Daily Archives

Flu scare a boon to body-bag sales

TheStar.com – As concerns grow of a possible flu pandemic onslaught this autumn, alert authorities worldwide have been stockpiling emergency supplies. Masks, gloves and anti-viral medications are on the list. And body bags. Demand for the latter is prompting a surge of interest in the wares of a small Toronto custom bag manufacturer named Trevor Owen Ltd. Inquiries about its pandemic body bags are pouring in from as far away as the Sultanate of Oman on the Arabian Peninsula. [Read Article]

The Biochemist – “People are very particular about colour, style, the seal of the bag, the zipper.” Colour I can understand; white is more reflective of heat, seal – yes, zipper – yes, but STYLE?

Treasurys survive $200 billion onslaught

CNN - Treasury prices rose Friday after a record week of debt sales ended on a high note, easing some fears that foreign demand for U.S. debt is wearing thin. The government sold more than $200 billion in notes, bills and Treasury Inflation Protected Securities this week. It was the latest in a string of record-setting debt offerings that the U.S. has held monthly as the government seeks to fund a $1.8 trillion budget deficit. Read Article

American Chemical Society Climate-Change Controversy

The American Chemical Society : The American Chemical Society bills itself as the “world’s largest scientific society.” Here are some of the letters written by members in response to The June 22, 2009 editorial in Chemical and Engineering News by editor in chief Rudy Baum, in which he concluded his editorial by stating that “deniers” are attempting to “derail meaningful efforts to respond to global climate change.” Read Letters

Sun Exposure May Trigger Certain Autoimmune Diseases In Women

ScienceDaily (Aug. 1, 2009) “” Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight may be associated with the development of certain autoimmune diseases, particularly in women, according to a study by researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health.
[Read Article]

After $182 billion taxpayer rescue, is AIG on the verge of collapse?

Daily Finance - You may remember American International Group (AIG). The U.S. government gave it $182 billion of taxpayer money last fall in exchange for a 78 percent stake. Of that money, $165 million went for bonuses to a handful of people in its Financial Products Group (FPG), which sold Credit Default Swaps (CDSs) on which AIG lacked the capital to make good. And $200 million more is slated for those good folks in 2009. Another $12.9 billion of our taxpayer money went to Goldman Sachs Group (GS) so AIG could pay Goldman 100 cents on the dollar for its CDSs. Hank Paulson wanted to keep the names of Goldman and the other recipients secret — since so many of them were foreign banks, but the information leaked out in March 2009 after Paulson left office. Read Article

Researchers launch study of ocean garbage patch

San Diego Union Tribune - A plastic vortex of trash twice the size of Texas floats about 1,000 miles off the coast of California, invisible to the naked eye. Just about the only thing researchers know for sure about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is that it can’t be good for the environment. The plastic and toxins it attracts have become a part of the Pacific Ocean’s ecosystem, killing everything from fish to birds to sea turtles. On Sunday, researchers from UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla and Project Kaisei, a nonprofit based in San Francisco, will board two ships for a $1.1 million, nearly four-week voyage that will launch the most extensive study of the waterborne landfill to date. Read Article

‘Whip me if you dare’ says Lubna Hussein, Sudan’s defiant trouser woman

The Telegraph – As the morality police crowded around her table in a Khartoum restaurant, leering at her to see what she was wearing, Lubna Hussein had no idea she was about to become the best-known woman in Sudan. 
“[she] fell foul of Sudan’s Public Order Police, hated groups of young puritans employed by the government. Despite their claims of moral superiority, they have a reputation for dishonesty and for demanding sexual favours from women they arrest. ” [Read Article]

The Biochemist – The ol’ double standard again – NOT religion.

Indonesia may lose natural forest by 2015

Jakata Post - Indonesia may lose its status as the world’s third-largest forest nation by 2015 as the country’s natural forests are likely to disappear due to deforestation and lax efforts to replant logged forest areas. Rinekso Soekmadi, a forestry expert from the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) said the government should take tough action to force forest concession holders (HPH) to replant logged forest areas. ”Otherwise, all natural forests will be lost by 2015. This is the worst case scenario based on current rates of deforestation,” he said. Read Article

How the loose change in our pockets is costing the earth

Daily Mail - Livehas travelled to opposite corners of the world in search of the copper and nickel that make up the largest part of our coins. What we have discovered is that while as consumers we are obsessed with recycling, ethically sourced products and organic food, the very cash with which we do our trade is itself most likely unethical. Dirty money, in fact. We went to the world’s largest copper mines in a remote part of Chile and to the heart of the rainforest in Madagascar to investigate the development of what is to be the world’s largest nickel mine. Both these metals are vital for the production of coins. The devastation we discovered was shocking. Whole swathes of pristine Madagascan rainforest, home to some of the most endangered creatures in the world, have been felled. Read Article

Obama says many months before U.S. exits recession

Reuters – President Barack Obama warned on Saturday it would take “many more months” for the United States to get out of recession even after GDP figures showed the economy shrank only modestly in the second quarter. Read Article

Quotation of the Week

“We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”

- C.S Lewis

US Government’s Swine Flu “Czar” To Become ABC Medical Reporter

The Washington Post – In the latest example of a government official leaving public service for television, the CDC’s Dr. Richard Besser will join ABC News in September as a senior medical editor and correspondent, according to an internal ABC memo obtained by The Eye. ”Dr. Besser’s distinguished background in public health, emergency preparedness, and epidemiology will enhance the leadership of ABC News in reporting and explaining medical issues to our audiences,” ABC News president David Westin said in the memo to staffers. [Read article]

Iran begins trial of postelection ‘rioters’

Associated Press – More than 100 opposition political activists and protesters stood trial in Tehran Saturday on charges of rioting and conspiring to topple the ruling system in the country’s first trial since the disputed presidential election, Iran’s state media reported.
The trial underlines the government’s efforts to bring to a close anti-government demonstrations that have persisted since the disputed June 12 presidential election. Read article

Country braces to battle the spread of swine flu

The Prague Post – There are no plans to close Czech schools in the autumn, when the swine flu toll is predicted to rise sharply.

The Czech Republic registered its largest jump in swine flu numbers over the weekend with 20 new cases, bringing the confirmed toll to 63, according to the National Reference Laboratory. [Read Article]

Al Qaeda may have infiltrated MI5, says MP

ABC – A senior British MP says Al Qaeda sympathisers may have infiltrated one of Britain’s spy agencies, MI5.
Senior opposition politician Patrick Mercer says he has been told that six Muslim recruits were rejected from the security service because of concerns about their pasts.
It is believed that two of the men may have attended Al Qaeda training camps in Pakistan.
Mr Mercer has called for an investigation. Read article

US Army National Guard Advertises for “Internment Specialists”

IHispano.Com - As an Internment/Resettlement Specialist for the Army National Guard, you will ensure the smooth running of military confinement/correctional facility or detention/internment facility, similar to those duties conducted by civilian Corrections Officers. This will require you to know proper procedures and military law; and have the ability to think quickly in high-stress situations. Specific duties may include assisting with supervision and management operations; providing facility security; providing custody, control, supervision, and escort; and counseling individual prisoners in rehabilitative programs. Read Job Advert

Iran sends warships into Gulf of Aden

UPI – Iran has deployed a flotilla of warships and support vessels into the Gulf of Aden, the second in recent weeks, and says it also plans to establish a new naval base in the Gulf of Oman, at the southern end of the chokepoint Strait of Hormuz.
This expanding naval activity by the Iranians may be intended to counter a recent increase in Israeli naval deployments. It also takes place against a backdrop of widening political turmoil in Tehran following the disputed re-election of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on June 12 that has caused international unease about what might ensue. Read article

US Recession Worse Than Prior Estimates, Revisions Show

Bloomberg - The first 12 months of the U.S. recession saw the economy shrink more than twice as much as previously estimated, reflecting even bigger declines in consumer spending and housing, revised figures showed. The world’s largest economy contracted 1.9 percent from the fourth quarter of 2007 to the last three months of 2008, compared with the 0.8 percent drop previously on the books, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. Read Article

Will Increasing Automation Make Jets Less Safe?

Spiegel – Computers on board aircraft have made flying safer, but when they encounter errors they can create turmoil. Engineers are pressing ahead with the automation of aircraft, but pilots warn that efforts to computerize jets are going too far and that diminished human control could create dangerous situations.

Ben Cave was starting to get bored. The Australian had been sitting in his seat for more than three hours, and he still had two hours left before the Qantas jet was scheduled to touch down in Perth. [Read Article]

The Biochemist – There are five parts to this story:
Part 1: Will Increasing Automation Make Jets Less Safe?
Part 2: Digital Technology Has Improved Safety, But it Can Still Present a Threat
Part 3: How Much Control Should Remain with the Pilot?
Part 4: The Glass Cockpit
Part 5: At What Point Do Pilots Become Redundant?