Mount Polley: A Wake-Up Call to the Realities of Tailings Ponds

By Dr. David Suzuki, EcoWatch – When a tailings pond broke at the Mount Polley gold and copper mine in south-central B.C., spilling millions of cubic metres of waste into a salmon-bearing stream, B.C. Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett called it an “extremely rare” occurrence, the first in 40 years for mines operating here. He failed to mention the 46 “dangerous or unusual occurrences” that B.C’s chief inspector of mines reported at tailings ponds in the province between 2000 and 2012, as well as breaches at non-operating mine sites. This spill was predictable. Concerns were raised about Mount Polley before the breach. CBC reported that B.C.’s Environment Ministry issued several warnings about the amount of water in the pond to mine owner Imperial Metals. With 50 mines operating in B.C. — and many others across Canada — we can expect more incidents, unless we reconsider how we’re extracting resources. Sudden and severe failure is a risk for all large...

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Häagen-Dazs Says No to ‘Extreme’ Genetic Engineering Techniques

By Stefanie Penn Spear, EcoWatch – Ice cream lovers who prefer to steer clear of genetically modified organisms (GMO) will be happy to hear that Häagen-Dazs has confirmed it will not use vanilla produced via synthetic biology, a new set of “extreme” genetic engineering techniques. Synthetic biology, or synbio, vanilla is designed to replace natural vanillin flavoring from vanilla beans, and is made in labs using artificial DNA and reprogrammed, genetically engineered yeast, according to a Friends of the Earth statement. The companies Evolva and International Flavors and Fragrances plan to sell synbio vanilla flavoring this year, marketing it as “natural.” The leading ice cream company — Nestlé, which produces Häagen-Dazs in Canada and the U.S., and General Mills, which produces Häagen-Dazs outside of North America — has confirmed that it “…will not source vanilla flavor produced through synthetic biology.” Other ice cream brands, including Three Twins Ice Cream, Straus Family Creamery and Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss, have also confirmed their products will not...

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Wendy Davis Draws Praise, Criticism for Education Plans

by Bobby Blanchard, The Texas Tribune – Education leaders praised additions to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis’ education platform this week — efforts her campaign says will increase college affordability and improve graduation rates. The campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott, meanwhile, is criticizing those policy proposals for lacking details, such as how much she thinks her measures will cost, and for having the potential to grow the size of government. Davis unveiled the new plans in San Antonio on Tuesday. They include creating a Career-Technical Coordinating Board, which would coordinate between businesses and schools to ease the entry into technical jobs for students. She also proposed opening the B-On-Time loan program to part-time students and seeking “full funding” for the TEXAS Grant program to create more financial aid for students. In Austin on Wednesday, the president of the Texas State Teachers Association and vice president of Education Austin, an Austin ISD labor union, endorsed Davis’ plans and said...

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Florida Mayor Forces Atheist To Leave Public Meeting For Not Standing During Prayer (VIDEO)

by Stephen D Foster Jr – During a city council meeting in Florida, the mayor and chief of police kicked an atheist out of the room for refusing to stand during prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. As the all middle age white male city council of Winter Garden, Florida stood to open a Thursday meeting with an unconstitutional Christian prayer and recite the Pledge of Allegiance featuring the unconstitutional words “under God,” an atheist member of the community refused to do so, and his rights were violated for it. Mayor John Rees tried to force 51-year-old Joseph Richardson to stand during the meeting, because it’s somehow “just not fair to our troops and people overseas” to exercise a right to free speech and religion that our soldiers fight for Americans to have in the first place. After Richardson declined, Commissioner Bobby Olszewski delivered an ironic prayer in which he...

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Democrats Embrace ‘McCutcheon’ Decision

New ‘jumbo’ joint fundraising committee follows liberals’ harsh criticism of Supreme Court ruling by Michael Beckel & Dave Levinthal – Senate Democrats have embraced a new big-money fundraising vehicle — after repeatedly blasting the U.S. Supreme Court decision that made it possible — that could help candidates, state parties and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee tap wealthy donors for even more cash. The new “jumbo” joint fundraising committee, dubbed the Grassroots Victory Project 2014, marks the Democrats’ first foray into the territory opened up in April after the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission ruling. That decision eviscerated the so-called “aggregate” campaign contribution limits that capped at nine the number of candidates a single donor could financially support at the maximum level. Paperwork recently filed with the Federal Election Commission indicates 26 Democratic candidates and party committees stand to benefit from money raised collectively through the Grassroots Victory Project 2014. This...

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Mary Burke Keeps Her Lead on Scott Walker, but it’s Tight

by Jeff Singer – The respected Marquette University Law School poll is out with a new survey, and they find things as close as ever. Among registered voters, Republican Gov. Scott Walker has a small 48-44 lead over Democratic foe Mary Burke. However, among likely voters, it’s Burke who’s up, by 49-47. In Marquette’s July poll, Walker led 46-45 among registered voters, with Burke up 47-46 among likely voters. Other pollsters have shown a very close race, but Marquette is the only one to show any Burke lead. Suffice to say, it’s a bit surprising that a Democrat is doing better among likely voters than registered voters, especially when conventional wisdom says that midterm turnout will disproportionately favor the Republicans. That said, Scott Walker is a very uniquely polarizing figure who seems to attract about as much devotion from one side as utter hatred from the other. It’s not...

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Will Ukraine Bid To Join NATO Unleash 21st Century Cold War?

Experts warn that if US and Europe continue to expand NATO’s reach without recognizing destructive consequences, crisis in eastern Ukraine risks serious escalation by Jon Queally – In a move that could dramatically spike international tensions and escalate the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the Prime Minister of the Ukraine government in Kiev on Friday submitted legislation to Parliament declaring intention to join the western military alliance of NATO and longer-term ambitions to actually join the European Union. Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk submitted the proposal on Friday just ahead of a NATO emergency meeting held in Brussels to discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Following that meeting, NATO’s Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen emerged to say NATO would “fully respect” Ukraine’s effort to join the alliance. In comments on Thursday, President Obama chastised Russia for its behavior in Ukraine, blaming President Vladimir Putin for the continued resistance shown by armed rebels in...

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Audio: In Midst of Ferguson Rant, Rightwing Host Gets Nailed for Attacking a Cop in 1997

By Jud Lounsbury, Daily Kos – Dylan Brogan, Madison’s most intrepid reporter, happened to catch right wing talk show host Vicki McKenna’s afternoon program while flipping through the dials last Friday. On this day, McKenna was talking about the turmoil in Ferguson Missouri over a police officer shooting an unarmed teen that was, according to the police officer, attacking the police officer.  McKenna repeatedly suggested that the police officer was in the right, simply defending himself, and the protests were completely unwarranted. In a previous reporting endeavor, Brogan had obtained a police report that indicated that McKenna was charged during a 1997 U2 concert for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest for altercations with police officers, security guards and fellow concert goers.  With this in mind, he was amazed by McKenna’s bravado in defending the police officer’s use of deadly force with an allegedly combative perpetrator. A little background:  Brogan is...

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The Literal War on Drugs

The promiscuous use of SWAT teams is a bigger menace than armored vehicles on our streets by Jacob Sullum – Contrary to what you may have heard, the armored vehicles that appeared on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, during the unrest that followed the police shooting of Michael Brown did not come from the Pentagon. “Most of the stuff you are seeing in video coming out of Ferguson is not military,” Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Defense Department’s press secretary, told reporters last week. “The military is not the only source of tactical gear in this country.” In other words: Don’t blame the military for militarizing the police. Kirby has a point. Although the Pentagon has played a role by distributing surplus gear to police departments, so have the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security by providing grants that can be used to buy military-style equipment. In any case,...

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Stunning Pictures of Drugs Under the Microscope

By Livia Rusu, ZMEScience –  Most people have a heart time putting into words what they experience when under the influence of some psychoactive drug – but Sarah Schönfeld decided to make this experience visual. The experiment was meant to transpose the change into another kind of sensory experience. The goal was observing the reaction of negative film to both legal and illegal combinations of substances to which it was exposed. Here are the results: Speed SPEED – methamphetamine, C10H15N, it is a very powerful stimulant, chemically related to amphetamine, but with more severe side effects. It is a white, odorless, bitter-tasting powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol. Speed + Magic SPEED + MAGIC – the combination between methamphetamine and mephedrone also lies in the category of amphetamines. Although there are the long-term effects that are more serious, there have been reported cases with people hospitalized because of the short-term ones. Magic MAGIC...

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The Sunday Funnies & Factoids: The ‘Labor Day My Ass, I Ain’t Doing Nuthin’ Edition

by Keith Lennox, All-len-All, 08/31/14 –  Happy Labor day weekend Sunday, gang.  Nice to have you back.  As I type this I hear geese honking overhead as they head for more southerly climes….. oy…. that seems early.  Sure hope that isn’t a harbinger of what the winter may have in store for us, although the Old Farmer’s Almanac says that we are in for a brutal one….. both colder and more snow than last year.  If that is indeed the case I may just open a vein and pray for the sweet release of death.  Okay, off to buy 20 dollars worth of lottery tickets in hopes that I can push back my suicide attempt for the time being. While I’m gone, please enjoy this week’s edition of The Sunday Funnies and Factoids.  If by chance I do get a winning ticket I’ll save you some time and breath,...

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Potential Republican Presidential Candidate Ben Carson Not Sorry For Calling Liberals ‘Nazis,’

by Jameson Parker – Conservative Ben Carson may be a great neurosurgeon, but he’s not too smart when it comes to historical analogies. Recently, Carson said he was refusing to apologize for or even walk back his description of liberals as instituting “Nazi Germany” in America. In a lengthy profile in The Washington Post on the potential Republican presidential candidate, Carson insisted that the only thing stopping people from making the connection from the Holocaust to the current Democratic leadership (particularly President Barack Obama) is people are afraid to be called out for not being politically correct. That is what makes Carson stand out. What Carson lacks in political ideas or experience, he makes up for in shamelessly bucking the “PC” trend. “You can’t dance around it,” Carson said in his profile. “If people look at what I said and were not political about it, they’d have to agree. Most people...

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A Star is Formed

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Owner of Home Health Care Company Sentenced to Nearly Six Years in Prison

A co-owner of Professional Medical Home Health LLC was sentenced today to serve 70 months in prison and ordered to pay $6.2 million in restitution for her participation in a health care fraud scheme involving the now defunct home health care company. Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office, and Acting Special Agent in Charge Reginald France of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami Office made the announcement.    U.S. District Judge Federico A. Moreno of the Southern District of Florida imposed the sentence. According to court documents, Annarella Garcia, 44, of Hialeah, Florida, was a co-owner of Professional Medical Home Health, a Miami home health care agency that...

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Eliminate Corporate Tax . . . Seriously

Economist says make up shortfall by increasing capital gains rates By kos, Daily Kos – I’ll let Robert Reich make the argument. It’s time we eliminated the corporate income tax and made up the shortfall by increasing capital gains taxes. Here’s the logic: First, the corporate income tax favors big companies that are able to shift their income abroad and engage in other tax-avoidance activities, while harming small companies that can’t do any of this and therefore suffer a competitive disadvantage. Yet small companies are the engines of job growth in America.Second, the people who actually pay the corporate income tax should properly be the company’s shareholders, who are the legal owners of the company and who benefit from increases in its income. But in many cases, depending on the structure of the market, a significant share of the actual burden of paying the corporate income tax is often borne instead...

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Federal Judge Deals Last Minute Win for Texas Women

Judge’s ruling strikes down part of restrictive abortion law that would have taken effect Monday by Andrea Germanos – In a decision welcomed by women’s health advocates, a federal judge on Friday struck down (pdf) new restrictive abortion regulations in Texas due to their “unconstitutional undue burden” on women.The case focused on part of HB2  that requires abortion clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers.If it had gone into effect on Monday, the law could have slashed the number of abortion providers in the state from just 19 to a mere 8. In his opinion, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel states that in addition to the “ambulatory-surgical-center requirement unconstitutional because it imposes an undue burden on the right of women throughout Texas to seek a previability abortion,” the admitting privileges requirement of the law which would have been imposed on clinics in McAllen and El Paso is...

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The Iraq War Was a Smashing Success

By William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed – Make no mistake about it: by any vaguely human measure, the situation in Iraq is a US-made disaster of historic proportions. Millions dead or wounded, millions more displaced, and all overseen by a kleptocratic government more interested in grinding old enemies into the dust than governing…and of course, yes, a seemingly endless cycle of violence that claims new victims every day. The beginning of this week saw bombs ring out all over Iraq, leaving 212 dead and 184 wounded. Three bombs exploded in a commercial district in Kirkuk, killing 31. A suicide bomber charged the gate of a security building in Baghdad, killing eleven. A Sunni mosque in Diyala was attacked, leaving 60 dead. A car bombing in Karbala killed 12. Another car bomb killed 11 people in Hilla. The butcher’s bill goes on, and on, and on. US military operations in...

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Why the Kochs Can’t Counter the ‘Most Cleverly Effective’ Political Ad of the Year

By Joan McCarter, Daily Kos – That’s Sen. Mark Pryor, talking about his cancer treatment and the fight he had with his insurance company to get it covered and how Obamacare (though he doesn’t mention it by name) means that fight between cancer patients and their insurance companies won’t have to happen anymore. Arkansas Democrat Gazette columnist John Brummett calls (behind a paywall) this potentially the “most cleverly effective political commercial of the year.” And he ponders how Republicans might counter this simple, effective, and emotional ad. I suspect, though, that the Koch brothers are busy scouring the country for a cancer victim whose premiums rose because of Obamacare.”I’m so thankful Senator Pryor survived his cancer scare. I know how much his dad loves him. I just wish Senator Pryor hadn’t cast the tie-breaking vote for Obamacare to make it more expensive for me to try to survive mine.” How would that work as...

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Activists Sound Alarm as More Police Departments Consider Using Drones

Anti-war groups call for increased scrutiny over use of drones as law enforcement tools by Nadia Prupis – Police departments in the U.S. are increasingly considering the use of drones as a law enforcement tool, even as civil rights groups and media turn up scrutiny of police militarization in the wake of brutal crackdowns on anti-brutality protesters in Ferguson, Missouri and other cities. The Baltimore Sun reported on Sunday that agencies in several Maryland counties are considering testing drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), for intelligence gathering and “high-risk tactical raids.” That news comes less than a week after anti-war activists in California protested against “mission creep” by the Los Angeles Police Department, which recently acquired several of their own drones. Indiana police departments also recently announced their plan to pursue adding drones to their weapons arsenal. In a letter (pdf) to LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, Drone-Free LA spokesperson Hamid...

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The Problem is Negligence, Not Guns, Say Shooting Range Operators

The accidental death of a gun instructor by a 9-year-old girl has prompted debate on child access to guns By Jamie Tarabay, Al Jazeera–The sight of a pre-teen girl hoisting a weapon and firing off a few rounds at a shooting range is not an uncommon one in the United States, where hundreds of thousands of children learn to shoot every year. But the accidental killing of a gun instructor by a 9-year-old in Mohave County, near Las Vegas, on Monday has again re-ignited debate over gun safety and whether children should be allowed near weapons. Charles Vacca, 39, was shot in the head as he stood beside the girl, who was learning to fire an Uzi submachine gun. In a video capturing the moments before Vacca’s death, the instructor is seen showing the girl how to stand while carrying the weapon. The girl, in pink shorts and a long braid down her back,...

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