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Broke California OKs Funding for High-Speed Rail Line

Image
© The Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli
Gov. Jerry Brown, left, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, center, and Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, chair of the Senate Budget Committee smile for the camera after the Senate approved funding for a high-speed rail system at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, July 6, 2012.
California lawmakers gave the green light to start building the nation's first dedicated high-speed rail line, a multibillion dollar project that will eventually link Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The move marked major political victories for Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and the Obama administration. Both have promoted bullet trains as job generators and clean transportation alternatives.

In a narrow 21-16 party-line vote that involved intense lobbying by the governor, legislative leaders and labor groups, the state Senate approved the measure marking the launch of California's ambitious bullet train, which has spent years in the planning stages.

"The Legislature took bold action today that gets Californians back to work and puts California out in front once again," Brown said.

Brown pushed for the massive infrastructure project to accommodate expected growth in the nation's most populous state, which now has 37 million people. State and federal officials also said high-speed rail would create jobs.

"No economy can grow faster than its transportation network allows," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. "With highways between California cities congested and airspace at a premium, Californians desperately need an alternative."

Sherlock

Natalie Wood's Death No Longer 'Accident'

Natalie Wood
© unknown
Natalie Wood
U.S. actress Natalie Wood's drowning 30-plus years ago has been changed from "accidental" to "undetermined" on her death certificate, members of her family say.

The entertainment news Web site TMZ reported Friday its law enforcement sources say the Los Angeles County coroner filed documents making the change late last month and members of Wood's family told it county sheriff's deputies paid them a visit to inform them of the change.

Sheriff's investigators have reopened the investigation into the death of Wood, who was 43 and married to actor Robert Wagner when she fell off a boat anchored off Catalina Island in November 1981 and drowned, TMZ said. There had been a party aboard the boat earlier. Actor Christopher Walken also was on the boat that night.

The relatives detectives told them the change was made, in part, because some of the bruises on Wood's body were inconsistent with death by drowning, TMZ said. The family members also said authorities can't prove definitively whether Wood died accidentally or was the victim of foul play, though they were told she definitely drowned.

Family

People Power! Major Rent Strike Against Millionaire Slumlord Catches Fire in Brooklyn

renter strike brooklyn
© Diego Ibanez
Tenant Sara Lopez marches on Thursday
As foreclosures continue to put historic pressure on the nation's rental market, slumlords now have more opportunity than ever to prey on the most vulnerable of tenants.

The electrical box in the basement of multifamily brownstone on 46th Street in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, looks like a middle-school science fair project gone horribly wrong. The door to the box is ajar and a cheap plastic fan, positioned only inches from the fuses, desperately tries to keep the wiring from catching fire when it sparks and overheats, plunging the building's 51 apartments into darkness and threatening to set the entire structure ablaze.

"Last night was so bad, the lights were going on and off every ten minutes," said 20-year-old Riccey Trelles, a recent college graduate who lives with her family on the first floor. "It was pitch-black; I couldn't see the person across from me."

Despite the darkness, Trelles was up until almost two a.m. making posters and banners for the following day's protest to expose her building's slumlord, Orazio Petito, and implore city officials to intervene in a case of housing violations that tenants are now describing as human rights abuses.

As foreclosures continue to displace millions and put historic pressure on the nation's rental market, slumlords now have more opportunity than ever to prey on the most vulnerable of tenants. The problem is especially bad in an owner's market like New York City, where average rent price increased more in the second quarter of 2012 than in any other city in the country, sending landlords into a frenzy to evict old tenants--especially those with stabilized rent--and jack up the prices for newcomers. But despite a vicious landlord and a city that prefers aiding the housing market's rise than enforcing tenants' rights, Trelles and her neighbors are fighting back: speaking out, occupying an assemblymen's office and launching a rent strike that tenants hope will spread across Brooklyn.

Comment: This situation would not be possible without the complicity of New York City government. There is apparently plenty of money to clean up and maintain the tourist areas, but none to devote to keeping the city livable for the residents.


Stop

Alberta Woman on Cult Warpath

Carla Brown
© Stephanie Findlay/Tornto Star
Carla Brown, director of the Edmonton Society Against Mind Abuse (ESAMA), talks with Tyler Newton on Friday at the annual conference of the International Cultic Studies Association, held in Montreal. The conference lasts three days.
Montreal - Carla Brown is planning on staging an intervention, hoping to rescue people from what she believes is a cult.

She has been told there is a self-described prophet living near Okotoks, Alta., a quiet town in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, who claims to speak with Adam and Eve.

Brown, the director of the Edmonton Society Against Mind Abuse (ESAMA), said the prophet controls the lives of some 20 people.

"One ex-member leaked audio tapes of her to me," said Brown. "It was this sing-song prayer, everything in rhyme. It gave me goosebumps."

Brown is part of a tight-knit group of cult experts in Edmonton who field calls from distressed Albertans - and, increasingly, Canadians from other provinces - who have lost a family member or friend to a group like that of the Okotoks prophet.

She is one of more than 30 experts who have come to Montreal to speak at the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) annual conference. Held in the Chinatown Holiday Inn, the event is known for its diverse group of participants, one of the few in the field where academics, mental health practitioners and former cult members sit side by side to take in the presentations.

"This conference is one of the biggest in years," said organizer Michael Kropveld.

Stephen Kent, a professor of sociology at the University of Alberta studying anti-government cults in the province, serves as a kind of academic adviser to Brown, who, in return, tips him off to new groups.

Smoking

Roll-Your-Own Cigarette Operations to be Snuffed Out

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© N/A
A tiny amendment buried in the federal transportation bill to be signed today by President Barack Obama will put operators of roll-your-own cigarette operations in Las Vegas and nationwide out of business at midnight.

Robert Weissen, with his brothers and other partners, own nine Sin City Cigarette Factory locations in Southern Nevada, including six in Las Vegas, and one in Hawaii. He said when the bill is signed their only choice is to turn off their 20 RYO Filling Station machines and lay off more than 40 employees.

"We'll stay open for about another week to sell tubes and tobacco just to get through our inventory, but without the use of the RYO machines, we won't be staying open," he said.

Comment: Smoking has been found to have numerous health benefits contrary to what has been propagandized via government and the mainstream media. To find out more, see these Sott links:

Let's All Light Up!

Health Benefits of Smoking Tobacco

Cigarette Smoke Can Prevent Allergies, Study Suggests


Bizarro Earth

Electrical Power Generation "Burns" Rivers of Drought-Scorched Southeast

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant
© n/a
The Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant is even older and more antique than the Fukushima #1. Almost 20,000,000 New Yorkers live within a 50 mile radius of the installation. The nuclear waste stored on the site has been the subject of litigation with significant ramification for the US nuclear industry .

A new report reckons the water cost of electricity generation

Power plants are guzzling water across the United States and increasing the risk of blackouts in the Southeast, where the precious resource is drying up.

"Burning Our Rivers," a new report by the River Network, found that it takes about 40,000 gallons of water to meet the average American household's energy needs, which is five times more than the amount of water used directly in that home.

Of the various modes of power production, hydropower has the biggest water footprint. Each day, enough water evaporates from behind hydroelectric dam reservoirs to meet the demands of more than 50 million people.

Coal-, nuclear- and natural gas- powered plants are also thirsty, in need of water to cool their generators. These energy facilities are the fastest-growing users of freshwater resources and already account for more than half of all fresh surface water withdrawals from rivers. That is more than any other economic sector, including agriculture, write the authors.

More than a quarter of the water fossil-fuel plants take in is turned into steam. The remaining liquid is contaminated with pollutants and excess heat and returned to waterways, where it can kill wildlife and create toxic algae blooms.

"What we are seeing now is the way we produce electricity can threaten our water supplies, and it's already compromising our water quality across the nation," said Wendy Wilson, director of River Network's energy and climate program and author of the new report.
The results found in "Burning Our Rivers" echo a report released last fall by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), which also found that conventional power plants are stressing U.S. lakes and rivers by removing too much water or discharging it at extremely warm temperatures, to the detriment of surrounding ecosystems (ClimateWire, Nov. 15, 2011).
In the Southeast, which has been battling a drought for more than a year, the impact of power plants is especially worrisome and could lead to brownouts and blackouts throughout the summer and beyond.

2 + 2 = 4

More States Freed from No Child Left Behind Law

students @ schoolroom
© PA
Seattle - Although more than half the states are now exempt from the toughest requirements of the federal ''No Child Left Behind'' education law, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Friday his goal remains to help Congress fix the law, not to sidestep the stalled overhaul effort.

The Obama administration announced Friday that Washington and Wisconsin have been granted waivers from the education law, bringing to 26 the number of states now free from many of its requirements.

Other waiver applications are still pending in 10 states and the District of Columbia. Waivers were approved last month in Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota, Utah, and Virginia.

Allowing waivers has brought a level of creativity to education reform that was unexpected when Duncan and President Obama opened the process nearly a year ago.

Congress could come up with a great plan for reauthorizing the federal law by adopting the best ideas from the states' waiver applications, Duncan said Friday.

Comment: Who Controls Our Children ? (Public Education Dumb Down Kids)


Beaker

DNA Tests in 1980 Killing Leads to Release of Illinois Man Who Spent Three Decades in Prison

Andre Davis
© Illinois Department of Corrections/Associated Press
Andre Davis
A Chicago man who spent more than 30 years behind bars before DNA evidence helped overturn his conviction in the rape and killing of a 3-year-old girl was released from prison late Friday, just hours after prosecutors dropped the case against him.

An Illinois appeals court in March had ordered a new trial for 50-year-old Andre Davis after tests found that DNA taken from the scene of the 1980 killing of Brianna Stickle wasn't his. The girl was attacked in Rantoul, about 20 miles north of Champaign.

Davis was released from the super-maximum security prison in Tamms in far southern Illinois around 7:30 p.m., said Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman Kayce Ataiyero. Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz had decided earlier in the day not to pursue charges against him.

Judy Royal of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University, which represented Davis, said he was the longest-serving of the 42 people exonerated by DNA evidence in Illinois.

Info

It's Time to Forgive Student Loans, U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke Says

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© unknown
U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke, a Detroit Democrat, says student loans need more reforms than the bill signed Friday to keep interest rates from doubling.
President Barack Obama signed a law Friday extending a cap on federal Stafford student loan interest rates -- but U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke, a Detroit Democrat, argues it doesn't go far enough.

He's hoping the more than 1 million people who have signed a petition supporting a bill he's championing will force Congress to make more meaningful reforms to the student loan system.

"The demand is to change the system," he said June 25. "We've got to keep the bubble from bursting and help people who are swamped by debt. I would like to forgive a lot of these loans."

Clarke's bill, which is in committee in the House, would do just that.

Under his plan, people could have federal loans forgiven if they paid 10% of their disposable income -- which is basically any income exceeding 150% of the federally set poverty level -- for 10 years. The plan would apply to undergraduate, graduate and parent loans. Those in public service jobs could have loans forgiven after five years.

"Nobody's getting a free ride here," he said. "They have to pay on the loan before they are eligible for forgiveness."

Book

Casey Anthony's Lawyer Tells All in His Book: 'Casey Thought Her Father George had also Fathered Her Daughter Caylee and Killed the Toddler to Hide Evidence of Abuse'

  • In new tell-all, former defence attorney Jose Baez accuses father George Anthony of sexually abusing Casey
  • Also says that Casey suspected that George had fathered Caylee
  • On July 5, 2011, a jury sensationally acquitted Anthony of all three charges which together carried the death penalty
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© Getty Images
Accused: Casey Anthony's lawyer accused her father George, left, of sexually assaulting her, and speculates that he killed Casey's daughter Caylee to cover up the abuse
Casey Anthony, dubbed the most hated mother in America, had suspicions that she and her daughter Caylee shared the same father, according to her former defence attorney.

In his explosive new tell-all, the Florida woman's lawyer Jose Baez accuses George Anthony of abusing his daughter, and speculates that George could have murdered 2-year-old Caylee to hide evidence of abuse.

Casey was sensationally acquitted of murdering her daughter after a highly-publicised trial last July.

In his book, Presumed Guilty, Casey Anthony: The Inside Story, Baez reveals aspects of the Anthony's private lives that were not looked into during the trial.