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Black Cat

Norway court stops gunman talking to victims' families

Image
© AFP
People hold banners reading "We will never forget the July 22 massacre, crush fascism" and "No podium for fascists" in front of a court house in Oslo. Right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik, the confessed killer of 77 people in a July rampage in Norway, has made his first public court appearance
Anders Behring Breivik, who confessed to the massacre of 77 people in Norway in July, tried in vain to make a show of his first public court appearance Monday, but was blocked from addressing the families of his victims.

The Oslo district court ruled that Behring Breivik would remain in custody until February 6, when a new custody extension hearing will be held, and announced a possible trial start-date of April 16.

The 32-year-old rightwing extremist, wearing a dark suit, white shirt and light blue tie and sporting a narrow beard, asked judge Torkel Nesheim if he could speak to the families "for five minutes," but was turned down.

It was the first court hearing open to survivors, victims' family members, the media and the general public since the July 22 killing spree.

After the hearing, his lawyer Geir Lippestad, who had asked that his client be set free, said Behring Breivik had prepared a short note, but that he did not know what he had planned to say.

Better Earth

US, Nebraska: TransCanada says it will reroute planned oil pipeline to avoid environmentally sensitive area

Image
© The Lincoln Journal-Star/Eric Gregory/Associated Press
Speaker of the Legislature Mike Flood announces from the floor of the legislature in Lincoln, Neb., Monday, Nov. 14, 2011, that TransCanada has agreed to voluntarily move the Keystone XL pipeline project away from the Ogallala aquifer.
Canadian pipeline developer TransCanada will shift the route of its planned oil pipeline out of the environmentally sensitive Sandhills area of Nebraska, two company officials announced Monday night.

Speaking at a news conference at the Nebraska Capitol, the officials said TransCanada would agree to the new route, a move the company previously claimed wasn't possible, as part of an effort to push through the proposed $7 billion project. They expressed confidence the project would ultimately be approved.

Alex Pourbaix, TransCanada's president for energy and oil pipelines, said rerouting the Keystone XL line would likely require 30 to 40 additional miles of pipe and an additional pumping station. The exact route has not yet been determined, but Pourbaix said Nebraska will play a key role in deciding it.

The announcement follows the federal government's decision last week to delay a decision on a federal permit for the project until it studies new potential routes that avoid the Sandhills area and the Ogallala aquifer as the proposed pipeline carries crude oil from Canada to Texas Gulf Coast refineries.

Debate over the pipeline has drawn international attention focused largely on Nebraska, because the pipeline would cross the Sandhills - an expanse of grass-strewn, loose-soil hills - and part of the Ogallala aquifer, which supplies water to Nebraska and parts of seven other states.

Arrow Up

US: Airline Fine May Send Flight Cancellations Soaring

DOT fines American Eagle $900,000 for stranding passengers more than three hours


The government's $900,000 fine Monday against an American Airlines affiliate for holding hundreds of passengers on board a small jet for hours on an airport tarmac may serve as a deterrent to future such incidents. But industry analysts warned that may come with the price of more canceled flights.

Even before the fine against American Eagle Airlines, airlines had cancelled more flights to avoid pushing up against the new three-hour limit on tarmac delays the Department of Transportation imposed 20 months ago. Now, cancellations will shoot up even more, said airline analyst Michael Boyd.

"If there's a 20 percent chance of this happening, an airline will cancel," Boyd said, because of the potential for massive fines.

Airlines that violate the rule can be fined as much as $27,500 per passenger, but transportation officials had held off fining air carriers in any of the several dozen instances where the rule has been broken until this week. Industry officials are watching for an action from DOT on a similar incident at the Hartford, Conn., airport during a freak snowstorm in October.

The fine imposed on American Eagle was the largest penalty to be paid by an airline in a consumer protection case not involving civil rights violations, although airlines have paid much higher fines for violating federal safety regulations.

Info

US: Classic Thanksgiving Dinner Costing More in 2011

Cost of Thanksgiving
© American Farm Bureau Federation
Click here for a high resolution PDF version.

Washington, D.C., - The retail cost of menu items for a classic Thanksgiving dinner including turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the basic trimmings increased about 13 percent this year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

AFBF's 26th annual informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year's feast for 10 is $49.20, a $5.73 price increase from last year's average of $43.47.

"The cost of this year's meal remains a bargain, at just under $5 per person," said AFBF President Bob Stallman, a rice and cattle producer from Texas. "The quality and variety of food produced for our dinner tables on America's diverse farms and ranches sets us apart from our contemporaries around the world. It is an honor for our farm and ranch families to produce the food from our nation's land for family Thanksgiving celebrations."

The AFBF survey shopping list includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and beverages of coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10. There is also plenty for leftovers.

The big ticket item - a 16-pound turkey - came in at $21.57 this year. That was roughly $1.35 per pound, an increase of about 25 cents per pound, or a total of $3.91 per whole turkey, compared to 2010. The whole bird was the biggest contributor to the final total, showing the largest price increase compared to last year.

Stormtrooper

US: 'The Largest And Most Expensive Police Action In Recent Memory' Is About To Go Down At Occupy Oakland

Oakland Police officer with no badge number
© Lucy Kafanov
Oakland Police officer with no badge number


It's 4:45 a.m. in Oakland and a flurry of Tweets from the ground are announcing an eminent confrontation with police.

"I love the smell of vinegar in the morning," was the Tweet that got my attention and a Google search found that vinegar soaked bandannas are used by protesters without gas-masks to neutralized the effects of tear-gas.

The Silicon Valley News reports protesters have been anticipating a raid since 3 a.m. at the intersection of Broadway and 14th Street after an anonymous tip came via email to camp leaders.

According to the email, "Peaceful protesters are advised by police to stand down until the situation stabilizes. The general public is advised to stay away from the area during the action to avoid potential personal injury from incidental contact with conflicts."

Stormtrooper

US, California: Berkeley police yank women by their hair who are defending public education


More police brutality from the Occupy Cal protest at UC-Berkeley November 9, 2011. UC police yank women by their hair so they can destroy the encampment tents. Later, a woman is pinned to a bush and being batoned, and a man trying to rescue her gets beaten by police.

Magnify

Why Is China Building These Gigantic Structures In the Middle of the Desert?

This is crazy. New photos have appeared in Google Maps showing unidentified titanic structures in the middle of the Chinese desert. The first one is an intricate network of what appears to be huge metallic stripes. Is this a military experiment?

weird china grid 1
© Google Maps
Update 2: readers are finding even more weird stuff.

They seem to be wide lines drawn with some white material. Or maybe the dust have been dug by machinery.

It's located in Dunhuang, Jiuquan, Gansu, north of the Shule River, which crosses the Tibetan Plateau to the west into the Kumtag Desert. It covers an area approximately one mile long by more than 3,000 feet wide.

The tracks are perfectly executed, and they seem to be designed to be seen from orbit.

Perhaps it's some kind of targeting or calibrating grid for Chinese spy satellites? Maybe it's a QR code for aliens? Nobody really knows.

You can check it out yourself in Google Maps here.

Che Guevara

Big Change Whether We Like It or Not Only Washington Is Clueless

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© N/A
In every aspect of human existence, change is a constant. Yet change that actually matters occurs only rarely. Even then, except in retrospect, genuinely transformative change is difficult to identify. By attributing cosmic significance to every novelty and declaring every unexpected event a revolution, self-assigned interpreters of the contemporary scene -- politicians and pundits above all -- exacerbate the problem of distinguishing between the trivial and the non-trivial.

Did 9/11 "change everything"? For a brief period after September 2001, the answer to that question seemed self-evident: of course it did, with massive and irrevocable implications. A mere decade later, the verdict appears less clear. Today, the vast majority of Americans live their lives as if the events of 9/11 had never occurred. When it comes to leaving a mark on the American way of life, the likes of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg have long since eclipsed Osama bin Laden. (Whether the legacies of Jobs and Zuckerberg will prove other than transitory also remains to be seen.)

Anyone claiming to divine the existence of genuinely Big Change Happening Now should, therefore, do so with a sense of modesty and circumspection, recognizing the possibility that unfolding events may reveal a different story.

Mr. Potato

US: Clueless Cain on Libya

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain talks to the Journal Sentinel editorial board about the Obama administration's handling of Libya.


Dollar

Chinese TV Host And Economist Says Regime Nearly Bankrupt

cormorant fishers, China
© Peter Adams
China's economy has a reputation for being strong and prosperous, but according to a well-known Chinese television personality the country's Gross Domestic Product is going in reverse.

Larry Lang, chair professor of Finance at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said in a lecture that he didn't think was being recorded that the Chinese regime is in a serious economic crisis - on the brink of bankruptcy. In his memorable formulation: every province in China is Greece.

The restrictions Lang placed on the Oct. 22 speech in Shenyang City, in northern China's Liaoning Province, included no audio or video recording, and no media. He can be heard saying that people should not to post his speech online, or "everyone will look bad," in the audio that is now on Youtube.

In the unusual, closed-door lecture, Lang gave a frank analysis of the Chinese economy and the censorship that is placed on intellectuals and public figures. "What I'm about to say is all true. But under this system, we are not allowed to speak the truth," he said.