Daily Archives

Vietnam orders Russian submarines, fighter jets

Associated Press – Vietnam has ordered submarines and fighter jets from Russia, its former communist ally, the government announced Wednesday, in a deal reportedly worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The agreement was made Tuesday during a visit to Moscow by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Vietnam’s government said on its official Web site. Vietnam also invited Russia to help build its first nuclear power plant, the Web site said, providing no further details. Vietnam hopes to begin construction of the plant in 2014 and put it on line by 2020. Read article

Guantanamo ‘may’ close by summer: U.S. official

Reuters – Attorney General Eric Holder said on Wednesday the U.S. government’s purchase of a prison in Illinois to hold some Guantanamo Bay detainees will help close the facility in Cuba, perhaps by summer.He told a news conference at the Justice Department that the acquisition of the Thomson Correctional Center in northwestern Illinois “goes a long way” toward shutting down the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Read Article

Fox News: Talks About Mass Drugging of Society with Lithium

Background: As we are getting close to the end of another year, we like to look back at some of the most interesting health care discoveries of 2009.
Joining us today is Dr Archelle Georgiou”¦ Read transcript and see video

UN ends criticised Congo campaign

BBC -The UN envoy to the Democratic Republic of Congo says a joint military operation against rebels will be concluded at the end of this month. Alan Doss told the UN Security Council that the campaign in the east of the country had “largely achieved” its goal of weakening the Rwandan Hutu rebels. The operation was criticised by rights groups, who accuse Congolese government troops of killing and raping civilians. UN experts had said the campaign failed to dismantle militia infrastructure. Read article

Solar Activity is Picking Up After Long Quiet Period

Universe Today – The current solar cycle (24) has been pretty boring, but a new sunspot “” 1035 “” is growing rapidly and now is seven times wider than Earth. Solar astronomers are predicting it could grow to be the largest sunspot of the year. There’s not been a lot of competition for the biggest sunspot, though: for 259 days (or 74%) of 2009, the sun has been spotless. But maybe the (solar) tide is turning. There’s been other action recently besides the new sunspot. A long-duration C4-class solar flare erupted this morning at 0120 UT from around the sunspot, which hurled a coronal mass ejection (CME) towards Earth. (See below for image of the CME that blasted off the sun on Dec. 14) Observers at high-latitude could see some aurora action when the CME arrives on or about Dec. 18th. Keep cheering; maybe the sun will come out of its doldrums.  Read Article

Ed – According to the Schroeter Institute for Research in Cycles of Solar Activity “We need not wait until 2030 to see whether the forecast of the next deep Gleissberg minimum is correct. A declining trend in solar activity and global temperature should become manifest long before the deepest point in the development.”

Millions at Risk as East Africa Rains Fail, Oxfam Says

BBC – Rains across swathes of East Africa have failed for the sixth year in a row, leaving millions of people facing hardship, Oxfam has warned. The charity says Somalia’s drought is the worst for 20 years, and November rainfall was less than 5% of normal in parts of Kenya and Ethiopia. Oxfam says the next rains in hardest-hit areas are not due until April. Read article

US to drill Iranian attack scenario

The Jerusalem Post – A top Pentagon official said Monday that a US missile defense drill would simulate an Iranian attack – a departure from the usual scenario of a North Korean attack – according to Reuters. “Previously, we have been testing the [Ground-Based Midcourse Defense] GMD system against a North Korean-type scenario. This next test… is more of a head-on shot like you would use defending against an Iranian shot into the United States. So that’s the first time that we’re now testing in a different scenario,” Lt.-Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, head of the US Missile Defense Agency, said at the Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit in Washington. Read article

Even at Sublethal Levels, Pesticides May Slow the Recovery of Wild Salmon Populations

ScienceDaily “” Biologists determined that short-term, seasonal exposure to pesticides in rivers and basins may limit the growth and size of wild salmon populations. In addition to the widespread deterioration of salmon habitats, these findings suggest that exposure to commonly used pesticides may further inhibit the recovery of threatened or endangered populations Read Article

Iran test fires missile capable of hitting Israel

Telegraph -Iran said it has successfully tested what it called an upgraded version of its longest-range, solid-fuel Sajjil-2 missile. State television broke the news in a one-sentence report that gave no details on the test of the Sajjil-2 missile, a high-speed, surface-to-surface missile with a range of about 1,200 miles.
That range places Israel, Iran’s sworn enemy, well within reach and streches as far away as south-eastern Europe with greater precision than earlier models. Read article

MI6 chief reveals advance warning of Abu Ghraib problems

The Independent – British officials were aware of possible violence against Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib prison almost a year before revelations of torture and abuse finally emerged, the head of MI6 has revealed. Sir John Sawers said that poor conditions and possible violent mistreatment of inmates by the US troops running the prison were known within months of the invasion in March 2003. It was not until the Spring of 2004 that cases of physical, psychological and sexual abuse were exposed publicly. Read Article

Large Pharma Willing to Focus on Niche Markets

Nature Biotech’y – GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)’s recent collaboration with Prosensa on therapeutics for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is another sign that large pharma is willing to focus on niche markets. DMD is a childhood neuromuscular disease caused by a mutation in the dystrophin gene, the normal product of which is necessary for proper muscle formation. It affects 1 in 3,500 newborn boys, causing muscle weakness that often leads to respiratory or cardiac failure. Under the alliance, announced in October, GSK licenses Leiden, The Netherlands”“based Prosensa’s PRO051, an antisense RNA oligonucleotide that skips exon 51 of the gene dystrophin, allowing for production of a functional protein. The compound is scheduled to enter phase 3 trials early next year. Read article

US fighters pound Sa’ada, kill 120

Press TV – At least 120 Houthis have lost lives and 44 others sustained injuries as US fighter jets took part in air strikes in the northwestern Yemeni province of Sa’ada. ”The US air force perpetrated an appalling massacre against citizens in the north of Yemen as it launched air raids on various populated areas, markets, refugee camps and villages along with Saudi warplanes,” the northern Yemen-based Houthi Shia fighters said.  They added, “The savage crime committed by the US air force shows the real face of the United States. It cancels out much touted American claims of human rights protection, promotion of freedoms of citizens as well as democracy.” Read article

Aussie web filter to block internet nasties will compromise web speeds, say providers

The Australian – INTERNET service providers believe Labor’s filter to block web nasties could well neuter its cherished national broadband network. They believe the filter to block all material refused a classification will slow broadband speeds, including the services delivered by the much vaunted NBN. When Communications Minister Stephen Conroy on Tuesday unveiled the legislation to be introduced next year, he also released a report saying the filter would not degrade internet performance, according to tests performed by Enex TestLab Read Article

Scientists Crack ‘entire genetic code’ of 2 Cancers

BBC – Scientists have unlocked the entire genetic code of two of the most common cancers – skin and lung – a move they say could revolutionise cancer care. Not only will the cancer maps pave the way for blood tests to spot tumours far earlier, they will also yield new drug targets, says the Wellcome Trust team. Scientists around the globe are now working to catalogue all the genes that go wrong in many types of human cancer. Read article

UK’s army of private snoopers growing

Daily Telegraph – An army of town hall spies and civilian snoopers who have the power to hand out fines and demand names and address has been built up, figures show. Rank and file police leaders warn a “third tier” of policing is being quietly generated under the Home Office scheme which sees the likes of council staff, car park attendants, private security guards and even dog wardens handed police-style powers. Read Article

Source: ‘Alarming’ secret document details Iran’s nuclear goals

CNN – A secret document that appears to show that Iran was working on building nuclear weapons as recently as 2007 is “alarming” and “part of a body of evidence backing up deep concerns over Iran’s nuclear program,” a Western diplomatic source with knowledge of the papers told CNN on Monday. The International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear watchdog, has a copy of the secret papers, which were also obtained by the Times of London, the source said. IAEA officials confirm they are investigating the document, but said they have not formally asked Iran for more information about it. Read article

Record levels of toxic algae hurt US coastline

USA Today – Large swaths of toxic algae have punished U.S. coastal towns at record levels this year, shutting down shellfish harvests and sickening swimmers from Maine to Texas to Seattle. The algal blooms stretch for hundreds of miles in some areas in a phenomenon known as “red tides” and give off toxins that sicken fish and birds and can cause paralysis in humans, said Wayne Litaker, a research scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The blooms have been getting increasingly larger and more toxic since 2004, causing an estimated $100 million a year in damage to the country’s seafood and tourism industries, he said. Read Article

Ed – The primary cause is agricultural industry run-offs

Children Need Exposure to Christmas Commerce

The Daily Telegraph – “Media Literacy” – This is one ‘lifeskill’ that children don’t need. It’s far better for children to learn from experience about hype and false promises than to be educated about the truth of advertising at a tender age, writes Liz Hunt. Read article

Report: U.N.-Backed Congo Troops Killing Civilians

NPR – A U.N.-backed Congolese military operation to oust rebels from eastern Congo has caused more civilian casualties than damage to rebels, with more than 1,400 people deliberately killed over a nine-month period, human rights groups said Monday. Human Rights Watch said it had documented “vicious and widespread” attacks against civilians by soldiers and rebels between January and September. Soldiers being fed and supplied with ammunition by the United Nations have killed civilians, gang-raped girls and cut the heads off some young men they accuse of being rebels or supporting the enemy, groups said. Read article

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Smart CCTV learns to spot suspicious types

New Scientist – WHAT’S the difference between a suicide bomber and a cleaner? It sounds like the opening line of a sick joke, but for computer scientists working on intelligent video-surveillance software, being able to make that distinction is a key goal. Current CCTV systems can collect masses of data, but little of it is used, says Shaogang Gong, a computer-vision computation researcher at Queen Mary, University of London. “What we really need are better ways to mine that data,” he says. Read Article

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Alzheimer’s Risk Linked to Level of Appetite Hormone

BBC – High levels of a hormone that controls appetite appear to be linked to a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, US research suggests. The 12-year-study of 200 volunteers found those with the lowest levels of leptin were more likely to develop the disease than those with the highest. The JAMA study builds on work that links low leptin levels to the brain plaques found in Alzheimer’s patients. Read Article