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US: Chicago Bound Amtrak Train Derails in Nebraska

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© AP Photo/Bill Coe via McCook Daily Gazette
In this photo provided by Bill Coe via the McCook Daily Gazette, an Amtrak train sits derailed near Benkelman, Neb., Friday, Aug. 26, 2011. The Amtrak train carrying more than 175 passengers from California to Chicago derailed Friday after striking equipment on the tracks in southwest Nebraska and a small number of people were taken to hospitals, a spokesman said.
An Amtrak train headed from California to Chicago struck a demolition crane in southwest Nebraska on Friday, forcing two locomotives and three passenger cars off the rails but causing no major injuries, officials said.

The train, which was running on Amtrak's California Zephyr route from Emeryville, Calif., to Chicago, had 175 passengers and 17 crewmembers on board when it struck the crane at about 8 a.m. near Benkleman, which is near Nebraska's border with Kansas and Colorado.

The two locomotives that left the tracks tipped over, but the three derailed passenger cars did not, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said. The seven other passenger cars remained on the track.

Twenty-two people were injured, twenty of them who were on the train, Dundy County emergency director Elaine Frasier said. She said she didn't know whether the other two people injured were on the crane or elsewhere nearby.

Document

Veterans Bitterly Disappointed by Obama

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© amazon.com
On May 11, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals took a stand for veterans that has been shameful years in coming. It ruled that the Department of Veterans Affairs has been violating the due process rights of veterans in denying them meaningful access to critically needed mental health care.

This past Tuesday, the Obama administration filed a motion to appeal that decision. Administration lawyers said the court had "wrested control of the V.A. from the politically accountable branches of government that are best-positioned to identify the needs of veterans and allocate scarce resources." If we have the resources to fight these astronomically expensive wars that have put our country into unprecedented debt, how can we morally now claim we have to "allocate scarce resources" when it is time to heal the participants of those wars?

Heart - Black

Suicide Casts Long Shadow After Decade of War

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© AFP/Getty Images/File Ben Sklar
Killeen, Texas - A soldier kills himself and his wife. Another war veteran hangs himself in despair. Yet a third puts a gun to his head and pulls the trigger outside a gas station in a confrontation with Texas lawmen.

Suicides by veterans like these once would have left people reeling in this military community. But troops and their families here these days call it the "new normal" for a US Army that's spent a decade at war.

Melissa Dixon sees the stress in the tattoos she draws on soldiers back from combat.

"Some of them have issues with their wives or their loved ones, where they're fighting, or one will have a friend commit suicide," she said.

There's no place like Fort Hood in the Army. A post that sent soldiers from two divisions to Iraq three times since the invasion, it's logged more suicides since 2003 than any other - 107.

Star of David

The War of Ideas in the Middle East

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© Unknown
Ad calling for end to u.s. aid to israel on a san Francisco cable car
Campaign to end US aid to Israel expands to San Francisco cable cars

A new series of ads calling for an end to U.S. military aid to Israel now greets commuters, tourists, students, and shoppers traveling on the San Francisco Bay Area's public transit systems.

The ads, part of a growing national campaign, went up this week on the Powell Street cable car, a popular tourist attraction in downtown San Francisco; in three of the busiest stations on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) - San Francisco's Civic Center, 12th St. Oakland, and Downtown Berkeley; and on the Muni level of the Embarcadero station in San Francisco. Next week the same ad will be posted in the 16th St./ Mission station in San Francisco.

Footprints

Children Defy Police in Washington, Purchase Lemonade at Capitol

In response to a recent wave of lemonade stand shut downs and harassment of children over such petty regulations as are used to shut them down, several activists gathered at the west lawn of the capitol in Washington, DC to sell lemonade and were arrested.


Attention

Dine-and-Dash Epidemic Hits New Zealand: Is Food Inflation to Blame?

The price of food in New Zealand has gone up 46.4% over the past 10 years:

Food Inflation
© Minyanville
The Wairarapa Times-Age (has your subscription lapsed, too?) has details of year-over-year inflation.

Biggest increases:
  • Broccoli up 66.6 per cent
  • Tomatoes up 34 per cent
  • Lettuce up 20.7 per cent
  • Cabbage up 19.6 per cent
  • Peaches up 13.5 per cent
  • Yoghurt up 14.7 per cent
  • Breakfast cereal biscuits up 8.2 per cent
  • Lamb chops up 6.9 per cent
  • Chocolate biscuits up 6.6 per cent
  • Sausages up 4.4 per cent

Chess

JPMorgan Is Foreclosing On The U.S. Treasury!

I am not making this up. Hat tip reader Deontos.

Here is the high level story: JP Morgan Chase and Northwest Trust foreclosed on a property in Hillsboro, Oregon. Treasury (more accurately, the IRS) has a tax lien on the property.

So this is pretty cheeky. The plaintiffs didn't notify the IRS, who they claim was an existing junior lien holder, of the "sale". Query what the IRS's status is given the failure to give notice. So does JP Morgan want to own up to its error and pay the lien? Noooooo. They want to foreclose on the US government. They are asking for the IRS to act in 30 days or go bye bye.

The compliant is silent on how the tax lien came about, but I thought as a general rule that tax liens were senior to mortgages. Reader input welcome.

JP Morgan Chase v Treasury

Newspaper

5 things the media isn't telling you about human activity and earthquakes

police tape
© John Murden

Shortly before midnight Mountain Time on August 23, the largest earthquake in Colorado in more than a century, with a magnitude of 5.3, sent tremors as far away as Kansas. Some twelve hours later, a magnitude 5.8 earthquake centered in Northern Virginia sent shock waves as far away as Toronto. The local damage in each event did not appear extensive, though structural effects, on bridges, tunnels, nuclear power plants and more are yet to be determined.

Through the afternoon and evening of August 23rd, the national media uncovered the big story of the East Coast quake: where their colleagues posted in New York or Washington were and what they thought when they felt a bump, sway, rumble or funny feeling. But with no national correspondents already on site, the Colorado quake was left to the locals. But both quakes were profound, rippling with far-reaching lessons about our outdated and unsafe energy practices that we ignore at great peril.

Mr. Potato

US: Olbermann: 'How stupid is Eric Cantor?'

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After House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) used Hurricane Irene as an excuse for spending cuts, Current TV's Keith Olbermann had just one question: How stupid is he?

"It is one thing to treat the citizens of the United States as if they were your idiot cousins, loafing around your house waiting for you to pay them their meth bills," Olbermann began Thursday. "In a twisted part of this country, that has worked for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, but in our third story on the countdown, 99 percent of those people cannot vote for him. When he treats the folks inside his on congressional district that way, he evolves from Scrooge-like to potentially self-destructive."

"The inhumanity, I get. The political self destruction, I do not get. Every politician is seemingly smart enough to protect those limited number of people in his own constituency. Why doesn't Cantor?" Olbermann asked Democratic strategist Karl Frisch.

Mail

Amnesty International sets up Twitter account mocking Dick Cheney

Dick cheney

The human rights organization Amnesty International has set up a Twitter account named "Cheney's Conscience" that mocks the former vice president and links to a petition calling on U.S. Attorney General Holder to open a torture investigation.

"Is it Friday yet?! Who knew whitewashing #torture would be this hard?" a tweet from August 23 said.

"Look, of course waterboarding isn't torture. The lawyers I instructed to tell me it wasn't torture said so!" said another from August 19.