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Wed, 29 Nov 2023
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US: Beware of uncivil servants with arms?

© Unknown
Get used to bureaucrats bearing firearms.

The U.S. Department of Education made headlines recently for sending a team of armed agents to execute a search warrant on a Stockton, Calif., man's home in a criminal investigation involving financial aid fraud.

Kenneth Wright was removed from the house in his boxer shorts and handcuffed. His three children were placed in a squad car while agents searched for information regarding his estranged wife, who didn't even live there.

Seemed like heavy-handed behavior for an agency that exists primarily to cultivate a nation of bookworms. But the Department of Education's having at its disposal what amounts to a SWAT team is just one of the vagaries of post-9/11 society.

Believe it or not, Education is one of more than two dozen federal agencies that were granted police powers in a little-known provision of the Homeland Security Act.

Alarm Clock

US: Power grid change may disrupt clocks

© AP Photo/Charles Krupa
In this Oct. 10, 2005 file photo, UPS delivery man Chris Carhart of South Boston, wheels packages past a store window featuring clocks at Quincy Market in Boston. Our power supply has been so precise we've set our clocks by it — but time is running out on that idea. A yearlong experiment with the electric grid may make plug-in clocks and devices like coffeemakers run up to 20 minutes fast.

Washington - A yearlong experiment with the nation's electric grid could mess up traffic lights, security systems and some computers - and make plug-in clocks and appliances like programmable coffeemakers run up to 20 minutes fast.

"A lot of people are going to have things break and they're not going to know why," said Demetrios Matsakis, head of the time service department at the U.S. Naval Observatory, one of two official timekeeping agencies in the federal government.

Since 1930, electric clocks have kept time based on the rate of the electrical current that powers them. If the current slips off its usual rate, clocks run a little fast or slow. Power companies now take steps to correct it and keep the frequency of the current - and the time - as precise as possible.

Comment: Italy: Clocks in Sicily Mysteriously Jump Ahead


US: Elderly woman asked to remove adult diaper during TSA search


A woman has filed a complaint with federal authorities over how her elderly mother was treated at Northwest Florida Regional Airport last weekend.

Jean Weber of Destin filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security after her 95-year-old mother was detained and extensively searched last Saturday while trying to board a plane to fly to Michigan to be with family members during the final stages of her battle with leukemia.

Her mother, who was in a wheelchair, was asked to remove an adult diaper in order to complete a pat-down search.


BP moves to dismiss Mexican states' and Alabama cities' complaints in oil spill MDL

© NA

Attorneys for BP have filed a motion to dismiss the claims filed by the Louisiana District Attorneys, Alabama cities and Mexican states against the oil company following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and oil spill.

BP is claiming that the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) states that "federal law is exclusive for claims arising from drilling for oil and other mineral exploration and development activities on the [Outer Continental Shelf]."

BP also states that the claims brought on by Mexican states are invalid because international treaties between Mexico and the U.S. do not mention remedies for oil spills.

2 + 2 = 4

Of muck and men

© Unknown
Tracing the spread of agriculture into Europe so many thousands of years after it happened is among the biggest challenges facing archaeologists. But the chemical signature of the manure early farmers spread on their land remains to this day. Amy Bogaard describes how her team found it.

As any gardener knows, animal manure does a brilliant job of keeping soils rich in nutrients and easy to work. Though chemical fertilizers are now widely used, manuring still plays a critical role in food production in many parts of the world today. But was it always so important?

The Crop Isotope Project is the first attempt to systematically assess the importance of manuring in early farming communities, dating back thousands of years - and the results have been, well, ground-breaking.

Archaeologists know where and when the 'ingredients' of European farming emerged - around 10,500 years ago in the Middle East's Fertile Crescent - and we have a good grasp of how agriculture then spread into Europe. But what was early farming like? How were crops grown and animals raised? This kind of understanding is crucial for explaining how farming emerged and became established, as well as its long-term consequences.

In the Middle East, growing crops and herding animals emerged at around the same time. Furthermore, the early suite of crops and livestock (wheat and barley, pulses and flax, together with sheep, goats, pigs and cattle) went on to spread together across Europe. This combined crop-and-livestock 'package' hints at some sort of mixed farming.

Comment: Research into how our ancestors farmed, ate and lived is admirable, but the fact of the matter is that the advent of agriculture was also the advent of the decline of the human race. The growing of grains and fruits over large tracts of land has not only destroyed much of our environment, but it has wreaked havoc with human health.

For 99% of human history, human beings have eaten animal meat and fat. It is only within the last 10,000 years, with the introduction of agriculture, that humans have eaten grains. We, as a species therefore, are genetically pre-disposed to thrive on animal products. In addition, most grains contain gluten and lectins, the former being a sugar to which many people are allergic, and the latter being a plant's natural defence against being eaten. Lectins are 'anti-nutrients' that damage and impair the function of the intestines of any animal that eat them, including humans. Both gluten and lectins have been linked to a host of 'modern' illnesses that have impoverished the lives of humanity as a whole.


Tens of thousands attend pro-government rallies in Syria

Tens of thousands of Syrians from across the country have held pro-government rallies to express their support for President Bashar al-Assad.

During the rallies on Saturday, the government supporters also condemned what they called foreign interference in their country's internal affairs, the Press TV correspondent in Damascus reported.

In the Syria capital, a group of religious leaders of different faiths held a meeting to express their unity.

Smaller groups of Syrians in other parts of the country held anti-government demonstrations and committed acts of sabotage. Seven people, both civilians and members of the security forces, were reportedly killed.


Five more killed in Syria unrest


Protesters call for reforms in Syria in March 2011.
At least five people have been killed near the central city of Homs in the latest outbreak of violence in Syria.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Saturday that two protesters were killed in Kiswa, which is located 15 kilometers (10 miles) south of the capital, Damascus, during funerals held for demonstrators who lost their lives on Friday, Reuters reported.

Three others were reportedly killed during house-to-house searches in the Barzeh district of Damascus and in the town of Quseir, a village west of Homs.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has identified the dead as civilians, but Press TV cannot independently confirm the reports.

On Friday, at least 12 people were killed and many others injured in several Syrian cities, including Damascus, after thousands of people took to the streets across the country to demand reforms.

Opposition activists said Syrian security forces opened fire on protesters, while Syria's state TV blamed the killing on armed gangs, saying a number of police officers were also among the victims.


French Ship Sets Sail to Join Flotilla 2 to Gaza

© Getty Images
A ship, Dignité, flying the French flag with six people onboard sails off the coast of the French Mediterranean island of Corsica on June 25, 2011 to join the new pro-Palestinian aid flotilla.
A French ship carrying humanitarian aid and six people on board has set sail from the port city of Corsica to join a Gaza-bound flotilla.

The ship flying the French flag named Dignité (Dignity) headed for the coastal waters of Greece on Saturday to join up with the rest of the participants in the flotilla.

The entire fleet will sail for Gaza next week from various Mediterranean ports, French coordinator Julien Rivoire told AFP.

Ships, including two freighters carrying medical supplies "should reach the port of Gaza at the end of next week," he added.

Activists from more than 30 countries plan to sail aboard the ships to the Gaza Strip to deliver humanitarian assistance to the besieged people of Gaza in the near future.

The Israeli Navy has already declared that it will not allow the new flotilla to break the blockade on the impoverished Gaza Strip.

Heart - Black

US: Outrage as Pregnant Women Who Lose Babies are Facing Murder Charges

An influx of expectant mothers facing murder charges for the deaths of their unborn children in the U.S. has sparked outrage among women's rights activists.

Thirty eight states have introduced foetal homicide laws to protect pregnant women and their unborn children from violent attacks by third parties.

But they are increasingly being used to threaten and prosecute women over the outcome of their pregnancies, says the National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW).

© Facebook
Bei Bei Shuai was charged in March with murder in the January 2 death of her three-day-old daughter, Angel Shuai
Campaigners say Rennie Gibbs is one such case. Gibbs was just 15 when she became pregnant, but her child was stillborn at 36 weeks in December, 2006.

After prosecutors discovered she had a cocaine habit, she was charged with the 'depraved-heart murder' of the baby, which carries a mandatory life sentence.


US: Man Arrested in Logan Bomb Scare

A Chicago man was arrested at Logan International Airport today after he allegedly claimed to have guns and explosives in his checked baggage.

About 5:35 p.m., State Police were called to Terminal E for a Southwest Airlines checkpoint with a report of a man making threats to Transportation Security Administration staff. The man, identified as Joseph Haynes, 22, allegedly told TSA personnel that he had "guns and bombs" in his checked bags, including an AK-47 assault rifle and hand grenades.

The incident triggered a large police response, including a State Police canine and Emergency Ordinance Disposal unit. The checked baggage was removed from Southwest Airlines Flight 3627 bound for Chicago. No firearms or explosives were found.

Haynes was charged with making a false bomb threat and disorderly conduct. A woman traveling with Haynes was not charged. Her name was not released. The checkpoint was closed for about 20 minutes during the investigation.