Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100828

Financial Crisis
»Joint Chief: Debt is Biggest Threat to National Security
»Public Pensions and Our Fiscal Future
»The Most Fiscally Irresponsible Government in U.S. History
»Worst Summer Youth Unemployment Since 1948
»Ex-CIA Official: Ground Zero Mosque ‘Symbol of Victory’ For Extremists
»It’s a Matter of Honor
»Lawsuit Says Priest Fathered Teen’s Child
»Obama, Democrats Got 88 Percent of 2008 Contributions
»Tea Party Group Hit With Death Threats
»Why Are So Many Americans Hostile to Islam?
Europe and the EU
»UK: Bottles, Stones and Smoke Bomb Hurled During English Defence League Demonstration in Bradford
»UK: Bradford Braced for the Arrival of the EDL
»UK: City Comes Together in Show of Harmony Ahead of Protests
»UK: It’s Begun!
»UK: Police Warn Over Bradford Protests
North Africa
»Egypt Intercepts Shipment of 190 Anti-Aircraft Missiles
Far East
»Japan Reveals Long-Secretive Execution Process
Culture Wars
»EPA Surrenders to NRA: “Getting the Lead Out” Won’t Happen
»Urine-Powered Fuel Cells to Offer Pee Power to People

Financial Crisis

Joint Chief: Debt is Biggest Threat to National Security

The national debt is the single biggest threat to national security, according to Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Tax payers will be paying around $600 billion in interest on the national debt by 2012, the chairman told students and local leaders in Detroit.

“That’s one year’s worth of defense budget,” he said, adding that the Pentagon needs to cut back on spending.

[Return to headlines]

Public Pensions and Our Fiscal Future

By Arnold Schwarzenegger

Recently some critics have accused me of bullying state employees. Headlines in California papers this month have been screaming “Gov assails state workers” and “Schwarzenegger threatens state workers.”

roughly 80 cents of every government dollar in California goes to employee compensation and benefits. Those costs have been rising fast. Spending on California’s state employees over the past decade rose at nearly three times the rate our revenues grew, crowding out programs of great importance to our citizens. Neglected priorities include higher education, environmental protection, parks and recreation, and more.

Much bigger increases in employee costs are on the horizon. Thanks to huge unfunded pension and retirement health-care promises granted by past governments, and also to deceptive pension-fund accounting that understated liabilities and overstated future investment returns, California is now saddled with $550 billion of retirement debt.

The cost of servicing that debt has grown at a rate of more than 15% annually over the last decade. This year, retirement benefits—more than $6 billion—will exceed what the state is spending on higher education. Next year, retirement costs will rise another 15%. In fact, they are destined to grow so much faster than state revenues that they threaten to suck up the money for every other program in the state budget…

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The Most Fiscally Irresponsible Government in U.S. History

by Mortimer Zuckerman

There is an instinctive conclusion among the American public that President Obama’s stimulus package has failed to create a sustained recovery. Unemployment has increased, not declined; consumers have retrenched; housing starts have crashed along with mortgage applications; and there is a fear that a double-dip recession may very well be in the pipeline. The public perception, reflected in Pew Research/National Journal polls, is that the measures to combat the Great Recession have mostly helped large banks and financial institutions, and that’s a view common to Republicans (75 percent) and Democrats (73 percent). Only one third of either political leaning thinks government policies have done a great deal or a fair amount for the poor.

There is another instinctive conclusion among the American people. It is that the national deficit, and the debts we have accumulated, are of critical political importance. On the national debt, the money the government has spent without the tax revenues to pay for it has produced mind-numbing numbers so large as to be disconnected from reality. Zeros from here to infinity. The sums are hard to describe; it is hard to describe an elephant, but you know one when you see one. The public knows that, shuffle the numbers as you may, the level of debt is unsustainable.

Who could be surprised since millions of voters have discovered that for themselves? As one realizes the morning after the night before, there is an unavoidable penalty for excess. It is unnerving to wake up and learn that you have a mortgage on your home that exceeds the value of the property. Or, and too often both, you have a credit card line that you cannot repay and the issuer has you on the rack for ever bigger compound interest on the debt. The lesson has been well and truly learned that debt catches up with you. Millions understand that they are just going to have to find a way to live within their means—and then still eke out some savings to pay down debt. And there are well over 14 million Americans without a paying job, so the level of discontent is very high.

Just how are they going to regain control of their lives?


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Worst Summer Youth Unemployment Since 1948

The share of young people aged 16 to 24 who were employed this summer fell to 48.9 percent — the lowest rate on record since 1948.

Meanwhile, the raw number of youth who held jobs in July 2010 actually rose by 1.8 million from July 2009 to 18.6 million.

But as a percentage of the population, the share of workers in that age group fell, according to annual data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, released today.

The youth employment rate always rises in the summer — and it went up this year by 571,000 from April. But that was half as much as in each of the two previous summers, the bureau said.

For the summer of 2010, the youth labor force totaled 22.9 million workers in July, an 11.5 percent growth from April youth payrolls.

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Ex-CIA Official: Ground Zero Mosque ‘Symbol of Victory’ For Extremists

Counterterrorism expert Michael Scheuer tells Newsmax that construction of a mosque near ground zero would be viewed as a “symbol of victory” by Muslim extremists — and calls New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg a “windbag” for voicing support for the mosque.

Scheuer, who headed the CIA’s secret unit charged with tracking Osama bin Laden, also says al-Qaida will definitely use a nuclear weapon if they obtain one, and warns that if Israel attacks Iran the Iranians will use their “terrorist infrastructure” to launch attacks in the United States.

In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Scheuer criticized plans to construct the mosque two blocks from ground zero in Manhattan.

See video below.

“It’s hard to deny somebody the right to build a religious structure, but it doesn’t have to be built there,” says Scheuer, author of the book “Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror.”

“I’m not in the minds of the folks that are building it, but I would say it would be very much the case that if the mosque is built on the site of our defeat on 9/11, it will certainly be viewed among those people that are sympathetic to Osama bin Laden and those Muslims who are anti-U.S. as a symbol of their victory.

“The only real memorial to the people who died on 9/11 is an utter military victory over the people who attacked us. And if I were a victim’s family, I would be much more worried about our government losing the war in Afghanistan and Iraq than I would be about this mosque.”

Noting that Mayor Bloomberg has spoken out in support of the mosque on that site, Scheuer declares: “I think Bloomberg is just a windbag. He’s completely pro-Israel. He has no interest in Muslims except in terms of their votes.

“If he had any brains at all he would have made sure that the zoning regulations were such that this controversy would not have come up.”

The imam behind the mosque plan, Feisal Abdul Rauf, said on a tape that has surfaced on the Internet that America has more Muslim blood on its hands than al-Qaida.

           — Hat tip: ES[Return to headlines]

It’s a Matter of Honor

The niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., explains why she’s speaking at the Glenn Beck Rally


Americans are hungry to reclaim the symbols of our liberty, hard won by an unlikely group of outnumbered, outgunned, underfunded patriots determined not to live in servitude to the British Empire. If we want to sing the national anthem at a memorial to the man who led this fledgling nation out of slavery, and made my people free, we should be able to send our voices soaring to the heavens.

Glenn Beck’s “Rally to Restore Honor” this Saturday will give us that chance, and that’s why I feel it’s important for me to be there.

Before the words were out of Mr. Beck’s mouth announcing the Aug. 28 rally, The New York Times noted that it would be at the same place and 47 years to the day since my Uncle Martin gave his “I Have a Dream Speech.” When asked why he chose that date in particular, Beck said he had not realized its significance, but in thinking about it, he saw it is an auspicious day to rally for the honor of the American people. He has said, and he’s right, that Martin Luther King didn’t speak only for African-Americans. He spoke for all Americans, and his words still ring true….


[Return to headlines]

Lawsuit Says Priest Fathered Teen’s Child

Legal action says priest was video-taped in sexual act with former student.

***Unclosed Item!***A Roman Catholic priest allegedly seduced a 17-year-old girl while she was a senior at a Catholic high school in Reading {Pennsylvania] into a sexual relationship that resulted in her giving birth at age 19, according to a civil lawsuit filed by her parents in Berks County Court.

According to the lawsuit, the Rev. Luis A. Bonilla Margarito was removed as chaplain of Reading Central Catholic High School and pastor of St. Joseph Church in Reading after the parents secretly video-taped him having sexual intercourse with their daughter in the basement of their home in November.

By then, she had graduated from high school and had turned 18 years old, but the lawsuit alleges the sexual relationship began when she was still in high school. The lawsuit says the parents allowed their daughter to meet with the priest for counseling because she had severe mental health issues as a result of prior sexual abuse by another adult male. She also suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, the suit said.

The Allentown Diocese announced Bonilla was removed as priest of St. Joseph’s in November because he had a relationship with an 18-year-old woman…


[Return to headlines]

Obama, Democrats Got 88 Percent of 2008 Contributions

by TV network execs, writers, reporters


The Democratic total of $1,020,816 was given by 1,160 employees of the three major broadcast television networks, with an average contribution of $880.

By contrast, only 193 of the employees contributed to Republican candidates and campaign committees, for a total of $142,863. The average Republican contribution was $744.

Disclosure of the heavily Democratic contributions by influential employees of the three major broadcast networks follows on the heels of controversy last week when it was learned that media baron Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. contributed $1 million to the Republican Governors Association.

The News Corp. donation prompted Nathan Daschle, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association and son of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, to demand in a letter to Fox News chairman Roger Ailes that the cable news outlet include a disclaimer in its coverage of gubernatorial campaigns. Fox News is owned by News Corp., which also owns The Wall Street Journal.


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Tea Party Group Hit With Death Threats

One of Washington’s principal supporters of the Tea Party movement, former GOP Majority Leader Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks, has been receiving death threats and profanity-laced phone calls as it gets involved in the fall elections. The number and intensity have reached such heights that the organization is leaving its downtown location near the FBI and moving to a high-security building near the U.S. Capitol.


The group plans to move to 400 North Capitol Street NW, a secure building two blocks from the U.S. Capitol. That building also houses Fox News Channel’s Washington Bureau and several other media outlets.

FreedomWorks provided some of the recordings of the threatening calls…and they include physical threats and profanity aimed at the group, Tea Party spokesmen and even conservative talkers. “You guys better watch it,” says one caller. “Now, we are going to destroy and obliterate Rush [Limbaugh] and Sean Hannity,” said another. “Those two guys are dead.”

[Return to headlines]

Why Are So Many Americans Hostile to Islam?

Nearly a decade after 9/11, less than a third of the country feels favorably toward Islam. Most Americans reflexively oppose an Islamic cultural center near ground zero, and the lower the Christian president’s approval ratings, the higher the percentage of people who think he’s Muslim.


Beyond the simplistic debate — are we patriots or bigots? — pollsters, historians and other experts say that the nation’s collective instincts toward Islam have been shaped over decades by a patchwork of factors. These include demographic trends, psychology, terrorism events, U.S. foreign policy, domestic politics, media coverage and the Internet.


So what shaped modern American impressions of Muslims?

Long before 9/11, other high-profile terrorist attacks inflamed the public imagination. Consider the killing of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, the 1988 mid-air bombing of Pan American flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which took 270 lives, and the rise of suicide bombers throughout the Middle East.


“There have been so many acts of terrorism connected to radical Muslims that it’s not surprising Islam has a public relations problem,” said John Radsan, a former assistant general counsel for the CIA of Iranian descent who’s a professor at the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minn.


In addition, many Americans’ first impression of Islam came in the 1960s with the Nation of Islam’s role in the black separatist movement. That framed their impression of Islam in the context of racial antagonism….

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Europe and the EU

UK: Bottles, Stones and Smoke Bomb Hurled During English Defence League Demonstration in Bradford

Bottles, stones and a smoke bomb were thrown during demonstrations by supporters of the English Defence League and opponents from Unite Against Fascism in Bradford today.

Police were forced to erect a temporary barricade around the city’s Urban Gardens, where the EDL group has been meeting throughout the day.

At present there is only one entrance open to the Gardens and protesters have to pass through metal detectors to gain entry.

There is a heavy police presence on duty in the city but trouble flared up around 2pm.

EDL supporters began throwing bottles, cans and stones over the barricade towards opponents gathered opposite the Urban Gardens.

A smoke bomb was also thrown over the temporary 8ft high wall separating the two groups, landing on the ground and exploding by uniformed police officers.

Around 1pm two coaches of EDL supporters arrived and were met by shouts of “fascists off our streets”.

For public safety, mounted police pushed people away from the Urban Gardens down Market Street, while other officers forced EDL members away from the barricade into the centre of the gardens.

The group were allowed to hold a static protest by police having had their original march through Bradford banned by Home Secretary Theresa May.

Earlier police said about 700 had gathered at the Urban Gardens, between 250 and 300 at the Crown Court Plaza for the Unite Against Fascism/We Are Bradford event, and 150 for the community event called Be Bradford — Peaceful Together at Infirmary Fields.

Before the protests began on Saturday Chief Superintendent Alison Rose urged people to remain claim and for local residents to go about their business as usual despite the protests.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Bradford Braced for the Arrival of the EDL

Nine years ago it was the National Front marching. Today it will be supporters of the English Defence League peddling a slightly different brand of xenophobia. But whatever name they go by, many residents of Bradford fear the outcome could be the same. Faisal Nawaz Khan has good reason to remember the last time the far right sought to parade through his home city. He was just 15 when rioting erupted in the Manningham area of the city on the night of 7 July 2001.

In what was the latest pulse of violence to hit the North of England that summer, youths threw stones at police, a pub was burnt and a luxury car dealership was attacked. David Blunkett, who was Home Secretary, had stopped the NF demonstration planned for earlier that day — just as Theresa May has acceded to police requests to do the same with the English Defence League (EDL) this time. Yet trouble still flared and today it will be left to the police to keep the “static” gatherings of many hundreds of EDL supporters and their opponents from Unite Against Fascism under control.

Despite the ban on marching, the planned protests have already succeeded in rekindling unwanted memories in an area still rebuilding itself after riots in both 2001 and 1995. Mr Khan was convicted of throwing a stone at the height of the last disturbances and was sentenced to five years in prison — one of 200 people jailed from the community for a total of 604 years. Then a promising student today he hoses down cars for a living in the shadow of the burnt-out Upper Globe pub which remains derelict after being torched during that long night of violence. “They put all the blame on us as if we were the culprits and wanted to burn these buildings down,” he says. His friend agrees. “The fascists and racists came here 10 years ago to tear down the town and why have they been given permission to do that again?” said the older man who did not wish to be named. Rumours have already been swirling around, they say. A story of an Asian woman being attacked by white youths is circulating, possibly started deliberately to stoke up tension, the men working at the car wash believe.

“It’s already escalating,” said the older man. Mr Khan believes young Asians will be reluctant to go into the city centre today where police will corral the two rival protests into separate areas out of sight of each other. “We have told our community to stay at home. But we have received anonymous letters through the letterbox saying they want us to go into town and get into trouble. I don’t know who it is but they say go there and fight and defend yourselves. But it is Ramadan and we will be fasting.” His friend Asif Khan, 25, said: “This is causing flashbacks for everyone. We don’t want a repeat of what happened. They should ban them from coming here all together.”

Opposition to the EDL has been well organised since news of the planned march broke. In Bradford city centre, Maya Perry, 35, was gathering signatures for a group called We Are Bradford. It is planning a multicultural celebration as the EDL gather at the newly created urban park — an area of land on the edge of a giant hole in the city centre which is to become a huge retail complex. She was doing brisk trade gathering signatures from passers-by putting their names to a statement denouncing the EDL as Islamophobic, adding to the 10,000 already gathered demanding the march be stopped.

Having grown up in Bradford but now living in London, she too recalls the effects of previous riots but believes people need to stand up and be counted. “We know that when there hasn’t been any opposition such as in Stoke the far right can rampage through the town centre, attacking Asians and destroying businesses. They say they are against Islam but in Dudley they attacked a Hindu temple. They are violent racist thugs,” she said.

For Bradford’s traders, today promises to be one of lost business. Ayaz Muhammad, 33, who sells luggage in Kirkgate market, said he was planning to be there though others would not be opening their stalls. “No one wants trouble. The elder at the mosque has been giving us a lecture for the last two weeks not to go into the town centre. He has been warning us that it is like a fire. The dry sticks can ignite even the green wood. They fear everyone could get caught up if a few get involved,” he said.

At the Oastler shopping centre Keith Taplin, 54, was manning his butcher stall which has been run by the family since before the War. The Union Flags on display were there to mark a recent sausage promotion and he said his customer base included as many Asian shoppers as white. “This is going to cause a lot of trouble. There are two or three different groups and that is going to cause a problem no doubt whatsoever,” he said. Despite the planned presence of an extra 30 security guards at the market customers were getting their shopping in early. “We have seen a lot of our Saturday regulars already this week. Everybody is keeping out of the way. And who can blame them?”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: City Comes Together in Show of Harmony Ahead of Protests

Hundreds of people in communities across the Bradford district came together last night to express their solidarity ahead of today’s planned demonstrations by far-right and left wing protesters. The peace vigil, organised by banner group Bradford Together, was designed to show the world a positive side to Bradford before members of the English Defence League, countered by supporters of Unite Against Fascism, descend on the city.

Representatives of religious groups spoke to a crowd of about 300-strong in Jacob’s Well car park to highlight the links between different communities in the city. Many people wore green ribbons, provided by supporters of campaign group Bradford Women for Peace, who held their own vigil in Ivegate earlier in the day. The Dean of Bradford, the Very Reverend David Ison, called on people to treat EDL supporters with respect as fellow human beings. He said: “None of us know what tomorrow is going to bring but take the time to be still and to reflect so we can meet it with peace in our hearts.”

Members of the crowd wrote messages of support for the city on a peace wall and a tree of peace bearing further messages was also on display. The vigil finished with ‘We Shall Overcome’, a protest song that became the unofficial anthem of the US civil rights movement in the 1960s and has since been adopted internationally as a song of peace.

Speaking after the event, Bradford Council leader Councillor Ian Greenwood said: “This has been a tremendous event.. It has been attended by a large number of people who have the future of Bradford at heart. These are people who have a stake in the future of our city, who care for its future, demonstrating in a peaceful way with good nature between all groups that they don’t accept that people can come to our city and cause problems.” Amria Khatun, 36, of Bradford Moor, said she came to show her support for the city. She added: “I wanted to be with other people who care about Bradford and to show our belief in Bradford that tomorrow will come and go and we will still be fine.”

Also at the vigil was Helen Johnston, 47, of Halifax. She said: “I have worked in Bradford for more than 20 years and I think it’s a wonderful place and the people are wonderful too. I don’t like it when anything threatens that so I have come to show I support Bradford and Bradford people.” Bradford Women for Peace yesterday draped lime green banners, giant bows and peace ribbons across the city to leave “a trail of peace” ahead of the demonstrations. Bana Gora, a spokesman for the organisation, said: “We are mobilising women to send out a strong, clear message that we want peace in Bradford. We don’t want groups to come to cause conflict and division. We have come a long way since the 2001 disturbances and we don’t want to go back to that.”

Ratna Lachman, director of civil liberties group Just West Yorkshire, said: “We still have the legacy of the 2001 disturbances fresh in our minds and that is the same context in which the far right are coming into the city. What we are spreading is a message of peace, unity and solidarity.” She added: “We have the resilience to change the far right messages of hate and Bradford Women for Peace is making a bold statement that we need to build a legacy, not just about the EDL demonstration but a peaceful group of women together for the long-term.”

Dr Abdul Bary Malik, chairman of Bradford’s Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, has called on people not to retaliate if they feel provoked as a result of the demonstrations. He said: “I plead with everyone to please, for the sake of the city, for the sake of your future, don’t do anything silly. If someone is coming to cause mischief let them do it and go back. “This is the month of fasting. It is a month of patience. Don’t react to any provocation.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: It’s Begun!

It’s been one of those nights. In addition to the EDL protest later today the city of Bradford is also playing host to a Goth festival, with over 1,000 expected. It seems like many thought the party was starting early ….along my corridor. So much for my good sleep, particularly when revellers began banging on my bedroom door at 2.30am.

Anyway, I thought I’d blog and upload another picture from yesterday’s Vigil.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Warn Over Bradford Protests

A senior police officer has warned potential troublemakers they will be swiftly punished if they cause problems at demonstrations planned by a far-right group and their opponents.

Chief Superintendent Alison Rose, Bradford South divisional commander, told people planning to attend the English Defence League (EDL) and Unite Against Fascism demonstrations in Bradford on Saturday they were not wanted in the city if they intended to cause trouble.

In a video posted on YouTube, she said: “What I do want to emphasise is that anyone coming into the city on Saturday intent on causing harm, intent on committing any kind of criminal activity, will be dealt with properly and quickly by West Yorkshire Police and by the criminal justice system in Bradford. We do not want anyone with that intent anywhere near Bradford on Saturday and we will do our absolute best — whether that is through CCTV coverage or through the very effective policing plan in operation on Saturday — to bring those people to justice very quickly.” Ms Rose also said the reputation of the city was at stake and she would not allow anyone to undermine the good work that had been done in Bradford.

Home Secretary Theresa May authorised a blanket ban on marches in the city, but the two groups are still expected to hold static demonstrations. Locations have been confirmed, with the EDL demonstration taking place in the city’s Urban Gardens, while Unite Against Fascism/We Are Bradford will hold a protest at the Crown Court Plaza. A community celebration event called Be Bradford — Peaceful Together is also taking place at Infirmary Fields.

A force spokesman said police and other agencies had been planning for all eventualities for a long time and there would be a significant number of officers in the city on Saturday.

He added: “We are trying to facilitate a peaceful protest and that is what we expect from people in Bradford.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt Intercepts Shipment of 190 Anti-Aircraft Missiles

Authorities uncover large weapons cache hidden in Sinai, reportedly destined for smuggling into Gaza; more ammunition and explosives seized in Rafah.

Egyptian authorities intercepted a shipment of at least 190 anti-aircraft missiles in Sinai probably destined for Gaza on Saturday, Palestinian news Agency Maan reported.

According to the report, the Egyptian police raided several storage areas in the area and discovered the secret cache hidden in a remote region in the center of the peninsula.

In addition to the anti-aircraft missiles, rockets and other ammunition were seized, as well as a large supply of illegal drugs.

Reports also stated that authorities raided several locations in Rafah, where they found more stores of explosives and weapons.

Earlier on Saturday Kuwaiti newspaper Alrai reported that Syria’s military is on high alert for an Israeli attack on Hizbullah weapons depots located in the country.

Israel and Egypt have maintained a tough blockade of Gaza since Hamas seized power in June 2007, and the hundreds of tunnels in the Rafah area are the main entry point for many basic items, as well as weapons.

The Gaza-Egypt border sits at the northeastern tip of Sinai.

At the beginning of August, the Israeli Air Force struck a tunnel used to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip as a retaliation for a Kassam rocket fired into Israel which struck near Sderot.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Far East

Japan Reveals Long-Secretive Execution Process

Japan, one of the few industrialized countries with the death penalty, showed one of its execution chambers to the media for the first time Friday.

Reporters were shown the death chamber at the Tokyo Detention Facility, one of seven used across the country, according to a report in the Mainichi Daily News.

The unprecedented media access was ordered by Justice Minister Keiko Chiba, who after witnessing the deaths of two condemned prisoners last month, said she wanted to have a national debate on capital punishment in Japan, Mainchi reported. Chiba has previously spoken against the death penalty.

Execution in Japan is carried out by hanging.

The chamber showed to the media on Friday had no noose suspended from the ceiling but showed a trap door outlined in red. The condemned fall to a room below the execution chamber where their deaths are confirmed.

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Culture Wars

EPA Surrenders to NRA: “Getting the Lead Out” Won’t Happen

In a swift and unexpected decision, the Environmental Protection Agency today rejected a petition from environmental groups to ban the use of lead in bullets and shotgun shells, claiming it doesn’t have jurisdiction to weigh on the controversial Second Amendment issue. The decision came just hours after the Drudge Report posted stories from Washington Whispers and the Weekly Standard about how gun groups were fighting the lead bullet ban.

The EPA had planned to solicit public responses to the petition for two months, but this afternoon issued a statement rejecting a 100-page request from the Center for Biological Diversity, the American Bird Conservancy, and three other groups for a ban on lead bullets, shot, and fishing sinkers. The agency is still considering what to do about sinkers.

The decision was a huge victory for the National Rifle Association which just seven days ago asked that the EPA reject the petition, suggesting that it was a back door attempt to limit hunting and impose gun control. It also was a politically savvy move to take gun control off the table as the Democrats ready for a very difficult midterm election.

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Urine-Powered Fuel Cells to Offer Pee Power to People


Chemistry postdocs Shanwen Tao and Rong Lan at Heriot-Watt University’s School of Engineering and Physical Sciences in Edinburgh are turning pee into electricity and clean water with a prototype fuel cell system.

While fuel cells usually rely on flammable hydrogen gas or toxic methanol to generate electricity, Tao and Lan’s cheaper prototype relies instead on urea, an organic chemical compound produced as waste when the body metabolizes protein.

Urea, also called “carbamide,” has several advantages as a potential fuel source-it’s abundant, non-toxic, relatively straightforward to transport and rich in nitrogen, reports Discovery News.

According to the university, Tao thought about incorporating urea because he had seen it used as a fertilizer while growing up in eastern China.

The Carbamide Power System prototype can break urea or urine from humans or animals down into water, nitrogen and CO2, and also produce electricity at the same time.

Unlike existing fuel cells that require catalysts made from precious metals like platinum, the “Youtricity” research group’s prototype uses a cheaper catalyst and less expensive membranes.


[Return to headlines]