deaths of more than 800 protesters who were killed by security forces and paid thugs during the 2011 uprising that ended his 30-year rule.
[Read more...]

Egypt police killed in Sinai ambush (19 August 2013)
At least 24 Egyptian police officers have been killed after they were attacked with rocket-propelled grenades in northern Sinai, security officials say.

The officials said the Monday morning attack took place as the officers were driving through a village near the border town of Rafah in the volatile Sinai Peninsula.

At least two others were injured when the unknown fighters fired on the officers' buses as they headed towards Rafah on the border with the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to talk to the media.

Egypt shut Rafah border crossing, which is the only way most Palestinians in Gaza can leave the territory, after the deadly attack, a border official has told AFP news agency.

Last week, Egypt said it would close the crossing indefinitely, but it was partially reopened on Saturday, according to the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza.
[Read more...]

Egypt: Nuns Paraded Like Pows in Upper Egypt - NGO (19 August 2013)
An Egyptian rights group has condemned the violations that women were subjected to during the latest sectarian confrontations in the Upper Egypt town of Beni Suef.

"Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood stormed the Franciscan School in Beni Suef, detained three nuns from the school and then paraded them on the streets like prisoners of war," the Cairo Center for Development and Human Rights said in a statement issued on Monday.

The statement added that two other women working in the school were subjected to sexual violence while confronting the raging assailants who also looted and torched the school.

At least 40 churches were attacked, torched and looted in the four days following the security crackdown on the two Cairo protest camps for Islamist supporters of deposed President Mohamed Mursi.

Homes and shops that belong to Egypt's Christian minority were also attacked and looted, in a significant rise of sectarian violence.
[Read more...]

In Egyptian village, Christian shops marked ahead of church attack (+video) (18 August 2013)
Before the violence that shook this small village last week, there were warning signs.

On June 30, when millions of Egyptians took to the streets to protest against now ousted President Mohamed Morsi, residents of Al Nazla marked Christian homes and shops with red graffiti, vowing to protect Morsi's electoral legitimacy with "blood."

Relations between Christians and Muslims in the village, which had worsened since Morsi's election in 2012, grew even more tense as Islamists spread rumors that it was Christians who were behind the protests against Morsi and his ouster by the military on July 3.

Finally, on the morning of Aug. 14, the tension erupted. In Cairo, the police attacked two protest camps full of Morsi supporters, using live ammunition and killing hundreds. When the news reached Al Nazla, a local mosque broadcast through its loudspeakers that Christians were attacking the protesters, say residents. Hundreds of villagers marched on the Saint Virgin Mary Church. They broke down the gate and flooded the compound, shouting "Allahu akbar" and "Islam is the solution," according to Christian neighbors.
[Read more...]

Lies, misinformation and silence: Mayflower, Arkansas residents look back on Pegasus Pipeline spill (19 August 2013)
"For days, the stench blowing from the sour heavy Canadian crude was rank," explains the Arkansas Times. "Burning tires," is what one resident, Ann Jarrell, called it. "It was just putrid. You'd smell it and you would gag."

No one, though, told Ann that the smell was anything to worry about. On the contrary, in fact! When Ann called the Mayflower police to ask whether she was in danger, a man on the other end told her she was merely noticing an additive meant to alert people to a leak (similar to the non-toxic chemical that gives natural gas its "rotten potato" aroma). A few days later, an Exxon employee working on the cleanup came near her house told her not to fret. "I didn't know what we were breathing in was toxic," she said. "Nobody was giving us any information."

ExxonMobil was Lying
Jarrell stayed put in her house. Only in late April would she learn about a report by a Louisiana firm called the Subra Co., that the "Wabasca Heavy Crude" that Exxon was forcing through the Pegasus pipeline needed "a formidable shot of lubricating chemicals, called diluents, to grease its passage." The brew, it turned out, was brimming with polyaromatic hydrocarbons, carcinogens that causes a range of sicknesses with acute exposure.

In the days after the pipe rupture, air monitoring tests show that the surrounding neighborhood showed dangerous levels of benzene and possibly harmful levels of octane, cyclohexane, heptane, and hexane, along with detectible levels of toluene, butane, pentane, and several other industrial chemicals. Some sources claim that it's impossible, at this point, to say how much of what spilled were these polyaromatic hydrocarbons, but even conservative estimates would place the number in the tens of thousands of gallons of poison in the town's air.

Many people in the neighborhood, like Jarrell, didn't understand the risks. Outside the Northwoods subdivision of Mayflower, where 22 of 62 homes were marked for mandatory evacuation, there's scant evidence that anyone from Exxon, the Environmental Protection Agency or the state Department of Health showed any urgency to notify residents that they were breathing an unknown quantity of known poisons. No one involved seemed to care, and -- many in Mayflower believe -- they still don't.
[Read more...]

Attorneys for McDonnells to meet with prosecutors as key phase opens in gifts probe (18 August 2013)
Attorneys for Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, will spend Monday locked in separate hours-long meetings trying to convince federal prosecutors that the first couple should not be charged in the gifts scandal that has dominated state politics.

The meetings open a new, critical phase of the investigation, timed to help prosecutors decide over the next few weeks whether to file charges, according to two people with knowledge of the investigation.

Federal authorities have been investigating whether McDonnell (R) agreed to take official actions to aid nutritional supplement company Star Scientific while accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and money from its chief executive, Jonnie R. Williams Sr.

The central issues for prosecutors are what precisely McDonnell may have said or offered to Williams on his own and how much the governor knew about his wife's acceptance of gifts from Williams and her actions to help his company just as Star was launching a new product.

As the scandal has shined an uncomfortable spotlight on the governor's marriage, McDonnell's side has conveyed to authorities that his wife often purposely kept him in the dark about the largess she was accepting from Williams, according to a person familiar with the investigation.
[Read more...]

Ralph Nader's life in three words: 'I was right' (19 August 2013)
The eight-year collection of columns is emblematic of an American original whose life has been lived from the outside in, hedgehog-style, with emotions discreetly tucked away and political opinions bristling in plain sight.

And there are an exhaustive number of opinions, backed by research and fuelled by litres of midnight oil. From corporate crime to obesity to health care to media decline to tax refunds to free trade to the decline of democracy. And much, much more.

They're the latest outpouring from a five-decade career that began in the 1960s when young firebrand Nader burst on the scene as a white knight of consumer rights, shaming the authorities into a slew of new auto safety laws.

He went on to crusade for sweeping anti-pollution laws, founded at least half a dozen public interest research groups, activated the much-feared Nader's Raiders and produced more than 20 books.
[Read more...]

U.S. military veteran describes how vaccines made service members sick (18 August 2013)
(NaturalNews) A U.S. Navy veteran says vaccines she received as part of her initial entry into the service and during deployment to the Persian Gulf made her ill and have left her with permanent problems.

The veteran, who wrote her account anonymously on the Vactruth.com website, said she received a total of three vaccines - bird flu, Gardasil, and smallpox - that she believes were, in total, responsible for months of sickness.

"I had never had a serious reaction to any vaccine before, and it was after the third round of it that I decided to do some research for myself," she wrote in a March 2013 post. "Now I am carrying my first child, and I am grateful that I have done this research so that I can spare my child the results of a criminal undertaking in the form of mass vaccination."

Bird flu
The first of the three vaccines she received was one for bird flu, in December 2009, as she was waiting at the U.S. Navy training station at Great Lakes to go to her "A school" - her military specialty course. At the time, she said, "Avian influenza was scaring half the world out of its mind with fears of people being out of work for six weeks at a time or more, en masse."
[Read more...]

The new paranoia: A government afraid of itself (15 August 2013)
In the popular stereotype, conspiracy theorists direct their paranoia at the government: The CIA shot JFK. NASA faked the moon landing. Sept. 11 was an inside job.

But the most significant sorts of political paranoia are the kinds that catch on with people inside the halls of power, not the folks on the outside looking in. The latest example is a crackdown on leaks that has the government crippled by a fear of its own employees. Washington is petrified of itself.

The federal effort, called the Insider Threat Program, was launched in October 2011, and it certainly hasn't diminished since Edward Snowden disclosed details of the National Security Agency's domestic spying. As McClatchy reporters Marisa Taylor and Jonathan S. Landay have described, federal employees and contractors are encouraged to keep an eye on allegedly suspicious indicators in their co-workers' lives, from financial troubles to divorce. A brochure produced by the Defense Security Service, titled "INSIDER THREATS: Combating the ENEMY within your organization," sums up the spirit of the program: "It is better to have reported overzealously than never to have reported at all."

The word "espionage" appears 10 times in that pamphlet, while "leak" isn't used even once. But the most insidious part of the crackdown is that it blurs the boundary between spies and whistleblowers. This comes, after all, at a time when the government is increasingly willing to prosecute leakers under the Espionage Act. An agent of a foreign power would fall under the program's purview, but so would someone releasing information to the media. Leaking, one Defense Department document declares, "is tantamount to aiding the enemies of the United States."
[Read more...]

Dream of Wild Health saves traditional Indian seeds and health (18 August 2013)
At first glance, the small farm near Lino Lakes looks much like other charming hobby farms in the area. But it holds a distinct niche in Minnesota and likely the nation.

The patch of corn near the driveway is a special white heirloom corn handed down by generations of Oneida Indians. The black beans sprouting on nearby vines were grown for centuries by Hopi Indians. There's squash from the Lakota tribe, corn from the Dakotas, and a team of urban teenagers who are learning to harvest, cook and market the plants that fed their ancestors.

The farm is the heart of Dream of Wild Health, a St. Paul nonprofit that is part of a small but growing national movement to collect and save seeds once cultivated by Indian communities.

The seeds are a direct link to Minnesota's earliest agriculture. And they're at the core of the nonprofit's varied projects to improve Indians' well-being by growing a new generation of health-conscious leaders. For its unusual approach to fighting hunger and disease, the nonprofit was named one of Minnesota's Top 15 hunger-fighting agencies in a recent study commissioned by Minnesota Philanthropy Partners in St. Paul.
[Read more...]

Comptroller of New York John Liu: Legalise marijuana (17 August 2013)
It's time to recognize that New York City's misguided war on marijuana has failed.

Instead of spending millions on low-level drug prosecutions that disproportionally affect communities of color, why not regulate the city's $1.65bn marijuana market -- and use the tax revenues to cut City University tuition in half? Instead of sending kids to the courthouse, let's send them to college.

A new report by my office (pdf) [of city comptroller] found that regulating marijuana sales would raise $400m annually, plus save another $31m by reallocating resources spent on marijuana-related arrests. Regulating marijuana would also offer relief to those suffering from a wide range of painful medical conditions, and make our streets safer by sapping the dangerous underground market that targets our children.

To be clear: under my proposal, only adults age 21 and over would be allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana -- which would be grown, processed, and sold by government-licensed businesses for recreational or medicinal purposes. There would be strict prohibitions on driving under the influence and marijuana use in public.
[Read more...]

Five myths about big data (16 August 2013)
Big data holds the promise of harnessing huge amounts of information to help us better understand the world. But when talking about big data, there's a tendency to fall into hyperbole. It is what compels contrarians to write such tweets as "Big Data, n.: the belief that any sufficiently large pile of s--- contains a pony." Let's deflate the hype.

1. "Big data" has a clear definition.
The term "big data" has been in circulation since at least the 1990s, when it is believed to have originated in Silicon Valley. IBM offers a seemingly simple definition: Big data is characterized by the four V's of volume, variety, velocity and veracity. But the term is thrown around so often, in so many contexts -- science, marketing, politics, sports -- that its meaning has become vague and ambiguous.

There's general agreement that ranking every page on the Internet according to relevance and searching the phone records of every Verizon customer in the United States qualify as applications of big data. Beyond that, there's much debate. Does big data need to involve more information than can be processed by a single home computer? If so, marketing analytics wouldn't qualify, and neither would most of the work done by Facebook. Is it still big data if it doesn't use certain tools from the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning? Probably.

Should narrowly focused industry efforts to glean consumer insight from large datasets be grouped under the same term used to describe the sophisticated and varied things scientists are trying to do? There's a lot of confusion, and industry experts and scientists often end up talking past one another.
[Read more...]

Penn State reaches settlement with Sandusky victim (18 August 2013)
Pennsylvania State University has agreed to a multimillion-dollar settlement with a 25-year-old man who was sexually abused by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky in a campus shower.

It is the first of 26 claims to be settled in the Sandusky scandal, with the others expected early this week. The university has approved spending $60 million for the payouts.

The man, known as Victim 5 in court proceedings, was assaulted by Sandusky in August 2001, six months after then-graduate assistant Michael McQueary reported to university officials that he saw Sandusky rape a boy in a campus shower.

Because the assault occurred so soon after the McQueary report and took place on campus, it was considered pivotal in reaching a settlement agreement with other victims, said Michael K. Rozen, a lawyer hired by the university to help settle the cases.
[Read more...]

Don't let U.S. government read your e-mail (18 August 2013)
(CNN) -- You may have never heard of Lavabit and Silent Circle. That's because they offered encrypted (secure) e-mail services, something most Americans have probably never thought about needing, or wanting.

In recent days, Lavabit closed shop reportedly in response to U.S. government pressure to hand over customer data, including those of Edward Snowden, who used the e-mail provider. Silent Circle, which is used by activists, journalists and diplomats, shut down its e-mail service on its own volition because it wanted to prevent spying.

While these small companies have the courage to stand up for their customers' privacy, big companies like Google and Microsoft and others seem to be on the sidelines.

We seem to be of several minds about government surveillance of our communications. Most people want privacy. But most people want the government, at least in justified cases, to be able to read the e-mail of those legitimately suspected of planning serious crimes. And most people also find the details of electronic surveillance worrying and complicated, and would prefer not to think about them at all.
[Read more...]

Glacier National Park shortly before the fire was extinguished, 30 September 2003, photo by Pam Rotella

Remembering Glacier National Park's summer of fire (18 August 2013)
WEST GLACIER -- The rolled-up maps in Dennis Divoky's office show the enormity of the 2003 fires in Glacier National Park. Huge swaths of land are colored in red and orange, depicting in print the 136,000 acres of land burned that summer. It was the biggest fire season in the park's history -- even larger than 1910's "Big Burn."

"The 2003 season is the pinnacle," said Divoky, fire ecologist for the park.

That summer, the National Park Service responded to 26 wildfires that scorched roughly 13 percent of the park's land. Of those, six blazes were larger than 10,000 acres. The Robert fire alone burned 57,570 acres of land in the park and Flathead National Forest and forced multiple evacuations of the Lake McDonald Valley and West Glacier. By September, the fires had cost the Park Service more than $68 million.

While the maps, numbers and data in Divoky's office show the scale of the 2003 fires, they do little to tell the story -- the story of frantic evacuations, bold back burns and tense times. It's a story told best in the words of those who lived it.
[Read more...]

Pasta perfect: This Italian family grows heirloom grains (VIDEO) (18 August 2013)
Italy is known for its pasta, but despite its rich heritage, most flour in this country is homogenous and bleached. Luckily, in the hills of Tuscany we stumbled upon Franco Pedrini who, along with his sons, grows heirloom grains through biodynamic farming, a holistic, social approach to growing food. "We work for a future society," says Pedrini. We were lucky enough to spend two days with this charming family.

[Read more...]

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Sources (if found on major news boards):
[AJ] - InfoWars.com, PrisonPlanet.com, or other Alex Jones-affiliated sites
[BF] - BuzzFlash.com
[DN] - DemocracyNow.org
[R] - Rense.com
[WRH] - WhatReallyHappened.com


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