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Stormtrooper

Faith in Army's direction falls to all-time low

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© Unknown
The number of Army leaders who believe that the largest military branch is heading in the right direction has hit an all-time low, according to an independent survey of 17,000 commissioned and non-commissioned officers.

In a global survey conducted in November and December of 2011, only 26 percent of Army leaders who participated agreed with the statement that the Army "is headed in the right direction to prepare for the challenges of the next 10 years."

That compares to 33 percent who agreed with that statement in 2010 and 38 percent in 2006.

The survey was taken in the midst of more than a decade of war, a shrinking force and the development of a new U.S. defense strategy, announced by President

Evil Rays

2 Good Samaritans electrocuted trying to help car crash victim

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© NBC News
An aerial view of the accident in Los Angeles which killed two people.
Two women were electrocuted Wednesday after trying to help the victims of a car accident in Los Angeles, fire department officials said.

The women, who have not been identified, were apparently responding separately to the scene of a crash in Valley Village in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles., where a vehicle slammed into a fire hydrant and a light pole which knocked down a power line around 8:30 p.m.

The SUV came to a stop about 10 feet away from the fire hydrant, which burst, shooting water two stories into the air, witnesses said. The gushing water quickly pooled underneath the vehicle where the damaged light pole left electrical wires sticking out of the ground.

Fire department officials said the wires were disguised by the darkness, the running water and the growing number of startled neighbors and passing drivers who came running to help. Unbeknownst to the first people who tried to help the victim of the crash, an adult male, the water was electrified.

Hourglass

Three Mile Island nuclear plant releases steam, but no radiation detected

Three Mile Island
© Chris Knight/The Patriot-News
Three Mile Island nuclear fa­cility along the Susquehanna River in Londonderry Township.
Pennsylvania, US - People who live near Three Mile Island in Londonderry Township may have heard a loud noise this morning when steam was released into the atmosphere during a shutdown of the nuclear power plant.

If there were traces of radiation in the steam, the amount was so low it was undetectable, Exelon Corp. spokesman Ralph DeSantis said.

The plant was being manually shut down today for repairs to a slight leak in a heater element when a pump in the non-nuclear section malfunctioned around 8 a.m., causing the plant to shut down immediately. When this happened, steam was released from valves, DeSantis said.

TMI will return to service after the repairs, inspections and testing on the heater element on the plant's pressurizer tank are complete, DeSantis said.

Electric customers were not affected by the plant being offline.

Comment: Comment: Now, here is a question; if electric customers were not affected by the plant being offline, why is it needed?


Arrow Down

New jobless claims take surprise jump

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© Unknown
New claims for unemployment benefits took an unexpected jump in the latest week, raising more concerns about the struggling job market and providing further incentive for the Federal Reserve to jump in and help the economy.

The Labor Department reported Thursday that seasonally-adjusted initial claims rose 4,000 to 372,000. That's compared to a decline of 1,000 that economists on average had been expecting.

The data keeps pressure on President Barack Obama ahead of his November re-election bid. His Republican challenger is trying to focus voters' attention on a lofty unemployment rate that has dogged Obama's presidency.

"It's not a great number. The trend for jobless claims has been flat and has been erratic of late. But overall it does keep the odds for more quantitative easing from the Fed," said currency strategist Brian Kim of RBS Securities.

Arrow Up

United Church of Canada Clarifies its Boycott of Israeli Settlements

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After months of controversy and negative media attention, the United Church of Canada, the country's largest Protestant denomination, finally made it official. The church's General Council voted today to call on its members to avoid buying products coming from Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Presbyterian and Methodist churches in the United States have made similar calls.

Despite the tameness of such proposals, we may expect a continuation of the widespread and exaggerated complaints that have saturated the Canadian press for the last few months. In the interests of honesty and clarity, I would like to address three common distortions.

Passport

Ecuador Doesn't Fear US Revenge for Giving Asylum to Assange

Ecuador does not fear US revenge for granting asylum to Julian Assange. Despite America's power in the world, it is not Ecuador's "father or teacher to punish us," the country's foreign minister said exclusively to RT Spanish host Eva Golinger.
"We don't think that any punishment is possible, nor do we think that there is a reason for revenge (let's call it this way, it is stronger than "punishment") for Ecuador's sovereign decision. The USA does it every day," Ricardo Patino said.
Ecuador believes that the situation around Assange, who is wanted in Sweden for questioning on sexual assault allegations, will not provoke a breach in relations between his country and the US because there are no grounds for the relationship to worsen.
"The only difference is that it may appear now that a small, less-developed country has fewer rights to protect freedom and lives of other people than world powers," Patino told Eva Golinger, RT Spanish TV host, lawyer and writer. "We have the same rights as they do. We will not accept any revenge in any case," he stressed.

Arrow Down

Congressional Budget Office Warns of Looming Recession

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© EPA
CBO warns the first half of 2013 could see gross domestic product shrink by 2.9 per cent
Congressional Budget Office says massive spending cuts and tax hikes due in 2013 could lead to fiscal crisis.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has said that the US economy can fall into recession, if the Congress fails to take action to stave off tax increases and automatic budget cuts scheduled for January 1.

The nonpartisan analysis, released on Wednesday, said massive spending cuts and tax hikes due next year would cause even worse economic damage than previously thought if Washington failed to come up with a solution.

Failure to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" of expiring tax cuts and automatic spending reductions would cause US gross domestic product to shrink 0.5 per cent in 2013.

Previously, CBO forecast full-year GDP growth of 0.5 per cent.

Heart - Black

Woman Charged with Manslaughter for Leaving Mother on Toilet for 2 Days

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© Baltimore County Police Department
Sharon Caslow
Cockeysville, Maryland - A Cockeysville woman has been charged with manslaughter after police say she left her 91-year-old mother on the toilet for two days.

A grand jury returned an indictment against 65-year-old Sharon Caslow last week after the death of 91-year-old Audrey Caslow was ruled a homicide. Sharon Caslow had previously been charged with abuse of a vulnerable adult.

Baltimore County medical workers found Audrey Caslow on a toilet on Jan. 17 at the home she shared with her daughter. Police say Sharon Caslow told officers she knew her mother had been in the bathroom for two days, but didn't ask for help. Audrey Caslow died 10 days later.

Medical examiners ruled that Audrey Caslow died of renal failure. Sharon Caslow's public defender did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Source: The Associated Press

Padlock

40 Indicted in Meth Ring Run From Indiana Prisons

Indianapolis - A prison inmate coordinated a methamphetamine ring that involved at least two Indiana prisons using cellphones and drugs smuggled in by guards, according to a federal indictment unsealed Wednesday that charges 40 people in connection to the scheme.

At least three inmates are among those charged, including the alleged ringleader, Oscar Perez, who's serving time for murder and attempted murder. At least 17 people appeared in court Wednesday in Indianapolis after about 300 FBI agents fanned out across the state and made arrests.

Prosecutors said the defendants were flight risks, and the judge ordered them to remain in custody.

The activity, which also included heroin trafficking, occurred at the Westville Correction Facility in northern Indiana and the Wabash Valley Correction Facility in southwestern Indiana, according to the indictment.

Heart - Black

Tennis Judge Lois Goodman Arrested in Alleged Slaying of Husband

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© Sipa USA/Rex Features
Lois Goodman, centre, is taken into custody by police after being arrested for allegedly murdering her husband.
Lois Goodman, 70, who has served as a line judge for several years at tennis' U.S. Open, was arrested in New York on Tuesday in connection with the alleged April 17 beating death of her husband at their Woodland Hills home. Goodman was in New York preparing for this year's U.S. Open, which begins there next week.

She initially told police that her husband, Alan Goodman, 80, had fallen down the steps, had a heart attack and managed to get back upstairs to his bed, but prosecutors said Tuesday that they believe otherwise.

"She bludgeoned him to death with a coffee mug," said Jane Robison, a district attorney's spokeswoman.

"It was a homicide. He had multiple sharp-force injuries," said Ed Winter, assistant chief of investigations for the Los Angeles County coroner's office.

Lois Goodman was profiled in a Times article in 1994 and described herself as a lifelong tennis fan.