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Chicago Hits 500 Homicides, Highest in 4 Years

Source: Politics365

Does Rahm Emanuel have a plan for a situation that would appear to be a state of emergency in the city of Chicago? It would appear not.

Chicago has logged its 500th homicide of 2012. The last time Chicago reached the 500 homicides was 2008 when there were 512 homicides. Last year, there were 435 homicides in Chicago.

The Chicago Police Department Chicago said that a man named Nathaniel Jackson was found on the sidewalk outside a store with a gunshot wound to the head on late Thursday evening. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office pronounced Jackson dead early Friday. Later on Thursday, another man was murdered in the Austin neighborhood on the city’s West Side.

Most of the deaths were gun related. The issue of Chicago’s homicide rate never came up during the presidential campaign of 2012. Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. spoke on the crisis on CNN this morning.

Read more: http://politic365.com/2012/12/28/chicago-hits-500-homicides-highest-in-4-years/

Sheriff Arpaio Sending Armed Posse To Protect Schools

PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Thursday that he plans to deploy his armed volunteer posse to protect Valley schools from the kind of violence that happened in the Connecticut shooting tragedy. Arpaio believes having armed law officers around schools will deter would-be criminals from trying anything violent and, possibly, stop them if they do.

“I have the authority to mobilize private citizens and fight crime in this county,” Arpaio said.

Arpaio first started using his posse to protect malls during the holiday shopping season in 1993 in response to violent incidents in prior years. Since then he said malls where his posse members are on patrol have had zero violent re-occurrences and patrols by his all-volunteer squad during the 2012 shopping season netted a record 31 arrests.

Arpaio said since the program has worked so well in malls he believes it will work just as well protecting schools.

“We're not talking about placing the posse in the schools right now but in the outlying -- the perimeters of the school -- to detect any criminal activity.”



The Lost Art of Cooking With Lard

Most of us long for the authenticity of old-fashioned recipes, in which farm-fresh ingredients contribute honest flavors. Free-range eggs, with their sunny, orange yolks; freshly churned butter sparkling with the last drops of its briny whey: This is the way food ought to taste.

Thoughtful shoppers can resurrect some of those flavors by shopping carefully at farmstands and farmers markets. But one great heritage ingredient missing from most tables today is lard. Used in kitchens for centuries, lard (rendered from pork fat) has a unique mix of different types of fats that give it wonderful qualities, especially for baking and frying. If you’ve never eaten foods cooked with lard, you’re in for a lovely surprise when you do.

Like most animal fats, lard is higher in saturated fat than most vegetable oils. Lard’s reputation was tarnished decades ago when manufacturers persuaded us that Crisco and Parkay, which are vegetable oils that are “hydrogenated” using chemical processes to change the oils to solids, were better choices than traditional animal fats. Then, in the ’90s, when the medical establishment began to hammer on saturated fats as the culprits in heart disease, lard’s shunning was complete.

New research shows that saturated fat is not the heart-slayer it was once deemed to be, whereas the trans fats found in hydrogenated fats are worse for us than we realized. (Learn more in The Fats You Need for a Healthy Diet.) It turns out that the trans fats in hydrogenated vegetable margarines and shortenings are lopsided in their ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, and those ratios have been linked to heart disease

Look to lard for flaky, tender biscuits and pie crusts, and discover how its high smoke point (370 degrees Fahrenheit) makes it ideal for frying. Grit magazine’s lard book includes information on how to locate sources for lard from pastured pigs and instructions to render it yourself.

Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/cooking-with-lard-zmgz12djzkon.aspx?page=2#ixzz2GMoWTUXk

<b>comment</b>We tried lard a couple of years ago after reading another article from this magazine about it. Finally a pie-crust and fried eggs just look my Grandma, rest her soul, used to make. As with most everything, use in moderation...

Teflon Dangers: Deadly to Chickens — And Us

GE has refused to add a warning to their bulbs’ packaging even though it has been known for many years that, when heated, Teflon-coated “nonstick” cooking pans can release a compound that kills birds and causes flu-like “polymer fume fever” in humans. In our October/November 2012 Dear MOTHER article, reader Lynn Chong detailed her efforts to convince GE to add a warning label to their light bulb packaging after a bulb killed 19 birds in her coop.

Chong’s story about Teflon dangers prompted us to research the history of Teflon and other perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs). Turns out there’s a great deal more to the story of DuPont’s Teflon than the deadly danger it presents to birds. Here’s the timeline we compiled from reports in The New York Times and The Washington Post and from scientific literature.

Meanwhile, beware of GE light bulbs coated with DuPont’s Teflon — they can kill your chickens. And if you think a bulb promoted as shatter-proof for “rough service” might be a good choice in your kids’ bedrooms, think again. If Teflon products kill chickens overnight, you probably don’t want to use them anywhere in your home.

Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-community/teflon-dangers-zmgz12jfzkon.aspx#ixzz2GMn0sOHt

Light-Powered Magnetic Levitation Could Create ‘New Class’ Of Solar Energy

By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, December 28, 2012

In a breakthrough that could one day revolutionize transportation and electricity generation, scientists at the University in Kanagawa in Japan demonstrated this month a disc that spins at over 200 rotations per minute when placed over a magnet in direct sunlight, saying the discovery could help create a wholly “new class” of solar energy.

Professor Jiro Abe and Dr. Masayuki Kobayashi presented their discovery in the December issue of Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Speaking a reporter with Phys.org, Abe said their research represents “the first time in the world” that humans have been able to achieve “real-time motion control” of intimate objects without individual parts of the machine coming into direct contact.

The study goes on to explain that it works because the light slightly changes the temperature of the graphite, which causes subtle fluctuations in the material’s “magnetic susceptibility.”

Video of the discovery published to YouTube earlier this month showed scientists moving a tiny disc over an array of small magnets by firing a laser at it. Additional footage also featured that same disc levitating over a single magnet, rapidly spinning in place when placed under direct sunlight.

“Because this technique is very simple and fundamental, it is expected to apply to various daily living techniques, such as transportation systems and amusement, as well as photo-actuators and light energy conversion systems,” Abe reportedly said.

Raw Story (http://s.tt/1xJYW)

White House Says No Defense Programs Are Immune to Cuts

By Tony Capaccio - Dec 27, 2012
Pentagon officials must make across- the-board reductions in weapons and research funds instead of slices that could spare some programs under the automatic federal budget cuts scheduled to take effect next week, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Whether cuts are made at the so-called “program, project and activity,” level instead of in larger “accounts” such as “Air Force Aircraft” has been one of the biggest unanswered questions about what happens if the automatic cuts known as sequestration take effect at the start of the new year.

The arcane difference in how Pentagon budget cuts are implemented has major implications for defense companies because if they had greater flexibility, the military services might be able to reduce some programs more than others, according to officials and analysts.

“Investors should realize there is no safe defense haven when cuts are made at PPA level,” said Byron Callan, a defense market analyst with Washington, D.C.-based Capital Alpha Partners LLC, in an e-mail statement.



Hagel Nomination Can Knock Down Wild-Swinging Repugs/NeoCons/AIPAC

The bad news is that, in the words of yesterday's NYRB article by Elizabeth Drew:

if dropped Hagel would he go to bat for anyone? (Or they for him?) The hesitancy to name Hagel or another candidate is already diminishing Obama's stature, erasing more of his post-election glow.

The good news is that Obama still has time to turn this story into one of rope-a-doping wild-swinging Repugs, NeoCons and AIPAC, who have set themselves up to be knocked down by an Obama counterpunch. Hagel€™'s confirmation, which is likely, would show the limits of their influence, and would further reduce it. Even if some combination of lucky punches or abuse of the filibuster succeeded in derailing his nomination, the move from a whispering campaign to public hearings would further highlight the extremism of Hagel'™s rightwing detractors (his other detractors are discussed below).

The stakes are very high and broad.

As Drew says about for domestic politics:

What the president decides will bear on: his effectiveness in his second term; any president's ability to form a government; whether an independent voice can be raised on a highly sensitive issue in opposition to the views of a powerful lobby and still be named to a significant government position; whether there is actually a proper nominating system; whether McCarthyite tactics can still be effective more than half a century after they were rejected by a fed-up nation.

As Drew says about foreign policy:

And, by the way, what will be the direction of American policy in the Middle East? In particular, how adventurous will we be toward Iran? Have we learned anything from the calamitous foreign policy blunders of the past decade? Iran more than any other single issue is at the core of the opposition to Hagel, and that issue is closely linked to the question of the extent to which the U.S. should be allied with the aggressive policies of the Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toward Iran.



Obama Has Double Dilemma in Choice of New Pentagon Chief

By Gopal Ratnam - Dec 28, 2012
President Barack Obama faces a growing dilemma in his choice of a new defense secretary to succeed Leon Panetta.

Having dropped United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice and named Massachusetts Democratic Senator John Kerry to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, Obama runs the risk of appearing weak if he bows to political opposition again and chooses someone other than former Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel to lead the Pentagon.

Picking another candidate would show for a second time “that the president’s important choices for personnel can be vetoed by two or three senators,” said Sean Kay, a professor of politics and government at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, who specializes in U.S. foreign and defense policy. “The White House will come out of this significantly weakened.”

If Obama sticks with Hagel in the face of opposition from an ad hoc coalition of Republican advocates of muscular defense policies, Democratic supporters of Israel and gay rights activists, though, Obama might be forced to spend political capital he needs for the bigger battle over the federal budget and deficit reduction.



Business Activity in U.S. Expands for a Second Month

Business activity in the U.S. expanded in December for a second month, easing concern that a lack of progress on the federal budget would prompt a slump in manufacturing.

The MNI Chicago Report’s business barometer rose to a four- month high of 51.6 from November’ 50.4. A reading of 50 is the dividing line between expansion and contraction. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey called for the gauge would rise to 51.

The figure corroborates another report that showed manufacturing in the Philadelphia area expanded by the most in eight months, pointing to stability in the industry. With companies tempering equipment orders in the event that more than $600 billion in automatic tax increases and government spending cuts take place next year, an improvement in housing and sustained consumer spending has taken the lead in underpinning the economy.

“Business investment is showing signs of stabilizing but it’s still very soft, and I think that’s going to be taking some steam out of manufacturing over the next couple of months,” Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania, said before the report. “We’re in the midst of a hand-off from manufacturing to housing as the big driver of the U.S. economy.”



U.S. Pending Home Sales Hit 2-1/2 Year High In November

Source: Reuters

WASHINGTON | Fri Dec 28, 2012 9:59am EST
Dec 28 (Reuters) - Contracts to buy previously owned U.S. homes rose in November to their highest level in 2-1/2 years, an industry group said on Friday, further evidence of a strengthening housing market recovery.

The National Association of Realtors said its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month, increased 1.7 percent to 106.4 - the highest level since April 2010 when the home-buyer tax credit expired.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected signed contracts, which become sales after a month or two, to rise 1.0 percent after a revised 5.0 percent increase in October. It was the third straight month of gains.

"Home sales are recovering now based solely on fundamental demand and favorable affordability conditions," said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.

Pending home sales were up 9.8 percent in the 12 months through November.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/28/usa-economy-homes-idUSL1E8NR6XO20121228
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