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Mining company charged with secretly exposing entire town to asbestos

Ex-Grace Officials on Trial in Asbestos Poisoning - NYTimes.com

At least 200 deaths and thousands of illnesses are known to be related to the town’s exposure to the mine’s billowing dust clouds of vermiculite, which by dint of geological bad luck was layered millions of years ago with naturally occurring asbestos.

Prosecutors say that the mine’s owner, W. R. Grace & Company, which is also a defendant, and its managers knew as far back as the 1970s that asbestos was mixed with the vermiculite and that this posed a risk to their workers, but that they conspired to continue releasing it into the air and to misrepresent the peril.

The company’s own medical studies of its miners, the government says, create a paper trail that will prove the charges of wire fraud, obstruction of justice, conspiracy and violations of the Clean Air Act.

Nation's Blacks Creeped Out By All The People Smiling At Them

Nation's Blacks Creeped Out By All The People Smiling At Them | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

WASHINGTON—A majority of African-Americans surveyed in a nationwide poll this week reported feeling "deeply disturbed" and "more than a little weirded out" by all the white people now smiling at them.

First witnessed shortly after President Obama's historic victory, the open and cheerful smiling has only continued in recent months, leaving members of the black community completely unnerved.

"On behalf of black people across this nation, I would like to say to our white brethren, 'Please stop looking at us like that,'" said Brown University psychology professor Dr. Stanley Carsons. "We're excited Barack is president, too, and we're glad you're happy for us. But giving us the thumbs up for no reason, or saying hello whenever we walk by, is really starting to freak us out."

February 17, 2009

Target Women: Online Dating

February 16, 2009

This is How We Go Then, With a Twitter, Not a Bang

Digital Overload Is Frying Our Brains | Wired Science from...

Report finds that America's "War on Terror" eroded rights globally

U.S. "war on terror" eroded rights worldwide: experts

The report found that many undemocratic states have referred to U.S. counter-terrorism practices to justify their own abuses, a trend Robinson said was particularly alarming.

She called on the U.N. Security Council and Human Rights Council to step up their abuse monitoring and to assist poorer nations with police training to better target rights violators.

Counter-terrorism policies worldwide should also be put under the microscope, according to Robinson. "It could warrant a special session of the Human Rights Council," she said.

The 47-member-state body has previously had special sessions on Israel and the Palestinians, Sudan's Darfur region, Myanmar, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and high food prices, and will assess the global financial crisis on Friday.

Drought-riden China to reduce water consumption by 60%

Parched China to slash water consumption by 60% - environment - 16 February 2009 - New Scientist

As rivers run dry and fields turn to dust, China has announced dramatic plans to cut water use by industry and agriculture.

Water resources minister Chen Lei said it would cut the amount of water needed to produce each dollar of GDP by 60% by 2020. With the economy on course to grow by 60% by then, that effectively means it wants to consume no more water then than today.

The announcement suggests that the government has finally decided that it cannot rely on "supply-side" solutions to water shortages, like the $60-billion south-north water transfer scheme, which is aimed at watering the arid north with water from the giant Yangtze river in the south.

It comes after China's worst drought in half a century, and increased water shortages caused by industrial pollution that makes river water unfit for drinking, even after treatment.

February 13, 2009

Blackwater renames company as "Xe," still evil though

APNewsBreak: Blackwater dumps tarnished brand name - Yahoo! News

RALEIGH, N.C. – Blackwater Worldwide is abandoning its tarnished brand name as it tries to shake a reputation battered by oft-criticized work in Iraq, renaming its family of two dozen businesses under the name Xe.

The parent company's new name is pronounced like the letter "z." Blackwater Lodge & Training Center — the subsidiary that conducts much of the company's overseas operations and domestic training — has been renamed U.S. Training Center Inc., the company said Friday.

The decision comes as part of an ongoing rebranding effort that grew more urgent following a September 2007 shooting in Iraq that left at least a dozen civilians dead. Blackwater president Gary Jackson said in a memo to employees the new name reflects the change in company focus away from the business of providing private security.