Wednesday, August 31, 2011

CIA - A Real-Life Triple-Agent Mole Story

"Real-Life Thriller Explores al-Qaida Triple Agent's CIA Infiltration, Bombing"
PBS Newshour 8/30/2011

AMERICA - Housing, Much Ban News, Little Good

"Millions of Distressed Properties Stuck in 'Shaky' U.S. Housing Market" PBS Newshour Transcript 8/30/2011


JEFFREY BROWN (Newshour): The troubled U.S. housing market got a bit of good news today with word that some prices are rising, but full recovery remained a long way off.

Four cities, Chicago, Minneapolis, Washington and Boston, posted the largest increases in the latest Case-Shiller home price index. But prices in Detroit, Cleveland, Las Vegas and Phoenix were selling at the same levels as January of 2000, more than 10 years ago.

What's more, the survey of 20 cities found overall home prices have actually fallen over the last 12 months. And home sales for this year are on track to be the worst in 14 years. And things could get worse yet, once banks pick up the pace on millions of foreclosures, as expected. They have been delayed by a government investigation into mortgage lending practices.

PROTESTERS: Prosecute the criminals! Attorney generals, prosecute the criminals!

JEFFREY BROWN: Amid anger over the banks' handling of foreclosures, 36 state attorneys general and the Obama administration have been trying to negotiate a settlement with the five largest mortgage servicers. It could include a lump sum settlement of more than $20 billion that states could then use to modify mortgages.

Meanwhile, the futures of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are still to be determined, with a new plan from the Obama administration reportedly in the works. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac still back most home loans in the U.S.
NICOLAS RETSINAS, Harvard Business School: It's amazing. Interest rates are at a 50-year low, and yet we have such a tepid housing market. And, yes, prices have gone up in a number of cities over the last couple months, but they're down from a year ago and really down from where they were almost at beginning of the decade. So it's still a very difficult, sort of shaky time in the housing market.
GUY CECALA, "Inside Mortgage Finance": Most people would say the real number to look at is the year-over-year change. And as long as we keep declining, that's bad news. I think, cumulative, we have already seen a 30 percent or so decline, according to the Case-Shiller index. So, this is just more bad news.
JEFFREY BROWN: Now, Nic Retsinas, fill in the picture a little bit behind the big numbers. Talk about -- you mentioned some of the differences in regional and in different cities. What do you see there when you look out?

NICOLAS RETSINAS: Well, it's a big country.

And some markets are in better shape than other markets. Clearly, in the markets such as the Southwest, south Florida, parts of California, there was such substantial overbuilding that we have a huge excess inventory. In other parts of the country, like the Upper Midwest, that have faced severe economic problems, you have struggles on the demand side.

So while there are some silver linings, parts of Texas, parts of the Northeast, where you think we're probably at or near a bottom, as long as this foreclosure cloud is hovering overhead, a recovery is going to be in the distance.
NICOLAS RETSINAS: Well, it's better to think in terms of regional, because people buy homes in particular neighborhoods, not in the United States of America.

However, we do have a national housing finance system. And that national housing finance system is tightening credit, requiring higher down payments. So it is discouraging people who might want to buy. And for those who have the means to buy, they're discouraged because what they see is a possible downfall in prices.
JEFFREY BROWN: Now, we have all mentioned the foreclosure issue.

Let me start with you, Guy Cecala, on this. It seems as though it's somewhat in limbo at this point, given what the attorneys general are doing, what states are doing, legal proceedings. What's going on?

GUY CECALA: Yes, backing up a little, one of the things that is pushing housing prices lower is the fact that we have so many distressed property or foreclosed properties that make up housing sales. They tend to have lower prices.

And if you compare those to what we saw several years ago, it's naturally going to result in price declines. The issue going on now is that foreclosures have slowed down. And you might think, gee, isn't that good news? But it's not slowing down because unemployment has improved and a lot of people are catching up on their mortgages. It's slowing down because there's this big settlement that the federal government and mostly the state attorney generals are trying to work out with the largest mortgage servicers in this country.

And it's bogged down the whole foreclosure process, to the point where legitimate foreclosures are being kept out of the market. And that's going to create a backlog going forward.

JEFFREY BROWN: And the point is that we need this process to take place. As painful as it's going to be, we need the foreclosures to go forward.

GUY CECALA: Yes. We have somewhere in the neighborhood of four million distressed properties out there. Those are either seriously delinquent mortgages or ones already in the foreclosure process.

And most of those loans have to be pushed through the system at some point. And the longer we take to get through that, the longer the housing market is going to take to recover.
JEFFREY BROWN: And, so, Nic, staying with you, what difference would it make once a settlement comes through? What difference would it make to consumers and to these banks?

NICOLAS RETSINAS: Well, in the short term, it would probably even more properties on the market. And in the very near term, it might further depress prices.

But once we're through with this, we can start dealing with the excess inventory. And when we clear the excess inventory, we can have a supply-demand balance. And that's when you can see a recovery begin.

JEFFREY BROWN: Now, Guy, the administration also has talked about its sort of hoped-for plan for new foreclosure settlements. What's going on with that?

GUY CECALA: Well, they're also trying to work this through. And I think there's a of pressure on the administration now to do something to revive the morbid housing market.

One of the few things they see as necessary is resolving the foreclosure crisis. As we said, everybody is sort of in agreement now that there's a huge pipeline that has to start moving through the process. And if you keep that backlog, you're not talking about a recovery for two or three more years.

So the sooner you can do it, the better. And that's why I think the administration is trying to goose along this settlement as much as they can. They just haven't had a lot of luck.

WORLD - Population 7 Billion, Brazil

"In Brazil, Women's Changing Roles, Attitudes Leading to Smaller Families" PBS Newshour 8/30/2011


GWEN IFILL (Newshour): Now we have another story in our series on global population issues. It's a partnership with National Geographic Magazine, which has been reporting on this topic throughout 2011. The September issue examines the declining birth rate in Brazil.

Our report is from special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro.

National Geographic Population 7 Billion photo gallery, series page

LIBYA - Tripoli Power Vacuum

"Tripoli Divided as Rebels Jostle to Fill Power Vacuum" by DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and ROD NORDLAND, New York Times 8/30/2011


Fighters from the western mountain city of Zintan control the airport. The fighters from Misurata guard the central bank, the port and the prime minister’s office, where their graffiti has relabeled the historic plaza “Misurata Square.” Berbers from the mountain town Yafran took charge of the city’s central square, where they spray-painted “Yafran Revolutionaries.”

A week after rebels broke into Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s former stronghold, much of its territory remains divided into fiefs, each controlled by quasi-independent brigades representing different geographic areas of the country. And the spray paint they use to mark their territory tells the story of a looming leadership crisis in the capital, Tripoli.

The top civilian officials of the Libyan rebels’ Transitional National Council — now styling itself as a provisional government to be based in the capital — are yet to arrive, citing personal safety concerns even as they pronounce the city fully secure.

There are growing hints of rivalry among the various brigades over who deserves credit for liberating the city and the influence it might bring. And attempts to name a military leader to unify the bands of fighters have instead exposed divisions within the rebel leadership, along regional lines but also between secularists and Islamists.

They were all signs, one influential member of the council said, that point to a continuing “power vacuum” in the civilian leadership of the Libyan capital. But the jockeying for power also illustrates the challenge a new provisional government will face in trying to unify Libya’s fractious political landscape.

The country was little more than a loose federation of regions and tribes before Colonel Qaddafi came to power. His reliance on favoritism and repression to maintain control did little to bridge Libya’s regional, ethnic and ideological divisions. Nor did the rebels who ousted Colonel Qaddafi ever organize themselves into a unified force. Rebels from the western mountains, the mid-coastal city of Misurata and the eastern city of Benghazi each fought independently, and often rolled their eyes in condescension at one another.

And although the transition so far has been surprisingly orderly — almost no looting and little violence — Tripoli has become an early test of the revolution’s ability to bridge those divisions because in contrast to other Libyan cities liberated by their own residents, Colonel Qaddafi was ousted from Tripoli by brigades from other regions, and most remain in the streets.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

HEALTH - Critical Life-Saving Drug Shortages

This is another profits-before-lives issue.

"Drug Hoarders, Manufacturing Cuts Exacerbate Shortage of Key Medications" PBS Newshour 8/29/2011


BETTY ANN BOWSER (Newshour): Just after Christmas, 55-year-old civil engineer Bruce Blair was handed a potential death sentence: acute myeloid leukemia, an aggressive form of cancer that destroys healthy blood cells.

Normally, Blair's doctors in suburban Washington, D.C., would have inundated his body with cytarabine, a low-cost generic chemotherapy drug that cures a high percentage of cases.

But for Blair, there was no cytarabine, because it was one of the more than 180 critical drugs in short supply all over the country.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: In June, the American Hospital Association surveyed its members and found 82 percent of patients who couldn't get medications on the shortage list experienced delayed treatment. For those who were given a substitute, 69 percent got less effective treatment.

The pharmacists who practice in those hospitals are especially concerned about the situation.

Joseph Hill is legislative director of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

JOSEPH HILL, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists: This is really approaching crisis levels from our members' perspective. They are finding that they are having to scramble to find product, and there is certainly concern that care is going to be rationed.

BETTY ANN BOWSER: About 60 percent of all the critical drugs in short supply are generic sterile injectables like these. They come from the drug manufacturers in self-contained doses, ready to be injected.

They are mostly low-cost generics given in hospital settings. They are also critical drugs, ones used to keep patients in the intensive care unit alive, anti-cancer drugs for which there may be no substitute, and medications crucial for some surgeries.

Most of the other 40 percent on the shortage list are brand-name drugs still under U.S. government patents, for which there are no generic equivalents. And few of them are critical to patient care.
BETTY ANN BOWSER: Exacerbating all of this is the gray market, where many hospitals have had to go to get critically needed drugs.

This is a market where unscrupulous suppliers hoard drugs in anticipation of a shortage, and, when it happens, they jack up the price. According to a recent survey done by Premier, a national information sharing service, the gray marketers have been asking hospitals to pay an average of 650 percent higher than the normal price for some oncology drugs and anesthesia products. And in most states, there is nothing illegal about this practice.

Drug maker Hospira, the company that produces roughly half of the cytarabine on the market, now makes its distributors sign contracts that keep suppliers from manipulating the drug's price. Federal legislation that would create an early warning system for FDA when shortages are about to occur is under consideration. And the Obama administration has been looking into setting up a national system to stockpile crucial drugs in short supply.

Meanwhile, Dr. Patel and others remain on the front line of a serious problem that has no end in sight.

DR. DIPTI PATEL: Frustrating, upsetting, exasperating. I -- I -- sometimes, it drives me absolutely up the wall.

I mean, when we are talking about diseases such as cancer, if you already have so many hurdles to conquer as a patient and as a family member and as a physician treating patients with cancer, and on top of that, this just outrageous external factor is just infuriating.

This brings a questions to mind: Is this "shortage" reflected world-wide?

Also, want to bet that Republicans will NOT see a need for regulations to address the issue of shortages of life-saving drugs because they are not profitable, or the profiteering by the "gray" drug suppliers? Hay, the party would loose all that BIG$ from Big-Pharma.

OIL - Why Risk the Environments of 6 States?

This is the type of idea that makes me wonder just how insane Big Oil is.

QUESTION: If the this oil source is so important why not build a refinery near the source? It could be funded by a joint U.S./Canada venture. Why risk the environments of 6 states?

The answer is, of course, GREED.

"Tar Sands Pipeline Plan Renews Energy vs. Environment Debate" PBS Newshour 8/29/2011


JEFFREY BROWN (Newshour): Next: a friendly and safe new source of oil for the U.S. or an environmental disaster waiting to happen?

The tar sands of Alberta, in western Canada, are today considered one of the largest oil reserves in the world, a source of crude petroleum known as bitumen. But the extraction of oil there has come with concerns about the environmental impact. And now those concerns have exploded with a plan by the Calgary-based company TransCanada to build a massive pipeline to carry that crude oil deep into the U.S.

The proposed Keystone X.L. pipeline would run 1,700 miles through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma on its way to refineries in Texas. It's projected to cost $7 billion and carry an estimated 800,000 barrels of oil a day. The plan has galvanized a growing opposition from those who fear it would increase greenhouse gas emissions, as well as the prospects of leaks and spills in environmentally sensitive areas.

Activists are now in the midst of a two-week protest at the White House. Some 400 have been arrested so far. On Friday, they were dealt a blow by the U.S. State Department, which released a report finding the pipeline project will present no significant environmental problems.

A final decision to allow or reject the pipeline will come from Secretary of State Clinton and ultimately President Obama. It's expected by the end of the year.

And we have our own debate on the Keystone pipeline project now with Robert Bryce, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of "Power Hungry: The Myths of 'Green' Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future," and Bill McKibben, an environmentalist, author and organizer of the ongoing protests in Washington this week.

By the way, who's going to actually fund the pipeline? You are, at the pump.

Another question that just occurred to me, "the U.S. State Department, which released a report finding the pipeline project will present no significant environmental problems," since when is the State Department the authority on environmental impact? I thought the EPA was.

AMERICA - Marriage and Divorce Rates

"Census Data Reveals New Geography of Marriage for Americans" PBS Newshour 8/29/2011


RAY SUAREZ (Newshour): Among the newly-released studies is a first-of-its-kind Census Bureau analysis of marriage and divorce rates by region. The report, published last week, found that the South and West had the highest rates of divorce, while the Northeast ranked the lowest of the four regions.

At the same time, the number of unmarried Americans has reached a historic high, as the census also found that 30 percent of Americans have never been married, the largest percentage in the past 60 years. And yet another census snapshot released by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that same-sex couples have dispersed from urban enclaves to other parts of the country.

REPORT PDF: Marital Events of Americans: 2009 (Issued 8/2011)

Another excerpt

DAVID BLANKENHORN, Institute for American Values: I think the shift in broad terms is toward -- for marriage as an institution to marriage as a private relationship, an option for a private relationship. You know, in our parents and grandparents' generation, when you got married you were joining an institution that had authority, told you the rules. You were supposed to act in accord with its procedures.

Now the shift is toward private ordering. Each individual couple defines the relationship for themselves. One way to think about it is, in an earlier day, the marriage vow defined the couple. And now it's really the couple defining the marriage vow.

So, a great deal more flexibility, freedom of choice, a lot more constant change in the institution, but the essential shift is toward private ordering and away from institutional authority.

RAY SUAREZ: Professor May, you have been writing about marriage for decades. Do you buy that definition, couples, rather than submitting themselves to established ideas, shaping marriage for themselves?

ELAINE TYLER MAY, University of Minnesota: Well, I don't think it's that new, really, that couples have been shaping the institution of marriage.

I think what's different is that people don't need to marry anymore for the same reasons that they did in the past, and that there have always been changes in the patterns of marriage demography for the last 100 years or so, and longer ago than that.

My interpretation, marriage as an individual human freedom and right, and away from being dictated by institutions (religious or government).

LIBYA - Tripoli Resuscitated, "Game is Over"

"As Gadhafi Continues to Hide, Rebels' Hunt Shifts Toward Sirte" (Part-1) PBS Newshour 8/29/2011


MARGARET WARNER (Newshour): The race to find Moammar Gadhafi has shifted east from rebel-conquered Tripoli to the Libyan leader's coastal hometown of Sirte.

MAN: We are looking for Gadhafi in the sky, in earth, in the street. Anyway, the game is over.

MARGARET WARNER: There were no reliable reports of Gadhafi's actual whereabouts, though it was confirmed that his wife, daughter and two of his sons fled to neighboring Algeria today.

And there were unconfirmed reports that another son, Khamis, had been killed. Gadhafi loyalists in Sirte pledged to resist the rebels converging from the west and east. But the military chief of the Transitional National Council, the opposition's loose-knit governing body, said they were still hoping to avoid a fight.

"As Life Gets Back to Normal, Tripoli's 'Heart Beginning to Beat Again'" (Part-2) PBS Newshour 8/29/2011


MARGARET WARNER (Newshour): For an update on the situation in Libya, I spoke earlier this evening to Simon Denyer of The Washington Post, who is in Tripoli.

Tell us first what it's like in Tripoli today. What are you seeing? What are you hearing on the streets?

SIMON DENYER, The Washington Post: Well, life is returning to normal in Tripoli. Every day, it gets a little bit better. There are fewer checkpoints on the street today than there were. There are more shops open. We're just coming to the end of Ramadan, so people were keen today to get out to buy presents for their children, buy clothes for their children.

So you actually saw queues outside some of the clothes shops here. Traffic is returning to the streets. It's still not back to normal, but you're seeing the heart beginning to beat again for Tripoli.

AMERICA - Irene, Cost and Cleanup

"Hurricane Irene's Cost May Hit $7B as Pricey East Coast Cleanup Begins"
PBS Newshour 8/29/2011

"National Guard Airlifts Supplies to Vermont Towns Isolated by Irene's Flooding"
PBS Newshour 8/30/2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

MEDIA - TV Non-Reality Shows

"Revamping Reality" by VIRGINIA HEFFERNAN, New York Times 8/28/2011


Reality television needs reformation.

As a longtime fan of even the louchest reality shows — “The Bachelor,” “America’s Next Top Model,” you name it — I never thought I’d say that. Reform, I long believed, would cost the vaudeville genre its freaky and subversive status as a fact-fiction hybrid. We’d lose all the surprises, comic and dramatic, generated by reality’s artful and mischievous line-walking.

But the suicide of Russell Armstrong, a middle-aged investor with financial problems who appeared as a rich middle-aged investor on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” on Aug. 15, has convinced me otherwise. I should have said something sooner. The whole genre needs an overhaul. The longtime modus operandi of reality television has damaged the shows’ participants, the TV business and the public trust.

OPINION - PBS Pundits on Libya

"Shields and Brooks on GOP's Zeitgeist, Whether Obama Gets Credit for Libya" PBS Newshour 8/26/2011

Excerpt on Libya

JIM LEHRER (Editor, Newshour): David, does President Obama deserve any praise or credit for what happened in Libya?

DAVID BROOKS, New York Times columnist: I think he does, and a lot more than he's getting, actually.

You have to remember, when the -- Gadhafi was marching on the rebels and threatening to massacre them, a lot of people in this country wanted to do nothing. A lot of people in Europe who were more upset about it just wanted to have sort of a no-fly zone.

And Obama has pushed them more aggressively than they wanted to go, so it wasn't just a no-fly zone. Were -- we actually ended up helping the rebels. We ended up helping the goal of regime change. And people have criticized whether it is was slow enough or fast enough, whether it was more aggressive or not.

But I think, more than anybody outside the country, I think Obama does deserve a lot of credit for showing that you can do an intervention reasonably well, achieve at least the first step of your objective, and do some large good for that country and potentially the region.

JIM LEHRER: Do you agree with that, Mark?

MARK SHIELDS, syndicated columnist: I do. I agree that the president's getting no credit for it. The irony, it seems to me...

JIM LEHRER: Yes. Why? Why is he not getting any credit?

MARK SHIELDS: Well, I think because, when the economy is bad, the economy is the only issue. I really do. I think American opinion or interest in Libya has been episodic at best.

There was a lot at the beginning. But the people who most strenuously supported intervention now refuse to -- mostly Republicans -- refuse to give the president, the prime intervener, any credit. And most of the people who opposed the intervention were Democrats.

So they're reluctant to -- seem to be reluctant to crow, although they do acknowledge the president's role. And it is a case of NATO working. The stalemate that was -- loomed is over. A despot has been removed -- 17,000 sorties were flown. You know, it's a...

JIM LEHRER: Seventeen thousand sorties, that's a lot of hardware.

MARK SHIELDS: Seventeen thousand. That's a lot. It sure is. It sure is.


MARK SHIELDS: And the French and the English and the Americans.

So, I -- you know, I don't think he's going to get a political bump out of it. But he can point to the fact that there is no Osama bin Laden and there is no Moammar Gadhafi. And it happened on his watch.


Why is it that the Republicans don't give him credit?


JIM LEHRER: Oh, is that...


DAVID BROOKS: Do you have to ask that question?

JIM LEHRER: I can -- tell me, David.


DAVID BROOKS: Well, you know, there's the obvious political thing.


DAVID BROOKS: But, Republicans were not convinced about this either. There was a lot of opposition from Republicans as well.

And a lot of the Republicans who were more inclined to support doing something, intervening, like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, thought it was handled poorly.

JIM LEHRER: They wanted more. McCain and Graham wanted -- they did want some boots on the ground, if necessary.

DAVID BROOKS: Right. They wanted to be more aggressive.


DAVID BROOKS: So they had some quibbles with the -- how it was done.

JIM LEHRER: Yes. Right.

DAVID BROOKS: And so, as usual with Obama, he was stuck there in the middle, and without anybody.

But I do think, it wasn't only him being right in calling for something pretty aggressive. It wasn't only him being right in calling for regime change. I think Secretary Clinton has to get a lot of credit for what was done at the U.N., the way the NATO alliance was handled.

You know, I do -- you know, I'm not convinced they have done everything right in regards to the Arab spring, but this is a clear moment when the U.S. played a very constructive role. And I -- they deserve the credit. Nobody will give it to them now, but in a couple of years, people will acknowledge this was a good thing.

"People will acknowledge this was a good thing." Now that's an understatement.

AMERICA - MLK Memorial

"MLK Memorial Emerges From Stone on National Mall, After Decades of Planning"
PBS Newshour 8/26/2011

LIBYA - Year Zero, Neighborhood Watch with Kalashnikovs

"'Dreadful' Conditions Found in Tripoli Hospital as Body Count Rises" (Part-1) PBS Newshour 8/26/2011


JIM LEHRER (Editor, Newshour): And to Libya, where rebels are taking and holding more territory, but there remains stiff resistance from loyalists of Moammar Gadhafi, who still eludes capture.

We begin our coverage with a report from Alex Thomson of Independent Television News in Tripoli.

"In Libya, It's 'Year Zero' as Country Starts From Scratch" (Part-2) PBS Newshour 8/26/2011


RAY SUAREZ (Newshour): Is there progression on the ground from the point of view of the rebels? Have they been able to secure areas, bring in essential supplies, do something like consolidation in the areas they control?

LINDSEY HILSUM, International Television News: I think that there has been progress.

Certainly, over this week, we have seen Tripoli become calmer. There's still some talk of fighting. There are still a few snipers. But I have been traveling around every day since Monday, and more and more neighborhoods are secure. What seems to be happening is that you have got like neighborhood committees.

These are young men and sometimes older men. And they stand on the streets with their barricades sometimes just made of chairs or old cars, burnt-out vehicles, anything they can find, and it's neighborhood watch with Kalashnikovs. And they're checking the vehicles coming through a zone and securing their own neighborhood areas.

The National Transitional Council from Benghazi, that's the -- in the east, where the revolution first happened started in February, some of their members have come into town now. They're trying to establish some kind of government. But, of course, there is still fighting over towards Sirte. That is Colonel Gadhafi's hometown, about 700 kilometers from here.

And there is still fighting there, so not all of Libya is yet in rebel hands.

Another excerpt

LINDSEY HILSUM: So getting organized is very hard. And it's particularly difficult here in Libya. Because it's not -- this isn't a change of government. It's the total collapse of the state. Everything was around Gadhafi. Gadhafi was the state of Libya. There is no institution which is left. So it is really year zero in Libya. They're having to start absolutely from scratch.

AMERICA - Hurricane Irene Snips ("because it is so large")

"Officials: At least 21 killed as a result of Hurricane Irene" by CNN Wire Staff, CNN 8/29/2011

Emergency officials said at least 21 people in nine states have died as a result of Hurricane Irene.
  • North Carolina -- 6

  • Virginia -- 4

  • Pennsylvania -- 4

  • New York -- 2

  • Connecticut -- 1

  • Maryland -- 1

  • New Jersey -- 1

  • Florida -- 1

  • Vermont -- 1

Authorities are trying to determine whether an additional death reported in New York is connected to the storm.

Here is a state-by-state breakdown:
  • New York

  • -- A 50-year-old man was electrocuted Sunday while attempting to aid a father and son who came in contact with a downed power line on a flooded street in Spring Valley in southern New York, police there said.

    -- The body of woman who apparently drowned after she either fell or was swept into a storm-swollen creek was recovered Sunday near New Scotland, New York State Police said.

    -- Authorities are trying to determine whether the drowning death of a windsurfer whose body was discovered Sunday in New York's Bellport Bay is related to Irene, Suffolk County Police said. This death is not among the fatality count until the determination is complete.

  • Pennsylvania

  • -- One person was killed in an overnight traffic accident in Carbon County, said Ruth Miller, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

    -- In separate incidents, a man in a camper and a man in a tent were crushed when trees fell on them, Miller said.

    -- Miller did not immediately have details on the fourth death, but said it was a storm-related fatality.

  • Connecticut

  • -- Gov. Dan Malloy told reporters that state police were reporting an apparent storm-related fatality "related to downed wires."

  • Florida

  • -- Witnesses spotted a 55-year-old surfer face-down in the water Saturday off New Smyrna Beach, Florida, said Capt. Tamara Marris, a spokeswoman for the Volusia County Beach Patrol. He was nonresponsive and had a large cut on his head when emergency personnel examined him. Marris said the death was connected to the storm because "the surf that we had this morning was a remnant of Hurricane Irene."

  • Maryland

  • -- A woman in Queenstown, Maryland, died Saturday night after a large tree knocked a chimney through the roof of her home, crushing her, according to Kevin Aftung, the chief of emergency Services for Queen Anne's County.

  • New Jersey

  • -- A woman was killed when floodwaters swept away her car, Gov. Chris Christie said Sunday. Christie had said earlier that a firefighter was killed while attempting a water rescue, but later said he was given "bad information." The firefighter remains in intensive care.

  • North Carolina

  • -- One person was killed when a tree fell on a car driving down a highway in Sampson County, North Carolina, state emergency management spokesman Ernie Seneca said.

    -- A child died in a car crash at an intersection in Goldsboro, North Carolina, where the hurricane had knocked out power to the traffic light, Goldsboro Police Capt. Anthony Carmon said. The crash occurred when a car carrying a family drove through the intersection and struck another vehicle, Carmon said. Several people inside the car sustained injuries.

    -- A motorist died after he lost control of his vehicle and struck a tree in Pitt County, Seneca said.

    -- A man feeding livestock in Nash County died after he was struck by a tree limb, Seneca said.

    -- A man in Onslow County died of a heart attack as he put plywood over his windows in preparation for the storm, Seneca said.

    -- A sixth person was killed in North Carolina, Gov. Bev Perdue said. CNN affiliate WITN reported that the man was found dead in Pitt County after winds from Irene toppled a tree onto his house.

  • Vermont

  • -- The body of a woman who was swept into the river in Wilmington has been found, the state's emergency management office said Monday.

  • Virginia

  • -- A man in Chesterfield County died after a tree fell on his home, emergency officials said.

    -- A man was killed in Brunswick County, Virginia, after a tree fell on his car, said Eileen Guertler, a spokeswoman for the state's emergency operations center.

    -- In Newport News, Virginia, an 11-year-old boy died after a tree crashed on an apartment complex, authorities said. The boy and his mother were lying in bed just after noon when the tree pinned him, CNN affiliate WVEC reported.

    -- An older man in King William County, Virginia, died after a tree fell on his house, according to the state's emergency management department.

"Eastern Seaboard Braces for Potentially 'Historic' Hurricane Irene" PBS Newshour Transcript, 8/26/2011


JEFFREY BROWN (Newshour): But emergencies were declared in at least six states and the District of Columbia. And up and down the East Coast, national, state and local officials added to the urgency.

SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY JANET NAPOLITANO: Given the amount of rain associated with this storm and the likelihood of flooding, however, I would encourage you not to focus too much on whether it's a Category 2 or a 3. If you are in the storm path, you won't be able to tell much difference.
ED RAPPAPORT, National Hurricane Center: This is -- has a couple unusual aspects.

Of course, the one you have been talking about already, and that is a threat for the Northeastern United States, probably the most significant tropical event for some areas in the last 20 years there. What makes this also different is that, while the strength of the storm is down a little bit, and it's not nearly as strong as some we have seen in the past, it is still a significant threat.

And one of the reasons is because it is so large. The area of hurricane-force winds will take close to 10 hours to pass some areas, and tropical-storm-force winds could be sustained for 24 hours in other locations, too.

So there is a concern about the duration of the storm. In addition, those winds are going to raise the water level, the storm surge by four to eight feet over portions of the coastline all the way from North Carolina to southern New England, so dual concerns there along with some possibility of excessive rainfall and freshwater floods inland to the west of the center.

JEFFREY BROWN: And as you watch this -- you were just talking about the strength issue. I don't know if you heard Janet Napolitano in our tape piece talking about, whether it's a 3, whether it's a 2, it's still powerful, something to be concerned about.

But what strengthens -- what makes it pick up strength or lose strength along the way here as you're watching?

ED RAPPAPORT: We don't think there will be any significant strengthening. In fact, the weakening trend that we have seen, while slow, is good news. And we think that the weakening will -- this trend will persist all the way through southern New England.

That means that we're looking at a Category 1 to Category 2 landfall in North Carolina, and then a Category 1 hurricane all the way up the U.S. coast, East Coast, from there, either right on the coast or just offshore into southern New England.

The storm just doesn't have the internal structure to be able to support a very intense maximum wind. But it does have the energetics of a strong storm. It is just spread out over a large area.

Friday, August 26, 2011

ON THE LITE SIDE - Two Dogs Dinning

Couldn't resist.....

AMERICA - "Old" People Driving

"In 'Old People Driving,' Handing Over the Keys Means the End of the Road"
PBS Newshour 8/25/2011

Old People Driving film page.

LIBYA - The Hunt for Gadhafi

"Hunt for Gadhafi Intensifies, New Battles Rage in Tripoli"
PBS Newshour 8/25/2011

TECHNOLOGY - Apple Without Steve Jobs?

"What Will Happen to Innovation at Apple With Jobs Out as CEO?" PBS Newshour 8/25/2011

Excerpts from transcript

RAY SUAREZ (Newshour): It was all a far cry from the days when Steve Jobs and co-founder Steve Wozniak began building their now ubiquitous brand, from scratch, in a California garage. They scored an early hit with the Apple II, the first consumer-grade computer to catch on. By the mid-1980s, the company was in a slump, and Jobs was forced out.

But he returned in 1996, and Apple began a turnaround. Still, in a rare interview in 2007, he said his work was never about creating the next big thing.

STEVE JOBS: We don't worry about stuff like that. We just try to build products that we think are really wonderful and that people might want. And sometimes we're right, and sometimes we're wrong.
RAY SUAREZ: Walt Mossberg, whether it's consumer electronics, entertainment, even computing, which is where it all started, this has been a big impact player, hasn't it?

WALTER MOSSBERG, The Wall Street Journal: Well, you know, Ray, I think Steve Jobs is a historic figure.

He's not only a historic figure in business, but really in America. He has not only disrupted and innovated in computers and consumer electronics for all those products we saw just now listed, but he has, in the process, shaken up and revolutionized the music industry, the movie industry, publishing industry. Even the retail industry, the Apple store chain that he built, is widely admired.

And on the side, while he was doing all that, he bought a little company called Pixar and turned it into the most successful studio in Hollywood and revolutionized animation.
WALTER MOSSBERG: But the devotion to product is -- goes beyond just those words. It's really a devotion to designing products for actual users. You know, a lot of computer companies -- Hewlett-Packard is a good example in what they are doing in spinning off P.C.s -- are really much more interested in selling to businesses, selling to intermediaries, like I.T. departments.

Steve Jobs calls those orifices. He's much more interested in designing something for the actual consumer, whether they're in a big company or just a family. And that -- and he's a perfectionist about it. And he's surrounded himself with other people who are just laser-focused on that.

The other thing, Ray, I think is incredibly important is, they don't just make little innovations based on market research. They take big risks and make big bets on what they think the next thing that people will want is, even if the people don't know it themselves at the time.

MUSIC - My Latest "Love" ....Adele

Thought I'd share and get a bit off the hard news. Enjoy.

"Rolling In the Deep"
by Adele

Thursday, August 25, 2011

IMMIGRATION - Alabama, Still a Red-Neck State

LEO: OK you look Hispanic. Show me your papers.

DRIVER: My family is from India.

LEO: You're brown-skinned, show me your papers. Alabama driver's license will do.

DRIVER: But I'm not from Alabama, just here on business. (driving a rent-a-car)

LEO: Just show me your driver's license. (hands over Origin driver's license)

LEO: Humm... this looks suspicious.

DRIVER: It's just dog-eared, old.

LEO: Show me your birth certificate or immigration papers.

DRIVER: I'm a U.S. citizen, born in Origin, and do YOU carry your birth certificate....

LEO: (draws weapon) Refusing to comply! You're under arrest, smart-ass!

"Alabama's Immigration Law: Radical or Within Reason?"
PBS Newshour 8/24/2011

AMERICA - The Sioux Nation to U.S., "the Land Was Never for Sale"

"For Great Sioux Nation, Black Hills Can't Be Bought for $1.3 Billion" PBS Newshour 8/24/2011

Excerpt from transcript

JEFFREY BROWN (Newshour): Next, a very different challenge for the federal government, this one in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Hari Sreenivasan tells the story.

HARI SREENIVASAN: It's August on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in western South Dakota, and the annual powwow is in full swing. The celebration is a highlight for the Oglala Sioux tribe, bringing together thousands of Native Americans to sing, dance and honor their traditional culture.

Tonight's good cheer, however, is in stark contrast to everyday life in one of the most difficult places to live in the United States. Few people in the Western Hemisphere have shorter life expectancies. Males, on average, live to just 48 years old, females to 52. Almost half of all people above the age of 40 have diabetes.

And the economic realities are even worse. Unemployment rates are consistently above 80 percent. In Shannon County, inside the Pine Ridge Reservation, half the children live in poverty, and the average income is $8,000 a year.

But there are funds available, a federal pot now worth more than a billion dollars. That sits here in the U.S. Treasury Department waiting to be collected by nine Sioux tribes. The money stems from a 1980 Supreme Court ruling that set aside $105 million to compensate the Sioux for the taking of the Black Hills in 1877, there an isolated mountain range rich in minerals that stretched from South Dakota to Wyoming.

The only problem: The Sioux never wanted the money because the land was never for sale.

Hay, lets screw the savages again. {sarcasm off}

More excerpts

MARIO GONZALEZ, Oglala Sioux: The Black Hills are very important to the Sioux Indian tribes because they are the spiritual center of the Sioux people.

HARI SREENIVASAN: For tribal attorney Mario Gonzalez, the compensation fund is the embodiment of Indian mistreatment by the U.S. government, and the taking of the Black Hills was the gravest sin of all.

MARIO GONZALEZ: The Sioux tribes have always maintained that that confiscation is illegal and that the tribes must have some of their ancestral lands returned to them.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Compared to the natural resource-rich Black Hills, the reservations the Sioux were relegated to are mostly dry, desolate landscapes. Shannon County has one of the lowest per capita incomes in the United States.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Gonzalez says the tribes have formed a reparations alliance and are aiming to finalize a proposal to be submitted to Congress by the end of the year. He hopes that proposal will give the Sioux shared ownership of over one million acres of federal land within the Black Hills, along with financial compensation.

But he quickly points out that the Sioux are not seeking any private property and knows that popular tourism attractions will be off the table.

When will our U.S. Government stop doing this to the real Native Americans? (stealing their lands)

LIBYA - Rebels, Gadhafi, and at the Rixos Hotel

"Rebels, Regime Loyalists Clash as Gadhafi Vows 'Victory or Martyrdom'" (Part-1) PBS Newshour 8/24/2011

Excerpt from transcript

RAY SUAREZ (Newshour): The revolution in Libya isn't over yet. Moammar Gadhafi and his immediate family are still at large. Firefights continue in the capital and elsewhere.

We begin our coverage with a report narrated by Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News.

JONATHAN RUGMAN: Yesterday, they were celebrating its capture, but today Colonel Gadhafi's compound was a battlefield once again.

The fighting was fierce. Libyan rebels used everything they had, even a gun designed to shoot down aircraft. The rebels say hundreds have been killed in Tripoli in the last few days, as a hard core of Gadhafi loyalists seems determined to fight until the last.

In a radio broadcast last night, the man once known as "Brother Leader" vowed to fight or die. "Victory or martyrdom," he said, calling on Libyan tribes to march on the capital. The man who ruled for over 40 years hasn't been seen in public since April. Today, Gadhafi's former justice minister said he didn't object to the colonel's departure from Libya, as long as he faces international law. And he offered an amnesty and money if only someone would turn him in.

MUSTAFA ABDEL JALIL, head of Libyan National Council (through translator): Businessmen in Benghazi have set up an award of two million Libyan dinars for anyone who captures Gadhafi. And from another hand, the National Transitional Council announces that anyone from his inner circle who kills Gadhafi or captures him shall receive amnesty from the community.

"Libyans Show 'Best of Humanity' in Aiding Journalists' Escape From Hotel" (Part-2) PBS Newshour 8/24/2011

Excerpt from transcript

RAY SUAREZ (Newshour): Among the journalists at the hotel was ITN's John Ray. He described his experience earlier today.

JOHN RAY, International Television News: We arrived at the Rixos Hotel very early on Monday morning, having been to Green Square to witness the rebels taking their place over.

The Rixos Hotel, frankly, was the only place we could think of to stay and is the place that we thought had been liberated. It was bum information. When we woke up the next day, we found that we were trapped, along with the rest of the press corps. And we all, all of us faced a very, very difficult dilemma.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

HEALTH - Effectiveness of Medical Marijuana vs Drug Industry Potential Profits

The drug industry IS pursuing..."potentially lucrative" synthetics. Needless to say allowing marijuana use would but a big hole in their potential profits.

"Doctors, Patients Assess Effectiveness of Medical Marijuana" PBS Newshour 8/23/2011

Excerpt from transcript

MEDICAL MARIJUANA USER: I used to be on approximately 14 different prescriptions, and I would still have up to 12 seizures a day. I used to have to take two handfuls of pills. No more.

ANNA RAU, Montana PBS: While this 27-year-old epilepsy patient in Montana is relieved to be taking medical marijuana...

WOMAN: I'm not using it to get any psychological effects off of it. I'm just eating the butter raw with bread.

ANNA RAU: ... she's considerably more anxious about showing her face, and has requested we conceal her identity.

Why do you not want to show your face?

MEDICAL MARIJUANA USER: I am not comfortable showing my face because of all of discrimination that has already happened.

ANNA RAU: She says both she and her husband have lost jobs when she spoke openly about using marijuana to treat her seizures.

Medical marijuana use has been legal in Montana since 2004, when voters there approved an initiative allowing doctors to recommend it to their patients. However, the federal government still classifies the plant as a schedule one drug. That makes it illegal for doctors to prescribe it, and it means state law doesn't protect patients from federal arrest and prosecution.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA USER: But the fact of the matter is, somebody has to speak up, or nobody will hear these stories.

ANNA RAU: She told us her story in her artist's studio. Here, she creates much happier works than she did even a few years ago, when her self-portraits plainly showed the toll epilepsy had taken since she was diagnosed at 15.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA USER: I have taken pretty much every anti-epileptic on the market, and some with a little bit more success than others.

ANNA RAU: None of them stopped her seizures, and, by her early 20s, the epilepsy had also spawned depression, anxiety and insomnia. She had to withdraw from college just a few credits short of a fine arts degree. Unable to hold a job, she was bed-bound for years while the epilepsy ruled her life.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA USER: It's not a life, to live like that.

ANNA RAU: Then she remembered reading stories about the potential of cannabis to treat epileptic seizures, and she desperately wanted to try it, but her home state doesn't have a medical marijuana law.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA USER: So, I did what I could do. I moved to a state where I could treat it myself.

More excerpts

ANNA RAU: But the potential of marijuana to mitigate epileptic seizures has been recognized by the U.S. Institute of Medicine. The institute has released two reports on the therapeutic potential of cannabis.

The first report, from 1982, found "substantial evidence from animal studies to indicate that cannabinoids are effective in blocking seizures." Scientists who wrote the 1999 report also found marijuana had anti-seizure effects, but doubted it could be developed into a pharmaceutical-grade epilepsy drug.

However, both reports detailed the promising ability of cannabis to treat pain and disease differently than conventional pharmaceuticals. That's exactly what scientists at the California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research found during several placebo-controlled clinical trials.

Dr. Igor Grant is the center's director, and he says marijuana is not just an anti-nausea drug.

DR. IGOR GRANT, University of California, San Diego: I can say that the cannabinoids are almost certain to be useful in pain, based on the research that we have done, and probably have a place in muscle spasm.

DR. DONALD ABRAMS, University of California, San Francisco: Marijuana contains anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and probably anti-cancer compounds in it.

ANNA RAU: Dr. Donald Abrams is an oncology physician who conducted some of the center's clinical research. He agrees the cannabis plant is a complex mix of substances, but he believes this is a medical benefit, not a detriment.

DR. DONALD ABRAMS: I'm a cancer doctor, and I often suggest to my patients that they consider marijuana for their loss of appetite, nausea, pain, depression and insomnia. It's one medicine they could use, instead of five.

ANNA RAU: Critics like Dr. Voth are especially skeptical of these kinds of claims. How is it possible that one plant has the potential to impact so many different ailments?

Intriguing answers started appearing in the early '90s, when researchers pinpointed receptors in the brain and the body that bind with cannabis. Receptors can be described as locks on the surface of a cell, and when the correct key binds with the correct lock, or receptor, it opens the door and delivers messages. Sometimes, the messages are urgent, for example, that the body is feeling pain, or that there's an invader and the immune system must attack.

Researchers believe cannabinoids can turn down those messages, helping to temper chronic pain and autoimmune disorders. These special receptors are extremely abundant in the brain, but they are also found all over the body and in the major organs, the heart, the liver, kidneys and pancreas.

After finding all these locks that accepted the cannabis key, researchers made the next big discovery: The human body makes its own cannabinoids.

DR. DONALD ABRAMS: We have these circulating chemicals that we produce ourselves that really are very, very similar to the chemicals in the marijuana plant.

DR. PRAKASH NAGARKATTI, University of South Carolina: The only difference is that the cannabinoids that we produce are in such small quantities, and they're also rapidly degraded, so that, therefore, we are not high all the time.
ANNA RAU: Dr. Prakash Nagarkatti is a professor of pathology and microbiology at the University of South Carolina. He's one of many scientists in a race to unlock the mysteries of the receptors by using newly created synthetic drugs, instead of tightly restricted whole cannabis.

These synthetics have made research much easier and potentially lucrative. The U.S. patent database shows numerous large pharmaceutical companies have filed recent patents, claiming their cannabinoid receptor drug has the potential to treat almost everything: multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, rheumatoid arthritis, Tourette's, epilepsy, heart disease, obesity, various mental illnesses and the Holy Grail of medicine, a cancer cure.

Dr. Nagarkatti and his team of researchers were one of the first labs to prove a cannabinoid key can seek out a cancerous cell in the immune system, unlock the receptor, and direct the cancer cell to self-destruct.

PERSONAL VIEW: I suspect that the skeptical view of critics is nothing more than fear, that a "drug" did not go through the bureaucratic processes of "official approval," putting procedure above patients. I also note that critics tend to be supporters (and funded) of the drug industry.

The bottom line, if cannabis works for individual patients, is it ethical to deny them this treatment? My answer, NO.

LIBYA - More on Taking of Gadhafi's Compound

"After Intense Fighting, Rebels Take Over Gadhafi's Tripoli Compound" (Part-1) PBS Newshour 8/23/2011

Excerpt from transcript

RAY SUAREZ (Newshour): And to the fall of Tripoli and the slow demise of the Gadhafi regime.

We begin with a report narrated by Neil Connery, of Independent Television News.

NEIL CONNERY: For those trapped in the battle for Tripoli, these have been dangerous and terrifying hours. These pictures from the Internet reportedly capture the latest clashes in the heart of the Libyan capital.

But in this fast-moving and confusing situation, what exactly do we know about the balance of power this evening? There's been heavy fighting, with rebels claiming to have seized large parts of the city. The main battle was concentrated around Gadhafi's fortified compound. This was his main residence, and was heavily guarded with a sophisticated communications center, bunkers and tunnels. But it now lies in rebel hands.

Gadhafi loyalists say they control much of the airport road. To the south of that, in Abu Salim, they also claim to have half the area. To the north, rebels have seized Green Square, but there is still fighting in the nearby port. They have also moved along the coast.

"Is Gadhafi Plotting a Last Stand in Hometown of Sirte?" (Part-2) PBS Newshour 8/23/2011

Excerpt from transcript

JEFFREY BROWN (Newshour): I talked with Lindsey Hilsum a short time after she filed that report.

Lindsey Hilsum, welcome once again.

Tell us more about the takeover at the compound. It sounds as though there was resistance in some parts of it, but not in others?

LINDSEY HILSUM: I think that that is right.

There was certainly fighting around there pretty much all day, huge explosions, heavy weapons being used, and smoke rising from the compound all through the morning and the first part of the afternoon. One rebel fighter I spoke to who had been in the compound said to me, though, that not all of that was, in fact, fighting. He said some of that was just the rebels firing.

His unit had not met with any resistance, but he said, we're a bit chaotic. He said, we don't really coordinate. So rebels were just firing around as they went in, partly in excitement, partly in case there was resistance. So, some of that noise may just have been the rebels.

But as I speak now, it appears that Colonel Gadhafi's loyalists who were in that compound have fled. We think that they have fled south, and the compound is in the hands of some very, very happy rebels.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

QUAKE - And Cell Phones

"East Coast Quake A Reminder Of Cell Network Reality" by Elizabeth Woyke, Forbes 8/23/2011


Relentlessly upbeat ads from wireless operators may have led U.S. consumers to believe the country’s cellphone networks can handle anything. But Tuesday’s East Coast earthquake, which originated in Virginia in the early afternoon and was felt along the Eastern seaboard, revealed the truth: cell networks still get congested when millions of people try to make calls at the same time.

In the hours following the quake, which rated a 5.8 on the Richter Scale, many people in crowded areas like New York City encountered busy signals when they dialed numbers.

The problem appeared to afflict all the major U.S. wireless networks: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. None of the companies reported infrastructure problems, as the quake inflicted little physical damage.

With nothing to fix, the carriers urged customers to be patient and communicate via text message or even email. Even text messages were balky on Tuesday afternoon, though, leaving some people frustrated with their cell service in general.

The experience pointed up the fact that large, sudden bursts of traffic will clog up networks despite the rollout of advanced cellular technology. One reason is that many of the carriers’ recent upgrades focused on the data side of their networks. These “4G” upgrades were largely implemented to better support mobile web browsing and relatively new services like streaming high-definition video to phones.


"What?! An earthquake? East Coast reacts with shock" Los Angeles Times 8/23/2011


The magnitude 5.8 earthquake that struck Virginia on Tuesday gives new meaning to the word "aftershock." Residents up and down the East Coast had trouble believing what they were feeling -- that the earth was literally trembling beneath their feet.

In sending texts and emails to subscribers, New York's emergency alert system tried to make quite sure that residents knew this wasn't a joke: An alert went out at 2:12 p.m. Eastern with the heading: "This is an ACTUAL EARTHQUAKE ALERT."

After all, an earthquake is the kind of thing that's supposed to happen in Los Angeles. But not New York City. Or Boston. Or Washington, D.C. Or North Carolina. (There were a smattering of reports that the quake was felt in Ohio and even Ontario.) Yet, up and down the East Coast on Tuesday people reacted with outright shock and disbelief as the news was confirmed by the U.S. Geological Service.

PHOTOS: Earthquake hits the East Coast

The 5.8 earthquake was centered near Mineral, Va., about 80 miles from Washington, D.C., and more than 300 miles away from New York City. That area often has smaller earthquakes, usually no stronger than magnitude 3.0 and rarely felt by people who live there, said Don Blakeman, a geophysicist with the USGS in Colorado, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

Tuesday's earthquake occurred at a relatively shallow depth in the crust, which indicates a strong likelihood of sizable aftershocks, possibly upward of magnitude 5.0 and almost certainly in the range of 2.0 to 4.0, Blakeman said. There were no immediate reports of injuries, and initial reports of damages appeared nominal considering the magnitude.

"Magnitude 5.9 Earthquake Shakes The White House, Virginia, Eastern Seaboard" by Michael Theis, Woodinville Patch 8/23/2011

The United States Geological Survey says a 5.9 magnitude earthquake shook Fredericksburg, Va., along with the better portion of the East Coast around 1:50 p.m. on the East Coast. The quake rattled pictures and valuables off of walls. In and around Fredericksburg, residents are reporting trouble with cellphone networks.

"I thought Jesus was coming back," said Carla Roop, in an interview. She had never experienced an earthquake before, but was dining with a former California resident, as well as her husband and son, in Stafford County when the quake struck.

Her young son said the tremors caused his orange juice to splash on him as they ran outside.

According to data from the USGS, the quake was centered in Louisa County, near the town of Mineral. The epicenter of the quake was about 34 miles southwest of Fredericksburg, 27 miles east of Charlottesville and 39 miles north of Richmond.

The quake was less than a mile underground, with the USGS describing it as a poorly constrained quake 0.6 of a mile underground.

According to Twitter reports, the shaking was felt as far away as Cleveland and New York City.

Seattle-area sports columnist Greg Johns, a writer for the shuttered Eastside daily paper King County Journal and who now works for, tweeted: "Still a little wobbling in the press box at Progressive Field in Cleveland. Hearing quake was centered outside D.C., must have been big one." Johns, who was at the Mariners-Indians game, later tweeted that it was not felt on the field, though others in the stands reported feeling shaking.

Bellevue-native and AOL employee Scott Iwata, who works in New York City, tweeted to Bellevue Patch: "Yeah we're good out here just noticed my monitors were wiggling and felt my leg shake without me shaking it."

News reports say that the Pentagon was being evacuated after the quake.

The tremors sent people scurrying into the streets here near the home offices of Fredericksburg Patch on Forbes Street.

Hector Correra, a painter working at 1314 Caroline Street was on top of a ladder scraping paint when the quake struck.

"It was weird." said the shaken Correra. He said he's never felt an earthquake in Virginia before.

Dina Young, owner of Moms of Fredericksburg, was on the phone and her children were playing when the quake happened.

"I grabbed my three children and took cover in the basement," said Young on Facebook. "No way to get through to 911 so we waited a little while and then turned on channel 4 to see the report."

Lorisa Robinson told Patch that she is having cellphone trouble at the moment.

"I have no outgoing cell service but I am getting alerts," said Robinson. "I can't call or send texts but Internet is working."

"It felt like a train was going through, shaking everything, didn't quite know what to do," said Robinson.

"'Extraordinary' East Coast Quake a Reminder of Seismic Threat in Most States" PBS Newshour 8/23/2011

Excerpt from transcript

HARI SREENIVASAN (Newshour): And, finally, help put this in perspective for folks in just a few seconds that we have remaining here. For people who might not have been there to feel a Japan or a Haiti, how much more powerful were those?

DR. DAVID APPLEGATE, U.S. Geological Survey: The Haiti earthquake was a magnitude 7, so it's roughly sort of 10 to 15 times larger in terms of the magnitude.

But what's really key here is the amount of energy released. So, for each order of magnitude, you're looking at 33 times greater energy. The Japan earthquake was 1,000 times more energy than that Haiti earthquake, but it's about 33,000 to 50,000 times more energy released than this one.

And so that's what makes it truly amazing to have it felt over such a broad area, and a reminder that there is a potential for large earthquakes. We have had them in the Eastern U.S. We certainly have had them in the Central U.S. And they can have a big impact.

LIBYA - Rebels Take Gadhafi's Compound!

"Rebels Overrun Gadhafi Compound" by CHARLES LEVINSON in Tripoli and MARGARET COKER, Wall Street Journal 8/23/2011

Libyans poured into streets around Moammar Gadhafi's fortress-like compound in Tripoli on Tuesday, after rebels captured it following fierce street battles against forces loyal to the longtime ruler.

Streets around the Bab al-Aziziya compound rang with mortars, heavy machine-guns and antiaircraft guns throughout the day as rebels took up positions around the symbolic heart of Col. Gadhafi's regime.

By late afternoon, gunfire ceased and rebels and Tripoli residents poured onto the streets. An overpass near the complex, where rebels had taken up positions an hour before, thronged with people.

Inside the compound were scenes of pandemonium after rebel fighters broke through one of the gates.

Thousands of fighters and civilians poured in and began looting and grabbing just about anything in sight. Men raced through the area with armloads of rifles or carried out large panel television sets. One hauled off a gold-plated, wheeled cocktail cart. A father was there with a preteen son.

Rebels and others who had grabbed some of what appeared to be several hundred guns from the compound fired into the air in celebration.

It wasn't clear whether Col. Gadhafi or members of his immediate family were in the compound when rebels breached it, but the battle's ferocity led many to speculate that the longtime leader may have been inside.

The rebels' celebration within Bab al-Aziziya's walls came after two days of whipsawing reports out of the Libyan capital over what appears to be the final phase of the rebels' six-month battle to oust the world's longest-tenured current ruler.

On Sunday, rebels swept into Col. Gadhafi's last stronghold city and the center of his nearly 42-year rule, and celebrated on the city's central Green Square. But battles continued Monday as Gadhafi loyalists conducted lightning strikes on rebels and residents spoke of snipers in several neighborhoods.

Throughout Tuesday, forces loyal to Col. Gadhafi continued to battle through Tripoli's densely populated neighborhoods, attacking and defending patches of territory across the seemingly divided capital.

Specific districts of Tripoli have become notorious for their antiregime protests during the six months of Libya's conflict, while others have remained forcibly allied with the leader—loyal men and families who owe their careers, tribal ties and social positions to Col. Gadhafi. These divisions have erupted in increasingly bloody street fighting that threaten a vacuum of power and a Balkanized breakup of this city of two million people.

Ibrahim Dabbashi, who represents rebel leadership as the deputy Libyan ambassador to the United Nations, confirmed rebels had taken the Gadhafi compound.

"Citizens are free to walk in there now," he said at a news conference at Libya's mission to the U.N. in New York. "We just have to take care of any explosives that may have been left in there."

He said he expected Col. Gadhafi, his family members and other high officials to be in hiding in the city's underground tunnels—built by the Libyan leader for security purposes in recent years, he said—or in private homes. Mr. Dabbashi expressed confidence they would be captured "within 72 hours."

Taking Col. Gadhafi's complex, which has been heavily damaged by North Atlantic Treaty Organization airstrikes, would mark one of the greatest symbolic victories for the rebels.

Groups of young men dressed in T-shirts and jeans climbed up the sculpture of a clenched fist holding a U.S. warplane that stands in a courtyard in front of the building.

Abdel-Aziz Shafiya, 19, walked down one of the main roads of the compound with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher in one hand and a Kalashnikov in another. The teenager, who is from the embattled city of Misrata, told the Associated Press he felt "an explosion of joy inside."

"I lost friends and relatives and now I can walk into Gadhafi's house," he said. "Many of my friends have died and now all of that meant something."

Mahmoud Shammam, a Doha-based spokesman for the rebels' interim council, was more cautious.

"We don't know who is inside Bab al-Aziziya. We believe that there is someone there and that he is leading a fierce battle. It is a symbol. This is the final castle of Gadhafi," he told the AP.

The battle came hours after Col. Gadhafi's son and heir apparent dealt an embarrassing blow to rebels who had earlier claimed to have him in their custody.

Seif el-Islam Gadhafi appeared late Monday at a hotel where the government is housing foreign journalists in Tripoli. Speaking at an impromptu news conference, he denied reports that he had been arrested over the weekend when rebels rushed into the capital. Both he and his father are wanted on charges of war crimes at the International Criminal Court.

Loyalist gunmen appeared to rally around Seif el-Islam's unexpected appearance, which marks a public-relations debacle for the rebel leadership, who disseminated news of his arrest to Western allies.

In New York, Mr. Dabbashi said Seif al-Islam had been captured but was able to escape after he called members of his personal security guard. He said rebel fighters had been "over confident" about the security situation.

U.S. military officials said the U.S. believes the rebels control most of Tripoli but that the exact percentage under their control is unclear and is changing by the hour.

One senior U.S. military official put the share of Tripoli controlled by the rebels at 90% but said pockets of pro-Gadhafi resistance in densely populated areas made the outcome of the battle for the city "murky."

"The situation is fluid," said Col. David Lapan, the Pentagon's spokesman.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the Obama administration was "working urgently" to release an initial $1 billion to $1.5 billion of Gadhafi-regime assets frozen by the U.S. since February. The frozen assets, totaling some $37 billion, are intended to be used to support Libyan government institutions and for reconstruction efforts, officials said.

In Dubai, U.S. and British diplomats huddled for another day with rebel representatives to put the finishing touches on a post-Gadhafi stability plan crafted by the Libyans with Western help. Officials said the U.S. and its allies are advising the rebels on how to quickly restore basic government services and protect critical infrastructure, including oil assets.

NATO and European Union officials said Tuesday that while it was too early to declare victory in Libya, they had started talks on giving aid and unfreezing key Libyan assets in overseas banks.

"This is not over yet," Catherine Ashton, the EU's foreign policy chief, said at a press conference.

NATO is operating under a mandate from the United Nations, valid until Sept. 25, to protect Libyan civilians from the air and enforce an arms embargo. Its planes have flown some 20,000 sorties over the Northern African nation. NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said Tuesday that regardless of events in Libya, "there will not be boots on the ground" and the military coalition will follow the UN.

NATO ambassadors met Tuesday afternoon in private. Leaders from the EU, UN and Arab League will meet Friday in New York, said Mrs. Ashton.

While it is unclear how many Gadhafi loyalists are left in the capital, those fighting in the streets are most likely the ideologically honed irregular forces that the leader has used to quell internal dissent and protect his regime for years.

Residents say these government militias are conducting the fighting, along with members of Col. Gadhafi's elite military units that appear to be regrouping in Tripoli. The loyalists are now squaring off with hastily trained fighters from Tripoli's far-flung districts who fled the capital earlier this year and have been recruited as part of the rebel vanguard to take the capital.

The rebels started organizing the so-called Tripoli Brigades in early June, choosing men with strong family and social ties from the city and then training them in the remote Western Mountains, located some 160 kilometers from the capital.

Mohammed Abu Sbeaa, a 21-year-old fighter in the Hamer Brigade, named after Tripoli's prerevolutionary parliament building, said he went through six weeks of training after joining the unit in mid-July. On the same day he showed up at the brigade's barracks, he was issued a uniform and given a soldier identification number. They started training immediately, he said.

Each morning they woke up at 5:30 a.m., went for a 45-minute run, followed by stretching and calisthenics, he said. That was followed by daily drills in marching and formations, which Mr. Sbeaa said was intended to transform civilians with no military experience into soldiers accustomed to taking orders and working with discipline.

"It got us used to listening to our commanders and put us in a military mind-set," he said.

The regime fighters still operating in Tripoli appear to be the well-trained paramilitary forces that made up a parallel security structure in Col. Gadhafi's Libya and that have terrorized the capital while fighting has raged in other parts of the country.

Called "revolutionary committees," these irregular units have been the bastion of Col. Gadhafi's dictatorship over the past 40 years, existing parallel to the established military and the police. Their role has been to be both political commissars for the regime and security agents in local neighborhoods and districts.

The members of these militias largely come from Col. Gadhafi's own clan, giving them great motivation to stick with the leader as his regime crumbles.

Recruitment into the revolutionary committees would take personal or family connections, and the men would be put through rigorous ideological tests. Under Col. Gadhafi's leadership, the rewards for service were immense: financial windfalls for lower-level committee members from the collection of security payments among neighborhood shopkeepers, and commercial partnerships for the commanders of these units.

Since the revolt in Libya erupted this spring, these armed revolutionary council militias have been deployed in heavy force across Tripoli. Brandishing automatic rifles, they screech through districts of the capital in Toyota Tundra pickup trucks, swarming day or night like through neighborhoods known for defiance of Col. Gadhafi.

Residents say these plain-clothes gunmen are responsible for many of the mass arrests that have occurred in Tripoli over the past six months. In February and March, they were blamed for shooting unarmed protesters and raiding hospitals full of wounded demonstrators, taking them from operating wards.

Over the past few days, these same militias have been battling armed locals with mounted heavy machine guns on their trucks, according to residents. Some have also set up defensive perimeters around regime-friendly districts, they said.

Col. Gadhafi seized power in a military coup in 1969. Over the past two decades, he has consciously pulled resources away from the regular army and invested in the revolutionary committees, as a way to mitigate the possibility of a coup against him, according to diplomats and former Libyan military advisers.

In many ways, Col. Gadhafi's mistrust of his military appears to have been well placed. This week, with his capital under threat, the head of his presidential guard signed a secret deal with the rebels and didn't deploy his men to fight, according to rebel commanders.

Meanwhile, the elite military brigade commanded by Col. Gadhafi's son Khamis pulled back from its defensive perimeter around Tripoli over the weekend, allowing the rebels to advance eastward into the capital.

The swift advance was a boon for the rebel-led Tripoli Brigade, whose fighters aren't very experienced. In their Western Mountains' training facility, recruits for the brigade attended afternoon classes on how to use the various weapons in the rebel arsenal, including AK-47 and FN assault rifles, heavy-caliber antiaircraft machine guns and antitank rockets. They also learned basic tactics, how to advance and retreat, and raid a building safely.

Their instructors were Libyan expatriates who had served in the Libyan military during its war with Chad in the 1980s. They fell out with Col. Gadhafi during the war and formed what is known as the Libyan Salvation Front, one of the oldest Libyan opposition groups. Many went to the U.S. in exile, and then returned to Libya after the uprising broke out in February, said Mr. Sbeaa, the rebel fighter.

Yussuf Mohammed, a senior coordinator for another Tripoli Brigade, the Qaqaa Brigade, said about 100 of his brigade's 600 fighters received an advanced three-week course in urban warfare tactics given by Qatari special forces.

When rebels in the Western Mountains attacked nearby Gadhafi-controlled villages in late July, the Tripoli brigades' fighters were dispatched to battle to give them a taste of real-life combat.

In mid-August the Tripoli Brigades were joined together under a single division commander.

When Zawiya, the coastal city 30 miles east of Tripoli, fell earlier this month, the Tripoli Brigades were deployed forward to a town closer to the capital, where they nervously awaited the orders to attack.

Those orders came on Sunday, with Tripoli's Qaqaa Brigade spearheading the assault from Zawiya. Mr. Sbeaa's brigade saw action the following morning, pushing into the capital through the southern suburb of Aziziya to establish a bridgehead for the rebel forces in central Tripoli.

But within 90 minutes of setting up that new headquarters, they came under attack and had to relocate. By Tuesday morning, violent battles were engulfing Tripoli that led, later that day, to rebels' capture of Col. Gadhafi's personal compound.