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 1 
 on: Today at 08:28 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Ukraine Says Won't Pull Back Troops without Full Ceasefire

by Naharnet Newsdesk
21 September 2014, 15:33

Ukraine insisted Sunday it would not pull back its troops from the frontline until all sides cease fire under a peace plan aimed at ending five months of bloodshed in the east.

Kiev and pro-Russian rebels are supposed to pull back their forces and weaponry to create a 30-kilometer (20-mile) wide buffer zone in line with a reinforced truce deal agreed in Minsk on Saturday.

But heavy gunfire erupted around the eastern insurgent stronghold of Donetsk on Sunday, just hours after NATO's top military commander had said there was a ceasefire "in name only" on the ground.

National Security and Defense Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko said the first point agreed in the Belorussian capital referring to a mutual ceasefire had to be respected before the rest of the plan could be implemented.

"But the first point has not yet been fulfilled, so we cannot speak about the other points," he said.

"If (Ukrainian forces) are withdrawn, it will be done simultaneously with the Russian troop withdrawal."

The nine-point Minsk plan is meant to reinforce a truce forged on September 5 in a bid to stem fighting that has claimed nearly 3,000 lives since April and threatened Ukraine's very survival.

A rebel who identified himself as a member of Donetsk People's Republic's military intelligence said Ukrainian forces were continuing to shoot on insurgent positions around the airport although the attacks had dropped off in intensity and firepower.

"But when they fire we respond, of course," the man who gave his name as Denis told Agence France-Presse. "Each side wants to show the other they are still there."

NATO's top commander General Philip Breedlove said on Saturday the continued clashes had shown it was a ceasefire "in name only" and accused Russia of keeping soldiers on Ukrainian soil to bolster the insurgents.

The truce was "still there in name, but what is happening on the ground is quite a different story," he said on the sidelines of a NATO meeting symbolically convened in the ex-Soviet satellite state of Lithuania.

But he added: "It is our sincere hope and desire that... the two combatants can come to agreement to again get to a ceasefire situation."

Lysenko said two soldiers had been killed over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll since the original truce was declared to 37 servicemen and civilians.

There is no information on casualties from the rebel side.

The Minsk memorandum -- signed by the warring parties and endorsed by both Moscow's Kiev ambassador and an OSCE envoy -- also requires the withdrawal of all "foreign armed groups" and mercenaries from the conflict zone.

Breedlove insisted NATO intelligence showed that the Russian troops "are still inside Ukraine", although Moscow has denied sending in any forces across the border.

Thousands of Russians are expected to protest against the Kremlin's involvement in Ukraine in Moscow later Sunday, the first major anti-war rally since the conflict began.

The OSCE said it has 80 observers in the region to monitor implementation of the agreement.

"De-escalation -- including the silencing and withdrawal of weapons and clearing of mines and unexploded ordnance --  is a vital first step," it said in a statement.

The peace pact came together only after all sides agreed to leave the most divisive political issues over the status of the rebel-held areas in Ukraine's rustbelt for future negotiation.

However, handing a major olive branch to the rebels last week, Kiev offered the eastern regions temporary self-rule and adopted legislation granting amnesty to fighters on both sides.

Rebel representatives in the city of nearly one million people also said Saturday they had received a huge Russian humanitarian convoy -- a type of shipment Kiev believes Moscow may be using to secretly supply the rebels with arms.

A Ukrainian security spokesman said Moscow had blatantly "violated international law and our sovereignty" because it never gave Ukrainian customs officials a chance to inspect the cargo.

But there were still signs the truce was making some progress in other areas.

Rebels on Saturday handed over 34 Ukrainian government soldiers in exchange for 38 separatist militants in the latest prisoner swap.

Saturday's agreement came at the end of a dizzying week for Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko that included Kiev's ratification of a landmark EU association agreement and a visit to Washington for talks with U.S. President Barack Obama.

But the 48-year-old chocolate baron failed to persuade Obama to supply his government with weapons to face the Russian "aggression", winning only a promise of non-lethal aid.

Source: Agence France Presse

 2 
 on: Today at 08:26 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Thousands March in Moscow against Kremlin Role in Ukraine Conflict

by Naharnet Newsdesk
21 September 2014, 16:44

Thousands of Russians on Sunday marched through Moscow to protest against the Kremlin's involvement in the Ukraine crisis, in the country's first major anti-war rally since fighting erupted in April.

A massive column of protesters including prominent opposition activists, many holding the blue-and-yellow flag of Ukraine, were moving through central Moscow, an Agence France-Presse correspondent said.

One of the organizers of the march, Sergei Davidis, said "tens of thousands" showed up.

Source: Agence France Presse

 3 
 on: Today at 07:03 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad

Spotlight Russia: Summer play for bear cubs at Orphan Bears Rehabilitation Center

Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
By: Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova
Posted: Fri, 09/19/2014

This summer's bear cubs at the Orphan Bears Rehabilitation Center.

The post below comes in to us from IFAW Russia Office staff member Mila Danilova. – MV

The 13 bear cubs at the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Orphan Bears Rehabilitation Center have divided themselves into two groups, which are independently moving within the territory of the enclosure and its surroundings.

Not all bear cubs always love being with their peers. For instance, the smallest bear cub, Nelly, prefers solitude to interaction with other cubs, even though she has moved together with the group. When Nelly is with the rest of the group during meal times, she is very actively fighting for food despite her small size, which can be quite amusing to witness.

Mishka, a bear cub from the Smolensk region, is different from his peers due to his “higher” playfulness and sociability. Wherever he is, there is always some play going on – with branches, cones or other bear cubs.

The cubs love chasing each other, but they are already more cautious. When a human approaches, they either run away very fast, or climb the nearest tree.

Playful cubs splashing at center’s nearby pond.

This summer has been very hot. The bear cubs frequent a small water pond near the enclosure, where they bathe, swim, play, splash, and move from one side of the pond to the other various sticks and branches.

The bear cubs are currently foraging for natural food, including plenty of ripe ashberry, apples, acorns and nuts. One of their most favorite “dishes” is angelica ursina. The bear cubs find thickets of this herb and enjoy their meals until they fall asleep right there, full and satisfied.

Time for sleep! Tuckered out after a busy day!

Now is a very important time for the bear cubs, as they have to gain sufficient amount of fat to winter successfully.

***************

IFAW Orphan Bear Rescue Project – Russia

IFAW's Bear Rescue Center, located 350km northwest of Moscow, rescues orphan baby bears, and then cares for them until they are old enough to be released back to the forest. This video shows the steps the bears go through as they grow up and learn the skills they need to survive in the wild.

Click to watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWiwYC8_kaA

 4 
 on: Today at 06:57 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Making A Killing: How Big Agriculture is Intentionally Giving Rise to Modern Superbugs

By: Trevor LaFauci
PoliticusUSA
Saturday, September, 20th, 2014, 7:06 pm   

While people are worrying about Ebola, a simple infection now has the potential to kill us all.

This past week, a groundbreaking special investigation was released by Reuters that detailed the feeding practices of five of the nation’s largest chicken producers. The investigation reviewed more than 320 internal documents called “feed tickets” from Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, Perdue Farms, George’s, and Koch Foods. These feed tickets showed the names and amounts given of each and every “active drug ingredient” put in the feed of the chickens at these five locations. As well as the ingredient, each feed ticket also indicated the purpose of the dosage as well as a specific timeline to when the dosage should be administered based on the chicken’s current stage of development.

The results were horrifying.

These internal documents showed that antibiotics were given to the chickens throughout their lives, regardless of whether or not they were actually sick. The antibiotics were given to the chickens as a way to promote growth and to keep them healthy in what is often unsanitary and overcrowded conditions. In addition to the obvious moral and ethical concerns about this practice, there emerged a far greater concern to the population as a whole: The consequences of misusing antibiotics. By misusing antibiotics on these factory farms, it can lessen the antibiotics effectiveness overtime, especially as these antibiotics make their way to humans via handling of the chickens themselves, mishandling contaminated meat, or from runoff from these large-scale factory farms. Having less effective antibiotics can have detrimental to human health and can cause what were once curable diseases to become life-threatening and to see the rise of the so-called “superbugs” that have begun to emerge in the last few years. According to the CDC, nearly two million people get sick from antibiotic resistant infections each year, and 23,000 people are killed as a result of these infections. All of this happens due to the fact that 70% of all antibiotics in the United States are used on farm animals.

The problem has not gone unnoticed.

This past week, legislation was introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to authorize the Food and Drug administration to collect data on “farm-level antibiotic use.” Gillibrand sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg in which she stated that “the scale and injudicious use” of antibiotics “was staggering.” This follows up 2013 legislation introduced to the House by Representative Louise Slaughter, (D-NY), whose bill would require that the FDA, livestock producers, and drug makers release more data on antibiotic use in food animals. This past week, Slaughter said, “Industry has kept data showing the rampant, dangerous use of antibiotics hidden from the public for one reason: to protect corporate profits at the expense of public health.” Slaughter urged her fellow lawmakers to address the issue at a scheduled hearing on antibiotic resistance Friday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on health.

And yet, despite all the dangers, big agriculture refuses to change its practices.

As a result of the investigation, many of the guilty parties have claimed to be either unconcerned or innocent about misusing antibiotics on their farms. Foster Farms openly admitted to using antibiotics in their feed, despite being the cause of a salmonella outbreak in July. Koch Foods, a Chicago-based supplier to KFC, had a statement on its website up until August 27th which stated “We do not administer antibiotics at growth promotion doses” and that “No antibiotics of human significance are used to treat our birds.” However, the Reuters investigation found that Koch Foods was, in fact, using antibiotics as a way to promote growth in its animals and the statement was immediately removed from the website in what Koch’s CFO claimed was “a wording mistake.” Pilgrim’s Pride, another one of the guilty parties, took an even more extreme approach. They wrote a letter to their growers on September 8 and asked them to sign a confidentiality agreement to protect the kind of information that would be available on a feed ticket. Should the growers violate this agreement, they then became subject to termination.

The problem with this issue is that big ag clearly has no incentive to stop their deadly profitable practice, especially since the science behind the issue can still be manipulated. For example, Ashley Peterson, the VP of scientific and regulatory affairs for the National Chicken Council said, “We understand the concern about the use of antibiotics in farm animals and recognize our responsibility to ensure they are properly used for the right reasons to protect the health of animals, humans and the food supply.” The council then went on to say that the majority of antibiotics approved for use in raising chickens posed no threat to human medicine. Even Gillibrand’s legislation does not lack the urgency needed on such an important issue. In fact, her proposed legislation to track farm-level antibiotic use would not even take effect until April of 2016. Even the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology are aware of the issue of antibiotic resistant infections as they released a report on Thursday addressing the issue. Unfortunately, there is no mention of the relationship of factory farms to the overuse of antibiotics anywhere in the seventy-eight page report.

Going forward, the best way for the American people to act is to avoid chicken products by the big five companies mentioned in the Reuters investigation. As more and more of the scientific information becomes available, we are sure to see more and more people begin to realize how much danger big ag is putting us all in by misusing antibiotics. With the rise of superbugs, we as consumers can not take the chance of eating potentially deadly meat for the sole reason that it is a dollar cheaper at our local grocery store. For big ag to change its practices, they need to be hit in the wallet and the only way for that to happen is for American consumers to realize that we are all at risk for a massive public health crisis simply because these large chicken producers want to save a few bucks in their pockets.

Because unlike Ebola, we know exactly who the villain behind these superbugs are and how they can be stopped.

 5 
 on: Today at 06:57 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
In the USA..United Surveillance America

Making A Killing: How Big Agriculture is Intentionally Giving Rise to Modern Superbugs

By: Trevor LaFauci
PoliticusUSA
Saturday, September, 20th, 2014, 7:06 pm   

While people are worrying about Ebola, a simple infection now has the potential to kill us all.

This past week, a groundbreaking special investigation was released by Reuters that detailed the feeding practices of five of the nation’s largest chicken producers. The investigation reviewed more than 320 internal documents called “feed tickets” from Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, Perdue Farms, George’s, and Koch Foods. These feed tickets showed the names and amounts given of each and every “active drug ingredient” put in the feed of the chickens at these five locations. As well as the ingredient, each feed ticket also indicated the purpose of the dosage as well as a specific timeline to when the dosage should be administered based on the chicken’s current stage of development.

The results were horrifying.

These internal documents showed that antibiotics were given to the chickens throughout their lives, regardless of whether or not they were actually sick. The antibiotics were given to the chickens as a way to promote growth and to keep them healthy in what is often unsanitary and overcrowded conditions. In addition to the obvious moral and ethical concerns about this practice, there emerged a far greater concern to the population as a whole: The consequences of misusing antibiotics. By misusing antibiotics on these factory farms, it can lessen the antibiotics effectiveness overtime, especially as these antibiotics make their way to humans via handling of the chickens themselves, mishandling contaminated meat, or from runoff from these large-scale factory farms. Having less effective antibiotics can have detrimental to human health and can cause what were once curable diseases to become life-threatening and to see the rise of the so-called “superbugs” that have begun to emerge in the last few years. According to the CDC, nearly two million people get sick from antibiotic resistant infections each year, and 23,000 people are killed as a result of these infections. All of this happens due to the fact that 70% of all antibiotics in the United States are used on farm animals.

The problem has not gone unnoticed.

This past week, legislation was introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to authorize the Food and Drug administration to collect data on “farm-level antibiotic use.” Gillibrand sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg in which she stated that “the scale and injudicious use” of antibiotics “was staggering.” This follows up 2013 legislation introduced to the House by Representative Louise Slaughter, (D-NY), whose bill would require that the FDA, livestock producers, and drug makers release more data on antibiotic use in food animals. This past week, Slaughter said, “Industry has kept data showing the rampant, dangerous use of antibiotics hidden from the public for one reason: to protect corporate profits at the expense of public health.” Slaughter urged her fellow lawmakers to address the issue at a scheduled hearing on antibiotic resistance Friday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on health.

And yet, despite all the dangers, big agriculture refuses to change its practices.

As a result of the investigation, many of the guilty parties have claimed to be either unconcerned or innocent about misusing antibiotics on their farms. Foster Farms openly admitted to using antibiotics in their feed, despite being the cause of a salmonella outbreak in July. Koch Foods, a Chicago-based supplier to KFC, had a statement on its website up until August 27th which stated “We do not administer antibiotics at growth promotion doses” and that “No antibiotics of human significance are used to treat our birds.” However, the Reuters investigation found that Koch Foods was, in fact, using antibiotics as a way to promote growth in its animals and the statement was immediately removed from the website in what Koch’s CFO claimed was “a wording mistake.” Pilgrim’s Pride, another one of the guilty parties, took an even more extreme approach. They wrote a letter to their growers on September 8 and asked them to sign a confidentiality agreement to protect the kind of information that would be available on a feed ticket. Should the growers violate this agreement, they then became subject to termination.

The problem with this issue is that big ag clearly has no incentive to stop their deadly profitable practice, especially since the science behind the issue can still be manipulated. For example, Ashley Peterson, the VP of scientific and regulatory affairs for the National Chicken Council said, “We understand the concern about the use of antibiotics in farm animals and recognize our responsibility to ensure they are properly used for the right reasons to protect the health of animals, humans and the food supply.” The council then went on to say that the majority of antibiotics approved for use in raising chickens posed no threat to human medicine. Even Gillibrand’s legislation does not lack the urgency needed on such an important issue. In fact, her proposed legislation to track farm-level antibiotic use would not even take effect until April of 2016. Even the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology are aware of the issue of antibiotic resistant infections as they released a report on Thursday addressing the issue. Unfortunately, there is no mention of the relationship of factory farms to the overuse of antibiotics anywhere in the seventy-eight page report.

Going forward, the best way for the American people to act is to avoid chicken products by the big five companies mentioned in the Reuters investigation. As more and more of the scientific information becomes available, we are sure to see more and more people begin to realize how much danger big ag is putting us all in by misusing antibiotics. With the rise of superbugs, we as consumers can not take the chance of eating potentially deadly meat for the sole reason that it is a dollar cheaper at our local grocery store. For big ag to change its practices, they need to be hit in the wallet and the only way for that to happen is for American consumers to realize that we are all at risk for a massive public health crisis simply because these large chicken producers want to save a few bucks in their pockets.

Because unlike Ebola, we know exactly who the villain behind these superbugs are and how they can be stopped.

**************

Republicans Steal Taxpayer Money By Become The Earliest Congress To Bolt Town Since 1960

By: Jason Easley
PoliticusUSA
Saturday, September, 20th, 2014, 3:59 pm

The record of failure and shame continues to grow for House Republicans as they have passed fewer laws than last year’s do nothing Congress and left town sooner than any Congress since 1960.

After managing to not screw up keeping the government funded, House Republicans felt so proud of themselves that the promptly canceled all of their remaining votes and left town until after the November elections.

By leaving their jobs so soon, House Republicans set a dubious record:

    This is the earliest departure by the Congress for the elections since 1960, when lawmakers left DC on September 1

    — Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) September 19, 2014

Maybe if they had passed a lot of legislation, the American people could understand the Republican desire for an early vacation. The problem is that Congress is on pace to be even less productive than last year’s historic do nothing Congress.

According to Nancy Pelosi’s office, “Up until now, the 112th Congress had the record as the most unproductive in modern history. However, due to the obstruction and intransigence of Republicans in both the House and Senate, the 113th Congress is on track to beating that record. As of today, the 113th Congress has enacted only 163 laws – even fewer than what the unproductive 112th Congress had produced by this date. As a result, Americans’ confidence in Congress has fallen to a historic low of 7 percent.”

The House was only scheduled for twelve days of work in September and October, but the original plan proved too challenging, so the Republican leadership stopped working after eight days. The American people are paying House Republicans to work at job that they aren’t showing up for. The House GOP is taking millions of dollars from taxpayers in salaries and benefits for doing nothing. The Republicans aren’t passing legislation. They aren’t dealing with the nation’s problems. Heck, Boehner and company can’t even show up for work.

If the Republican House were paid by the hour maybe, they would spend more time doing their jobs, but this is a Congress that has shown no interest in doing anything productive.

Boehner and the House Republicans are stealing your hard earned money, and if Republicans can’t be bothered to show up for work, voters need to fire them this November.

***************

The Right of Self Defense in Texas Completely Depends on Race

By: Rmuse
PoliticusUSA
Saturday, September, 20th, 2014, 11:15 am   

In the first stage of what is known as general adaptation syndrome, a recognized natural response among all vertebrates and many other organisms is hyperarousal or acute stress response. In its more recognizable name, the “fight or flight” response is a natural physiological reaction to a perceived harmful event, attack, or a threat to one’s survival. Without delving into the actual hormonal secretions involved, animals’ sympathetic nervous systems react to a chemical discharge that primes them to either run away or stand and face a threat. Human beings experience the fight or flight response to their safety, but when they are denied egress from danger, their only option is to stand and fight.

Regardless of what one thinks of the obscene NRA and ALEC “stand your ground laws,” most Americans would support its original iteration known as the “Castle Doctrine.” The principle that every American has the right to defend their family from armed intruders breaking into their home  should be universally applied to all Americans, but it appears to be reserved solely for white people, at least in Texas.

First, in Somerville Texas in mid-December, a white man, Henry Goedrich Magee, was awoken before 6 a.m. to intruders breaking into his mobile home. Fearing for his and his pregnant girlfriend’s safety, Magee grabbed a firearm and opened fire on the intruders killing a Burleson County law enforcement officer. Sgt. Adam Sowers was fatally wounded by Magee while leading an armed team during an early morning unannounced “no-knock” marijuana raid. A couple of months later a Texas grand jury rightfully refused to indict Mr. Magee citing his sincere belief that he feared for his and his pregnant girlfriend’s life. The grand jury cleared him of any wrongdoing “as a completely reasonable act of self-defense.”

It is tragic a law enforcement officer lost his life, and that Magee was so rightfully terrified he had no flight option available and with a team of armed men breaking into his home exercised the natural response of fighting for survival. That is a result of a growing law enforcement practice across America of heavily-armed SWAT teams breaking into private homes without identifying themselves are police. A reasonable person might think that law enforcement officials in Texas would rethink the “army-style” incursions into private citizens’ homes, especially with the preponderance of gun advocates in the state, but the concepts of “reasonable, Texas, and law enforcement” in the same sentence is alien.

Reasonable law enforcement practice is so alien, in fact, that armed teams breaking into Americans’ homes unannounced while residents are sleeping resulted in another law enforcement officer’s death less than six months after the Magee incident where the events were nearly identical. In fact, the events were exactly identical except for the prosecutor’s outrageous response.

In May, at about 5:30 a.m. in Killeen Texas, a SWAT team looking for marijuana broke into a home occupied by Marvin Louis Guy and his wife. The SWAT team was acting on a bogus, and unverified, tip off that drugs were on the premises and being dealt from the home. A subsequent search found no drugs or nothing indicating drug dealing. In fact, it is a real travesty that there was nothing whatsoever to indicate to a reasonable person that there was any reason a gang of armed men should have been breaking into one’s home that makes the circumstances of the officer’s death all the more tragic.

Subsequently, upon hearing the armed men breaking into his home at the crack of dawn, Mr. Guy feared for his and his wife’s life and sought to protect themselves and their property from what they thought were armed intruders. The SWAT team attempting to breach Mr. Guy’s home were implementing another “no-knock” raid, and a Detective Dinwiddie and three other SWAT members were shot while breaking into Mr. Guy’s home. Detective Dinwiddie died, one officer was wounded, and two others were saved by body armor. The police press release admitted Dinwiddie and the three other officers were shot while breaking into Mr. Guy’s home without identifying themselves as law enforcement; “The TRU was breaching the windows when the 49 year old male inside opened fire striking four officers.”

One might think that after the previous incident in December, a reasonable prosecutor would assume that since the shooting occurred during an early-morning break-in by armed men without identifying themselves as police officers, it would be a case of self-defense; but there is one major difference in the case. Mr. Guy is African American, he lives in Texas, and despite fearing for his and his wife’s life, he should have known that there are different standards according to race in America. As a Black man he had no right to defend himself according to the local prosecutor, and no grand jury cleared him of wrongdoing “as a completely reasonable act of self-defense.”

The prosecutor, while announcing in open court that Governor Rick Perry had just awarded the slain police officer’s family with the Star of Texas award, promptly charged Mr. Guy with capital murder and is seeking the death penalty in Dinwiddie’s death. He also charged Guy with three counts of attempted capital murder for firing at the other officers while they were breaking in his home. The Star of Texas prize is given out each year to police and first responders killed or injured in the line of duty; even when they break into a private citizens home without identifying themselves as law enforcement or find no evidence of contraband.

The idea of self-defense, particularly in one’s private residence, should not be up for discussion, controversial, or an issue involving law enforcement officers as victims of armed break-ins. There has been an explosion of military-style SWAT raids known as “no-knock” incursions that have resulted in death and injuries to people’s pets, children, entire communities, and law enforcement officers as well. Most are for non-violent, and often non-existent, misdemeanor drug offenses that are in most cases a result of the ridiculous and failed war on marijuana use; not drug cartels or major drug traffickers. The number of SWAT deployments, with military hardware and vehicles, across the nation has ballooned  from a few hundred annually in the 1970s, to a few thousand during the 1980s, to over 50,000 per year in 2010.  Subsequently, many of the “military raids” are botched besides the two recent officer deaths in Texas as well as an 18-month old baby in Georgia being injured by a SWAT grenade. Most of the botched raids and subsequent law enforcement mistakes resulting in death never actually make the news.

The Texas cases are telling in that there are two dead police officers as a result of not identifying themselves as law enforcement while breaking into private residences in the early morning hours. It is also revealing that a grand jury found that a white man who shot and killed what he thought was an armed intruder acted in self-defense, while a Black man in identical circumstances is charged by a prosecutor with capital murder and faces the death penalty. Self-defense is supposed to be a right for all Americans, regardless of race, and if lawmakers would comprehend that using marijuana should also be a right, regardless of race, at least two  Texas cops would be alive and a Black man would not be facing the death penalty for “a completely reasonable act of self-defense.”

*************

Myth Of Liberal Media Bias Destroyed As Study Finds Conservatives Dominate Sunday Shows

By: Jason Easley
PoliticusUSA
Saturday, September, 20th, 2014, 1:14 pm

meet-the-press-chuck-toddmeet-the-press-chuck-todd
A new study revealed what is obvious to anyone who watches the Sunday shows. Liberal media bias is a myth. According to data collected by American University, conservatives dominate the Sunday shows.

The New York Times reported,

    Conservative members of the current Congress have appeared more often on the network talk shows than their liberal counterparts. Senators and representatives from the conservative end of the ideological spectrum have made 57 percent of the appearances, compared with 42 percent for liberals, according to an Upshot analysis of data collected by American University.

    This slightly lopsided distribution is primarily the result of three Republican senators’ frequent visits to the network shows: John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell. Because of the Republican Party’s control of the House during the past three years, its leaders and committee chairmen are presented with more opportunities to discuss the latest political news.

    Participants in the 2008 and 2012 presidential nominating contests also helped boost conservative representation: Paul D. Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman who was the G.O.P.’s 2012 vice-presidential nominee, made 46 appearances between early January 2009 and Aug. 3 this year.

The Times tried to explain away the distribution as slightly lopsided, but that was just excuse making for a pattern of systemic corporate media conservative bias. Tim Russert is considered the gold standard among Sunday morning hosts, but during his time at Meet The Press, Republican guests outnumbered Democratic guests by a 2-1 margin.

The idea that Republicans are on the Sunday shows more because they control the House doesn’t wash. Democrats control the Senate, but John McCain has made 97 appearances on the Sunday shows since 2009. While McCain was racking up appearances, Democrats controlled the White House and the Senate.

Mainstream media doesn’t want to discuss the fact that there is an institutional bias in their reporting that has been caused by news being turned into a for profit venture, and the fact that conservative corporations advertise and sponsor the Sunday shows. The Koch brothers ran an ad two weeks ago on Meet The Press.

It makes sense that the corporate owned media would actively promote the interests of the corporate owned Republican Party. The bias isn’t slight. The media towards conservatism is real and pronounced. The United States has been moving more to the left since the economic collapse of 2008, but the media has continued their rightward drift.

According to Gallup, trust in the mass media has hit an all time low. The number of Americans who think the media is too conservative has reached a new high. The myth of liberal media bias has been constantly reinforced by Republicans for more than forty years, but for two decades, the real bias has been against liberals. The mainstream press can try to gloss over it, but more and more Americans are catching on to the problem of conservative media bias.

 6 
 on: Today at 06:45 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
NASA probe to enter Mars orbit seeking answers about lost water

Reuters
20 Sep 2014                   

CAPE CANAVERAL Fla (Reuters) – A NASA spacecraft designed to investigate how Mars lost its water is expected to put itself into orbit around the Red Planet on Sunday after a 10-month journey.

After traveling 442 million miles (711 million km) from Earth, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, probe faces a do-or-die burn of its six braking rockets beginning at 9:37 p.m. EDT.

If successful, the thruster burns will trim enough speed for MAVEN to be captured by Mars’ gravity and fall into a looping orbit.

Over the next six weeks, as engineers check MAVEN’s nine science instruments, the spacecraft will maneuver itself into an operational orbit that comes as close as 93 miles (150 km) and as far away as 3,853 miles (6,200 km) from Mars’ surface.

Unlike previous Mars orbiters, landers and rovers, MAVEN will focus on the planet’s atmosphere, which scientists suspect was once far thicker than the puny envelope of mostly carbon dioxide gas that surrounds it today.

Denser air would be needed for water to pool on the surface. While no water appears there today, Mars is covered with ancient river channels, lakebeds and chemical evidence of a warmer, wetter past.

“Where did the water go? Where did the CO2 (carbon dioxide) go from that early environment?” MAVEN lead science Bruce Jakosky, of the University of Colorado, asked reporters this week. “It can go two places: down in the crust or up to the top of the atmosphere where it can be lost to space,” he said.

MAVEN’s focus is the latter. The spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin, will spend a year monitoring what happens when the solar wind and other charged particles hit the upper layers of Mars’ atmosphere, stripping it away.

By studying the atmosphere today, scientists expect to learn about the processes involved and then use computer models to extrapolate back in time. Ultimately, scientists want to learn if Mars had the right conditions for life to evolve.

MAVEN, said Jakosky, will tell them “the boundary conditions that surround the potential for life.”

MAVEN will join a fleet of two U.S. orbiters, two U.S. rovers and a European orbiter currently working at Mars. India’s first Mars probe is due to arrive on Wednesday.

 7 
 on: Today at 06:44 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Paleontologists discover massive-nosed ‘Jimmy Durante of dinosaurs’

RedOrbit
20 Sep 2014         

The month of September has already brought us several new amazing dinosaur species, including the massive Dreadnoughtus and the first-ever semi-aquatic species known as the Spinosaurus, but the latest fossil find edges out both of those discoveries by a nose.

In research published online Wednesday in the peer-reviewed British publication the Journal of Systematic Paleontology, researchers from North Carolina State University and Brigham Young University in Utah have unveiled a new, 30-foot-long, 8,500-pound plant-eating hadrosaur that had a rather striking profile thanks to the rather prominent feature which earned it the name Rhinorex condrupus, which roughly translates to “King Nose.”

According to Rachel Feltman of the Washington Post, Rhinorex is definitely worthy of its moniker. She proclaimed it “sovereign of the schnozes, baron of the beaks, and prince of the proboscises” thanks to the fact that it had a massive nose rather than a bony or fleshy crest atop its head, as is typically the case with its cousins (which include the Parasaurolophus and the Edmontosaurus).

The researchers report that this new species lived in what is now Utah approximately 75 million years ago, during the Late Cretaceous period, and its fossils were found in storage at BYU by Terry Gates of NC State and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and Rodney Sheetz from the Brigham Young Museum of Paleontology.

It had originally been excavated from Utah’s Neslen formation during the 1990s, and had been studied mostly for its well-preserved skin impressions, the study authors said. It wasn’t until Gates and Sheetz attempted to reconstruct the skull that they discovered it belonged to a brand-new style of hadrosaur. They had nearly the entire skull, the researchers said, but it took two years to dig the fossils out of the sandstone encasing it.

Gates believes that the find will help fill in some gaps about habitat segregation during the Late Cretaceous, stating that while paleontologists had discovered other hadrosaurs from the same time period, they were “located about 200 miles farther south that are adapted to a different environment. This discovery gives us a geographic snapshot of the Cretaceous, and helps us place contemporary species in their correct time and place.”

When asked how having such a large nose might have benefitted the Rhinorex, Gates added, “The purpose of such a big nose is still a mystery. If this dinosaur is anything like its relatives then it likely did not have a super sense of smell; but maybe the nose was used as a means of attracting mates, recognizing members of its species, or even as a large attachment for a plant-smashing beak. We are already sniffing out answers to these questions.”

Earlier this month, Dr. Kenneth Lacovara, an associate professor in the Drexel University College of Arts and Sciences, and his colleagues reported the discovery of Dreadnoughtus schrani – an 85 foot long, 65 ton dinosaur that was the largest land animal for which a body mass can be accurately calculated. Dreadnoughtus would have been nearly impervious to attack, the authors said, and weighed as much as a dozen African elephants.

A few days later, an international team of researchers revealed that they had unearthed Spinosaurus aegyptiacus, an enormous Cretaceous-era predator that had a number of adaptations that would to have made it better suited for spending a considerable amount of time in the water. In addition to being the first semi-aquatic dinosaur, Spinosaurus was also known to travel on solid ground, making it the largest predator to ever walk the Earth.

 8 
 on: Today at 06:41 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad
Mexican copper mine still spilling acid into Sonora river as owners resist government

Agence France-Presse
20 Sep 2014   

A Mexican copper mine which spewed millions of gallons of acid into a river last month is still causing pollution and the facility’s owners are blocking the work of investigators probing the accident, authorities said.

The massive acid leak in August, involving some 40,000 cubic meters (10.6 million gallons) of sulfuric acid, was one of Mexico’s largest ever mining-related environmental disasters.

“As of this moment, the government of Sonora (state) totally breaks off any relationship with the mining company,” which is continuing to discharge toxic substances in the river, director of the state civil protection agency, Carlos Arias said at a press conference Friday.

The toxic acid, used to dissolve copper from ore, spilled out of a holding tank at the Buenavista copper mine in Sonora State, one of the largest in the world.

The chemical turned a 60-kilometer (40-mile) stretch of the Sonora River orange, causing authorities to shut off the municipal water supply to 20,000 people in seven towns.

Arias said since the spill, Buenavista, a subsidiary of Grupo Mexico, has blocked access to investigators, and he warned Sonora state authorities would come back — this time backed up by security forces.

“We will act with the full weight of the law, because they are already in a plan that cannot continue,” Arias said, adding the government was mulling permanent closure of the mine.

The mining company “categorically denied the accusations,” in a statement Friday night.

“Buenavista del Cobre has worked alongside state authorities,” the company said, lamenting “the politicization of the accident.”

The mining company has created a fund of two billion pesos ($147 million) to repair the environmental damage. Environmental authorities have also imposed fines of more than 44 million pesos ($3 million) over the spill.

Federal prosecutors are still investigating whether the leak was caused by shoddy construction and installation of the pipeline or, as the company argues, by excessive rains.

 9 
 on: Today at 06:37 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad

Immigration protest cancelled over 'death threats from Mexican cartels'
 
Jessica Glenza in New York
theguardian.com, Saturday 20 September 2014 21.38 BST      

Conservative activists who planned to protest against illegal immigration and President Obama’s immigration policies on Saturday said they had canceled all events after receiving death threats from Mexican drug cartels.

Activists had planned to use vehicles as barricades to shut down border crossings at 17 locations in four states – Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. But the event, called Shut Down All Ports of Entry, was canceled early on Saturday morning by organizer Stasyi Barth, who said she had received the threats.

In August, a similar protest was canceled after organizers claimed they had been threatened by Mexican drug cartels. The organizer of that 30-vehicle “Border Convoy”, Eric Odom, canceled a rally meant for El Paso in Texas but did not specify which cartel might have threatened his group.

“We had to cancel that because of death threats against our crew and convoy,” he told the Guardian. “We’re not into that. We are a very peaceful convoy and we want to show that the border is very dangerous and open.”

On Saturday, Barth said “an unsubstantiated threat of mass violence against attendees, along with very suspicious activity on the Facebook site” had forced her to cancel the event, telling supporters: “Your lives, and the lives of our law enforcement, are more important than any protest.”

It is unclear how many people might have attended the protests. A Facebook page for the event has just more than 1,800 members. Barth is a 41-year-old former computer programer who, according to the Daily Pilot, has lived on disability benefits for about a decade.

“It was [a] cartel threatening a blood bath, [Facebook] hits coming [en] masse from Mexico,” Barth told the conservative website TheBlaze. “One of the organizers was being followed and was verbally told not to go.”

On Facebook, Barth said “law enforcement is involved and is investigating”. She did not specify which cartel might have threatened the group, or which law enforcing agencies were investigating.

Some media outlets identified the group organising the canceled protest as a militia, though Barth denied that. The mayor of Rio Grande, Texas, Ruben Villarreal, said he believed some members of the group would be armed, according to local news station KRGV.

 10 
 on: Today at 06:35 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad

'Ebola makes you a risk to yourself: touching your face can infect you'

As Sierra Leoneans endure a lockdown to contain the virus, Monica Mark reports from Freetown on her own anxiety visiting hospitals and villages, and the key role of charities in fighting the epidemic

Monica Mark in Freetown
The Observer, Sunday 21 September 2014          

Hospital waiting rooms are miserable places at the best of times, but in the middle of an Ebola outbreak Freetown's Princess Christian Maternal Hospital is suffocating. Corridors that would normally bustle with children and harried parents are sepulchral. Nurses whisper in forlorn huddles in empty rooms. Then a shriek of joy shatters the silence. "Jessica! You're back from America!", a tiny elderly woman cries, rushing towards me with open arms. Before I have time to react, she throws her arms around me in a vice-like embrace.

What would ordinarily be brushed off as a case of mistaken identity takes me 21 days – the incubation time of the Ebola virus – to get over.

In a country where more than 500 have died after six months of Ebola – which is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids – the "no touching" rule has become the norm. At the beginning of my 10-day trip to Sierra Leone, I went to shake a friend's hand. He threw himself back against the wall with a panic that would have been comical if not for the fear on his face. Such reactions soon became as routine as having my temperature taken at road checkpoints and washing my hands in buckets of chlorinated water found everywhere.

I had only one more lapse. On my third day I was at the Médecins Sans Frontières treatment centre with my sister Katie, a documentary film-maker who was accompanying me, when I reached out to tuck a wisp of her hair that had come loose. The act was so natural, I didn't even think about it. Suddenly a medic yelled across the field hospital: "No touching!"

The paranoia that seized me then didn't leave until I returned home. Unlike other hostile situations I've covered over five years in west Africa – riots, wars and natural disasters – in this case people I cared about were the enemy. Ebola makes you a risk even to yourself: touching your eyes, nose or mouth can infect you. Now a stranger in a hospital was hugging me.

"I'm so happy you came, Jessica. My daughter gave birth!", this wizened woman declared, beaming up at me. "Come and see," she said. At some point, as Mariatu marched me past deserted rooms – "so is your husband back in America now?" she asked, to which I replied, "He's in Nigeria, where we live"– she must have realised I was neither Jessica nor from America. Even then, she kept going. When she handed me the newborn swaddled in a pink blanket, I understood why. In a country where births can prompt neighbourhood festivities, only me, Mariatu and her daughter were there to celebrate. Everyone else she knew was too scared of catching Ebola to come to the hospital.

To me, this incident defines what it is like living through an Ebola epidemic. It is both underwhelming and terrifying. It turned out the most exhausting part was my own paranoia. Some, like Mariatu, have defeated their paranoia. Logically, I knew the risk of contagion was low and I understood how to protect myself. But throughout my time in Sierra Leone I was plunged into a state of hyper-awareness about my own body and that of every person around me. One health worker who had identified dozens of cases told me many patients had reddened eyes in the early stages. Suddenly I noticed an awful lot of people in Sierra Leone seemed to have bloodshot eyes.

The World Health Organisation has warned that huge resources need to be poured into Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, which account for all but a handful of the 2,500 deaths, in order to keep them from spiralling into the tens of thousands by the year's end.

To travel to Kailahun, where lush forest sprawls across the interior regions of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, is to understand how Ebola exploded here, and how it was swept under the carpet for so long. I spent every childhood summer at my paternal grandfather's house in rural Nigeria, yet the remoteness of the affected villages shocked me. Roads burrowed tunnels through vegetation that looked as if it had paused for breath before engulfing us all again.

"Around here you don't know if you're in Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone. You'd never say 'I'm going to Guinea'; you'd just say 'I'm going to the next village'," said Nickson, our cheerful driver, explaining why the disease has cast such a wide net over the three countries' porous interior regions. Nickson wore a surgical mask most of the time – "I don't want to die, I have a son," he kept saying – brought his own tinned food from Freetown and whipped out a bottle of chlorinated spray whenever someone touched the car.

I watched a team of young Sierra Leonean burial volunteers in anti-contamination suits descend in this environment of straw-topped huts, towering forests and mud-lined streams. It was surreal, almost frightening.

But for all that traditional practices and suspicion of outsiders has fuelled the outbreak – last week villagers in the remote Guinean village of Womey killed eight members of an education team – what lies at the heart of many people's denial and inability to adapt is an all-too-common fear of illness and death. One doctor seconded to the country told me he had dealt with similar reactions when diagnosing patients in the US with HIV.

I was surprised to discover how hard it is to change your behaviour, even when your life is at risk. In every village we visited, several people would bound up to the car before I'd even got out and lean cheerfully against the window. Sweat and spit would sometimes fly in – you notice this when you're hyper-aware. But always, as with the hospital situation with Mariatu in the hospital, I didn't want to be rude and turn away from them.

Habits go much deeper than that, of course. Most experts believe many unrecorded Ebola outbreaks may have died out naturally as locals adapted at their own pace. For example, by the tail-end of the 2000 outbreak in northern Uganda, the Acholi turned to long-trusted measures for two gemo –roughly translating into "an illness borne by evil winds" – which had been applied during flareups of other infectious diseases, like measles and smallpox, medical anthropologist Barry Hewlett discovered. Alongside spirit-chasing rituals, infected people were treated in homes where sticks of elephant grass signalled that only previous survivors could enter.

Such measures can't solve an outbreak of this magnitude, which has jumped to urban areas, too. The help of western nations is desperately needed, but for me the great tragedy of this outbreak has been the revelation of just how abjectly west African governments have failed to invest in their own citizens' healthcare, education and infrastructure – all of which might have nipped the epidemic in the bud.

Only four ambulances serve Kailahun, a district of nearly half a million people. Entire families sometimes cram into one car to accompany Ebola-sick relatives to the centre, so those who weren't ill before become infected. Unsurprisingly, that feeds a cycle of mistrust.

Dozens continue to die in conditions that are unimaginable in the west. The only reason things aren't even worse is down to the incredible efforts of international medical charities, who can't safely expand without more experts on the ground.

One afternoon a group of women at the MSF centre dragged themselves to a small outside area fenced off with orange plastic mesh. It was impossible to guess their ages – they had been hollowed out by illness, and could barely acknowledge anything beyond their pain. One woman turned to glance at me with what was clearly enormous effort. I understood I was witnessing physical agony too private to be shared.

"It's sad in there. We see people who have diarrhoea, who have vomited on themselves; sometimes they fall on the ground and cannot move," said Moussa Kefa, a volunteer hygienist who was getting ready to enter the isolation tent. "Sometimes we see 10 people die in one day. It's a hard job, but we're doing it for our people."

The morning after the nine-hour ride back to Freetown, Cheikh, who had driven me back, called to say he wasn't feeling very well. He had a headache, he couldn't eat and – his voice wavered slightly – he had a temperature. All the classic symptoms of Ebola. I told him to head to the nearest clinic for a check-up.

My voice was calm but when I hung up, my hands were shaking. I couldn't disentangle my panic from what was real. I was acutely aware of every twinge or ache in my body.

Was I feeling this hot before I spoke to him, or was it the onset of fever? Had my neck really been so sore from sleeping badly last night or was it muscle aches?

I turned out to be okay, as did Cheikh. But each time I hear of fresh Ebola deaths, I picture those women sitting in a tent in the tropical heat, too weak to raise their heads.
THE VIRUS

■ Ebola is transferred to humans via close contact with infected animals, then spreads through bodily fluids.

■ Funerals may be increasing the spread, especially when family members prepare a body for burial.

■ The outbreaks began in remote central Africa; the most recent in urban areas.

■ Symptoms include fever and muscle pain, then vomiting and bleeding, sometimes from eyes and mouth.

■ An outbreak killed 36 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2012.

■ The fatality rate is around 50%.

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