Saturday, December 21, 2013

Mafia toxic waste dumping poisons Italy farmlands. Maybe times have changed -- but the mobster bad boys haven't

Italy Poisoned Land  
In this Nov. 18, 2013 photo, rubbish is piled up on the edge of cultivated land near Caivano, in the surroundings of Naples, southern Italy. Dozens of fields in the area were sequestered by police, prohibiting any one from harvesting or even setting foot on the plot. Decades of toxic waste dumping by the Camorra crime syndicate that dominates the Naples area poisoned wells, authorities have found in recent months, tainting the water that irrigates crops with high levels of lead, arsenic and the industrial solvent tetrachloride. (AP Photo/Salvatore Laporta)

CAIVANO, Italy (AP) - On Ciro Fusco's farm in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, police swooped down one recent day and planted a warning sign in his broccoli fields, prohibiting any one from harvesting or even setting foot on the plot. Dozens of other fields in the area were sequestered in the same way. Decades of toxic waste dumping by the Camorra crime syndicate that dominates the Naples area poisoned wells, authorities have found in recent months, tainting the water that irrigates crops with high levels of lead, arsenic and the industrial solvent tetrachloride.
The warning came too late: Fusco had already sold some of his broccoli at nearby markets.
The farmlands around Naples, authorities say, are contaminated from the Mafia's multibillion-dollar racket in disposing toxic waste, mainly from industries in the wealthy north that ask no questions about where the garbage goes as long as it's taken off their hands - for a fraction of the cost of legal disposal. The poisoning is triggering widespread fear and outrage in the Naples area, and tens of thousands of people marched through the city's chaotic streets last month demanding to know whether they have been eating tainted vegetables for years.
In an interview with The Associated Press, the head of the Naples environmental police force rattled off a list of substances in higher than permissible levels contaminating 13 irrigation wells on farmlands: arsenic, cadmium, tin, beryllium and other metals; tetrachloride and tolulene among other chemicals used as industrial solvents.
Gen. Sergio Costa did not provide specific levels as tests were ongoing, but described the amounts as reaching "dangerous" levels. On one farm in Caivano, Costa said, four times the permissible level of lead was found in the irrigation well's water. Cabbages irrigated by that water were found to be contaminated with lead, although tomatoes irrigated with the same well showed no harmful lead levels, said Costa - illustrating the complexity of testing crops for toxicity. The wells are not used for drinking water.
Analyses of the vegetables are still being conducted, and Fusco was waiting to learn if his family's farm's broccoli was tainted. Costa said the crops, irrigated by wells later found to be contaminated, were sold only in markets in the Naples area. Officials estimate that waste seepage from one of the more notorious sites, a hill-like dump in the nearby farm town of Giugliano, a short drive away, will keep poisoning the water for half a century.
A top Camorra boss, Francesco Bidognetti, was convicted last month of poisoning the water table in the town of Gugliano with toxic waste and received a 20-year sentence. It was by far the stiffest punishment yet for waste dumping and a strong sign that the state is cracking down on the lucrative racket. Much of the waste the Camorra has trafficked has come from factories, processing plants and hospitals, mainly trucked down from in Italy's industrial north to the mobsters' power base near Naples and Caserta.
Some of the waste was buried under a soccer field in Casal di Principe, the stronghold of the Casalesi crime clan that dominates the illicit business, along with a few other families. Naples-based anti-Mafia Prosecutor Giovanni Conzo said in an interview that waste was also buried under a water-skiing pool in the town of Castel Volturno, near the sea.
Camorristi "poisoned their own territory, they poisoned their own blood," said Costa, the Naples environmental police force chief.
According to a nationwide environmentalist group, Legambiente, Camorra mobsters since 1991 have systematically dumped, burned or buried nearly 10 million tons of waste, almost all of it coming from factories that either don't seek to know where the waste ends up or are complicit in the crimes. According to evidence used in trials, the waste contained PCBs, asbestos, industrial sludge and metal drums filled with dangerous solvents used to make paint.
"How could this all happen?" Michele Buonomo, Legambiente's Naples-area president, said in an interview.
Franco Roberti, Italy's top organized crime fighter, offers an explanation.
It wasn't just the Camorra profiting off the waste racket, he said in an AP interview: In Italy's industrial north, factories and processing plants saved at least half the cost of the going rate of legitimate waste disposal or detoxification. Companies falsified documentation identifying the wastes' content, said the national anti-Mafia prosecutor. In the Camorra's power base, he added, town officials, dump operators or farmers with vacant land closed an eye for their own payoff.
Roberti said the first Camorra turncoat to reveal the business of waste trafficking told him in interrogations that "monnezza" - Neapolitan for garbage - was, in effect, worth its weight in gold.
Investigators' first big break came in 2007, nearly 20 years after the mobsters started trafficking in wastes. Turncoat Gaetano Vassallo, from the Casalesi clan, gave prosecutors a "very complete picture" about the racket, Roberti recalled. He told them where waste had been dumped and buried. And he indicated which companies, mainly in Italy's north, were turning to the Camorra to cart away waste.
Vassallo's tips were borne out when investigators, using backhoes and shovels, dug into the sprawling Giugliano dump. Exhaustive analyses of soil samples by a geologist in a two-year study, whose results were made public this fall, found many of the cancer-causing or otherwise harmful substances exactly where the turncoat said Bidognetti had them dumped over several years. Some of the waste trafficked by Bidognetti allegedly came from a major dye-manufacturing plant in the northwest Piedmont region, which was eventually shut down after Piedmont residents grew alarmed when local rivers were colored with the factory's runoff.
Geologist Giovanni Balestri's study, commissioned by Naples-based anti-Mafia prosecutors, of soil and aquifers contaminated by the dump found a laundry lists of substances similar to those discovered around the Caivano farms: Chromium, lead, nickel, sulfates, toluene and other substances - all in concentrations higher than, often far exceeding, permissible levels.
Costa said the vegetables irrigated by water from contaminated wells was destined for local markets, not supermarkets - whose strict quality standards, backed up by spot-checks, would virtually eliminate the possibility of any tainted produce from reaching tables beyond the Camorra's backyard.
Italy's agriculture minister last month hastened to assure consumers that testing of the produce is continuing "non-stop." Nunzia De Girolamo was referring to a strategy devised by Costa: Since much of the waste seeps down to aquifers, which feed irrigation wells, his squad is analyzing the water of each well supplied by the contaminated aquifers, a painstaking process that started this year and will take several more months to complete.
Farmers scoffed at the idea their vegetables - a key part of the much-touted healthy Mediterranean diet - would be bad to eat.
"I eat them, my sons eat them and my grandchildren eat them," said Domenico Della Corte, holding up a cauliflower as big as a bridal bouquet.
Meanwhile, Naples anti-mafia prosecutor Conzo speaks of another fear: The mob may be poised to cash in on the massive cleanup - using its time-tested expertise at muscling in on public contracts.

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ELECTRODE 13 hours ago May be that Jimmie Hoffa is under that pile...........
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hsena 13 hours ago this again shows the law can't stop anything. italy's law is no better then a third world country
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John Billingsley 14 hours ago I would thank with the Mafia doing the polluting, it would be body parts and bad spaghetti.
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Wendy 14 hours ago This is so tragic! The poor population down there. Now comes the hard job of requiring, by law, for the Mafioso, and the Factories to do the proper clean up! Such a shame!!
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carc206 14 hours ago Those northern Italian factories should be the ones to pay for the clean up of the affected areas because it is their "toxic waste" that is causing the problem.
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eeverettm 14 hours ago Can we still buy their olive oil? Hmmm....the love of money....
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ashlivesjk 15 hours ago Why don't those 10's of thousands march on the mafia, and the rich companies that are producing the other things they want.?
Oh and the writer misspelled toluene :P
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wodmann 16 hours ago guess they didn't pay the mandatory extortion from the italian mafia......
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babyicant 16 hours ago Poisoned Land in Naples by the mafia? I doubt it. Sure they run the garbage removal but why **** where they eat? No its not them. I think its more Eminent Domain Italian Style. It clearly states in the article...."""".Dozens of fields in the area were sequestered by police, prohibiting any one from harvesting or even setting foot on the plot."""""" That is how Governments do it.
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bigfile4 16 hours ago That's the problem with parasites. They suck the host organism dry and eventually kill it.
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1 reply to bigfile4's comment
steve 14 hours ago Yep your correct, Just like illegals that come to this country and people who have made welfare a life style generation after generation. Their ******* us dry..

Friday, December 20, 2013

Beaufort elections board member removed from office -- illegally endorsed Greg Brannon, GOP candidate for U.S. Senate.

Delma Blinson removed from Beaufort elections board for participating in partisan political activities -- endorsing Dr. Greg Brannon, U.S. Senate candidate (GOP)


Tags: Elections
The State Board of Elections on Friday removed a member of the Beaufort County Board of Elections for participating in partisan political activities.
Delma Blinson, who was appointed to the Beaufort board this summer, participated in a local tea party meeting in October.

During that meeting, Blinson made a motion that passed to endorse Greg Brannon, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.

The state board sets major policy for state elections and oversees the operations of local boards. Local boards have the job of actually running elections. This summer, state board leaders warned new members of local boards that they must abstain from political activity in order to preserve their objectivity.

"You were on notice that we were going to aggressively enforce this statute," said Josh Howard, chairman of the state board.

Blinson acknowledged that he had participated in the tea party meeting, but he said he did not think it violated the law, which prohibits "public" displays of political opinion.

"I would say anyone in public office ... has a right to private conversations," he said.

But board members pointed out that the tea party meeting time and location was advertised to the public. The activity at the meeting -- making an endorsement -- was a process in which one's political opinions are made known.

"If 20 people at a political rally isn't public, what is?" Howard asked.

The board voted 5-0 to remove Blinson and asked the local Republican Party to recommend a replacement.

Meet ‘wacko bird’ Greg Brannon, the tea party’s secession-backing, public school-hating hopeful

By Travis Gettys
Monday, December 16, 2013 14:03 EST
Greg Brannon

A tea party candidate whose role model was an unrepentant segregationist and has spoken to a group that supports Southern secession said he’s eager to join the U.S. Senate’s “wacko bird caucus,” and he’s got some big-name supporters.
Republican Greg Brannon said he moved to North Carolina due to his admiration for the late Sen. Jesse Helms, and he vowed to emulate the obstructionist conservative if he can unseat Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan next year.
During his time in public office, Helms fought against interracial marriage, held up disability rights legislation and funding for HIV prevention, opposed a bill establishing a national holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. and never renounced his support for racial segregation.
Brannon, who calls the late senator a “modern hero,” is the first non-incumbent 2014 candidate endorsed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and he has also picked up endorsements from Red State editor Erick Erickson and conservative provocateur Ann Coulter.
Despite the high-profile plaudits, Brannon faces long odds in the GOP primary, where he’ll face four candidates, including North Carolina Speaker of the House Thom Tillis – although a recent survey conducted by Public Policy Polling found he was the only Republican candidate who beat Hagan in head-to-head matchups.
If he makes it that far, Brannon would fit right in with the Senate’s tea party-backed “wacko birds,” Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT).
The extremely conservative Brannon opposes public education, which he says is Marxist and dehumanizes students, and doesn’t believe states must follow Supreme Court decisions.
Brannon cosponsored and spoke at a rally in October supporting nullification – the idea that states can invalidate any federal laws they wish – that was also sponsored by the secessionist League of the South group that is seeking “a free and independent Southern republic.”
The group complains on its website that the federal government has since 1861 – the start of the Civil War — attempted to strip states of their individual sovereignty and compromised individual religious expression and freedom of association.
“We envision the States peacefully and lawfully exercising their Right of self-determination and withdrawing from the present union dominated by an aggressive, centralized federal government; only then can a true constitutional republic, founded upon the Bible and the original constitution, once again exist in America,” the group states among its goals.
Brannon, an obstetrician and gynecologist who refuses to advise his patients on contraception or abortions, said the Supreme Court has claimed powers it doesn’t have.
“Just because nine people in black robes, seven of them voted that abortion is in the Constitution, it does not make that law,” Brannon said.
He advised state Rep. Paul Stam on anti-abortion legislation in 2011 that requires women to wait 24 hours for elective abortions after their first visit to an abortion provider and mandates sonograms of the fetus even if not medically necessary.
Brannon said he favored a version of the bill that would have required abortion providers to give women printed materials that claimed “the life of each human being begins at conception,” and he also wanted patients to be told that abortion is linked to breast cancer.
The American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have dismissed the possibility of a link between breast cancer and abortion.
The bill was eventually passed, but without the provision warning of a link to breast cancer.
Brannon serves as medical director for Hand of Hope, a nonprofit organization that operates several crisis pregnancy centers in North Carolina, and he recently described the clinics’ patients as “little girls” who don’t understand their own bodies.
“When I see little girls that come here, boyfriends that do show up are my favorites,” Brannon said. “Then I can whoop on them with love. How many people have we got married over the last 20 years just by riding that boy’s rear end?”
The organization’s website makes false claims that morning-after emergency contraceptive pills cause abortions and discourages their use.
Brannon has raised just $250,000, mostly from individuals, and less than one-third what Tillis has raised – and that’s not including the quarter million dollars that the North Carolina House Speaker had loaned himself.
But the tea party conservative claims that he’s building a diverse coalition that will deliver him to the U.S. Senate.
“We’re getting African Americans, Hispanics, women,” Brannon said. “We’re building this coalition of many.”
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Democratic super PAC boosts Kay Hagan, targets Thom Tillis

Verne Strickland Blogmaster / Dec 20 2013

Democratic super PAC boosts Kay Hagan, targets Thom Tillis

Posted by Jim Morrill and John Frank on December 5, 2013 
A super PAC aligned with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is attacking Republican Thom Tillis in a new TV ad – and Tillis is making the most of it.
The Senate Majority PAC is spending $750,000 on a 30-second spot defending Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan on the federal health care while attacking Tillis, one of five announced GOP candidates for her seat. (See the ad below.) The ad will run statewide for two weeks, PAC officials said.
The PAC is run by former staffers of the Nevada senator. It's the second pro-Hagan ad they've run in North Carolina, spending near $400,000 in November.
In the new ad, they defend Hagan's support of the Affordable Care Act, without ever referring to the act or its commonly known name, Obamacare. Instead, they tout her support of legislation that "forced insurance companies to cover cancer and other pre-existing conditions."
Tillis, it says, "sides with insurance companies." It’s a reference to Tillis’ opposition to the health care law.
Tillis’ campaign put a message on Twitter saying: "It is a badge of honor to be attacked by Harry Reid -- I'll work night and day to beat Kay Hagan and overthrow Reid's majority."
The ad is also an acknowledgment that Tillis is the front-runner in the GOP primary and the one Democrats think will win in May. And the big dollar buy recognizes that Hagan’s poll numbers are sinking amid the botched federal health care law roll out.
Tillis is using the new ad to raise money – just as Hagan did when outside groups spend similarly huge sums earlier this year to attack her.
"Clearly, North Carolina is ground zero in the effort to get rid of the liberal Reid majority that is keeping Obamacare in place and keeping our country on a path to fiscal disaster," he wrote in an email to supporters.

Read more here:

Thursday, December 12, 2013


The story behind "that selfie" -- a testy clash of cultures. Never the twain shall meet (I don't think.)

(AFP Photo / Roberto Schmidt)
US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron pose for a picture with Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt next to US First Lady Michelle Obama during the memorial service for South African former president Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg. (AFP Photo / Roberto Schmidt)
Cliquez pour la version française By Roberto Schmidt

So here’s the photo, my photo, which quickly lit up the world’s social networks and news websites. The “selfie” of three world leaders who, during South Africa’s farewell to Nelson Mandela, were messing about like kids instead of behaving with the mournful gravitas one might expect.
In general on this blog, photojournalists tell the story behind a picture they’ve taken. I’ve done this for images from Pakistan, and India, where I am based. And here I am again, but this time the picture comes from a stadium in Soweto, and shows people taking a photo of themselves. I guess it’s a sign of our times that somehow this image seemed to get more attention than the event itself. Go figure.

Anyway, I arrived in South Africa with several other AFP journalists to cover the farewell and funeral ceremonies for Nelson Mandela. We were in the Soccer City stadium in Soweto, under a driving rain. I’d been there since the crack of dawn and when I took this picture, the memorial ceremony had already been going on for more than two hours.
From the podium, Obama had just qualified Mandela as a “giant of history who moved a nation towards justice." After his stirring eulogy, America’s first black president sat about 150 metres across from where I was set up. He was surrounded by other foreign dignitaries and I decided to follow his movements with the help of my 600 mm x 2 telephoto lens.
So Obama took his place amid these leaders who’d gathered from all corners of the globe. Among them was British Prime Minister David Cameron, as well as a woman who I wasn’t able to immediately identify. I later learned it was the Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt. I’m a German-Colombian based in India, so I don’t feel too bad I didn’t recognize her! At the time, I thought it must have been one of Obama’s many staffers.
Anyway, suddenly this woman pulled out her mobile phone and took a photo of herself smiling with Cameron and the US president. I captured the scene reflexively. All around me in the stadium, South Africans were dancing, singing and laughing to honour their departed leader. It was more like a carnival atmosphere, not at all morbid. The ceremony had already gone on for two hours and would last another two. The atmosphere was totally relaxed – I didn’t see anything shocking in my viewfinder, president of the US or not. We are in Africa.

Note from Verne:

The man who took that picture, and others, is Roberto Schmidt of AFP Photo. You've see Schmidt's photos, and heard something about the big shemozzle that has erupted as a result.

I have my own thoughts about it all -- when have I not? So I felt compelled, despite possible vehement objections, to have a go at it myself.

Somehow it seemed to me to be provocative to feature just one of the frames extraordinaire, with a gaggle of comments they elicited. I think this is funny, and edifying:

  • 1 From trudi - 11/12/2013, 13:32
    Hello I am a journalist at BBC radio in the UK - would you be wiling to do a quick phone interview about this please this afternoon - please email thanks

  • 2 From OrangeMoon - 11/12/2013, 13:32
    How to alienate and irritate Africans: "The atmosphere was totally relaxed – I didn’t see anything shocking in my viewfinder, president of the US or not. We are in Africa."
    Whatever do you mean? Nothing like some subliminal racism thrown in to give 'context' to your story. Totally unnecessary and offensive.

  • 3 From Nicolas Congote - 11/12/2013, 13:39
    Roberto, es Nicolás Congote de EL TIEMPO en Colombia, cómo puedo contactarte para hablar sobre tu trabajo. Mi correo es Abrazo. (** I think this was from the clueless signer for the deaf.)

  • 4 From Lily Yamamoto - 11/12/2013, 13:41
    No comment. it very natural, at least is a happy farewell ceremony to Mandiba. I am sure he wouldn't mind at all. Let us pray; may he soul rest in peace in heaven with Lord. Amen

  • 5 From zizi - 11/12/2013, 14:08
    A picture worth a thousand words!

  • 7 From Kathy - 11/12/2013, 14:14
    No problem the photo was taken, but those three looked childish, no more no less, but that's a shame from world leaders. However, from Cameron it is normal behaviour.

  • 9 From kayhag - 11/12/2013, 14:35
    Thanks so much for your important work, and for this context. The absurd obsession with the superficial = "please distract us from pondering the meaning of Mandela to our own lives and to those who represent and govern us."
    Thanks again.

  • 10 From EmC - 11/12/2013, 14:45
    Well said. I think Madiba would be laughing if he saw the image! He was a very relaxed and down to earth person. This hullabaloo about the selfie is mis-directed attention. In my opinion its only fitting that dignitaries of this caliber felt relaxed enough to take a selfie at Madiba's memorial.
  • 11 From Peter du Toit - 11/12/2013, 14:52 

    Thank you for giving the context! "All around me in the stadium, South Africans were dancing, singing and laughing to honour their departed leader. It was more like a carnival atmosphere, not at all morbid." Which is exactly why they felt they could also relax!
  • 12 From Peter Hjelmbak - 11/12/2013, 15:07
    Fantastic photo - 1 in a billion. I have been defending that photo for the whole day. And I love the story behind it, that I just read! I think it is great and I think Mr. Mandela would have loved that picture! Black/white, woman/man - all equal, having fun and a great laugh. That is the kind of leaders I want to rule the world and NOT some angry old white men, hiding in a dark room! GREAT lets have some more REAL people and not stressed out politicians!

  • 13 From Ayo - 11/12/2013, 15:15
    I was totally with you, until the offensive "We are in Africa." What do you mean by "We are in Africa"? Do you even realize what you just wrote? Ways to insult a whole continent!!! I totally lost respect for you. Yet I am almost sure that you lack the intellectual sophistication to comprehend the offensive nature of that statement. This is so pathetic.

  • 15 From Guest - 11/12/2013, 15:20
    Can you explain why Obama and Michelle ended up switching seats?

  • 16 From Ana Pessoa - 11/12/2013, 15:57 
     Obama, Cameron and the beautiful blonde are not mere mortals.
    They are representatives of their countries, representatives of a people, of millions. There is a protocol - respect and dignity - when we go to the last farewell of a man. Especially when this man was huge. The selfie shows a normal attitude at the wrong time.The press is correct in questioning this attitude.

  • 17 From Scott - 11/12/2013, 15:58
    @OrangeMan and @Ayo: "We are in Africa" is not an insult.
    Mr. Schmidt was explaining the context of the memorial service. As he said, it was a four hour celebration with jubilant crowds, music, and dancing.
    No one would memorialize a national leader that way in the US, UK, or Denmark, where the custom is to be somber and quiet during memorial services. But this celebration was not held in the US, UK, or Denmark. It was held in Africa, and South Africans are entitled to memorialize Mr. Mandela as they believe he would want to be remembered.
    Anyone attending should NOT be judged though the lens of a somber Western memorial service. This was not that kind of service. This was a celebration, a celebration that was proudly and unapologetically [South] African.

  • 20 From Yoreney - 11/12/2013, 16:01
    when i saw the picture i thought Michelle Obama looked pissed because they were taking a selfie without her. Then I saw another picture. This time Mr Obama was kissing her hand, and it really looked like he was apologizing for taking that selfie without her. LOL.

  • 21 From Guest - 11/12/2013, 16:02
    Anybody there complaining about "we are in Africa" being racist: I don't see why! the context in which he puts the statement clearly indicates that he wants to point out this is the way Africans part from their beloved ones. I can't imagine people behaving that way in America, Europe, Asia, Australia, although I may be wrong. But I fail to see where he insults anybody. I think this is a great article!

  • 40 From Belloc - 11/12/2013, 17:04
    Respect for the dead has nothing to do with this. The dead communist Mandela deserves no more public decorum than the burnt corpse of Goebbels. It's about the tastelessness of two middle age clowns in positions of responsibility going ga-ga over a hottie, and one of them in front of his wife. It might be Africa, but in America not to mention Britain, such buffoonish behavior on such an occasion is deemed disrespectful and juvenile. And Obama is after all American...isn't he?

    Verne: So, the ballots are in -- a scattered few hanging chads, but aside from that natural deficiency, it's clear who's thinking what.

    And what do I think? Well, I think that, if we can't agree on stuff like this, let's see what the U.N. can do with the issue. Check that. They haven't done anything with any issue. Looks like we're still stuck.

    But I do think Obama showed disrespect for Mandela -- based on normal, acceptable behavior at a memorial service in America, Great Britain, or Denmark. Which is where I feel comfortable. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

New aggressive strain of HIV discovered -- develops into AIDS more quickly
Verne Strickland / Blogmaster / Nov 29 2013
  • HIV CDC.jpg
    Scanning electron micrograph of HIV-1 budding from cultured lymphocyte. The multiple round bumps on cell surface represent sites of assembly and budding of virions. (
Researchers have discovered a new, more aggressive strain of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that develops into AIDS much more quickly than other strains, Medical News Today reported.

In a new study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, scientists detailed the new strain as a “recombinant” virus – a hybrid of two virus strains. Called A3/02 – a cross between the 02AG and A3 viruses – the strain can develop into AIDS in just five years after first infection – one of the shortest time periods for HIV-1 types.

"Recombinants seem to be more vigorous and more aggressive than the strains from which they developed,” said first author Angelica Palm, a doctoral candidate at Lund University in Sweden.

So far, the A3/02 strain has only been seen in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa, but other studies have shown that recombinants are spreading more quickly across the globe.

"HIV is an extremely dynamic and variable virus. New subtypes and recombinant forms of HIV-1 have been introduced to our part of the world, and it is highly likely that there are a large number of circulating recombinants of which we know little or nothing,” said senior author Patrik Medstran, professor of clinical virology at Lund University. “We therefore need to be aware of how the HIV-1 epidemic changes over time."

Coming soon to a population center near you. 

Monday, November 25, 2013


Verne Strickland / Blogmaster / Nov 25 2013

Nebraska Golf Card withdrew sponsorship because golfer “believes he has been forgiven for past indiscretions by a mystical power who lives in the clouds.”

An appreciation for Glenn Beck, Ted Cruz and a well-known Bible verse appears to be the main reasons an aspiring professional golfer was abruptly cut off from his main source of income by his sponsor.

The golfer’s name is Jeff Cochran and until a few weeks ago, it appeared that he may have finally gotten the big break that would help him achieve his goal of having a shot to play on golf’s elite PGA tour. 

Cochran claims he was contracted in January by Virginia-based businessman Brian McMahon to help promote Nebraska Golf Card (NGC), a budding promotional operation that says it’s “designed to give golfers reduced rates and access to private clubs.”

Author’s note: Golf Card International is not affiliated with Nebraska Golf Card.
After playing most of the year for Nebraska Golf Card, Cochran alleged his sponsorship was abruptly terminated. The initial reason given seemed quite surprising — his support for Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz; Cruz’s father, Raphael; and Glenn Beck — but faith, and specifically a Bible verse, also played a big part in the termination of the contract.

The verse in question? Philippians 4:13, which reads, ” I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Pro Golfer Jeff Cochran Loses Sponsorship Because He Likes Glenn Beck, Ted Cruz and God

This is how Jeff Cochran’s favorite Bible verse appears on all of his golf bags.
In late October, Cochran, his agent David Reynolds and NGC’s Brian McMahon both claim they were at a dinner and the conversation turned to Cruz. Cochran says he praised Cruz and his father, Raphael, mentioning that he had seen the elder Cruz on an episode of “The Glenn Beck Program.”

Cochran told TheBlaze that his sponsor was taken aback by this statement and was also troubled by the fact that his business associate was a fan of Beck. Following his pro-Cruz statement, Cochran said McMahon asked him, ”Would you be willing to give up our support to stand with that wackjob (Beck)?” Cochran answered “yes” and said the dinner continued without any additional tension or drama.

But the next morning, Cochran’s agent said, he received an email from NGC announcing that it was pulling all financial and product support from Cochran.

Pro Golfer Jeff Cochran Loses Sponsorship Because He Likes Glenn Beck, Ted Cruz and God
Image source: David Reynolds

The email, a copy of which was provided to TheBlaze, demanded immediate return of all equipment and that Cochran stop using their logo as well. The initial email from McMahon to Cochran’s agent was quite specific as to the reason for the split (emphasis added):
David, I have never had an issue with you or really Jeff for that matter, but this situation is very disturbing. I have been tolerant of his religious views and even supported his off course speaking. However, I just can’t allow my company to be associated with these radical political views. The idea that Jeff would line up with the likes of Glenn Beck or Ted Cruz or any other individual interested in destroying America, just isn’t something I can swallow.
Cochran and Reynolds said they immediately complied with the demand and returned the equipment, they told TheBlaze. That quick response triggered the email thank-you from McMahon shown below, but that note also contained a few parting shots (emphasis added).

“I looked up the verse Jeff put on the bag and had to laugh,” the email said. ”How can someone so smart be so gullible? The idea of trusting or believing that someone has control over your future is the definition of insanity. I will continue to trust people I’ve actually met and trust to help chart my course.”

Pro Golfer Jeff Cochran Loses Sponsorship Because He Likes Glenn Beck, Ted Cruz and God

Image source: David Reynolds
McMahon’s email continued (emphasis added): “Tell Jeff if he ever decides to relinquish these childish and uneducated views, we might be willing to renew our relationship.” He ended the email, “In me I trust, Brian.”
It was shortly after the second email was sent that Cochran and his agent reached out to TheBlaze.
“Believes he has been forgiven for past indiscretions by a mystical power who lives in the clouds.”

TheBlaze was in the process of investigating the story, exchanging emails with Cochran and his agent and establishing a timeline of the events, when we received an unsolicited email from McMahon of NGC (from the same email address that sent the emails to Cochran’s address).

McMahon did not mince his words and almost immediately attacked TheBlaze, writing, “I spent a little time on your website this morning and you should be ashamed of what you’ve created.”

He didn’t hold back, mocking Cochran for listening to Beck: “Jeff is the perfect target for someone like Beck. He believes he has been forgiven for past indiscretions by a mystical power who lives in the clouds, so why wouldn’t he be gullible (sic) enough for the Tea Baggers.”

The email closed with a particularly angry and personal attack on Beck (emphasis added): “He is a lousy drunk who should be led to the nearest border, given a big toss and told to never return. And if he hates the government as much as he says, that should be a welcome event for him too.”

Friday, November 15, 2013

Muslim Saveeda Warsi / British Parliament: Christian minorities 'endangered' in Middle East

Verne Strickland / Blogmaster / Nov 16 2013 16, 2013 at 12:12am  BBC

Christianity is at risk of extinction in some parts of the world due to growing persecution of minority communities, a Muslim minister has warned.
Baroness Warsi said Christians were in danger of being driven out of countries, such as Syria and Iraq, where the religion first took root.

Syria's civil war and the instability in Iraq has seen many leave.
Baroness Warsi said politicians had a duty to speak out against persecution and appeal for religious tolerance.

In a speech at Georgetown University in Washington DC, the foreign officer minister - who also has responsibility for faith communities - said one in ten Christians were living in countries where they were in a minority.

Baroness Warsi

Full title  The Rt Hon. the Baroness Warsi

Name  Sayeeda Warsi

Party/group Conservative, British Parliament

'Seen as other'

She told that the BBC that in some cases, Christians were being targeted for "collective punishment" by majority groups in retaliation for what they perceive as the injustices committed by Western powers.

"I am concerned that the birthplace of Christianity, those parts of the world where Christianity first spread, is now seeing large sections of the Christian community leaving and those that are remaining feeling persecuted," she told Radio 4's 'Today'.

"Tragically, what's happening is they are being seen as newcomers, being portrayed as an 'other' within that society, even though they have existed there for many, many centuries," she said.

The Conservative peer said Christians were seen as "legitimate targets" over the perceived actions of their co-religionists.

"This concept of collective punishment and them being seen as agents of the West or agents of regimes is wrong," she added.

"We need to speak out and raise this with the countries where this is happening."
Religious pluralism made countries stronger in a whole variety of ways, she said, from broadening the range of educational opportunities to injecting economic dynamism.

'Political will'

Baroness Warsi, who was Britain's first female Muslim cabinet minister said she had already had "very frank conversations" with ministers in Pakistan, telling them senior politicians must set a standard for tolerance.

"Politicians do have a responsibility to set the tone, to mark out legal parameters as to what will and will not be tolerated."

She added: "There's an international consensus, in the form of a Human Rights Council resolution on the treatment of minorities and tolerance towards other faiths. But we need to build political will behind that.

"Of course there have been moments when religious communities have been in conflict, but there have also been great moments of co-existence between faiths. There isn't an intrinsic clash between different faiths."

The minister has previously warned about the dangers of "militant secularisation" in the UK.

The leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales said he agreed that the very existence of Christianity was under threat in some parts of the Middle East.
"There are real challenges for Christians in this part of the world to support and get alongside them and also for politicians to understand that the presence of Christians is a great mediating factor, often for example between different segments of Islam," the Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols told 'Today'.
  • Verne Strickland

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Democrats are Racist. How Long Will the Black Community Put Up With This?

  Verne Strickland / Blogmaster / Nov 13 2013

Democrats want to keep young Black, and poor White, Children trapped in failing Government/Public schools. They oppose School Choice programs that would allow young Blacks, and poor Whites, from getting better educations. Democrats keep lying how they are all about “Choice” until it comes to actually giving you any real Choices.

JLenardDetroit (Diary)  |   | 

When will the Black Community tell the Democrats to STOP insulting them? When will they recognize the Democrat Party lies?

Four Points…

Democrats want large numbers of Abortions within the Black Community as a means of suppression and control. Democrats always proclaim that they want CHOICE but Abortion to be SAFE AND RARE. Democrats claim Republicans want to make Abortion illegal. Let’s examine these LIES.
Republicans controlled the House, the Senate, and the Presidency under George W. Bush – did they at any time attempt to make Abortion illegal? NO. Did they at any time attempt to infringe on Abortion Rights? NO! Republicans control the House, Senate, and Governorship of several States – have they, in any of them, moved to make Abortion illegal? Again, NO!
Democrats want Abortion to be SAFE AND RARE. Texas, and other States, demonstrates that LIE! Texas has moved to make Abortions SAFE, and to protect Women’s Health, by requiring Abortionists to have admitting privileges/rights at a local Hospital. Have they attempted to make Abortions illegal? NO! Democrats have fought these Common Sense PROTECTIONS FOR WOMEN and want Abortion to be available ANYWHERE AT ANY TIME by anyone with a Coat-hanger to perform them.

Democrats continually tell the Black Community that their children are inferior and just too stupid to make it on their own. They insist you need Democrats and their Affirmative Action policies. Democrats want to keep young Black, and poor White, Children trapped in failing Government/Public schools. They oppose School Choice programs that would allow young Blacks, and poor Whites, from getting better educations. Democrats keep lying how they are all about “Choice” until it comes to actually giving you any real Choices.
Republicans wish to do something about the continued decline of Education in America. Democrats want to continue to dumb down everyone, generation by generation.

 How many times are people going to continue to allow Democrats to call the Black Community STUPID AND LAZY?
Democrats say they have to oppose Voter Id because Blacks are (too stupid and/or lazy and) incapable of getting a Free Id. Republicans treat you with the dignity and respect to know that most Blacks already have Ids and that others are more than intelligent enough and capable of obtaining them and that Programs can, could, and should be created by non-profit “Get Out The Vote” Groups to assist the poor and/or anyone else that does not already have one and get them to a DMV office for their FREE ID.

Democrats are for Gun Control in the Urban Communities and keeping Blacks from being able to protect themselves in their own homes. Democrats want you to continue to be victims of Crime while they continue to be, and appoint Judges who are, soft on Criminals.
The Democrats LIE. Republicans and TEA Party members are constantly being accused of being Racist just for opposing bad policies of Barack Obama that has disproportionally effected the Black Community – higher unemployment, more people becoming poor not less, etc. It’s time to ask yourself, given the FACTS and positions of the Parties – Who are the real Racists?!?!?! Republicans focus on POLICIES and EQUALITY while Democrats obsess over Obama’s Race. Republicans insist Obama be treated EQUAL to other Presidents, while Democrats insist that because he is Black he must be treated differently — THAT IS RACIST!

When will the DENIAL end?
See related: Liberals’ Religion is Government – their motto: Separation FROM Church TO State – at: