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Click to visit VeggieCooking.com NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2013

News from the Week of 3rd to 9th of November 2013

PHARMA'S WINDFALL: The mining of rare diseases (9 November 2013)
The Orphan Drug Act became law in January 1983. In the decades prior, the FDA had approved only 10 drugs for rare diseases. Since the act took effect, 363 drugs have been approved as of October, a Times analysis shows. All told, these drugs have been licensed for 449 variations of rare disease.

Waxman has characterized the Orphan Drug Act as "government at its finest." Likewise, the act is widely praised by many physicians, researchers and patient advocates for helping millions of patients receive treatments that otherwise might not exist.

But despite its "enormous" success, the act has had "some downsides as well," Waxman told The Times.

"The industry has taken advantage of the incentives to charge excessive profits and to reap windfalls far in excess of their investments in the drug," he said.

Waxman has introduced amendments to rein in profiteering -- to cut into the seven years of market exclusivity, for example -- only to face defeat, thanks to lobbying from the pharmaceutical industry.
[Read more...]

Risky acne drug Diane-35 underscores Health Canada's limitations (9 November 2013)
Health Canada has approved more than 10,000 prescription drugs for use across the country, but the federal health department does not have the power to recall a single one if it is found to be unsafe.

That little-known but long-standing regulatory flaw -- first raised after the thalidomide tragedy of the 1960s, when more than 100 Canadian babies were born with malformed limbs -- was recently highlighted again in a government-commissioned report on faulty birth control pills.

Canadian laws empower regulators to recall bad toys, tools, cleaning supplies, clothing and food, but not bad drugs. That job is left almost entirely up to manufacturers and distributors.

"People overestimate what the drug regulatory agency is doing," said Trudo Lemmens, Chair in Health Law and Policy at the University of Toronto.

Health Canada cannot order but only "negotiate" with manufacturers for a drug recall -- a process that can last months or years.
[Read more...]

The Murder of Yasser Arafat (9 November 2013)
In 2004, shortly after the mysterious death of PLO leader Yasser Arafat, I wrote a column stating my strong belief that he had been murdered by poison. I recalled Stalin's favorite line, "no man, no problem."

Poison had been a favorite tool of the Soviet secret police since the 1920's. Steps from KGB headquarters at the Lubyanka was the top secret laboratory known as the "kamera" where scientists concocted new, complex poisons designed to be very lethal but untraceable, or extremely hard to identify.

Numbers of Ukrainian nationalists were murdered by use of pens emitting a vapor of quick-acting cyanide gas that left the victims appearing to have died of heart attacks. Later, the kamera produced an even more lethal pellet filled with the deadly castor-bean extract, ricin. A Bulgarian defector, Georgi Markov, died after a ricin pellet was jabbed into his leg in London, the famous "umbrella murder."

In 2009, Israeli agents of Mossad sprayed a poison liquid into the left ear of Palestinian Hamas leader, Khaled Mashall. He only escaped death when Israel was forced to provide an antidote. The US CIA had its own poison lab that was revealed by the 1975 Church Committee investigation.
[Read more...]

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger to be questioned by MPs over NSA leaks (9 November 2013)
The editor of the Guardian is to be questioned by MPs about his newspaper's publication of intelligence files leaked by the American whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Alan Rusbridger is to appear before the House of Commons home affairs select committee next month following warnings from British security chiefs that the revelations were damaging national security.

"Alan has been invited to give evidence to the home affairs select committee and looks forward to appearing next month," a Guardian spokeswoman said.

The heads MI6, MI5 and GCHQ claim terrorist groups are changing their operations as a result of the leaks.
[Read more...]

Dozens arrested in Walmart protest as anger against retail chain escalates (9 November 2013)
Dozens of people demanding better pay and conditions for Walmart workers were arrested at a protest in Los Angeles which organisers called the single biggest act of disobedience against the retail chain.

Police detained 54 people on Thursday night, including Walmart workers, union representatives and clergy members who sat in the street outside a Walmart store in Chinatown and refused to move, prompting officers to declare an unlawful assembly and move in.

"Walmart has proven its willingness to break the law by illegally firing workers and trying to silence them," said Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, one of the organisers. "We are sitting down today to demonstrate that we won't allow these dirty tactics in Los Angeles."

The demonstration was the latest in a year-long series of mostly small, vocal protests at Walmart stores around the US.
[Read more...]

The Dynastic Hillary Bandwagon: Bad for America by Ralph Nader (9 November 2013)
The Hillary Clinton for President in 2016 bandwagon has started very early and with a purpose. The idea is to get large numbers of endorsers, so that no Democratic Primary competitors dare make a move. These supporters include Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), financier George Soros and Ready for Hillary, a super PAC mobilizing with great specificity (already in Iowa).

Given this early bird launch, it is important to raise the pressing question:

Does the future of our country benefit from Hillary, another Clinton, another politician almost indistinguishable from Barack Obama's militaristic, corporatist policies garnished by big money donors from Wall Street and other plutocratic canyons?

There is no doubt the Clintons are syrupy political charmers, beguiling many naïve Democrats who have long been vulnerable to a practiced set of comforting words or phrases camouflaging contrary deeds.

Everybody knows that Hillary is for women, children and education. She says so every day. But Democrats and others can't get the Clintons even to support a $10.50 federal minimum wage that would almost equal the 1968 minimum wage, inflation-adjusted, and would raise the wages of 30 million workers mired in the gap between the present minimum wage of $7.25 and $10.50 an hour. It just so happens that almost two-thirds of these Americans are women, many of them single moms struggling to support their impoverished children. Nearly a million of these workers labor for Walmart, on whose Board of Directors Hillary Clinton once sat. Words hide the deeds.
[Read more...]

On the News With Thom Hartmann: Policy Holders Sue Anthem Blue Cross for Intentionally Misleading Clients, and More (9 November 2013)
You need to know this. Millions of insurance policies are being canceled across the nation, and while companies are blaming Obamacare -- it appears that plain old greed is the real reason. Consumers in California say that their insurance company caused their cancellations, to jack up their premiums under the ACA. Paul Simon and Catherine Corker are suing Anthem Blue Cross in their state, claiming that the company tricked them into giving up their "grandfathered plans" - which they could have kept even after the healthcare law. Their lawsuit states, "Blue Cross concealed information about the consequences of switching plans and intentionally misled its policyholders to encourage the replacement of grandfathered policies." Just like President Obama said, if these customers liked their healthcare plans, they could have kept them under the healthcare law. But, Blue Cross enticed customers to change policies in 2011, which meant their plans were no longer "grandfathered-in" to the healthcare law. When they were invited to switch plans, customers were not told that they would lose their right to keep their plans, and were not given accurate information about future price increases. And now, Mr. Simon and Ms. Corker want the courts to stop Blue Cross from canceling more plans without allowing customers to switch back to their original policies. If this happened in California, we can only wonder how many more cancellations are the result of the same deceptive tactics.

In screwed news... Our nation has more prisons than we have schools. In fact, we have so many prisons, that if being locked up was considered a job, it would be one of the most popular jobs in America. According to data from the Justice Department, in 2012 there were more than one and a half million inmates in state and federal prisons, and many more if you count inmates in city and county jails. However, there were only about 815,000 constructions workers, 750,000 auto mechanics, and less than a million public schools throughout our nation. We're spending trillions to lock people up, while education budgets are being slashed throughout our nation. And, when people are incarcerated, they can't work, and can't contribute their tax dollars or their production to our economy. It's time to rethink our national priorities. It makes no sense to incarcerate more people than we educate.

In the best of the rest of the news...

For the second time in two decades, conservation groups have stopped uranium mining in the Grand Canyon. Mining efforts were previously halted back in 1992, but earlier this year, mine owner Energy Fuel Resources, restarted their operations in the canyon. Environmental groups, along with the native-American Havasu Tribe, sued to stop operations -- and Energy Fuel Resources agreed to halt their mining activities. Roger Clark of the Grand Canyon Trust, said, "The Canyon Mine threatens irreversible damage to the Havasupai people and [the] Grand Canyon's water, wildlife, and tourism economy, to this closure is very good news." However, like previous closures, this could be a temporary victory. Under current policy, so-called "zombie mines" - can reopen without even conducting a new environmental analysis. Conservation groups are thrilled that the Grand Canyon is safe for now, but they say it's time to block this mine permanently, and protect one our nation's most prized landmarks for future generations.
[Read more...]

Sardines have nearly disappeared off West Coast (9 November 2013)
When Canadian fishermen headed out for their annual sardine hunt in the Pacific Ocean earlier this fall, they got a rude surprise. Their nets came up empty.

Sardine numbers have been in severe decline along the entire West Coast this season, prompting U.S. fisheries authorities to slash catch limits. Fears abound that the fishery's decline will reverberate through the coming years, if not decades. It's happened before: Monterey, Calif.'s famed Cannery Row turned into a ghost town following a sardine collapse in 1950s.

Fishermen lucky enough to come across schools of sardines off the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington during the first six months of next year will be allowed to haul in no more than 5,446 metric tons of the baitfish, down nearly 70 percent from the quota this year. The Associated Press reports:

"Marci Yaremko of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife says the [Pacific Fishery Management Council] decided to take an even more precautionary approach than management guidelines call for because the current assessment was lacking some information, such as surveys showing too few sardines are being born to replace the ones that are caught or eaten by other fish."
[Read more...]

U.S. seeks $864 million from Bank of America after fraud verdict (9 November 2013)
(Reuters) - The U.S. government urged that Bank of America Corp pay $863.6 million in damages after a federal jury found it liable for fraud over defective mortgages sold by its Countrywide unit.

In a filing late Friday in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the government also asked for penalties against Rebecca Mairone, a former midlevel executive at the bank's Countrywide unit who the jury also found liable, "commensurate with her ability to pay."

The government said the penalties were necessary to punish the bank and Mairone "and to send a clear and unambiguous message that mortgage fraud for profit will not be tolerated."

Bank of America and Mairone were each found liable for defrauding government-controlled mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac through the sale of shoddy loans purchased from Countrywide in 2007 and 2008.

The case centered on a mortgage lending process at Countrywide, which Bank of America bought in July 2008, known as the "High Speed Swim Lane," or alternatively "HSSL" or "Hustle."
[Read more...]

Foreigners' cash seen fueling higher Mexican oil production (9 November 2013)
"To me, it's very clear that the future of Mexican manufacturing depends on the access of sufficient cost-effective energy," Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal said. "Today, Mexico has to import 40 percent of the (natural) gas we have to use in the industrial sector. We were not able to invest enough to produce our own gas. And we have plenty of gas in the underground."

Proximity alone has Texas' energy industry leaders eying opportunities to invest in what remain largely untapped mineral resources.

The booming Eagle Ford Shale may be even more abundant in northern Mexico, though there's already debate over the enormous investment costs and potential effects on the environment.

Guajardo, appointed secretary of the economy by President Enrique Peña Nieto last Dec. 1, was in town to meet privately with business leaders and Mayor Julián Castro, and to address the Association of Mexican Entrepreneurs. His visit coincided with a Border Energy Forum attended by U.S. and Mexican energy sector leaders.

Texas companies are watching closely, but interest in Peña Nieto's efforts to open Mexico's energy industry to foreign investment is global.
[Read more...]

As high-speed rail project falters, Obama's vision of government remains unfulfilled (9 November 2013)
Milwaukee -- The gleaming red-and-white trains sit motionless in a cavernous warehouse in Century City, an industrial neighborhood that cranked out 100 million car and truck frames in its heyday. The seats are draped in plastic; an electronic screen on one reads, "Quiet Car. 11:10 a.m. 000 MPH."

President Obama once hoped that these high-speed trains would be transporting passengers from Milwaukee to Madison, Wis., part of a broader system crisscrossing the Midwest and the nation.

But Wisconsin's Republican governor, Scott Walker , rejected $823 million in funding that the federal government was offering, and the Transportation Department transferred the funds to California. The two trains now sit idle, with five employees of a Spanish manufacturer left behind to tend them.

High-speed rail was once a central part of Obama's vision for government -- one in which the nation's infrastructure, schools and health-care systems would be modernized to meet the challenges of globalization and expand the middle class.

But the abandoned Wisconsin rail project, and several others around the country, illustrate just how difficult -- and incomplete -- the effort has been. Even as he managed to get the federal government up and running again this past month, Obama's larger project of redefining what government should do has been stymied by steady Republican opposition and public disenchantment with political leaders. And chronic problems with the rollout of provisions of the new health-care law have made Obama's sales pitch even harder.
[Read more...]

UW-Madison eye research center lays off entire staff amid $4.6 million deficit (9 November 2013)
The UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health has laid off all 60 employees from a nationally known eye research center after learning the center had run up a deficit of $4.6 million.

The Fundus Photograph Reading Center faces an uncertain future after its staff was told of the layoffs at an Oct. 14 meeting. Four of the 60 employees either retired or were reassigned, said Lisa Brunette, media relations director for UW Health.

Started in 1972, the center is responsible for assisting in research trials of treatments for macular degeneration and other retina diseases.

"There are plans to establish a smaller unit to provide services in a way that can be sustained financially," Brunette said in an email about the future of Fundus. She didn't elaborate.

Details were scarce about what led to the downfall of the once-thriving research center, an arm of the UW-Madison ophthalmology department that relied on a steady stream of research dollars from big pharmaceutical companies and government agencies doing clinical trials to test new treatments for retina diseases.
[Read more...]

Toll plaintiffs seek another hearing by Va. high court (9 November 2013)
The Hampton Roads plaintiffs who sued to stop tolls on the Downtown and Midtown tunnels want the Supreme Court of Virginia to take another look at their argument.

Patrick McSweeney, the attorney for the residents and businesses, filed notice Friday of his intent to seek a rehearing in the case. The justices unanimously ruled against his clients on Oct. 31, reversing a lower court's ruling that the tolls were unconstitutional taxes.

The basis for a rehearing rests on the assertion that the justices did not consider one or more of the plaintiffs' arguments before rendering their decision, McSweeney said.

He declined to say what specific points the plaintiffs contend the justices did not weigh in their deliberations. That will be specified in their petition for a rehearing, which must be filed within 20 days, McSweeney said. Friday's action simply gave the court notice that they intend to file such a petition.
[Read more...]

McAuliffe hits the ground running, tries to lower tolls (9 November 2013)
Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe will try to renegotiate the terms of the Midtown and Downtown tunnel project to lower the tolls that are set to begin Feb. 1, spokesmen for his campaign and transition team said.

His chances for success - and what it would cost - remain to be seen. McAuliffe thinks something can be done with the extra revenue flowing to the state from the taxes and fees that lawmakers passed last winter under landmark road legislation.

In an email days before the election, McAuliffe campaign spokesman Josh Schwerin said, "With the new funds from the transportation bill we are now in a much better position to negotiate and get a better deal for Hampton Roads residents."

For McAuliffe, delivering on his tolls promise would mark an emphatic start to his administration's relationship with Hampton Roads residents on transportation matters. He also has expressed support for extending light rail in Hampton Roads, and there has been talk that his cabinet pick for secretary of transportation is Virginia Beach resident Aubrey Layne.
[Read more...]

"The NFL's Bully Problem": Sports Columnist Dave Zirin Connects Violence in Sports to Rape Culture (8 November 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
DAVE ZIRIN: It needs to be discussed. You know, the U.S. Marine Corps has had a uniform code against hazing since 1997, so even the U.S. Marine Corps realizing that they need to have some sort of structure to try to stop the abuse of people that only happens because someone is seen to be as weak, you know, by the perceptions of the Marines. The NFL has no kind of guidelines against hazing whatsoever, no kinds of guidelines against bullying. And let's call this for what it is: I mean, it's racist harassment.

And anybody out there listening who might think, "Well, this is just a sports issue, what have you," think about other stories that have been in the media recently, with names like Steubenville or Maryville or Torrington, Connecticut, instances where you see this connective tissue between jock culture and rape culture. All of these things are very connected, like this idea where you get young men in a very violent kind of group mentality that says that, frankly, that things like violence are theirs for the taking, women are theirs for the taking, by any means necessary. And it creates, I think, a very, very destructive climate that puts terrible social cues out to the general public.

AMY GOODMAN: This is what Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall had to say about the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal.

DAVE ZIRIN: I love this quote.

BRANDON MARSHALL: A little boy falls down, the first thing we say as parents is, "Get up, shake it off. You'll be OK. You know, don't cry." When a little girl falls down, what we say? "It's going to be OK." We validate their feelings. So right there, from that moment, we're teaching our men, you know, to mask their feelings, don't show their emotions. And it's that times a hundred with football players. Can't show that you're hurt. You can't show any pain. So, for a guy that comes in the locker room and he shows a little vulnerability, you know, that's a problem. So that's what I mean by the culture of the NFL. And that's what we have to change.
[Read more...]

Crude oil tank cars ablaze after train derails in Alabama (8 November 2013)
ALICEVILLE, Alabama (Reuters) - Several oil tank cars that burst into flames after a train derailed in rural Alabama were expected to keep burning into Saturday, potentially reigniting the push for tougher regulation of the boom in moving oil by rail.

Twenty-five of the train's 90 cars derailed near a 60-foot-long wooden trestle in the early hours of Friday morning, and a number were still on fire 18 hours later, operator Genesee & Wyoming Inc said. They were sending flames hundreds of feet high that could be seen from over 10 miles away.

No injuries were reported, but an unknown amount of crude oil spilled into an adjacent marshland, Genesee said. State officials said the oil had been contained, partly thanks to a nearby beaver dam that had already slowed the flow of water. The cause of the incident is under investigation.

A local official said the crude oil had originated in North Dakota, home of the booming Bakken shale patch. If so, it may have been carrying the same type of light crude oil that was on a Canadian train that derailed in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic this summer, killing 47 people.
[Read more...]

EPA officers sickened by fumes at South L.A. oil field (8 November 2013)
Federal environmental officers were sickened by toxic vapors as they toured a south Los Angeles urban oil field whose emissions are blamed by neighbors for a variety of ailments, an EPA official said Friday.

Jared Blumenfeld, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest, was among those stricken by the fumes during the recent tour of the Allenco Energy Co. site in University Park, about a half-mile north of USC.

"I've been to oil and gas production facilities throughout the region, but I've never had an experience like that before," Bumenfeld said. "We suffered sore throats, coughing and severe headaches that lingered for hours."

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) on Friday urged Allenco to suspend operations immediately pending completion of an EPA investigation, which was prompted by hundreds of complaints from neighbors who blame the noxious odors for persistent respiratory ailments, headaches, nausea and nosebleeds.

Boxer said EPA investigators who toured the site Oct. 24 "told me that they saw a shoddy operation. They saw oil on the ground. They saw pipes held up by 2-by-4s. This cannot go on."
[Read more...]

Solar panels get more efficient when they listen to pop music (8 November 2013)
Like all of us who listen to Spotify while we work, zinc oxide solar panels appear to get 50 percent more efficient when they're played rock or pop music, according to one study from the U.K. Quit trying to make new solar solutions, boffins, and just crank up the HAIM!

The study found that all noise boosted performance on the zinc oxide panels, which isn't hard -- they usually rate a pathetic 1.2 percent efficiency and have nowhere to go but up. Rock and pop worked best, though, probably because they contain a wide range of frequencies.

Of course, that means the solar panels were only up to a whopping 1.8 percent efficiency -- not very impressive. And unless you were going to hire a live band, you'd need some form of electricity to play the music at the panels in the first place. In other words, zinc oxide plus Lady Gaga is definitely not a coal-killer. Still, knowing about the effects of sound on solar efficiency might be useful for future designs. And it was probably a fun experiment to conduct -- though not as fun as the time they did basically the same experiment with sea lions...
[Read more...]

We all start out as scientists, but then some of us forget (8 November 2013)
Up until fairly recently, scientists, writers and philosophers alike have viewed human babies as little more than primitive adults. Through love and attention, babies were to be shaped into autonomous thinkers -- like us. It was almost as if their brains were like new computers, whose software we needed to install over time.

But in the past few decades, explains University of California-Berkeley psychologist Alison Gopnik, science has turned this view on its head. Not only are babies' brains structurally quite different from those of adults, but they also function in a way that makes them better than adults at learning new things. In other words, babies seem to be specially designed for exploration and finding out how things work. They're little scientists ... at least, that is, until those exploratory habits get replaced over time by less flexible thinking styles.

"Babies have many, many more neural connections being formed, many more synapses being formed, than we adults do," says Gopnik. "So it's as if early on, we have this brain that is really designed for learning, a brain that's very flexible and plastic and responds a lot to experiences. And then later on, as we get older, we have a brain that's more sort of a lean, mean machine, really designed to do things well, but not nearly as flexible, not nearly as good at learning something new."

[Read more...]

Gardasil caused early menopause and ovarian failure, two Wisconsin sisters allege (8 November 2013)
(http://abcnews.go.com) Merck's Gardasil vaccine has claimed two new victims. Two young Wisconsin sisters, Madelyne and Olivia Meylor, who are respectively 20 and 19 years old, have recently experienced ovarian failure, where their ovaries have stopped producing eggs. The two sisters claim that the HPV vaccine Gardasil is to blame. The Meylors have also developed premature menopause, causing them to suffer from insomnia, night sweats, head aches and infertility, most likely, for the rest of their lives.

According to ABC News, Mark Krueger, the attorney representing the sisters, said that this "is the first allegation of its kind to reach a hearing through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, a special court established to evaluate claims of harm from vaccines."

Merck and Co., the maker of the Gardasil, is denying any relationship between the girls' condition and the controversial vaccine. Gardasil has been linked to ovarian failure in at least one 16-year-old Australian girl, and it also leads other vaccines with the highest rates of miscarriages.

Tests for possible genetic causes of the condition have come back negative for both women. They now have to rely on using birth control pills or patches for hormone replacement. The hearing of their case is set for Thursday and Friday in Washington, D.C.
[Read more...]

FDA action would effectively ban trans fats (8 November 2013)
The long war on trans fats may be drawing to a close.

The government proposed new rules Thursday that would all but ban the artery-clogging fats, a move that will force makers of margarine, frozen pizza and other processed foods to reformulate their products.

Under the new rules, the Food and Drug Administration has declared that partially hydrogenated oils, the source of trans fats, are a food additive no longer "generally recognized as safe."

That would require companies wishing to use the ingredient to first seek approval from the FDA, which is unlikely to grant permission given the volume of research linking trans fats to heart disease.
[Read more...]

Big Food Wants to Crush the GMO Labeling Movement (8 November 2013)
In my post yesterday on the defeat of Washington state's GMO labeling initiative, I speculated that the junk-food industry, which had poured millions into defeating the measure, might support a national label.

My logic was this: Coke, Pepsi, Nestlé, etc, profitably operate in Europe, where GMO ingredients are scarce and labeling is mandatory. Presumably, they could do so in the United States, too. Eventually, I figured, they'd tire of fighting the agrichemical/GMO seed industry's fight. I pointed to a statement made yesterday by the Big Food trade group the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), to the effect that it would advocate for "national standards for the safety and labeling of products made with GMO ingredients."

Boy, was I naive. According to GMA documents uncovered by the public-health lawyer and writer Michele Simon, Big Food has no intention of laying down its lobbying or campaign finance swords on the labeling fight. Quite the opposite, in fact. Simon got hold of the documents after the Washington state Attorney General's Office sued the GMA for having "illegally collected and spent more than $7 million" to fight the labeling initiative "while shielding the identity of its contributors." To settle the matter, GMA revealed the names of the companies, which turned out to include Pepsi, Coca-Cola, General Mills, and Nestlé USA. Simon told me that she caught wind that the AG's office had obtained the GMA documents during its investigation, and she in turn obtained from the AG's office under a Washington open-records statute. But not before the GMA was given the opportunity to redact portions of the documents.

Even so, the docs contain some juicy stuff. Scroll down to the February 18, 2013, "Privileged and Confidential Memorandum" document, which spells out GMA's labeling agenda. It reports that at a January 19 meeting, GMA's board of directors "coalesced in support of a multi-pronged approach" to "address the challenges presented by proposals for mandatory labeling of any product containing GMOs." Here's what came next...
[Read more...]

Another Obamacare surprise: Major hospitals all across the country not included under new insurance plans (8 November 2013)
(NaturalNews) As if the millions of Americans set to lose their existing health insurance coverage as a result of Obamacare was not bad enough, a recent survey by Watchdog.org has found that many top hospitals across the nation will no longer be accessible to the average person with a new "eligible" plan. In fact, many major hospitals are being excluded from Obamacare coverage altogether, which means that millions of previously covered individuals will have to settle for subpar care at other "in-network" facilities.

Based on the results of the survey, most of the nation's top hospitals, including renowned facilities like Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, will only be accepting insurance from one or two companies included as part of Obamacare. This means that all the other insurance plans offered on the Obamacare exchanges will be ineligible, and many patients will be required to go to other facilities, even if their previous insurance plans were accepted by these same hospitals.

"Americans who sign up for Obamacare will be getting a big surprise if they expect to access premium health care that may have been previously covered under their personal policies," explains U.S. News & World Report about the report's findings. "Most of the top hospitals will accept insurance from just one or two companies operating under Obamacare."

Included in the survey were 18 revered medical centers across the country, as ranked by U.S. News for 2013-2014. Investigators contacted each of these hospitals to inquire about their contracts with insurance companies, how plans would be handled under Obamacare and who would be covered. They found that almost every hospital would not be accepting the vast majority of insurance plans offered under Obamacare, because the carriers are considered "out of network."
[Read more...]

New rules require equal insurance coverage for mental ills (8 November 2013)
President Barack Obama's health care reform law requires that all individual and employer-based health insurance policies, including those sold on the state-based insurance exchanges, cover mental health and substance abuse as one of 10 "essential health benefits." The only exceptions are those few plans that have been unchanged since the law was signed in March 2010.

As a result, the final rules on mental-health parity have already been largely incorporated into plans sold since Oct. 1 on the online exchanges set up under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. They are also part of most employer-based plans, according to the administration, which estimates that mental-health treatments make up 5 percent of the benefits that plans pay for.

Loopholes remain, however.

The parity rules do not apply to standard Medicaid plans, the joint federal-state program for poor Americans. If states require Medicaid beneficiaries to enroll in managed-care plans, however, those plans must cover mental-health treatment.

A bigger loophole is that the rules do not apply to Medicare, the government-run health care program for the elderly.

The 2008 parity law included that exemption "because it was a cost issue," said Andrew Sperling, director of legislative advocacy for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. "They would have had to make up the additional costs elsewhere" by cutting other benefits, "and Congress didn't want to do that."
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"We Are Living in the World Occupy Made": New York City Voters Elect Mayor Who Vows to Tax the Rich (8 November 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
DAN CANTOR: That's correct. New York has this unusual voting system, legal in a half a dozen states or so, in which a candidate can appear twice on the ballot under two separate lines. It's a way for the minor party to add a little oomph to its vote. Vote for de Blasio, we say, or our City Council candidates, but send them a message about taxes or healthcare or housing, whatever the issues are. And then the votes are added together for the final tally. It's just a way to put a little extra message into the vote.

But the real work is almost always inside the Democratic Party primary, and that's where Working Families has focused its efforts both in New York and in other states trying to get progressives elected. You know, that's how you do it. And it's hard and messy, but it--when it works, as it did this last week in New York, it's a very exciting moment.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Dan, one of the things I raised in my column in the Daily News earlier this week, that this is perhaps the most--not only is it the first Democtratic mayor in 20 years, but it's really perhaps the most progressive overall government the City of New York has seen in maybe 50 years. You have to go back to the time of John Lindsay, the liberal Republican, to see a comparable situation, because it's not just the mayor, but it's the public advocate, Letitia James, that you also supported. It's the--all of these members in the City Council--

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The Loophole That Allows Facebook to Avoid Paying Taxes on Billions of Earnings (8 November 2013)
Most Americans assume that Silicon Valley, a shining beacon of US economic growth, will give a lot of dough back to Uncle Sam over the next few years. But thanks to a controversial loophole in US tax code, 12 tech companies--including Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin--are poised to avoid paying income taxes on their next $11.4 billion in earnings, netting the companies a collective savings of $4 billion, according to a report put out this week by the Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ).

The way the law stands now, US companies get big tax deductions when they pay their employees in stock options. For example, if an executive is given the option to buy a million shares of a company at five cents a share and later cashes those options in when they're selling for $20 a share, the company can deduct the price difference in tax breaks, even though they never actually paid that higher salary. This is especially profitable to emerging industries, like tech, where companies give stock options to young executives when they're still coding out of their parents' basements. These tech employees have an incentive to stay with the company over the long-term, and then cash in once the company is profitable. That means that companies get to store these tax breaks until--ta-da!--they're not paying income taxes for years. Here's how much these 12 companies have saved... [click original article link for chart]

Twitter is the latest company that stands to profit from this, since it just went public. But in this latest report, CTJ determined that Facebook still has the highest amount of stock deductions to cash in--about $6.2 billion worth, allowing it to avoid income taxes for almost five years. And it's not just tech companies. In April, CTJ found that 280 Fortune 500 companies have benefited from this break in the last three years alone.

Tony Nitti from Forbes argues that even with this loophole, Uncle Sam isn't losing money, since as Facebook deducts $5 billion in taxes from Mark Zuckerberg's stock, Zuckerberg is taxed on $5 billion in income, and the individual rate is higher than the corporate rate. Facebook did not immediately respond to comment on the report, but a spokesperson told the Huffington Post earlier this year that "it's a mistake to look at only the corporate tax revenue while ignoring the billions of taxes paid from initial shareholders."​
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Big Virginia metro areas propel shift toward Democrats (8 November 2013)
The seeds of Terry McAuliffe's gubernatorial victory blossomed in Virginia's population centers, where changing demographics are remaking the state's once-crimson political DNA.

Voters from Hampton Roads, Northern Virginia and the Richmond area formed an electoral backbone that made the Democrat the first governor elected from the party of the sitting president in 36 years. Election deficits in those regions spelled doom for Ken Cuccinelli, and they suggest cause for concern by his party as the political muscle of those communities swells.

Yet in the aftermath of two statewide election defeats - the ultra-close attorney general race appears headed for a recount - some party elders seem uninterested in wholesale change.

They blame Cuccinelli's loss on other issues: the 145,773 votes Libertarian Robert Sarvis siphoned, and a $15 million cash edge for McAuliffe, who won by about 55,700 votes among 2.2 million cast. Exit polls give a different view: that Sarvis wasn't a drag on Cuccinelli.
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Tesla Model S fires lead to investor lawsuit (8 November 2013)
In a fitting finale to a week Tesla Motors executives would rather forget, a law firm announced Friday that it had filed a class-action suit against the electric car maker for allegedly misleading investors over the fire risk posed by the company's Model S sedan.

The firm of Pomerantz Grossman Hufford Dahlstrom & Gross accused Tesla of making misleading statements about the car's safety, in spite of "undisclosed puncture and fire risks" that the law firm attributes to "material defects" in the Model S battery pack.

On Wednesday, a Model S caught fire on a Tennessee freeway after striking a metal towing hitch lying in the road. The hitch punctured the electric car's battery pack, which lies beneath the floorboards and is protected from the road by a steel shield. It was the third Model S fire in six weeks, and it helped drive down the company's stock.

Reviewers have given the Model S high marks for safety, and the car scored higher on tests from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration than any other U.S. vehicle. But the new suit alleges that the car "suffered from material defects which caused the battery pack to ignite and erupt in flames under certain driving conditions."
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Why Doctors Stay Mum About Mistakes Their Colleagues Make (8 November 2013)
By some estimates, medical errors are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Physicians often see the mistakes made by their peers, which puts them in a sticky ethical situation: Should they tell the patient about a mistake made by a different doctor? Too often they do not.

A new report in The New England Journal of Medicine, "Talking With Patients About Other Clinicians' Errors," suggests it's a common problem.

The report's lead author, Dr. Thomas Gallagher, an internist and professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, said he conducted a survey of doctors in which more than half said that, in the prior year, they identified at least one error by a colleague. (The survey, unrelated to the NEMJ report, did not ask what the doctors did about it, Gallagher said.)

There's wide agreement in the medical community that doctors have an ethical duty to disclose their own errors to patients, Gallagher said. But there's been less discussion about what physicians should do when they discover that someone else's mistake.
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Is Pentagon response to sexual assault broken? Clash over new bill. (7 November 2013)
The Pentagon disclosed Thursday that there has been a surge in reports of sexual assault this year -- an increase of nearly 50 percent compared with the same time period last year.

This could be either good news or very bad news for the Pentagon, depending on how US lawmakers interpret the upswing.

Military officials who have long been grappling with the problem of sexual assault within the ranks -- and promising Congress they will do better -- no doubt hope that lawmakers see it as a sign of victims' increased confidence in a system that is encouraging them to come forward.

A number of Pentagon officials have cautioned that such a spike in reports is just what they expect to see as they take steps to protect US troops who say they've been raped from what such troops often describe as a brutal military justice process.
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Torture on Tape: Disturbing Video Shows U.S. Special Forces Observing Brutal Afghan Interrogation (7 November 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Let's go to another story from Afghanistan. Rolling Stone has just posted this video online, which shows a prisoner being whipped by Afghan security forces, as what appears to be two identified American military officers look on--unidentified American military officers look on. Let's go to a clip. This is--video is extremely violent and disturbing.


AMY GOODMAN: For those who were just listening, we see what looks like Western soldiers at the back of this. Can you describe, Matt? This has just gone on Rolling Stone.

MATTHIEU AIKINS: This appears to be--now, I just want to say, we don't know exactly who is in this video. It's not related to the particular team that was in Wardak province. But it appears to be a group of translators, and possibly Afghan army soldiers, holding down a man and whipping him as they interrogate him. They ask him if he has any weapons, and he pleads with them, saying he'll tell them anything, as two American soldiers look on. By their appearance and their facial hair, they appear to be probably U.S. Army Special Forces, Green Berets. So they could be military intelligence. They could be a few different things. The camouflage pattern on their pants didn't really show up in Afghanistan until 2010, '11, so the video is probably relatively recent.

AMY GOODMAN: So where does this all go right now? I mean, so you have the A-Team, and you think they are sort of quarantined at Fort Bragg. The U.S. military says they're investigating this. The U.S. government says they're pulling out of Afghanistan. It's these Special Forces, at this point, that would stay, forces like this?

MATTHIEU AIKINS: Yeah, I think what really is worrying is that as the conventional American forces leave, this dirty war is just going to be handed off to Special Forces and the CIA, and they're going to have carte blanche to, you know, stick around for scenes like that, to work with allies who are known abusers of human rights, to transfer detainees into prisons where we know people are being tortured, and just escape any form of oversight or congressional, you know, oversight, for example, because they fall under the rubric of covert or classified operations.
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War Crimes in Afghanistan? 10 Bodies of Abducted Villagers Found Outside U.S. Special Forces Base (7 November 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Why don't you start off by just laying out your findings?

MATTHIEU AIKINS: Well, essentially, what we did was we interviewed dozens of witnesses, family members of the victims, officials who had investigated--there was investigations done, confidential ones, by both the U.N. and the Red Cross, as well as the Afghan government--and laid out what had happened in this isolated valley, because, you know, even though these allegations emerged last winter and continued into the spring and were quite controversial, led to local demonstrations, no one really knew who this mysterious unit was, if they were CIA, if they were some sort of Special Forces team. The military had, right up until they opened this criminal investigation, categorically denied any responsibility.

So, what we did is we laid out a timeline of what happened, and we discovered who this unit was. We established conclusively that these men who disappeared were picked up by American forces, often in these mass roundups in villages in broad daylight. So it's not a question of whether they were picked up by them; it's a question of what happened to them afterwards. And then, in the end, we were able to actually identify the unit and even get in to see this translator, Zikria Kandahari.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Now, long before the American military launched its investigation, this had become a major issue in Afghanistan, with President Karzai actually demanding that the U.S. troops on that base be removed. Could you talk about that? And when did that happen?

MATTHIEU AIKINS: The--as you mentioned, these incidents started in November, but they really reached a sort of fever point in February, when a body of a student named Nasratullah was found, you know, with his throat slit under a bridge.
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Government shutdown didn't save money. It cost $2 billion, report says. (+video) (7 November 2013)
The federal government's partial shutdown last month was a costly exercise in agreeing to disagree. Now we know exactly how costly.

Or at least, we have a preliminary price tag estimated by the Obama administration.

The roughly two-week hiatus in many federal operations represents "cost of lost productivity" exceeding $2 billion, says Sylvia Mathews Burwell, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

That's not an estimate of the total economic costs of the shutdown. It's just the cost that accrues to taxpayers from taking thousands of federal employees off the job, not getting any work out of them for a couple of weeks, and then restoring their lost pay after the shutdown ended.
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The Scott Walker Effect: Helping Democrats Win and Republicans Lose (7 November 2013)
Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli counted on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to provide the conservative candidate with some of the "star power" he needed to get him elected November 5.

It didn't work.

The Cuccinelli campaign scheduled a high-profile rally in Spotsylvania on the Saturday before the election--hoping for a rip-roaring event that would put a picture of the candidate, his surrogate and a huge crowd on the front pages of Virginia's Sunday morning papers.

The campaign used social media and phone calls to invite backers to come greet the anti-union firebrand from Wisconsin. They produced a poster featuring pictures of the Virginian and the Wisconsinite and the message: "Join Ken Cuccinelli for an Exciting Rally with Scott Walker!" Pat Mullins, the chairman of the Virginia Republican Party declared, "Scott is the type of governor that Ken will be here in Virginia, someone that's not afraid to stand up to Big Labor."

On Saturday, when the candidate and his star surrogate showed up for the rally they were greeted not by thousands of supporters but by... "about 150 people."
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President Obama apologizes to Americans who are losing their health insurance (7 November 2013)
President Obama apologized Thursday to Americans who are losing their health insurance despite his repeated promises that they wouldn't, an unusual act of contrition for a president who has come under heavy criticism for misleading the public.

"I am sorry that they, you know, are finding themselves in this situation, based on assurances they got from me," Obama said in an interview with NBC News. "We've got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and that we're going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this."

The president said he had asked his staff to see whether there was an administrative fix to preserve insurance for some Americans who may have lost their coverage and do not qualify for subsidies that would make new policies affordable.

"I've assigned my team to see what we can do to close some of the holes and gaps in the law," he said, "because, you know, my intention is to lift up and make sure the insurance that people buy is effective -- that it's actually going to deliver what they think they're purchasing."
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Toronto mayor in fresh controversy as video surfaces of drunken rant (7 November 2013)
Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto who this week admitted to having smoked crack cocaine, has become embroiled in a fresh controversy after the publication of a video which shows him shouting abuse and making threats.

Ford apologised to the people of Toronto on Tuesday after making his extraordinary crack cocaine admission, but has refused to bow to mounting pressure from federal and council officials to step down and get help for his problems.

A new video, published by the Toronto Star on Thursday, shows Ford staggering around a room, talking to someone out of sight.

"I'm gonna kill that fucking guy. I'm telling you, it's first-degree murder," Ford rants, in a tirade directed at an unknown person. "No hold barred, bro. He dies or I die, brother. ... I'll rip his fucking throat out. I'll poke his eyes out ... I'll make sure that motherfucker's dead," Ford says, gesticulating with his hands as if engaged in a violent fight.
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Rob Ford caught on video in violent rant (7 November 2013)
Rob Ford , the mayor of Canada's largest city, has been caught on video in an impaired rant saying he is going to kill someone and "rip his f---ing throat out."

Ford slurs his words as he staggers around an unknown dining room, apparently high, ranting gibberish and gesticulating wildly.

"I'm gonna kill that f---ing guy. I'm telling you, it's first-degree murder," Ford rages as someone in the room secretly uses a cellphone to film the chief magistrate's addled tirade.

Moments after the Star published the video online, Ford emerged from his office and apologized.

"The Toronto Star just released a video that I was very, very inebriated."
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Exclusive: Snowden persuaded other NSA workers to give up passwords - sources (7 November 2013)
(Reuters) - Former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden used login credentials and passwords provided unwittingly by colleagues at a spy base in Hawaii to access some of the classified material he leaked to the media, sources said.

A handful of agency employees who gave their login details to Snowden were identified, questioned and removed from their assignments, said a source close to several U.S. government investigations into the damage caused by the leaks.

Snowden may have persuaded between 20 and 25 fellow workers at the NSA regional operations center in Hawaii to give him their logins and passwords by telling them they were needed for him to do his job as a computer systems administrator, a second source said.

The revelation is the latest to indicate that inadequate security measures at the NSA played a significant role in the worst breach of classified data in the super-secret eavesdropping agency's 61-year history.
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PAM COMMENTARY: This story sounds a little "out there" because as a Network Administrator, he didn't need their passwords unless their accounts were managed by a different administrator whose rights didn't overlap with Snowden's.

Despite 'untested' drug cocktail, judge says Ohio inmate will be executed (7 November 2013)
Despite concerns over a cocktail of lethal injection drugs that has never-before been used in the United States, a federal judge rejected a convicted child killer's request Thursday to stay an execution slated for next week.

In September, Ohio Department of Corrections ran out of pentobarbital to carry out Ronald Phillips' Nov. 14 planned execution after the Danish manufacturer of the drug, Lundbeck LLC, banned its sale to prisons or corrections departments for death penalty use. The state said it will turn to a new method using an intravenous combination of the sedative midazolam and hydromorphone, a painkiller, to put Phillips to death.

Human and legal rights campaigners have aired concern over the drugs, claiming that their usage is untested and risks an ordeal tantamount to torture.

Phillips, 40, was sentenced to die for raping and killing Sheila Marie Evans, the 3-year-old daughter of his girlfriend, in 1993, after a long period of abusing the girl.
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3rd Model S fire drives down Tesla stock (7 November 2013)
For the third time in six weeks, a Tesla Motors Model S sedan has caught on fire following a traffic accident.

And the electric car company's once untouchable stock took a beating as a result.

The latest blaze happened Wednesday afternoon in central Tennessee, when a Model S ran over a metal towing hitch lying in the middle of a freeway lane. The hitch struck the underside of the car, starting what the Tennessee Highway Patrol characterized as an electrical fire. The driver, a local orthopedic surgeon, pulled over and exited the car, uninjured.

"We have been in contact with the driver, who was not injured and believes the car saved his life," said Tesla spokeswoman Liz Jarvis-Shean. "Our team is on its way to Tennessee to learn more about what happened in the accident."
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Exxon fined for Arkansas spill, sued over Yellowstone spill, and still just keeps making piles of money (7 November 2013)
The federal government wants to fine Exxon $2.7 million for the March oil spill from its 70-year-old pipeline in Mayflower, Ark. The ruptured pipe spewed 5,000 gallons of tar-sands oil and triggered the evacuation of 22 houses, some of which had to be bulldozed.

The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration sent a letter [PDF] to the Exxon Mobil Pipeline Co. on Wednesday proposing the civil penalty because the company failed to heed test results and take other steps that could have prevented the spill. The fine isn't final yet; Exxon has 30 days to file an appeal. And an appeal seems likely considering that Exxon is claiming PHMSA's analysis contains "fundamental errors."

Meanwhile, Montana and the U.S. Department of Interior informed Exxon last week that they plan to sue the company over a 63,000-gallon oil spill from a pipeline two years ago in the Yellowstone River. That's on top of $3.4 million in state and federal fines that have already been assessed. From the Associated Press:

"The move puts Exxon on notice that Montana and the Department of Interior expect the company to make up for harm done to wildlife and their habitat. The company also is being asked to pay for long-term environmental studies and for lost opportunities for fishing and recreation during and since the cleanup."
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With Wins for de Blasio, Minimum Wage and Tea Party Losses, Voters Signal Rejection of Austerity (6 November 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
Welcome back to Democracy Now!, John. So, let's go through the big races--New York, New Jersey, Virginia.

JOHN NICHOLS: If you watch kind of national media in the--at the top line, what you're going to hear is "Christie, Christie, Christie." But the reality is, Chris Christie was the outlier yesterday. If you look across the country, it was a quite remarkable off-year election. Usually in the second term of a president, the other party does very, very well in these elections. It's a way for people to kind of let off steam. And instead, the fact of the matter is Democrats won--it looks like they may have won every major office in Virginia. The attorney general's race there is still very close. They definitely won governor. They definitely won lieutenant governor. It's almost a tie on attorney general. But the last time that happened in the second term of a Democratic president, the Democratic president was Franklin Roosevelt.

AMY GOODMAN: But even with Chris Christie, just a quick comment. Let's remember that the race for the Senate, Cory Booker--

JOHN NICHOLS: They put it off schedule.
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Election | McAuliffe wins close Virginia governor race (6 November 2013)
Democrats won two of Virginia's three statewide offices Tuesday, including a redeeming victory for governor-elect Terry McAuliffe, but missed out on a historic sweep for the party. McAuliffe, 56, won in a nail-biter despite a massive fundraising edge that he used to relentlessly wallop Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and claim his first publicly elected post.

For months, polling showed McAuliffe significantly leading Cuccinelli, who appeared to close that gap by turning his late-race focus to the disastrous rollout of the federal health care act.

Although narrower than expected, McAuliffe's win in the unofficial count was greater than the 1 percent threshold for a recount under state law, seemingly taking that option off the table for Cuccinelli.

Neither Republican Mark Obenshain nor Democrat Mark Herring, the two candidates for attorney general, appeared on stage Tuesday night with their ticket mates, a sign of the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of their race. An attorney general recount isn't uncharted territory for Virginia -- the state had one to settle the 2005 race for that office.
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Close result in Va. governor's race hardens GOP divisions (6 November 2013)
Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe's unexpectedly slim victory in Virginia set off an explosion of recriminations among Republicans on Wednesday, and rather than settling the battle between the GOP's tea party and business factions, the election appears to have deepened the internal divide.

If lessons emerged from Tuesday's vote, they were almost instantly lost in the volley of finger-pointing that began even before the polls closed. Republican Ken Cuccinelli II's narrow loss, despite what opinion surveys had consistently called a comfortable lead for McAuliffe, left the candidate's camp accusing national party organizations of abandoning their man in the closest major race in the nation this year.

Party officials said it was Cuccinelli who had failed to raise money from mainstream Republican sources skeptical of his hard-line rhetoric and uncompromising conservatism.

"The lesson is that a party divided is going to lose," said Pete Snyder, a Northern Virginia technology entrepreneur who served as Cuccinelli's finance chairman. "The Democrats weren't happy with their candidate, but they were united. Ken Cuccinelli had to deal with Melrose Place."
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The GOP's Poverty Denialism (6 November 2013)
Here is how little the Republicans care about the increasingly harrowing situation of the poor: they can't even be roused to blame President Obama for it--because to do so they'd have to acknowledge that it matters.

The news recently has been full of stories of mounting desperation in America. In The New Yorker, Ian Frazier reported that there are now more homeless people in New York City than at any time since the concept of "modern homelessness" arose in the 1970s. Nationwide, new Education Department data reveal that the number of homeless schoolchildren has hit a record high of 1.2 million. Meanwhile, on November 1, the benefits of every food stamp recipient in the country were cut by an average of 7 percent and already overburdened food banks prepared to ration distributions or turn people away. "It is too bad we have come to this in our country," the head of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

In a minimally functioning political system, there would be a debate about potential solutions to these unfolding disasters. After all, conservatives once claimed they had superior answers to the problems of poverty. Richard Nixon lambasted welfare for encouraging family breakups and penalizing work, but he sought to replace it with a guaranteed minimum income. Poverty obsessed 1996 vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp, who used to call himself a "bleeding-heart conservative." George W. Bush dubbed himself a "compassionate conservative" and made the channeling of public funds to religious charities a signature issue. There was much to criticize in conservative approaches to poverty, but they at least emerged from a modest political consensus that the suffering of the poor was real and that something should be done about it.

Now, instead, we see on the right a combination of poverty denialism and outright contempt. Fox News constantly regales its viewers with tales of the lavish lifestyles of aid recipients. Between food stamps and tax credits, Fox's Charles Payne argued in March, "it gets a little comfortable to be in poverty." A recurring Fox segment called "Entitlement Nation" begins with an animated grasping hand smashing through a map of the United States. Recently, it featured a libertarian think-tanker criticizing free school lunches on the grounds that poor kids suffer from "obesity, and not the fact that they're not getting enough calories."
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PAM COMMENTARY: Poor kids suffer from obesity because their diets often consist of the cheapest foods, rich in processed flour, sugar, and fat. They won't receive many fresh leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables, which are more expensive and normally are prepared in a kitchen, something the poor sometimes don't have.

"Our most paranoid friends were completely right" (6 November 2013)
We now know just how much of what happens on or near the internet is being catalogued by our government (basically, everything). Environmental activists have a history of drawing the attention of the surveillance-minded, especially if they are working in landscapes -- forests, tar sands -- that are financially valuable to someone.

I've been asking people to connect these dots. Some of the most interesting answers came from Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT and co-founder of the international news blog Global Voices. As someone who works with activists around the world, Zuckerman has a unique take on the social and technological aspects of living under surveillance. He talked with me recently about how changes in the technological landscape have forced changes in privacy strategies.

Q. Were you at all surprised by the documents leaked by Edward Snowden?

A. Yes. And then recently we had the NSA revelations where we basically found out that our most paranoid friends were completely right, and that the worst scenarios that any of us could have imagined turned out to be true.

So there has been a really panicky moment in the security space. Even the most hyper-hyper technical and hyper-paranoid folks are having a great deal of trouble securing themselves.
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NYPD Officer Risks His Job to Speak Out Against "Stop-and-Frisk" Targeting of People of Color (6 November 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we've brought you response to the ruling from one of the lawyers who helped argue the case. Now we're going to reaction from a police officer who has spoken out about problems with the stop-and-frisk program he and thousands of other officers are asked to carry out. Adhyl Polanco joined the New York City Police Department in 2005. In 2009, he became critical of the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy when his superiors told officers to meet a quota of stops or face punishment. He made audio recordings of the quotas being described during meetings in his precinct, and brought his concerns to authorities, but he said he was ignored. He then took his audio tapes to the media, including The Village Voice, where reporter Graham Rayman wrote a series called "The NYPD Tapes," featuring several police officers like him. Officer Polanco also testified in the recent trial challenging the constitutionality of stop-and-frisk. For several years, he was suspended with pay. He has returned to work on the police force, where he has been put on modified assignment. Officer Polanco was recently featured in a video produced by the group Communities United for Police Reform.

ADHYL POLANCO: Believe it or not, I've been stopped by police after I became a cop. I used to walk to Washington Heights with two other cops friend of mine, and we would get thrown against the wall, just for walking down. I'm not saying don't stop the criminal; I say don't stop the innocent people.

My name is Adhyl Polanco. I've been a police officer since 2005. I came to New York when I was 10. I came from a Third World country, the Dominican Republic. I grew up in Washington Heights. There was shootings almost every night; it was a daily thing. The 34th Precinct used to have a cop come into my sixth-grade class. She used to come every Wednesday, and I used to look up to her like, "Oh, my god! This is what I want to do." I mean, this is what I told my father: "I think I want to be a cop." For me it was a dream.

In 2009, the commanding officers required us to have a one-20-and-five quota system. One-20-and-five means one arrest per month, 20 summonses per month, and five stop-question-and-frisk. So, basically, they wanted to stop at least one person a day. But what happen the day you don't see the crime? What happened the day you don't see the violations? People start getting creative.
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Hospital room lighting may worsen patients' mood, pain (6 November 2013)
New York (REUTERS) - Patients in an average hospital room are exposed to so little light during the day that their bodies cannot adopt a normal sleep-wake cycle, a small study suggests.

Researchers found the lowest levels of daytime light exposure were tied to worse mood and more fatigue and pain among patients, compared to those whose rooms were better-lit during the day.

"Until now, no one has looked at the associations among light and outcomes such as sleep, mood and pain experienced in the hospital," said Esther Bernhofer, lead author of the study and a nurse researcher at the Cleveland Clinic's Nursing Institute.

"This study forms a basis for testing future lighting interventions to improve sleep-wake patterns, mood and pain in hospitalized adults," Bernhofer told Reuters Health.
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OceanGate uses manned submersible to observe Rigs to Reefs (VIDEO) (6 November 2013)
HOUSTON -- OceanGate, a Seattle-based provider of deep-water submersible vessels, has released a new crop of underwater images from the federal Rigs to Reefs program, showing sea creatures swimming among the steel legs of an old Black Elk Energy platform.

The manned submersibles typically are contracted for deep-water research and filming of shipwrecks and underwater life. But OceanGate made its first dive to observe an oil facility in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year.

The team, including coral expert Paul W. Sammarco of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, wanted to observe the environmental impact of the Rigs to Reefs program, which allows operators to sink their decommissioned platforms into Gulf of Mexico to become artificial homes for fish and other ocean life.

OceanGate's submersibles have been used to observe a World War II hellcat fighter plane off Miami and shipwrecks in the Pacific Northwest. But OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush said the company wanted to take the Rigs to Reefs dive to pitch its vessels as tools for inspecting offshore oil and gas facilities, a job typically done by scuba diving teams or remotely operated vehicles.
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Bill de Blasio Is Elected Mayor of New York City (5 November 2013)
The twenty-year Republican reign over one of nation's most liberal cities has officially come to an end: Bill de Blasio, a true progressive, will be the next mayor of New York City.

De Blasio, who ran on both the Democratic and the Working Families Party lines, is expected to beat former Giuliani deputy mayor Joe Lhota in a historic landslide. With 69 percent of the vote in, de Blasio is up by forty-eight points, and exit polls have him winning across the city and with voters "regardless of race, gender, age, education, religion or income."

Whatever the final numbers are, de Blasio will clearly have the mandate needed to start the long, hard work of shifting power and resources from the 1 percent the last mayor favored to the middle-class and poor.

De Blasio and his team will be up against not only entrenched Wall Street interests but also Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo has already signaled he's opposed to one of de Blasio's signature goals, funding pre-K and after-school programs for all New York kids by increasing taxes on those making $500,000 and up.
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I Can't Believe Terry McAuliffe Is Going to Be Governor of Virginia (5 November 2013)
Terry McAuliffe and I go way back. I first started writing about him in 1997, when Mother Jones assigned me to look into a lawsuit in DC Superior Court in which McAuliffe, the Democrats' super-fundraiser, was being sued by some of his business associates. That story turned into something much bigger. I went down the rabbit hole of McAuliffe's business dealings, probing his relationship with a pension fund run by a union he raised lots of money from--a money trail that ended up making McAuliffe part of my life for over a year. During that time, he never returned one of my phone calls and I never had the opportunity to meet in person the glad-handing, boyish "Macker," who first drew headlines by wrestling an alligator for a political donation. Nonetheless, the time I spent covering McAuliffe--who became head of the Democratic Party during George W. Bush's first term--has left me dumbfounded that he (according to the polls) is poised to become the next governor of Virginia.

Allow me to explain. McAuliffe represents an unseemly slice of Washington. His primary role in politics for the past two decades or more has been raising money--most notably, for the Clintons. He cooked up the idea of essentially renting out the Lincoln bedroom during the Clinton administration as a fundraising vehicle, and he smashed all previous presidential fundraising records in the process. When McAuliffe was the Dems' top fundraiser, a campaign finance scandal besieged the Clinton White House. Coincidence? No. McAuliffe was all about pushing the envelope when it came to the political money chase.

That alone might not be enough to render him a distasteful political candidate. What's different about McAuliffe is his brazen mixing of his campaign fundraising activity and attempts to enrich himself personally. Many of McAuliffe's business deals have come about due to his place in the political cosmos, not because he possesses a wealth of business skill. That tangled history has linked him to a long list of unsavory characters.

Let's take a look at some of his business associates over the years.

Richard Swann: Swann is McAuliffe's father-in-law, and his story starts back in 1980, when Swann helped found American Pioneer Savings and Loan in Florida. Ten years later, federal regulators seized the thrift, which was drowning in bad loans and foreclosed real estate. The bailout cost taxpayers more than $500 million. Swann settled charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which found that Swann and a partner had broken the law in selling $10 million worth of junk bonds from the thrift to shore up its reserves. Investors--mainly mom and pop depositors at the thrift--lost their shirts, and Swann eventually filed bankruptcy. But he saw an opportunity in the wreckage of his former savings and loan. In 1991, he helped McAuliffe set up a partnership to buy up the failed thrift's former real estate assets, which were being sold at rock-bottom prices as part of the federal liquidation.

Swann and McAuliffe persuaded the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers pension fund to finance the purchase of Orlando strip malls and apartment buildings on the cheap in a highly risky investment scheme. The pension fund put up $38 million; McAuliffe put up nothing, but he got a 50 percent stake, meaning that if the deal went south, the pension fund would lose millions while all he would lose were his free shares in the partnership. The deals didn't perform well, and the union never got its promised 9 percent preferred return--about what Treasury bills were paying back then. McAuliffe, though, walked away with $2.4 million after the pension fund bought him out. The US Department of Labor sued the union for making imprudent investments and two IBEW officials were forced to pay six-figure fines; the union had to reimburse the pension fund for the losses. Swann and McAuliffe escaped unscathed by the investigation.
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Election exit poll: Economy top issue for Va. voters (5 November 2013)
Highlights from exit polling in Virginia on Tuesday for The Associated Press and television networks:

McAULIFFE'S STRENGTHS: Democrat Terry McAuliffe fared well among women, blacks, low-income voters, abortion-rights supporters, city dwellers and people affected by the recent government shutdown.

CUCCINELLI'S STRENGTHS: Republican Ken Cuccinelli did best among whites, tea party supporters, opponents of the federal health-care reform law, gun owners and rural residents, and he held a slight edge among independents.

ETHICS: Nearly three in 10 said neither major party candidate for governor has high ethical standards. Nearly half of those voters backed McAuliffe, three in 10 supported Cuccinelli, and one-fifth favored Libertarian Robert Sarvis. Thirteen percent said both McAuliffe and Cuccinelli are ethical.

TOP ISSUES: The economy was the top issue for 45 percent of voters, followed by health care at 27 percent and abortion at 20 percent.
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Christie wins reelection in New Jersey; de Blasio wins mayor's race in New York (5 November 2013)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie won a decisive reelection victory on Tuesday, as the Republican known for blunt talk, moderate politics and presidential ambitions won support from a wide swath of voters in his Democratic-leaning state.

Christie, running for his second term, was leading state Sen. Barbara Buono (D) by more than 20 percentage points late Tuesday with more than 98 percent of precincts reporting. His victory was a hopeful sign for the GOP's establishment wing, on a day when two champions of the party's rival tea party faction lost their races: gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli II in Virginia and House hopeful Dean Young in Alabama.

"A dispirited America, angry with their dysfunctional government in Washington, looks to New Jersey to say . . . 'Are people really coming together?' " Christie said in his victory speech in the town of Asbury Park. He said that New Jersey could be a model for Americans working together.

"Maybe the folks in Washington, D.C., should tune in their TVs right now, see how it's done," he added.
[Read more...]

It's Election Day, and the Koch brothers have more votes than you do (5 November 2013)
When you fantasize about what you would do if you inherited a vast fortune, what do you think of? Vacation homes? Private jets? How about influencing electoral outcomes in towns of 20,000 that you will never set foot in? Well, if you find that last one odd, clearly you aren't a Koch brother.

David and Charles Koch have turned their attention to obscure local races, The New York Times reports. Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the intensely conservative advocacy group backed by the polluting pair of billionaires, is throwing money around in minor elections such as Coralville, Iowa's mayoral and city council contests today.

Thus far, AFP's local advocacy is focused on limiting government spending and taxes generally. The group warns that Coralville, which took on debt to redevelop its riverfront, "is fast becoming Iowa's version of Detroit." (If it sounds like a stretch to compare an Iowa town of 19,692 to arguably the most crime-ridden big city in the U.S., it should.) This year, AFP has also successfully defeated tax increases on the ballot in Fremont, Neb., and Gahanna, Ohio.

If AFP and other Koch-backed organizations continue to intervene in small, local campaigns, it could hold back environmental protection. The Kochs and AFP are ardent opponents of environmental regulations. Koch Industries makes much of its money from the refinement and distribution of petroleum, chemicals, fertilizers, and pulp and paper. In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker's union-busting campaign and subsequent reelection were supported by the Kochs. Walker has gutted protections for wetlands and drinking water, and he is obsessively opposed to high-speed rail. AFP in North Carolina has worked closely with Art Pope, who bankrolled the right-wing takeover of the state government there. Pope's favored candidates have far lower average ratings from the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters than the rest of the legislature, and they have set about trying to repeal all manner of environmental regulations, from renewable energy standards to local zoning codes.
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Toronto mayor apologizes for crack use, defies calls to resign (5 November 2013)
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford apologized to the residents of Canada's largest city Tuesday after admitting that he lied for six months about smoking crack cocaine, declaring "I love my job" and saying he would stay in it "for the sake of the taxpayers."

In what appears to be the opening salvo of a battle to remain in power, Ford cast his continued public service as necessary to save Toronto residents' money and make what he called "the important decisions that must be made."

But having denied wrongdoing since allegations of his illegal drug use surfaced in May, Ford is likely to face renewed political pressure to step down and put an end to the scandal that has plagued the city.

Reports by the Toronto Star and the gossip website Gawker in May claimed a cellphone video had been made showing Ford smoking a glass pipe said to contain crack. Three other men at the scene were later identified as members of a drug gang.
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How do you cover a deceiver without reporting mistruth?: Cruickshank (5 November 2013)
Must we quote a political figure who we know to be trying to deceive our readers?

Mayor Rob Ford has repeatedly put Toronto journalists in this quandary over the years.

Journalistic fairness says subjects have a right to comment in stories about them. The Supreme Court of Canada insists this is indispensible to responsible journalism.

The Toronto Star has repeatedly quoted Ford denying the existence of a damaging drug video. We have quoted him denying that he has smoked crack cocaine.

But our reporters had seen the notorious cocaine video and knew that he was seeking to deceive Torontonians.
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Rob Ford: "I embarrassed everyone in the city' but won't resign (5 November 2013)
Mayor Rob Ford ended a six-month string of lies, denials, and evasions on Tuesday with a stunning admission that he smoked crack cocaine "about a year ago." In a display of the audacity and defiance that have defined both his unforeseen rise to power and sordid fall from grace, he then pledged to continue to do his job despite a council uprising he did not acknowledge.

"To the residents of Toronto, I know I have let you down and I can't do anything else but apologize. I apologize and I'm so sorry. I know I have to regain your trust and your confidence. I love my job. I love my job, I love this city, I love saving taxpayers money and I love being your mayor," he said, sounding shaken, in a globally televised speech in the mayor's office four hours after his impromptu bombshell in the hallway outside.

"There is important work that we must advance," Ford said, "and important decisions that must be made. For the sake of the taxpayers of this great city, for the sake of the taxpayers, we must get back to work immediately. We must keep Toronto moving forward. I was elected to do a job and that's exactly what I'm going to continue doing."

Ford said he has "nothing left to hide." But he fled the room immediately after his speech, and he did not address any of the dozens of questions the media have posed to him about issues other than the video: his associations with known and accused criminals, his clandestine exchanges and secret meetings with an accused drug dealer, and his knowledge of attempts to retrieve the crack video he said in May "doesn't exist."
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First Nations to Resume Blockade in Canadian Fracking Fight (5 November 2013)
Elsipogtog First Nations members are heading back to the streets in New Brunswick this week to defend their land from a gas drilling company seeking to re-start exploratory fracking operations in the region.

The new wave of local anti-drilling resistance will resume an ongoing battle between the community members who faced a paramilitary-style onslaught by police last month that sparked international outcry and a wave of solidarity protests.

The renewed protest follows a recent announcement by New Brunswick's premiere that SWN Resources Canada, a subsidiary of the Houston-based Southwestern Energy Company, will resume shale gas exploration in First Nations territory after it was halted by blockades and protests.

Elsipogtog members announced Monday they will join with local residents and other First Nations communities--including the Mi'kmaq people--to "light a sacred fire" and stage a protest to stop SWN from fracking.
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Schools install pricey filters to protect kids from frac sand (5 November 2013)
Kids should play in sand, not breathe it in.

Wisconsin's New Auburn school district is upgrading air filters to prevent sand fragments from floating in from nearby frac-sand mines and getting into children's lungs.

Much of the sand in the state is perfectly suited to be mixed with water and chemicals and used in fracking operations, where it holds open fractures in shale and allows gas and oil to escape. That's fueling a $1-billion-a-year sand-mining boom, which is bringing notable environmental and health risks to the state.

The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram reports:

"Four sand mines operate within a few miles of the school, with the closest less than a half-mile away.

"As the number of sand mines near New Auburn and in Chippewa County has increased in the past couple of years, school district officials decided to see whether sand was getting into the building's air system."
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Fukushima Trial Run Begins Dangerous Reactor 4 Clean-Up (5 November 2013)
Preparations to begin the potentially catastrophic decommissioning of the crippled Reactor 4 at the Fukushima nuclear power plant will begin this week with a test run.

The test, which could push back the beginning stages of fuel rod removal by two weeks, includes moving a "protective fuel cask" into and out of the No. 4 storage pool with a crane--before attempts are made to move the spent fuel rods, the Japan Times reports.

Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority gave the final go-ahead last week for TEPCO to begin the decommissioning process, the entirety of which watchdogs say could take decades.

The most dangerous step in the process will include the removal of the 1300 "bent, damaged and embrittled" spent fuel rods from the unstable Unit 4 pool. The fuel rod removal, which has never been done before on this scale, could take up to one year, and has been described by anti-nuclear expert and activist Harvey Wasserman as "humankind's most dangerous moment since the Cuban Missile Crisis."

While the fuel removal at reactor 4 presents possible dangers, there is also urgency to complete the task. Natural disasters such as earthquakes remain a major threat to the stability the damaged building, and should it be damaged further before it is decommissioned, there could be a global catastrophe, many experts have warned.
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Apple discloses government data requests -- what little it can (5 November 2013)
Apple released a report Tuesday that provided some general information about requests for information it receives from governments.

Although the report sheds some light on the topic, it also demonstrates the futility of such disclosure efforts, particularly when it comes to information related to requests from the U.S. government.

As Apple notes in the report:

"The U.S. government has given us permission to share only a limited amount of information about these orders, with the requirement that we combine national security orders with account-based law enforcement requests and report only a consolidated range in increments of 1000."
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An Election About GOP Extremism, Unions, Wages and Dollarocracy (5 November 2013)
Two states will elect governors Tuesday, and one of those governors could emerge as a 2016 presidential contender. The nation's largest city will elect a mayor, as will hundreds of other communities. A minimum-wage hike is on the ballot. So is marijuana legalization. So is the labeling of genetically-modified foods. And Seattle might elect a city council member who promises to open the fight for a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

Forget the silly dodge that says local and state elections don't tell us anything. They provide measures of how national developments--like the federal government shutdown--are playing politically. They give us a sense of whether the "War on Women" is widening the gender gap. They tell us what issues are in play, and the extent to which the political debate is evolving.

Here are some signals to watch for as the results come in tonight:

1. Have Republican Extremists Finally Gone Too Far?

Since the Republican Party became competitive in Virginia, no Democrat has ever been elected governor when a Democrat was in the White House. Indeed, the last Democratic president to see a Democrat take charge in the Old Dominion state was Lyndon Johnson.
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Food Stamps Are Affordable; Corporate Welfare Is Not (5 November 2013)
This past Friday, $5 billion was automatically slashed from the federal food stamps program, affecting the lives of 47 million Americans.

The USDA estimates that because of these cuts, a family of four who receives food stamps benefits will lose about 20 meals per month.

But these enormous cuts to food stamps aren't enough for Republicans.
They still want to slash an additional $40 billion from the program in the name of reducing spending and federal debt.

Republicans love to argue that programs like SNAP - the federal food stamps program -- and other social safety net programs put an unfair burden on American taxpayers, but if they just took a minute to crunch the numbers, they'd realize that's flat out wrong.

In 2012, the average American taxpayer making $50,000 per year paid just $36 towards the food stamps program.
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Ray McGovern on Snowden and Calling Journalists Terrorists (VIDEO) (5 November 2013)
"Seems to me then, every lobbyist on Capitol Hill could be called a terrorist..." [Read more...]

'Sweetie' sting nabs 1,000 alleged online child abusers - but is its approach legal? (5 November 2013)
A Netherlands-based children's rights group snagged 1,000 online sexual predators using a digital decoy, a computer-generated and eerily realistic-looking 10-year-old Filipino girl named Sweetie. The group is now calling on world governments to adopt its digital approach to combat the new phenomenon of online sex tourism, which is spreading quickly because it is difficult to police.

But the approach has raised some concerns over intrusive surveillance methods as well as questions over its ultimate legal bite.

Terre Des Hommes, the group that developed the computer-generated Sweetie, ran the undercover operation from a secret back room of a warehouse on the outskirts of Amsterdam. The group described its 10-week effort in a video, which documents the instant cascade of messages that flood the computer screen as soon as Sweetie enters the chat room.

Many users offer to pay Sweetie for posing naked for the camera. And quite a few are willing to share bits of personal information that Terre Des Hommes researchers later used to track them down on Google and Facebook.

"In 10 weeks, we traced 1,000 men from all over the world who were willing to pay Sweetie to perform sexual acts in front of the webcam," said Albert Jaap van Santbrink, director of Terre des Hommes Netherlands at a press conference on Monday, according to Reuters. That is just a fraction of the 20,000 people who approached her over the internet, most of them from wealthier countries. Terre des Hommes has handed over their profiles to Interpol.

These 1,000 adults come from 71 countries, according to the group's statement, and the United States is leading the pack with 254 people. Other top-ranking countries are Britain, with 110 individuals, and India, with 103.
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Why Health Insurance Cancellations Shouldn't Be a Surprise (5 November 2013)
"The fact that ACA would effectively nuke most of the existing commercial individual health insurance market was never in question," Piper told us.

In the interview below, which was edited for length and clarity, Piper discusses cancellations, the apparent surge in Medicaid enrollments under Obamacare and whether more transparency would have helped the rollout.

Q. What's your take on the coverage cancellations arriving in mailboxes around the country?

A. It was always known that the ACA would outlaw millions of existing individual or non-group health insurance policies. From a policy wonk perspective, that was a no-brainer. It was self-evident in the law in March 2010 and confirmed in subsequent rules and analyses. Also obvious all along was that consumers would face a very different marketplace under the ACA, with some seeing lower premiums (including me), some seeing larger premiums, and most everyone seeing higher deductibles, higher co-pays, and a narrower choice of providers.
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Noam Chomsky | De-Americanizing the World (5 November 2013)
During the latest episode of the Washington farce that has astonished a bemused world, a Chinese commentator wrote that if the United States cannot be a responsible member of the world system, perhaps the world should become "de-Americanized" -- and separate itself from the rogue state that is the reigning military power but is losing credibility in other domains.

The Washington debacle's immediate source was the sharp shift to the right among the political class. In the past, the U.S. has sometimes been described sardonically -- but not inaccurately -- as a one-party state: the business party, with two factions called Democrats and Republicans.

That is no longer true. The U.S. is still a one-party state, the business party. But it only has one faction: moderate Republicans, now called New Democrats (as the U.S. Congressional coalition styles itself).

There is still a Republican organization, but it long ago abandoned any pretense of being a normal parliamentary party. Conservative commentator Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute describes today's Republicans as "a radical insurgency -- ideologically extreme, scornful of facts and compromise, dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition": a serious danger to the society.
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Oliver Stone on 50th Anniversary of JFK Assassination & the Untold History of the United States (5 November 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
OLIVER STONE: Thank you, Amy, for having me back. It's nice to see you again. Hello, Peter.


OLIVER STONE: My thoughts. I saw the film inside these last few days, and I've been able to assess it again, and I've followed the cases more or less from the outside. I haven't been inside. It's amazing to me that people still deny it. As you know, I was in the infantry in Vietnam. I had a fair amount of combat experience. I saw people blown away in action. When you look once again at the basics of the film--the bullets, the autopsy, the forensics, the shooting path--and stay away from all the other stuff--Oswald's background and Garrison, etc.--just follow the meat, the evidence, what you see with your own eyes in those six seconds, it's an amazing--it's all there. It doesn't need to be elaborated upon. You can see it with your own eyes.

You see Kennedy make his--get a hit in the throat. Then you see Kennedy get a hit in the back. Then you see him essentially get a hit from the front. When he gets the hit from the front, which is the fourth or the fifth or the sixth shot, he goes back and to the left. That's the basic evidence. You see a man fly back because he gets hit right here. Many witnesses at Parkland and at the autopsy in Bethesda saw a massive exit wound to the rear of his skull, to the right side. The people at Parkland, including the young doctor, McClelland, saw his cerebellum, his brain, go out the--almost falling out of the back of his skull. Later, when he gets taken--illegally--to the--to Bethesda, Maryland, the military--
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Cargill to label 'finely textured beef' product critics assailed as 'pink slime' (5 November 2013)
NEW YORK, N.Y. - Cargill Inc. says it will start labeling beef products that contain "finely textured beef," following last year's public outcry over the use of "pink slime."

The Minneapolis-based meat company says the new packages will appear before next year's grilling season and is in response to consumer demand. It says packages will note when a product "Contains Finely Textured Beef."

Finely textured beef is made by separating the bits of meat that are stuck on fatty trimmings. Beef Products Inc., based in South Dakota, makes a similar product using a slightly different process it calls lean finely textured beef. In both cases, the meat is treated to kill bacteria and the resulting product is mixed with ground beef.

The filler had been used for decades in the U.S. but started to gain negative attention after a New York Times article in 2009 detailed Beef Products' process. A federal microbiologist referred to the ingredient as "pink slime" in the story.
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Offices, transition set for gov.-elect, statewide winners (5 November 2013)
RICHMOND -- Campaign staffers aren't the only ones who have prepared a long time for Nov. 5.

The state's Department of General Services started work months ago to create fully functioning transition office space for the three new statewide candidates.

Staff hunted for space and then coordinated the set-up of offices that include essentially everything but the officeholders.

Desks, computers, phones, mail, security, are all in place in Old City Hall for tomorrow morning. Chairs even hold welcome packets that address frequently asked questions.
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Executions in N.C. would use one drug, not three (5 November 2013)
The state of North Carolina has said it plans to use one lethal chemical instead of three drugs to execute death row inmates, changing its protocol in a move that could slightly loosen the legal knot that's delayed carrying out capital punishment for years.

The updated rules signed two weeks ago by Department of Public Safety Secretary Frank Perry describe how workers at Central Prison and the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women would carry out an execution.

The new rules say prison officials will inject into the condemned prisoner a short-acting barbiturate such as pentobarbital, which is frequently used to put animals to death. Previous rules directed a three-drug method - using sodium pentothal, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride in succession - but some states with capital punishment have moved away from that approach.

The change is important because lawyers for some North Carolina prisoners argue the three-drug method constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. They cite attorneys who witnessed the bodies of executed prisoners convulsing and jerking shortly before the death. They also said any execution protocols must go through the regular rule-making process within state government. The state disagreed.
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Company applies to build pipeline from North Dakota (5 November 2013)
BISMARCK, N.D. -- A Canadian company has applied to build the largest oil pipeline yet from western North Dakota's booming oil patch and will soon begin courting oil producers to reserve space, a key step in a $2.6 billion project that would move millions of gallons of oil to Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge Energy is proposing the 612-mile Sandpiper pipeline to each day carry 225,000 barrels of oil to a hub in northern Minnesota and 375,000 barrels to one in northwestern Wisconsin. If approved by regulators, it would be the largest pipeline moving oil out of North Dakota, the nation's second-leading producer of oil behind Texas.

North Dakota has more than doubled its oil production in the past two years, closing in on a million barrels of oil a day. But due to the lack of pipeline capacity in the state, about 61 percent of the state's daily oil production is being shipped by rail. A barrel is equivalent to 42 gallons.
Enbridge's application to regulators argues that the project is "needed and in the public interest."

The company submitted the application last week to the North Dakota Public Service Commission and will take similar steps with regulators in Minnesota and Wisconsin in the next month, company spokeswoman Katie Haarsager said.
[Read more...]

Enbridge applies to build $2.6B pipeline, largest yet from North Dakota's booming oil patch (5 November 2013)
BISMARCK, N.D. - A Canadian company has applied to build the largest oil pipeline yet from western North Dakota's booming oil patch and will soon begin courting oil producers to reserve space, a key step in a $2.6 billion project that would move millions of gallons of oil to Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The Calgary-based pipeline company is proposing the 612-mile Sandpiper pipeline to each day carry 225,000 barrels of oil to a hub in northern Minnesota and 375,000 barrels to one in northwestern Wisconsin. If approved by regulators, it would be the largest pipeline moving oil out of North Dakota, the nation's second-leading producer of oil behind Texas.

North Dakota has more than doubled its oil production in the past two years, closing in on a million barrels of oil a day. But due to the lack of pipeline capacity in the state, about 61 per cent of the state's daily oil production is being shipped by rail.

Enbridge's application to regulators argues that the project is "needed and in the public interest."

The company submitted the application last week to the North Dakota Public Service Commission and will take similar steps with regulators in Minnesota and Wisconsin in the next month, company spokeswoman Katie Haarsager said.
[Read more...]

Apple creates 2,000 jobs shifting production back to US (5 November 2013)
Nearly a decade after the closure of its last US factory, Apple is to create 2,000 manufacturing, engineering and construction jobs at a new plant in Arizona.

The California technology titan is beginning to shift production back to its home market, with the creation of its second US plant in under a year. It is understood the renewable energy powered facility in Mesa, Arizona, will produce laboratory grown sapphire crystals of the kind used in the iPhone 5S fingerprint scanner.

The initiative is a joint venture with crystal growth equipment specialist GT Advanced Technologies, which said Monday it had signed a multi-year agreement with Apple to provide furnaces to make sapphire. The material, which has been used in watch faces, is more scratch-resistant than glass and may eventually be used to make Apple's screens.

"Apple will have an incredibly positive economic impact for Arizona," said governor Janice Brewer. "Their investment in renewable energy will also be greening our power grid, and creating significant new solar and geothermal power sources for the state."

Run with solar and geothermal energy, which uses heat from deep underground, the plant has been designed in collaboration with local utility Salt River Project.

The building will be owned by Apple, while the furnaces will be supplied by GT Advanced, with a $578 down payment from Apple which will be reimbursed over five years starting in 2015 and is understood to come with certain exclusivity rights.
[Read more...]

FAA orders additional pilot training (5 November 2013)
Almost five years after a commuter plane crash in Upstate New York killed 50 people, the Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday imposed stricter training requirements for commercial airline pilots.

Inexperience, ineptitude and fatigue were to blame for pilot errors that caused the crash of Colgan Air 3407 near Buffalo in February 2009, according to investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB concluded that the pilot and co-pilot did the exact opposite of what was needed to save the plane after it lost speed and stalled.

"This will give our pilots the most advanced training available to handle emergency events that they may experience," FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said. "This is one of the most significant updates of air carrier pilot training in the last 20 years."

Huerta said the complexity of implementing change explained why it took "a long time" to achieve.
[Read more...]

U.S. Navy pledges cost cuts as it christens new aircraft carrier (5 November 2013)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Navy on Tuesday pledged to cut costs for building new aircraft carriers, as it prepared to christen the USS Gerald R. Ford, first in its class of warships and a vessel whose $12.9 billion cost will exceed forecasts by almost 25 percent.

Rear Admiral Thomas Moore, Navy officer in charge of aircraft carriers, pledged that the next carrier, the USS John F. Kennedy, would cost $1.2 billion less than the USS Ford, which will be christened on Saturday.

He said he was working on cost controls with Huntington Ingalls Industries, whose Newport News unit builds the carriers, as well as with other suppliers and the U.S. Congress.

By the time the Ford wraps up 27 months of testing and completion work in the second quarter of fiscal 2016, it is projected to cost $12.9 billion, nearly a quarter more than the original estimate of $10.5 billion, Moore told reporters.

Construction of the city-sized nuclear-powered warship began in 2009.
[Read more...]

Tesla's Elon Musk wants to build giant battery factory (5 November 2013)
Investors clearly expected great things from Tesla Motors' third quarter earnings report, released Tuesday.

The upstart automaker beat Wall Street's expectations, posting a pro-forma profit of $15.9 million -- or 12 cents per share -- on rising sales of its electric Model S sedan. Tesla also reported increased production at its factory in Fremont, churning out 550 cars per week.

The company has such lofty expansion plans that it might build its own immense factory to make battery cells, CEO Elon Musk revealed Tuesday. The factory would likely be built in the United States, supplying lithium-ion cells for the Model S and Tesla's next car, the Model X.

"This is going to be a really giant facility," Musk told analysts during a conference call. "We're talking about something that's comparable to all lithium-ion production in the world, in one factory. It's big."
[Read more...]

High-tech LEDs jolt sleepy lighting sector (VIDEO) (5 November 2013)
A rapid ramp-up in LED technology is transforming the lighting business, long accustomed to slow change and lethargic competition. But does that make it a good investment? Jon Gordon reports. [Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: This video is preceded by a commercial and starts playing with sound simply by loading the page, without the reader taking any action.

Nazi art cache revealed two years after discovery. Why the delay? (5 November 2013)
It's one of the biggest discoveries of Nazi-seized artwork in decades: a trove of 1,400 works of art -- including a previously unknown Marc Chagall painting. The collection's total value is estimated at 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) by the magazine that broke the story.

So why was the unusually large find kept from the public for so long -- nearly two years -- before the German authorities finally went public about the unexpected find?

That's what many were wondering today as Bavarian authorities offered new details about a cache of 1,285 unframed and 121 framed paintings, sketches, and prints squeezed into the dim and cluttered Munich apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt -- the son of Nazi-supported art dealer Hildebrand Gurlitt.

"When you're dealing with Nazi-looted artwork that may belong to heirs in their 80s or 90s struggling to reconnect with their heritage, a detailed list of seized items should be posted online immediately," says Chris Marinello, the director and founder of London-based Art Recovery International.
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Inside the "Electronic Omnivore": New Leaks Show NSA Spying on U.N., Climate Summit, Text Messaging (4 November 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
SCOTT SHANE: Well, what happened was, Edward Snowden did not give The New York Times any of his documents, in part because he was upset that the Times had held a story about NSA's warrantless wiretapping for a year back in 2004, eventually published it the next year in 2005. But he did give, as people know, a lot of documents to Laura Poitras, to Glenn Greenwald and to others, and The Guardian was given a large collection of about 50,000 documents that were labeled as GCHQ--that's Government Communications Headquarters--which is the British equivalent of NSA. And GCHQ worked so closely with NSA that probably about a third of those documents are NSA documents. The Guardian shared those 50,000 documents with us at The New York Times, and some of us at the Times have spent the last couple of months going through them.

AMY GOODMAN: And talk about what most shocked you by the documents you've gotten that are from the National Security Agency. We've gone through just some of the points. You begin your piece with Ban Ki-moon last April. Why don't you start there?

SCOTT SHANE: Well, I wrote--I used to be with The Baltimore Sun, and I wrote a series on NSA back in 1995, so I can't say that I was not shocked by any of this, but I think perhaps one of the most interesting questions these documents raise is the--you know, I referred to the agency as an omnivore. They're under pressure from policymakers, from White House, from CIA, from DOD, from the State Department, to sort of be prepared to supply information on almost anything. A crisis breaks out tomorrow in a, you know, unexpected place, and NSA is under heavy pressure to produce intelligence from that place. And that, combined with a big budget and secrecy, has, I think, created a kind of--you know, what actually Secretary of State John Kerry called last week "automatic pilot," just a sort of automatic effort to snatch up any kind of electronic communication there is around the world.

And I thought the Ban Ki-moon example was an interesting one. Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general of the U.N., very friendly to the United States, obviously a very public man, doesn't--you know, doesn't hide what he thinks. He was coming in April to the White House to--for a routine meeting with President Obama, and NSA collected his talking points before the meeting. Now, the White House won't say whether President Obama was given and read those talking points in advance of the meeting, but, you know, it's--if you think about it, it's kind of hard to imagine that those talking points would contain anything terribly shocking. And, of course, there is the political cost of being caught essentially eavesdropping on the secretary-general of the U.N. That cost has now been paid. So, I think, you know, as long as they could remain secret about all this stuff, NSA's instinct was: collect everything. You know, if the White House or whoever else in the government wants to read it, fine; if not, fine. But now I think the administration has a very difficult decision to make about balancing the political cost of spying, particularly on allies, on friendly countries, friendly people, against what--you know, what they might glean from that.
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Kenyan Police Cast Doubt in Gang Rape Case, Chief Justice Orders 'Action' (4 November 2013)
Kenya's police cast doubt Saturday (November 2nd) on a schoolgirl's testimony that she was gang-raped, even as the chief justice ordered "immediate action" in the case, AFP reported.

A brutal gang rape that left a schoolgirl in a wheelchair has brought Kenyan women onto the streets, demanding an end to a culture of impunity over violence against women. [AFP] Play Video

The reported attack on a 16-year-old girl known by the pseudonym "Liz" and the lack of action against the perpetrators has led to an outcry in Kenya, while over 1.3 million people worldwide have signed a petition demanding justice.

But Kenyan police chief David Kimaiyo said investigations suggested that the girl's report was false.
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McAuliffe wins Virginia governor's race (4 November 2013)
Terry McAuliffe narrowly won the Virginia governor's race Tuesday, defeating Republican Ken Cuccinelli II by piling up votes in parts of the state hit hard by last month's federal government shutdown.

After acidly negative campaigns by both candidates, Mc-Auliffe -- a former Democratic National Committee chairman and legendary political fundraiser who has never held elective office -- took large majorities in Virginia's population centers, especially the Washington suburbs and Hampton Roads.

But despite winning back the state's top two positions, Democrats and Virginia's 72nd governor will preside over a divided government and a restless, almost evenly split electorate. The fissures in Richmond involve deep uncertainty about how to interpret public opinion on President Obama's health-care law and internal battles among Republicans over whether they threw away this election by nominating a ticket of hard-line conservatives.

"This race came down to the wire because of Obamacare," Cuccinelli said in an emotional concession speech, telling supporters that despite his loss, "you sent a message to the president of the United States . . . that Obamacare is a failure. . . . We were lied to by our own government in its effort to restrict our liberty."
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Forest Service's firefighting fund can't keep up with wildfires (4 November 2013)
The Forest Service can't keep up with the rising costs of fighting wildfires in a warming world.

As climate change dries out fire-prone forests, the frequency and intensity of forest fires are increasing. Between 1985 and 1999, the federal government never spent more than $1 billion on fire suppression in a single year, according to this National Interagency Fire Center table [PDF] of firefighting costs since the mid-'80s.

But in 2000, the federal bill came in at $1.4 billion, and then it continued to increase, exceeding $1.5 billion five times from 2006 to 2012. And the number of acres of forest burned each year has also been rising.

This year has been a nightmare fire season in the American West: The U.S. Forest Service, which incurs most of the nation's forest-fire suppression costs, ran out of firefighting money. Again. From E&E Publishing:

"Lightning bolts rained across the West in August, sparking hundreds of wildfires in California, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, and pushing the cash-strapped Forest Service to the brink."
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Feds: Safety culture 'poor, at best' before fatal Black Elk platform blast (4 November 2013)
WASHINGTON -- Poor decisions by Houston-based Black Elk Energy and its contractors led to a fatal explosion at one of its production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, a federal investigation concluded Monday.

Almost a year since the Nov. 16, 2012 blast that killed three workers and injured several others, the probe faulted Black Elk for failing "to establish an effective safety culture" and communicate risks and precautions to its contractors at the site. Contractors on board the platform did not follow "proper safety precautions" before welding, including using detectors to verify that pipes were cleared of flammable gas before conducting the "hot work."

In their report on the accident, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the Coast Guard also said that workers who were "worried about losing their jobs if they raised safety concerns" did not call a halt to work "despite apparent anomalies."

"These failures reflect a disregard for the safety of workers on the platform," said safety bureau director Brian Salerno in a statement. The problems "are the antithesis of the type of safety culture that should guide decision-making in all offshore oil and gas operations."
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NIST to Review Standards After Cryptographers Cry Foul Over NSA Meddling (4 November 2013)
The federal institute that sets national standards for how government, private citizens and business guard the privacy of their files and communications is reviewing all of its previous recommendations.

The move comes after ProPublica, The Guardian and The New York Times disclosed that the National Security Agency had worked to secretly weaken standards to make it easier for the government to eavesdrop.

The review, announced late Friday afternoon by the National Institute for Standards and Technology, will also include an assessment of how the institute creates encryption standards.

The institute sets national standards for everything from laboratory safety to high-precision timekeeping. NIST's cryptographic standards are used by software developers around the world to protect confidential data. They are crucial ingredients for privacy on the Internet, and are designed to keep Internet users safe from being eavesdropped on when they make purchases online, pay bills or visit secure websites.
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"Wounds of Waziristan": Exclusive Broadcast of New Film on Pakistanis Haunted by U.S. Drone War (4 November 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
KARIM KHAN: [translated] In 2009, my home was attacked by a drone. My brother and son were martyred. My son's name was Hafiz Zaenullah. My brother's name was Asif Iqbal. There was a third person who was a stone mason. He was a Pakistani. His name was Khaliq Dad.

Their coffins were lying next to each other in the house. Their bodies were covered with wounds. Later, I found some of their fingers in the rubble.

As you know, my son had memorized the Qur'an. He was a security guard at the girls' school, and he was studying for grade 10. My brother had a master's degree in English. He was a government employee. He loved to debate, but he was so short, he didn't reach the dais, so they wouldn't give him many chances to make speeches.

MADIHA TAHIR: I met Saddam a couple of years later. He's a school-going teenager with a shy smile and a quiet, apologetic demeanor.
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CIA made doctors torture suspected terrorists after 9/11, taskforce finds (3 November 2013)
Doctors and psychologists working for the US military violated the ethical codes of their profession under instruction from the defence department and the CIA to become involved in the torture and degrading treatment of suspected terrorists, an investigation has concluded.

The report of the Taskforce on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centres concludes that after 9/11, health professionals working with the military and intelligence services "designed and participated in cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and torture of detainees".

Medical professionals were in effect told that their ethical mantra "first do no harm" did not apply, because they were not treating people who were ill.

The report lays blame primarily on the defence department (DoD) and the CIA, which required their healthcare staff to put aside any scruples in the interests of intelligence gathering and security practices that caused severe harm to detainees, from waterboarding to sleep deprivation and force-feeding.
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For consumers whose health premiums will go up under new law, sticker shock leads to anger (3 November 2013)
Americans who face higher -insurance costs under President Obama's health-care law are angrily complaining about "sticker shock," threatening to become a new political force opposing the law even as the White House struggles to convince other consumers that they will benefit from it.

The growing backlash involves people whose plans are being discontinued because the policies don't meet the law's more-stringent standards. They're finding that many alternative policies come with higher premiums and deductibles.

After receiving a letter from her insurer that her plan was being discontinued, Deborah Persico, a 58-year-old lawyer in the District, found a comparable plan on the city's new health insurance exchange. But her monthly premium, now $297, would be $165 higher, and her maximum out-of-pocket costs would double.

That means she could end up paying at least $5,000 more a year than she does now. "That's just not fair," said Persico, who represents indigent criminal defendants. "This is ridiculous."
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Neonicotinoids kill honey bees by deactivating their immune systems (3 November 2013)
(NaturalNews) New research out of Italy has identified yet another mechanism by which neonicotinoid pesticides kill honey bees. Published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, this latest study reveals that neonicotinoid pesticides like clothianidin, a systemic pesticide commonly sprayed on crop seeds, deactivate bees' immune systems, rendering them unable to naturally fight off various bacterial and viral illnesses.

The end result, suggest the findings by Francesco Pennacchio and his colleagues, is bees dying off en masse, a phenomenon commonly referred to as colony collapse disorder (CCD). While there are believed to be a number of contributing factors to escalating rates of CCD around the world, many of which we have covered here in previous articles, the pesticide factor, and particularly the immunosuppression properties of neonicotinoid pesticides, have once again been confirmed.

For their study, Pennacchio et al. took a closer look at how neonicotinoids impair proper immune function in bees. While this class of pesticides has previously been reported to enhance the impact of certain pathogens, making them more deadly, little is know about how this process works on the molecular scale. So to gain a better understanding, the team conducted a series of tests with a pathogen known as "deformed wing virus" to identify how these chemicals actually impact bees' immune systems.

What they found was that clothianidin negatively alters the expression of a key molecule involved in the natural immune response of bees, which in turn makes pathogenic diseases more virulent. Known as NF-?B, this molecule was discovered to be susceptible to suppression by a class of proteins known as leucine-rich repeat (LRR) proteins, which naturally occur in insects. But clothianidin was found to greatly increase production of LRR, which in turn suppresses NF-?B even more than normal.
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Snowden says calls for reform prove intel leaks were justified (3 November 2013)
(Reuters) - Fugitive U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden said calls for more oversight of government intelligence agencies showed he was justified in revealing the methods and targets of the U.S. secret service.

Snowden's leaks about the National Security Agency (NSA), from its alleged mass scanning of emails to the tapping of world leaders' phones, have infuriated U.S. allies and placed Washington on the defensive.

In "A Manifesto for the Truth" published in German news magazine Der Spiegel on Sunday, Snowden said current debates about mass surveillance in many countries showed his revelations were helping to bring about change.

"Instead of causing damage, the usefulness of the new public knowledge for society is now clear because reforms to politics, supervision and laws are being suggested," the 30-year-old ex-CIA employee and NSA contractor wrote.

"Citizens have to fight against the suppression of information about affairs of essential importance for the public. Those who speak the truth are not committing a crime."
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White House rejects clemency for Edward Snowden over NSA leaks (3 November 2013)
The White House and leading lawmakers have rejected Edward Snowden's plea for clemency and said he should return to the United States to face trial.

Dan Pfeiffer, an Obama administration adviser, said on Sunday the NSA whistleblower's request was not under consideration and that he should face criminal charges for leaking classified information. Dianne Feinstein and Mike Rogers, respectively the heads of the Senate and House intelligence committees, maintained the same tough line and accused Snowden of damaging US interests.

The former NSA employee this week appealed for clemency and an opportunity to address members of Congress about US surveillance. He also asked for international help to lobby the US to drop the charges against him. The White House, stung by domestic and international criticism, has shown growing appetite to rein in some of the NSA programmes that Snowden exposed but it has not softened its hostility to the 30-year-old fugitive.

Pfeiffer told ABC's This Week that no clemency offers were being discussed following Snowden's appeal in a letter released by a German lawmaker who met him in Moscow.
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Germany 'should offer Edward Snowden asylum after NSA revelations' (3 November 2013)
An increasing number of public figures are calling for Edward Snowden to be offered asylum in Germany, with more than 50 asking Berlin to step up it support of the US whistleblower in the new edition of Der Spiegel magazine

Heiner Geissler, the former general secretary of Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, says in the appeal: "Snowden has done the western world a great service. It is now up to us to help him."

The writer and public intellectual Hans Magnus Enzensberger argues in his contribution that "the American dream is turning into a nightmare" and suggests that Norway would be best placed to offer Snowden refuge, given its track record of offering political asylum to Leon Trotsky in 1935. He bemoans the fact that in Britain, "which has become a US colony", Snowden is regarded as a traitor.

Other public figures on the list include the actor Daniel Brühl, the novelist Daniel Kehlmann, the entrepreneur Dirk Rossmann, the feminist activist Alice Schwarzer and the German football league president, Reinhard Rauball.

The weekly news magazine also publishes a "manifesto for truth", written by Snowden, in which the former NSA employee warns of the danger of spy agencies setting the political agenda.
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Obama rallies for McAuliffe, Cuccinelli seeks referendum (3 November 2013)
President Barack Obama cast Republican Ken Cuccinelli on Sunday as part of an extreme tea party faction that shut down the government, throwing the political weight of the White House behind Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the final days of a bitter race for governor.

Seeking an upset, Cuccinelli cast this week's Virginia gubernatorial election as a referendum on Obama's troubled national health care law.

National issues that have divided Democrats and Republicans spilled into the race and colored the final hours of campaigning ahead of Tuesday's vote. As one of just two gubernatorial races in the nation, the results of Tuesday's elections could hold clues about voter attitudes and both parties' messages heading into the 2014 midterm elections.

Obama tore into Cuccinelli as an ideologue unwilling to compromise, while Cuccinelli was telling his supporters that Tuesday's election will be a test for the health care law and McAuliffe's support for it.
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JFK: The Smoking Gun says Secret Service did it (3 November 2013)
The Secret Service Did It: Discovery contributes to the coming glut of programming marking the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination with JFK: The Smoking Gun. The Canadian-Australian documentary expands on the theory that the shot that killed the president came from an underqualified Secret Service agent in the car following Kennedy. It's based on the work of retired Australian police detective Colin McLaren, who told The Canadian Press, "This is not conjecture, this is all based on evidence and forensic study" (Discovery at 8). [Read more...]

Seven causes, seven cures for lack of motivation (3 November 2013)
(NaturalNews) Most problems with motivation come from subconscious thought patterns. Interestingly, many of of these patterns are intended to motivate you.

The problem is, they are ineffective strategies learned long ago when you had no idea what was going on.

Other causes of poor motivation come from subconscious attachments to self-deprivation. Yes, you can become attached to a deprived, empty life, believe it or not. In this case, a life of passion isn't familiar to you, so you avoid it.

Begin to set yourself free by learning about the ineffective motivation patterns that hold you back
Here are seven common motivational styles that are actually de-motivating - and what to do about each of them. Can you see yourself in one or more of the examples?
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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.)