Asbestos cleanup disaster finally declared in Libby, Montana

W.R.Grace mine near Libby, Montana

A northwest Montana town where asbestos contamination has killed more than 200 people will get more than $130 million in cleanup and medical assistance from the Obama administration, the Environmental Protection Agency has announced.

The declaration is the first issued by the agency, which has grappled with the “toxic legacy” of a mine outside Libby, Montana, since 1999, Administrator Lisa Jackson said.

“Grappled with the toxic legacy” means they got little or no assistance from the politicians elected to serve the people.

The town was heavily contaminated with asbestos-laced dust that federal prosecutors said resulted in more than 200 deaths and 1,000 illnesses…

Not only did dust from the mine spread all over Libby and the neighboring town of Troy for decades, but tailings from the facility also were used as fill for driveways, gardens and playgrounds, she said…

The Libby operation began producing vermiculite — a mineral often used in insulation — in 1919. Dust from the plant covered patches of grass, dusted the tops of cars and drifted through the air in a hazy smoke that became a part of residents’ daily lives.

But the product was contaminated with tremolite asbestos, a particularly toxic substance that has been linked to mesothelioma, a cancer that can attack the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart.

Asbestos-based manufacturers have always been big-hearted about providing fill. Raybestos-Manhattan provided fill for the softball field at a middle school in my old home town. Then declared bankruptcy to avoid responsibility for all the asbestos-related lawsuits that finally were recognized by the courts in recent years.

My niece’s name is on one of those lawsuits. She died of cancer before she was thirty. She was a hell of a softball player.

Coke hidden in frozen sharks – bought with cold, hard cash?

Mexico’s navy has seized more than a ton of cocaine stuffed inside frozen sharks, as drug gangs under military pressure go to greater lengths to conceal narcotics bound for the United States.

Armed and masked navy officers cut open more than 20 shark carcasses filled with slabs of cocaine after checking a container ship in a container port in the southern Mexico state of Yucatan.

“We are talking about more than a ton of cocaine that was inside the ship,” Navy Commander Eduardo Villa told reporters after X-ray machines and sniffer dogs helped uncover the drugs. “Those in charge of the shipment said it was a conserving agent but after checks we confirmed it was cocaine,” he said.

Drug gangs are coming up with increasingly creative ways of getting drugs into the United States — in sealed beer cans, religious statues and furniture — as Mexico’s military cracks down on the cartels moving South American narcotics north.

Best one I recall was the mule who had his leg broken so he could have a cast made of cocaine. He figured he’d get through the x-ray easier with proof of injury.

Mom handcuffed, starved son to drive out demons

A Georgia woman is being held without bond in the Gwinnett County Jail after authorities said she tried to perform an exorcism on her child.

Sandra Alfred, 46, was arrested Friday evening, a day after warrants were issued for false imprisonment and cruelty to children. According to those warrants, Alfred used handcuffs – “tightly at one point” – to restrain the male juvenile and withheld food for three days while attempting the exorcism.

The warrants said the child was taken to a church for the exorcism, but it is unclear which church and who was to perform the ritual…

Police Sgt. Stephen Weed noted in his warrant application that Alfred possibly suffers from schizophrenia and delusions.

She could defend herself by saying God told her to do this to her son. Might work. The American interpretation of Freedom of Religion allows for all sorts of looney behavior.

Obama’s rules haven’t stopped N.S.A snooping through your email

Our government’s preferred email filter

The National Security Agency is facing renewed scrutiny over the extent of its domestic surveillance program, with critics in Congress saying its recent intercepts of the private telephone calls and e-mail messages of Americans are broader than previously acknowledged.

The agency’s monitoring of domestic e-mail messages, in particular, has posed longstanding legal and logistical difficulties, officials said.

Since April, when it was disclosed that the intercepts of some private communications of Americans went beyond legal limits in late 2008 and early 2009, several Congressional committees have been investigating. Those inquiries have led to concerns in Congress about the agency’s ability to collect and read domestic e-mail messages of Americans on a widespread basis, officials said. Supporting that conclusion is the account of a former N.S.A. analyst who, in a series of interviews, described being trained in 2005 for a program in which the agency routinely examined large volumes of Americans’ e-mail messages without court warrants. Two intelligence officials confirmed that the program was still in operation

Representative Rush Holt, Democrat of New Jersey and chairman of the House Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, has been investigating the incidents and said he had become increasingly troubled by the agency’s handling of domestic communications.

In an interview, Mr. Holt disputed assertions by Justice Department and national security officials that the overcollection was inadvertent.

RTFA. Creeps and spooks will hate this. They hate to admit this crap is still going on.

Former Justice official, James Comey, tried to halt collection of “meta-data” of American e-mail messages – the details of e-mail traffic listed by identifying who, when and where, is e-mailing whom. Of course, it’s a violation of Constitutional law – and our president, the Constitution expert, should take time to back up the few people in Congress who are standing up to the N.S.A..

Former Catholic priest gets to marry the woman he loves

Former Roman Catholic priest Alberto Cutié married Ruhama Buni Canellis in a courthouse. The couple will also have a church wedding.

Cutié left a Coral Gables courthouse shortly after 1 p.m. Tuesday as a married man.

But Cutié, who left the Catholic church to become an Episcopalian in late May, will have to wait more than a week before his new church recognizes the marriage in a religious ceremony. That will take place in an unnamed church under Rt. Rev. Leo Frade, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida.

Cutié, 40, and his wife, 35-year-old Ruhama Buni Canellis, quietly slipped into the Coral Gables Branch Court at 3100 Ponce de Leon Blvd. through a gated back entrance around noon Tuesday, avoiding a growing group of news crews.

The couple presented identification and proof of premarital counseling to a clerk as they filled out a marriage license application. Then, they joined Miami-Dade County Judge Jacqueline Schwartz in her chambers for a quick ceremony, according to a court employee…

The recession-friendly wedding set the couple back $91. That’s a $61 application fee and $30 for the marriage ceremony. The marriage licenses — one for each — were free…

He and Canellis left the Catholic church just days prior during a private ceremony at Miami’s Trinity Cathedral, where Cutié also announced that he was starting a year-long process to become an Episcopal priest.

Cutié left his position at St. Francis de Sales Catholic church in Miami Beach when photographs showing him nuzzling Canellis on a Florida beach — a violation of his vow of celibacy — were published in a celebrity magazine in early May.

Good for you, dude. The Catholic Church will probably catch up with reality in another century or two.

German industry giants join North African solar project

Twenty blue chip German companies are pooling their resources with the aim of harnessing solar power in the deserts of north Africa and transporting the clean electricity to Europe.

The businesses, which include some of the biggest names in European energy, finance and manufacturing, will form a consortium next month. If successful, the highly ambitious plan could see Europe fuelled by solar energy within a decade.

The consortium behind what would be the biggest ever solar energy initiative will first raise awareness and interest among other investors for the project, known as Desertec, which is estimated to cost around €400 billion…

The companies – including Siemens, Deutsche Bank, and the energy companies RWE and E.on – will meet on July 13 in Munich to draw up an agreement. German government ministries as well as the Club of Rome, a Zurich-based NGO of leading scientists, managers and politicians which advocates sustainable development, are also expected to be present.

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Jobless? Homeless? Miss prison food?

Taiwan prison growing organic cabbage

A jobless Taiwan man released from prison stole a box of cotton swabs just to get arrested again because he “could not forget the police department boxed lunches,” said Taipei police officers and local media.

The homeless man in Taipei first stole a pair of shoes on Sunday, was detained and released, the Liberty Times said. He then resorted to stealing again the next day just to get back inside and be fed for free.

“If someone’s not doing well and comes in around meal time, we’ll definitely prepare food,” said an officer, surnamed Wang, at the Hsinyi District police station, which handled the case but again released the suspect, Tsou Hao-lan.

In another sign of the times on the recession-hit island, a man who had been without a job for four months stole a motor scooter and drove it to a Taipei-area police station, the paper said.

See. Once you have a good idea everyone wants to get in on the act.