Friday, April 30, 2010

Oil slick expected to hit U.S. coast reserve Thursday

Chris Baltimore, Reuters April 30, 2010, 10:27 am

Birds flock on Breton Sound Island on the southernmost tip of the  Chandeleur Islands in the Gulf of Mexico south of Louisiana where oil  leaking from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead continues to spread April  29, 2010. REUTERS/Sean Gardner/Greenpeace/Handout

Reuters © Enlarge photo

HOUSTON (Reuters) - A massive oil slick from a blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to reach a wildlife reserve at the mouth of the Mississippi River on Thursday as it threatens the environmentally delicate coastline of Louisiana and three other Southern U.S. states.

President Barack Obama pledged to "use every single available resource" -- including the U.S. military -- to help the London-based energy giant BP Plc fight the crude oil spill, which was about 3 miles (5 kms) from the marshes of the Mississippi Delta and spreading faster than expected towards the shoreline, according to the Coast Guard.

The leak, after a rig leased by BP exploded last week, is spewing five times more oil than previously estimated and heightened fears of severe damage to fisheries, wildlife refuges and tourism in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

The U.S. military began mobilizing for a major effort to try to prevent environmental damage to Gulf coast states, notably Louisiana, which is still recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal warned the slick "threatens the state's natural resources," declared a state of disaster and asked the U.S. Defence Department for funds to deploy up to 6,000 National Guard troops to help clean up.

Janet Neopolitano, head of the Department of Homeland Security, declared it "a spill of national significance," meaning that federal resources from other regions could be used to try to fight it.

Obama said BP was ultimately responsible for the cost of the cleanup, but the rig accident, which has pounded BP's share price and those of other companies involved in the project. The accident may have ramifications for Obama's proposals, some of which are before Congress, to issue new offshore drilling permits.

Bill Nelson, a Democratic senator from Florida, said he was filing a bill to temporarily prohibit the administration from expanding offshore drilling, citing the risk of a potential "environmental and economic disaster" from the spill.

The Obama administration did not rule out imposing a pause in new deepwater drilling until oil companies can show they can control any spills that may happen.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated that oil could be pouring out of the leak at a rate of up to 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) a day. Others cautioned that it was difficult to quantify the amount of oil escaping from the ruptured well, which is 5,000 feet (1,525 metres) under the sea off Louisiana's coast.

Eleven workers are missing and presumed dead after the rig accident.

Underwater robots failed to activate a cutoff valve on the ocean floor to stop the leak and BP is hoping a plan to cover the well with a steel cap and capture the leaking oil will avert an environmental disaster.

But that will take four weeks to put in place, by which stage over 150,000 barrels could have been spilt.

If the steel cap does not work, BP will have to rely on stemming the flow by drilling a relief well, which would take two to three months.

If it takes that long, the spill could be over 300,000 barrels, larger than the 258,000 barrels leaked in 1989 by the Exxon Valdez in Alaska in the U.S.'s worst oil spill to date.

The Navy said it was supplying the Coast Guard with inflatable booms and seven skimming systems.

In Mobile, Alabama, U.S. Coast Guard Captain Steve Poulin, said authorities were preparing for "shoreline impact," although it was not possible to predict exactly when.

"We have a booming strategy for coastal Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle," Poulin said, adding that some 500,000 protection and containment booms were stockpiled along the coastline for deployment.


BP and the Coast Guard have mounted what the company calls the largest oil spill containment operation in history, involving dozens of ships and aircraft.

BP has admitted struggling to control the spill and has appealed for help. It has asked the U.S. Defence Department for access to military imaging technology and remotely operated vehicles to try to help it plug the leak.

Shares in BP and Swiss-based rig company Transocean Ltd fell by more than 6 percent on Thursday as investors feared a significantly higher cleanup cost. BP is down more than 10 percent and Transocean down nearly 14 percent since the rig explosion on April 20.

Oilfield services companies Cameron International Corp and Halliburton Co saw their shares tumble on fears about their ties to the Deepwater Horizon rig.

Cameron, which supplied the blowout preventer for the rig, said it was insured for $500 million of liability, if needed. Halliburton said it did a variety of work on the rig and was assisting with the investigation.

Shrimp fishermen in Louisiana filed a class-action lawsuit against BP, Transocean, Halliburton and Cameron, accusing them of negligence. None of the companies had an immediate comment on the lawsuit.

The White House said Obama had been briefed on how the slick may interfere with shipping channels, which it said could affect tankers delivering petroleum to the U.S. market.

It was not immediately clear to what extent shipping in the Gulf could be affected. While the Mississippi is a major export route for U.S. grains and the region is a significant importer of crude oil, there were no reports of disruptions.

The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, which handles more than 1 million barrels a day of crude imports and is connected by pipeline to the biggest U.S. refining region, said it did not expect any effect on its operations, which remained normal.

But there are signs the spill will be worse than one in 1969 off Santa Barbara, California, which prompted a moratorium on oil and gas drilling off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts -- a ban Obama has said he wants to modify.

(Additional reporting by Joshua Schnyer and Rebekah Kebede in New York. Writing by Christopher Wilson and John O'Callaghan; editing by Pascal Fletcher)

Henry tax review tipped to include plan for drivers to pay by kilometre

MOTORISTS could one day pay for every kilometre - and face higher fees for driving in cities and at peak times - under a radical plan being considered as part of the Henry Tax Review.

The idea is expected to feature in Treasury secretary Ken Henry's taxation review, to be released on Sunday.

Each car on the road would be tracked by satellite under the proposal, outlined by Infrastructure Partnerships Australia (IPA) today.

IPA executive director Brendan Lyon insists a road pricing scheme isn't a pipe dream.

"We're hopeful that it will be discussed at some length in Dr Henry's report and that governments don't close the door to discussing these kind of reform options," he said.

"This isn't some weird option that no one's considered before."

Under the scheme, existing road use taxes and charges would be abolished, including registration, licensing and fuel excise.

"You replace that with a per kilometre charge, which is more equitable," Mr Lyon said.

"People are paying based on the level to which they access the road network."

The average charge under the proposed scheme would be eight cents per kilometre.

Driving in the country would cost less, while motoring in cities would be more expensive. Using a vehicle in urban areas during peak hours would be more costly again.

"This would encourage people not to drive during the morning and afternoon peaks."

The IPA's discussion paper states an eight cent per kilometre average charge would raise an additional $4 billion annually. That would then be invested in public transport and road projects.

The infrastructure body argues under current arrangements, trips in Sydney or Melbourne cost between six and eleven cents per kilometre, depending on car type.

In December, Dr Henry said traffic congestion cost the economy $9 billion each year.

"In the face of those costs, why have we stuck to the traditional fuel tax and rego model for cars for pricing access to roads, when sensible pricing seems to offer such large benefits?" he asked.

Under the current system there's no incentive for drivers to "bargain" with one another for priority access, the Treasury secretary said.

Mr Lyon said a national road pricing scheme wouldn't rely on toll points above the road.

"Instead you're looking at a system that might be based on GPS, the 3G telephone network or something else.

"We're talking about a vehicle-based system that's able to measure the distance it's travelled, the time of day that the journey is undertaken and the location of the vehicle."

Privacy concerns "would need to be resolved", he admitted.

Norway and Oregon in the United States have committed to introducing road pricing schemes within the next decade.

But Mr Lyon said it was a medium to long-term project in Australia.

Even if governments committed to introducing a national scheme, "implementation would likely take between five and 10 years due to technology challenges".

The Power Hour
News Release


July 13, 2006

Dave vonKleist
P.O. Box 85
Versailles, MO 65084
(573) 378-6049 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (573) 378-6049 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

The Power Hour radio program announced today they are in receipt of information that a building complex on US Naval Base Coronado, outside San Diego, CA, forms the image of a Nazi Swastika. A simple search at Google Earth reveals a large complex of four buildings that are indeed arranged to re-create the Swastika, the symbol of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.
Symbolism has been used throughout history to communicate intent and allegiance to those aware of their meanings. In a world of symbolism, secret societies, and shadow organizations that influence domestic and foreign policy, what kind of message is this sending to the rest of the world? What is the name of this building complex and who was responsible for approving the design?

Coronado Naval Base (Aerial View)

Adolf Hitler promoted a “New World Order” and planned to implement it as his Third Reich came to power. Is this the same “New World Order” that George H. Bush Sr., Gary Hart and Bill Clinton speak of? What possible reason could there be for a building to have been constructed on a military base with this horrifying reminder of hate and genocide?

These photographs, now being seen worldwide, are raising very serious questions as to the intent and meaning of this message. Given the political climate in the US, some may see the construction of a four story Swastika as an act of “Hate Speech”.

The Power Hour has sent certified letters to the Commanding Officer of the base, Secretary of the Navy, Secretary of Defense and numerous International Jewish organizations requesting a response and explanation as to how this horrifying reminder of murder and genocide can be tolerated.


FT.com US Economy & Fed

US cities forced to consider bankruptcy

By Nicole Bullock in New York

Published: April 28 2010 22:20 | Last updated: April 28 2010 22:20

Council meetings in Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania, have weighed issues ranging from snow removal and rubbish collection to a rise in dog fighting, but a meeting this week was particularly unusual. In a sign of the tough times, officials called in experts to discuss the pros and cons of going bankrupt.

“There is no good option,” Dan Miller, Harrisburg city controller, told the city’s administration committee. Mr Miller and some members of the committee advocated exploring bankruptcy as way to get out from under its debts. Other officials at the three-hour meeting worried about the ramifications.

Bankruptcy has never been used widely by municipal authorities, so they have few guidelines. But with cities, towns and counties across the US hard hit by the recession, local officials, investors and analysts are questioning whether bankruptcy could become more common.

The debate stretches from city halls to Wall Street, and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (Sifma) will have its own public airing on the topic at a conference on Thursday in Manhattan.

In 2009 alone, corporations filed more than 11,000 Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. Since 1937, there have been a little more than 600 cases of Chapter 9, the part of the federal bankruptcy code applicable to municipalities, said James Spiotto, a partner at the Chapman and Cutler law firm.

Probably the most high-profile case came in 1994 with Orange County, California. Since the downturn hit, the city of Vallejo, California, went bankrupt in 2008. Last year, filings more than doubled from the previous year but still only came to 10. Among the larger cities, Harrisburg and Detroit have raised the idea, without formal plans.

“Most municipal bankruptcies have been special districts with recourse to only one source of revenue and not large cities that are more diverse and have some sway to get investors to forbear,” said Matt Fabian, managing director of Municipal Market Advisors. The belief that municipalities rarely go bankrupt, or even default, is the bedrock of the $2,800bn (€2,100bn, £1,825bn) municipal bond market where they raise money at relatively low cost for public projects. If filings increase, market experts expect them to be mostly small, special cases.

They have long argued that the fear of higher borrowing rates associated with bankruptcy is severe enough to discourage most.

But with cities such as Harrisburg considering it, these long-standing beliefs are being challenged. “ ... The more bankruptcy is publicly discussed as an option for financial relief, the more its tarnish wears off, increasing the likelihood of its actual use”, Fitch Ratings warned in a report earlier this year.

The biggest impediment, however, could be that the process is much more prohibitive than for companies. Municipalities need permission from their state, and some states do not allow it. The municipality also must negotiate with creditors first, which could prevent a filing.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

APRIL 21, 2010, 2:00 PM
Artist Uses the Subway, as Subject and Canvas

Corey Kilgannon/The New York Times Enrico Miguel Thomas at the temple of his muse, the 72nd Street subway station.
“He’s the Rembrandt of 72nd Street!” a yellow cab driver yelled at a man on the sidewalk painting the 72nd Street subway station last Wednesday on the Upper West Side.

Not quite: Rembrandt did not use city subway maps as his canvases. But the Rembrandt of 72nd Street does: Enrico Miguel Thomas, who can be found nearly every day outside the station.

Mr. Thomas uses Sharpie markers to make line-heavy, perspective-rich sketches of stations and passengers. His canvas is always a city subway map, which are offered free of charge at station booths.

Since 2007, Mr. Thomas has drawn the city’s subways daily. In warmer weather, he stands on the sidewalk and draws stations against the backdrop of the city. He prefers stations with substantial above-ground structures, and he has portrayed the Franklin Street station and often draws Union Square.

But he is most frequently at the 72nd Street station of the 2 and 3 train at Broadway, which he says he has drawn more than 500 times.

“I could draw this station in my sleep,” he said.

Mr. Thomas is attracted to the perspective of the station and the surrounding buildings, and also to the rush of the passengers.

“At rush hour, the passengers are moving so fast, you only have a few seconds to capture them,” he said. “With all these people rushing around me, it gives my drawings a life, an energy they wouldn’t have otherwise.”

He begins his drawings in the afternoon, in time for the evening rush.

“I like to work fast and draw very quickly,” he said. “I start two hours before sunset, so it’s a race against the dark. I won’t eat or drink till it’s done. The more uncomfortable the situation is, the more pressure I’m under, which makes me draw better.”

To this end, Mr. Thomas will only ask for one map a day from the token clerk.

“I won’t ask for a map until I’m ready to draw,” he said. “It creates the immediacy of possibly not getting a canvas that day.”

At his home station on 215th Street in Manhattan, the regular token clerk began recognizing him and stopped giving him a map, he said, but at 72nd Street, a token clerk who admired his work hands him five at a time.

The current map has the subway system on one side and a map of the commuter lines on the other. Mr. Thomas alternates the side he uses, depending upon how it fits as background into each drawing. There was a Canadian couple who commissioned a drawing of the 72nd Street station, but balked when they saw that Mr. Thomas had drawn it on the “commuter” side.

“They said, ‘No, we want it on the city map,’ ” Mr. Thomas said. So he redid it.

In winter, Mr. Thomas works inside the stations, often drawing on the platforms. The police often order him out of the subway stations, he said, and he once received a $50 summons for blocking a platform with his easel. The summons was later dismissed by a judge.

“It would have been easier to just pay it, but freedom of expression is important to me,” he said.

Mr. Thomas says that art “literally saved my life.” His biological father, he said, was abusive and scalded him with boiling water at age 3, disfiguring his face and leaving him in a coma. As an escape, young Enrico began drawing at age 8 and ran away from home as a teenager to live in a shelter. He later earned a scholarship to the Pratt Institute, he said.

“I use very little — free maps and Sharpies — to show that even if you have very little, you can still do something good,” he said.

Mr. Thomas is having an open studio on May 1 and 2 in his work space at Screwball Spaces, 183 Lorraine Street in Gowanus, Brooklyn.

On Wednesday, a passer-by, Deborah Haimer, spied Mr. Thomas drawing the 72nd Street station. She told him she recognized his drawings from some that he had hung at the Indian Road Café in Inwood.

“It’s an interesting way of making art,” she said. “Using a subway map as a canvas whose theme matches what you’re actually drawing.”

Mr. Thomas said: “I don’t mind people interrupting, but I hate when they try to use my drawing as a map to find a station. I’m like, ‘It’s not a subway map anymore — it’s art.’ ”

Then a young man with a French accent asked about buying a drawing. Mr. Thomas looked him over and told him the drawings “start at $200.” The man said he would be back.

Mr. Thomas said he sizes up his customers and charges them what he guesses they can afford. He said he often charges $500 and up, per drawing.

“I was making $600 a day during the summer,” he said.

“If they offer to buy it right away, I stop and sell it to them, even if I’m not finished,” he said. “Hey, they say the customer is always right.”

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Pope must answer for crimes against humanity

Geoffrey Robertson
April 4, 2010 - 2:00AM

WELL may the Pope defy ''the petty gossip of dominant opinion''. But the Holy See can no longer ignore international law, which now counts the widespread or systematic sexual abuse of children as a crime against humanity.

The anomalous claim of the Vatican to be a state - and of the Pope to be a head of state and hence immune from legal action - cannot stand up to scrutiny.

The shocking finding of Judge Murphy's commission in Ireland was not merely that sexual abuse was ''endemic'' in boys' institutions but that the church hierarchy protected the perpetrators and allowed them to take up new positions teaching other children after their victims had been sworn to secrecy.

This conduct amounted to the criminal offence of aiding and abetting sex with minors. In legal actions against Catholic archdioceses in the US, it has been alleged that the same conduct reflected Vatican policy as approved by Cardinal Ratzinger (as the Pope then was) as late as November 2002.

In the US, 11,750 allegations of child abuse have featured in actions settled by archdioceses - in LA for $US660 million ($717 million); in Boston for $US100 million.

In 2005, a test case in Texas failed because the Vatican sought and obtained the intercession of President George Bush, who agreed to claim sovereign immunity on the Pope's behalf. Bush's lawyer John Bellinger III certified that Pope Benedict XVI was immune from suit ''as the head of a foreign state''.

But the papal states were extinguished by invasion in 1870 and the Vatican was created by fascist Italy in 1929 when Benito Mussolini endowed this tiny enclave with ''sovereignty in the international field''.

But head of state immunity provides no protection for the Pope in the International Criminal Court. The ICC statute definition of a crime against humanity includes rape and sexual slavery and similarly inhumane acts causing harm to mental or physical health, committed against civilians on a widespread or systematic scale, if condoned by a government or a de facto authority.

If acts of sexual abuse by priests are not isolated or sporadic, but part of a wide practice both known to and unpunished by their de facto authority then they fall within the temporal jurisdiction of the ICC - if that practice continued after July 2002, when the court was established.

Geoffrey Robertson, QC, is author of Crimes Against Humanity.

This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/pope-must-answer-for-crimes-against-humanity-20100403-rkro.html

Saturday, April 3, 2010

From usenature.com

Toxic chemical Bisphenol A (BPA)

Editorial comments to Media Health Articles

( Source of articles "The Australian" - Health Section -)
Note:none of the comments are meant as a critic or attack against anything, the comments are 100% in support towards the advancement of better health for all.


"Toxic chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) - which is used primarily in food processing, sealing cans, milk containers, etc.; has now been found to interfere with estrogen metabolic pathways affecting the brain.

The damaging effects of BPA were seen at extremely low doses and occured in a matter of minutes.

Editor comments:

As stated before in my comment about "TOXIC chemicals",

my main concern about toxic chemicals used in food and food productions is that it can or will have a negative, toxic effect on our health sooner or later.

One of the main factors, which seems to be overlooked when setting so called "save limits" in adding any chemicals to food, is the accumulation of these toxic chemicals.

TOXIC chemicals in our food, drinks and environment may increase the risk of chronic diseases, triggered by inflammation or metabolic pathway interference.

It is the accumulation over a lifetime which seems to contain the greatest risk

.... do you really think that there are save levels of chemical in our food?

When will government authorities recognise this time bomb ticking ?
It probably has exploded already, or can anyone explain the apparent increase of all kind of diseases.

We are not talking only about BPA, this is just another nail in the coffin, and actually there is nothing new to all this. It is always, that after years of using certain chemicals, the harmful effects become known, and still we are producing more and more chemicals.

Do we really have to, or could it be that we could use more natural derived substances to take the place of toxic chemicals, but maybe those can't be patented and made into money?

Anyhow, I simply like to enhance awareness, >>> there are toxic chemicals in our food, and that hardly a week goes by, without another scientific study, proving that yet another chemical has been proven to cause some health concerns.

A report in 1989 stated, ( I wonder about the stats now) that a grand total of 5,705,670,380 pounds of chemical pollutants were released into the environment we eat, breath and live in, all in just One year.

To compound the problem of our toxic environment, we have refined away much of the nutritional value of our food supply and replaced it with artificial colorings, preservatives, flavourings, conditioners, etc..
Unfortunately, our Diet, combined with extensive use of Antibiotics, Hormones in medicine and agriculture, may have predisposed many of us to experience a kind of
"Internal Toxic Pollution" - triggering a decline in health.

We hear a lot about our expensive Health System, and that it becomes more and more expensive to keep it going. Private Health Insurance is out of reach for most of us.

Will health be the privilege of the rich?

Maybe a more peaceful attitude could be adopted, by supporting our health, concentrating on what is health giving rather than health taking.

An excellent start has been to rise the awareness of the harmful effects of smoking and to a certain degree, alcohol. Now lets start on our food.

After all, at least in part,

"we are what we eat, and who wants to be a toxic waste dump? "

Maybe it is the constant confrontation which has to be overcome, before we all can choose inner peace which would lead to health.

Health, peace and love, life can be beautiful.

Comment by the editor of UseNature, Dieter Luske

April 1, 2010

Revealed: the nasty secret in your kitchen cupboard

By Martin Hickman, Consumer Affairs Correspondent

18 of 20 most popular tins made with controversial bisphenol A in lining

Some of Britain's best-known foods contain the controversial chemical bisphenol A, The Independent can reveal.

Tins of Heinz baked beans, soup and beans, John West and Princes fish, and Napolina tomatoes are lined with a membrane containing bisphenol A, or BPA, a molecule of which is pictured top left. Other companies using it in their tins include the biggest retailers in the UK, Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda, who use it for tins of tuna and sardines.

Britain's Food Standards Agency (FSA) has given the chemical the all-clear, in contrast to the US Food and Drug Administration, which in January expressed concern over its impact on the brains and development of young children and said it was "taking reasonable steps to reduce human exposure" to it in the food supply. After the American U-turn, the EU-funded European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) launched and is still carrying out a review of BPA.

Some scientists fear that exposure to minute doses of the chemical in food and other products may be damaging to the health of individuals.

BPA is an endocrine disruptor that interrupts hormones and, in laboratory experiments on animals, has been linked with breast cancer, prostate cancer, hyperactivity and other metabolic and behavioural problems, diseases which are all on the rise in the West. But the plastics and chemicals industries insist its use is safe and accuse campaigners of misleading the public, pointing to industry-funded studies involving large numbers of rodents that have shown no harm.

At stake is the future of one of the highest production volume chemicals in the world. BPA is widely used to harden the plastic casings of mobile phones and computers and makes baby bottles shatterproof. In food products, it commonly lines the inside of cans and tins to protect their contents from being contaminated by the metal.

To establish its prevalence in food, The Independent surveyed manufacturers of the UK's 20 best-selling tinned foods. Although it is not stated on tins, BPA is used in the linings of 18 out of the 20 products, which have combined annual sales of £921m, or 43 per cent of UK tinned food sales. All the companies said their products were safe because the levels of BPA leaching out into food were so low that they were safe.

However Heinz said it was looking to phase out BPA once alternatives could be found. In a statement, the US tinned food giant said: "Although UK and European food authorities have stated that minute levels of BPA in can coatings are safe, Heinz remains committed to moving to alternatives. For beans, pasta and many soups a protective coating is only applied to the can ends which would not provide any trace of BPA or would be at the limit of detection of a few parts per billion. This compares with the safe legal limit of 600 parts per billion. Heinz continues to advance research into alternative coatings in response to consumer opinion but safety remains our first priority before making any changes."

Princes, the tinned fish company which also owns the Napolina brand, said: "The inside of most food cans requires a protective coating. Bisphenol A (BPA) is used industry wide as a component part of this coating. It is an approved food contact material and there is guidance from both the FSA and the EFSA regarding its use."

John West said: "Some of John West's tinned products are lined with a lacquer that contains a derivate of Bisphenol. By contact tiny amounts of Bisphenol-A are able to migrate within the EU regulation limits." Baxters, the Scottish soup-maker, said its cans contained "minute" amounts of BPA at levels "substantially lower" than that approved by the EFSA.

Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda, and other producers such as Premier Foods, General Mills and Hormel Foods, the US company which makes Spam, insisted their tins were safe and produced in accordance with current safety regulations.

Tinned drinks also include a membrane with BPA. A spokeswoman for Coca-Cola UK confirmed: "We use BPA in the linings of our cans. Our top priority is to ensure the safety and quality of our products and packaging through rigorous standards that meet or exceed government requirements... All available scientific evidence and testing shows that drinks in aluminium and steel cans are safe."

According to the FSA, studies have shown that BPA is not harmful to laboratory animals when fed in amounts equivalent to more than exposure levels in humans. However the last review of the safety of BPA in tinned foods in Britain was eight years ago by the Committee on Toxicity. Since then several peer-reviewed scientific studies have detected low-dose effects on animals. These low-dose effects are not currently recognised by British or European regulators.

Breast Cancer UK is among several campaigning organisations which wants to see reductions in BPA used in food and other products. Claire Dimmer, chair of trustees, said: "We welcome the research that the food packaging industry is undertaking to find potential BPA alternatives. But these efforts need to be stepped up significantly. " She called on manufacturers to introduce clear BPA labelling - "otherwise it's impossible for us to make a decision on ways of limiting our and our families exposure to this chemical."


Brand / Maker/ Contains BPA?

1. Heinz classic soup / Heinz / YES

2. John West canned fish / John West / YES

3. Heinz Baked Beans / Heinz / YES

4. Princes canned fish / Princes / YES

5. Napolina tomato products / Princes / YES

6 Branston Baked Beans / Premier Foods / YES

7. Tesco canned fish / Tesco / YES

8. Sainsbury canned fish / Sainsburys / YES

9. Green Giant Niblets / General Mills / YES

10. Princes Corned Beef / Princes / YES

11. Fray Bentos canned pies / Premier Foods / YES

12. Heinz Big Soup / Heinz / YES

13. Baxters Favourites Soup / Baxters / YES

14. Tesco Value tomato products / Tesco / NO

15. Asda canned fish / Asda / YES

16. Spam Chopped Ham/Pork / Spam / YES

17. Heinz Long Spaghetti / Heinz / YES

18 Heinz Beans with Pork Sausages / Heinz / YES

19 Tesco Value canned fish / Tesco / YES

20. Tesco canned fruit / Tesco / NO

Sources: Kantor Worldpanel and The Independent

Friday, April 2, 2010

Martin Bryant Facebook page smears ex-cop Michael Dyson

Martin Bryant

Port Arthur gunman Martin Bryant days prior to massacre.

  • Facebook page says Bryant is innocent
  • Page points finger at former policeman
  • Administrators have not removed the page

A MALICIOUS website has launched an outrageous attack on a former Tasmania Police officer, claiming he was a gunman in the Port Arthur massacre.

The Facebook hate page claims convicted mass murderer Martin Bryant is an innocent man and long-serving former Special Operations Group member Michael Dyson is responsible.

Mr Dyson, who assisted investigations into the 1996 massacre when 35 people were killed, has shrugged off the allegations but says the internet is out of control and accountability is needed.

He said despite attempts to contact Facebook administrators since finding the site this week, nothing had been done to remove the defamatory page.

Mr Dyson, 52, said he had also contacted Tasmania Police and Australian Federal Police because the site includes his photo and contact details, but was told they were powerless.

"Most people see these sites and people for the lunatics that they are, but if I've learned anything from my time in the force it's that there are also people out there who believe it," he said.

"They're the ones that I'm concerned about the sort that will try and take me out to even it up for Martin Bryant." Facebook faced harsh criticism only last month, when obscene and pornographic content was posted on tribute pages for two Australian children killed in separate acts of violence.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd weighed in then on the debate, backing an inquiry into creating a federal office to combat cyber crime.

The latest controversial page: Martin Bryant is Innocent Michael Charles Dyson shooter at Seascape, not only accuses Mr Dyson of being involved in the massacre but has several links to conspiracy theory websites alleging the massacre was a government plot to force the introduction of gun control legislation.

It also targets former prime minster John Howard, former Tasmanian premier Ray Groom and former Tasmanian and Commonwealth director of public prosecutions Damian Bugg, who prosecuted Bryant.

The men feature on a poster which says: Wanted for Mass Murder, for Port Arthur massacre plot to enforce gun control in Australia. Martin Bryant is innocent and was set up to conceal the Liberal plot.

The creator of the page is not identified and only six people featured as fans are members, including one who has assumed the identity of Australian Vietnam War veteran Ted Serong, who died in 2002 and who was said to have believed Bryant was not the shooter.

Mr Dyson was one of the first investigators to search Bryant's New Town home after the massacre on April 28, 1996.

He retired from the force the following year, after 23 years' service, and now runs a security agency in Tasmania.

He said he had no doubt Bryant was responsible for the massacre and was in disbelief that anyone could allege he was involved.

"How could anyone ever doubt that Martin Bryant killed those people?" he said. "What's more absurd is that people can make allegations saying I was involved and to do so in the public eye for everyone to see.

"Meanwhile, I'm powerless to stop it. People need to be accountable for what's on the internet, it's just getting out of control because no one is controlling it."

Bryant pleaded guilty and is serving 35 life sentences without parole. He killed 20 people in the Broad Arrow Cafe, 12 on the way to the nearby Seascape guesthouse and three inside Seascape.

Police officer caught on video tasering pensioner for speeding... and he gets away with it

By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 11:44 AM on 01st April 2010

A policeman who caused outrage by tasering a 72-year-old woman when he stopped her for speeding has been cleared by a grand jury.

The jury declined to charge Deputy Constable Christopher Bieze on a charge of injury to an elderly person.

The officer pulled Kathryn Winfein over in Austin, Texas, after she was caught doing 60mph in a 45mph zone.

He had written out a ticket but the great-grandmother then refused to sign it.

Scroll down to see the video...
Kathryn Winfein

The police officer takes hold of the 72-year-old woman he stopped for speeding in Texas and attempts to arrest her...

...but she appears to resist...


...so the officer fires his Taser gun at her

The officer can be seen opening her door to arrest her but she seems to resist and can be heard shouting and swearing at him, in footage caught on camera.

There is then a bit of shoving from both parties and the officer asks her to step back.

When she refuses, he threatens to shoot her with a Taser gun.

'Go ahead, tase me,' she shouts at him.

After apparently being warned five times, the officer can be seen pulling out the Taser and shooting her.

Winfein immediately collapses on the floor and as the officer walks up towards her she can be heard screaming while he shouts at her to put her hands on her back.

Texas police chiefs have defended the officers' actions, saying she was resisting arrest and being violent.

'I was not arguing and I was not combative. Everything in this is a lie,' Winfein had said before the video was released.

An internal investigation concluded Bieze did not violate any law or county policy and he was not disciplined.

However, District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg said Bieze was not blameless in the matter.

'While Deputy Constable Bieze may have followed the letter of the law, a more prudent use of discretion may have resulted in a different outcome,' she said in announcing the grand jury decision.

'In the end, they determined only that Bieze's actions were legal. However, their decision was not an endorsement of either party to this conflict.'

Travis County commissioners last year agreed to give Winkfein a $40,000 (£26,000) settlement after she filed a claim over the incident.
Speeding 'cushion' may dwindle due to recession
The  Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway  safety offices, issued a report in 2005 stating that police in 42 states  routinely let drivers exceed speed limits.
The Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway safety offices, issued a report in 2005 stating that police in 42 states routinely let drivers exceed speed limits.

The recession may be claiming a new victim: the 5-10-mph "cushion" police and state troopers across the USA have routinely given motorists exceeding the speed limit.

As cities and states scramble to fill budget gaps with revenue from traffic citations, "not only are the (speeding) tolerances much lower, but the frequency of a warning instead of a ticket is way down," says James Baxter, president of the National Motorists Association, a Wisconsin-based drivers' rights group that helps its members fight speeding tickets.

"Most people, if they're stopped now, are getting a ticket even if it's only a minor violation of a few miles per hour," Baxter says. He cites anecdotal evidence of drivers being pulled over at slower speeds.

Tim Davenport, 42, of Kansas City, Mo., was recently stopped on 15th Street in Blue Springs, Mo., and ticketed for going 40 mph in a 35-mph zone — although the police officer initially ticketed him for 40 in a 25, he says. "I drove down that road again, and the posted limit was 35," he says. "I figured the judge wouldn't accept that, since I was over the speed limit, and would still charge me with it. So I went ahead and paid" the $60 ticket.

Ivan Sever, 60, of Boston was stopped on the Massachusetts Turnpike for doing 55 in a 45-mph speed zone. "I had just passed into the section where the speed limit is 45," says Sever, who teaches recording techniques at Berklee College of Music in Boston. "I saw the (trooper) and slowed down. I passed him carefully. He pulled me over, said I was doing 55."

The Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway safety offices, issued a report in 2005 stating that police in 42 states routinely let drivers exceed speed limits. GHSA said the practice hampered efforts to reduce speeding.

"It's still done in some places but not in others," says Jonathan Adkins of GHSA. In places where police no longer allow the cushion, it might be because speed limits are creeping up around the country, he says.

He notes that Virginia's maximum speed limit will rise from 65 to 70 mph in July. Last year, Ohio raised the maximum speed limit for trucks on rural and suburban interstates from 55 to 65 mph. Texas, Iowa and Indiana have all raised their maximum speed limits since the GHSA study.

A study published last year in the Journal of Law and Economics found that police issue more traffic citations during recessions. From 1990 to 2003, counties in North Carolina issued significantly more tickets in the year following a decline in general tax revenue.

Researchers from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and the University of Arkansas-Little Rock found that a 10% decrease in revenue growth caused a 6.4% increase the following year in the growth rate of traffic tickets.

Troy Green, national spokesman for auto club AAA, says he's unaware of increasing complaints from members about being stopped at slower speeds.

Sgt. Michael Edes, chairman of the National Troopers Coalition, which represents 45,000 troopers, says there is no lower tolerance for speeding among state troopers. "I think you'll find (enforcement is) actually the opposite," he says. "A lot of states have cut (trooper) positions or frozen positions. Several states have grounded their aviation unit, so they're not doing as many speed details."

But it's clear that many communities are turning to traffic citations for added revenue in tough financial times:

• Police in Canton, Ohio, for example, issued 2,011 traffic tickets in January — more than four times the 452 tickets issued in January 2009, according to Police Chief Dean McKimm. He says a decrease in crime in the city of 78,000 that's home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame has freed officers to do more traffic enforcement. McKimm says the additional revenue from traffic citations allows his understaffed department to hire more officers. "We're not writing tickets at lower (speed) thresholds," he says.

• Tennessee is considering a measure similar to one adopted by Georgia last year that would add a $200 fine for "super speeders," those driving more than 25 mph over the posted speed limit, according to the office of Sen. Jack Johnson, a Franklin Republican who introduced the bill.

• Speeding fines are being doubled in "travel-safe" zones on several stretches of highway in Missouri, including five in the St. Louis area. The state passed a law in 2008 that allows authorities to establish such "travel-safe" zones on high-crash stretches of highways. Fines also are routinely doubled in construction zones.

India launches biometric census

India is launching a new census in which every person aged over 15 will be photographed and fingerprinted to create a biometric national database.

The government will then use the information to issue identity cards.

Officials will spend a year classifying India's population of around 1.2 billion people according to gender, religion, occupation and education.

The exercise, conducted every 10 years, faces big challenges, not least India's vast area and diversity of cultures.

Census officials must also contend with high levels of illiteracy and millions of homeless people - as well as insurgencies by Maoists and other rebels which have left large parts of the country unsafe.

President Pratibha Patil was the first person to be listed, and appealed to fellow Indians to follow her example "for the good of the nation".

"Everyone must participate and make it successful," she said in Delhi.


This is India's 15th census and the first time a biometric element has been included.

  • Current population: 1,139,965,000 (2008)
  • Fifteenth national census since 1872
  • "House listing" begins on 1 April
  • Physical count of residents takes place from 9 to 28 February 2011
  • Every person above the age of 15 to be photographed, fingerprinted and given 16-digit identity number; new National Population Register
  • Full census results in mid-2011
  • "India has been conducting a national census since 1872," the man leading the exercise C Chandramouli told the AFP news agency. "Nothing - floods, droughts, even wars - has been able to stop it.

    "The trick is to get things right the first time. There is no question of a re-census."

    Over the next year, some 2.5 million census officials will visit households in more than 7,000 towns and 600,000 villages.

    The officials, many of them teachers and local officials, will first begin the process of house listing - which records information on homes.

    This count will, for the first time, also attempt to gather information on the use of the internet and the availability of drinking water and toilets in households.

    The physical count of residents will take place from 9-28 February 2011.

    The mammoth registration exercise will stretch over 11 months, consume more than 11 million tonnes of paper, and cost 60bn rupees ($1.3bn; £880m).

    India's Home Minister, P Chidambaram, has described the process as the biggest of its kind in human history.

    "An exercise of this kind has not been attempted anywhere else in the world," he told reporters in the capital.

    Although China may have the biggest head count in the world, India carries out the most comprehensive census, say demographers

    The national census is the only source of primary and credible data in India and is used not just to formulate government policies but also by private companies to identify markets for their products, says the BBC's Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi.

    The first 16-digit identity numbers are due to be issued starting in November.

    The full census results will be released in mid-2011.

    The collation of biometric information on a national database raises questions about possible infringement of civil liberties in the future.

    BBC correspondents say many Indians support the new ID cards, believing they will make it easier to receive help and benefits from the state and remove the current need for multiple personal documents.

    I think it is good that we are creating the national database of all our citizens. This will help maintain law and order, minimise crimes and help in locating people responsible for crimes. This will also ensure government benefits reach everybody and we will know who is left out. It will help individuals in getting house or land registrations, opening bank accounts and getting employment easier. These things usually take a lot of time because of background checks and the numerous documents required. I think this is a great job that the government is doing.Sandeep Singh, Bangalore, India

    It's high time we kept up with technology. US citizens have a social security number. We also need a database of all citizens living in this country. I am sure it will be worth the time and money spent. Javs, Mumbai, India

    I feel very uncomfortable about this fingerprinting and face-photographing exercise. Tomorrow they may ask each one of us to have a chip, so that "they" can always know where we are. Whatever happened to freedom and liberty? But given the terror attacks that have already happened in India we, the sheep, will willingly undergo this national haircut! Kailash, Chandigarh

    It sounds like a good initiative as it will help people in remote and underprivileged areas to come in direct contact with government policies made for them - until now the government has been dependent on corrupt local bodies. The influx of people from villages to towns and from towns to big cities can be checked more efficiently and measures can be taken accordingly. But the data should be treated as extremely confidential and should not be used for profit-making activities. Faizan, New Delhi

    Issuing unique ID numbers to all citizens as a part of biometric census is overdue. It will greatly improve tax collection. It will check corruption as well as loopholes in implementing social welfare measures in India. Due to these reasons all society conscious people are eagerly awaiting the results. In no way will the biometric national database infringe on people's civil rights. I think this project will itself bring the Congress Party into power again in next elections. Sambasiva Rao Gogineni, Vijayawada, India

    I support the process. It is important. It will result in less corruption. It will benefit all law-abiding people. K.Venkataraman, New Delhi, India

    Some infringement of rights notwithstanding, this exercise will go a long way in improving the internal security of the country. It will bring the entire 1.2 billion population of India under one database. Hats off, a mammoth exercise for a gigantic country. Wishing all the best to the officials conducting it! Anubhav Saxena, Mumbai India

    Human rights? Sorry, we'd rather strip-search children

    Chris Berg
    December 13, 2009 - 12:00AM

    The state's knife-violence bill is a blatent breach of human rights - and they know it.

    WHAT'S the point of having a charter of human rights if it just gets ignored?

    The Summary Offences and Control of Weapons Acts Amendment 2009 is burrowing its way through State Parliament at the moment. Designed to tackle ''knife violence'', this bill will give police an extraordinary new array of powers, including the power to fine people for being disorderly, for being drunk and disorderly, and for being just plain drunk. And police will be able to kick people out of any area if they think they might become disorderly.

    Most disturbingly, the bill will give police the power to search anyone without needing to show any sort of reasonable suspicion they might be doing or carrying anything illegal. Searches can be done completely at random.

    Oh, and children and the disabled can be strip-searched.

    Sound a bit draconian? It is. In fact, the Government even says it's a human rights violation - these police powers are contrary to its own 2006 human rights charter. Police Minister Bob Cameron told State Parliament the new bill ''is incompatible with the charter to the extent that it limits rights'', but, well, too bad for rights, because ''the government intends to proceed with the legislation in its current form''.

    Cameron told The Sunday Age recently ''people have a right to privacy, but they also have a right not to be stabbed''. That's certainly true. But there's no escalating knife violence in Melbourne. Police statistics show that in the past two years, assaults where a knife was brandished or used declined by 2.9 per cent. But even if they were increasing, would giving police the power to search anybody be the best solution?

    Police can only do these arbitrary searches within ''designated areas''. But the police commissioner designates the areas. He only needs to suspect there might be some disorder in that area, or has been in the past. I'm fairly sure some sort of ''disorder'' has happened in even the most bourgeois suburbs in the past year.

    When you give police extra powers, you increase the chance that power will be abused. And the victims of police abuse will, more often than not, be minorities and youths. ''Random'' searches are never statistically random; they're arbitrary. Police will be able to target whoever they want, without the restraint of having to suspect their targets are doing anything wrong.

    But most importantly, if our human rights charter doesn't prevent governments giving police the power to randomly search children, it can't be much of a charter.

    Politicians like to talk big about how they can protect human rights. The National Human Rights Consultation told Federal Parliament in September that an awareness of basic human rights should be enshrined in our education system and culture. And the debate over a federal bill of rights has covered such lofty issues as parliamentary sovereignty and the role of the judiciary in our constitutional system.

    It's a great debate. But if our experience of the Victorian charter is any indication, all those weighty arguments are moot. Victoria's knife control bill shows that governments only respect human rights charters when they want to.

    And this bill is hardly the only example. The Victorian charter claims ''people have the right to hold opinions without interference'' but this is hard to reconcile with the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act, which makes ''severe ridicule'' of religious people unlawful. And how do we square Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls' threat to shut down private men's clubs with the charter's claim we 'have the right to assemble peacefully''? The entrepreneur who tried to set up a women-only travel company, just to be told it would breach the Equal Opportunity Act, might be sceptical she holds ''the right to freely associate with others''.

    The Victorian Government's doublethink about human rights might be understandable if it was ignoring a pesky restriction on its powers imposed by a previous government. But Hulls was the one who pushed the charter through in the first place.

    It seems human rights and governments are a marriage of convenience. If politicians find a more attractive political aim to pursue, our basic human rights are cuckolded and abandoned.

    Chris Berg is a research fellow with the Institute of Public Affairs and editor of the IPA Review.

    This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/human-rights-sorry-wed-rather-stripsearch-children-20091212-kpmd.html

    Quasi-terrorist treatment for tea-and-biscuit protesters

    Melissa Fyfe
    December 14, 2009 - 3:04PM

    Government reaction to protest groups says much about freedom of speech.

    Jo Knorr recently noticed a man filming her. The mother-of-two was on a neighbour's property with Jan Beer, the 62-year-old anti-pipeline campaigner. The women were watching as water from the Goulburn River flowed into the north-south pipe pumping area. Some distance away a security guard hired by Melbourne Water and its private partners recorded them on a video camera.

    It was not the first time Knorr, a former local government senior executive, or her neighbours have been in these films. One neighbour was filmed at close quarters as he inquired about construction noise. He was in his car in his driveway. On the recent occasion near the pump station, several police attended, apparently in case the women made trouble.

    Melbourne Water says the footage is used to identify people involved in breaches of the peace or obstruction. But this approach - and recent revelations that police files on desalination protesters can be handed over to private companies - forms part of a worrying pattern. Waving a placard against the State Government's agenda has become no simple matter.

    Aside from the demonisation - with John Brumby and his ministers variously labelling protesters liars, ugly and Molotov-cocktail-throwing quasi-terrorists - groups have been crippled because the state has, occasionally but strategically, left open the threat of court costs. Last month, Parliament significantly jacked up penalties for protesters caught within coal-fired power stations.

    Melbourne Water Minister Tim Holding says a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a pipeline worksite in the Toolangi Forest in January. Some protest action has been illegal, dangerous and disruptive, but much of this anti-protest overkill - including numerous arrests - has not been aimed at militant environmentalists or industrial saboteurs.

    From channel deepening to desalination and the north-south pipeline, the Government and police are targeting peaceful, superannuated, community-leading, Subaru-driving parents and grandparents. In Police Life, a sergeant recalled arresting a 72-year-old woman under the Water Act. Before her arrest she was seen distributing home-made biscuits.

    ''There seems to be a disturbing trend of this Government over-reacting to relatively low-level and, in most instances, peaceful and lawful protests,'' Liberty Victoria's president, Michael Pearce, said. ''It's a worrying trend if a government that is entering its mature phase starts to lose sight of the principles of open and accountable government and becomes overly focused on achieving particular objectives.''

    These particular objectives include cutting the ribbons on the north-south pipeline and desalination plant. But protests, generally, are not welcomed by the Government because they cannot be stage-managed. They are unpredictable and disrupt the smooth-running news opportunity. A protest that makes the television news is particularly unwelcome if it overshadows a minister ''taking action'' on something.

    Last week, the Government and police argued that the deals allowing private companies access to police data only existed to help with prosecutions. But when asked about the memorandum of understanding that gave the desalination consortium AquaSure access to ''law enforcement data'', a police spokeswoman told The Age that if police intelligence identified a risk to the plant, "we would share that information with the company to enable it to manage that risk". But surely it is the police's responsibility to manage this risk.

    Perhaps the most worrying revelation was that the MOU was not a one-off. Chief Commissioner Simon Overland admitted that these deals were numerous. He promised to release them, but then said they must be requested under freedom of information (this makes little sense considering that the desalination MOU is on a State Government website).

    What the public deserves to know is what projects are covered by these deals and, more importantly, what information has been released to the corporate sector. Already, the Environment Defenders Office - which provides legal help for green groups - has been contacted by people worried that their private data has been handed over.

    Jo Knorr feels powerless after being filmed and, it seems, dubbed ''a person of interest'' by police. Now she wonders if police have handed over information about her.

    ''It has defied every principle that I consider fundamental to our democracy,'' she wrote last week to the Ombudsman.

    Melissa Fyfe is the state politics reporter for The Sunday Age. Follow her at twitter.com/melfyfe.

    This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/quasiterrorist-treatment-for-teaandbiscuit-protesters-20091212-kpmb.html

    Thursday, April 1, 2010

    Cigarettes may contain pigs blood

    CIGARETTES may contain traces of pig's blood, an Australian academic says with a warning that religious groups could find its undisclosed presence "very offensive".

    University of Sydney Professor Simon Chapman points to recent Dutch research which identified 185 different industrial uses of a pig - including the use of its haemoglobin in cigarette filters.

    Prof Chapman said the research offered an insight into the otherwise secretive world of cigarette manufacture, and it was likely to raise concerns for devout Muslims and Jews.

    Religious texts at the core of both of these faiths specifically ban the consumption of pork.

    "I think that there would be some particularly devout groups who would find the idea that there were pig products in cigarettes to be very offensive," Prof Chapman said today.

    "The Jewish community certainly takes these matters extremely seriously and the Islamic community certainly do as well, as would many vegetarians.

    The Dutch research found pig haemoglobin - a blood protein - was being used to make cigarette filters more effective at trapping harmful chemicals before they could enter a smoker's lungs."It just puts into hard relief the problem that the tobacco industry is not required to declare the ingredients of cigarettes ... they say 'that's our business' and a trade secret."

    Prof Chapman said while tobacco companies had moved voluntarily list the contents of their products on their websites, they also noted undisclosed "processing aids ... that are not significantly present in, and do not functionally affect, the finished product".

    This catch-all term hid from public view an array of chemicals and other substances used in the making of tobacco products, he said.

    At least one cigarette brand sold in Greece was confirmed as using pig haemoglobin in its processes, Prof Chapman said, and the status of smokes sold was unknown.

    "If you're a smoker and you're of Islamic or Jewish faith then you'd probably would want to know and there is no way of finding out," Prof Chapman said.

    The Sydney office of British American Tobacco Australia was contacted by AAP.

    A spokeswoman said a comment would be provided although it was not immediately available