Society's ChildS


EPA approval of E15 may be mistake, witnesses tell House panel

© Unknown
Federal approval of higher ethanol concentrations in gasoline without further testing could seriously damage engines instead of improving the environment, several witnesses told a subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee on July 7.

The US Environmental Protection Agency's desire to allow more ethanol to be used in conventional vehicles should not be allowed to harm investments motorists make in safe, reliable, and economical vehicles, according to Bob Greco, American Petroleum Institute downstream and industry operations director. Greco told the committee's Energy and Environment Subcommittee: "The oil and auto industries cannot support a premature action that could put consumer satisfaction and safety at risk."

The hearing came 2 days after Rep. F. James Sensenbrunner (R-Wisconsin), the full committee's vice-chairman, released statements from 12 automakers regarding the consequences of fuel with 15% ethanol on engines, fuel economy, and warranties.

The statements, in response to a survey he sent June 2 to General Motors, Ford, and 10 other automakers, expressed reservations about allowing ethanol concentrations to rise above their current 10% limit. "Americans need a fuel that will give them more miles out of a gallon of [gasoline] - not one that will prematurely send their vehicles to the junkyard," Sensenbrunner said on July 5.

Comment: To get an idea of the destruction done to the environment, human health and greater society from the addition of ethanol to the fuel supply, check out these links:

Dead Zone in Gulf Linked to Ethanol Production

The Unraveling of the Ethanol Scam

The Dark Side of Ethanol and Biodiesel Subsidies

Surprise: Ethanol as Deadly as Gasoline For Now


Whistleblower's Death: James Corbett on Murdoch scandal turning bloody

The whistleblower who exposed the News Of The World phone-hacking scandal, has been found dead. Sean Hoare was a journalist at the shamed newspaper and claimed Editors knew what was happening, and encouraged reporters to do it.

He was found dead at his home near London. Police are treating it as unexplained, but not suspicious. Hoare directly named his former Editor, Andy Coulson, for knowing about illegal hacking, which he denies. RT talks to James Corbett, independent news website editor.

Wall Street

Letting Bankers Walk

© 4closurefraud

Ever since the current economic crisis began, it has seemed that five words sum up the central principle of United States financial policy: go easy on the bankers.

This principle was on display during the final months of the Bush administration, when a huge lifeline for the banks was made available with few strings attached. It was equally on display in the early months of the Obama administration, when President Obama reneged on his campaign pledge to "change our bankruptcy laws to make it easier for families to stay in their homes." And the principle is still operating right now, as federal officials press state attorneys general to accept a very modest settlement from banks that engaged in abusive mortgage practices.

Why the kid-gloves treatment? Money and influence no doubt play their part; Wall Street is a huge source of campaign donations, and agencies that are supposed to regulate banks often end up serving them instead. But officials have also argued at each point of the process that letting banks off the hook serves the interests of the economy as a whole.


America's Disappeared

© Illustration by Mr. Fish

Dr. Silvia Quintela was "disappeared" by the death squads in Argentina in 1977 when she was four months pregnant with her first child. She reportedly was kept alive at a military base until she gave birth to her son and then, like other victims of the military junta, most probably was drugged, stripped naked, chained to other unconscious victims and piled onto a cargo plane that was part of the "death flights" that disposed of the estimated 20,000 disappeared. The military planes with their inert human cargo would fly over the Atlantic at night and the chained bodies would be pushed out the door into the ocean. Quintela, who had worked as a doctor in the city's slums, was 28 when she was murdered.

A military doctor, Maj. Norberto Atilio Bianco, who was extradited Friday from Paraguay to Argentina for baby trafficking, is alleged to have seized Quintela's infant son along with dozens, perhaps hundreds, of other babies. The children were handed to military families for adoption. Bianco, who was the head of the clandestine maternity unit that functioned during the Dirty War in the military hospital of Campo de Mayo, was reported by eyewitnesses to have personally carried the babies out of the military hospital. He also kept one of the infants. Argentina on Thursday convicted retired Gen. Hector Gamen and former Col. Hugo Pascarelli of committing crimes against humanity at the "El Vesubio" prison, where 2,500 people were tortured in 1976-1978. They were sentenced to life in prison. Since revoking an amnesty law in 2005 designed to protect the military, Argentina has prosecuted 807 for crimes against humanity, although only 212 people have been sentenced. It has been, for those of us who lived in Argentina during the military dictatorship, a painfully slow march toward justice.

Most of the disappeared in Argentina were not armed radicals but labor leaders, community organizers, leftist intellectuals, student activists and those who happened to be in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Few had any connection with armed campaigns of resistance. Indeed, by the time of the 1976 Argentine coup, the armed guerrilla groups, such as the Montoneros, had largely been wiped out. These radical groups, like al-Qaida in its campaign against the United States, never posed an existential threat to the regime, but the national drive against terror in both Argentina and the United States became an excuse to subvert the legal system, instill fear and passivity in the populace, and form a vast underground prison system populated with torturers and interrogators, as well as government officials and lawyers who operated beyond the rule of law. Torture, prolonged detention without trial, sexual humiliation, rape, disappearance, extortion, looting, random murder and abuse have become, as in Argentina during the Dirty War, part of our own subterranean world of detention sites and torture centers.

Arrow Down

US: Borders' Seeks Approval to Liquidate, Close Stores

© AP Photo/Charles KrupaCustomers leave the Borders bookstore in Boston, Monday, July 18, 2011.
There will be no storybook ending for Borders. The 40-year-old book seller could start shuttering its 399 remaining stores as early as Friday.

The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based chain, which helped pioneer the big-box bookseller concept, is seeking court approval to sell off its assets after it failed to receive any bids that would keep it in business. The move adds Borders to the list of retailers that have failed to adapt to changing consumers' shopping habits and survive the economic downturn, including Circuit City Stores Inc., Blockbuster and Linens 'N Things.

On Thursday, Borders is expected to ask the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Southern District of New York at a scheduled hearing to allow it to be sold to liquidators led by Hilco Merchant Resources and Gordon Brothers Group. If the judge approves the move, liquidation sales could start as soon as Friday; the company could go out of business by the end of September.

Borders' attempt to stay in business unraveled quickly last week, after a $215 million "white knight" bid by private-equity firm Najafi Cos. dissolved under objections from creditors and lenders. They argued the chain would be worth more if it liquidated immediately.

Bad Guys

Psychopathy Alert! New Zealand teen admits killing seals for 'being pests'

© Associated PressThe seals were clubbed to death in what conservation staff called a callous, cowardly attack
A New Zealand teenager has pleaded guilty to killing 23 seals and seal pups with a metal pipe because he thought they were pests.

Jason Trevor Godsiff attacked the seals while he was on his way home from work on a building site near Kaikoura on South Island.

He stopped at a seal colony and bludgeoned the animals to death.

The 19-year old, who will be sentenced on 13 September, was convicted of wilfully mistreating protected animals.

Another man, 36-year-old Jamaal Peter Roy Large, faces the same charges but has not yet submitted a plea.

Staff from the department of conservation found the battered seals, including newborn pups, at the bottom of a 30m (100ft) cliff.


Oregon, US: 4 Kids, Mom Pulled from Burning House Were Stabbed

Medford - A mother and her four young children who were pulled from a burning house on Monday had stab wounds and died, and the father was under police watch.

Authorities said medics initially treated the victims on the lawn of the small house for smoke inhalation, but it later became clear the victims had also been stabbed. They were all pronounced dead after being taken to a local hospital. Autopsies are pending, and police were searching for the weapon used to stab the victims.

The 51-year-old father, who was also taken to the hospital, was not immediately charged, said Police Chief Tim George.

"He is not free to leave, let's put it that way," George said, adding that he did not think neighbors had anything to fear from a killer at large.

George characterized the fire as arson and the deaths of the 30-year-old woman, her sons aged 7, 6, and 5, and her 2-year-old daughter as homicides.


Florida, US: Teen Killed Parents, Then Had a Party

Port St. Lucie - A 17-year-old Florida boy is accused of beating his parents to death with a hammer and then throwing a party.

Tyler Hadley of Port St. Lucie is being held on two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his parents, Blake and Mary-Jo Hadley. The bodies were discovered early Sunday morning after police received a tip.

Police believe the parents were already dead when the teen used Facebook to invite friends to his house for a party Saturday night.

Hadley is being held in juvenile detention. It's not yet known if he has an attorney.


UK Phone Hacking: Police Examine Bag Found in Bin Near Rebekah Brooks's Home

Charlie and Rebekah Brooks
© Tom JenkinsCharlie and Rebekah Brooks.
Former NI chief executive's husband denies bag - containing computer, paperwork and phone - belonged to his wife

* * *

Detectives are examining a computer, paperwork and a phone found in a bin near the riverside London home of Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News International.

The Guardian has learned that a bag containing the items was found in an underground car park in the Design Centre at the exclusive Chelsea Harbour development on Monday afternoon.

Bad Guys

UK Phone Hacking: John Yates Steps Down as Allegations Engulf Scotland Yard

John Yates
© Clara MoldenJohn Yates, the newly resigned Metropolitan Police chief.
Britain's chief counter-terrorism officer has become the latest victim of the phone hacking scandal yesterday, resigning amid claims that he helped a News of the World executive's daughter get a job at Scotland Yard.

Assistant Commissioner John Yates, who faced criticism for failing to reopen the Metropolitan Police's inquiry into phone hacking sooner, was being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission over his links to Neil Wallis, the former deputy editor of the Sunday tabloid.