Category: Community


Healthy Living

Symphony Hires Professional Dog Musicians

Symphony Hires Professional Dog Musicians

Wanted: Canine Professional Musicians

Qualifications: Must be able to bark on cue with impeccable timing and be quiet when not working

Compensation: Your choice of your favorite treat paid with every bark delivered on time

Attire: Must be willing to work naked

Optional Clothing: Necklace

Bonus: Ability to bow on cue at end of performance

The Pittsburgh Symphony has gone to the dogs, literally. Resident conductor Fawzi Haimor recently auditioned ten dogs for a rare performance of Leopold Mozart’s Hunting Horn Symphony. You can watch the entertaining auditions in the video below.

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Cat delivers bag of weed to his owner

Published time: May 22, 2014 13:14
Edited time: May 23, 2014 13:25

AFP Photo / Luis Robayo

AFP Photo / Luis Robayo

A cat in New Zealand has behaved in a very un-feline manner, bringing his owner a bag of marijuana and leaving it at the door. Police are now praising the furry friend for possibly helping them secure a drug bust as they dust the bag for prints.

Local police say they are very impressed with the deed.

”You hear of cats bringing dead birds and rats home, but certainly in my career I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Sergeant Reece Munro told the local Otago Daily Times. “I guess you never know who’s keeping you honest these days, do you?”

 

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Genetically engineered crops banned in Jackson County, Oregon in landslide victory against GMOs

Oregon
Wednesday, May 21, 2014

(NaturalNews) A ban on the growing of all genetically engineered plants appears to be a landslide victory in Jackson County, Oregon. With 100 percent of the precincts reporting and a huge voter turnout of over 50 percent, nearly 66% of voters elected to ban all genetically engineered crops from being grown in the county.

The vote ran 39,489 to 20,432 in favor of the ban, and it sends a clear signal that the People of Jackson County, Oregon — a largely agricultural area of the country — absolutely do not want genetically engineered crops to be growing anywhere near them. (Click here to see county election results.)

This is on top of the recent victory in Vermont where lawmakers passed a mandatory GMO labeling law that requires foods to be honestly labeled with their GMO content. (The evil biotech industry and its Grocery Manufacturers of America front group plant to sue Vermont to keep consumers in the dark.)

“Destroy all genetically engineered plants”

This ordinance in Oregon requires everyone to “destroy” all genetically engineered plants except those grown under indoor laboratory conditions (i.e. those which are safely isolated from the wild). This will allow scientists to continue to study GMOs without risking the lives of everyone else in the process.

Click here to read the full text of the ordinance (PDF).

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Oregon counties ban cultivation of GMO crops

Published time: May 21, 2014 16:37
Edited time: May 22, 2014 11:18

Reuters/Ints Kalnins

Reuters/Ints Kalnins

Despite the flood of corporate money poured into two small Oregon counties, local residents voted on Tuesday to ban genetically engineered crops from being planted within their borders.

Although Jackson County itself is home to less than 120,000 registered voters, the measure to ban genetically modified crops (GMOs) made headlines around the nation when it was revealed that large biotech companies like Monsanto were pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the area in order to affect the vote’s outcome.

As RT reported previously, Monsanto and five other corporations spent at least $455,000 in an attempt to defeat the initiative, and opponents of the GMO ban had gained an eight-to-one spending advantage as of April. According to the Associated Press, nearly $1 million of the $1.3 million spent during the campaign was used by opponents.

When the results were tallied, however, 66 percent of Jackson County residents voted in favor of the ban.

“We fought the most powerful and influential chemical companies in the world and we won,” local farmer and anti-GMO advocate Elise Higley told the Oregonian.

“It’s a great day for the people of Oregon who care about sustainability and healthy ecosystems,” added the group GMO Free Oregon on its Facebook page.

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Wikimedia Commons / Beavoice4antib

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Calif. mom accused of assaulting daughter’s bully

Associated Press

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — A Northern California woman is facing charges that she grabbed a 12-year-old boy by the throat while confronting him about bullying her daughter, authorities said Sunday.

Delia Garcia-Bratcher, 30, of Santa Rosa came to an elementary school around lunchtime Friday and asked her son, who also attends the school, to point out her daughter’s alleged tormentor, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s office said in a statement.

The mother grabbed the boy by the throat in front of a number of children, the statement said.

No adult saw the confrontation, and Garcia-Bratcher apparently had not checked in with the school office before coming on campus, authorities said.

 

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SF Gate

Mom accused of attacking bully may have wrong boy

Updated 10:22 pm, Monday, May 19, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A Northern California mother suspected of attacking a 12-year-old boy she said was bullying her daughter at school may have targeted the wrong child, a sheriff’s official said Monday.

Investigators have not found evidence linking the boy to the bullying allegations, Sonoma County sheriff’s Lt. Steve Brown said. He said they are looking into whether another child may have harassed the girl.

“We are unable to determine if any bullying ever occurred,” Brown said. “We don’t know if this kid bullied this girl at all. It looks like he did not. We can’t find anybody to say that he did.”

The girl’s mom, Delia Garcia-Bratcher, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of inflicting injury on a child after sheriff’s deputies say she came to Olivet Elementary Charter School in Santa Rosa on Friday and grabbed the boy by the throat. She asked her son, who also attends the school, to point out who was bullying her daughter, the sheriff’s office said.

Garcia-Bratcher’s lawyer, Ben Adams, said Monday that his client is very upset over the accusation and adamantly denies attacking the boy.

“She does not deny confronting the boy and telling him to ‘knock it off,’ but she absolutely denies touching him,” Adams said.

While Garcia-Bratcher may have broken an administrative rule by not signing in when she arrived at the school, she had every right to protect her children, he said.

“I don’t know what the DA will charge her with, and if they do, we will absolutely fight it vigorously every step of the way,” Adams said.

Garcia-Bratcher told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat that she was about 3 feet away from the boy when she confronted him about calling her daughter a “dirty Indian.” She said he agreed to stop bullying her daughter and that they had no physical contact.

 

 

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Santa Rosa mother accused of confronting suspected school bully denies grabbing incident (w/video)

A Santa Rosa mom charged with marching onto an elementary school campus and grabbing the throat of a 12-year-old boy she believed was bullying her daughter said Monday she never laid a hand on the youth.

Delia Garcia-Bratcher, 30, said she was about three feet away from the boy Friday when she spoke to him about name-calling, which she said had made her 10-year-old daughter come home in tears from Olivet Charter Elementary School.

After a brief talk, she said the boy agreed not to do it again and the two parted company with no physical contact.

“He just said ‘okay,’” Garcia-Bratcher said. “He was real polite and walked away.”

But the boy apparently ran to a teacher complaining Garcia-Bratcher grabbed his throat and shoved him, a sheriff’s spokesman said. He had red marks on his neck that were later photographed by the school, the spokesman said.

 

Garcia-Bratcher was arrested the next day after an investigation. She’s expected to make a first court appearance Thursday on a single felony count of inflicting injury on a child.

Lt. Steve Brown said Monday it is not clear what prompted the assault.

The boy told deputies he didn’t know why the woman grabbed him, Brown said. There appeared to be no connection between the boy and Garcia-Bratcher’s daughter, such as a shared classroom or lunch area, he said.

“We can’t prove these kids had any interaction,” Brown said. “Did she get the wrong child? I don’t know.”

Brown said it was possible the boy was lying. But he said statements from witnesses coupled with photos of the red marks “leads us to believe it happened.”

But Garcia-Bratcher insisted Monday she didn’t touch the boy, who her daughter said called her a “dirty Indian.” She said another student told her the boy grabbed his own neck right after the incident, saying he was going to get Garcia-Bratcher in trouble.

 

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Man arrested for allegedly kidnapping girl, holding her for 10 years

Santa Ana police arrested a Bell Gardens man on suspicion of kidnapping and rape after he allegedly abducted a 15-year-old girl a decade ago and held her hostage, forcing her to marry him and have his child.

Isidro Garcia was arrested Tuesday after his alleged victim reached out to her sister on Facebook and revealed how she been held hostage in a relationship with the 41-year-old man and had given birth to his child during the decade she vanished.

Santa Ana police say the girl’s mother reported her missing in August 2004. The mother told police her daughter went missing, along with her live-in boyfriend, Garcia, after a domestic violence incident.

Detectives say the mother suspected Garcia was sexually abusing her daughter.

The victim, now 25, revealed to authorities Tuesday how she was abducted in June 2004, when she was living with her mother and sisters in Santa Ana.

 

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201 dead in Turkey mine explosion, hundreds trapped

Published time: May 13, 2014 15:49
Edited time: May 14, 2014 02:47

People gather at a mine in the Soma district in the western Turkish province of Manisa on May 13, 2014.(AFP Photo / Ihlas News Agency)

People gather at a mine in the Soma district in the western Turkish province of Manisa on May 13, 2014.(AFP Photo / Ihlas News Agency)

A mine explosion in western Turkey has killed 201, according to Energy Minister Taner Yildiz, and the toll could rise with many more still trapped.

Yildiz told reporters 787 workers were in the Soma mine when the explosion hit a power unit, Reuters reported.

Most of the confirmed dead were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning, Yildiz added.

An additional 80 people were injured and hospitalized, he said, four of them in critical condition.

AP reported that more than 200 miners are still trapped in the debris. More than 360 workers have been evacuated thus far.

Rescue workers pumped oxygen into the mine in an attempt to keep trapped miners alive, Reuters reported. A line of police held back thousands of family and fellow workers of the trapped miners who assembled outside of a Soma hospital.

“Fresh air, oxygen is being pumped into the mine. This is the most important thing for our workers down there,” Yildiz said.

 

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Cecily McMillan, who faces up to seven years in prison, was immediately handcuffed and ‘whisked away’

- Sarah Lazare, staff writer

Cecily McMillan arrives at court in New York at the start of her assault trial. (Photo: Andrew Gombert/EPA)

Cecily McMillan—the 25-year-old Occupy Wall Street organizer who was allegedly sexually assaulted and brutalized by a police officer at Zuccotti Park, is facing up to seven years in prison after—in what her supporters say is a cruel twist—she was convicted Monday afternoon of “felony assault” of the very police officer she says is her perpetrator.

“This threatens a chilling effect over protest movements going forward,” said Stan Williams, media coordinator for Justice for Cecily, in an interview with Common Dreams. “I am so sad and raw right now.”

After four weeks of trial and just three hours of jury deliberation, the verdict was issued Monday afternoon, and Judge Ronald Zweibel immediately remanded McMillan into custody pending sentencing, rejecting her lawyer’s requests for bail.

The courtroom, which was packed with McMillan’s supporters and approximately 50 police officers, erupted into cries of “Shame!” as McMillan was handcuffed. According to Williams, people who stood up were pushed down and told to be quiet, yet the crowd “continued to shout and yell.”

“You could see Cecily over the heads of police officers who lined the front of the courtroom,” he added. “She looked upset and in shock over the verdict. Then she was whisked away.”

Williams said the scene was “extremely triggering” given the brutality of the March 2012 incident around which the trial orbited. According to a statement from Justice for Cecily,

[O]n March 17, 2012, Cecily’s attendance at Zuccotti was a point of party, not protest. It was St. Patrick’s Day and as a McMillan, she vowed for this one occasion to put down the bullhorn and pick up the beer. Cecily swung by the park to pick up a friend on her way to a nearby pub. Minutes later, she was sexually assaulted while attempting to leave Zuccotti in compliance with police evacuation orders. Seized from behind, she was forcefully grabbed by the breast and ripped backwards. Cecily startled and her arm involuntarily flew backward into the temple of her attacker, who promptly flung her to the ground, where others repeatedly kicked and beat her into a string of seizures.

McMillan is described by her supporters as “a 25-year-old organizer” who “has been politically active for over a decade — most notably in the Democratic Socialists for America, the anti-Scott Walker mobilization, and Occupy Wall Street.”

She earlier rejected a deal from prosecutors, in which she would plea guilty to second-degree assault of a police officer in exchange for a recommendation from prosecutors for no prison time.

McMillan’s supporters have slammed Judge Zweibel for imposing a gag order on her lawyers and showing strong favor to the prosecution.

McMillan will soon be on her way to Rikers Island, said Williams.

According to The Guardian, “Hers is believed to be the last of more than 2,600 prosecutions brought against members of the movement, most of which were dismissed or dropped.”

McMillan’s supporters say McMillan will fight the verdict in an appeals court. According to Williams, there will be a rally Monday evening at Zuccotti Park, and there is a separate fund being collected for her commissary costs.

In a statement immediately following the verdict, Justice for Cecily declared:

We recognize that, as poorly as Cecily has been treated these past two years, she was lucky enough to have an amazing support system comprised of representation from the National Lawyer’s Guild and Mutant Legal, as well as significant financial help from supporters of Occupy Wall Street and a team of ten who tirelessly worked to bring her case to light and support her through this trying time. It’s harrowing to imagine how many unfortunate people encounter this system without the resources Cecily had, though we know countless innocent people are forced to plea to felonies and ruin their lives every day in this building.

Reactions and reports are being posted on Twitter:

Below is an exclusive Democracy Now! interview with McMillan.

 

 

Exclusive: OWS Activist Cecily McMillan Describes Seizure, Bodily Injuries in Arrest by NYPD

 

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Supreme Court upholds prayer at government meetings

Supreme Court upholds prayer at government meetings

Credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

On November 6, 2013, the Court heard oral arguments in the case of Town of Greece v. Galloway dealing with whether holding a prayer prior to the monthly public meetings in the New York town of Greece violates the Constitution by endorsing a single faith.

by Richard Wolf, USA TODAY

Posted on May 5, 2014 at 9:13 AM

Updated today at 9:13 AM

 

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the centuries-old tradition of offering prayers at the start of government meetings, even if those prayers are overwhelmingly Christian.

The 5-4 decision in favor of the any-prayer-goes policy in the town of Greece, N.Y., avoided two alternatives that the justices clearly found abhorrent: having government leaders parse prayers for sectarian content, or outlawing them altogether.

It was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, with the court’s conservatives agreeing and its liberals, led by Justice Elena Kagan, dissenting.

The long-awaited ruling following oral arguments in November was a victory for the the town, which was taken to court by two women who argued that a plethora of overtly Christian prayers at town board meetings violated their rights.

While the court had upheld the practice of legislative prayer, most recently in a 1983 case involving the Nebraska legislature, the case of Town of Greece v. Galloway presented the justices with a new twist: mostly Christian clergy delivering frequently sectarian prayers before an audience that often includes average citizens with business to conduct.

The court’s ruling said that the alternative — having the town board act as supervisors and censors of religious speech — would involve the government far more than Greece was doing by inviting any clergy to deliver the prayers.

“An insistence on nonsectarian or ecumenical prayer as a single, fixed standard is not consistent with the tradition of legislative prayer outlined in the court’s cases,” Kennedy said.

Kagan, joined by the court’s other three liberal justices, said the town’s prayers differed from those delivered to legislators about to undertake the people’s business. In Greece, she said, sectarian prayers were delivered to “ordinary citizens,” and their participation was encouraged.

“No one can fairly read the prayers from Greece’s town meetings as anything other than explicitly Christian — constantly and exclusively so,” Kagan said. “The prayers betray no understanding that the American community is today, as it long has been, a rich mosaic of religious faiths.”

The legal tussle began in 2007, following eight years of nothing but Christian prayers in the town of nearly 100,000 people outside Rochester. Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens, a Jew and an atheist, took the board to federal court and won by contending that its prayers – often spiced with references to Jesus, Christ and the Holy Spirit — aligned the town with one religion.

Once the legal battle was joined, town officials canvassed widely for volunteer prayer-givers and added a Jewish layman, a Wiccan priestess and a member of the Baha’i faith to the mix. Stephens, meanwhile, awoke one morning to find her mailbox on top of her car, and part of a fire hydrant turned up in her swimming pool.

The two women contended that the prayers in Greece were unconstitutional because they pressured those in attendance to participate. They noted that unlike federal and state government sessions, town board meetings are frequented by residents who must appear for everything from business permits to zoning changes.

 

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Mom held in airport for hours after refusing to let TSA x-ray her breast-milk gets $75,000 in legal settlement

By Associated Press

A Southern California woman who was held at a Phoenix airport four years ago after refusing to have her breast milk X-rayed said Wednesday she has reached a tentative settlement with the Transportation Security Administration.

Stacey Armato, who filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Phoenix, said TSA officials have tentatively offered her $75,000, along with promises to retrain agents and clarify its guidelines on screening breast milk.

The reassurances about revised training and rules were more important than the monetary compensation, she said.

Refused: Stacey Armato of Hermosa Beach, California, was held at a Phoenix airport in 2010 after refusing to have her breast milk for son Lorenzo, pictured, x-rayed

Refused: Stacey Armato of Hermosa Beach, California, was held at a Phoenix airport in 2010 after refusing to have her breast milk for son Lorenzo, pictured, x-rayed

‘We had been waiting for them to really kind of confirm that they would be retraining everybody and making these policy updates,” Armato said. “When we finally got confirmation of that, that was really reassuring.’

TSA spokesman Ross Feinstein declined to comment on a “pending matter.” He confirmed that current TSA regulations classify breast milk as liquid medication. As a result, parents are permitted to bring an amount larger than the 3 ounces normally allotted for liquids.

According to the agency’s website, officers now use a bottled liquid scanner system in most airports to screen medically necessary liquids for explosives or other threats. The system uses lasers, infrared or electromagnetic resonance, rather than X-rays.

That was not an option at the time for Armato, who said she was accustomed to having a visual inspection for breast milk when traveling.

Armato, of Hermosa Beach, said she asked for an alternate screening of her breast milk at a security checkpoint at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Feb. 1, 2010. She cited concerns about exposing the milk to radiation.

According to a 2013 complaint from Armato, agents denied her request and then detained her in a glass enclosure for 40 minutes.

 

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Austria Building Collapse

 

AP Photo

Firefighters are busy at a building damaged by an explosion in Vienna, Austria, Saturday, April 26, 2014. Austrian police say at least six people have been injured after the building collapsed following the reported explosion.

Star-Telegram.com

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Explosion Austria Capital City, Vienna Damage level Details

 

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RSOE EDIS

Explosion in Austria on Saturday, 26 April, 2014 at 14:10 (02:10 PM) UTC.

Description
Austrian police say at one people dead and least thirteen people have been injured after a building in Vienna partially collapsed following a reported explosion. Police spokeswoman Adina Mircioane says rescuers are trying to reach one injured person inside the residential building in Vienna’s 15th district. Five other people are being treated for minor injuries. Mircioane says other people may still be trapped inside the building, whose top two floors collapsed shortly after 10 a.m. Saturday (0800 GMT). Austrian public broadcaster ORF a photo on its website showing a cloud of dust enveloping a street.

 

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Star-Telegram.com

1 killed, 1 missing in Vienna building collapse

 

Austria Building Collapse
AP Photo

Firefighters and police are busy at a building damaged by an explosion in Vienna, Austria, Saturday, April 26, 2014. Austrian police say at least six people have been injured after the building collapsed following the reported explosion

Posted Saturday, Apr. 26, 2014

A residential building in Austria’s capital partially collapsed after an apparent explosion Saturday, killing one person and leaving another missing, officials said. Five others were injured.

Witnesses heard a dull thud before the top two floors of the building collapsed, raining debris onto the street in Vienna’s 15th district shortly after 10 a.m. Saturday (0800 GMT; 4 a.m. EDT).

“There was a cloud of dust, and lots of people screaming and running,” Ted Knops, a 32-year-old resident, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “It was like a science-fiction movie when something comes bursting through the wall.”

 

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