Daily Archives

Extinction Crisis Looms In Oceania

Science Daily - Governments must act urgently to halt loss of habitats and invading species that are posing major threats to biodiversity and causing species extinctions across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, according to a landmark new study.Published in the international journal Conservation Biology, the report is the first comprehensive review of more than 24,000 scientific publications related to conservation in the Oceanic region. Compiled by a team of 14 scientists, it reveals a sorry and worsening picture of habitat destruction and species loss. It also describes the deficiencies of and opportunities for governmental action to lessen this mounting regional and global problem Read Article

Sri Lanka’s key arms supplier, Tigers’ principal provider of weapons

Lanka Times – China, one of Sri Lanka’s major suppliers of armaments had been the LTTE’s principal provider of weapons which enabled the group to wage war on the lines of a conventional Army.
The Chinese firm, Norinco had sold millions of USD worth of armaments, ranging from T-56 assault rifles to 14.5 mm air defence guns on North Korean and Eritrean end-user certificates-the documents needed to purchase armaments legally. The LTTE had obtained them through bribery, a Sri Lankan official told The Island adding that Chinese officials couldn’t have been unaware of the arrangement. The Chinese arsenal included artillery pieces and mortars responsible for thousands of deaths and casualties in the Army. Read article

Sunbeds ranked alongside cigarettes as cancer risk

Sunbeds have been categorised as “carcinogenic to humans” by the World Health Organistation, putting them on the same level as cigarettes as a major cause of cancer.

The move also ranks them alongside alcohol and asbestos.

Previously the use of sunbeds and sunlamps had been classififed as “probably carcinogenic”, placing them in the second group of the most dangerous products in terms of cancer risk. [Read Article]

Sweden asks Venezuela to explain FARC weapons find

AFP – Sweden called on Venezuela Monday to explain how Swedish-made weapons sold to the South American country ended up in the hands of Colombian FARC guerillas.
The revelation of the weapons acquisition by the Marxist group — long a thorn in Bogota’s side — has strained already tense relations between the South American neighbors which have been at stark odds over various military issues, including US involvement in anti-drug operations in the region.
“We have asked the officials of the government of Venezuela to give us information on how they believe this material was found in Colombia,” said Jens Eriksson, a political advisor to the Swedish ministry of commerce. Read article

Myanmar to Deliver Verdict in Suu Kyi Trial July 31

Bloomberg – A court in Myanmar will deliver its verdict in the trial of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on July 31, a spokesman for her party said.
Suu Kyi’s lawyers received the date from the judge presiding over the case, said Nyo Ohn Myint, a Thailand-based spokesman for the exiled wing of the National League for Democracy.
“Our prediction is that she might face a jail term because the regime has been attacking her almost every day in government-run newspapers,” he said today in a telephone interview. “It’s very unlikely she’ll walk out from prison.” Read article

Rain puts dampers on ‘barbecue summer’ – The Met Office updates forecast and warns of unsettled weather

The Guardian - The UK’s “barbecue summer” is starting to look like a bit of a washout. When the Met office revealed back in April that we were – at last – in line for a sizzling summer, there was a sigh of relief from weather-weary Britons. It appears weather forecasters may have spoken too soon, however, with the office now set to revise its forecast with warnings that the UK will face more unsettled weather well into August. Read Article

The Historian – I refer you to the comments made on the previous article, incidentally about weather predictions in the same paper.

World will warm faster than predicted in next five years, study warns

The Guardian – The world faces record-breaking temperatures as the sun’s activity increases, leading the planet to heat up significantly faster than scientists had predicted for the next five years, according to a study.The hottest year on record was 1998, and the relatively cool years since have led to some global warming sceptics claiming that temperatures have levelled off or started to decline. But new research firmly rejects that argument. Read Article

The Historian – So its not just CO2 then? Its also the Sun, the oceans, the clouds, the plants, the volcanoes and even the bacteria?  So why are we just “tackling” CO2 then? However what I’m confused about is this. The computer models this paper utilises for its daily weather forecasts can’t even accurately predict the weather correctly a few days in advance, and yet these computer models here can predict the weather years (and decades) into the future with much greater accuracy, despite a million more variables having to be factored in. Perhaps the Guardian should change its weather forecast provider? (that is at some point before it puts its head between its legs and kisses its ass goodbye)!

Computer Manufacturers in China Pre-installing Spyware

Epoch Times – At the end of June, the Chinese regime announced it would delay the requirement that all computers sold in the country carry a specific software known as “Green Dam,” which serves as spyware to aide them in their censorship endeavors. This came with strong opposition from business groups and Chinese computer users.    But recently, some famous computer makers including Acer, Lenovo, Sony and Asus have already started shipping computers with the pre-installed Green Dam monitoring software per request of the Chinese regime. Read Article

Ten Things You’re Not Supposed to Know about the Swine Flu Vaccine

She was deathly afraid of the flu.
So she asked her doc what she should do.
He jabbed her unseen
With a swine flu vaccine
Blurting, “Darling, I haven’t a clue.”
- by the Health Ranger (NaturalNews)

Let’s not beat around the bush on this issue: The swine flu vaccines now being prepared for mass injection into infants, children, teens and adults have never been tested and won’t be tested before the injections begin. In Europe, where flu vaccines are typically tested on hundreds (or thousands) of people before being unleashed on the masses, the European Medicines Agency is allowing companies to skip the testing process entirely. [Read Article]

7 NC men charged as international “jihad” group

Associated Press – A North Carolina father who led an unobtrusive rural life as a drywall contractor had militant roots dating back to 1980s Afghanistan and Pakistan and secretly led a U.S. group plotting international terrorism, federal prosecutors said.
Daniel Patrick Boyd, 39, was arrested Monday with his two sons and four other North Carolina men. Prosecutors accused them of military-style training at home and plotting “violent jihad” through a series of terror attacks abroad.
Authorities believe Boyd’s roots in terrorism run deep. They said when he was in Pakistan and Afghanistan from 1989 through 1992, he had military-style training in terrorist camps and fought the Soviets, who were ending their occupation of Afghanistan. Read article

WA launches inquiry into use of Tasers

The Australian – WESTERN Australia’s Corruption and Crime Commission is investigating the use of Tasers by the state’s police. The inquiry comes as Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan told a parliamentary committee yesterday there had been 68 complaints alleging police misuse of Tasers since they were introduced in 2007. Four complaints about alleged misuse of the stun guns have been upheld and 24 complaints are still being investigated.  Read Article

Shredded tires: Best choice for playground surfaces?

Telegraph – Recycled rubber playground surfaces seem like a win-win situation. When children fall, they’re more likely to bounce than break bones. And the springy, low-maintenance ground cover, which is also used in running tracks and synthetic turf, provides an eco-friendly solution to automotive tire waste.

But some parents are having second thoughts about the cushioning surface, now that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said it isn’t certain that chronic exposure to the chemicals found in tire crumb is safe. Though shredded-tire playground surfaces have been endorsed by the EPA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for years, there’s little data related to the toxicological risks from the surface, according to documents released to the advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.
[Read Article]

Iran turmoil takes new twist as hardliners fall out

Reuters – Iran’s hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has chosen a strange moment to cross swords with his chief patron, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
As if widespread popular unrest and the wrath of reformists over a disputed election were not enough, Ahmadinejad has alienated some of his own allies and lost two hardline cabinet members by defying Khamenei over his choice of vice president. The disarray in the hardline camp is likely to complicate Ahmadinejad’s job of forming a new cabinet, risking prolonged paralysis in decision-making even as a Western deadline looms for Iran to enter substantive talks on its nuclear programme.
Ahmadinejad, due to be sworn in by parliament next week, is already under fire from his moderate rivals, Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, who say any new cabinet will be illegitimate as the June 12 poll was rigged — a charge the authorities deny. Read article

Police: Taser use on disabled man justified because he had umbrella

AP: Officers who used pepper spray and a Taser to remove a man from a store bathroom found out only later he was deaf and mentally disabled and didn’t understand they wanted him to open the door, police said Tuesday. A spokesman for the Mobile Police Department said the officers’ actions were justified because the man was armed with a potential weapon “” an umbrella. Read Article

Food fight brews at Guantanamo Bay

New Scientist – Doctors who assist in the force-feeding of hunger-striking detainees at Guantanamo Bay were accused last week of acting unethically, despite a government review that concluded prisoners are well cared for. Force-feeding has been used to combat hunger strikes by detainees at the US base since 2005, when over 80 inmates staged the first such protest. Hundreds of strikers have been put in restraint chairs, which have binds for ankles, wrists and shoulders, together with a lap belt and head restraint. They are then fed through a tube inserted into their nose.Those actions constitute “humiliating and degrading treatment”, which is outlawed by the Geneva conventions Read Article

Atheist summer camp launched in Somerset

Camp Quest UK, which is being held near Bath, offers 24 places.

cartoon - 1 adult, 4 children and caption

Its website claims the camp is for the children of ‘atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers and all those who embrace a naturalistic rather than supernatural world view.’ [Read Article]

Australian admits plotting to kill thousands

AFP – An Australian convert to Islam on Tuesday admitted being part of a terror cell that plotted to kill thousands of people by bombing major sports events, just moments before his retrial.
Shane Kent, 33, pleaded guilty to being a member of a group led by radical Islamic cleric Abdul Nacer Benbrika, who told his followers they could kill women and children in the pursuit of holy war.
Kent also admitted involvement in the cell’s plans for a bomb attack on sports events including the Australian Football League’s (AFL) 2005 Grand Final, which attracted some 92,000 fans and a TV audience of millions. Read article

Britain will need more troops in Afghanistan, say army chiefs

Times Online – Britain may need to send more troops to Afghanistan despite the success of Operation Panther’s Claw, military chiefs admit.
Brigadier Tim Radford, commander of Task Force Helmand, said that the existing troops could not be expected to mount further significant operations without reinforcements.
The scale of the challenge was revealed yesterday as it emerged that British soldiers have faced nearly 1,000 roadside bombs in the past three months. Although 3,000 troops managed to drive out about 500 Taleban during the five-week offensive, they will be fully deployed holding an area in Helmand province about the size of the Isle of Wight, their commanding officer admitted. Read article

Big Brother Is Watching Your Blackberry

ABC – Don’t look now, but no matter where you go, you’re connected. We — or most of us, at least — have opened our front doors to large corporations, hardware manufacturers, software firms and search engines. We have allowed them to rifle through our jacket pockets and handbags. And now they can do as they wish with us, or do the bidding of the powers-that-be — in the form of a totalitarian government, for example.  Don’t believe it? Well, consider a recent incident involving the Internet bookseller Amazon and two works by — ironically enough — George Orwell. Amazon had been selling the titles, “1984″ and “Animal Farm,” to owners of its Kindle reader, the special e-book device the bookseller developed.  Read Article 

Elevated Mercury Levels In Prairie Lakes Examined

Science Daily – Prairie lakes that expand greatly in area during wet cycles are more likely to have elevated mercury levels soon after, South Dakota State University research suggests. That’s one finding in a study by recent Ph.D. graduate Trevor Selch and his adviser, adjunct associate professor Steve Chipps of SDSU’s Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences Department. Chipps is also assistant unit leader for fisheries with the South Dakota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, a part of the U.S. Geological Survey. Read Article

US-Israeli talks make ‘progress’

BBC – US Middle East envoy George Mitchell and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu say talks about reviving the regional peace process have made “good progress”.
There was no mention of Israel agreeing to halt settlement construction, a key demand the US has made of its ally.
Mr Netanyahu has previously rejected such a freeze, saying “natural growth” of settlements must be allowed. Read article

British economic collapse rivals Great Depression

Daily Telegraph – The collapse in Britain’s economy now rivals the worst days of the Great Depression, it has emerged.
Economic output shrank by 5.6pc in the 12 months to the middle of the year, according to official figures which shattered hopes that the recovery has already begun. The Office for National Statistics said that Britain’s gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 0.8pc in the second quarter, following the unprecedented 2.4pc fall in the first three months of the year. Economists had expected GDP ““ the broadest measure of the country’s economic performance ““ to shrink by 0.3pc.  Read Article

The Historian – Well on the plus side the banks are still rubbing their hands with glee, as are the Europeans as the EURO will be presented as the only way out of this hole

Gates: Iran is a threat to Israel, US

Press TV – Washington says Iran’s nuclear program is a threat to both Israel and the United States, reaffirming its ‘unbreakable bond’ with Tel Aviv.
US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made the comments in a joint news conference with the Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Jerusalem (Al-Quds).
“We had a good meeting during which I reaffirmed the strong commitment of the United Sates to the security of Israel. As President (Barack) Obama said in Cairo last month our bond is unbreakable, ” he said.
“We also discussed the regional security challenges we both face from terrorism to the threat posed by Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. ”
The US Secretary of Defense added the US will continue to ensure that Israel has the most advanced weapons. Read article

G20 police ‘did not respect protesters human rights’

Daily Telegraph – The police did not properly respect the human rights of protesters subjected to “kettling” techniques during the G20 demonstrations, a committee said. The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) said the Metropolitan Police did “not give sufficient weight” to the rights of individuals “contained” within police cordons. Containment tactics should only be used when it is “necessary and proportionate”, and officers should exercise their own judgment about individuals stuck inside, the MPs and Peers said. Read Article

Obama declares new era of co-operation with China

The Independent – President Barack Obama declared a new era of “co-operation, not confrontation” with China today, even though two days of high-level talks were not expected to resolve differences over the two nations’ yawning trade gap and China’s unease over soaring US budget deficits.
The Obama administration pledged to get control of the deficits once the economic crisis is resolved. It also pressed China to reshape its economy to rely more on domestic demand and less on exports that drive up the US trade deficit.
Chinese Assistant Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao, briefing reporters after Monday’s meetings, said the US and Chinese sides had “profound exchanges” on the recovery of the US economy. Read article