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Unidentified Life Form Found in Antarctic Lake


It looks like drilling through 2.3 miles of ice may have paid off: The Russian scientists who did just that last year at Antarctica’s Lake Vostok say the samples they recovered contain an “unclassified and unidentified” life form, reports the BBC.The bacteria’s DNA measured less than 86% similar to that of previously existing life forms—which the team’s leader explains is “basically zero” when it comes to DNA. “A level of 90% usually means that the organism is unknown.” “If this had been found on Mars everyone would have undoubtedly said there is life on Mars,” continued the scientist, who says fresh samples will be retrieved from the subglacial lake in May. “But this is bacteria from Earth.” Lake Vostok is so oxygen-rich—about 50 times more so than freshwater lakes—that any microbes living in it must have evolved special adaptations to survive there, notes the Daily Galaxy.

Photo Credit: (Reuters)

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Democratic Rep. Barney Frank Announces Retirement


Democratic Rep. Barney Frank, a gay pioneer in Congress and a Massachusetts liberal whose name as well and fingerprints are on last year’s sweeping bill regulating Wall Street, announced plans Monday to retire at the end of his current term, his 16th in Congress.

“There are other things I would like to do with my life,” the 71-year-old lawmaker said at a news conference. He added that his retirement plans were hastened by two years by reapportionment, which moved 325,000 new constituents into his district.

Frank’s career has traced an arc from early promise to near career-wrecking scandal to legislative triumph, accompanied by a quick-witted intelligence and an often partisan and frequently acerbic speaking style.

Unusual for a politician, his appearance is routinely less-than impeccable, and he once distributed posters as a candidate for the Massachusetts Legislature that said “Neatness isn’t everything. Re-elect Barney.”

In Congress, Frank has fought for years to hold down what he viewed as excessive military spending, and said one of his objectives for his final year in office is to make sure the Pentagon shares in any deficit-cutting measures that take place.

Frank is the 17th Democrat to announce he will not seek re-election in 2012, when Democrats face an uphill battle to gain the 25 seats they need to win a majority. By contrast, six Republicans are retiring.

In a written statement, President Barack Obama hailed Frank’s “passion and his quick wit.” He praised his work to expand affordable housing, end discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered individuals and enact “the most sweeping financial reform in history, designed to protect consumers and prevent the kind of excessive risk-taking that led to the financial crisis from ever happening again.”

Barney Frank Explains His Decision Below:

Frank’s office released the following statement from the Congressman:

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Lego Spill Shuts Down Section Of West Virginia Highway


A mysterious Lego spill shut down traffic on a section of Highway I-79 in Harrison County, West Virginia, on Sunday.

According to the local fire department, it took a few hours to clean up the lane, pushing traffic on that section of the highway to one lane.

Photo Credit: (Facebook)

US Army Charges Alaskan Soldier w/ Attempted Espionage

The U.S. Army charged an Alaska-based soldier Monday with attempted espionage, saying he communicated and transmitted national defense information to an individual he believed was a foreign intelligence agent.

According to the charges, Spc. William Colton Millay intended to aid a foreign nation. Millay, 22, also is charged with communicating dense information, issuing false statements, failing to obey regulations and soliciting a fellow service member to get classified material.

Army officials said Millay was being observed before any damage could have taken place.

Photo Of 8-Year-Old Syrian Rebel ‘Ahmed’ Smoking A Cigarette With His Rifle


It’s a picture that is both haunting and heartbreaking.

Dressed in red, an 8-year-old Syrian boy identified as Ahmed stares into the camera of American-born photojournalist Sebastiano Tomada Piccolomini. The child’s face is partially obscured by the smoke of a lit cigarette, and his small frame is dwarfed by the assault rifle slung around his shoulders.

Piccolomini’s pint-sized “rebel” exemplifies the growing tragedy in Aleppo, a city on the front lines of Syria’s ongoing civil war. The photographer has been documenting the struggle of the Free Syrian Army fighters for a series called “The Things They Carry,” the New York Daily News reports.

Once the country’s commercial center, Aleppo is currently divided by between soldiers loyal to President Bashar Assad and the rebel forces who oppose him.

According to German filmmaker Marcel Mettelsiefen, conditions in the city border on unbearable, with only 30 doctors and nurses caring for hundreds of thousands of civilians. The New York Times reports that rebel areas lack electricity, water, or any sort of economic stability.

Since the fighting broke out in Syria more than two years ago, the United Nations estimates that more than 70,000 people have been killed, Reuters notes.

Photo Credit: (SIPA USA)

Study: Rich Get a Lot Richer, Outpace Middle Class

(AP)

The richest 1 percent of Americans have been getting far richer over the last three decades while the middle class and poor have seen their after-tax household income only crawl up in comparison, according to a government study.

After-tax income for the top 1 percent of U.S. households almost tripled, up 275 percent, from 1979 to 2007, the Congressional Budget Office found. For people in the middle of the economic scale, after-tax income grew by just 40 percent. Those at the bottom experienced an 18 percent increase.

For more on this study, click the source link below….

High Taxes? Actually, They're at a 60-Year Low

Taxes too high?

Actually, as a share of the nation’s economy, Uncle Sam’s take this year will be the lowest since 1950, when the Korean War was just getting under way.

And for the third straight year, American families and businesses will pay less in federal taxes than they did under former President George W. Bush, thanks to a weak economy and a growing number of tax breaks for the wealthy and poor alike.

Income tax payments this year will be nearly 13 percent lower than they were in 2008, the last full year of the Bush presidency. Corporate taxes will be lower by a third, according to projections by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The poor economy is largely to blame, with corporate profits down and unemployment up. But so is a tax code that grows each year with new deductions, credits and exemptions. The result is that families making as much as $50,000 can avoid paying federal income taxes, if they have at least two dependent children. Low-income families can actually make a profit from the income tax, and the wealthy can significantly cut their payments.

“The current state of the tax code is simply indefensible,” says Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. “It is hemorrhaging revenue.”

In the next few years, many can expect to pay more in taxes. Some increases were enacted as part of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. And many states have raised taxes because — unlike the federal government — they have to balance their budgets each year. State tax receipts are projected to increase in all but seven states this year, according to the National Council of State Legislatures.

But in the third year of Obama’s presidency, federal taxes are at historic lows. Tax receipts dropped sharply in 2009 as the economy sank into recession. They have since stabilized and are expected to grow by 3 percent this year. But federal tax revenues won’t rebound to pre-recession levels until next year, according to CBO projections.

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Rick Santorum Endorses TSA Profiling Of Muslims


One of the most devout Christians in the GOP field endorsed singling out Muslims for extra screening by the Transportation Security Administration.

“Obviously, Muslims would be someone you look at, absolutely,” said former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum. “The radical Muslims are the people committing these crimes, by in large, with younger males” also deserving of more scrutiny at airport checkpoints.

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First Motorola DROID4 Photos Surface

(DroidLife)

Keyboard lovers, get ready – the DROID4 by Motorola is coming and according to our sources, has the best slideout they have “ever seen on a smartphone.” In this set of glamour shots we received, you can get a taste for what’s to come which means ultra-thin slider with DROID RAZR styling and wait for it….4G LTE. You asked for it and Moto appears to have made it.

Photo Credit: DroidLife

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John Boehner: Relations With Obama ‘a Little Frosty’


As the struggle between the White House and Congress over how to get Americans back to work has heated up in recent weeks, House Speaker John Boehner’s relationship with President Obama has grown “frosty,” the Ohio Republican said today.

But he maintains that they still have a “pretty good relationship” and they can work together on job creation measures and to reach a long-term deficit reduction plan in Congress this month.

“The president and I have a pretty good relationship,” Boehner said in an exclusive interview with “This Week” anchor Christiane Amanpour. “It’s been a little frosty here the last few weeks. But we’ve got a pretty good relationship.

"That doesn’t mean that we always agree,” Boehner added. “But the American people expect, even though we have very different ideas, the American people want us to look for common ground and then act on it. … We’ve taken some steps in the right direction here over the last couple of months. We’ve got a lot more steps to take together.”

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Ron Paul Weighs in on the Federal War on Drugs


Ron Paul went out of his way to emphasize his support for medical marijuana, insisting that marijuana laws should be set not by the federal government but by the states.

“You can at least let sick people have marijuana because it’s helpful,” Paul said. “But the compassionate conservatives say, well we can’t do this, we’re going to put people who are sick and dying with cancer and are being helped with marijuana if they have multiple sclerosis – the federal government is going in there and overriding state laws and putting people like that in prison.”

The Obama administration had promised a hands-off policy on marijuana laws, saying the issue was best regulated at the state level. But the number of raids has been on the rise, and last month federal prosecutors in California announced a crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries, threatening to shutter state-licensed businesses.

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Police Use Tear Gas, Flash Bangs, Rubber Bullets Again on #OccupyOakland

Police used tear gas on at least three separate occasions to disperse more than 1,000 demonstrators who took to the streets of Oakland, California Tuesday evening as running street battles engulfed the city for more than six hours.

­Thick billows of smoke and exploding projectiles filled the streets of downtown Oakland as television footage showed a man who was bleeding after reportedly being hit in the head by a tear gas canister, the Oakland Tribune reports.  

“We had to deploy gas to stop people from throwing rocks and bottles at police,” said Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan, as cited by the daily.  

However, other unconfirmed reports indicate that flash-bang grenades and wooden dowels – solid, cylindrical rods – were used against protesters.

The authorities denied those reports, however, claiming that the commotion had been caused by protesters who were lobbing fireworks at police.  

The conflicting reports came as live helicopter camera feeds for both ABC and CBS news networks were apparently cut right before police hurled tear gas canisters, only to cut back in later, as reported by the popular website, Gawker.

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In a new campaign ad aimed to jab at President Obama, Rick Perry says he’s a “doer, not a talker”. Take a look..

GOP Contenders Square Off on Immigration

The Republican presidential hopefuls are debating how to deal with the nation’s illegal immigrants, differing on how to deal with millions of people already in the United States.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Tuesday that he wouldn’t “expel” those who have come illegally but have made lives in the U.S. He says that the GOP cannot call itself a party for family when it separates parents from their children born in the U.S.

Rep. Michele Bachmann says that allowing illegal immigrants to stay is a form of amnesty. She and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney say benefits for illegal immigrants attract others.

But Romney adds he wants to encourage immigration, especially among those educated at U.S. colleges.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry says the priority should be securing the border.

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PBS’ Steve Jobs Documentary Now Available

Last night, PBS aired their documentary on the life of  Steve Jobs.  This well put together piece, titled ‘One Last Thing’,  covered Jobs’ career and highlighted his impressive life’s achievements.  The documentary features a number of  interviews with  prominent personalities who share their own experience with Jobs and tell how the Apple co-founder changed the world.

In Flight, Romney Is Aloof With Fellow Passengers

Mitt Romney was polite as he took his seat in coach next to Carolyn McClanahan of Jacksonville, Fla., on a recent Delta flight to Boston. He thanked her when she said she appreciated his efforts to reform health care as the governor of Massachusetts and even posed for a photo with her.

As a physician who heads a financial planning company and prides herself on having read every page of President Obama’s health care reform bill, Ms. McClanahan, 47, recognized that it’s not every day you’re seated next to a presidential candidate on a two-hour flight. According to Ms. McClanahan, about an hour into the flight — which Mr. Romney mostly spent reading USA Today and using an iPad while wearing headphones — she told him her idea for improving the American health care system: slashing overhead costs by switching to an electronic billing system.

“He looked at me blankly and said, ‘I understand,’ then put his iPad headphones in and kept reading,” she said.

While Ms. McClanahan said Mr. Romney was likely exhausted, she was disappointed he showed so little interest. Even another passenger’s request for a restaurant recommendation in Boston elicited little from Mr. Romney, she said. “I can’t give you any,” he said, according to Ms. McClanahan. “You’ll have to ask someone else.”

Such reserved behavior seems commonplace among airline passengers. But Mr. Romney is. of course, running for president.

“I feel he’s out of touch or doesn’t want to be in touch or that he’s afraid to be in touch,” she said. “He’s just like people describe him: just very wooden.”

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Rally Defying Putin’s Party Draws Tens of Thousands


Photo Credits: (James Hill / NY Times) (Olga Maltseva / AFP / Getty) (Denis Sinyakov / Reuters) (Yuri Kadobnov / AFP / Getty) (Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP)

Theft of Data on 4M Patients Part of Wider Problem

The theft of a computer containing information on more than 4 million patients of a major Northern California health care provider may be among the largest breaches of health care data in recent years, but it’s far from the only incident of its kind.

Over the last two years, health care organizations have reported 364 incidents involving the loss or theft of information ranging from names and addresses to Social Security numbers and medical diagnoses on nearly 18 million patients - equivalent to the population of Florida.

A thief stole medical information on more than 4 million patients of Sacramento-based Sutter Health last month by the simple act of breaking a window with a rock at the affiliated Sutter Medical Foundation. Stolen over the weekend of Oct. 15 were monitors, keyboards and a desktop computer containing patient information dating to 1995.

Employees reported the theft to Sacramento police when they returned to work that Monday, Oct. 17, said Sgt. Andrew Pettit, but they didn’t notify the public until Wednesday, a month later. The company said in announcing the theft Wednesday that some patients might not receive mailed notices until early next month.

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New Campaign Ad From Rick Perry Highlights His Faith


From rickperry.org:

“Rick Perry’s Christian faith has played a key role in his life and leadership, just as it has in the founding and life of the United States of America,” said Perry campaign communications director Ray Sullivan. “Gov. Perry is guided by faith every day as he travels our great country discussing his strong social and fiscal conservative values, record and vision with voters in Iowa and across the nation.”

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Jon Huntsman: Climate Change Science ‘Not Enough’ For US Action


Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor and current Republican presidential candidate, earned accolades from environmental advocates earlier this year for denouncing his fellow presidential contenders – chiefly Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann – for their regressive views on matters of science, including human-induced global warming.

“When you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution – ” said Huntsman during an early September debate. “All I’m saying is that in order for the Republican party to win, we can’t run from science.”

Now it appears that Huntsman, a former U.S. ambassador to China who has been trailing badly in the polls, is recalibrating his own thoughts on the science behind global warming.