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Funding gap for retirement rises to $1.4 trillion

© Pew Center on the States
A pension plan is considered healthy if it is 80 percent funded. A new Pew report finds many are not.
State governments face a gap of more than $1 trillion between what they say they will provide public workers in retirement benefits and what they actually have in their coffers, according to a study released Monday.

The report, from Pew Center on the States, finds that the gap has widened considerably in recent years, as states have been slammed by investment losses stemming from the 2008 financial crisis and budget crunches caused by the recession.

As of the 2010 fiscal year, the study found that states have about $757 billion less than they need for pension obligations. The states have about $2.31 trillion set aside, the report found, but their liability is about $3.07 trillion.

In addition, the report found that states have a health care liability of about $660 billion, but have set aside only $33.1 billion for those benefits. That leaves a $627 billion gap.

Evil Rays

San Onofre Nuclear Plant Could Become California's Fukushima

© AFP Photo/Mark Ralston
View of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant in north San Diego County
A nuclear nightmare on par with the Fukushima disaster could have unfolded at a power plant outside of Los Angeles, California, federal regulators reveal to the Associated Press in a just-published report.

Following an incident at the San Onofre power plant this past January, federal regulators have investigated conditions at the facility around 70 miles south of Los Angeles. Now after months of meticulous investigating, regulators involved in the probe tell the AP that design flaws have caused the tubing that carries radioactive water throughout the plant to be worn down extensively.

A scare back in late January led to the temporary shut-down of the San Onofre power station. Nearly six months after the fact, however, the twin-reactor remains idle as investigators wrap up their thorough report. And much to the chagrin of management at the plant, it looks as if the leak suffered earlier this year wasn't just a fluke.

Evil Rays

Japan to Start Two Reactors Despite Opposition by Majority of Public

© AP
Protest ... women rally against the reactors reopening.
The approval by the Prime Minister, Yoshihiko Noda, for reactors to be restarted, ending Japan's month-long freeze on nuclear power, has met with a mixed response, signalling damage to his political support.

Two reactors at Kansai Electric Power's Ohi nuclear plant can be operated safely, Mr Noda said on Saturday after meeting three cabinet ministers who share approval authority.

The utility, which serves the $1 trillion economy of Japan's second-biggest urban region, said it would immediately begin work to start one reactor.

Black Cat

Sarkozy Enters Post-Elysee Life Facing Possible Investigations

© Michele Tantussi/Bloomberg
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has denied getting illegal campaign contributions, saying on April 3 on Canal Plus television channel that “there’s not a penny whose origin is unaccounted for.”
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who's going back to practicing law, may spend much of his time in the months ahead defending one person: himself.

Only the second French president to not win re-election, Sarkozy's immunity ends tonight, opening the door for his questioning as a witness or a target in allegations ranging from illegal campaign financing to two-decade-old kickbacks.

"Mr. Sarkozy has to be a little concerned once he loses his immunity of being hauled before the courts," William Keylor, a professor of modern French history at Boston University, said in a telephone interview.

With questions involving L'Oreal SA (OR) heiress Liliane Bettencourt, a French submarine sale to Pakistan and funds from late Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, Sarkozy, 57, is likely to remain in the limelight he sought to avoid after being defeated in the May 6 election. Before the vote, he said he would quit politics if he lost. He has since found an office in the chic 8th arrondissement of Paris and begun hiring staff for a return to practicing law.


Students Suspended for Viewing Porn in Class

Students were suspended during the month of May, the district confirmed


Nine male students were suspended from Bell Middle School for allegedly masturbating while looking at pornography on their cell phones during English class.

Students were suspended during the month of May, the district confirmed in an e-mail to NBC San Diego. But the email also states, the district is "prohibited from commenting on confidential student or personnel matters."

The teacher, Ed Johnson, is reportedly under fire because he did not respond to students who told him about the behavior while it was allegedly happening - only saying he would give students referrals if he caught them - then went on reading at his desk.

Following the incident, there are reports of controversy from the faculty over how the situation was handled by the teacher.

Arrow Down

Bahrain Court Upholds Convictions of 9 Doctors

© Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters
Fatima Haji, right, embraced Zahra al-Samar, the wife of Dr. Ghassan Dhaif, after hearing the verdicts announced by a Bahraini court in Manama on Thursday. Dr. Dhaif was sentenced to one year in prison on charges including taking hostages and participating in illegal gatherings.
Bahrain on Thursday upheld the convictions of nine doctors charged with crimes related to the popular uprising last year, in a case that drew international condemnation and was seen as a crucial test of the government's commitment to political reform. Related in Opinion Room for Debate Nudging Bahrain, Without Pushing It Away

As the United States struggles to handle escalating violence in countries like Syria and South Sudan, how can it also support peace in Bahrain?

The nine doctors, who did not appear in court when the verdicts were announced, were sentenced to between one month to five years in prison. Nine other doctors had their convictions overturned.

The doctors, all Shiites, were among thousands of people arrested during a government crackdown last year, after protesters demanding greater political freedoms occupied a central roundabout in the Bahraini capital of Manama.


Michigan Lawmaker to Perform 'Vagina Monologues' in Protest of Gag Order

Michigan State Rep. Lisa Brown only had to say the word "vagina" once to be banned from speaking on the House floor last week.

In response to the gag order, she and at least nine of her fellow congresswomen will utter the word tonight more than 100 times on the state Capitol steps in Lansing while performing The Vagina Monologues.


Canadian Psycho: Suspect in Killing, Dismemberment Case has Arrived in Canada

Luka Magnotta
© Facebook
Luka Magnotta
Mirabel, Quebec - A Canadian porn actor suspected in the dismemberment of a Chinese student arrived in Canada on Monday via military transport from Germany, where he was arrested this month.

Luka Magnotta did not fight his extradition. He is suspected of killing Jun Lin and sending body parts to Canadian political parties and schools. The head is still missing. Police said they would ask Magnotta where it is.

Investigators say Magnotta posted a video online showing him having sex with the dismembered corpse.

Montreal police Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere said Magnotta's plane landed at Mirabel airport just outside Montreal.

Bizarro Earth

Bath Salts Drug Linked to Another Bizarre Biting Attack

bath salts
© unknown
Police in Missouri are investigating the possibility that a woman was on synthetic drugs marketed as "bath salts" when she attacked and bit her neighbor, KCTV reported Friday.

It was not clear if the unidentified woman has been charged in the attack. Her landlord said she had not returned to her Kansas City home and could be in a hospital or mental health facility.

The victim, Charles McBride, said she attacked him last week and bit his arm where he had a nicotine patch.

"I've seen her do some crazy stuff, but not that," McBride told KCTV.

After biting him, he recalled, the woman dropped to all fours and began "digging in the ground, like a dog would."

When police arrived at the scene, "they tried to grab her and then she started kicking back at them," according to McBride.

A police report corroborated the victim's account, saying, "her left leg was mule-kicking and she had what appeared to be dirt in her mouth."

Comment: Is Solar and Cosmic Radiation Playing Havoc With Life on Planet Earth?

2 + 2 = 4

Schoolboy, 14, Arrested after He 'Stabs 26 Classmates in the Head and Neck with a Used Needle in Frenzied Break Time Attack'

  • Some students had to go to hospital to be tested for infections including hepatitis and HIV
  • The pupil was arrested on suspicion of assault, and remains in custody
  • It is understood he was taking part in a bizarre game
© Caters News Agency
Stabbed: A pupil shows where she was stabbed with the needle - the 14-year-old youngster want on a rampage during a lunch break
A 14-year-old boy has been arrested over claims at least 26 school pupils were stabbed with a medical needle during a lunch break.

The teenager is understood to have gone on a rampage at Toot Hill School, in Bingham, Notts, stabbing some students in the head and neck.

After the incident on Wednesday some students had to go to hospital to be tested for infections including hepatitis and HIV.

The school said pupils were stabbed with a lancet, but police believe a diabetic pen was used.

Nine have already been tested, although health officials say the risks are very slim, but the test results won't be known for three months.