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100,000 protest against austerity cuts in North Carolina

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© Planned Parenthood
Somewhere between 80 to 100,000 people from 32 states turned out to protest four years of drastic state Republican initiatives in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Saturday.

The "Moral March on Raleigh," organized by Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ), marched from Shaw University to the state capitol to push back against the "immoral and unconstitutional policies" of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory during the 2013 NC General Assembly session. Since North Carolina Republicans took over both legislative chambers in 2010, legislators have eliminated a host of programs and raised taxes on the bottom 95 percent, repealed a tax credit for 900,000 working families, enforced voter suppression efforts, blocked Medicaid coverage, cut pre-Kindergarten funding, cut federal unemployment benefits, and gave itself the authority to intervene in abortion lawsuits.

Smoking

The totalitarian crusade against second-hand smoke

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© Assef Elweter
If there really were such a thing as a bullshit detector, a machine that bleeped upon encountering nonsense, it would probably go into meltdown whenever someone talked about second-hand smoke.

In the modern public sphere, there are few issues that are as riddled with myth, misinformation, contradictory claims and outright claptrap as the scare about what smokers' foggy puffing is doing to us innocent non-smokers.

In recent years we've been told that second-hand smoke, or passive smoking, as some people call it, is as bad as smoking itself and can give you lung cancer. And apparently if you are surrounded by it in a car that has its windows closed that is like being in the most smoky, nicotine-stained bar you could ever imagine (if such bars still existed, which of course they don't).

Comment: See: 'World Cancer Day 2014' - The Cancer Pandemic: Forget Sugar! Blame The Smokers!
Smokers' lungs used in half of transplants: Improves Survival Rate!
Smoking Does Not Cause Lung Cancer
Smoking Does Not Cause Lung Cancer (According to WHO/CDC Data)
Air pollution causes lung cancer in non-smokers (erm, can't it cause it in smokers too then?)
Government Suppresses Major Public Health Report
Air pollution leading cause of cancer, World Health Organisation warns
5 Health Benefits of Smoking
'World No Tobacco Day'? Let's All Light Up!


Alarm Clock

California drought impact seen spreading from fires to food cost

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© Chieko Hara/The Porterville Recorder/AP Photo
The Tule Riverbed stands dry on Feb. 4, 2014.
The drought that's gripping California may soon have the rest of the country seeking relief.

The emergency, which follows the state's driest year on record, is likely to boost the prices of everything from broccoli to cauliflower nationwide. Farmers and truckers stand to lose billions in revenue, weakening an already fragile recovery in the nation's most-populous state. And California and other Western states are seeing a surge in wildfires.

As lawmakers rush to enact measures to help farmers and ranchers contend with the immediate threat to the nation's most productive agricultural region, the prolonged dry spell is sparking calls for a radical rethinking of how the state, and much of the West, distributes water to residents.

"We are at that point the risks for the future are really significant," said Peter Gleick, president of the Oakland-based Pacific Institute, a nonpartisan research organization. "We have to fundamentally change the way we manage water."

The drought is a stark reminder that California built the world's 10th-largest economy, the nation's top farming industry, and Silicon Valley, the epicenter of information technology, in a semi-arid environment that's struggling to sustain the water needs of 38 million people.

Snakes in Suits

Suspicious death of JPMorgan Vice President under investigation in London

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London Police have confirmed that an official investigation is underway into the death of a 39-year old JPMorgan Vice President whose body was found on the 9th floor rooftop of a JPMorgan building in Canary Wharf two weeks ago.

The news reports at the time of the incident of Gabriel (Gabe) Magee's "non suspicious" death by "suicide" resulting from his reported leap from the 33rd level rooftop of JPMorgan's European headquarters building in London have turned out to be every bit as reliable as CEO Jamie Dimon's initial response to press reports on the London Whale trading scandal in 2012 as a "tempest in a teapot."

An intense investigation is now underway into the details of exactly how Magee died and why his death was so quickly labeled "non suspicious." An upcoming Coroner's inquest will reveal the details of that investigation.

Comment: See: Two top American bankers commit suicide in London as one jumps 500ft to his death from JP Morgan skyscraper and another hangs himself


Bizarro Earth

Retarded! Death of Texas man with slit throat and missing ear ruled 'accidental overdose'

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Prosecutors have turned over an investigation of a Texas man's disappearance and death to the state attorney general's office after the Justice Department launched its own investigation.

Alfred Wright disappeared Nov. 7 while going to visit a physical therapy client when his truck broke down.

He called his wife to pick him up, but she called her in-laws instead because she was watching their two son.

Lauren Wright said her husband was breathing heavily as if in distress when she called back, and his parents found his truck - but not their son - when they arrived at the Hemphill liquor store where his vehicle broke down.

The clerk told Wright's father she had seen him outside using his cell phone, but he had suddenly tucked the phone into his sock and took off running "as if his truck was going to blow up."

The 28-year-old Wright's watch and identification were found the following day at a nearby ranch and police organized a massive manhunt, but the search was called off after three days.

Cow Skull

First 'global warming', then 'climate change', now White House announcement refers to 'climate shift' and 'extreme weather'

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© Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, right, with Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, discussed a move on Wednesday.
On the heels of the Senate's passage of a long-awaited farm bill, the Obama administration announced the creation of seven regional "climate hubs" on Wednesday to help farmers and rural communities respond to the risks of climate change, including drought, invasive pests, fires and floods.

White House officials described the move as one of several executive actions that President Obama will take on climate change without action from Congress.

In substance, the creation of the climate hubs is a limited step, but it is part of a broader campaign by the administration to advance climate policy wherever possible with executive authority. The action is also part of a push to build political support for the administration's more divisive moves on climate change - in particular, the Environmental Protection Agency's regulations on coal-fired power plants.

Radar

San Francisco couple arrested after sexually abused toddler found dead in bed

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Sara Krueger, 23, was seen leaving her home with luggage
Police have arrested a woman and her boyfriend in connection with the death of her three-year-old daughter.

Sara Krueger, 23, and Scott Warner, 26, were held after a search in the San Francisco Bay Area over the weekend.

Boyfriend Scott Warner, 26

They were found at a station in El Cerrito, about 30 miles south of Napa, after someone recognised the couple at a restaurant and tipped off authorities.

On Saturday, officers conducting a welfare check at Krueger's Napa apartment found the child's body in her bed.

Heart - Black

Florida ordinance makes it illegal for homeless to use blankets

homeless
© Unknown
Being Homeless Is Not A Crime

Living in Florida, we don't often have the opportunity to use the heat setting on our thermostat, but this winter we got the chance in a big way. And as a matter of fact, so many people in my neighborhood were using heaters that it blew out the transformer.

So there I was with my wife and three kids, all of us huddled under blankets with the fireplace roaring, watching the temperature continue to drop from a comfortable 65 degrees down to 45. But outside it was 17 degrees and raining and sleeting, and if you were homeless, you had to consider that if you used a blanket to shield yourself from the elements, that you might be hauled off to jail for a violation of a local ordinance prohibiting using blankets, cardboard, or newspaper to cover yourself.

This was part of a series of ordinances which prohibited using public restrooms for washing your face, panhandling, and "camping". Though the mayor's office and members of the city council tried to say that these ordinances were not targeted at the homeless, email correspondence between them and other city officials proved otherwise.

The anti-camping ordinance went the furthest in its limitation of basic civil liberties, making it essentially illegal, not only to cover yourself for any reason, but also effectively making it illegal to be homeless. It was a tough ordinance to fight, because if you opposed them, it gave the impression that you were supporting blight in the city. Not to mention the city council wasn't interested in having the discussion. The then council president either would cut people off or have them thrown out during the public discussion.

The ordinances were passed, in spite of the public outcry.

Take 2

Dylan Farrow responds to Woody Allen: 'Distortions and Outright Lies'

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The director's adopted daughter denies Allen's suggestion that Mia Farrow coached her to say he sexually assaulted her.

Dylan Farrow has responded to an op-ed Woody Allen published by The New York Times Friday.

In the response, provided to The Hollywood Reporter, Farrow denounced Allen's op-ed -- in which he suggested Farrow's mother, Mia Farrow, had coached her to accuse Allen of sexually assaulting her as a child.

"I have never wavered in describing what he did to me. I will carry the memories of surviving these experiences for the rest of my life," Farrow said.

She went on to challenge other points in Allen's op-ed, calling it 'the latest rehash of the same legalese, distortions, and outright lies he has leveled at me for the past 20 years."

Allen's op-ed came nearly one week after Farrow published an open letter on the Times website, where she detailed an alleged sexual assault Allen carried out on her when she was seven. Farrow is the adopted daughter of Allen and Mia Farrow.

Question

10 injured after massive explosion obliterates two houses in Essex, England

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© Daily Mail
  • Residents of Clacton, Essex reported hearing a loud bang 'like a bomb going off' at 8.30am thanks to gas explosion
  • Four fire engines, five ambulances and two air ambulances called to scene and took 10 people to hospital
  • Passers-by who helped pull victims from the rubble said they were shocked to find residents still alive
Nine people were hurt yesterday as a massive gas blast flattened two houses on an estate.

A retired couple were seriously injured but miraculously no one was killed in the 8.30am explosion.

David Davies, 65, was in bed and his wife Hela, 56, in the kitchen when the huge blast - which neighbours said was 'like a bomb' - sent debris flying up to 150 yards along the street in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex.

The couple, who have three grown-up children, were rescued from the debris in their pyjamas by shocked residents who rushed to help. They were taken to hospital with severe burns.

Seven neighbours were also taken to hospital following the explosion, which fire chiefs believe could have been caused by a badly installed boiler or appliance.

Gary Curtis, 27, ran to help rescue Mr and Mrs Davies after the blast smashed his windows. 'It was like a bomb going off, he said. 'You could just hear screams coming from the rubble.

'The woman had somehow survived in a protective tunnel that had formed above her from the wreckage. When we pulled her out she had burns all up her arms, her pyjamas were singed. Her husband was still in bed covered in debris.

'It is a miracle that no one is dead. There is a primary school 100 yards up the road and a bus stop just outside the house.'