New Information Chemtrails…

A conspiracy theory that says government agencies are using jets to dump poisonous heavy metals into the atmosphere moves today from the realm of late-night talk radio call-in shows to the Shasta County supervisors chambers.

The Shasta County Board of Supervisors, acting as the Air Pollution Control Board, will hear at its 1:30 p.m. meeting a presentation by Dane Wigington and others about “heavy metal contamination” — referred to by some as the “chemtrails” conspiracy.

Wigington, a 46-year-old renewable energy consultant from Bella Vista, like a growing number of conspiracy theorists, thinks a government cabal is using jets to dump metals into the atmosphere to combat global warming — or for other, more nefarious purposes.

The theorists say the contrails of the jets provide the most visible evidence of the dumping, since on clear days, the vapor trails are unnaturally slow to dissipate and often appear in gridlike patterns.

But the proof locally is in soil and snow samples, Wigington said.

Area scientists have taken more than 40 samples in the north state, including on the sides of Mt. Shasta, and all of them showed abnormally high levels of heavy metals like aluminum, he said.

The metals are new and in places where they shouldn’t be, he said. The dumping may also be contributing to disastrous weather patterns, Wigington said.

“It’s tough not to connect to that with what happened in June with the 3,000-plus lightning strikes we had,” he said, adding that it’s important the public hear more about the alleged dumpings’ detrimental effects on the environment. “This is certainly a public health hazard.”

Shasta County Supervisor Mark Cibula said he requested that the board discuss the matter after receiving requests from community members.

Other board members also have expressed interest on the topic, he said.

Although he’s not sold on the conspiracy, Cibula said, he thinks it’s appropriate to hear what Wigington’s group has to say.

“Let’s look at the information and see what we’ve got there,” Cibula said.

Reporter Ryan Sabalow can be reached at 225-8344 or at


N.B. compromises on cuts to French immersion

FREDERICTON – The New Brunswick government admitted it learned important political lessons on Tuesday as it modified a controversial decision to scrap early immersion in the province’s English schools.

Premier Shawn Graham and Education Minister Kelly Lamrock announced the return of early French immersion, beginning in Grade 3, after weathering a firestorm of criticism over the decision to axe the Grade 1 immersion program.

“No one gives you a manual on how to govern,” Graham said ruefully as he acknowledged the difficulty of French education issues in Canada’s only officially bilingual province.

“But I know there is more that unites us than divides us.”

Beginning in 2010, there will be two entry points for French immersion in New Brunswick – Grade 3 and Grade 6.

Parents who had hoped to enter their children into Grade 1 French immersion this year remain out of luck.

Beginning in September, a universal kindergarten to Grade 2 program will be offered to all English students in which pupils will be introduced to French language and culture through music, art and other programs.

The program is designed to eliminate streaming in the English school system in which almost all special needs students were ending up in a core program while higher achieving students were being placed in less-crowded immersion classes.

“Streaming has been ignored for too long,” Lamrock said.

By the time students reach Grade 3 – the first class will be in 2010 – they can go into either immersion or an “English-prime” program that offers more French training.

There also will be intensive French for English prime classes in Grade 5, and more French programs in high school.

“We believe this plan strikes the right balance between bilingualism and equality,” Lamrock said.

Lamrock’s announcement in March that he was cancelling Grade 1 immersion shocked many parents who regarded the program as a Cadillac service for French-language instruction.

For months Lamrock stood up to angry parents, insisting the old system wasn’t working.

New Brunswick consistently lags behind other provinces in student test scores, and its French immersion and core programs were producing only a handful of proficient students every year.

Lamrock said the lack of success was an embarrassment in bilingual New Brunswick.

But when a judge agreed with a group of parents that the changes were unfair and unreasonable, the government was forced to submit the issue to six weeks of public consultation that produced the compromise announced on Tuesday.

Graham and Lamrock said the court-ordered public consultation was a good thing that opened their eyes to new possibilities.

“We were stronger because of it,” Graham said. “We embraced it.”

Graham’s two-year-old Liberal administration took a lot of heat over the issue, one of the most contentious since it came to office.

Conservative education critic Madeleine Dube said the Liberal move frightened people.

“They’ve lost a lot of trust,” she said. “People see this government as too centralized.”

But some of the harshest critics of the decision to cut Grade 1 immersion were somewhat mollified by the latest plan on Tuesday.

“It’s a compromise,” said Paula Kristmanson of the Second Language Education Institute at the University of New Brunswick.

“We wanted early entry into immersion. We still feel that is the best way to achieve effective functioning in a second language, but we can work with the minister in this new model.”

Lost world frozen 14m years ago found in Antarctica

A lost world has been found in Antarctica, preserved just the way it was when it was frozen in time some 14 million years ago.

A team working in an ice-free region has discovered the trove of ancient life in what must have been the last traces of tundra on the interior of the southernmost continent before temperatures began to drop relentlessly.

An abrupt and dramatic climate cooling of 8°C in 200,000 years forced the extinction of tundra plants and insects and brought interior Antarctica into a perpetual deep-freeze from which it has never emerged, though may do again as a result of climate change.

An international team led by Prof David Marchant, at Boston University and Profs Allan Ashworth and Adam Lewis, at North Dakota State University, combined evidence from glaciers, from the preserved ecology, volcanic ashes and modelling to reveal the full extent of the big freeze in a part of Antarctica called the Dry Valleys.

The new insight in the understanding of Antarctica’s climatic history, which saw it change from a climate like that of South Georgia to one similar to that seen today in Mars, is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We’ve documented the timing and the magnitude of a tremendous change in Antarctic climate,” said Prof Marchant.

Deadly earthquake hits China ahead of Games

A 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck China’s Sichuan province on Tuesday, killing at least one person and seriously injuring five others, a local emergency official told CNN.

The official said another 18 people suffered minor injuries.

The Sichuan region is still recovering from the after-effects of a devastating 7.9-magnitude temblor in May.

The quake’s epicenter was located about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north-northwest of Guangyuan, near Sichuan’s border with neighboring Gansu province.

Hours before the quakes struck, the Olympic torch relay made its way through parts of Sichuan, on its way to the Summer Games, which get under way Friday in Beijing, some 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) away.

The earthquake occurred at 5.49 p.m. local time (0949 GMT), news agency Xinhua said — striking a few hours after the relay made its final stop in the Sichuan provincial capital of Chengdu. Did you feel the quake? Share your story

That tremor killed almost 70,000 people and left 18,000 missing and 5 million homeless. There had been 22,019 aftershocks detected since then — including three in the past four days before the last incidence.

FBI seizes local Maryland library computers

The FBI removed computer records from the C. Burr Artz Library this week, a library official confirmed Saturday.

Darrell Batson, director of Frederick County Public Libraries, said two FBI employees came to the downtown Frederick library either Wednesday or Thursday. The agents removed two public computers from the library’s second floor. They told him they were taking the units back to their office in Washington, D.C., Batson said.

Batson expected the computers would be returned early this week, he said.

Debbie Weierman, spokeswoman for the FBI’s Washington field office, would not comment Saturday on whether the agency had removed records from the library.

This was the third time in his 10 years with FCPL that the FBI has come to the library seeking records, Batson said. It was the first time they came without a court order.

The library’s procedure for such requests usually requires a court order, however after the agent described the case and the situation, he was persuaded to give them access, Batson said.

“They had an awful lot of information,” he said, but he was not allowed to discuss specifics.

“It was a decision I made on my experience and the information given to me,” he said.

C. Burr Artz Library has several dozen public computers. The agents seemed to know which ones they needed access to, he said.

Anyone with a library card and a PIN number can use FCPL computers. Without a library card, a person can get a temporary pass to go online.

Batson said the agents made no mention of Bruce Ivins, anthrax or Fort Detrick.