Daily Archives

Nuclear claims heard in Polynesia

BBC – A court in French Polynesia has begun hearing complaints from former workers at France’s nuclear weapons test sites. The cases, being heard for the first time, relate to work in Mururoa and Fangataufa and seek recognition and compensation for ill health. Eight cases have been lodged, although five of the workers have already died of what have been called radiation-linked diseases Read Article

The Historian – Luckily governments today would never treat their citizens with such distain would they……

Iraq War Veteran Beaten, Tased by Cops at Las Vegas Airport

ABC 13 Las Vegas – Watch TV Report

Swine flu: Baxter seeks swine flu sample to begin work on vaccine

Chicago Tribune – With world health officials worried about the global outbreak of another deadly virus, Deerfield-based Baxter International Inc. once again finds itself involved in the action.Baxter confirmed over the weekend that it is working with the World Health Organization on a potential vaccine to curb the deadly swine flu virus that is blamed for scores of deaths in Mexico and has emerged as a threat in the U.S.Shares of Baxter were up 2.4 percent, or $1.16, to $49.23 a share in trading Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.Baxter, which has an emerging vaccine business, has worked with the U.S. and foreign countries in the past to develop vaccines for the H5N1 virus commonly known as bird flu. Read Article

The Historian – This is the very same pharmaceutical company that just weeks ago we reported was involved in a scandal involving vaccines “accidentally” tainted with deadly avian flu virus (Read Article)

‘Too late’ to contain swine flu (and is it natural?)

BBC – The swine flu virus first detected in Mexico can no longer be contained and countries should focus on mitigating its effects, a top UN official said. World Health Organization deputy chief Keiji Fukuda was speaking as the WHO raised its alert level to four, or two steps short of a full pandemic. UN food inspectors are going to Mexico to examine reports that industrial pig farms were the source of the outbreak. The number of probable deaths from the virus there has risen to 152. Read Article

The Historian – Though on the balance of probabilities this is most probably just circumstance and one of those natural events that do happen from time to time, there are a few worrying events out there in the background to keep one eye on: the missing US bio-weapons we reported yesterday; the mixing of flu strains “accidentally” by Baxter pharmaceuticals that we have previously reported; the billions of dollars already being made by (so called) vaccine manufacturers and venture capital firms; and the simple but important fact that to date there have been no reported A-1N1 infections in pigs, supposedly the source of the outbreak.  

Pharma Stocks Get a ‘Swine Flu Rally’

CNBC – Swine Flu: global pandemic or paranoia? President Obama said the health emergency declaration was merely a prudent measure. But many pharmaceutical stocks were sharply higher Monday in reaction to flu outbreaks “” and the gains seemed to ripple through the sector. Read Article

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Britain changes spy database plan

ABC News – The British Government says it has abandoned a plan to set up a central database containing records of all the emails, internet traffic and telephone calls made throughout the country. Instead, private phone companies and internet service providers will be ordered to store the material, and allow security forces access to it on a case-by-case basis. Read Article

The Historian – Ironically this is possibly even worse. The track record of Government IT projects would indicate that any central project would be fraught by bureaucracy and inadequacies in data collection. Private companies on the other hand are going to be more efficient and storing your personal data and “utilising” it for theirs and the Governments own interests.

UK Minister under fire over equality bill that will allow employers to ‘positively discriminate’ AGAINST men

Daily Mail – Harriet Harman came under fire from business leaders today after introducing a controversial new bill giving women greater rights in the workplace.The new laws would mean that employers could be allowed to choose female candidates ahead of equally qualified men because they are women.But the ‘class and gender’ bill triggered anger among business leaders who said it would fail to reduce Britain’s pay gap.The ‘positive’ discrimination move outlined in the Equalities Bill is likely to spark concerns that men could miss out unfairly on jobs. Read Article

Karzai backs down over “˜abhorrent’ marital rape law

The Times – President Karzai bowed to international pressure yesterday by promising to amend a new law condoning marital rape and child marriage that provoked violent clashes in the Afghan capital. The Shia Family Law, signed by the Afghan President last month, appeared to reintroduce the draconian policies of the Taleban era, such as a ban on married women leaving their homes without their husbands’ permission. The law applies to the 15 per cent of Afghans who are Shia Muslims. At a press conference in Kabul yesterday Mr Karzai said: “The law is under review and amendments will take place. I assure you that the laws of Afghanistan will be in complete harmony with the constitution of Afghanistan, and the human rights that we have adhered to in international treaties.”Â  Read Article

Deadly strain of swine flu gets under radar of the immune system

The Times – Flu is always a moving target for medicine because of its ability to reinvent itself to evade the body’s natural defences and vaccines and drugs. Because the virus mutates at a high rate, the flu strains that circulate every winter are slightly different from those of the previous year. This process, called antigenic drift, requires the issue of fresh flu vaccines every year to protect against the latest strains. It does not, however, carry a pandemic threat: the genetic changes involved are minor, so people who have already been exposed to flu generally retain a measure of immunity. New strains created this way can spread, and sometimes kill the young, old and infirm, but they do not sweep through entire populations.  Read Article

U.S. pledges to make up for lost time in climate fight

Reuters – The United States gathered China, India and the world’s other top greenhouse gas polluters in Washington on Monday to “make up for lost time” and lay the groundwork for a U.N. deal to fight climate change.The meeting, which President Barack Obama called last month, groups countries representing some 75 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions to find ways to help seal a global warming pact this year. Read Article

The Historian – Now that the US no longer has to play ‘bad cop’ the gloves are coming off in their war against a gas that constitutes 0.035% of the atmosphere and that you exhale every minute.

City bankers scoop huge pay increases

The Guardian – City bankers and financiers are scooping bumper pay rises to compensate for losing multimillion pound bonuses in a controversial development that will trigger fresh “reward for failure” rows.The Observer has learnt that UBS, the stricken bank that last year received a £40bn Swiss government bailout, is paying London staff increases of between 15% and 20% at a time when many workers in Britain are forced to take wage freezes.Though it is understood some equity traders at UBS have even enjoyed a doubling of salary to over £250,000, bank sources indicate these were “exceptional cases rather than the rule”. But senior City headhunters confirmed that basic pay rises for senior bank staff were rising sharply, with US banks seeing big hikes.  Read Article

U.S. swine flu cases rise, more expected

Reuters – Up to 41 people in five states have been sickened by new strain of swine flu that doctors fear may cause a pandemic, U.S. officials said on Monday, promising more cases to come.Nervous investors sent U.S. stock prices tumbling on expectations that the flu outbreak could further undermine the economy, which is struggling in recession.President Barack Obama told Americans he was monitoring the situation amid more bad news from southern neighbor Mexico, where up to 149 people have died and more than 1,600 have been infected by the never-before-seen virus. Read Article

Bicycle helmet laws could do more harm than good

New Scientist – Mandatory bicycle helmet laws could do more harm than good, a new study claims.Helmet laws like those in effect in Australia levy a substantial cost on healthcare systems because savings from fewer head injuries pale in comparison to the costs incurred by decreases in cycling, a mathematical model concludes.Piet de Jong, a mathematician at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, estimates that bicycle helmet laws would cost the US $4.8 billion per year, Netherlands $1.9 billion, and the U.K $0.4 billion.However, one critic contends that de Jong’s methods overestimate the health benefits of cycling, as well as the drop in cyclists caused by helmet laws. Read Article

Iran discovers new oil, gas fields

Tehran Times – Iran has discovered a new oil layer and a gas field in locations in the center and southwest of the country, says the Iranian Oil Minister. The new oil layer forms part of the Band-e-Karkheh oil field northwest of Ahvaz, capital of Iran’s oil-rich southwestern province of Khuzestan, said Gholam-Hossein Nozari on Saturday, on the sidelines of the International Oil, Gas and Petrochemistry Exhibition in Tehran. Nozari said that the oil field’s estimated reserves increased to 4.5 billion barrels with the discovery of the new layer. A gas field with an estimated reserve of 6 trillion cubic feet was also discovered in the central province of Fars, he added.  Read Article

The Historian – Top things you don’t want to mention when the USA military is on your doorstep ready for a fight…….

The missing sunspots: Is this the big chill?

The Independent – Could the Sun play a greater role in recent climate change than has been believed? Climatologists had dismissed the idea and some solar scientists have been reticent about it because of its connections with those who those who deny climate change. But now the speculation has grown louder because of what is happening to our Sun. No living scientist has seen it behave this way. There are no sunspots.  The disappearance of sunspots happens every few years, but this time it’s gone on far longer than anyone expected ““ and there is no sign of the Sun waking up. “This is the lowest we’ve ever seen. We thought we’d be out of it by now, but we’re not,” says Marc Hairston of the University of Texas. And it’s not just the sunspots that are causing concern  Read Article

The Historian – “Could the Sun play a greater role in recent climate change than has been believed”? Hmmm let me think now. It is the source of all our heat and light. What do you think?

US Army Fort Detrick bio-disease samples may be missing

Frederick News Post – Army criminal investigators are looking into the possibility that disease samples are missing from biolabs at Fort Detrick.  As first reported in today’s edition of The Frederick News-Post by columnist Katherine Heerbrandt, the investigators are from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division unit at Fort Meade. Chad Jones, spokesman for Fort Meade, said CID is investigating the possibility of missing virus samples from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. He said the only other detail he could provide is that the investigation is ongoing. Read Article

Car crashes after police fire Taser at driver

ABC News – Police are investigating a pursuit in Geraldton, north of Perth, in which officers fired a stun gun at the driver of a moving van. Officers say they spotted the van about 12.30am and suspected the male juvenile driver had committed a range of offences in the town.The van was travelling about 15 kilometres an hour as police pulled alongside and fired a Taser at him. Read Article

At least 26 die as Pakistan launches offensive against Taliban

Daily Telegraph – Pakistan has launched a new offensive against Taliban militants in its northwest after coming under heavy US pressure to halt advancing extremists, jolting a shaky peace deal.The February accord to put three million people under sharia law was billed as the end of a nearly two-year brutal Taliban insurgency that ripped apart the pristine ski resort of Swat but was followed by further Taliban encroachments.”Enough is enough. We have decided to flush them out,” interior ministry chief Rehman Malik told private television channel, Geo. Read Article

Two Upper House members face suspension from UK Parliament over ‘cash for amendments’

Daily Telegraph – Two Labour peers accused of offering to amend proppsed legislation for money could be suspended from Parliament after being found guilty of misconduct. An inquiry into the activities of Lord Taylor and Lord Truscott is understood to have concluded that the two peers have broken the House of Lords code of conduct. The two men were secretly recorded apparently offering to amend laws for undercover journalists posing as lobbyists. They claimed they had assisted other companies and discussed fees of up to £120,000.  Read Article

Once there were swarms of butterflies in our skies

The Guardian – … but if you go out for a walk today, you will be lucky to spot one or two. Patrick Barkham, who has been a passionate lepidopterist since he was eight years old, laments the dramatic decline of these most extraordinary insects ““ and wonders if there is any chance of saving them. On a bright spring day, the chalky slopes of the Chilterns smell of warm thyme. Tiny purple violets bloom underfoot. For miles beyond, the Vale of Aylesbury unfolds in a tapestry of newly minted trees, yellow fields and the spires of village churches. This great vista of the English countryside seems gloriously immutable, unchanged since Victorian times, when Walter Rothschild would set out from Tring Park, his country house in the valley below, to throw his net at our summer butterflies and place them in his extraordinary zoological museum. Read Article

Darfur rebels sentenced to death

BBC – A Sudanese court has sentenced 11 Darfur rebels to death for an attack on Khartoum in 2008. The members of the Justice and Equality Movement (Jem) were found guilty of involvement in the unprecedented assault on the Sudanese capital. Some 80 Jem members have already been sentenced to death for the attack, which left more than 200 people dead.  Read Article

Tales of Chechnya’s tortured land

The Australian – THE hunt for a nest of female suicide bombers in Chechnya led an elite group of Russian special forces commandos to a small village deep in the countryside. There they surrounded a modest house just before dawn to be sure of catching their quarry unawares.When the order came to storm the single-storey property, dozens of heavily armed men in masks and camouflage uniforms – unmarked to conceal their identity – had no difficulty in overwhelming the three women inside. Their captives were then driven to a military base. The soldiers were responding to a tip-off that the eldest of the three, who was in her 40s, had been indoctrinating women to sacrifice themselves in Chechnya’s ferocious war between Islamic militants and the Russians. The others captured with her were her latest recruits. One was barely 15. Read Article

UK Ministry of Defence guilty of repeated nuclear safety breaches

The Guardian – Britain’s nuclear submarine fleet has been hit by a series of serious safety breaches involving repeated leaks of radioactive waste, broken pipes and waste tanks at its home base on the Clyde, the Ministry of Defence has disclosed.In a confidential report released under the Freedom of Information Act, the MoD has admitted that safety failings at the UK’s main nuclear submarine base at Faslane, near Glasgow, are a “recurring theme” and ingrained in the base’s culture.The worst breaches include three leaks of radioactive coolant from nuclear submarines in 2004, 2007 and 2008 into the Firth of Clyde, while last year a radioactive waste plant manager was replaced. It emerged he had no qualifications in radioactive waste management. Read Article

Economic costs of a flu pandemic

Reuters – A new strain of flu has killed up to 68 people in Mexico and infected eight in the United States.Although health officials have stopped short of declaring a pandemic, they expect to find more cases as the flu was spreading between people.The severity and mortality rate of this new strain has not yet been scientifically established. However, health experts have long warned that the next flu pandemic was overdue and urged countries around the world to prepare for the dramatic economic impact of such a catastrophe.Below are estimates of economic costs of such a disaster: Read Article