Monthly Archives: February 2011

Vaccine Safety Advocates Demand an Apology from Bill Gates | Feb 24, 2011

Three weeks ago Microsoft chief Bill Gates labeled those who question vaccine safety as “anti-vaccine” and that claimed that “they kill children” during an interview with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

On Tuesday of this week, the United States Supreme Court told parents we have no recourse to a court of law for compensation when “unavoidably unsafe” vaccines harm our children (or ourselves).

February had more than its fair share of grim news concerning autism, vaccine safety and vaccination choice.

On Thursday, vaccine safety advocates responded passionately but respectfully to these events.  Advocates from the tri-state area gathered in front of Microsoft’s executive offices in New York City for a press conference. The advocates demanded an apology from Gates and decried the majority opinion in the Supreme Court’s Bruesewitz v. Wyeth decision.  Media filming the event included CNN, local CBS and ABC affiliates, and LNS.


Led by Vaccine Epidemic co-editors Louise Kuo Habakus and Mary Holland, the advocates demanded a reasoned dialogue on vaccine safety issues to further our common goal of protecting children’s health, rather than name-calling and rhetoric designed to squelch debate and silence dissent.

Habakus demanded an apology from Gates for his “egregious and irresponsible statement.”  She admonished Sanjay Gupta and others who have the public ear for allowing Gates’s statement of intolerance to go unchecked.  As she said, it is, in the end, Gates and others who demand blind adherence to public health dogma who are damaging the very program they seek to guard: “In truth, the people who deny the reality of vaccine injury are the ones who undermine the nation’s vaccine program.  When those in power tell half-truths about vaccines, people reluctantly conclude that their trust was misplaced.”

Mary Holland addressed the Bruesewitz decision.  She explained that the Supreme Court removed any remaining incentive vaccine manufacturers had to make vaccines safer by shielding them from legal liability when their vaccines damage those who are required to receive them.  The Court sent a clear message to parents that we are on our own when it comes to vaccine injury.  Holland read powerful remarks from the Bruesewitz family, as well as from the Cedillo and Hazlehurst families, whose claims of vaccine injury were denied in administrative proceedings – the only recourse now left to those injured by vaccines.  The statements can be read in full at

They were followed by an impressive lineup of advocates. First, John Gilmore, Director of the Autism Action Network, spoke about the “no-choice choice” and vaccine mandates in New York state.  He was followed by Lisa Rudley, an advocate who has helped hundreds of families find the right treatments to help their children.  Rudley spoke about chronically ill children and asked why it is “anti-vaccine” to ask questions about vaccine safety.  Next, Mary Coyle, an advocate and healthcare practitioner, spoke about our children’s stolen future and the legacy of injury and damage. Katie Wright, an Age of Autism contributing editor who frequently writes about federal autism policy, was the final speaker.  Holding up a picture of her own injured child, she spoke about government double-speak and the politics of autism causation.

Holland  brought together these themes when she said:

Mr. Gates, these families, and those of us assembled here today, invite you to take a penetrating look at the “miracle of vaccines.”  Vaccines may indeed protect some, but they have ravaged others.  We are not anti-vaccine –we are pro-safety and pro-justice.  We demand an apology for your words of intolerance, and we demand that you, the medical profession, and our government respect the hallmark of ethical medicine — free and informed consent.

At the conclusion of the press conference, Habakus attempted to deliver a copy of Vaccine Epidemic to the Microsoft offices, asking that it be given to Bill Gates.  Her gesture was rebuffed.

. . . . .

Bill Gates Admits Vaccines Are Used for Human Depopulation

Supreme Court says vaccine makers shielded from lawsuits

High court cites 1986 federal law

Washington Times | Feb 22, 2011

By Ben Conery

Vaccine manufacturers won a monumental victory Tuesday with the Supreme Court ruling that federal law shields them from lawsuits, an especially pertinent decision because of the thousands of claims, so far unproven scientifically, linking vaccines to autism.

In a 6-2 ruling, the high court said the manufacturers are protected by a 1986 federal law that says they can’t be sued “if the injury or death resulted from side effects that were unavoidable, even though the vaccine was properly prepared and was accompanied by proper directions and warnings.”

As was the case during oral arguments in October, much of the ruling hinged on the term “unavoidable” in the context of the law.

Lawyers seeking the right to sue vaccine manufacturers had argued that dangerous side effects are not “unavoidable” if the vaccine manufacturers could provide a different, safer vaccine.


Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion, disagreed sharply, saying the 1986 law pre-empts all design-defect claims against vaccine manufacturers brought by plaintiffs who seek compensation for injury or death caused by vaccine side effects.

“If a manufacturer could be held liable for failure to use a different design, the word ‘unavoidable’ would do no work,” Justice Scalia wrote. “A side effect of a vaccine could always have been avoidable by use of a differently designed vaccine not containing the harmful element.”

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who was joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, took the opposite view. She wrote that vaccine manufacturers shouldn’t be shielded from lawsuits if “the side effects stemming from the vaccine’s design could not have been prevented by a feasible alternative design that would have eliminated the adverse side effects without compromising the vaccine’s cost and utility.”

Justice Sotomayor further lamented that the court‘s “decision leaves a regulatory vacuum, in which no one ensures that vaccine manufacturers adequately take account of scientific and technological advancements when designing or distributing their products.”

She argued that the decision to bar all design-defect claims against vaccine manufacturers is one that Congress, not the high court, must make.

“Manufacturers, given the lack of robust competition in the vaccine market, will often have little or no incentive to improve the designs of vaccines that are already generating significant profit margins,” she said. “Nothing in the text, structure or legislative history remotely suggests that Congress intended that result.”

Full Story

Seymour Hersh targeted: Matthew Phelan writes on the fallout from his exposure of the Knights of Malta conspiracy

James Jesus Angleton (L), chief of the CIA’s counter-intelligence staff from 1954-1975, and Reagan-era CIA Director William Casey (R) were both members of the Knights of Malta.

Pulitzer Prize Winner Seymour Hersh And The Men Who Want Him Committed

By Matthew Phelan on | Feb 23, 2011


It seems unusual for a staid, respected publication (one that has received three National Magazine Awards in just this past decade) to start treating a celebrated journalist (who himself has won two National Magazine Awards in just this past decade) as if he were nothing more than a paranoid crank.

It seems unusual, but it’s exactly what the staff of Foreign Policy has done to Seymour Hersh, following a lecture the venerated reporter gave at Georgetown University’s campus in Doha, Qatar.

Hersh “delivered a rambling, conspiracy-laden diatribe here Monday,” Blake Hounshell reported on the magazine’s Passport blog. His delusional fantasia: The existence of ties between the U.S. Military’s Joint Special Operations Command and a secretive Catholic order called the Knights of Malta.

Let’s do the same.

Just how “off-base and conspiratorial” are Hersh’s claims? Who are the Knights of Malta, exactly, and what has been previously reported of their ‘special operations’ and government ties?

Known formally as the “Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta,” the Knights of Malta is a Roman Catholic order founded in roughly 1048. Though the Knights operated as a military order during the First Crusade, today their approximately 12,500 members, 80,000 volunteers and 20,000 medical professionals work “in the field of medical and social care and humanitarian aid.”

So far, so good. In fact, Foreign Policy’s description of the Knights cribs heavily from the Order’s own benevolent self-description. Josh Keating’s ‘explainer’ piece accounts for the litany of paranoid theories surrounding them as merely a by-product of the Knights’ “secretive proceedings, unique political status, and association with the Crusades.” Former CIA Directors William Casey and John McCone, Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca, and GOP fixture Pat Buchanan have all been “alleged members,” he claims, “though none have ever acknowledged membership.”

Keating’s use of ‘alleged’ here is curious, given that the membership of Reagan-era CIA Director Bill Casey in the Knights of Malta has been a fact widely reported in the press and never denied by Casey himself. Historian Joseph E. Persico, a former Republican speechwriter for Vice President Nelson Rockefeller and the co-author of Colin Powell’s autobiography, includes Casey’s membership in a routine list of charitable accomplishments, in his sympathetic biography Casey: from the OSS to the CIA (Penguin 1990). (Casey’s membership is asserted on page 105 of the paperback.)

Years earlier, Casey was listed publicly as a member in both Mother Jones (07/1983) and The Washington Post (12/27/1984). The implications of Casey’s membership are even alluded to in Bob Woodward’s Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1987, in which Casey’s deep Catholicism and the Catholic Church’s opposition to Nicaragua’s left-leaning Sandinista government are both recurring topics. In short: Casey’s membership has been undisputed for so long and across such a broad cross-section of the political spectrum that it raises serious questions about Foreign Policy’s standards for ‘facts’ and ‘allegations.’

In addition to Casey and McCone, the Knights of Malta also counted among their members former CIA counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton—a fortuitous alliance as Angleton led the postwar intelligence efforts to subvert Italy’s 1948 elections. His success partnering with organized crime, right-leaning former fascists and the Vatican not only marginalized Italy’s homegrown Communist Party, it also encouraged Congress in the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency.

…with their unusual status as a recognized sovereign state without territory, the Knights of Malta enjoy full diplomatic rights in many countries—including the ability to bypass customs inspectors by secreting items across borders via ‘diplomatic pouch.’

Conservative luminary and National Review founder William F. Buckley—who spent two years after college as a CIA ‘political action specialist’ in Mexico City—was also a Knight, as was none other than William “Wild Bill” Donovan, the head of the CIA’s precursor organization, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). From 1970 to 1981, France’s intelligence agency was also headed by a member of the Order, Alexandre de Marenches. De Marenches would go on to be a co-founder of the Saudi-funded private intelligence group the Safari Club—one of  George H. W. Bush’s many end-runs around congressional oversight of the American intelligence establishment and the locus of many of the worst features of the mammoth BCCI scandal.

So, while crackpot speculations about this particular Catholic order are legion, its ties to intelligence organizations in the U.S. and Western Europe are well-documented. It’s also perfectly understandable: with their unusual status as a recognized sovereign state without territory, the Knights of Malta enjoy full diplomatic rights in many countries—including the ability to bypass customs inspectors by secreting items across borders via “diplomatic pouch.”

With “medical missions in more than 120 countries,” as Keating points out, a teeming network of government spooks operating under the diplomatic protection afforded the Knights of Malta would certainly have plenty of breathing room to operate unnoticed. And yet, Keating instead positions the Order’s charitable work as evidence that the Knights have left their old military function behind—pointedly ignoring years of charitable work tied to U.S. strategic goals and covert activities during the heady days of the Reagan/Bush era.

AmeriCares In Its Own Way

Beginning in 1982, The Knights of Malta began an intensely collaborative partnership with the international aid organization AmeriCares—a charity group unique in its selective disaster relief to countries friendly to both U.S. business investment and foreign policy objectives. Literally billing itself as “The humanitarian arm of corporate America,” AmeriCares was founded and headed until 2002 by Robert Macauley: a college roommate of George H. W. Bush, a paper mill millionaire and a self-described (then self-denied) agent in the CIA’s WWII-era precursor, the OSS. Macauley was also the first non-Catholic to receive the coveted Cross of the Commander of the Order of Malta.

AmeriCares and the Order held off on relief to an economically crippled Panama in 1989 for six whole months, shuttling $2.5 million worth of medical supplies only after the conclusion of Bush Sr.’s lightning war against (former ally) Manuel Noriega.

In Guatemala, AmeriCares and Knights of Malta joint activities were handled by the wealthy, right-wing paramilitary figure, Roberto Alejos Arzu, whose plantation had served as a training ground for the CIA’s bungled “Bay of Pigs” invasion of Cuba.

Seymour Hersh and the Silent Crusade

Seymour Hersh is in the middle of researching and writing a lengthy book on America’s wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has something of a history of playing looser with his facts in speeches than in print—partially to preserve his scoops pre-publication—and his speech in Doha hewed close to that tradition. In addition to the Knights, for example, he also made claims regarding Opus Dei, another secretive far right Catholic group steeped in just as much rumor and conspiracy theory. However, Hersh is a five-time Polk winner and recipient of the 2004 George Orwell Award—a reporter with a record that is well-burnished and nearly sterling.

Given the late 20th Century history of the “Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta,” how strange would it really be to find members of the Order, in and out of the military, collaborating on a new silent crusade with their old Cold War allies?

Until Hersh’s book-length treatment of the subject is published, at least we can all agree with Foreign Policy’s Joshua Keating that the Knights of Malta have been “an anomalous presence in international politics and have provoked their share of conspiracy theories.”

This time around, they’ve practically goaded us into it.

Full Article

Deputies seek protection after threatening family

Claim ‘immunity’ for telling parents their children would be confiscated

WorldNetDaily | Feb 27, 2011

By Bob Unruh

Several Maricopa County, Ariz., deputies are seeking protection from the courts after threatening to take children away from their parents because the homeschooling family was unwilling to allow social workers inside their home for an inspection based on an unsubstantiated anonymous rumor.

But officials with the Home School Legal Defense Association have responded to the court filing by the deputies, explaining that they must answer for their actions in a court of law.

The case stems from a conflict in 2006 between social services in Arizona and John and Tiffany Loudermilk.

A judge previously ruled that their lawsuit over civil rights violations by the social workers and the deputies can move forward. But the deputies appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that they should be exempted from liability.

Social workers, told earlier by the court that they must respect the U.S. Constitution regarding privacy and parental rights, did not appeal that ruling, and the case, pending in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, will move forward at the district court level once again when the deputies’ requests have been resolved.

So far the court has suggested the social workers, accompanied by Maricopa County deputy sheriffs, made unsupported threats to place a family’s children in custody and arrest the parents if they were not allowed to make what ended up being an allegedly illegal search of the family’s home.

“No intellectually serious argument can be made to support the [deputies] incredulity about why an innocent man would wish to keep a government official from intruding into his home without legal authority,” the HSLDA brief in opposition to the deputies’ requests said.

“The deputies were not merely bystanders. They were active participants in coercing consent to search. It was clearly established law that the threatening presence of several officers is an important factor in determining whether consent to search is voluntary and whether a person is seized,” the HSLDA said.

“They cannot claim that they were merely present or merely ‘standing by.’ Indeed, the physical presence of a single uniformed law enforcement officer is considered to be the use of ‘force,'” the brief said.

“After Sgt. [Joseph] Sousa arrived on the scene he determined that there were no grounds for arrest … and that there was no justification to enter the Loudermilks’ home without a search warrant. The written policy of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office about consent searches further put Sgt. Sousa and the rest of the MCSO defendants on notice that, ‘any consent to search must be voluntary, without fear, threats or promise.’

“Sgt. Sousa was the patrol sergeant. He had the authority to order the deputies to leave the Loudermilks’ home, but he did not do so. Each of the deputies individually and all of them together were active participants in the violation of the Loudermilks’ constitutional rights,” the brief argues. “Their conduct was contrary to clearly established law; it was contrary to their training; and it was contrary to the sheriff’s written policy about ‘consent searches.'”

“Deputies argue that the district court erred in denying their motion for summary judgment and that they should be granted qualified immunity. This is wrong,” the brief said. “The law of the Fourth Amendment in relation to warrantless searches in child protective investigations is clearly established and has been since at least 1999.

“There was a clear violation of the Loudermilks’ constitutional rights to be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures,” the brief said.

Earlier, U.S. District Judge Earl H. Carroll decided that the lawsuit by the family against the social workers, sheriff and deputies, would be allowed to continue, because the social workers’ concerns were based on “an anonymous tip that the … Loudermilk children were being neglected and that plaintiffs’ home was uninhabitable.”

However, the judge said that under federal law, an anonymous tip, “without more, does not constitute probable cause.”

The Loudermilks are members of the Home School Legal Defense Association, a Virginia-based organization leading their defense.

“Social workers and sheriff’s deputies had come to the home … demanding entry based on a six-week-old anonymous tip that the newly constructed home was unsafe for children,” the organization said.

The judge’s ruling had directed the case toward a jury trial, except the process was interrupted by the deputies’ demand for protection from the courts against accusations of civil rights violations.

Authorities have alleged the Loudermilks voluntarily allowed the search of their home, which produced no evidence that the rumor, in fact, was true.

The HSLDA said, however, that “assertion … ignores the fact the social worker had said the Loudermilk children would be removed for 72 hours if the parents did not permit entry.”

According to the HSLDA, social workers responding to the six-week-old tip demanded entry into the home.

“After an escalating confrontation at the front door that lasted 40 minutes, the social workers, backed by no fewer than four deputies, threatened to take the Loudermilks’ children into custody and place them in foster care if the Loudermilks continued to deny them entry into their home. An assistant attorney general repeated this threat to HSLDA Attorney Thomas Schmidt, who was assisting the Loudermilks by phone during the confrontation.

“Under this duress, Mr. and Mrs. Loudermilk allowed the social workers and sheriff’s deputies inside. Within five minutes, the social workers determined that the anonymous tip was false and left,” the HSLDA said.

The family’s subsequent lawsuit filed by the HSLDA alleged violations of the Fourth and 14th Amendments.

The lawsuit names Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, deputies Joshua Ray, Joseph Sousa, Richard Gagnon and Michael Danner, social workers Rhonda Cash and Jenna Cramer, and Assistant Attorney General Julie Rhodes.

The judge, in handing authorities a previous courtroom loss, noted that the social workers misrepresented that they had a court order for aninspection of the home. He also noted the deputies were uncooperative, refusing to provide their cell phone number so the HSLDA attorney could talk to them.

The judge ruled that verbal threats generally are not actionable in a federal civil rights proceeding, but in this case, “courts have held that a threat constitutes an actionable constitutional violation in certain circumstances, including ‘when the threat is so brutal or wantonly cruel as to shock the conscience.'”

Father forced to beg foreign squatters to get out of his home while they were given legal aid to fight to stay

Peering through his own door: John Hamilton-Brown, 36, talks to a squatter through the letterbox of his new £1m property

Father forced to beg squatters to get out of his new £1m home through the LETTERBOX… while they were given legal aid to fight to stay

Daily Mail | February 27, 2011

By Rob Cooper

An Englishman’s home is his castle, so the saying goes.

After squatters moved into John Hamilton-Brown’s new £1million five bedroom home he has been forced to beg them to get out through his letterbox.

The group of foreigners were granted legal aid to fight to stay – while he was forced to represent himself.

The father-of-two was having the property renovated for his wife and two young daughters before they moved in when a dozen people from France, Spain, Poland and England sneaked in during the night.

The occupants are part of a growing army of squatters banding together and seeking out empty homes.

It emerged today that squatters, often young people, are swapping information online as they move from property to property before they get evicted.

On a forum details of empty homes are being posted – and squatters are advertising for housemates to move in with them.

Squatting is legal as long as occupants do not use force to break in.

On the Advisory Service for Squatters, users swap tips for getting into properties and bypassing alarms.

One user said: ‘i can help u to open/secure buildings. i have my own tools. price up on agreement, quality work.’

Another person asked for assistance getting into a different London home. He wrote: ‘I’ll be opening a new house in Highgate in the following days, if you can move in immediately and possibly help out opening it as it’s kind of tricky, call me…’

The group occupying Mr Hamilton Brown’s home qualified for legal aid because they are EU citizens and unemployed.

Full story

Hollywood braced for one of the coldest Oscar ceremonies on record as temperatures plummet

Snow on mountains near Lebec, California about 60 miles North of Hollywood

Gowns and goose bumps: Hollywood braced for one of the coldest Oscar ceremonies on record as temperatures plummet

Daily Mail | Feb 27, 2011

By Amy Oliver

They are used to taking a leisurely stroll down the red carpet, stopping to chat to the media and showing off their designer creations as the sun beats down.

But this year the Hollywood elite could find themselves picking up the pace as forecasters predicted the 83rd Academy Awards could be one of the coldest on record.

Temperatures will barely get into the mid-50s outside the Kodak theatre in Hollywood, when the ceremony kicks off at 2pm PST today.

This is more than 10 degrees below the norm for the region at this time of year and more like the temperatures on the East Coast of the U.S.

Overnight the mercury will plummet well into the 40s and could challenge the record low of 39 degrees from the Academy Awards in 1962.

Full Story

Child brain scans to pick out future criminals

The researchers argue that, by predicting which children have the potential to be trouble, treatments could be introduced to keep them on the straight and narrow Photo: ALAMY

The seeds of criminal and anti-social behaviour can be found in children as young as three, scientists have claimed.

Telegraph | Feb 22, 2011

By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent

More researchers believe that violent tendencies have a biological basis and that tests and brain imaging can pick them up in children.

They argue that, by predicting which children have the potential to be trouble, treatments could be introduced to keep them on the straight and narrow. If the tests are accurate enough then a form of screening could be introduced in the same way we test for some diseases.

The theories were put forward by two leading criminologists at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington.

Prof Adrian Raine, a British criminologist, argued that abnormal physical brain make-up could be a cause of criminality, as well as helping to predict it.

His studies have shown that psychopaths and criminals have smaller areas of the brain such as the amygdala and prefrontal cortex, both of which regulate and control emotion and behaviour. He also believes that a lack of conditioning to fear punishment, which can be measured in toddlers before disruptive behaviour is apparent, could also be a strong indicator.

Dr Nathalie Fontaine, who also spoke at the conference, argued that children as young as four exhibited “callous unemotional traits” such as lack of guilt and empathy that could also suggest future bad behaviour. Linking these features with “conduct problems” such as throwing tantrums could be a strong way to predict who could be anti-social in later life.

Both speakers said that identifying these issues earlier could be important in stopping children from becoming criminals.

Dr Raine, a former Home Office psychologist who works at the University of Pennsylvania, said therapy could include counselling to counteract innate behavioural problems and boosting the brain with drugs or foods rich in Omega 3.

Dr Fontaine, from Indiana University, said the work showed that punishment did not necessarily work and that reinforcing positive behaviour rather than punishing bad might be the solution.

“If we could identify those children early enough, we could help them as well as their families,” she said.

Dr Fontaine used data from more than 9,000 twins from the Twins Early Development Study, a survey of twins born in England and Wales between 1994 and 1996. Assessments of callous unemotional traits and conduct problems were based on teacher questionnaires when the children were seven, nine and 12. Information was taken from parents when the children were as young as four.

She found there was a correlation between risk factors at a young age and bad behaviour at an older age.

Dr Raine said he acknowledged the ethical implications of treating children before they had done anything wrong, but argued that “biological” causes of crime could not be ignored.

“We could be ostriches and stick our heads in the sand but I believe we have to pursue the causes of crime at a biological and genetic level as well as at a social,” he said.

Afghan officials say NATO killed 62 civilians

A wounded Afghan child receives treatment at a hospital in Kunar province

AFP | Feb 24, 2011

KUNAR, Afghanistan — A recent NATO air strike in an eastern Afghanistan valley killed at least 62 civilians including women and children, an Afghan government investigation said Thursday.

On Sunday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused NATO of having killed more than 50 civilians in eastern Afghanistan’s troubled Kunar province, and sent a team to inquire into the alleged civilian deaths.

“After three days of investigation, we found out that 62 civilians, including women and children, were killed and 10 others injured in the NATO operation,” the head of the probe team, Shahzada Massoud, who is a Karzai adviser, told reporters in Kunar.

He did not clarify whether any insurgents were killed in the operation, but a member of the probe team, Shahzada Shahid, separately told AFP that 14 Taliban militants had also been killed, on top of the 62.

A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan contacted by AFP refused to comment on the government’s findings before its own ongoing probe was completed.

There have been several instances recently in which civilians have been killed and foreign forces have been accused of indiscriminate or excessive force.

Karzai says such incidents erode support for his Western-backed administration, which faces an Islamic insurgency that has expanded every year since it was launched by the Taliban following their ouster in late 2001.

There are about 140,000 foreign forces, the bulk of them Americans, deployed in Afghanistan under the US leadership to help Kabul defeat the Taliban.

On Thursday, NATO also said it was investigating allegations that fire from one of its planes killed five civilians in Kapisa province, north-east of Kabul.

Local villagers had alleged the men were civilians hunting in the mountains of Alasai district when they were attacked by NATO planes, provincial police chief Abdul Hamid Arkin told AFP.

Civilian casualties are an extremely sensitive issue and have in the past led to major anti-US and government street protests, as well as causing rifts in Kabul’s relations with its Western allies.

Record low temperatures follow snow in San Francisco

Reuters | Feb 26, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Snow fell overnight in the highest reaches of San Francisco, but the Bay area dodged the heavier flurries forecasters had been expecting, the weather service said on Saturday.

Northern California did experience record low temperatures overnight in several cities.

San Francisco got down to 37 degrees, which tied the previous cold weather record for this day set in 1962, said Chris Stumpf, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

San Jose tied a record low of 33 degrees set way back in 1897, and Oakland got down to 34 degrees, breaking a record set in 1987.

“It was definitely cold enough, but it didn’t have the precipitation that we needed to get any of the snow showers that we were hoping for,” Stumpf said.

“It looks like it’s clearing out right now, and we’ll start to warm up as we go through the week,” he said.

The Twin Peaks area of San Francisco, where elevations are about 900 feet above sea level, received a dusting of snow, and there were also reports of light snow in Los Gatos, a town near San Jose, and the Santa Cruz Mountains, Stumpf said.

The snowfall in San Francisco coated the ground briefly, but quickly melted. No snow was observed in downtown San Francisco and meteorologist Dave Samuhel said the dusting would not count toward official records that show the last measurable snowfall in the area 35 years ago.

In southern California, two inches of snow fell along the Grapevine section of the Golden State Freeway north of Los Angeles, but the passage remained open to traffic, said Ryan Kittell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Meteorologists had been forecasting that snow could fall as low as 1,000 feet above sea level and dust the Hollywood sign on Mount Lee above Los Angeles, which would have been a pristine sight with the Academy Awards happening on Sunday.

Snow did not reach as low at the Hollywood Sign, but it did dust the cities of Palmdale and Lancaster north of Los Angeles, before quickly melting, Kittell said.

Up to 3 inches of rain fell in parts of the mountains and foothills of Los Angeles County overnight and small hail hit valley areas on Saturday morning, but the rain is expected to clear out in time for the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday.

New Soros investment fund, profiting off Obama’s ‘green energy’ push, hires top Obama energy aide | Feb 24, 2011

By Timothy P. Carney

George Soros — whom we’re always told is not serving his own economic interests at all by promoting liberal politicians and big-government policies — is launching a new investment fund that plans to profit off of the “green energy” boom, which is entirely dependent on government subsidies supported by the groups Soros funds.

As the press release puts it, this fund will “leverage technology and business model innovation to improve energy efficiency, reduce waste and emissions, harness renewable energy, and more efficiently use natural resources, among other applications.” As Soros puts it in the same release: “Developing alternative sources of energy and achieving greater energy efficiency is both a significant global investment opportunity and an environmental imperative.” Cadie Thompson at CNBC’s NetNet flagged this.

So, yeah. The big-government policies advanced by the liberal outfits he funds — like Center for American Progress — will enrich the companies in which Soros is investing.

But this story gets better.

The press release casually mentions whom Soros is hiring to run this new fund: Cathy Zoi. As Cadie Thompson at CNBC’s NetNet (edited by my brother John Carney), puts it,  Zoi was Barack Obama’s “Acting Under Secretary for Energy and Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.” An Al Gore acolyte, Zoi was Obama’s point-woman on subsidizing green tech. Now she’s going to work for George Soros to profit off of subsidized green tech.

If you remember Zoi’s name, it’s because of another green-tech conflict of interest: Zoi’s husband is an executive at a window company, Serious Windows, which the White House regularly held up as a “poster child of green industry.”

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