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Nothing but a miracle

Diane Birch and Daryl Hall:

Day 2

SCOTUS and healthcare reform.

Swell

Our search for even more non-renewable energy can lead to some very dangerous outcomes:

A natural gas well in the North Sea 150 miles off Aberdeen, Scotland, sprung a massive methane leak on 25 March. The 238 workers were all safely evacuated. But the situation is so explosive that an exclusion zone for ships and aircraft has been set up around the rig, reportsthe Mail Online. And nearby rigs have been evacuated, reports the New York Times:

Royal Dutch Shell said it closed its Shearwater field, about four miles away, withdrawing 52 of the 90 workers there; it also suspended work and evacuated 68 workers from a drilling rig working nearby, the Hans Deul.

But that’s not the worst of it. The platform lies less than 100 yards/meters from a flare that workers left burning as crew evacuated. The French supermajor oil company owner of the rig, Total, dismissed the risk, while the British government claimed the flame needs to burn to prevent gas pressure from building up. But Reuters reports:

[O]ne energy industry consultant said Elgin could become “an explosion waiting to happen” if the oil major did not rapidly stop the leak which is above the water at the wellhead.

Supreme buffoon’s broccoli analogy

by Odd Man Out
Barack Obama made the big mistake of confining our health care options to the realm of the “free market” — i.e., the for-profit insurance companies that have been ripping us off for decades. He should have pushed for universal health care as a human right, or an essential component of the social contract, not a product we must buy. More here.

We’re No. 5!

This really is the strangest country, isn’t it?

The United States placed fifth overall on a list of nations that executed the most people in 2011, according to human rights advocacy group Amnesty International.

Amnesty, which compiles its report every year, opposes capital punishment in all circumstances, regardless of allegations against those facing the death penalty.

It noted that the U.S. shares its dubious ranking with countries like China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, which round out the top five. China was by far the worst offender, and the group said it suspects that thousands were executed last year, but they could not provide an estimate because those numbers are suppressed.

You’ve got to be carefully taught

That’s so darn Christian of them, isn’t it?

Documents have come to light in a Maine court filing that detail a plot by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) to slow the legalization of same-sex marriage by dividing black and LGBT people, according to the Human Rights Commission.

The documents, marked “Confidential,” emerged as part of an investigation by the State of Maine into the conservative organization’s campaign finance activities in the state. In a board report called the “Not a Civil Right Project” for 2008 to 2009, the group discusses its heavy involvement in Proposition 8 in California, it’s goal of blocking attempts by New England states to legalize same-sex marriage, and, most controversially, a plan by NOM to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks.”

The organization hoped to “(f)ind, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage, develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots,” thereby “fanning the hostility” between two groups it sees as “key Democratic constituencies.”

NOM also hoped to target Latinos and prevent the “process of assimilation to the dominant Anglo culture” from leading Hispanics to “abandon traditional family values.”

Quick weight loss

Only 16 people? That’s still enough to get your own book contract these days!

In a study presented Tuesday at the American Chemical Society’s spring national meeting in San Diego, 16 overweight young adults took, by turns, a low dose of green coffee bean extract, a high dose of the supplement, and a placebo. Though the study was small, the results were striking: Subjects lost an average of 17.5 pounds in 22 weeks and reduced their overall body weight by 10.5%.

If green coffee extract were a medication seeking approval from the Food and Drug Administration, these results would make it a viable candidate — more than 35% of subjects lost more than 5% of their body weight, and weight loss appeared to be greater while subjects were taking the pills than when they were on the placebo.

But as a dietary supplement, green coffee extract does not require the FDA’s blessing. In fact, it is already available as a naturopathic medicine and antioxidant.

Local boy makes good

Go read about John Prendergast, a Philly-area native who agitates around the world to help Africa. Truly one of the good guys (I just finished reading one of his books).

Hope for Paws

You can donate here:

‘Unfair’

Progress!

(Reuters) – The guarantee of landline telephone service at almost any address, a legal right many Americans may not even know they have, is quietly being legislated away in our U.S. state capitals.

AT&T and Verizon, the dominant telephone companies, want to end their 99-year-old universal service obligation known as “provider of last resort.” They say universal landline service is a costly and unfair anachronism that is no longer justified because of a competitive market for voice services.

The new rules AT&T and Verizon drafted would enhance profits by letting them serve only the customers they want. Their focus, and that of smaller phone companies that have the same universal service obligation, is on well-populated areas where people can afford profitable packages that combine telephone, Internet and cable television.

Sprint, T-Mobile and the cell phone divisions of AT&T and Verizon are not subject to universal service and can serve only those areas they find profitable.

Unless the new rules are written very carefully, millions of people, urban and rural, will lose basic telephone service or be forced to pay much more for calls.

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