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In The News This Week JUDGE OKS $4B BP OIL SPILL CRIMINAL SETTLEMENT' BP PLC closed the book on the Justice Department's criminal probe of its role in the Deepwater Horizon disaster and Gulf oil spill. Page 1
GORE HITS CORPORATE MEDIA, DEFENDS CURRENT TV SALE Al Gore, who takes aim in his new book at the corporate media for "suffocating the free flow of ideas," on Tuesday defended the sale of his television channel to Al-Jazeera. Page 2
LEAFY GREENS TOP FOOD POISONING SOURCE About 1 in 5 illnesses were linked to leafy green vegetables. Page 3
GEORGIA ACCIDENT STATISTICS Accident Statistics from Georgia Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Page 4
GEORGIA ACCIDENT REPORTS This Weeks Accident Reports from Various countys in Georgia. Page 5
EGYPT ARMY CHIEF WARNS STATE COULD COLLAPSE Residents of this Mediterranean coastal city burying their dead from Egypt's wave of political violence. Page 6
MEXICO'S NEW PRESIDENT MOSTLY MUM ON DRUG VIOLENCE Enrique Pena Nieto took office promising to reduce violent crime, the killings linked to Mexico's drug cartels continue unabated. Page 7
Volume 731 Issue 454
January 28, 2013
JUDGE OKS $4B BP OIL SPILL CRIMINAL SETTLEMENT N E W ORLEANS (AP) -BP PLC closed the book on the Justice Department's criminal probe of its role in Deepwater the Horizon disaster and Gulf oil spill Tuesday, when a federal judge agreed to let the London-based oil giant plead guilty to manslaughter charges for the deaths of 11 rig workers and pay a record $4 billion in penalties.
watching the disaster play out on television. "These men suffered a horrendous death," he said. "They were basically cremated alive and not at their choice."
BP agreed in November to plead guilty to charges involving the workers' deaths and for lying to Congress about In this April 21, 2010 aerial file photo taken in the Gulf of Mexico more than 50 miles southeast of Venice, La., the Deepwater Horizon oil rig is seen burning. the size of the spill A U.S. judge on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, approved an agreement for British oil from its broken well, giant BP PLC to plead guilty to manslaughter and other charges and pay a which spewed more What the plea record $4 billion in criminal penalties for the company's role in the 2010 oil dis- than 200 million galaster in the Gulf of Mexico. deal approved by lons of oil. Much of it U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance doesn't resolve, though, ended up in the Gulf and soiled the shorelines of several is the federal government's civil claims against BP. The states. The company could have withdrawn from the company could pay billions more for environmental dam- agreement if Vance had rejected it. age from its 2010 spill. BP America vice president Luke Keller apologized to Vance noted that the company already has racked the relatives of the workers who died and for the spill's up more than $24 billion in spill-related expenses and has environmental damage to the Gulf Coast. estimated it will pay a total of $42 billion to fully resolve its liability for the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. "BP knows there is nothing we can say to diminish their loss," he said. "The lives lost and those forever The judge said the $4 billion criminal settlement is changed will stay with us. We are truly sorry." "just punishment" for BP, even though the company could have paid far more without going broke. In accepting the Most of the families of rig workers who were killed or deal, Vance also cited the risk that a trial could result in a injured in the explosion already have settled their claims much lower fine for BP, one potentially capped by law at against BP, through a process separate from this plea $8.2 million. deal. The criminal settlement calls for BP to pay nearly $1.3 billion in fines. The largest previous corporate criminal penalty assessed by the Justice Department was a $1.2 billion fine against drug maker Pfizer in 2009.
Courtney Kemp-Robertson, whose 27-year-old husband, Roy Wyatt Kemp, of Jonesville, La., died on the rig, said workers had referred to it as the "well from hell" before the explosion.
The plea deal also includes payments of nearly $2.4 billion to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and $350 million to the National Academy of Sciences. The two groups will administer the money to fund Gulf restoration and oil spill prevention projects.
"By cutting corners, they gambled with the lives of 126 crew members to save a few dollars," she told the judge before turning to address Keller. "They gambled and you lost."
The $4 billion in total penalties are 160 times greater than the $25 million fine that Exxon paid for the 1989 Valdez spill in Alaska, Vance noted.
A series of government investigations have blamed the April 20, 2010, blowout on time-saving, cost-cutting decisions by BP and its partners on the drilling project.
JAPAN LAUNCHES 2 INTELLIGENCE SATELLITES NA
Before she ruled, the judge heard an apology from a BP executive and emotional testimony from relatives of the 11 workers who died when BP's blown-out Macondo well triggered an explosion on the rig and started the spill.
Vance told victims' relatives who were in court that she read their "truly gut-wrenching" written statements and factored their words into her decision. She also said she believes BP executives should have personally apologized to family members long before Tuesday's hearing.
Japan launched two intelligence satellites into orbit on Sunday amid growing concerns that North Korea is planning to test more rockets.. Page 8
"I've heard and I truly understand your feelings and the losses you suffered," Vance told the family members.
"I think BP should have done that out of basic humanity," she said.
Keith Jones, whose 28-year-old son, Gordon, died in the rig explosion, said $4 billion isn't adequate punishment.
BP also has separately agreed to a settlement with lawyers for Gulf Coast residents and businesses who claim the spill cost them money. BP estimates the deal with private attorneys will cost the company roughly $7.8 billion.
DISTANT RURAL AREAS MAY FEEL CITIES' HEAT AsHeat rising up from cities such as New York, Paris and Tokyo might be remotely warming up winters far away. Page 8
"It is petty cash to BP," he told Vance. "Their stock went up after this plea deal was announced." Billy Anderson, whose 35-year-old son, Jason, of Midfield, Texas, died in the blast, recalled the trauma of
In a court filing before the hearing, attorneys for BP and the Justice Department argued that the plea agree-
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Legal Street News Monday January 28, 2013
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GORE HITS CORPORATE M E D I A , D E F E N D S C U R R E N T T V S A L E Corporations have enlisted politicians and lobbyists to further their goals and have also "recruited a fifth column in the Fourth Estate," he said in the b o o k .
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Al Gore, who takes aim in his new book at the corporate media for "suffocating the free flow of ideas," on Tuesday defended the sale of his television channel to A l - J a z e e r a . The Qatar government-owned news network earlier this month struck a deal to buy Current TV, the cable news network cofounded by the former vice president. The price tag was $500 million.
ormer U.S. Vice President Al Gore talks during an interview, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 in New York. Gore, who takes aim in his new book at the corporate media for "suffocating the free flow of ideas," on Tuesday defended the sale of his own television channel to Al-Jazeera. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Gore told The Associated Press that he had no reservations about selling the channel to Al-Jazeera, which has won U.S. journalism prizes but has been criticized by some for an anti-American bias. The new owner plans to gradually transform Current into a network called Al-Jazeera America. "They're commercial-free, they're hard-hitting," he said in a phone interview. "They're very respected and capable, and their climate coverage has been outstanding, in-depth, extensive, far more so than any network currently on the air in the U.S."
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The 64-year-old Gore said he considers Current TV, which was largely outflanked by MSNBC in its effort to be a liberal alternative to Fox News Channel, to have been a success. "We won every major award in television journalism, and we were profitable each year," said Gore, who has a home in Nashville. "But it's difficult for an independent network to compete in an age of conglomerate." In a new 592-page book titled, "The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change," Gore makes only a fleeting reference to Al-Jazeera, calling it "the feisty and relatively independent satellite television channel" that played a key role in bringing about the Arab Spring. Gore in the book likens the influence of money in the political process to a "slow-motion corporate coup d'etat that threatens to destroy the integrity and functioning of American democracy." "Corporations are not people," Gore said in the interview. "Might doesn't make right. Money is not speech. And those who advocate the dominance of American politics by large corporations, special interests and anonymous donors are working against the original design by our founders."
"The one-way, advertising-dominated conglomerate-controlled television medium has been suffocating the free flow of ideas necessary for genuine self-determination," he writes.
The Internet provides a path for breaking the corporate stranglehold on the media, Gore said in the interview, as it "is less vulnerable to the dominance of special interests, because individual voices play a larger and more influential role."
Gore, who won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to raise awareness about climate change, also calls for a carbon tax, though he acknowledged that passage does not appear to be imminent. "Well, I wouldn't go to Vegas and bet on it right now," he said. "But neither would I say that it's impossible ... The day has passed when we can use the earth's atmosphere as an open sewer." "Yes it's tough, because we've been relying on these fossil fuels for 150 years. But the cost of solar and wind is coming down rapidly and energy efficiency saves money while it reduces pollution," he said. "And we need to move in that direction quickly." Gore, who represented Tennessee in the U.S. Senate and House before he was tapped by President Bill Clinton as his running mate, blames procedural rules in the Senate for blocking popular measures. "I fully appreciate the virtues of the filibuster, but it's gotten so out of control that I do think that it needs to be dialed back significantly," he said. "It has been abused to the point where American democracy is paralyzed. "Nothing can pass the Senate that is opposed by special interests," he said. "And that's not right." Gore points out in the introduction of his book that as a "recovering politician," the chances of his returning to public office become slimmer the more time passes. Gore won more popular votes than George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential contest, but was defeated in the electoral college after the Supreme Court stopped a hotly debated recount in
"Our democracy has been hacked," he said.
Continued on page 6
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P E A C E E N V O Y S A Y S S Y R I A I S ' B E I N G D E S T R O Y E D ' UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The international envoy to Syria told the Security Council on Tuesday that "Syria is being destroyed bit by bit" and his mediation effort cannot go forward unless the council unites to push the Syrian government and opposition forces toward some compromise. The Security Council has been divided over Syria for months, with the United States, Britain, France and other Western powers backing the armed opposition and pushing for resolutions that raised the threat of sanctions. Three times, Russia and China have cast vetoes to block those resolutions. "I'm embarrassed to be repeating the same thing: Syria is being destroyed," Lakhdar Brahimi, the joint U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, said after closed-door consultations with the Security Council. Brahimi blamed both Syrian President Bashar Assad's government and the Western-backed opposition forces. "Objectively, they are cooperating to destroy Syria. Syria is being destroyed bit by bit. And in destroying Syria, the region is being pushed into a situation that is extremely bad, and extremely important for the entire world," Brahimi said. He said that is why the Security Council has a duty to overcome its divisions.
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Brahimi suggested that the Security Council revisit the Geneva Communique of June 2012, a broad but ambiguous proposal endorsed by the Western powers and Russia to provide a basis for negotiations. Assad's role in any transition government was a red line during the negotiations of the Geneva Communique, and was left vague. The United States and Russia continue to disagree on Assad's role, though both signed off on the communique. Brahimi says the Security Council should now look toward the provisions of the Geneva Communique as a solution. "A very critical element is the creation of this governing body, which is really a transition government, with full executive powers," Brahimi said. "I think there was a very clever creative ambiguity in this creation, but I told them that ambiguity has to be lifted now. Now you have to say what those full executive powers would be. All the powers of state have got to go to that government," he told reporters outside the council. Without a council push on the Assad government and opposition, the Geneva Communique and his mediation
Former BP engineer Kurt Mix was charged with deleting text messages about the company's spill response.
"I'm trying to use some of my powers of conviction, with very little success up till now," he said. "You may have seen that the two parties are maybe a little more embarrassed to say that `We're going to achieve victory next week.' And both sides have started to say, `If there is a political solution, perhaps we are willing to listen, provided that political solution will give us 100 percent of what we want.
The fast-food chain on Monday announced it was pulling the commercial after receiving complaints that it discouraged people from eating vegetables.
Transocean agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of violating the Clean Water Act and pay $1.4 billion in civil and criminal penalties. U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo has scheduled a Feb. 14 hearing to decide whether to accept that criminal settlement. A different judge will decide whether to accept Transocean's civil settlement.
David Rainey, BP's former vice president of exploration for the Gulf of Mexico, was charged with withholding information from Congress about the amount of oil that was gushing from the well.
His pessimism extended to his assessment of the current state of negotiations:
It's been kind of a tough month for vegetables. A controversy erupted when Taco Bell started airing a TV ad for its variety 12-pack of tacos, with a voiceover saying that bringing a vegetable tray to a football party is "like punting on fourth-and-1." It said that people secretly hate guests who bring vegetables to parties.
The Justice Department has reached a separate settlement with rig owner Transocean Ltd. that resolves the government's civil and criminal claims over the Swissbased company's role in the disaster.
In other criminal cases, four current or former BP employees have been indicted. BP rig supervisors Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine are charged with manslaughter, accused of repeatedly disregarding abnormal highpressure readings that should have been glaring indications of trouble just before the blowout.
"So if I'm doing it, it is because, maybe stupidly, I feel a sense of duty," Brahimi said.
About 1 in 5 illnesses were linked to leafy green vegetables - more than any other type of food. And nearly half of all food poisonings were attributed to produce in general, when illnesses from other fruits and vegetables were added in.
ment imposes "severe corporate punishment" and will deter BP and other deep-water drilling companies from allowing another disaster to occur.
Also killed were Aaron Dale "Bubba" Burkeen, 37, of Philadelphia, Miss.; Donald Clark, 49, of Newellton, La.; Stephen Ray Curtis, 40, of Georgetown, La.; Karl Kleppinger Jr., 38, of Natchez, Miss.; Keith Blair Manuel, 56, of Gonzales, La.; Dewey A. Revette, 48, of State Line, Miss.; Shane M. Roshto, 22, of Liberty, Miss.; and Adam Weise, 24, Yorktown, Texas.
"Am I going to resign? I am not a quitter," Brahimi said. "The United Nations has no choice but to remain engaged with this problem, whether I am there or not. The moment I feel I am totally useless, I will not stay one minute more.
LEAFY GREENS TOP FOOD P O I S O N I N G S O U R C E
Continued from page 1
Many relatives of rig workers who died in the blast submitted written statements that were critical of BP's deal. Vance, however, said she couldn't get involved in plea negotiations and only could impose a sentence that adheres to the agreed-upon terms if she accepted it.
"cannot be implemented as it is." Brahimi addressed widespread rumors that he was about to quit, as his predecessor, former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan, did last year when he ran into a similar impasse.
Without actually saying so, the CDC report suggests that the Food and Drug Administration should devote more staff time and other resources to inspection of fruits and vegetables, said Michael Doyle, director of the University of Georgia's Center for Food Safety.
a lettuce worker washes romaine lettuce in Salinas, Calif. Leafy green vegetables were the leading source of food poisoning over an 11-year period, federal health officials say
NEW YORK (AP) -- A big government study has fingered leafy greens like lettuce and spinach as the leading source of food poisoning, a perhaps uncomfortable conclusion for health officials who want us to eat our vegetables. "Most meals are safe," said Dr. Patricia Griffin, a government researcher and one of the study's authors who said the finding shouldn't discourage people from eating produce. Experts repeated often-heard advice: Be sure to wash those foods or cook them thoroughly. While more people may have gotten sick from plants, more died from contaminated poultry, the study also found. The results were released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans - or 48 million people- gets sick from food poisoning. That includes 128,000 hospitalization and 3,000 deaths, according to previous CDC estimates. The new report is the most comprehensive CDC has produced on the sources of food poisoning, covering the years 1998 through 2008. It reflects the agency's growing sophistication at monitoring illnesses and finding their source. What jumped out at the researchers was the role fruits and vegetables played in food poisonings, said Griffin, who heads the CDC office that handles foodborne infection surveillance and analysis.
Earlier this month, the FDA released a proposed new rule for produce safety that would set new hygiene standards for farm workers and for trying to reduce contact with animal waste and dirty water. Meanwhile, CDC officials emphasized that their report should not be seen as discouraging people from eating vegetables. Many of the vegetable-related illnesses come from norovirus, which is often spread by cooks and food handlers. So contamination sometimes has more to do with the kitchen or restaurant it came from then the food itself, Griffin noted. Also, while vegetable-related illnesses were more common, they were not the most dangerous. The largest proportion of foodborne illness deaths - about 1 in 5 were due to poultry. That was partly because three big outbreaks more than 10 years ago linked to turkey deli meat. But it was close. CDC estimated 277 poultry-related deaths in 1998-2008, compared to 236 vegetable-related deaths. Fruits and nuts were credited with 96 additional deaths, making 334 total deaths for produce of all types. The CDC estimated 417 deaths from all kinds of meat and poultry, another 140 from dairy and 71 from eggs. Red meat was once seen as one of the leading sources of food poisoning, partly because of a deadly outbreak of E. coli associated with hamburger. But Griffin and Doyle said there have been significant safety improvements in beef handling. In the study, beef was the source of fewer than 4 percent of food-related deaths and fewer than 7 percent of illnesses.
4 Legal Street News Monday January 28, 2013
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E G Y P T A R M Y C H I E F WA R N S S TAT E C O U L D C O L L A P S E PORT SAID, Egypt (AP) -- Residents of this Mediterranean coastal city burying their dead from Egypt's wave of political violence vented their fury at Egypt's Islamist president and the Muslim Brotherhood on Tuesday, demanding his ouster and virtually declaring a revolt against his rule, as the head of the military warned Egypt may collapse under the weight of its turmoil.
"My children told me not to vote for him," she said. "I thought he was a faithful man who knows God. But he turned out to be not faithful and he doesn't know God. I made a big mistake." The city now feels under siege. Shops are closed. Fearing the violence, trucks have stopped bringing in produce. Drivers refused to bring in oxygen supplies for a private hospital after their truck came under fire by unknown assailants, a worker at the hospital said. The city is awash with weapons and known criminals are seen on motorcycles brandishing automatic weapons.
Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi' strongly worded comments, his first since the crisis began, appeared aimed at pushing both sides in Egypt's political divide to reconcile and find a solution to the rapidly spreading protests and riots across much of the country the past six days. But his breaking of his silence falls heaviest on President Mohammed Morsi, who has been unable to contain the unrest by trying a tough hand, as protesters defied his declaration of a month-long state of emergency and curfew in Port Said and two neighboring cities. At least 60 people have been killed and hundreds injured since Thursday in clashes between police and protesters angry over what they call Islamists' moves to monopolize power and failure to address the country's multiple woes. In his comments, el-Sissi signaled the military would not move to put down protesters, saying troops are in a "grave predicament," forced to balance between "avoiding confrontation" with citizens and protecting state institutions. In Cairo on Tuesday, rock-throwing protesters clashed with police firing tear gas for another day in battles that escalated after nightfall near Tahrir Square. The mayhem forced the nearby U.S. Embassy to suspend public services Tuesday, and the night before masked men tried to rob the neighboring five-star Semiramis Hotel, a Cairo landmark, trashing the lobby before being forced out. Protesters in many cities around the country have battled police, cut off roads and railway lines and besieged government offices and police stations. But the most dramatic fraying of state control has been in the three cities along the Suez Canal, particularly Port Said, at the canal's Mediterranean end. Violence exploded in Port Said on Saturday, leaving more than 40 dead since. The provincial governor has gone into hiding. Police are hunkered down. Tanks are in the streets by government buildings, but army troops have balked at enforcing Morsi's curfew order. Residents in all three cities flouted the restrictions with huge marches in the streets Monday and Tuesday night. "The independent state of Port Said," proclaimed one protester's sign as thousands marched through the city Tuesday in funeral processions for two of those killed in the unrest. "Down, down with the rule of the Guide," mourners chanted, referring to the Brotherhood's top leader, known as the general guide, who opponents see as the real power behind Morsi's government. Mourners carried images of young men shot to death by police and accused Morsi of ordering the security forces to open fire. Many said the Islamist president should be put on trial like ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak, who was sentenced to life in prison in connection with the deaths of hundreds of protesters during the 2011 uprising against his rule, though he has been granted a retrial on appeal. "God wreak vengeance on Morsi, who gave the orders to shoot at the protesters of Port Said, the city that fought three countries," said Ayman Mohammed Abdel-Fatah, holding a picture of a slain 22-year-old relative who he
Egyptian protesters clash with riot police near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013. Intense fighting for days around central Tahrir Square engulfed two landmark hotels and forced the U.S. Embassy to suspend public services. said was shot four times by police during protests outside Port Said's prison. "As long as the president's hands are stained in blood, he must leave," said Mohammed el-Assfouri, a lawyer, standing outside the Mariam mosque where mourners prayed for the dead. Egypt's unrest began Thursday and accelerated the following day when clashes erupted nationwide amid protests by the opposition marking the two-year anniversary of the start of the uprising that toppled Mubarak. Port Said's violence was touched off Saturday when a court issued death sentences against 21 people - mostly local soccer fans - over a bloody soccer riot in the city a year ago. Youths infuriated by the verdicts marched in the streets and clashed with police at a police station and the prison. The verdicts were seen by residents as unfairly targeting Port Said. They also tapped into a vein of resentment in a city of 600,000 that prides itself as a national symbol of resistance after being on the front lines of multiple wars with Israel since 1956. Many are convinced Morsi and the Brotherhood are trying to sideline the city because of a tradition of defying authority. They were further outraged when Morsi went on TV Sunday night and declared the state of emergency and curfew in Port Said, Suez and Ismailiya. Wagging his finger and shouting, Morsi supported the actions of police in confronting the protesters and warned of stronger measures if calm is not restored. Mourners on Tuesday spoke of police on rooftops and roving in armored vehicles firing wildly during the weekend mayhem around the police station and prison in the city's al-Arab district, hitting bystanders blocks away. On Sunday, a funeral of some of those killed came under fire - residents blame police - causing panic as mourners dropped some of the bodies they were carrying on the ground. Ayman el-Sherbini said his 23-year-old brother Osama was walking in the al-Arab district on the way to buy food when a bullet hit him in the face, killing him. El-Sherbini, who wore the beard of a conservative Muslim, blamed Morsi and said his Islamist leadership had brought shame on religious people. "Now people spit in the face of anyone with a beard because of Morsi," he said. Women in face veils screamed anti-Morsi slogans in the funeral march. One woman, Faten el-Tahan, a government worker in a conservative Muslim headscarf, said she wished her "hands were cut off" the day she voted for Morsi in last year's presidential election.
Seaside hotels are totally empty during a mid-year school holiday when normally they are full of Egyptian tourists. Soot, shattered glass and burnt furniture are scattered outside police and army clubs which are located in front of the cemetery where slain protesters were buried and which were attacked by protesters. Tuesday evening, Morsi's office issued a statement saying the curfew and state of emergency could be lifted or shortened if the security situation improves, apparently trying to ease the anger. Throughout the crisis, presidential officials and the Brotherhood have depicted the unrest as caused by thugs and supporters of Mubarak's regime - and they have suggested that the political opposition is using the turmoil to overturn the results of elections that Islamists have repeatedly won the past year, bringing them to power. The opposition contends the crisis is caused by Brotherhood attempts to monopolize power and can only be resolved if it makes major concessions to loosen its grip, including forming a national unity government and rewriting contentious parts of the Islamist-backed constitution. The Brotherhood has dismissed those demands, and Morsi has instead invited the opposition to join a broad dialogue conference. The opposition has refused it as mere window dressing. The army chief's comments suggested the military's impatience with politicians' power struggles. "The continuation of the conflict between the different political forces and their differences over how the country should be run could lead to the collapse of the state and threaten future generations," el-Sissi said, speaking to military cadets in comments posted on the armed forces' Facebook page. He also spoke of a "realistic threat" facing the nation from its mounting political, economic and social problems. El-Sissi was appointed by Morsi as military chief and defense minister last autumn when the president side-
Continued from page 1 Florida. So the book shouldn't be seen as a "manifesto" for a future political campaign, he writes in the book. But he's not shy about making a series of policy recommendations. "We should have more progressive taxation, we should have higher inheritance taxes. I've always believed that," Gore said. "I advocated that during my political career and I continue to advocate it." "We need to restore our democracy, we need to reform markets so they operate the way they're supposed to," he said. "And the U.S. leadership of the world needs to be restored."
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_____________________________________________________Legal Street News Monday, January 21, 2013
MEXICO'S NEW PRESIDENT MOSTLY M U M O N D R U G V I O L E N C E areas, a force that will take several years to build. Meanwhile he is keeping the military on the streets, just as Calderon did.
MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Two months after President Enrique Pena Nieto took office promising to reduce violent crime, the killings linked to Mexico's drug cartels continue unabated.
The Pena Nieto government also said that it will only talk about violence in terms of "hard data."
Only the government's talk about them has dropped. Eighteen members of a band and its retinue were kidnapped and apparently slain over the weekend in the northern border state of Nuevo Leon by gunmen who asked them to name their cartel affiliation before they were shot and dumped in a well. Fourteen prisoners and nine guards died in an attempted prison escape in Durango state. Nine men were slain Christmas eve in Sinaloa. In the state of Mexico, which borders the capital, more than a dozen bodies were found last week, some dismembered. The difference under this administration is that there have been no major press conferences announcing more troops or federal police for drugplagued hotspots. Gone are the regular parades of newly arrested drug suspects before the media with their weapons, cash or contraband. Pena Nieto has been mum, instead touting education, fiscal and energy reforms. On Monday, he told a summit of Latin American and Caribbean leaders in Chile that he wants Mexico to focus on being a player in solving world and regional problems. Some political observers praise him for trying to change the conversation and presenting an alternative face of Mexico. Critics suggest the country's new leaders believe that the best way to solve a security crisis is to create distractions. "What Pena Nieto is doing is ... sweeping violence under the rug in hopes that no one notices," said security expert Jorge Chabat. "It can be effective in the short term, until the violence becomes so obvious that you can't change the subject." The Pena Nieto government declined to respond publicly to the critics. But in an interview last month with The Associated Press, he said he would not put any goals or deadlines on his campaign against organized crime and would focus on prevention. "That way we avoid generating fertile ground where violence and insecurity can keep growing," Pena Nieto said. Secretary of Interior Jose Osorio Chong had a closed-door meeting with the governors of Mexico's central states about security on Monday. In a press conference afterward, he promised to increase patrols along a highway system already bristling with military and police roadblocks and checkpoints. The apparent weekend killing of 18 members of Kombo Kolombia, which had played at a private performance late Thursday, was the largest mass kidnapping and killing since 20 tourists disappeared and were later found dead in 2011 near the resort city of Acapulco. Searchers this week were pulling bodies from a well in northern Mexico that they said likely belonged to the band. An area known as the Laguna, where Coahuila and Durango states meet, has been the scene of
Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto laughs as he meets with members of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean in Santiago, Chile, Friday, Jan. 25, 2012. Leaders from the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean are gathering in Santiago for the CELAC-EU economic summit
numerous battles between factions of the Sinaloa and the Zetas cartels. The State of Mexico has had 70 slayings so far this year, according to Gov. Eruviel Avila. La Familia has moved in from the neighboring state of Michoacan and is fighting for territory with a smaller gang known as the United Warriors. Meanwhile, masked vigilantes patrol towns in the southern state of Guerrero on the Pacific coast, where citizens have grown tired of organized crime usurping local authority. Communications expert Ruben Aguilar said the Pena Nieto government is right to change the focus from security, which had been the main topic throughout the six-year administration of President Felipe Calderon, who left office on Dec. 1. "On the subject of security, President Calderon went against all logic and turned it into the country's only issue," said Aguilar, who was spokesman for previous President Vicente Fox. "The theme itself is addictive for the media, and generates a negative social mood." It's difficult to say if drug violence has risen because the government no longer provides numbers, something that started under Calderon, who last released drug-war death statistics in September 2011. The newspaper Reforma, one of several media outlets that count murders linked to organized crime, said that in December, the first month of the new government, there were 755 drug-related killings, compared to 699 in November. In Calderon's six-year term, some 70,000 people lost their lives to drug violence, the newspaper reported, with at least 20,000 believed missing. Pena Nieto's election marked the return to power of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ran Mexico for 71 years. Under Calderon, violence exploded and cartels splintered. Many Mexicans believed drug violence would start to wane with the return of the PRI, assuming it would negotiate to keep the peace - something party leaders have consistently denied. Upon taking office Dec. 1, Pena Nieto announced that he would work to restore peace, saying the government would change its security strategy to reducing murders, kidnappings and extortion more than going after cartel leaders . He released a security plan that was not clearly different from Calderon's. Among the few specifics was a plan to establish a gendarmerie to patrol dangerous
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Eduardo Sรกnchez, the undersecretary for media in the Interior Ministry, told Mexico's official news agency last week that the federal government will no longer present detainees to the media or mention prisoners' aliases - be it "the Squirrel" or "El Brad Pitt" - a highly criticized practice under Calderon. The idea, Sanchez said, is to avoid glorifying violence, which is already celebrated in some circles through music and clothing styles. "We don't want the youth in this country to feel like crime is attractive or a good place in increase your social economic status," Sanchez told local reporters last week. He said the government has arrested 854 people for drug-related crimes its first month in office, and said 69 criminals were killed in confrontations with the armed forces. But he would not say to which organized crime groups they belonged or the circumstances of their deaths or capture. Carlos Reyes, spokesman for the congressional delegation of the opposition Democratic Revolution Party, was critical of the new approach. "The actions of the government need to be transparent in terms of being precise about the level of the problem and how you're going to address it, not evade or disguise it," he said. Edna Jaime, director of the policy analysis firm Mexico Evaluates, it's too early to criticize the new government's approach. "The dynamic of violence is not going to change in a month or a month and half," she said, though she added that the government should have a strategy by now. The narrative will change "when it's accompanied by real change," she added.
Legal Street News Monday, January 28, 2013
J A P A N L A U N C H E S 2 I N T E L L I G E N C E S A T E L L I T E S Commission declared last week that the country would carry out a nuclear test and launch more rockets in defiance of the U.N. Security Council's announcement that it would punish Pyongyang for its long-range rocket test in December with more sanctions, calling it a violation of a ban on nuclear and missile activity.
OKYO (AP) -- Japan launched two intelligence satellites into orbit on Sunday amid growing concerns that North Korea is planning to test more rockets of its own and possibly conduct a nuclear test. Officials say the launch Sunday of the domestically produced HII-A rocket went smoothly and the satellites an operational radar satellite and an experimental optical probe - appear to have reached orbit. Japan began its intelligence satellite program after North Korea fired a long-range missile over Japan's main island in 1998. North Korea conducted a launch last month that it says carried a satellite into orbit but has been condemned by the U.S. and others as a cover for its development of missile technology.
North Korea's state news agency said on Sunday that leader Kim Jong Un vowed at a meeting of top security and foreign officials to take "substantial and high-profile important state measures."
The latest Japanese launch was in the planning stages long before the current increase in tensions with North Korea, but underscores Japan's longstanding wariness of its isolated neighbor's abilities and intentions.
Its optical satellites are believed to be about as good as commercial satellites, meaning they are able to detect objects of about 40 centimeters (16 inches) in size from their orbits. With the additional radar satellite, Japan hopes to be able to glean intelligence on any specified location once a day.
The radar satellite, which can provide intelligence through cloud cover and at night, is intended to augment a network of several probes that Japan already has in orbit. The optical probe will be used to test future technology and improvements that would allow Japan to strengthen its surveillance capabilities.
Japan, which hosts about 50,000 U.S. troops, is especially concerned about North Korea because its main islands are already within range of the North's missiles. Along with developing its own network of spy satellites, Japan has cooperated with Washington in establishing an elaborate missile defense shield.
Japan still relies on the United States for much of its
TWO SCIENTIST WIN NOBEL PRIzE FOR RESEARCH BRUSSELS (AP) -- Two European science projects - one to map the intricacies of the human brain, the other to explore the extraordinary carbon-based material graphene - won an EU technology contest Monday, getting up to (EURO)1 billion ($1.34 billion) each over the next decade.
The Human Brain Project will use supercomputers 1,000 times more powerful than those today to create the most detailed model ever of the human brain. Then the project plans to simulate the effects of drugs and treatments on the brain, for a better understanding of neurological diseases and related ailments. In addition, the increased knowledge about how the brain works - and how it manages billions of processing units and trillions of synapses while consuming no more power than a light bulb -may lead to "a paradigm shift for computing," the European Commission, the European Union's executive branch, said in a statement. "The economic and industrial impact of such a shift is potentially enormous," the commission said. The leader of the project, Henry Markram, a professor of neuroscience at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale of Lausanne in Switzerland, said earlier this month that it could not be undertaken without this kind of funding. "The pharmaceutical industry won't do this, computing companies won't do this - there's too much fundamental science," Markram said. "This is one project which absolutely needs public funding." The other project will investigate the possible uses of graphene, the thinnest known material, which conducts electricity far better than copper, is perhaps 300 times stronger than steel and has unique optical properties. A sheet of it is one atom thick; scientists call it the first known two-dimensional material.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Heat rising up from cities such as New York, Paris and Tokyo might be remotely warming up winters far away in some rural parts of Alaska, Canada, and Siberia, a surprising study theorizes. In an unusual twist, that same urban heat from buildings and cars may be slightly cooling the autumns in much of the Western United States, Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean, according to the study published Sunday in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change. Meteorologists long have known that cities are warmer than rural areas, with the heat of buildings and cars, along with asphalt and roofs that absorb heat. That's called the urban heat island effect and it's long been thought that the heat stayed close to the cities. But the study, based on a computer model and the Northern Hemisphere, now suggests the heat does something else, albeit indirectly. It travels about half a mile up into the air and then its energy changes the high-altitude currents in the atmosphere that dictate prevailing weather.
The projects were selected from 26 proposals. "European's position as a knowledge superpower depends on thinking the unthinkable and exploiting the best ideas," European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said in a statement. "This multi-billion competition rewards home-grown scientific breakthroughs and shows that when we are ambitious we can develop the best research in Europe."
D I S T A N T RURAL AREAS M A Y F E E L C I T I E S ' H E AT
Two European science projects - one to map the intricacies of the human brain, the other to explore the extraordinary carbonbased material graphene â€” won an EU technology contest Monday, Jan. 28, 2013, getting up to euro1 billion ($1.34 billion) each over the next decade. The projects were selected from 26
Important future uses include the development of fast, flexible and strong consumer electronics, bendable personal communication devises, lighter airplanes, cars that use less energy and artificial retinas. The project will be led by professor Jari Kinaret of the Chalmers University of Technology in Goteborg, Sweden. "The story of graphene shows there is still wonder in science," Kroes said Monday at a news conference. "It's like a miracle." In 2010, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to two scientists at the University of Manchester in Britain "for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene." "So, you've heard of Silicon Valley," Kroes said. "`Where in Europe wants to be known as `Graphene Valley?' That's the billion-euro question I am putting to you today." Each of the projects will initially receive (EURO)54 million ($73 million) from the European Union's research budget, an amount that will be matched by national governments and other sources. Further funding will depend on whether they reach certain milestones within the first 30 months, but over a decade it could total (EURO)1 billion ($1.34 million) each. In this age of government austerity, the commission promised to monitor the projects carefully so they continue "to be an efficient use of taxpayers' money." The winners were selected by a panel of 25 experts, including professors, scientists and Nobel winners.
"Basically, it changes the flow." said Guang Zhang of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif. He wrote the paper with Aixue Hu at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. This doesn't change overall global temperature averages significantly, unlike man-made greenhouse gases that cause global warming. Instead it redistributes some of the heat, the scientists said. The changes seem to vary with the seasons and by region because of the way air currents flow at different times of the year. During the winter, the jet stream is altered and weakened, keeping cold air closer to the Arctic Circle and from dipping down as sharply, Hu explained. The computer model showed that parts of Siberia and northwestern Canada may get, on average, an extra 1.4 degrees to 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 to 1 degree Celsius) during the winter, which "may not be a bad thing," Zhang said. The effect isn't quite as much in northern North Dakota and Minnesota, where temperatures might be about half a degree warmer (0.3 degrees Celsius), and even less along the East Coast. In contrast, Europe and the Pacific Northwest are cooled slightly in the winter from this effect. The jet stream changes prevent weather systems from bringing warmer air from the Atlantic to Europe and from the Pacific to the U.S. Northwest, thus cooling those areas a bit, he said. The biggest cooling occurs in the fall, but Hu said he's not quite sure why that happens. Several outside scientists said they were surprised by the study results, calling the work "intriguing" and "clever." But they said it would have to be shown in more than one computer model and in repeated experiments before they could accept this theory. "It's an interesting and rationally carried out study," said David Parker, climate monitoring chief of the United Kingdom meteorology office. "We must be cautious until other models are used to test their hypothesis."