"The business of recycling dead humans into medical implants is a little-known yet lucrative trade. But its practices have roused concerns about how tissues are obtained and how well grieving families and transplant patients are informed about the realities and the risks." After an eight month international investigation, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has published an extensive four-part exposé into the black market for cadavers and human tissue: Skin and Bone: The Shadowy Trade in Human Body Parts (Via) [more inside]
Earlier this year, six scientists and doctors filed a lawsuit against the US Food and Drug Administration alleging that the FDA had secretly monitored their personal e-mail accounts after they (legally) warned Congress that the "agency was approving medical devices that they believed posed unacceptable risks to patients." The agency said it had done so to "investigate allegations that the employees had leaked confidential information to the public." At the time, the FDA indicated their computer monitoring was limited to five scientists. But now, the New York Times is reporting that "what began as a narrow investigation" "quickly grew in mid-2010 into a much broader campaign to counter outside critics of the agency’s medical review process.". [more inside]
"Indeed, in this year when the United States is engaged in a ferocious campaign for the presidency, the question that ought to be asked is: How does the U.S. electoral system compare to Mexico's? I undertook a comprehensive study of the electoral systems in North America, and the good news is that the United States came in third. The bad news is that there are only three countries in North America." ___With Mexico in the aftermath of yesterday's federal and state elections, Robert A. Pastor observes 8 things the U.S. election system could learn from Mexico's.
"The truth about the Fast and Furious scandal: A Fortune investigation reveals that the ATF never intentionally allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. How the world came to believe just the opposite is a tale of rivalry, murder, and political bloodlust." [more inside]
"The United States is abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights." - Jimmy Carter [more inside]
"What facts about the United States do foreigners not believe until they come to America? In the episode "True Urban Legends" [originally aired 4.23.2010] of This American Life, Mary Wiltenburg asks refugees to share the rumors they'd heard about America but didn't think were true, only to discover on arrival that they were. Examples include homelessness and Christmas lights." Quora members weigh in. [more inside]
Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward: 40 years after Watergate, Nixon was far worse than we thought. [more inside]
Running for Congress? Better be a straight shooter. It's not enough for Joe Manchin to shoot up the cap and trade bill (previously), or for Ron Gould to shoot up the health care bill...for all we know, an actor made the shot. Fear not, let's change the angle a bit so it's over your sholder...how about Rob Wallace shooting up some Texas water?
U.S. and Israel have been confirmed as the authors behind the Stuxnet virus. The program — codenamed "Olympic Games" — was started under Bush and accelerated under Obama. The virus was never meant to expand beyond the Iranian nuclear facility it targeted. (non-NYTimes link)
Los Tocayos Carlos - a comprehensive investigation by Columbia Law School Professor James Liebman and a team of students which uncovers evidence that Carlos DeLuna, a poor Hispanic man with childlike intelligence who was executed in Texas in 1989, was innocent. The issue of The Columbia Human Rights Law Review, entirely dedicated to this investigation, is available at this website.
"Experimental adaptation of an influenza H5 HA confers respiratory droplet transmission to a reassortant H5 HA/H1N1 virus in ferrets." After an extensive, months-long debate, one of two controversial papers showing ways the H5N1 "avian" influenza virus could potentially become transmissible in mammals with only 3 or 4 mutations was published in Nature today. The journal included an editorial on the merits and drawbacks of "publishing risky research" with regard to biosafety. The debate included an unprecedented recommendation by The US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) to block publication -- a decision they later reversed. (Via: 1, 2) Nature's special report has additional articles, including interviews with the teams behind both papers.
We Japanese Americans must not forget our wartime internment - George Takei on the the treatment of Japanese-Americans during WWII and Allegiance, his new musical. Previously.
"The U.S. Geological Survey has just released more than 161,000 digitally scanned historical maps spanning in excess of 130 years and covering the lower 48 states. This Historical Topographic Map Collection provides a comprehensive repository of the landscape of our Nation..."
For his video "I Will Never Change", London-based musician Benga used 960 records to create a stop-motion waveform of the song. [more inside]
A modest proposal to get rid of income inequality in America: just give every household a $10 million dollar loan.
The U.S. has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five of the largest publishers, alleging a conspiracy to rig the pricing of e-books. Simon & Schuster, Hachette and HarperCollins have agreed to settle, though Macmillan, Penguin and Apple continue to contest the charges. Some background from WIRED: Bigger Than Agency, Bigger Than E-Books: The Case Against Apple and Publishers
Back in the 50s, the US planned to create a network of tunnels underneath the Greenland ice sheet to fire nuclear missiles from. (via Slashdot)
What do American "values voters" actually value? The American Values Project gathers answers.
The GOP’s woman problem is that it has a serious problem with women. Frank Rich on George Stephanopoulos's unanswered question, how the Republicans have shifted to being the party of misogyny since the 70s, and why Mitt Romney would be just as bad as Rick Santorum.
“For some reason, the GOP has chosen 2012 to relitigate reproductive freedom, an issue that was resolved decades ago. Why [Rick] Santorum, [Rush] Limbaugh et al. thought this would be a good time to declare war on half the electorate, I cannot say. But to ignore it would have been comedy malpractice.” -- Gary Trudeau"Only once in the long history of "Doonesbury" has Garry Trudeau’s syndicate ever intensely objected to one of his story arcs. It was 1985, a documentary purporting to show the reactions of a fetus had been released, and Trudeau satirized the film "The Silent Scream" with his own “prequel" strips featuring “little Timmy,” a 12-minute-old embryo. Those strips never saw wide release in newspapers. Now, Trudeau has decided to take on the abortion wars head-on for the first time in "Doonesbury’s" four decades in a series of strips depicting mandatory vaginal ultrasounds as rape." [more inside]
"It’s been nearly 6 years since the series finale of The West Wing, and more than 12 since the one-hour drama, which [Aaron] Sorkin created and largely wrote, first walked and talked its way through NBC’s Wednesday-night lineup; and yet you might think the series never ended, given the currency it still seems to enjoy in Washington, the frequency with which it comes up in D.C. conversations and is quoted or referenced on political blogs. In part this is because the smart, nerdy—they might prefer “precocious”—kids who grew up in the early part of the last decade worshipping the cool, technocratic charm of Sorkin’s characters have today matured into the young policy prodigies and press operatives who advise, brief, and excuse the behavior of the most powerful people in the country."
In a surprise announcement this week North Korea agreed to halt nuclear weapons tests, enrichment of uranium and long-range-missile launches and allow the return of international inspectors in exchange for a pledge of "no harmful intent" and 240,000 metric tons of food aid from the U.S. The announcement is seen as a major breakthrough by the State Department after years of stalled negotiations and the first major foreign policy action by Kim Jong-un. [more inside]
The BBC's Justin Webb explores the state of the Republicans and the right-wing in the US. (podcast, transcript)
The true name of the man most famously known as Lord George Gordon Gordon will likely never be known. His name, though false, will nevertheless live in history for pulling one of the great advance-fee cons of all time, swindling in 1872 over a million dollars out of Jay Gould, most unscrupulous of all the robber barons and no stranger himself to a long con. Gould's quest for revenge would nearly lead to a military invasion of Manitoba by the Minnesota state militia. [more inside]
"Muslim-American Terrorism in the Decade Since 9/11" (PDF) is a report by Professor Charles Kurzman of the University of North Carolina, published by the Triangle Center for Terrorism and Homeland Security. The TCFTHS is a collection of experts in the "Research Triangle" of North Carolina, associated with Duke, UNC and NC State and RTI, the independent research institute dedicated to aggregating and marketing the research resources of these three institutions. [more inside]
“The United States [owes] its fall of 27 places [to 47th] to the many arrests of journalist covering Occupy Wall Street protests.” -Reporters Without Borders
Btw, Occupy Wall St. has begun heating up again for the spring with 400 arrested in Oakland yesterday. And a blooming Occupy K Street movement (DC, FB) [more inside]
Btw, Occupy Wall St. has begun heating up again for the spring with 400 arrested in Oakland yesterday. And a blooming Occupy K Street movement (DC, FB) [more inside]
In 2002, Doug Monroe placed his parents in assisted living. A decade later, he's looking back at "the weighty financial and emotional costs that come with a parent's immortality": The Long Goodbye.
This past November, news broke of a rather odd domestic terror plot that had been broken up by the FBI. Four senior citizens in northern Georgia who met regularly at a local Waffle House, were allegedly planning to spread ricin and botulinum toxin in Atlanta and Washington, DC, in order to kill millions of people and "save the Constitution." But was there ever really a conspiracy?
Iran announced today that it had sentenced Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, 28, to death on charges of spying for the CIA. Hekmati, an American of Iranian descent who formerly worked as a translator for the U.S. military, claims that his trip to Iran was to visit his grandmother. Hekmati is the first U.S. citizen to be sentenced to death by Iran since the 1979 Revolution and has been imprisoned since August. [more inside]
A leaked memo by India's Military Intelligence indicates they eavesdropped on a U.S. government department (USCC) that reports to congress on "the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship [between the U.S. and China]" using "lawful intercept" backdoors provided to the Indian government by Apple, RIM, and Nokia. (previously) [more inside]
Two days ago, U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act), "with reservations about key provisions in the law — including a controversial component that would allow the military to indefinitely detain terror suspects, including American citizens arrested in the United States, without charge". [more inside]
China became the world's top patent filer in 2011, issuing 58% of global intellectual property filings. [more inside]
American Woman: Vocal fried. On the partial glottalization of speech in young English speaking American women.
The U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border agreement is wide-ranging in its impact. Indeed, Prime Minister Harper referred to it Wednesday as "the most significant step forward in Canada-U.S. co-operation since (NAFTA)". This deal promises regulatory alignment (including the food and automotive sectors), quicker border crossings for business or travel (with pre-clearance options), and "screened once, accepted twice" cargo. Perhaps the biggest concern for Canadians however are the changes this agreement could have for their privacy. [more inside]
The Netanyahu government has paid for US TV ads saying US Israelis will never understand what it means to be Israeli, and American Jews will lose their religion
Nearly a decade of US road accident casualties mapped by location across America from ITO World via the Guardian (they have also done the UK)
Texas Governor and GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry is booked on all the major morning shows tomorrow, and with good reason. After two months of gaffes, impolitic stands, and bizarre speeches that quickly waned his once-strong odds of winning the Republican nomination, Perry went into Wednesday's CNBC debate sorely needing a win... only to deliver a tortuous, cringingly forgetful attempt [video] to recall just which three cabinet departments he'd vowed to abolish, a stunning failure political scientist Larry Sabato deemed "the most devastating moment of any modern primary debate" in his memory. While Perry's slow-motion flameout has boosted the fortunes of dark horse candidate Herman Cain, the unlikely challenger is facing troubles of his own in a volley of sexual harassment claims -- an oddly ineffective scandal Cain is doing his best to (somewhat dubiously) disavow. If Cain collapses, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich may reap the benefits, but his moribund campaign has issues of its own. Pawlenty, Bachmann, Perry, Christie, Cain, Gingrich... the base is loathe to rally round him, but after so many failed, flawed, or forfeited challenges, can anyone topple Mitt Romney?
Testing by Food Safety News has shown that more than 75% of the honey being sold in the United States does not qualify to be labeled for sale as "honey". [more inside]
"Every day in the U.S., about 500 people lose a limb. About 1,800 amputation surgeries are performed each year in Oklahoma. More than 1,600 of those — about 90 percent — are lower body amputations. So every day in Oklahoma, four people lose part or all of a leg." (Nationally, the most common procedure is toe amputation.) "These are the stories of four people living in Oklahoma — a mother, a senior, a Marine and a student — all living life on at least one prosthetic leg": Standing Tall [more inside]
In this nation, capitalism helped but a small group and corporations. A more equitable distribution was demanded by the majority . Their demands are being met. In Israel, there had been a growing disconnect between the few who had so much and the many who were unable to pay rents, live decently, buy food. This led to occupying central spots and setting up tent cities to protest, similar to what is taking place in the United States. The government got the message. Improvements are planned to correct social disparities. Note that like our nation, they too spend a huge amount for defense. Yet there is a recognition that domestic needs are central or there is nothing worthwhile to defend except those at the very top.
Effect of Herman Cain's proposed "9-9-9" tax reform plan on average household tax liability. Cain is leading the field of GOP Presidential candidates in polls of Iowa, South Carolina and Florida. Previously 1 2
Final Salute. Between 2004 and 2005, "Rocky Mountain News reporter Jim Sheeler and photographer Todd Heisler spent a year with the Marines stationed at Aurora's Buckley Air Force Base who have found themselves called upon to notify families of the deaths of their sons in Iraq. In each case in this story, the families agreed to let Sheeler and Heisler chronicle their loss and grief. They wanted people to know their sons, the men and women who brought them home, and the bond of traditions more than 200 years old that unite them. Though readers are led through the story by the white-gloved hand of Maj. Steve Beck, he remains a reluctant hero. He is, he insists, only a small part of the massive mosaic that is the Marine Corps." The full story ran on Veteran's Day, 2005 and won two Pulitzer Prizes: one for Feature Photography, another for feature writing in 2006. A nice single-page version of one section: Katherine Cathey and 2nd Lt. James J. Cathey (via.) The Rocky Mountain News closed in 2009. [more inside]
Hank Williams Jr. was removed from Monday Night Football on ESPN after a bizarre and rambling appearance on Fox & Friends this morning. The noted political analyst and future senator compared the President to Hitler, and later referred to the President and Vice President as enemies. [more inside]
The once-secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) slouches toward signing on Saturday. ACTA is expected to raise constitutional issues in the U.S., raise soverenty issues in the E.U., give copyright holders extensive powers to impose DRM and identify alleged infringers, and increase health risks worldwide. In addition, the U.S. has launched the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) to obtain what copyright provisions were stripped from ACTA. (see michaelgeist.ca, techdirt, or slashdot) [more inside]
In 1991, Troy Davis was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1989 murder of policeman Mark MacPhail in a Savannah, Georgia parking lot. Since then, seven of the nine prosecution eyewitnesses have recanted all or part of their testimony, with some citing pressure from the police to make false statements. An exception is Sylvester "Redd" Coles, who made the initial report of Davis’s guilt, and is regarded by the defense as the chief suspect. New witnesses have sworn affidavits that Coles confessed the crime to them. An array of figures have called for a stay of execution, including death-penalty supporters Senator Bob Barr and former FBI director William S. Sessions. Today, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency; barring action from the District Attorney, Davis is set to be executed by lethal injection tomorrow at 7pm. [Previously]
A year ago this August, 72 migrant workers -- 58 men and 14 women -- 'were on their way to the US border when they were murdered by a drug gang at a ranch in northern Mexico, in circumstances that remain unexplained. Since then, a group of Mexican journalists and writers have created' a "Day of the Dead-style Virtual Altar" Spanish-language website, 72migrantes.com, to commemorate each of the victims, some of whom have never been identified. The New York Review of Books has English translations of five of their profiles. [more inside]