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Thursday, February 7, 2013

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Today in History

457   A Thracian officer by the name of Leo is proclaimed as emperor of the East by the army general, Aspar, on the death of the Emperor Marcian.
1668   The Netherlands, England and Sweden conclude an alliance directed against Louis XIV of France.
1783   The Siege of Gibraltar, which was pursued by the Spanish and the French since July 24, 1779, is finally lifted.
1818   The first successful U.S. educational magazine, Academician, begins publication in New York City.
1882   American pugilist John L. Sullivan becomes the last of the bare-knuckle world heavyweight champions with his defeat of Patty Ryan in Mississippi City.
1913   The Turks lose 5,000 men in a battle with the Bulgarian army in Gallipoli.
1915   Fieldmarshal Paul von Hindenburg moves on Russians at Masurian Lakes.
1917   The British steamer California is sunk off the coast of Ireland by a German U-boat.
1926   Negro History Week, originated by Carter G. Woodson, is observed for the first time.
1928   The United States signs an arbitration treaty with France.
1931   Amelia Earhart weds George Putnam in Connecticut.
1944   The Germans launch a second attack against the Allied beachead at Anzio, Italy. They hoped to push the Allies back into the sea.
1950   The United States recognizes Vietnam under the leadership of Emperor Bao Dai, not Ho Chi Minh who is recognized by the Soviets.
1963   The Mona Lisa is put on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
1964   The British band The Beatles are greeted by 25,000 fans upon their arrival in the United States at JFK Airport.
1965   U.S. jets hit Don Hoi guerrilla base in reprisal for the Viet Cong raids.
1968   North Vietnamese use 11 Soviet-built light tanks to overrun the U.S. Special Forces camp at Lang Vei at the end of an 18-hour long siege.
1978   Ethiopia mounts a counter attack against Somalia.
1983   Iran opens an invasion in the southeast of Iraq.

Non Sequitur


Eric Cantor Re-brands the repugican cabal by Plagiarizing a 2011 Obama Speech

A side by side video comparison reveals that phrases and ideas in Eric Cantor’s speech rebranding the repugican cabal were plagiarized from a 2011 speech by President Obama.
Al Sharpton caught Cantor’s plagiarism. Check out the video:

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There were at least three specific phrases and ideas that Cantor lifted from Obama’s 2011 speech in Kansas.
Obama called for every American to have a fair shot at success, “Well, it starts by making sure that everyone in America gets a fair shot at success. The truth is we’ll never be able to compete with other countries when it comes to who’s best at letting their businesses pay the lowest wages, who’s best at busting unions, who’s best at letting companies pollute as much as they want.”
Cantor used the exact same term today, “Our goal – to ensure every American has a fair shot at earning their success and achieving their dreams. In America, we do have higher expectations for our nation. Since our founding, we believed we could be the best hope to mankind. That hope led generations of immigrants to risk everything, to endure a tough journey to our shores, looking for a better future.”
Obama spoke about innovation, “The world is shifting to an innovation economy and nobody does innovation better than America. Nobody does it better. No one has better colleges. Nobody has better universities. Nobody has a greater diversity of talent and ingenuity. No one’s workers or entrepreneurs are more driven or more daring. ”
Cantor also spoke about innovation, “A good education leads to more innovation. Throughout our history, American colleges and universities have served as the crucible for the world’s innovation. They are a big part of why the United States remains the destination for the world’s best and brightest. Investment in education leads to innovation, which leads to more opportunity and jobs for all.”
Obama talked about the need for skills and training, “We should be giving people the chance to get new skills and training at community colleges so they can learn how to make wind turbines and semiconductors and high-powered batteries.”
Cantor also talked about the need for skills and training, “As job markets are changing, more skills training and education are needed. Federal jobs training programs ought to make it easier for Americans who are out of work or who are changing careers to get the skills they need.”
Plagiarism is defined as, “An act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author’s work as one’s own, as by not crediting the original author.”
It is clear that Eric Cantor plagiarized the president’s thoughts and language, but it goes much deeper than that.
Cantor plagiarized Obama’s speech with the intention of co-opting the president’s language. Eric Cantor wanted to attach the same stale repugican ideas to the language of Obama. A side by side comparison of the two speeches reveals the hollowness of this technique. Obama’s speech followed the language with examples and policy proposals. Eric Cantor’s speech was full of attempts to relate to the common man and families, but specific ideas were mostly missing. This omission was intentional. Cantor is only interested in changing the tone of the repugican cabal, not the policies.
Majority Leader Cantor thinks that America will support the same repugican policies that have been rejected for years if he adopts Barack Obama’s uplifting language.
Despite crediting the original author in his other speeches and remarks, Joe Biden was accused of plagiarism in 1988. These allegations forced Biden from the presidential race that year, and haunted him for years to come. If Biden committed plagiarism in 1988, Eric Cantor engaged in flat out theft.
Eric Cantor is the perfect example of the idiom, “If you can’t beat them, steal their language, attach your lousy ideas to it, and hope nobody notices.”

Hiding Behind the Latest repugican Reboot is the Same Protect the Rich Agenda

A repugican by any re-branding is still pushing education cuts, Medicare privatization, cuts to Medicaid, safety net cuts, and the vaunted "tax reforms" to benefit corporations…

Harvard Cantor
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” is an oft-quoted phrase from William Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, and it is Juliet arguing that names of things do not matter, only what things are, and it is apropos to repugicans and their re-branding efforts since the November election. It hardly matters the repugican cabal promises to smile more, stop saying rape, or welcome minorities with open arms, The repugicans have not changed one iota regardless their warm and fuzzy new image. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor took his turn yesterday espousing the all-encompassing altruism of the new family-oriented repugican cabal during a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, and he urged his repugican cohorts to embrace wingnut delusions while standing up for regular Americans.
Cantor characterized repugicans as the cabal to help all Americans reclaim what he termed “American values” and then contradicted himself by conflating them with “conservative principles.” Cantor portrayed a philanthropic repugican cabal working to ensure “every American has a fair shot at earning their success and achieving their dreams,” but when he stressed that repugican “solutions will be based on the conservative principles of self-reliance, faith in the individual, trust in the family, and accountability in government,” it was obvious it was the same repugican cabal that worked feverishly to destroy the American Dream and block every possibility Americans have at a fair shot at earning success and achieving their dreams.
It did not take a policy analyst to determine Cantor proposed (without specifics) dyed-in the-wool wingnut dogma dressed up as a Barack Obama speech, but sounding compassionate and promising to “improve the lives of the most vulnerable” is not going to convince many Americans the repugican cabal has any intention of helping them achieve the American dream, or economic success. A repugican by any re-branding is still a nasty fiscal wingnut pushing education cuts, Medicare privatization, cuts to Medicaid, safety net cuts, and the vaunted “tax reforms” The repugicans prize to benefit corporations and the wealthy. Cantor’s promise to restrain Washington from interfering in the pursuits of health, happiness and prosperity for more Americans and their families is a favorite repugican campaign promise, and some of the examples he cited were standard fare during the 2012 campaign.
On education, Cantor derided failing public schools disadvantaged children are assigned to, and touted charter, private, and preparatory schools as an option in a nod to shifting public school funding to the private sector, and failed to mention the Ryan budget called for $2.7 billion in cuts for disadvantaged students. He also indicated an unmet demand for jobs in the healthcare industry, but focused on providing skills “necessary to fill the jobs in the booming natural gas industry” by promising Republicans will “fix the way we subsidize education” which they attempted by voting to eliminate Pell Grants for more than one million students.
On healthcare, altruistic Eric claimed “ObamaCare unnecessarily raised the costs of our health care” and claimed “even those who have pre-existing conditions could get the coverage they need without a trillion dollar government program costing us all more.” He asserted President Obama’s healthcare reform law resulted in higher premiums and costs for families, and made access to quality health care tougher. The new  repugican idea to “reverse this trend” of higher healthcare and health insurance costs is “by choosing to repeal the new taxes that are increasing the costs of health care and health insurance.” The repugicans have voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act 34 times thus far, and regardless the “new” emphasis on helping the most vulnerable Americans, it is the same repugican attempt to deny 30 million Americans affordable healthcare insurance.
Cantor’s address was little more than encouragement for other repugicans to portray the party as looking out for regular Americans to repair the repugican brand while still embracing wingnut delusions tilted in favor of the rich and detrimental to the masses. If a person had no knowledge of repugican policies, or their record of inflicting damage on low and middle income Americans, they would marvel at the philanthropic nature of the repugican cabal and their altruistic vision for every American. However, after four straight years of obstruction and cuts to education, safety nets, Medicare, and attacks on the middle class, it will take more than words to convince the American people that the new compassionate repugican agenda is any different than the old Draconian repugican agenda when repugicans in the House and Senate are still pursuing the same policies Americans rejected in November.
Talk is cheap, and the repugican cabal is all talk and absolutely no action in helping any American except the wealthy and their corporations, and repugicans began the 113th Congress where they left off in the last session with no intention of changing course regardless the pretty speeches and self-portrayals of compassion for the people. The repugicans have nothing but contempt for the masses, and their legislative agenda is really all the proof the people need, and although some repugican whack-job believe Cantor is exhibiting leadership “with positive visions and alternatives to put forward,” it is still President Obama’s vision the repugican cabal is fighting desperately to derail, and the American people are not buying it for a second.
The repugicans do have an opportunity to repair their brand, but they are stuck with solutions “based on conservative principles of self-reliance, faith in the individual, trust in the family, and accountability in government” which are code for you’re on your own, christian family values, and cutting government. Shakespeare was right; “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” and repugicans by any other name, whether it is compassionate, caring, or concerned, are still founded in principles to hurt the people, and no amount of re-branding or compassionate rhetoric will change that.

The NRA Is so Toxic that Their Support Will Lose Elections for repugicans

According to a new PPP poll, the NRA’s position on gun control has become so toxic that voters view NRA support as a reason not to support a candidate
The latest PPP survey, found that 39% say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who had the NRA’s support to just 26% who say they’d be more likely to, with 32% saying it wouldn’t influence them one way or the other. Among independents 41% consider an NRA endorsement to be a turn off to 27% who say it’s a plus.”
The NRA strategy of trying to stop gun control through a combination of fear-mongering and threats appears to be backfiring. Despite Wayne LaPierre’s best efforts to both misinform and frighten, 53% of voters support stricter gun laws, while 39% are opposed. This is the same result as last month’s 53%/40% split. Fifty one percent of voters support an assault weapons ban. Forty two percent oppose. Surprisingly, 26% of repugican support banning assault weapons. It seems tht the impact of the Newtown shooting is stronger than the NRA’s propaganda push back.
These numbers suggest that the once coveted NRA endorsement may become a political liability in future elections. Candidates could actually lose elections because the NRA supported them. Judging from the fact that the NRA lost $17 million backing losing candidates demonstrates that their money doesn’t go as far as it used to either. (The NRA managed to lose $3.4 million on six repugicans Senate candidates who all lost, and they flushed another $11.7 million down the drain supporting Mitt Romney.)
For the last 20 years, 83% of the NRA’s political donations went to repugicans. In 2012, the NRA got even more partisan by making 89% of their donations to Republicans. The NRA may still be effective in red state congressional districts where their membership is high, but much like the repugican cabal, the organization is marginalizing itself by taking positions that are out of step with the nation as a whole. (The political pitfalls that come with an NRA endorsement should give the few Democrats that the organization supports cause for concern.)
Wayne LaPierre’s increasingly crazed television appearances are hurting the NRA. The gun lobby has tried every trick in the book to try to beat back the popular tide of gun control, but instead of halting the pro-gun control cause, the NRA may be destroying itself.

Bernie Sanders Exposes the Dirty Secret that a Few Wealthy People Control Congress

Bernie Sanders has spilled the beans on Congress. Sen. Sanders said, “The Congress of the United States of America is controlled by a handful of extraordinarily wealthy people and corporations.”
Tavis: To your point about Citizens United, one of the ways that we might push back on this money being the mother’s milk of all of our politics notion, one of the way to push back on that would be some real, some serious, campaign finance reform.
There was hope back in the day that the president might eventually get around to that, but both he and Romney, you know, just played by the rules the last time around. So the politics get flooded with $6 billion, $8 billion dollars of money into these various pots. So it raises this question. What evidence do you because I don’t see any as yet?
What evidence do you see that this president this time around is serious? I’ve not heard him in any interviews say anything about campaign finance reform as one of his priorities. How do we get to that if this president, with all the money he raised, won’t ever put campaign finance reform on the table?
Sanders: Well, Tavis, you’re raising exactly the right questions and the answers are difficult. To my mind, the only way we move this country, number one, in overturning Citizens United, number two, moving the public funding of elections, is through a very, very strong grassroots movement that gives the president an offer and members of Congress an offer they can’t refuse. People have got to understand that the issue in Congress is not what the media talks about on why can’t Democrats and repugicans get along.
That is not the issue. The issue is that, to a very significant degree, the Congress of the United States of America is controlled by a handful of extraordinarily wealthy people and corporations, Wall Street being at the top of that list. And unless we address that issue, I fear very much for the middle class. I fear very much for our kids, for low income people and for seniors.
Give you just one example, one example. You have this business round table which is the organization representing the CEOs of major corporations in America. These guys, without exception, make huge amounts of money.
Some of them are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. All of them have these great retirement packages that the average American could not even dream of. Couple of weeks ago, they made an announcement that it is their view that we should raise the Social Security age to 70 and the Medicare eligibility age to 70 as well.
Can you conceive of the arrogance of these people who are at the top one-tenth of one percent of the income stratum telling working families that, before they can collect Social Security, they got to be 70, before they can get Medicare? So all of this is about the continuation of a class warfare being perpetrated by people who have incredible wealth, incredible power. Citizens United makes it even worse.
And at the end of the day, unless we have a strong grassroots political movement which says, excuse me, we’re not going to maintain this incredibly unequal distribution of wealth and income in America. Excuse me, the United States government is supposed to represent all of the people, our kids and the elderly and workers, not just billionaires. Until we have that movement, I doubt very much that you’re going to see the kind of political changes in Washington that we need.
It is a not a stretch of the imagination to assume that the few wealthy people who control Congress are many of the same individuals who were on Sanders’ list of the 26 billionaires who tried to buy the 2012 election. Sen. Sanders was correct. The way to take back our elections is to get all of the special interest money out of politics.
The reason why the repugicans who control the House can blatantly ignore the will of majority of Americans is because the American people aren’t their constituency. The only constituents that matter to House Republicans are those right wing billionaires and corporations who keep the campaign coffers full.
If you want to get rid of ALEC, the Koch brothers, and the over sized political influence of the wealthy, public financing of our elections is the way to do it. The American people are frustrated by a paralyzed Congress, but they don’t seem to understand why Congress is stuck. Members of Congress mouth all sorts of platitudes and cliches about the democracy and the American people at election time, but in our current political system campaign donations matter more than people.
Sen. Sanders destroyed the illusion that Congress works for the people. The current Congress works for no one, but their donors. The needs of the people come last in this Congress, and Bernie Sanders was not afraid to tell you why.

US files $5bn lawsuit against S&P for role in 2008 economic meltdown

The US government has filed a $5bn lawsuit against S&P for its role in the 2008 economic meltdown.From Bloomberg:
Standard & Poor’s employees joked about the company’s willingness to rate deals “structured by cows” and sang and danced to a mock song inspired by “Burning Down the House” before the 2008 global financial collapse, according to a U.S. government lawsuit.
Two S&P analysts in April 2007 discussed the company’s model for collateralized debt obligations, with one messaging that a deal was “ridiculous” and that S&P “should not be rating it,” according to the complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Los Angeles….
The U.S. claims S&P, driven by a desire to increase revenue and market share, defrauded investors as it issued ratings on mortgage products while ignoring market risks.
“We rate every deal,” the other analyst said in an instant message, according to the government filing. “It could be structured by cows and we would rate it.”
To be fair to Standard & Poor’s, what could possibly be funnier and more of a knee-slapper than playing a role in the destruction of the global economy? Hysterical, isn’t it? Millions of jobs gone and trillions of dollars lost. My stomach hurts I’m laughing so hard. Oh those jokesters who propped up Wall Street.
Standard & Poor's
If only it weren’t so accurate. But of course, back then they were all making money and laughing their way to the bank. “Ratings” have been a big joke for years, whether it’s “buy” or “sell” ratings by Wall Street brokers or these pathetic excuses for serious ratings by agencies like S&P.
When Washington decides that it’s not going to treat these issues seriously, why the people they’re (not) regulating care?
Wall Street has gotten away with spinning BS for so long, it probably don’t even know what the truth is anymore. Just look at the whitewashes done by the big accounting firms and tell me they’re any more accurate or grounded in reality.
It’s all fun and games, until it’s not.  More on the lawsuit against S&P, from CNBC:
The U.S. government is seeking more than $5 billion in a civil lawsuit against Standard & Poor’s and parent McGraw-Hill over mortgage-bond ratings, Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday, marking the first federal enforcement action against a credit rating agency over alleged illegal behavior tied to the recent financial crisis.
Holder said at a news conference that S&P misled investors, causing them to lose billions, and that its ratings were affected by “significant conflicts of interests.” He said that while analysts raised red flags as early as 2003, S&P executives ignored questions about ratings.
In the filing Monday, the government said: “Considerations regarding fees, market share, profits, and relationships with issuers improperly influenced S&P’s rating criteria and models.”
The worst part about all of this is that as guilty as any of the ratings agencies may be, it’s child’s play compared to the likes of the big players on Wall Street. The ratings agencies are just the schmucks who couldn’t get jobs with the banks. Bootlickers, certainly, but hardly those most responsible for the crash. If they’re found guilty of rating trash as though it were platinum, don’t be surprised, but they’re still bait-fish compared to who was really cooking up garbage.
Wall Street 
If you think there will be any day of reckoning for the one that got away, think again. After doing numerous fund-raisers for Obama and countless other Democrats, plus being invited to the White House even today to speak as an honored guest and export on jobs in America, Goldman’s Lloyd Blankfein and the rest of Wall Street are much too deeply entrenched in DC politics to let anything like that ever happen.
But hey, a bait-fish is on the line, ready to be reeled in. It could be worse, they may have never even tried to catch the little guys like S&P. We should consider ourselves lucky, because this may be as good as it gets.

Did you know ...

That Tim Geithner saved wall street, not the economy

Here's some stats on guns and domestic violence

That nearly one half of Americans are one financial shock away from poverty

That cash leaking out of 401(k) plans at an alarming rate

Shrinking U.S. labor unions see relief in marijuana industry

A marijuana starter plant is for sale at a medical marijuana dispensary in Seattle, Washington, in this November 20, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante/Files  
The medical marijuana shop next to a tattoo parlor on a busy street in Los Angeles looks much like hundreds of other pot dispensaries that dot the city. Except for one thing: On the glass door - under a green cross signaling that cannabis can be bought there for medical purposes - is a sticker for the United Food and Commercial Workers union (UFCW), the nation's largest retail union.
The dispensary, the Venice Beach Care Center, is one of three medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles that are staffed by dues-paying union members. Another 49 in the city plan to enter into labor agreements with the UFCW this year, the union says.
Together, the dispensaries are a symbol of the growing bond between the nascent medical marijuana industry and struggling labor unions.
During the last few years, unions, led by the UFCW, have played an increasingly significant role in campaigns to allow medical marijuana, now legal in California, 17 other states and Washington, D.C.
In the November elections, UFCW operatives also helped get-out-the-vote efforts in Colorado, where voters approved a measure that made possession of one ounce (28.3 grams) or less of the drug legal for anyone 21 and older. Washington state approved a similar measure and both states require regulation of marijuana growers, processors and retailers.
Union officials acknowledge that their support stems partly from the idea that the marijuana industry could create hundreds of thousands of members at a time when overall union membership is shrinking.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last month that union members - who accounted for 11.8 percent of the workforce in 2011 - now make up about 11.3 percent of all American workers, the lowest percentage in nearly a century.
Retail unions such as the UFCW are fighting the rise of part-time workers and a steady drop in real wages over the last two generations. Organized labor also has been under pressure from Republican governors such as Wisconsin's Scott Walker, who led an effort to curb collective bargaining rights for public workers in that state.
Union officials say there are now 3,000 UFCW members who work in the cannabis industry, a tiny fraction of the union's 1.3 million members.
Industry advocates acknowledge that the legal marijuana industry's potential to produce jobs is difficult to project. One reason: uncertainty over how the U.S. government will deal with an industry whose product is illegal under federal law but increasingly accepted by state laws.
Since Colorado and Washington state voted to legalize marijuana on November 6, President Barack Obama has said his administration will not pursue recreational pot users in those states.
However, the president has not said whether the U.S. government will allow widespread sales of the drug that would be legal under some state laws but not federal law.
Despite such uncertainty, the marijuana industry's growth potential intrigues unions and retailers, among others.
An analysis by Sea Change Strategies, a research firm for non-profit organizations, estimated that the medical marijuana market could grow to $8.9 billion by 2016.
A study by Washington state's Office of Financial Management said legalization could result in $1 billion in sales per year in the state, which is home to about 2 percent of the U.S. population.
For people like Dan Rush, who leads the UFCW's cannabis division, the numbers hint at big things to come for the marijuana industry.
"Since Election Day, we've had a rush to join the union" in states where marijuana is sold legally, said Rush, who has become a key player in the union's efforts to promote the legal use of the drug. "I can't keep up," he said. "That's a direct result of the best poll in the world being Election Day."
Rush said that if the industry expands, as he and others hope, it would support jobs across the country, from growers to truck drivers to carpenters to retail clerks.
The scale of the business could rival that of a major U.S. crop or the alcohol industry, according to UFCW officials who estimate that 100,000 workers could be added to their union in California alone.
By joining a union, marijuana workers could have more sway in pressing for higher pay and benefits such as healthcare.
Unlike business owners in other industries who typically view unions warily, some legal marijuana retailers welcome the prospect of a unionized workforce - for now, at least.
Marijuana retailers have invited the UFCW into their shops. They think the union could give legitimacy to their business and support against competitors who, the retailers say, undercut the industry's standing by operating outside the law.
"It's the difference between being - I hate to use the term - but a street dealer and being a legitimate business operator," said Brennan Thicke, 38, one of the founders of the Venice Beach Care Center.
Other marijuana business owners aren't as enthusiastic about unions being involved with their enterprises.
Perhaps the toughest staging ground for the UFCW's marijuana efforts has been Colorado, where an individualistic spirit guides many of those who have tried to get a toehold in the medical marijuana business.
The retailers there say they are conflicted - grateful for the legitimacy that labor's involvement could bring their businesses, but worried that the support could undermine the already shaky financial footing of their small operations.
One marijuana business owner in Denver said he considered aligning with the UFCW but eventually backed away. He said he was worried that having a union shop would hurt the value of his business by driving up employment costs.
"Colorado isn't a big union state anyway," said the owner, who asked not to be identified. "I was surprised that they put so much focus and money in here in the first place."
The UFCW's Rush, a thick-shouldered 52-year-old with a laugh turned to gravel by Lucky Strike cigarettes, is based in Oakland.
The city became a major hub for medical marijuana after California became the first state to allow marijuana for medical treatment 17 years ago. Marijuana is prescribed as a pain reliever for a range of maladies.
Cannabis businesses, Rush said, have helped to revitalize the downtown and have put millions of dollars in tax revenue into Oakland's coffers.
He recalled that when the union was deciding in 2009 whether to get involved with the legal marijuana industry, not everyone in the leadership was sold.
"It was a struggle," Rush said. "Folks were not ready to hear it."
Eventually, he helped to persuade enough labor leaders that the same union that organized Hostess bakery workers could represent people who made pot brownies.
"Whether it was semolina or cannabis, this happens to be where our industry is growing," said UFCW spokesperson Dawn Le.
A major goal of the union's marijuana effort involves Obama - who enjoyed broad union support in winning re-election in November - to stop federal crackdowns on pot dispensaries that are legal under state laws.
Last year, federal authorities in California targeted more than 200 medical marijuana businesses, including the first in the country to unionize, in a show of force that highlighted the gulf between federal and state marijuana laws.
Union leaders say they aim to help businesses navigate the difficult legal climate and pressure lawmakers for change.
In Los Angeles, UFCW Local 770 is pushing a ballot measure that would set zoning and safety standards for medical pot dispensaries. For years, police and residents have complained about the impact that less-than-reputable medical marijuana dispensaries have on some neighborhoods.
Dispensary workers and owners who have aligned themselves with the union say that some competitors undermine prices and security by flouting labor laws and avoiding taxes.
"I feel safer with the union around," said Ayrn Taylor, 23, an employee at the Venice Beach Care Center.
UFCW gathered enough signatures for a local ballot measure in May that would limit the number of dispensaries in Los Angeles to fewer than 130.
The 50-plus dispensaries with union ties would be allowed to stay in business, said Rigo Valdez, an organizing director with UFCW. One city councilman estimates there may be as many as 900 dispensaries now open in Los Angeles.
If the union-backed initiative is successful, it would put most of those dispensaries out of business and make the UFCW a dominant player in one of the nation's most important markets for legal marijuana sales.

Postal Service to end Saturday mail delivery

A United States Postal Service mailbox is seen in Manhasset ,New York August 1, 2012. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton  
The Postal Service is planning to drop Saturday delivery of first-class mail by August, a congressional source said on Wednesday.
The cash-strapped mail agency will still deliver packages, said the source, who is familiar with the matter but not authorized to speak on the record.
USPS spokesman Mark Saunders could not confirm the change, but said the agency would issue a news release on Wednesday.
The move is part of the mail carrier's larger effort to aggressively to cut costs amid rising use of email and the Internet as well as looming payments for future retiree's health benefits. USPS lost almost $16 billion last year.
The 237-year-old institution has already run into its legal borrowing limit and defaulted twice on required payments to the federal government.

Boy Scouts delay decision on admitting gays

This photo taken Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, shows a close up detail of a Boy Scout uniform worn by Brad Hankins, a campaign director for Scouts for Equality, as he responds questions during a news conference in front of the Boy Scouts of America headquarters in Irving, Texas. The Boy Scouts of America's policy excluding gay members and leaders could be up for a vote as soon as Wednesday, when the organization's national executive board meets behind closed doors under intense pressure from several sides. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)  
A decision on whether the Boy Scouts of America will keep its policy that excludes gay members and leaders will not be voted on until the organization's annual meeting in May, the national executive board said Wednesday.
Deron Smith, the BSA director of public relations, said the executive board will prepare a resolution to be voted on by the 1,400 voting members of the national council.
"After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America's National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy," Smith said in a statement.
The meeting will take place in May, 2013, in Grapevine, Texas.
BSA announced last week it was considering allowing troops to decide whether to allow gay membership. That news has placed a spotlight on executive board meetings that began Monday in Irving, Texas, where scouting headquarters is located.
BSA spokesman Deron Smith said last week that the board could take a vote Wednesday or decide to discuss the policy, but the organization would issue a statement either way. Otherwise, the board has remained silent, with reporters barred from the hotel where its meetings are taking place.

Bubble wrap saved falling construction worker

A construction worker was saved from serious injury or worse on Monday morning when he fell 30 feet off a building, but landed on bubble wrap, a spokesman for the Boston, Massachusetts Fire Department said.

The 38-year-old worker fell from the building which is under construction with scaffolding wrapped in bubble wrap.

The worker fell into a pile of the wrap on the ground. Boston firefighters said the man was stuck and needed to be cut from the bubble wrap.

The man, who was not identified, suffered back and shoulder injuries and required hospital treatment.

Alcohol + diet drinks may increase intoxication

An individual’s breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) following alcohol intake is influenced by several factors, including food. While it is known ...

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NYPD officer accused of plotting to kidnap and cook women 'hinted at eating wife'

Cannibal cop

Police officer Gilberto Valle, 28, allegedly talked about "girl meat" and discussed eating his wife during grisly online chats with a co-conspirator.
Cannibal cop: Gilberto Valle is accused of plotting to kidnap and eat women

Cannibal cop: Gilberto Valle is accused of plotting to kidnap and eat women

A New York police officer accused of plotting to kidnap, kill and eat women hinted in an online chat that his wife might have been on the menu.
Gilberto Valle, dubbed the ‘cannibal cop’, is believed to have kept a database of at least 100 women who he plotted to rape, kill and cook for Thanksgiving dinner.
The 28-year-old NYPD officer talked about eating “girl meat” in a grisly online chat with an alleged co-conspirator, according to federal prosecutors.
Federal Defender Julie Gatto requests bail for her client, New York City Police Officer Gilberto Valle

In the dock: An artist's impression shows Valle in court

 They said Valle told the other man, who claimed to be in India, that his "girlfriend" and his wife were both 25 years old, 5 feet 7 inches and 10 stones.
According to prosecutors, the other man asked if the wife was vegetarian and Valle said yes.
Prosecutors said the man told Valle her meat would be lower quality.
Police officer Gilberto Valle

Law enforcer: Valle was an NYPD officer in Harlem

Valle, from Queens, New York, is charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping and faces a maximum life sentence if found guilty.
His lawyers say he was merely fantasizing and intended no violence.
No women were actually harmed.

Six-year-old girl crashed mother’s BMW in bid to visit her dad

Several vehicles were damaged after a 6-year-old girl determined to get to her father, took her mother’s car for a joyride. According to emergency dispatchers, a 6-year-old girl took her mother’s BMW from their home shortly after 9 am on Sunday.

The girl intended to drive to Garfield to see her father, but struck several cars before coming to a stop near an intersection. Police say the girl took the car while her mother was asleep in their Lawrenceville, Georgia, home. No one was injured during her adventure, but several neighbors just barely made it out of the way.

“When she was coming toward me, I was like, ‘what is she doing?’” neighbor Rommie Hawkins said. “I couldn’t tell it was a young girl at the time, so I kind of just stepped behind the tree. She hit the curb here, then she took off and I was looking at her, that’s when I saw that she was a child and I was like, “stop, stop, stop.’”

But she didn’t stop, instead she continued up the street, hitting several parked cars. Eventually the girl lost control of the car and backed into a neighbor's yard and hit a pole. Hawkins ran over to check on the girl, who was not injured in the process. After the car stopped, police and the girl’s father showed up to take her home.

Man stole snake and left his son behind at pet expo

A man could be facing charges after police say he stole a snake at a pet expo and left his son behind. Exhibitors at State Fair Park in Wisconsin said they were just starting to pack up on Saturday night at the Great Lakes Pet Expo when the incident happened.

Cindy Steinle runs the reptile exhibit and said a volunteer was showing a corn snake to a boy when the boy's father walked off with the snake. "In the 20 years I've been doing education like this, we've never had someone steal an animal and leave a child behind," Steinle said. "He (the volunteer) had given the snake to the child to pet and to hold, and the child handed the snake off to his father and his father left, leaving his child behind."

Organizers said the snake is only worth about $40 so they were baffled by the theft. State Fair Park Police said they were able to track down the man and the snake. Police said when they found the man, he had a pillowcase on him that officers could see was squirming. Capt. Jim Bruno said that's how officers knew they had their man. "The pillowcase was moving, we pretty much knew we were zeroing in on what we were there for," Bruno said.

Officials said Child Services did get involved and the boy is back with his mother. "We didn't want the child in exchange for the snake so thankfully the child is back home and the snake is with us," Steinle said. State Fair Park Police said once they end their investigation, the case will go to the District Attorney's Office for possible charges.

Father and son built cannabis cave twelve feet beneath their garden

A father and son built a secret underground cannabis cave 12ft beneath their back garden – and hid the entrance under a paving stone. David Mundy, 54, spent hours digging out the den at the rear of his property on Barr Hill Avenue, Pendlebury, Lancashire, aided by son Anthony, 29. The pair were each sentenced at Manchester Crown Court to 15 week suspended jail sentences for production of a class B drug. They were also ordered to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work.

Now David Mundy has been ordered to pay back more than £13,000 he made from selling the drugs. A confiscation hearing was told that officers raided the family home in October 2011 after a tip-off - and discovered the underground entrance beneath the paving flag. To their amazement, they found concealed ladders leading down to the underground farm, running under the surface of the hillside on the East Lancashire Road. The cavern contained 17 plants worth more than £8,000.

The confiscation hearing was held on Monday under the Proceeds of Crime Act at Manchester Crown Court. It was found that Mundy had made £13,480 from his secret drug business. If he fails to repay the cash within six months he will be sent down for a year - and still owe the money. Detective Chief Inspector Dave Riddick, of Greater Manchester Police, said: "Mundy went to considerable lengths - quite literally - to keep his cannabis farm hidden.

"What we discovered was an underground drugs den housed within a storage unit, and must have taken him many hours to build, hours that should have been spent earning his money legitimately like the rest of us do. Thanks to Proceeds of Crime Act legislation, we are now able to ensure that people like Mundy cannot profit from their criminal endeavors. The message is clear: if you think you can bury your criminality underground, you are burying your head in the sand because we will find you and we will do everything we can to take away not only your liberty but also your illegally accumulated wealth."

French battle Mali rebels in Sahara, Tuaregs an issue

A Malian transports wood with a donkey cart on the road between Timbuktu and Douentza February 4, 2013. Picture taken February 4, 2013 REUTERS/Benoit Tessier 
French and Malian troops are fighting Islamist rebels in the Sahara outside northern Mali's biggest town, France's defense minister said on Wednesday, describing the desert campaign against al Qaeda as a "real war" that was far from won.
After driving the Islamists from north Mali's main towns with three weeks of air strikes and a lightning ground advance, France is now pursuing them in the remote northeast where pro-autonomy Tuaregs are pressing their own territorial claims.
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said French and Malian joint patrols were searching the scrubland outside the desert trading towns of Timbuktu and Gao. Gao residents said on Tuesday the town was hit by rebel rockets fired from the bush.
"There were clashes yesterday at Gao because from the moment where our forces, supported by the Malian forces, started undertaking missions and patrols around the towns we had taken, we encountered Jihadist groups that fought," Le Drian told Europe 1 radio.
"It's a real war," Le Drian said. "Every night now, even last night, the French forces are targeting and hitting the training centers and truck depots of the jihadist groups."
With just 4,000 ground troops in an area the size of Texas, France has appealed for the swift deployment of a U.N.-backed African military force (AFISMA) to help secure the region, but this has been slowed by lack of transport and equipment.
Paris has said it would start to draw down its own force in Mali from March.
French troops are cooperating with Tuareg pro-autonomy MNLA rebels who say they have occupied the remote northeastern town of Kidal and surrounding areas after the Islamist fighters fled French air strikes into the nearby Adrar des Ifoghas mountains.
The Tuaregs promised to help fight al Qaeda and its allies.
That on-ground cooperation, and France's public insistence that the MNLA should take part in negotiations on Mali's political future if it drops its demands for full independence for the north, is an irritant for Mali's troubled military.
Mali's armed forces are still smarting from their defeat in last year's northern Tuareg rebellion that triggered a coup in the capital Bamako and was later hijacked by Islamist jihadists.
Interim President Dioncounda Traore has offered talks to the MNLA if they do not seek full independence, and says he is aiming to hold national elections in the country by July 31.
"There will never, ever be a solution if you don't talk to the Tuaregs - but they are not homogenous," said Jeremy Keenan, a British anthropologist and expert on the Tuaregs.
"The MNLA is trying to give the picture that they are back in control and that they are the legitimate voice... This is their last-chance saloon," he told Reuters, adding Mali's Tuareg community was comprised of many shifting factions and loyalties.
France has said that several hundred Islamist fighters have been killed in its Operation Serval in Mali since it intervened dramatically on January 11 to turn back an Islamist column advancing southward toward the riverside capital Bamako.
The loose Islamist alliance that had occupied the north for 10 months groups al Qaeda's North African wing AQIM, a splinter group MUJWA and Mali's Ansar Dine movement, led by a former prominent Tuareg separatist turned Islamist Iyad Ag Ghaly.
France wants to restore stability to Mali and remove the threat of Islamists using it as a base to launch attacks in Africa and the West. The United States and European allies are supporting the mission with transport, logistics and surveillance but have said they will not furnish combat troops.
Paris argues a lasting peace in Mali hinges on political talks to reconcile the black African-dominated government in Bamako with the restive north, in particular the Tuaregs.
Positioning itself for talks, the MNLA said on Tuesday it had occupied the town of Menaka, more than 250 km (185 miles) south from its remote northern stronghold of Kidal.
But complicating the chances of any deal is the deep resentment felt by many Malians towards the MNLA for opening the door to the Islamists' seizure of the north. The MNLA themselves are poorly organized, divided and represent only a part of the north's population, experts say.
"You have a huge part of the rest of Mali not wanting to have anything to do with the Tuaregs - the Tuareg problem has to be resolved and it goes wider than Mali," Keenan said. There are restive Tuareg communities in neighboring Algeria and Niger.
Analysts said Algeria and Mali's other northern neighbors such as Mauritania and Libya must be part of international efforts to forge long-term security in the ungoverned wastes of the Sahara, where al Qaeda hostage-takers have sheltered alongside traffickers of drugs, cigarettes and migrants.
The MNLA has started its own patrols in the remote regions around the Algerian border where Islamist fighters are believed to be holding seven French citizens hostage. It announced this week it had arrested two senior Islamists fleeing to Algeria.
French special forces and some 1,800 Chadian troops are also based in Kidal, but Malian government troops have kept away.
"(The African force) AFISMA and also the Malian army will deploy eventually to Kidal," AFISMA spokesman Col. Yao Adjoumani told a news conference in Bamako. "Talks between the MNLA and the government will take place later."

All-girl Kashmiri rock band quit after Muslim cleric issued fatwa

Kashmir lost its only all-girls rock band on Monday as its three teenage members decided to call it quits, a day after the Grand Mufti issued a fatwa terming singing as un-Islamic and asked them to abandon it. Although the girls have maintained silence over the issue, sources close to them in India said, they have decided to quit singing and music.

The girls had defied convention by stepping into the male-dominated field but faced online threats and abuses from conservative sections of the society. The Grand Mufti Bashiruddin Ahmad on Sunday issued a decree terming singing un-Islamic. "I have said, singing is not in accordance with Islamic teachings," Ahmad said.

He said, he has advised the members of the first all-girls rock band of Kashmir to abandon singing as "it is against Islamic teachings and will not help them in playing any constructive role in the society." The teenage girls who came to limelight in December last year after their scintillating performance at the annual 'Battle of the Bands' competition, received online threats and absurd comments, forcing them to keep a low profile.

Though there are dozens of bands currently playing popular music of different genres in the valley, the girls - vocalist-guitarist Noma Nazir, drummer Farah Deeba and guitarist Aneeka Khalid (all students of 10th standard) - formed the first all-girl rock band by the name of "Pragaash" (morning light) and won the best performance award in their first public appearance.

Six Foreign Subcultures You've Never Heard Of

Dandies in Congo, emos in Iraq, electro-hillbilly truckers in Japan.

No matter how hard life can be, people carve out original ways of living.

People of Timbuktu save Manuscripts from Islamist Invaders

vThe Ahmed Baba Institute of Higher Learning and Islamic Research in Timbuktu, Mali, holds a collection of 30,000 of the world's most precious ancient manuscripts. Or it did until recently. On January 23rd, al-Qaida-linked extremists, who invaded Timbuktu almost a year ago, ransacked the library and set it on fire. The fire raged for eight days straight. What the extremists did not know was that only about 2,000 of the hand-written documents had been moved to the new library building.
However, they didn't bother searching the old building, where an elderly man named Abba Alhadi has spent 40 of his 72 years on earth taking care of rare manuscripts. The illiterate old man, who walks with a cane and looks like a character from the Bible, was the perfect foil for the Islamists. They wrongly assumed that the city's European-educated elite would be the ones trying to save the manuscripts, he said.

So last August, Alhadi began stuffing the thousands of books into empty rice and millet sacks.

At night, he loaded the millet sacks onto the type of trolley used to cart boxes of vegetables to the market. He pushed them across town and piled them into a lorry and onto the backs of motorcycles, which drove them to the banks of the Niger River.

From there, they floated down to the central Malian town of Mopti in a pinasse, a narrow, canoe-like boat. Then cars drove them from Mopti, the first government-controlled town, to Mali's capital, Bamako, over 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) from here.

"I have spent my life protecting these manuscripts. This has been my life's work. And I had to come to terms with the fact that I could no longer protect them here," said Alhadi. "It hurt me deeply to see them go, but I took strength knowing that they were being sent to a safe place."

It took two weeks in all to spirit out the bulk of the collection, around 28,000 texts housed in the old building covering the subjects of theology, astronomy, geography and more.
The 2,000 documents that were in the new library were digitized, so the information survives even if the parchment does not. More

Artifacts from the Oldest Known Museums

The Tisbury Hoard  
A collection buried during the early Iron Age.

Dot Boughton, Portable Antiquities Scheme
Multiple artifact collections unearthed in the U.K. suggest that the earliest known museums could date to around 680 B.C. or even earlier. They force a rethinking of what museums are, and how certain ancient populations valued treasured objects.
Museums, by their definition, are institutions or organized groups that conserve a collection of artifacts.
Such a collection, now called the "Tisbury Hoard," was found in a field in Wiltshire, England.
"It contains around 114 bronze weapons, tools and ornaments, and was probably buried in the early Iron Age, in or towards the end of the seventh century B.C.," Dot Boughton, a researcher with the Portable Antiquities Scheme, wrote in a paper published in the latest issue of British Archaeology.
While the objects were buried simultaneously, they cover a span of 1,000 years.
At first this might appear to be some metalworker's sample kit, or an individual's private collection. But since multiple hoards of this nature featuring different types of objects have been found in key locations in the U.K., Boughton believes that the collections were "community museums."

The Old Mill Of Vernon

The Lucky Old Mill Of Vernon And Its Less Fortunate Bridges
The old town of Vernon nestles at the side of the river Seine about 75 kilometers (47 miles) away from Paris. It has, as you can imagine, a long history and has been through periods of momentous change both in France and Europe. When change happens there are always winners and losers.

In Vernon, architecturally speaking, perhaps it's the old bridge which could be considered most unfortunate - it no longer exists. In fact it has been rebuilt and destroyed often enough for us to consider it perhaps the unluckiest bridge in the world.

Weird Underwater Waves Spotted from Space

So-called internal waves ripple through the ocean under the surface. A phenomena rarely seen except from space.

Potential for 'Superquakes' Underestimated

The earthquakes that rocked Tohoku, Japan in 2011, Sumatra in 2004 and Chile in 1960 — all of magnitude 9.0 or greater — should not have happened.

Origins of the Olive Tree Revealed

http://static.ddmcdn.com/gif/olives-250.jpgOlives, like the Salonika variety pictured here, were likely first domesticated in the Levant around 6,000 years ago, new research suggests.

The olive was first domesticated in the Eastern Mediterranean between 8,000 and 6,000 years ago, according to new research.
The findings, published today (Feb. 5) in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, are based on the genetic analysis of nearly 1,900 samples from around the Mediterranean Sea. The study reveals that domesticated olives, which are larger and juicier than wild varieties, were probably first cultivated from wild olive trees at the frontier between Turkey and Syria.
"We can say there were probably several steps, and it probably starts in the Levant," or the area that today includes Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, said study co-author Gillaume Besnard, an archaeobotanist at the National Center for Scientific Research in France. "People selected new cultivars everywhere, but that was a secondary diversification later."
From biblical times, the olive tree has served as a symbol of sacredness, peace and unity. Archaeologists have unearthed olive pits at sites dating to about 8,000 years old. And dating as far back as 6,000 years ago, archaeologists find evidence of olive oil production in Carmel, Israel, Besnard said.
Yet exactly where the olive was first cultivated has been hotly debated.
To unravel the history of the olive tree, the team took 1,263 wild and 534 cultivated olive tree samples from throughout the Mediterranean and analyzed genetic material from the trees' chloroplasts, the green plant structures where photosynthesis takes place. Because chloroplast DNA is passed from one tree to the descendant trees that spring up around it, the DNA can reveal local changes in plant lineages, he said.
The researchers then reconstructed a genetic tree to show how the plant dispersed. The team found that the thin, small and bitter wild fruit first gave way to oil-rich, larger olives on the border between Turkey and Syria.
After that first cultivation, modern-day domesticated olives came mostly from three hotspots: the Near East (including Cyprus), the Aegean Sea and the Strait of Gibraltar. They were then gradually spread throughout the Mediterranean with the rise of civilization.
But to get a true sense of how the olive tree emerged, the researchers shouldn't just look at chloroplast DNA, said André Bervillé, a geneticist at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, who was not involved in the study. Nuclear DNA, which is carried in the pollen, should also be analyzed, Bervillé said.
"Pollen from the olive tree is wind-transported, so it can migrate long distances" he said.
Combining both types of DNA would allow researchers to understand both how local olive tree cultivation occurred and how more long-distance changes occurred, he said.

Warming bringing big changes to forests

This undated file photo from the Colorado State Forest Service shows pine trees killed by beetles near Grandby, Colo. The U.S. Department of Agriculture warns in a report released Tuesday that big changes are in store for the nation's forests as global warming increases wildfires and insect infestations, and generates more frequent floods and droughts. (AP Photo/Colorado State Forest Service, Jen Chase)  
Big changes are in store for the nation's forests as global warming increases wildfires and insect infestations, and generates more frequent floods and droughts, the U.S. Department of Agriculture warns in a report released Tuesday.
The compilation of more than 1,000 scientific studies is part of the National Climate Assessment and will serve as a roadmap for managing national forests across the country in coming years.
It says the area burned by wildfires is expected to at least double over the next 25 years, and insect infestations often will affect more land per year than fires.
Dave Cleaves, climate adviser to the chief of the U.S. Forest Service, said climate change has become the primary driver for managing national forests, because it poses a major threat to their ability to store carbon and provide clean water and wildlife habitat.
"One of the big findings of this report is we are in the process of managing multiple risks to the forest," Cleaves said during a conference call on the report. "Climate revs up those stressors and couples them. We have to do a much better job of applying climate smartness ... to how we do forestry."
The federal government has spent about $1 billion a year in recent years combating wildfires. Last year was the warmest on record in the lower 48 states and saw 9.2 million acres burned, the third-highest on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's website.
Insect infestations widely blamed on warming temperatures have killed tens of millions of acres of trees.
Forest Service scientist James Vose, the report's lead author, said the research team found that past predictions about how forests will react to climate change largely have come true, increasing their confidence in the current report's predictions.
The report said the increasing temperatures will make trees grow faster in wetter areas of the East but slower in drier areas of the West. Trees will move to higher elevations and more northern latitudes, and disappear from areas on the margins of their range.
Along with more fires and insect infestations, forests will see more flooding, erosion and sediment going into streams, where it chokes fish habitat. More rain than snow will fall in the mountains, shortening ski seasons but lengthening hiking seasons. More droughts will make wildfires, insect infestations, and the spread of invasive species even worse.
The nation's forests currently store 13 percent of the carbon generated by burning fossil fuels every year, and losing trees to fire and insects makes it likely in coming years that forests in the West will start giving off carbon as they decay, the report said. It suggested that burning the trees cut during thinning operations in bioenergy plants to generate electricity would help reduce the carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels.
Beverly Law, professor of global change forest science at Oregon State University, said in an email that her research in Oregon showed that despite more fire, the amount of carbon stored in forests continues to increase.
Tara Hudiburg, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois, said there is little conclusive evidence that burning trees for bioenergy helps reduce overall carbon emissions.
Andy Stahl of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, a watchdog group, said the agency traditionally has been guided by political pressures, and he has seen no evidence that concern over climate change is now playing a role.
Cleaves said climate coordinators are stationed at every national forest across the country, every regional headquarters, and at each research station. The threat of future flooding has prompted the Olympic National Forest in Washington state to start upgrading the culverts that carry storm water runoff on logging roads.
The report did not specifically address whether logging would decrease due to more thinning projects generated by global warming concerns. But it did say that privately owned timberlands would be much quicker to react to market pressures related to global warming than the national forests.
Cleaves said thinning projects designed to make forests more resilient to a changing climate were likely to produce less timber and revenue, because they tend to leave big trees standing.
The Forest Service has struggled to pay for thinning projects that don't generate revenue. Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has been exploring the idea of tapping state lottery funds to pay the Forest Service to plan timber sales in fire-prone areas.

Seven Islands Occupied By Animals

Each island has its own natural ecosystem, which can be quickly disrupted due to the arrival of some new species of animals on the island. It can be fun for tourists but a real disaster for ecology. Here are 7 islands that have changed, and their natural balance disrupted.

Animal Pictures

Black Bear by Ron Wolf on flickr.