Daily Archives

Rising U.S. bond yields may spark Credit Crisis II

Reuters – The global financial crisis may morph into a second, equally virulent phase where borrowing costs rise again, hobbling an embryonic economic recovery, debilitating cash-strapped banks, and punishing investors all over again. Early warnings signs of this scenario include surging government bond yields, a slumping U.S. dollar, and the fading of the bear market rally in U.S. stocks. Optimists hope that a fragile two-month rally in world stock markets, a rise in U.S. Treasury yields from record lows during the depths of the crisis in late 2008, and some less scary economic data all signal that a recovery is around the corner. But gloomy analysts insist that thinking is delusional. Read Article

Dramatic plane arrest of ex-Iraq minister for corruption

BBC – Iraq’s former trade minister has been arrested at Baghdad airport on corruption charges as he was trying to leave the country. Officials said Abdul Falah Sudani had been on a flight to the United Arab Emirates which was asked to turn back to Baghdad so he could be arrested. Mr Sudani resigned as minister earlier this month amid claims officials in his department had embezzled large sums. Read Article

Christians risk rejection and discrimination for their faith, a study claims

Daily Telegraph – Christians are facing discrimination at work, and ridicule and rejection at home, according to new research. The first poll of Britain’s churchgoers, carried out for The Sunday Telegraph, found that thousands of them believe they are being turned down for promotion because of their faith. One in five said that they had faced opposition at work because of their beliefs Read Article

Obama Administration refuses to release documents in wiretap case

AP — The Obama administration insists it has no obligation to provide access to a top secret document in a wiretapping case, setting up a showdown next week with the judge who ordered it released. Justice Department lawyers, in a response Friday with the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, also argued that Judge Vaughn Walker had no cause to penalize the government over its refusal to turn over the document. Walker on May 22 threatened to punish the administration for withholding the document, which he ordered given to lawyers suing the government over its warrantless wiretapping program. Read Article

Starfish defy climate change gloom

New Scientist – A SPECIES of starfish has confounded climate change doom-mongers by thriving as sea temperatures and acidity increase – a scenario that is likely as the world gets warmer.Most studies have concluded that sea animals with calcified shells or skeletons, such as starfish, will suffer as carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels dissolves in the sea, making the water more acidic and destroying the calcium carbonate on which the creatures depend.But the sea star Pisaster ochraceus may ride out the climate storm. Rebecca Gooding and colleagues at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, exposed sea stars to rising temperatures and water acidity. They thrived in temperatures of up to 21 °C and atmospheric CO2 concentrations of up to 780 parts per million – beyond predicted rises for the next century Read Article

The Historian – Irrespective of whether or not the Earth’s climate is going up or down, and man’s influence (as opposed to the sun) over that, this is a basic principle of natural selection. Whenever an environment changes, as the Earth’s does constantly, there will be winners, and there will be losers. Some species will thrive in a hotter world, just as others will in a colder world.

Taliban recruits teenage suicide bombers for revenge attacks

Daily Telegraph – Video films made by the Taliban in Pakistan’s troubled Swat valley show teenage boys being groomed as suicide bombers for revenge attacks against local security forces. After the army began an operation to clear Taliban from the valley in May, fighters went from house to house demanding a boy or young man from each family, with recruits encouraged to volunteer for martyrdom missions. Last week 24 people died and more than 300 were wounded when a suicide car bomb exploded outside a secret police headquarters in Lahore, and six policemen were killed when an attacker detonated explosives at a checkpoint in Peshawar.  Read Article

Deadline passes for GM bondholders

Reuters – General Motors Corp on Saturday finished a key piece of business before a bankruptcy filing planned for Monday as the deadline for bondholders to accept an exchange offer brokered by the Obama administration expired. GM would not comment on how many investors had expressed support for the debt-for-equity swap that would give them up to 25 percent of a reorganized company in exchange for $27 billion in bond debt. Read Article

In search of a `green plastic’ solution.

Canada.Com – Out in the Pacific Ocean, there is a garbage patch estimated to be twice the size of Texas. This vortex of trash, known as the Eastern Garbage Patch, is made up of mostly plastic.Last year during Ocean Conservancy’s international coastal cleanup, volunteers bagged nearly seven million pounds of debris and 40 per cent of that was plastic.We are recycling less than five per cent of all our plastics, and this year 260 million tons of plastic will be manufactured worldwide.“Except the plastic that has been burned, every piece of plastic ever created still exists,” said Captain Charles Moore, founder of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. Moore discovered the Eastern Garbage Patch in 1997 while sailing his yacht home from a race in Hawaii.While plastic litter is unsightly, the real problem are the chemicals leaching from it into our soil and water. Bisphenol A (BPA), benzene, butadiene, styrene and di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) are known carcinogens and hormone disrupters. No one knows the collective effects these chemicals will have on the environment. Read Article

The Historian – Humanity has a simple choice to make. We either forever chase our tails about whether corporate enriching computer models are correct and our emissions (including by breathing) of a gas that constitutes 0.035% of the atmopshere is going to cause the Earth’s ever changing climate to warm up, OR we can stop ignoring and start addressing some of the very real environmental destruction we are definitely inflicting on the planet and ultimately on our very selves. It really is that simple.

Zambia: Deforestation Unsettles Chief Kalunga

The Times of Africa – CHIEF Kalunga of the Luchazi people of Kabompo district has bemoaned the high levels of deforestation taking place in his chiefdom because of the bad practice of shifting cultivation.Chief Kalunga told Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister, Daniel Kalenga, who called on him that there was need to stop the bad practice of shifting cultivation before the entire natural forest was destroyed. “People are destroying natural forests here because of the practice of shifting cultivation. Over 10 hectares of forest has so far been destroyed by people who keep on shifting from one field to another in search of virgin land,” he said. Read Article

Reno fluoride bill draws opposition

Reno Gazette Journal – Authority to add fluoride to the drinking water in the Reno-Sparks area drew passionate opposition before a legislative committee Wednesday.Opponents of Senate Bill 311 said Washoe County voters three times have rejected adding fluoride because it presents health risks to infants, cancer patients and others.”The science is not all in support,” Laurie Yarborough, representing the Nevada Clean Water Coalition, told members of the Assembly Health and Human Services Committee.Janine Hansen of the libertarian Nevada Eagle Forum said Washoe County voters have been clear on the issue, voting down a ballot question as recently as 2002. Read Article

Tamil children as young as 11 were forced at gunpoint to fight for the Tigers in Sri Lanka’s civil war

The Guardian – Darchiga Kuken was sheltering in a bunker in the Mullaitivu area when a group of about 20 Tamil Tiger soldiers arrived and demanded that she went with them. “I was sick with chicken pox. My mother and father were screaming and crying, saying that I was sick and pleading with them not to take me,” she said. The men went away. And then at 5pm on 14 March they came back. They called me to come out and then they grabbed me and put me in a jeep. I started to cry. I was shouting: ‘Mother, father, help me.’ ” The 16-year-old is now being held in what the government describes as a “rehabilitation centre”, a jungle camp built on a hillside outside the town of Ambepusse in the south of the country. Here children like her, who were forced to fight on the front line in the final stages of the war in Sri Lanka, gave the Observer compelling evidence of war crimes committed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Read Article

UK Opposition leader took out maximum taxpayer-funded mortgage – then paid off own £75k loan four months later

Daily Mail – David Cameron was dragged personally into the expenses row last night after it was revealed that he paid off a loan on his London home shortly after taking out a £350,000 taxpayer-funded mortgage on his constituency house.The disclosure followed a powerful call by the Tory leader yesterday for the “˜full force of the law’ to be deployed against MPs who have abused allowances.Following a Mail on Sunday investigation Mr Cameron could now face searching questions about his own expense claims. Read Article

Telegraph report over Abu Ghraib ‘abuse’ photos confirmed

Daily Telegraph – A former senior US army officer who spoke to the Daily Telegraph about photographs of rape and sexual abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq has confirmed the story, despite denials from the Obama White House. This newspaper reported that photographs showed a soldier apparently raping a female prisoner, a translator apparently raping a male prisoner and instances of sexual abuse involving objects. After initially failing to respond to a request for comment, a White House spokesman eventually spoke to denigrate the standards of the British press, and said that the Telegraph report “mischaracterises” the photos.  Read Article

Quotation of the Week

“I remain more than ever convinced that, until we fully understand the origin of the financial species, we will never understand the fundamental truth about money: that, far from being a “monster that must be put back in its place,” as the German president recently complained, financial markets are like the mirror of mankind, revealing every hour of every working day the way we value ourselves and the resources of the world around us”

- Professor Niall Ferguson, The Ascent of Money – A Financial History Of The World

Revealed: the best protection against cancer – the sun

The Independent – Global study discovers astonishing power of vitamin made by the sun. Boosting levels of vitamin D could cut the incidence of breast cancer by a quarter, bowel cancer by a third and it should be offered to the population as part of a public health drive, scientists say. The finding is based on a review of 2,750 research studies involving vitamin D, sometimes called “bottled sunshine”, which show that taking daily supplements of the vitamin could do more for cancer prevention than a library full of lifestyle advice. Vitamin D is made by the action of sunlight on the skin but the gloomy weather and long winter in countries north of 30 degrees latitude, such as the UK, means that a large part of the earth’s population is deficient between October and March. Vitamin D has attracted increasing attention in recent years as its role in preventing cancer and other conditions including heart disease, diabetes and multiple sclerosis, has been revealed. The weight of evidence has grown so dramatically that governments around the world are reviewing their recommendations. Read Article

History students are most promiscuous

Daily Telegraph – Historians enjoy the most active sex lives according to a survey of students at Oxford University. The survey of more than 850 students by Oxford University student newspaper Cherwell also revealed that students who do not have sex more than once a month are most likely to get a first in their degree. But students who claimed to have a more active sex life are more likely to attain a 2:1 or 2:2 in their degree. Read Article

Low vitamin D (sun exposure) levels may impair thinking

Reuters Health – New research suggests that low vitamin D levels in the body are associated with thinking or “cognitive” impairments in older men, but whether vitamin D supplements can help is not yet known.In the study, an investigation of European men, subjects with low levels of vitamin D scored worse on a standard test of cognitive ability than did their peers with normal levels, Dr. David M. Lee, from the University of Manchester, UK, and co-researchers found. Although, the authors emphasize, the difference in scores was not that great.  Read Article

Pollution may contribute to rise in liver disease

Reuters – Pollutants may be contributing to a sharp increase in the number of cases of liver disease, U.S. researchers said on Friday. They said as many as a third of U.S. adults showed signs of having liver disease not caused by normal triggers such as alcohol abuse and viral hepatitis. While obesity is the primary driver of the increase, environmental pollution also may play a role, according to Dr. Matthew Cave of the University of Louisville in Kentucky, who is presenting his findings this weekend at the Digestive Disease Week conference in Chicago. Read Article

Deforestation ‘faster in Africa’

BBC – Africa’s forests are disappearing faster than those in other parts of the world because of a lack of land ownership, a report says. Less than 2% of Africa’s forests are under community control, compared to a third in Latin America and Asia, say the Rights and Resources Initiative. The deforestation rate in Africa is four times the world’s average. At the current rate, it will take Congo Basin countries 260 years to reach the level of reform achieved in the Amazon.  Read Article

Obama Demands Right to Recruit Minors for Military

San Francisco Gate – This picturesque community among the redwoods, once dubbed “the Berkeley of the north” for its reputation for unabashed liberalism, has repeatedly thumbed its nose at the federal government. Over the years, its civic leaders have declared this city a sanctuary for military resisters to the Persian Gulf War and barred local enforcement of the Patriot Act. If they had had enough pull, President George W. Bush would have been impeached at least once.Now Arcata is at it again, with a law blocking the military from recruiting anybody in town under the age of 18. And this time, the law has the backing not of a few City Council activists, but of thousands of voters who went to the polls in November. Read Article

The new boom: price of oil posts largest rise for a decade

The Independent – London Brent Crude jumped by more than $1 yesterday, passing the $66-per-barrel mark for the first time since October and completing a mini-boom for May, which saw the fastest monthly oil price rise in nearly a decade.Oil has already nearly doubled its price so far this year, after plummeting to below $35 per barrel in December from its all-time $147 high last July. It could yet rise higher. Abdalla el-Badri, the secretary general of the Opec oil producers’ cartel, predicted this week that prices could reach $75 by the end of the year. Ali al-Naimi, the Saudi Arabian oil minister, predicted as much as $80 thanks to rising economic optimism and concomitant demand growth, particularly in Asia. Read Article

Boston police to be armed with semi-automatic rifles “to combat terrorism”

Boston Globe – The Boston Police Department is preparing a plan to arm as many as 200 patrol officers with semiautomatic assault rifles, a significant boost in firepower that department leaders believe is necessary to counter terrorist threats, according to law enforcement officials briefed on the plan.The initiative calls for equipping specialized units, such as the bomb squad and harbor patrol, with the high-powered long-range M16 rifles first, the officials said. The department would then distribute the weapons to patrol officers in neighborhood precincts over the next several months, according to the two law enforcement officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not have permission to speak publicly. Read Article

Following A Healthy Lifestyle Is On Decline In U.S.

Science Daily – Despite the well-known benefits of having a lifestyle that includes physical activity, eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables, maintaining a healthy weight, moderate alcohol use and not smoking, only a small proportion of adults follow this healthy lifestyle pattern, and in fact, the numbers are declining, according to an article published in the June 2009 issue of The American Journal of Medicine. Lifestyle choices are associated with the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as diabetes. Read Article

George Bush Calls Clinton “Brother,” Barbara Bush Calls Him “Son”

Reuters – Former U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton traded jokes about life after the Oval Office and took turns defending each other as they shared a stage in Toronto on Friday to discuss global affairs. In a sold-out event billed as their first conversation on stage since they left office, Bush and Clinton disagreed politely about a couple of issues, backed each other on others and refused to criticize anything current President Barack Obama was doing.
Bush said he had phoned his mother to tell her about the event and she responded that Clinton had been spending so much time with his father, former President George H.W. Bush, in charity efforts that Clinton was “like my son.” Turning to Clinton, Bush joked, “So brother, it is good to be with you.” Read Article

Texas Senate Endorses Freeway Spy Cameras

The Newspaper – Legislation mandating federal and state police surveillance cameras on Texas state highways nears passage.The Texas state Senate voted Monday to give federal, state and local authorities the ability to track and identify every passing vehicle on state highways. The provision calling for “automatic license plate identification cameras” was slipped into the Senate version of the must-pass Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) reauthorization bill. The provision was not part of the bill introduced in the state House of Representatives, whose less sympathetic members will have to accept or reject the entire 1274-page compromise hammered out by a conference committee. The House voted yesterday to instruct its conferees to insist that the House-passed ban on red light cameras remain in the final text.The Senate’s surveillance camera proposal promises taxpayer funds to the same private companies that operate photo radar and red light camera systems threatened by the House bill. License plate readers use the same basic technology as automated ticketing machines. Instead of tracking, for example, only those who exceed a certain speed threshold, the plate readers will store a video image of the front passenger compartment and rear license plate of every single passing vehicle. Optical character recognition software identifies the registered vehicle owner and allows for easy indexing of the time and location of travel for each person identified using the highway. Read Article