Tuesday, Nov 24th

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VA Expands Benefits Status for Vietnam Vets

The Veterans Affairs Department said Tuesday it plans to make it easier for Vietnam veterans exposed to the agent orange herbicide who suffer from certain medical conditions to qualify for VA benefits.

The conditions are B cell leukemias, Parkinson's disease, and ischemic heart disease. The veterans with those conditions under the VA's proposal would have presumptive status, which would make it easier to obtain benefits. It would bring to 15 the number of medical conditions that have presumptive status in connection to agent orange exposure.


Orthodox Jews Relying More on Legal Prosecution of Sex Abuse

Of some 700 child sexual abuse cases brought in an average year, few involved members of the ultra-observant Orthodox Jewish community  But in the past year, there have been 26. District Attorney Charles J. Hynes has brought charges against a variety of men — yeshiva teachers, rabbis, camp counselors, merchants and relatives of children. Eight have been convicted; 18 await trial.

If the sudden spike in prosecutions is startling, even more surprising is the apparent reason: ultra-Orthodox Jews, long forbidden to inform on one another without permission from the rabbis who lead them, are going to the police and prosecutors on their own.


The Myth of America: This is not your grandfather’s Columbus

To mark Columbus Day In 2004, the Medieval and Renaissance Center in UCLA published the final volume of a compendium of Columbus-era documents. Its general editor, Geoffrey Symcox, leaves little room for ambivalence when he says, “This is not your grandfather’s Columbus….

While giving the brilliant mariner his due, the collection portrays Columbus as an unrelenting social climber and self-promoter who stopped at nothing - not even exploitation, slavery, or twisting biblical scripture - to advance his ambitions…. Many of the unflattering documents have been known for the last century or more, but nobody paid much attention to them until recently.


In 1918 Pandemic, Another Possible Killer: Aspirin

In February 1917, Bayer lost its American patent on aspirin, opening a lucrative drug market to many manufacturers. Bayer fought back with copious advertising, celebrating the brand’s purity just as the epidemic was reaching its peak.

Aspirin packages were produced containing no warnings about toxicity and few instructions about use. In the fall of 1918, facing a widespread deadly disease with no known cure, the surgeon general and the United States Navy recommended aspirin as a symptomatic treatment, and the military bought large quantities of the drug.


12th graders tell Netanyahu: We refuse to serve in IDF

Dozens of graduating high school seniors signed a letter on Monday declaring their refusal to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces.

The missive, which was addressed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, stated that the reason for their refusal to serve stems from the belief that "there is no military solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."  "We hereby announce our refusal to take part in the military apparatus," read the letter which was signed by 88 youths. "We do not see a military solution as the proper solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."


Time for the media to fess up

Journalists like Evan Thomas now admit the Clinton scandals were bogus. When will they admit they played along?

Prodded by recent events -- including publication of "The Clinton Tapes," historian Taylor Branch's fascinating account of his contemporaneous private conversations with President Bill Clinton; the unwholesome reappearance of healthcare reform nemesis Betsy McCaughey; and perhaps even the death of retired New York Times Op-Ed columnist William Safire -- certain media myth-makers of the Clinton era have suddenly uttered startling acknowledgments and even a grudging confession or two.


Ex-officer alleges Iraq cover-ups

British soldiers in Iraq were involved in hundreds of incidents in which civilians died or were seriously injured but which were covered up or inadequately investigated, a former military police officer claimed today.

"If you were to look back at all the serious allegations arising out of operations in Iraq, there's a catalogue of blunders, mistakes, ineptitude and the course of investigations being bent to serve the real or perceived interests of the chain of command of the army," the ex-officer said.


New fears for species extinctions

Scientists have warned of an alarming increase in the extinction of animal species, because of threats to biodiversity and ecosystems.

The threats are posed by pollution, climate change and urban spread. The comments come two days ahead of a meeting of the Diversitas group of global experts on biodiversity in the South African city of Cape Town.


U.S. contracts meant for small businesses in Florida often go to huge companies

What do Dell Computer, General Electric and Boeing have in common? These massive corporations were all counted as ``small businesses'' doing work in Florida last year.

The three firms -- along with a dozen other billion-dollar companies -- soaked up at least $76 million in federal contracts that were recorded as going to small businesses during fiscal year 2008, according to government data. While the federal government is obliged to put 23 percent of all direct, or prime, contracts in the hands of small firms, it has missed that mark for the past three years.


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