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I just ran across this story by Maya Rodriguez  of  WWL4 – Eyewitness News  in Louisiana, that peaked my curiosity.

Did you catch the response from the chemist, who is a local environmental consultant?

Wilma Subra, a chemist who heads up a lab and environmental consulting firm in New Iberia, said the numbers she’s been analyzing give her pause.

“They’re there at a little over the levels that you would expect to start getting those health impacts,” Subra said. “So, that is of concern, that the people understand what is there and understand if they start getting the health impacts, they should take precautions to move out of the area.”

Those who should pay particular attention are the young, the elderly or those who already have underlying breathing problems. Experts said anyone experiencing symptoms of exposure to those chemicals, should see their doctor.

After watching the video, I decided to see if any Mainstream News Media had picked up the story. Guess what I found? The usual tone-deaf  blah, blah and more blah.

So for the record here’s what the Environmental Protection Agency has to say on the subject:

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Additional charges have been filed against the “girlfriend”, who according to Granville County Sheriff Brindell B. Wilkins, accompanied suspected burglar Clayton “Clay” Michael Ellington, 29, during a recent attempted home invasion on Dove Road in Creedmoor, NC. According to court documents, Paige Allen Brummitt has been charged with Felony Conspiracy for her role in the June 1st, home invasion.

The incident for Richard Chapell, the homeowner,  started with “a racket at the backdoor” on the early morning hours of June 1st, 2010. Chapell, 56, was hit in the upper right side of his chest with one round fired from the AK-47  assault weapon Ellington was carrying. During the attempted home invasion, Ellington was shot through the head and killed as he allegedly sought to break in.

Chapell, remains in stable condition awaiting surgery at Duke University Medical Center. Ms.Brummitt’s first court appearance for the related Felony Conspiracy charge is scheduled for June 16, 2010.  Brummitt is also facing additional felony charges in Granville County for an unrelated crime.

This is what happens when engineers own dogs.

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Funny or Die’s Coverage of the BP Oil Spill

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Over the weekend the N&O reported that Gov. Perdue wasn’t happy with the state’s probation and parole system, yet her budget cuts continue to target the state’s most basic, necessary services. Doesn’t she realize her actions have a trickle down effect? It’s time we face the facts, Perdue is putting the state in a very vulnerable place, with the burden of a costly future.

Gov. Bev Perdue said Sunday that fixing the state’s probation system remains high on her to-do list.

“I am not happy with where probation and parole, our state’s system, is today,” Perdue said Sunday. “I am happier than I was at this time last year. … It was a wreck.”

Perdue was responding to a report in The News & Observer that one of the probation system’s chief problems has worsened in the past year: 141 street-level positions for probation officers are vacant – up 32 from a year ago.

“It was a wreck”? Sorry but this is a simple case of the pot calling the kettle black. The number of state programs that ARE a wreck, due to ole’ Bev policies and budget cuts has grown exponentially. Moreover, as long as she and the state legislators continue with business as usual things will only get worse, much worse.

One example that comes to mind is Perdue’s narrow-minded, slash and burn approach to the state’s Mental Health system. Studies have shown repeatedly that mental illness and Crime go hand in hand.  A Harvard study in 2009, showed that nearly “Two thirds of prisoners nationwide with a mental illness were off treatment at the time of their arrest”. The study also found that “under-treatment of mental illness contributes to crime and incarceration”.

The study, published today online in the American Journal of Public Health, found that about a quarter of inmates nationwide had a history of chronic mental illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar illness and depression. Researchers analyzed data collected in 2002 and 2004 from local, state and federal correctional facilities.

Now, consider the recent case where a mother camped out at Wake County’s Crisis and Assessment Unit to make sure her son got the mental health treatment he needed. However, her 13-year-old son didn’t arrive at the unit with his mother, he arrived at the unit in the back of a squad car because he had assaulted his mother and his brother.  But wait, if that isn’t bad enough. 

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In case you missed the Grammy’s last night one woman stole the show, hands down.

Great news, a Granville County District Court Judge, today granted permanent custody of Kelly’s daughter, Haley to Kelly Morris’ parents, Pat and Juanita Currin. Scott Morris’ was given the opportunity to testify but refused citing his 5th amendment rights or could his decision be based on something else?

Scott Morris’ Rule 24 hearing should be on the Granville County court docket sometime this month. The next superior court date is scheduled for the 19th.  During the Rule 24 hearing, Granville County DA Sam Currin is expected to announce whether he will seek the death penalty against Morris for Kelly’s murder and subsequent arson of the couple’s home.

Sources close to the case have told us that they expect Morris’s Attorney, Jerry Clayton of Durham to ask that the court move Morris’  trial out of Granville County. Citing media coverage and widespread community involvement in the searches for Kelly as reasons Morris’  could not get a fair trial in Granville County.  Morris’ actions and his father’s alleged involvement with likely take center stage in the coming  months, what’s that old cliché, “What comes around goes around”? If life were a boomerang, this is where I would tell Scott Morris to duck.

More to come.

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Adrian Gibbs, the virologist who said in May that swine flu may have escaped from a laboratory, published his findings today, renewing discussion about the origins of the pandemic virus.

The new H1N1 strain, which was discovered in Mexico and the U.S. in April, may be the product of three strains from three continents that swapped genes in a lab or a vaccine-making plant, Gibbs, and fellow Australian scientists wrote in Virology Journal. The authors analyzed the genetic makeup of the virus and found its origin could be more simply explained by human involvement than a coincidence of nature.

Their study, published in a free, online journal reviewed by other scientists, follows debate among researchers six months ago, when Gibbs asked the World Health Organization to consider the hypothesis. After reviewing Gibbs’ initial three-page paper, WHO and other organizations concluded the pandemic strain was a naturally occurring virus and not laboratory-derived.

“It is important that the source of the new virus be found if we wish to avoid future pandemics rather than just trying to minimize the consequences after they have emerged,” Gibbs and colleagues John Armstrong and Jean Downie said in today’s eight- page study.

Gibbs and Armstrong are on the emeritus faculty at the Australian National University in Canberra and Downie is affiliated with the Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Laboratory Services at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital, according to the study.

While the exact source of the new H1N1 strain is a mystery, their research has “raised many new questions,” they said. The authors compared the genetic blueprints of flu strains stored in the free database Genbank and found the pandemic virus’s nearest ancestors circulate in pigs.

‘Simplest Explanation’

While migratory birds may have acted as conduit for their convergence, human involvement in bringing them together is “by far the simplest explanation,” Gibbs said in a telephone interview today.

Gibbs wrote or coauthored more than 250 scientific publications on viruses, mostly pertaining to the plant world, during his 39-year career at the Australian National University, according to biographical information on the university’s Web site.

“Knowing Adrian Gibbs, he will have thought through it pretty logically and come to that conclusion,” Lance Jennings, a clinical virologist with Canterbury Health Laboratories in Christchurch, New Zealand, said in a telephone interview. “It’s up to someone else to try and prove it or disprove it.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Simeon Bennett in Singapore at

Last Updated: November 24, 2009 04:10 EST


Image: Dees | Rense

 Source: River Daughter

There’s so much going on in the USA that warrants attention these days that it’s hard to know where to start.  But, since I’m an economist I’m going to start here.

“There are families not eating at the end of the month,” said Stephen Quinn, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Wal-Mart Stores, and “literally lining up at midnight” at Wal-Mart stores waiting to buy food when paychecks or government checks land in their accounts.

Among the steps Wal-Mart is taking to address the changes in shopping habits, Mr. Quinn listed an overhaul of the retailer’s private-label brand, Great Value, which is promoted in commercials describing how families can fix dinners with Great Value products “for less than $2 a serving.”

The really sad thing about this blurb is that I got it from the Media & Advertising section of the NY Times. It did not come from the op-ed page, it did not come from the business section nor the politics section.  It’s there because Walmart is having to work on its product mix to reflect hunger in those families living below the poverty living in one of the richest countries in the world –The United States–and I am deeply ashamed as a citizen of that country to read this anywhere STILL after all these years.

There’s been an academic discussion about the disconnect between what some of our nation’s statistics tell us is going on and the reality on the ground.  There was a conference this weekend to talk about re-working the way the nation calculates its GDP.  This is extremely important.  Because of globalization, we are most likely over stating our performance in way that is throwing off our policy targets.  We are losing per capita income from the lowest to middle quintiles and we are hemorrhaging well-paying jobs for our most vulnerable citizens.  They are not able to get enough to live on and they are not wealthy enough to buy health care insurance or to pay premium taxes to feed an already over-bloated, costly, and inefficient industry.

A widening gap between data and reality is distorting the government’s picture of the country’s economic health, overstating growth and productivity in ways that could affect the political debate on issues like trade, wages and job creation.

The shortcomings of the data-gathering system came through loud and clear here Friday and Saturday at a first-of-its-kind gathering of economists from academia and government determined to come up with a more accurate statistical picture.

The fundamental shortcoming is in the way imports are accounted for. A carburetor bought for $50 in China as a component of an American-made car, for example, more often than not shows up in the statistics as if it were the American-made version valued at, say, $100. The failure to distinguish adequately between what is made in America and what is made abroad falsely inflates the gross domestic product, which sums up all value added within the country.

American workers lose their jobs when carburetors they once made are imported instead. The federal data notices the decline in employment but fails to revalue the carburetors or even pinpoint that they are foreign-made. Because it seems as if $100 carburetors are being produced but fewer workers are needed to do so, productivity falsely rises — in the national statistics.

The most interesting thing about this is that the argument is that our workers supposedly have become increasingly more productive over the last decade or so. What we might be measuring are impacts from trade instead.  This goes a long way in explaining why the returns on labor (MRP or marginal revenue product) and the returns on capital are becoming so disparate.

The statistical distortions can be significant. At worst, the gross domestic product would have risen at only a 3.3 percent annual rate in the third quarter instead of the 3.5 percent actually reported, according to some experts at the conference. The same gap applies to productivity. And the spread is growing as imports do.

That may help to explain why the recovery from the 2001 recession was a jobless one for many months and why the recovery from this recession is likely to generate few jobs for many months.

In addition, more detailed import data would help to explain wage inequality, by linking some low wages more accurately to particular industries exposed to import competition.

On another front, many argue that labor productivity is rising faster than the pay of workers who made the greater productivity possible. That argument would be watered down if more accurate data showed that productivity had been overstated.

Just as more and more working class families fall into the cracks, we also have the latest sham of health care where families now struggling to make ends meet with face a tax if they don’t buy health insurance from overpriced insurance industry plans.  Let me point you back to a piece in Politico for this beauty.

Page 29, sentence one of the bill introduced by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont) says: “The consequence for not maintaining insurance would be an excise tax.”

And the rest of the bill is clear that the Finance Committee does, in fact, consider it a tax: “The excise tax would be assessed through the tax code and applied as an additional amount of Federal tax owed.”

The bill requires every American, with few exceptions, to carry health insurance. To enforce this individual mandate, the Senate Finance Committee created the excise tax as a penalty for people who don’t have insurance – and it can run as much as $3,800 a year per family.

The House bill also refers to the penalties for not carrying insurance as a tax. It calls for a “tax on individuals without acceptable health care coverage” and amends the tax code to implement it.

I have to ask what it is wrong with this country?  It seems to pushing its poor to the brink of destruction during a time of when its also funding (through direct funds and also extremely low interest rates) arbitrage profits for the already rich at places like Goldman Sachs.   We might as well just call them all Princes and call ourselves the new corporate serfs because we’re going to be paying for our indentured status for some time under what’s going on right now. We’re tithing for the benefit of huge financial institutions be they investment bankers, insurance, or mortgage brokers.   They’ve become the residents of the neoGothic cathedrals of the 21st century dark ages of America.  We’re back to ‘Still Hungry in America’ and this is ever so wrong.

Oh, meanwhile, via CNN breaking news:

The Dow hits 10,170 in intraday trading, its highest level in more than a year.

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