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Bizarro Earth

Nuclear experts killed in Russia plane crash helped design Iran facility

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© Associated Press
The wreckage of Tu-134 plane, belonging to the RusAir airline, is seen on a highway near the city of Petrozavodsk Tuesday, June 21, 2011.
The five Russian scientists were among 44 killed earlier this week; no official investigation of foul play has been opened, though Iranian nuclear experts have in the past been involved in similar accidents.

The five nuclear experts killed in a plane crash in northern Russia earlier this week had assisted in the design of an Iranian atomic facility, security sources in Russia said on Thursday.

The five Russian experts were among the 44 passengers killed when the Tupolev-134 plane broke up and caught fire on landing outside the northern city of Petrozavodsk on Monday.

Bandaid

US: Federal Appeals Court Rules Health Care Reform Bill is Constitutional

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Lawmakers surround President Barack Obama as he signs the health care legislation in March 2010 at the White House.
The political and legal future of the sweeping health care reform bill received a big boost Wednesday after a federal appeals court in Cincinnati ruled in favor of the Obama administration and Congress, concluding a key provision in the landmark legislation was constitutional.

The "individual mandate" requiring nearly all Americans to purchase health insurance by 2014 or face financial penalties -- was challenged in federal courts by a large number of individuals and groups, who said people should not be forced to purchase a product like medical coverage. A partially divided U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit disagreed.

"We find that the minimum coverage provision is a valid exercise of legislative power by Congress under the Commerce Clause," said the three-judge panel on Wednesday, in a 64-page opinion.

Bad Guys

U.S. Navy Welcomes Partners, Kicks Off FRUKUS 2011

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© US Navy
Sailors assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS James E. Williams (DDG 95) catch lines from the Russian navy destroyer Admiral Chabanenko (DDGHM 650) as it prepares to dock at Naval Station Norfolk.
Norfolk, Virginia - Ships from Russia, France and the United Kingdom arrived at Naval Station Norfolk to participate in FRUKUS 2011 with the U.S. Navy off the coast of Virginia, June 20.

FRUKUS stands for the participating countries - France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States - and is a two-week interoperability exercise aimed to improve maritime security through open dialogue and increased training between the participating navies.

"FRUKUS 2011 provides the opportunity for personnel of all participating nations to engage in realistic and challenging maritime training to build experience, cooperation and teamwork," said U.S. Navy Capt. Peter Demane, commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 26.

FRUKUS consists of two phases: ashore and at-sea. While ashore, Sailors from each ship will participate in training areas including damage control, fire fighting and ship handling. The at-sea portion, which begins next week, will provide critical training in maritime domain awareness, anti-piracy and maritime interdiction operations. A shore-based multinational combined task group staff will provide command and control for the ships during the at-sea phase.

Bad Guys

US - Headed to the beach? Heads up for an invasion force

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© Agency Presse France/Getty
Beachgoers on the U.S. East Coast may see U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys like these overhead next week.
Washington -- It's mid-June, a perfect time to visit the beach to watch porpoises play in the surf or seagulls strut the sand -- or you could watch a formation of Marine Corps warplanes darting over the shore at hundreds of miles per hour.

But don't worry -- the United States hasn't declared war on your family's beach house. It's just part of a major Marine Corps exercise called Exercise Mailed Fist (translation: armored fist).

The exercise is designed to test the capability of every type of Marine Corps aircraft, including MV-22 Ospreys and F/A 18 Hornets, as well as some Navy ships and Air Force planes.

The drill will stretch from Quantico Marine Base in northern Virginia to the Navy's Pinecastle Bombing Range in Florida.

With thousands of Marines and other service members involved, it's the biggest such drill ever on the U.S. East Coast.

Handcuffs

US Police State: Reporters in Washington arrested for filming public meeting


Video courtesy of Reason.tv

Two journalists were led out of a public meeting in handcuffs in Washington DC this week after using their cell phones to report on the hearing of the DC Taxicab Commission.

Peter Tucker of TheFightBack.org says two US Park Police officers cuffed him and dragged him away after he used his phone to take photos at the Commission meeting. Tucker has long been an advocate of independent taxi drivers and Washington Post columnist John Kelly reports that one taxi driver yelled, "We need the reporter here!" while the journalist was hauled off.

"You can't arrest me for reporting," demands Tucker.

"I can arrest you for not obeying an order," replies an officer.

As he was led out of the room, the packed house of drivers quickly emptied the room in protest.

Despite the hearing being a public meeting, the commission does not take kindly to being recorded, even if those at stake here - the drivers themselves - are for it. Following an account in May, Tucker writes that DC Taxicab Commission chairman Dena Reed told him "You cannot record the meeting unless the commission allows you to do so, it does not." When Tucker asked to be shown where the commission's rules say that, Reed responded: "I can't show you anything because it's not written in there."

Alarm Clock

Fox News Reports: 'U.S. Troops Reportedly Taking More Medication Than Ever'

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© Salem-News.org
Salem-News.com writer Dr. Phil Leveque, who as a physician treated generations of military vets with PTSD; says the dangerous hard drugs provided by the government lead to addiction, destruction of families, disaster and death.
Fox News reports that U.S. military troops are taking more prescription medication than ever. US troops Heavily Medicated on Prescription Drugs, the report warns.

The bottom line is that the men and women of the US armed forces are taking more addictive medication than they ever have in the past.

The Daily reported Wednesday, that the US Department of Defense doesn't keep track of those medical prescriptions doled out to service members in combat. This, despite ongoing pleas from federal officials to record the data. The military's 2012 budget report from the House Appropriations Committee, cited how the prescription of pain management drugs is not handled consistently, particularly in battle. According to The Daily, the report includes an ultimatum. The committee expects concrete information within two months of the budget's approval, detailing "the required steps and potential obstacles toward electronic transmission of prescription drug data."

Bizarro Earth

North Korea shuts down universities for 10 months

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© Associated Press
North Korea's "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-il.
North Korea has shut down its universities for the next 10 months and sent students to work in factories, agriculture and the construction sector as it struggles to rebuild its economy.

Pyongyang has told the North Korean people that the nation will have achieved its aim of becoming "a great, prosperous and powerful nation" in 2012, which marks the 100th anniversary of the founder of the reclusive state, Kim Il-sung.

In addition, Kim Jong-il will turn 70 in February and the "Dear Leader" hopes to be able to transfer his power and an economically stronger nation to his son and heir-apparent, Kim Jong-Un.

Reports in South Korea indicated that the government in Pyongyang on Monday ordered all universities to cancel classes until April of next year. The only exemptions are for students who will be graduating in the next few months and foreign students.

The reports suggested that the students will be put to work on construction projects in major cities while there are also indications that repair work may be needed in agricultural regions that were affected by a major typhoon recently.

Mail

US - Tom Petty reportedly issuing cease and desist letter to Bachmann

Tom Petty may be taking legal action to make sure Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann stops using his songs at her campaign events.

"NBC News: @TomPetty unhappy with Michele Bachmann's use of 'American Girl' and in process of issuing [a cease and desist] letter," Matt Ortega reported on Twitter only hours after hours after Bachmann used the popular song to kick off her campaign.

NBC's Kelly O'Donnell confirmed that report Monday night.

"And details matter, and when Bachmann left the stage here, her campaign played the Tom Petty hit song, American Girl," O'Donnell said. "Turns out petty isn't pleased. His manager says they will ask the Bachmann campaign not to use that song."

Petty also issued a cease and desist letter to then-Governor George W. Bush for illegally using I won't back down at his rallies.

"The impression that you and your campaign have been endorsed by Tom Petty, which is not true," music publisher Wixen Music Publishing Inc. told the Bush campaign.

To make matters worse for Bachmann, former RNC Online Communications Director Liz Mair made this observation about the use of the Petty's tune: "Isn't that what the kidnapped politician's daughter was singing in Silence of the Lambs?

Pills

Krokodil: The drug that eats junkies

Krokodil
© RIA Novosti

A home-made heroin substitute is having a horrific effect on thousands of Russia's drug addicts

Oleg glances furtively around him and, confident that nobody is watching, slips inside the entrance to a decaying Soviet-era block of flats, where Sasha is waiting for him. Ensconced in the dingy kitchen of one of the apartments, they empty the contents of a blue carrier bag that Oleg has brought with him - painkillers, iodine, lighter fluid, industrial cleaning oil, and an array of vials, syringes, and cooking implements.

Half an hour later, after much boiling, distilling, mixing and shaking, what remains is a caramel-coloured gunge held in the end of a syringe, and the acrid smell of burnt iodine in the air. Sasha fixes a dirty needle to the syringe and looks for a vein in his bruised forearm. After some time, he finds a suitable place, and hands the syringe to Oleg, telling him to inject the fluid. He closes his eyes, and takes the hit.

Russia has more heroin users than any other country in the world - up to two million, according to unofficial estimates. For most, their lot is a life of crime, stints in prison, probable contraction of HIV and hepatitis C, and an early death. As efforts to stem the flow of Afghan heroin into Russia bring some limited success, and the street price of the drug goes up, for those addicts who can't afford their next hit, an even more terrifying spectre has raised its head.

Bad Guys

Dead Dogs Tied to Tracks, Hit by Train

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© Unknown
A witness says he saw a group of teen boys tie two dogs to railroad tracks in Haltom City moments before a train ran over the animals Tuesday morning.

According to Cpl. Joe Heckfield with the Haltom City Police Department, the witness asked a resident to call the police and report what he had seen from a wooded area near the First Baptist Chruch of Fort Worth on the 5100 block of Northeast Loop 820.

When officers arrived, the witness and teens had left the scene but they did find the remains of two dogs who had been struck by the train. The officers also spotted two other dogs walking around in the area.