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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fortean / Alternative News: Japan's Rabbit Paradise, Potato Gun Maiming and Companies Who Support Internet Censoring

Imperial Army Poison Gas Facility Now Japan's Rabbit Paradise

mainichi - An island here which used be a poison gas production site for the Imperial Japanese Army is gaining popularity as a rabbit paradise.

Many visitors to Okunoshima Island, located some three kilometers off the Hiroshima Prefectural city of Takehara, are bringing their cameras to take photographs of the rabbits, next year's zodiac animal, for their New Year's greeting cards and personal blog sites. Today, there are some 300 rabbits living on the island.

The small island of about four kilometers in circumference used to be a base for the Imperial Army's lethal gas production between 1929 and 1945. It was once erased from the map of Japan for security reasons.

The poison gas produced at the site took the lives of many people in China and other battlefronts, and former facility workers are continuing to suffer from health ailments caused by the gas.

Today, the island is uninhabited, but the remains of the facility buildings, including gas containers and a power plant, are still there.

It is believed that rabbits were first taken to the island in 1971, after an elementary school in Takehara found it difficult to keep the animals at school. According to the Kyukamura Okunoshima resort hotel, most of the visitors to the island consisted of students on school study trips and senior tourists.

However, as the island became known as a rabbit habitat, the hotel began to receive more reservations from young women and families. The rabbits became popular for their adorable gesture asking for food.

Since this autumn, the number of tourists to the island increased sharply, and the ferry connecting Takehara and the island had 1.4 times more passengers in November compared to the previous year.

The Kyukamura resort hotel held a design contest for New Year's cards featuring the rabbits and issued a dummy residence certificate for the island to its frequent visitors while offering free ferry rides to them.

A woman from the prefectural city of Onomichi, who visited the island with her two daughters, said, "I learned about the island on the Internet, and it is my first visit. I've taken about 200 photographs, and would like to introduce them on my blog."

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The Bountiful, B.C. Cult

ctvbc - The isolated polygamous commune of Bountiful, B.C., is a "cult" where religion is used to control residents and take away their rights, says the brother of one the community's leaders.

Truman Oler, whose brother James leads one of two divided factions within Bountiful, left the fundamentalist Mormon community in southeastern B.C. several years ago and has rarely seen his family since.

Oler, now 29, testified Tuesday at a B.C. court case examining Canada's anti-polygamy law, describing a community where children are taught from an early age that anything less than complete obedience -- including entering into polygamous marriages-- would mean an eternity in hell.

"My thinking about Bountiful and the FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) has evolved the longer I have been away from the community," Truman said in a written affidavit filed in advance of his testimony.

"I now think that the FLDS is like a cult and that it is damaging for children to grow up in that environment. The FLDS does not permit anyone free choice. You are told what to do."

Residents of Bountiful follow a fundamentalist version of Mormonism that has long been rejected by the mainstream church, practising polygamy as a tenet of the faith.

Oler grew up outside Bountiful in nearby Canyon, living in a large house with his father, his father's many wives and dozens of brothers and sisters. His father, Dalmon Oler, eventually had six wives and 47 children.

While his home was outside Bountiful, Oler's life was steeped in the community and its religion.

His uncle is Winston Blackmore, who was the local bishop until James Oler took over in 2002. He attended the FLDS church and was educated in an FLDS school, where he was taught religion for up to two hours a day.

And whether in church or school, he said there was one constant theme.

"I recall it was said we have two choices: the first choice is we could live this way and have eternal life and get to the highest level of heaven, and if we don't live this way, we're going to be damned and go to hell forever," he said in the witness stand.

"As a small child, I don't think that second choice is a choice at all."

Religion controlled every aspect of life, said Oler, and children were told to be prepared for whatever the church leadership asked of them.

Marriages were arranged. Children and young adults were moved to and from the U.S. to work or marry. Boys, including him, dropped out of school to work in the community's timber and logging businesses.

He said boys were taught to treat girls as "dangerous snakes" whose role was to become wives and produce babies.

Oler said he began to have doubts about the religion as he approached adulthood, and those feelings were solidified after the community bitterly divided in 2002 between followers of Winston Blackmore and James Oler.

Families were broken apart, relatives were forbidden to speak to each other. Oler concluded it wasn't "Christ-like," and he left.

Oler now lives in Marysville, a small community about a two-hour drive north of Bountiful, where he said he recently completed a heavy-duty mechanic course and plans to obtain his high-school equivalency soon.

Speaking in a slow, soft voice, often pausing for nervous breaths between sentences, Oler teared up when discussing the family he left behind. He said he hadn't seen most of them in years.

He now has a wife and two young children, and it is the contrast between them that appears to have affected him most.

"It (having children) has changed me so much now that I look back, the way the kids were ... they (men) don't spend any time with their families," said Oler, struggling to finish his sentences during his emotional testimony.

"I can't think of anything more important, spending the time I do have with my children."

The constitutional case was prompted by the failed prosecution of Blackmore and James Oler in 2009. They were each charged with practising polygamy, but the case against them was thrown out for technical legal reasons.

Next week, the case hears from women currently living in Bountiful, who will be allowed to testify anonymously.


The Tylenol-Benadryl-Sudafed Recall, Part 2

January 14, 2011

McNeil Consumer Healthcare INITIATES Voluntary Recall of CERTAIN OVER-THE-COUNTER (OTC) PRODUCTS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Fort Washington, PA (January 14, 2011) – In consultation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), McNeil Consumer Healthcare, Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc. is voluntarily recalling, at the wholesale level, certain lots of TYLENOL® 8 Hour, TYLENOL® Arthritis Pain, and TYLENOL® upper respiratory products, and certain lots of BENADRYL®, SUDAFED PE®, and SINUTAB® products distributed in the United States, the Caribbean, and Brazil. These products were manufactured at the McNeil plant in Fort Washington, PA prior to April 2010, when production at the facility was suspended. The company is initiating the recall as a precautionary measure after an extensive review of past production records found instances where equipment cleaning procedures were insufficient or that cleaning was not adequately documented. It is very unlikely that this impacted the quality of these products.
McNeil Consumer Healthcare is also initiating a voluntary recall of certain product lots of ROLAIDS® Multi-Symptom Berry Tablets distributed in the United States, in order to update the labeling. The company initiated the recall after determining that the product labeling does not include the language “Does not meet USP” as required by regulation.

Both of these recalls are being initiated at the wholesale level. No action is required by consumers or healthcare providers and consumers can continue to use the product. These actions are not being undertaken on the basis of adverse events.

McNeil identified the inadequacies as part of a thorough, proactive product quality and process assessment of all McNeil produced products. As previously announced, McNeil has been implementing a Comprehensive Action Plan at its U.S. manufacturing facilities to improve the quality systems at those sites. This product assessment is a key milestone in the implementation of that plan, and the actions being undertaken as a result of the assessment are part of McNeil’s ongoing commitment to ensure that all its products meet the high quality standards that consumers expect.

Consumers can access full product details and other information about the recall on the website or by calling our Consumer Care Center at 1-888-222-6036 (available Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. ET and Saturday – Sunday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Eastern Time).

Any adverse reactions may also be reported to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program either online, by regular mail or by fax.

* Online:
* Regular Mail: use postage-paid, pre-addressed Form FDA 3500 available at: Mail to address on the pre-addressed form.
* Fax: 1-800-FDA-0178


Potato Gun Severely Maims Man

journalnet - Paul Dial attributes his training as an Eagle Scout in his youth for the calm and cool approach he exhibited following the potato gun explosion that severely injured his neighbor, Idaho State University student Derek Schaible, Sunday afternoon.

Dial said he was watching television when he heard the boom. “It was very loud. It shook the pictures on the wall,” said Dial. Running outside to the house next door, Dial heard a woman screaming and when he came upon Schaible and the woman, there was a pool of blood forming.

When Schaible turned to face Dial he was covering his mutilated right hand with his left hand, saying, "What have I done, what have I done."

Dial said that he also observed shrapnel wounds in Schaible's right leg and three fingers were missing, his little finger, ring finger and middle finger.

Dial told the woman to get a towel, a chair and to call the police. She told Dial that she didn’t have a phone so Dial ran home and told his wife to call 911.

Dial said that Schaible was bleeding profusely and was beginning to go into shock.

Dial said he wanted to keep him outside because the cold weather would stall the effects of shock.

Dial said that he held onto Schaible's arm and applied a tourniquet with his hands to stop the bleeding.

“I told him to keep his arm above his shoulder, to keep it above his heart,” said Dial.

Dial said that his training as an Eagle Scout taught him that “you just have to use your common sense. Determine what the situation is and then react.”

Schaible was rushed by ambulance to Portneuf Medical Center, where he was listed in stable condition Sunday night following surgery.

The residents of the University Neighborhood at the corner of South 13th Avenue and East Lewis Street found their quiet on a rainy Sunday afternoon suddenly shattered by the percussive blast of the explosive device believed at first to be a pipe bomb but later determined to be a potato gun. Schaible had filled the gun with black powder and lit it, triggering the explosion, police said.

Jeannie Vahsholtz, who lives across the street from Schaible, said she and her daughter had just finished watching a movie when she heard a loud explosion. Vahsholtz thought it was a gunshot and described it as loud as a sonic boom.

“I looked out a window and I saw a man with a gun,” said Vahsholtz, “and then he put it down and walked between the house and the garage.”

Vahsholtz saw her neighbor, Dial, run out of his home to assist the man she later found out was Schaible.

Rick Ross and Bret Davis were watching the New York Jets-New England Patriots game on television when they heard the explosion.

“It was like an M-80,” said Ross. “We got up and observed the individual running around the side of the house holding his hand in the air.”

Davis said he saw a plume of smoke and Schaible was standing as if in a daze before he went around the side of the house.

Schaible is an Idaho State University student majoring in music performance, according to ISU's Web site. He was scheduled to play piano at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at the nearby First United Methodist Church on Sunday night.

The Rev. Janie Gebhardt, minister of the First Congregational United Church of Christ, asked those in attendance at the MLK celebration to say a prayer for Schaible.

Gebhardt said that Schaible would often play piano at local church services. “I’m heart sick that this happened to such a talented young man,” said Gebhardt.


The Companies Who Support Censoring The Internet

techdirt - A group of companies sent a letter to to Attorney General Eric Holder and ICE boss John Morton today (with cc's to VP Joe Biden, Homeland Security boss Janet Napolitano, IP Czar Victoria Espinel, Rep. Lamar Smith, Rep. John Conyers, Senator Patrick Leahy and Senator Charles Grassley), supporting the continued seizure of domain names they don't like, as well as the new COICA censorship bill, despite the serious Constitutional questions raised about how such seizures violate due process and free speech principles. While many reporting on this letter refused to actually post a copy of the full letter, kudos to Greg Sandoval over at for doing so (full text also included after the jump on this post).

The companies try to present a united front that censoring the internet is a good thing. It includes the usual suspects of Viacom and NBC Universal on the content side and Louis Vuitton and Tiffany on the counterfeiting side, but there are a few other interesting names: such as Monster Cable (never met an IP law it didn't want to abuse, apparently), the NBA, MLB and NFL (sports leagues unite in censorship!) as well as Voltage Pictures, famous for suing thousands of fans for downloading Hurt Locker. Activison, which has become increasingly aggressive on IP issues lately is on the list as well, of course. Anyway, here's the full list of companies that support censoring the internet, because they're too lazy to compete in the marketplace or innovate when that market changes:

* Nike - Beaverton, OR
* Achushnet - Fairhaven, MA
* Curb Music Publishing - Nashville, TN
* NBC Universal - New York, NY
* Viacom - New York, NY
* Callaway - Carlsbad, CA
* Cleveland Golf - Huntington Beach, CA
* Rosetta Stone - Arlington, VA
* Activision - Santa Monica, CA
* Adidas Group - Portland, OR
* Xerox - Norwalk, CT
* Hastings Entertainment, Inc. - Amarillo, TX
* Fortune Brands - Deerfield, IL
* Coty Inc. - New York, NY
* EDGE Entertainment Distribution - Streetsboro, OH
* Oakley, Inc. - Foothill Ranch, CA
* PING - Phoenix, AZ
* Louis Vuitton - New York, NY
* D'Addario and Company - Farmingdale, NY
* Monster Cable Products, Inc. - Brisbane, CA
* Tiffany and Co. - New York, NY
* Farouk Systems, Inc. - Houston, TX
* Beam Global - Deerfield, IL
* Chanel USA - New York, NY
* True Religion Apparel, Inc. - Vernon, CA
* Concord Music Group - Beverly Hills, CA
* Village Roadshow Pictures - Beverly Hills, CA
* National Basketball Association - New York, NY
* National Football League - New York, NY
* The Collegiate Licensing Company/IMG College - Atlanta, GA
* Anderson Merchandisers - Amarillo, TX
* Trans World Entertainment Corporation - Albany, NY
* Timberland - Stratham, NH
* Major League Baseball - New York, NY
* Lightening Entertainment/Mainline Releasing - Santa Monica, CA
* Sierra Pictures - Beverly Hills, CA
* Voltage Pictures LLC - Los Angeles, CA
* Worldwide Film Entertainment LLC - Westchester, CA
* Nu Image, Inc. - Los Angeles, CA
* Burberry Limited - New York, NY
* Big Machine Records - Nashville, TN
* The Little Film Company - Studio City, CA
* Columbia Sportswear Company - Portland, OR

These companies are clearly trying to protect their own business interests, but it seems reasonable to let them know that you don't appreciate them seeking to censor the internet. If you haven't been following this story, and want to understand the details, we've discussed why COICA is all about censoring websites without due process and in violation of the First Amendment. We've also discussed how the ongoing (pre-COICA) domain name seizures were riddled with serious errors that appear to violate the law as well, including seizing the domains of blogs regularly used and recognized within the music industry based on evidence involving songs sent by the record labels themselves.

And, of course, none of this is to say that violating copyright or trademark laws should be allowed. But we have a system to deal with such things: you file a lawsuit, you have an adversarial hearing in a courtroom (i.e., due process) and you let both sides present their case. COICA and these domain seizures look to avoid all of that. And that's a big, big problem. That these companies would support such censorship and leapfrogging over due process suggests that they're companies not worth doing business with.