Protesters Clog Brooklyn Bridge/Wall Street

Protesters speaking out against corporate greed and other grievances were maintaining a presence in Manhattan’s Financial District even after more than 700 of them were arrested during a march on the Brooklyn Bridge in a tense confrontation with police. The group Occupy Wall Street has been camped out in a plaza in Manhattan’s Financial District for nearly two weeks staging various marches, and had orchestrated an impromptu trek to Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon. They walked in thick rows on the sidewalk up to the bridge, where some demonstrators spilled onto the roadway after being told to stay on the pedestrian pathway, police said. The march shut down a lane of traffic for several hours on Saturday. The majority of those arrested were given citations for disorderly conduct and were released. The group had meetings and forums planned for Sunday at Zuccotti Park, the private plaza off Broadway the protesters have occupied for days. Celebrities including Michael Moore and Susan Sarandon made recent stops to encourage the group.

Elsewhere in the U.S. on Saturday, protesters assembled in Albuquerque, N.M., Boston and Los Angeles to express their solidarity with the movement in New York, though their demands remain unclear. “I don’t think we’re asking for much, just to wake up every morning not worrying whether we can pay the rent, or whether our next meal will be rice and beans again,” one protester wrote in an email to The Associated Press. Seasoned activists said the ad-hoc protest could prove to be a training ground for future organizers of larger and more cohesive demonstrations, or motivate those on the sidelines to speak out against injustices.

  • As in Greece and other European countries, as the economy remains stagnant and more severe budget cuts are enacted, there will be an concomitant increase in protest marches and sit-ins

Lengthy Distribution Process Worsens Food Outbreaks

The recent listeria outbreak from cantaloupe shows that large-scale occurrences of serious illnesses linked to tainted food have grown more common over the years, partly because much of what we eat takes a long and winding road from farm to fork. A cantaloupe grown on a Colorado field may make four or five stops before it reaches the dinner table. There’s the packing house where it is cleaned and packaged, then the distributor who contracts with retailers to sell the melons in large quantities. A processor may cut or bag the fruit. The retail distribution center is where the melons are sent out to various stores. Finally it’s stacked on display at the grocery store. Imported fruits and vegetables, which make up almost two-thirds of the produce consumed in the United States, have an even longer journey. The Colorado cantaloupe crop that’s linked to 84 illnesses and as many as 17 deaths in 19 states has traveled so far and wide that producer Jensen Farms doesn’t even know exactly where their fruit ended up. “The food chain is very complex,” says Sherri McGarry, a senior adviser in the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Foods. “There are many steps, and the more steps there are the harder it can be to link up each step to identify what the common source” of an outbreak is.

Arizona Seeks to Deny Benefits to Gay Partners

Arizona state officials are asking the full 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to let it deny benefits to the domestic partners of its gay state and university employees. Legal papers filed by Attorney General Tom Horne contend that a three-judge panel of the appellate court got it wrong when it concluded earlier this month that it is illegal for the state to provide health care and other benefits to the partners of married workers while refusing to do the same for same-sex couples. He said the state is allowed to make such distinctions. Horne, who filed the appeal on behalf of Gov. Jan Brewer, also said it is legally irrelevant that Arizona voters constitutionally banned gays from getting wed, even if that means that, unlike same-sex couples, they have no legal way to get benefits for their partners. The legal papers his office filed also charge that the ruling of three-judge panel “attempts to indirectly invalidate Arizona’s marriage laws,’ something the state contends the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled is beyond the purview of federal judges.

Gardasil Controversy Heating Up

The topic of Merck’s controversial Gardasil is heating up – with an Austrian physician who studied the drug saying it is not only dangerous, but useless in reducing cervical cancer, the stated reason it was administered to young girls at the behest of Texas Gov. Perry. Dr. Christian Fiala, who successfully fought the use of the drug in Austria, told WorldNetDaily that “there is no proof of a causal relationship of HPV and cervical cancer and there is no evidence that HPV vaccine reduces the overall number of cervical cancer (cases).” Fiala called the HPV vaccination plan “a money-making machine without any benefit for patients,.but some inherent risks.” Officials report that there have been 17,500 or more “adverse” incident reports that have been made over the last few years because of the use of the vaccination.

Largest Ozone Hole Ever in Northern Hemisphere

A hole that developed in the Earth’s protective ozone layer over the Arctic this year was the largest ever recorded in the northern hemisphere and spread over parts of northern Russia, Greenland and Norway, the journal Nature reports. For the first time, the hole was comparable to one that appears regularly over the Antarctic, researchers found. The ozone layer in the upper stratosphere provides a shield against UV radiation from the sun that can cause skin cancer and cataracts. The hole that has opened over northern Russia, parts of Greenland, and Norway in March is subjecting people there to high levels of the UV radiation.

  • As reported by The Guardian, the researchers found that the record large hole was not due to man-made causes, but rather to unusually strong wind patterns at high altitudes and intense cold. End-time weather will continue to grow more extreme regardless of human activity for or against.

Dead Sea Scrolls Go Online

The Dead Sea Scrolls, so ancient and fragile that direct light cannot shine on them, are now available to search and read online in a project launched today by the Israel Museum and Google Inc. Five of the eight scrolls housed at Israel Museum since 1965 have been digitalized, including the Great Isaiah Scroll, the Temple Scroll and the War Scroll. The scrolls had been hidden in caves along the shore of the Dead Sea, probably about the time the Romans destroyed the temple in 70 A.D. The manuscripts were discovered between 1947 and 1956. The Google tool on the Israel Museum website allows browsers to zoom into the text and to read its translation in English. The people who wrote the scrolls hid them in caves along the shore of the Dead Sea, probably about the time the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D., and are generally attributed to an isolated Jewish sect that settled in Qumran in the Judean Desert.

Denmark Imposes ‘Fat Tax’ to Limit Unhealthy Foods

Denmark on Saturday became the second country to impose a fat tax, leading consumers to hoard butter, pizza, meat and milk, AFP reports. The new tax, designed by Denmark’s outgoing government in an effort to limit the population’s intake of fatty foods, will add 16 kroner ($2.87, or 2.15 Euros) per kilo (2.2 pounds) of saturated fats in a product. For example, according to the AFP, the tax will increase the cost of 250 grams of butter by 2.20 kroner, to more than 18 kroner. Denmark is one of several European countries to tax sodas, and it has imposed a levy on candy for nearly 90 years, according to Der Spiegel. The country was the first in the world to pass a law banning trans fats, with Austria and Switzerland following closely after. Last month, Hungary implemented a law imposing special taxes on foods with high fat, salt and sugar content.

Economic News

Greece’s admission that it will miss its deficit targets this year and next despite harsh new austerity measures sent stock markets reeling on Monday and raised new doubts over a planned second international bailout. The gloomy news from Athens brought the specter of a debt default closer and will weigh on talks among euro zone finance ministers in Luxembourg later on Monday on the next steps to try to resolve the currency area’s sovereign debt crisis.

According to a recent study from the BlackRock Investment Institute, the ratio of household debt to personal income (wages and salaries) remains at a staggering 154%, which is only 7.5 percentage points lower than in pre-recession peak. “While some progress in consumer debt reduction has been made, the heavy lifting of meaningful deleveraging still lies ahead,” says the study. Until consumers repair their balance sheets, they are unlikely to increase spending or take on any new debt even with interest rates close to zero percent.

Stagnant home prices have become part of the new normal nationwide, and one of the big reasons is the nation’s giant shadow inventory — the hundreds of thousands of homes that are either in foreclosure or repossessed by banks, but not yet on the market. Already, more houses are for sale in America than people want to buy, and the roughly 1.6 million homes in the nation’s shadow inventory promise to drag down home prices for years, experts say.

Middle East

The Jerusalem Prayer Team reports, “The invisible economic war against Israel has already begun. Some countries are planning to impose new sanctions against Israeli products, while others will raise tariffs and make trade more difficult. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called this week for the nations of the world to “put pressure” on Israel to force them to make concessions in the name of peace. This is a deliberate attempt to destroy Israel’s economy. This is new warfare for the modern age—before the rockets fly and the tanks roll, and the boycotts and economic sanctions fall. The OPEC nations are using their vast oil wealth to blackmail and bribe nations to support the Palestinians and attack Israel. The Israeli Defense Forces are dependent on Israel’s economy; if the economy can be destroyed, Israel’s military will be crippled.”

Israel on Sunday agreed to a proposal by international mediators to resume peace negotiations after the initiative was positively received by the Palestinians, but there were no signs that a dispute over Israeli settlement building that has blocked talks was any closer to being resolved. The proposal by the so-called Quartet of Middle East mediators – the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia – calls for a meeting this month to set the agenda for negotiations, followed by talks on borders and security, with the goal of reaching an overall agreement by the end of 2012. “Israel welcomes the Quartet’s call for direct negotiations between the parties without preconditions, as called for by both President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu,” said a statement from the Israeli prime minister’s office. Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh told a video conference in Tehran on Sunday that the effort by the Palestinian Authority to gain recognition for a Palestinian state at the UN was a waste of time because only armed resistance would liberate “occupied Palestinian land” and a two-state solution with a Palestinian state existing side-by-side with Israel would fail.

  • The obstacles to Middle East peace are spiritual, not material, and cannot be resolved through human reason and diplomacy. War against Israel is inevitable and will trigger the rise of the anti-Christ.

Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warns that “time is short” before Iran obtains nuclear weapons and poses a direct threat to Israel and the rest of the world. “Iran poses certainly a great danger to Israel, but it represents an enormous danger to the Middle East and to the world,” Netanyahu said to PBS’s Charlie Rose. “Iran is the premier sponsor of terrorists. It’s important that everyone understand that Iran with nuclear weapons is a danger to us all. Iran supplies terrorists with rockets and many other things. It would give [terrorists] a nuclear umbrella or worse, actually give them nuclear weapons.” Pointing to steps Iran has already taken against Israel, Netanyahu said, “We vacated [Gaza] and Iran essentially walked in with its Hamas proxy, and they’re packing a lot of missiles. We walked out of Lebanon, and Iran walked in with its Hezbollah proxy, and they fired thousands of rockets into the north of Israel.

Afghanistan

The Afghan government urged neighboring Pakistan on Sunday to take concrete steps to help end the Taliban insurgency and use its influence to bring the militants to direct peace talks. The appeal follows accusations that Pakistan, through its historical ties with some of the militant groups, has played an active role in supporting attacks across the border on U.S. and Afghan targets — a charge it denies. The allegations against the country and the calls for its help reveal a central quandary in trying to end the decade of fighting that began with the U.S. invasion after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Afghan leaders, however, are growing impatient.

Pakistan

Pakistan is the source of explosives in the vast majority of makeshift bombs insurgents in Afghanistan planted this summer to attack U.S. troops, according to U.S. military commanders. From June through August, U.S. troops detected or were hit by 5,088 improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the most for any three-month period since the war began in 2001. Those bombs killed 63 troops and wounded 1,234, Defense Department records show. More than 80% of the IEDs are homemade explosives using calcium ammonium nitrate fertilizer produced in Pakistan, the Pentagon reports.

Iraq

Four anti-al-Qaeda fighters died Sunday when two roadside bombs exploded as their patrol passed by. The first bomb went off next to a passing patrol of the Sahwa or Awakening Councils, a network of predominantly Sunni Arab militias allied with the Iraqi government. The second bomb hit another patrol rushing to the scene a few minutes later, killing two others. Three Sahwa fighters were injured in the blasts. The attack took place near the town of Mishahda, 20 miles north of Baghdad. The Sahwa have often been targeted by insurgents who accuse them of being traitors and supporters of the Shiite-led government.

Yemen

A government warplane mistakenly bombed its own army in southern Yemen, killing at least 30 soldiers and wounding many more. The bombing Saturday evening targeted an abandoned school used as shelter by soldiers of the army’s 119th Brigade. Militants arrived at the school soon after the airstrike and killed an unspecified number of wounded troops.

Syria

Syrian dissidents meeting in Turkey have formally announced the creation of a council designed to overthrow President Bashar Assad’s regime. The structure and aims of this council were announced Sunday at a news conference in Istanbul. The statement was signed by major Syrian opposition figures. The goal of the council is to present a united opposition front and overthrow Assad’s regime. They rejected any foreign interference in Syria and urged the international community to recognize the legitimacy of the group.

The US is becoming convinced that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria will not be able to remain in power and the Obama administration is planning for American policy in the region after he exits. The U.S. and Turkey are exploring how to deal with a possible civil war among Syria’s Alawite, Druse, Christian and Sunni sects. Even though other countries have withdrawn their ambassadors, the Obama administration is leaving the American ambassador there so he can maintain contact with opposition leaders and leaders of sects and religious groups.

Mexico

The bullet-riddled, bound bodies of seven men were dumped Sunday at a downtown bus stop in the Pacific resort town of Zihuatanejo, police said, as drug violence claimed at least 20 people this past weekend along a stretch of coastal tourist destinations. Signed messages lying near or on top of the bodies claimed to be from the Knights Templar, an offshoot of the pseudo-religious La Familia drug cartel. Drug gangs are known for leaving threatening messages at crime scenes. In Acapulco, just to the south of Zihuatanejo, 10 men and two women were killed in separate attacks Saturday and early Sunday. Three other young men were gunned down inside a taxi cab on a popular avenue of Acapulco Saturday.

  • The end-time spirit of lawlessness is increasingly stirring up violence around the world

Wildfires

As the wildfire season winds down, Nevada was suddenly beset with thirteen large (over 100 acres) wildfires. As of Sunday morning, these fires had burned over 184,000 acres (about 287 sq. miles). Only five structures have been destroyed so far but evacuations are in effect and many residences are threatened.

Weather

Back-to-back typhoons left at least 55 people dead and rescuers scrambling on Sunday to deliver food and water to hundreds of villagers stuck on rooftops for four days because of flooding in the northern Philippines. Typhoon Nalgae slammed ashore in northeastern Isabela province Saturday then barreled across the main Luzon Island’s mountainous north and agricultural plains that were still sodden from fierce rain and wind unleashed by a howler just days earlier.

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