ECM WORLD WATCH: GLOBAL AND NATIONAL NEWS

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November 20, 2012 --  (San Diego’s East County) – ECM World Watch helps you be an informed citizen about important issues globally and nationally. As part of our commitment to reflecting all voices and views, we include links to a wide variety of news sources representing a broad spectrum of political, religious, and social views. Top world and U.S. headlines include:

U.S.

WORLD

Israel-Palestine conflict:

Other world news:

HEALTH

Read more for excerpts and links to full stories.

U.S.

Home prices rise in 81% of U.S. cities as markets recover (Bloomberg)

November 2012 -- Nonprofit organizations use many formulas to set their chief executive's salary and compensation package, and making it a percent of the budget is among the most popular formulas. Additional considerations exist, especially in light of economic downturn, dwindling donations, organization size and other factors. If a nonprofit's executive director salary is too high, your organization might face backlash, and if it's too low, you'll have trouble attracting top talent. According to Charity Navigator's survey of mid- to large-size nonprofits, the median salary of the average executive director was $147,273 in 2010.

How the U.S. mortgage settlement can help military members (U-T San Diego)

November 14, 2012 -- Are you're an active member of the armed forces or a veteran and believe you've been mistreated by your mortgage lender?

Federal officials are urging you to report those issues.

A $25 billion mortgage settlement between 49 states and five of the nation's largest banks -- Bank of America, Citi, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Ally -- includes protections for service members. Under the settlement, those banks have agreed to provide consumers relief, everything from granting short sales to modifying mortgages to make them more affordable for homeowners.

BP settles with U.S. for $4.5 billion in Gulf spill (Sacramento Bee)

November 16, 2012 -- While BP has resolved a sweeping criminal probe of its role in the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, two company employees charged in the deaths of 11 rig workers claim the Justice Department is trying to make them scapegoats for the disaster.

Attorneys for the highest-ranking BP employees aboard the Deepwater Horizon during the deadly explosion in April 2010 vowed to fight manslaughter charges against their clients. According to the indictment unsealed Thursday, Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine are accused of disregarding abnormal high-pressure readings that should have been glaring indications of trouble just before the blowout.

2 BP workers indicted on manslaughter counts (Sacramento Bee)

November 16, 2012 -- While BP has resolved a sweeping criminal probe of its role in the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, two company employees charged in the deaths of 11 rig workers claim the Justice Department is trying to make them scapegoats for the disaster.

Attorneys for the highest-ranking BP employees aboard the Deepwater Horizon during the deadly explosion in April 2010 vowed to fight manslaughter charges against their clients. According to the indictment unsealed Thursday, Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine are accused of disregarding abnormal high-pressure readings that should have been glaring indications of trouble just before the blowout.

Obama insists on tax hike in “fiscal cliff” deal (Reuters)

November 14, 2012 -- President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that Republicans would have to agree to raise taxes on the wealthy as the first step in a budget deal that would prevent a dysfunctional Washington from pushing the economy into recession.

In his first news conference since winning re-election last week, Obama said he would be open to considering Republican priorities like entitlement reform and a tax-code overhaul as part of a broad-based deal to get the nation's finances on a sustainable course.

Secession petitions now filed in all 50 states (Yahoo News)

NOvember 14, 2012 -- Petitions signed by hundreds of thousands of Americans seeking permission for their states to peacefully secede from the union have now been filed for all 50 states on the White House website.

The secession petition push began last week on the site's We The People section after a Slidell, La., man filed a petition on Nov. 7 to allow Louisiana to secede. Residents from other states followed suit.

Rick Perry does not support secession (CNN)

November 13, 2012 -- An appeal calling on the federal government to allow Texas to "withdraw from the United States of America" following President Barack Obama's re-election doesn't have the support of the Lone Star State's governor, his office said in a statement Tuesday.

"Gov. [Rick] Perry believes in the greatness of our Union and nothing should be done to change it," his press secretary Catherine Frazier wrote in a statement. "But he also shares the frustrations many Americans have with our federal government."

Federal Wildlife Services makes a killing in animal-control business(Sacramento Bee)

November 18, 2012 -- As founder of one of the nation's largest urban wildlife damage control companies, Kevin Clark is no stranger to competition.

But one competitor costs him more business than any other: the federal government.

"Government is not supposed to compete, head to head, with the private sector when the private sector is already fulfilling the need," said Clark, chief executive officer of Critter Control, a franchise with branches in California. "Nuisance wildlife control operators are more than capable of handling these problems."

Obama vows action on climate change for future generations (RawStory)

November 14, 2012 -- President Barack Obama on Wednesday vowed a new push for action on climate change, saying the United States had a duty to come together to curb emissions in the wake of megastorm Sandy.

In his first news conference since his decisive re-election on November 6, Obama said he planned a “conversation across the country” in the coming months to find common ground after a failed effort on climate change at the start of his term.

Toxic flame retardant detected in popular soda (Rodale Press, publisher of Prevention Magazine)

November 2012 -- A toxic brominated flame retardant used in 10 percent of soda products is largely a North American problem, since the substance has already been banned in Europe and Japan, according to a recent report by Environmental Health News. Scientists originally created brominated vegetable oil, or BVO, for use as a flame retardant in plastics, but the food industry has been adding the compound to certain sodas, sports drinks, and juices for decades to keep the artificial flavoring from separating and floating to the top of the can, bottle, or glass.

Judge approves FTC's $22.5M fine of Google  (Politico)

November 16. 2012 -- A federal judge has approved a $22.5 million fine to penalize Google for an alleged privacy breach, rejecting a consumer-rights group's plea for tougher punishment.

The blessing from U.S. District Judge Susan Illston came late Friday. She made her ruling a few hours after a hearing in San Francisco for final arguments about a fine that's the cornerstone a settlement reached three months ago between the Federal Trade Commission and Google Inc.

Jindahl: End ‘dumbed down conservatism’ (Politico)

November 13, 2012 -- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Monday called on Republicans to “stop being the stupid party” and make a concerted effort to reach a broader swath of voters with an inclusive economic message that pre-empts efforts to caricature the GOP as the party of the rich.

In his first interview since his party’s electoral thumping last week, Jindal urged Republicans to both reject anti-intellectualism and embrace a populist-tinged reform approach that he said would mitigate what exit polls show was one of President Barack Obama’s most effective lines of attack against Mitt Romney.

Petraeus case shows ease of government email snooping (Reuters)

November 17, 2012 -- The scandal surrounding the sudden resignation of an adulterous CIA director has stunned the American public not just for its prominent cast of characters, but also because of the ease with which authorities appeared to have traipsed through personal email accounts.

Technology has transformed communications much faster than the law, giving U.S. authorities at all levels the power to routinely search reams of intimate emails, texts and instant messages, with much lower burdens of proof as far as the relevance to a criminal case.

WORLD

Israel-Palestine conflict:

Obama: Israel has ‘every right’ to defend itself from Gaza missile attacks (U.S. News)

November 17, 2012 -- President Barack Obama said Sunday that Israel has “every right” to defend itself against missile attacks by militants inside Gaza but warned that escalating the offensive with Israeli ground troops could undermine any hope of a peace process with the Palestinians.

"Let's understand what the precipitating event here that's causing the current crisis and that was an ever-escalating number of missiles that were landing not just in Israeli territory but in areas that are populated, and there's no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders,” Obama said at press conference in Thailand at the start of a three-nation tour in Asia.

Israeli official:Truce to begin in hours; IDF drops warning leaflets in Gaza (Haaretz)

November 20, 2012 -- A decision on whether to launch a ground invasion of Gaza was put off by at least a day, after Israel decided Monday to give the Egyptians more time to try to broker a cease-fire with Hamas, a senior Israeli official said.

The head of Hamas' political bureau and Islamic Jihad secretary-general met with Egyptian intelligence chief Gen. Raafat Shehata again on Tuesday, in an attempt to finalize details of a cease-fire agreement.  Hamas officials said late Tuesday that a cease-fire would go into effect by midnight, but both Egypt and Israel downplayed those reports, saying no agreement had yet been reached.

After rockets hit Tel Aviv area, IDF renews aerial assault on Gaza (Haaretz)

November 16, 2012 -- After a relatively quiet night on the Israeli side of the border, Friday morning saw the renewal of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip toward Israel's south. Several rockets hit residential areas in Ashdod; a woman sustained light injuries and a few residents suffered an anxiety attack following the rocket fire. The Israel Defense Forces struck some 150 targets overnight in Gaza.

On Thursday night, two Fajr rockets were fired toward Tel Aviv. Sirens were sounded in the Tel Aviv area for the first time since the Gulf War in 1991.

US Senate expresses firm support of Israel (YNet news)

November 16, 2012 -- The United States Israel on Thursday with the passage by unanimous consent of a resolution introduced by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Mark Kirk.

The bipartisan resolution, with 62 Senators as co-sponsors joining the two, expressed firm support for Israel’s “inherent right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism.”

Turkish PM in Cairo vows support for Gaza (U-T San Diego)

November 17, 2012 --  Turkey's prime minister has vowed support for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan described Egypt's uprising that ousted longtime autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak from power last year as a point of hope for Palestinians. The Turkish leader delivered his remarks in a speech at Cairo University Saturday.

He also met President Mohammed Morsi in Cairo for the first time since the Egyptian Islamist leader was elected late June.

Gunmen kill six alleged collaborators in Gaza  (Reuters)

November 20, 2012 -- Palestinian gunmen shot dead six alleged collaborators in the Gaza Strip who "were caught red-handed", according to a security source quoted by the Hamas Aqsa radio on Tuesday.

"They possessed hi-tech equipment and filming equipment to take footage of positions," it said.

The Hamas radio said the men, who were suspected of working for Israel, were shot. It did not elaborate.

IAF strikes 4 terrorists hiding in media building (Jerusalem Post)

November 20, 2012 -- Israel’s operation to stem Palestinian rocket fire on southern Israel continued in its sixth day on Monday. The Israel Air Force struck over 80 terrorist targets in Gaza, while Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired 130 rockets into Israel.

The IAF has struck over 1,350 targets in Gaza since the start of Operation Pillar of Defense, including 80 on Monday. The targets included bomb-smuggling tunnels, underground rocket launchers, and four Islamic Jihad terrorists.

Lebanese army dismantles rockets aimed at Israel (UT-San Diego)

NOvember 19, 2012 -- Lebanese military experts on Monday dismantled two Katyusha rockets that were equipped with timers and ready to fire at Israel, a senior Lebanese security official said.

The official said the rockets found near the south Lebanon village of Halta were set up about four kilometers (2.5 miles) away from the Lebanon-Israel border. The weapons were rigged with timers and likely would have been launched had the army not intervened, he said. He did not say when the rockets were meant to be fired.

Israel assassinates Hamas military chief in Gaza (Sacramento Bee)

November 14, 2012 -- Gaza militants, reeling from an Israeli military operation, killed three Israelis on Thursday in a rocket attack that is likely to exact a harsh retaliation by Israel.

The casualties were the first since Israel launched its operation on Wednesday with the assassination of Hamas' top military commander. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the three Israelis died after a rocket struck their apartment building in the country's south.

Since the Israeli operation started, 11 Palestinians, including two young children and seven militants, have been killed in Gaza and more than 93 were wounded.

Other world news:

Scandal in Ireland as woman dies in Galway ‘after being denied an abortion’ (The Guardian)  

NOvember 13, 2012 --  Health authorities in Ireland are investigating the death of a pregnant woman whose husband says she was denied an abortion following severe complications.

Savita Halappanavar, who was 17 weeks pregnant, died of septicaemia a week after presenting with back pain on 21 October at University hospital in Galway, where she was found to be miscarrying.

Egyptian jihadist urges demolition of Sphinx, pyramids  (Jerusalem Post)

November 13, 2012 -- Egyptian security authorities are taking seriously threats by a radical Salafist jihadist leader to demolish the Great Sphinx and the pyramids of Giza, the Egyptian press reported on Monday.



Murgan Salem al-Gohary told Egypt’s privately-owned Dream TV2 channel over the weekend that the Sphinx and pyramids are “idolatrous” and must be destroyed, Egyptian daily al-Masry al-Youm reported.

Iran ready to double nuclear work in bunker: IAEA (Reuters)

November 16, 2012 -- Iran is set to sharply expand its uranium enrichment in an underground plant after installing all the centrifuges it was built for, a U.N. report said, a move likely to increase Western alarm about Tehran's nuclear course.

It also showed that Iran's stockpile of its most sensitive nuclear material - which could relatively quickly be processed further to bomb-grade uranium - had grown and was getting closer to an amount that could be sufficient for a nuclear weapon.

HEALTH

Cells reverse paralysis in dogs (BBC)

November 18, 2012 -- The pets had all suffered spinal injuries which prevented them from using their back legs.

The Cambridge University team is cautiously optimistic the technique could eventually have a role in the treatment of human patients.

The study is the first to test the transplant in "real-life" injuries rather than laboratory animals.

Vegetative patient: “I’m not in pain” – breakthrough research (BBC News)

November 12, 2012 -- It's the first time an uncommunicative, severely brain-injured patient has been able to give answers clinically relevant to their care.

Scott Routley, 39, was asked questions while having his brain activity scanned in an fMRI machine.

His doctor says the discovery means medical textbooks will need rewriting.