Daily Archives

Madagascar leader Rajoelina names new PM

BBC – The leader of Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina, has appointed an army officer as his new prime minister. The appointment of Col Vital Albert Camille comes just days after Mr Rajoelina sacked the PM he had named in a power-sharing deal in October. The former PM, Eugene Mangalaza, was dismissed as Mr Rajoelina said he could no longer work with him. Read article

Beached whales killed by ingesting plastic

UPI — Seven sperm whales that beached at Foggia, Italy, died from ingesting plastic in the ocean, a scientist at Tusica University said Friday. “They must have mistaken the objects for squid, one of their favorite foods,” said Giuseppe Nascetti, who teaches marine ecology at Tuscia University. The plastic “strangled” the whales’ stomachs, which also contained pieces of rope, tin cans and other containers, Nascetti told the Italian news agency ANSA in a story published Friday. The whales, which weighed more than 13 tons each and were 30 to 45 feet long, came ashore a week ago in a rare beaching. All of them were dead by Sunday night. Read Article

Finally, Hope for those with Borderline Personality Disorder

LA Times – They have the thinnest skin, the shortest fuses and take the hardest knocks. In psychiatrists’ offices, they have long been viewed as among the most challenging patients to treat. They are the kind of people who drive a friend away for interfering and subsequently berate that friend for abandonment. Read article

U.S. drone strikes kill 16 in Pakistani region thought to be al-Qaeda home base

Washington Post – An unusually large barrage of missiles fired by remotely piloted U.S. aircraft killed 16 people in the tribal area of North Waziristan on Thursday, a possible indication that the United States plans to escalate such attacks after Pakistan declined to step up its operations there. The attacks came in a week in which top U.S. military officials visited Islamabad and asked Pakistani authorities to do more to go after insurgent groups that are based in North Waziristan but are focused on killing U.S. troops across the border in Afghanistan. Read article

Excessive force by police at issue in taser death of teen

Detroit News – An unarmed and exhausted Robert Mitchell was facing at least six Warren and Detroit police officers inside an abandoned house when an officer fired the Taser shock from which the 16-year-old never recovered, a Detroit attorney said Wednesday. One of the officers grabbed Mitchell by the wrists moments before the Taser jolt and let go of the one wrist he was still holding so the officer could fire the Taser at Mitchell, attorney William Goodman said. Read Article

Training for the Civilian Surge

Wall Street Journal – A former mental hospital in the woods is the staging ground for one of the biggest deployments of U.S. civilians since the Vietnam War. Dozens of U.S. agriculturists, legal experts and development-aid administrators pass through elaborate mock-ups of foreign courtrooms and bazaars here each week — part of training for nation-building work in some of Afghanistan’s most unruly provinces. Read article

Oceans becoming nosier thanks to pollution — report

PhysOrg – The world’s oceans are becoming noisier thanks to pollution, with potentially harmful effects for whales, dolphins and other marine life, US scientists said in a study published Sunday. Low-frequency sound in the ocean is produced by natural phenomena such as rain, waves and marine life, and by human activities such as sonar systems, shipping and construction. The sound is absorbed mainly through the viscosity of the water and the presence of certain dissolved chemicals, said the report published in the science journal Nature. Read Article

Ethics Committee Takes Away Sight Restored with Artificial Retinas

The Local – German doctors are restoring partial sight to blind people by grafting microchips covered with photocells onto the backs of their eyes in a major medical breakthrough, news magazine Der Spiegel reported on Saturday.
The medical researchers at the University of Tübingen in the southern State of Baden-Württemberg have managed to help blind patients read printed words and recognise objects using the pioneering technique. Read article

Saudi warplanes rain ’1,011 missiles’ on Yemen

Press TV – Houthi fighters say Saudi warplanes have fired some 1,011 missiles on the borderline with Yemen where the Shia population is already under heavy state-led and US-aided bombardment. The fighters also said on Saturday that the warplanes had carried out nearly 60 air assaults on the residential areas in the northern Al-Jabiri, Al-Dukhan and Al-Malaheet districts. Saudi Arabia joined Sana’a's months-long fierce armed campaign against the Shia fighters in November. Read article

Copenhagen climate summit: plan for EU to police countries’ emissions

Daily Telegraph – Gordon Brown is drawing up plans for the European Union to become a global warming “policeman”, monitoring individual countries’ compliance with carbon-cutting targets. Read Article

Drug Giant uses Libel Law to ‘Gag’ Doctor over Safety

The Telegraph – Drug firm GE Healthcare is using libel laws to prevent a Danish radiologist from repeating claims about its response to rare but potentially fatal risks in one of its products. The British subsidiary of American giant General Electric has taken legal action to prevent Henrik Thomsen from recounting his investigations into the possible side-effects of the drug. It is reported to have spent £380,000 so far in legal costs pursuing the action, prompted by a presentation he gave to other leading radiologists. Read Article

Up to 56,000 more contractors likely for Afghanistan, congressional agency says

The surge of 30,000 U.S. troops into Afghanistan could be accompanied by a surge of up to 56,000 contractors, vastly expanding the presence of personnel from the U.S. private sector in a war zone, according to a study by the Congressional Research Service. CRS, which provides background information to members of Congress on a bipartisan basis, said it expects an additional 26,000 to 56,000 contractors to be sent to Afghanistan. That would bring the number of contractors in the country to anywhere from 130,000 to 160,000. Read article

U.S. sends 12 Guantanamo detainees to home countries

Reuters – The United States has sent 12 inmates from the American military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Afghanistan, Yemen and an enclave in Somalia despite concerns about militant cells in those countries. The U.S. Justice Department said on Sunday six Yemeni and four Afghan detainees were moved over the weekend to their home countries while two Somalis were transferred to regional authorities in Somaliland, a self-governing region of Somalia. Read Article

UK: Government to Pay £20m and Apologise to Victims of Thalidomide

The Times – The Government is set to pay millions of pounds to thalidomide victims and to apologise for their suffering. Under a deal to be announced soon, the Department of Health will pay a grant of £20 million over three years to the Thalidomide Trust, which helps people disabled by the drug. The deal follows a campaign backed by The Sunday Times to secure financial support for Britain’s 463 surviving “thalidomiders”, many of whom are unable to work and require adapted homes and cars. Read Article

Grateful Georgia sends troops to Afghanistan

ABC – Georgia is dispatching nearly 1,000 troops to Afghanistan as a sign of gratitude towards the West, President Mikheil Saakashvili wrote in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece on Saturday. Mr Saakashvili, who is keen for Georgia to join NATO, stressed that Tbilisi was “firmly allied to the values of the US and the trans-Atlantic community”. Georgia “has been grateful for the extent to which the US and Europe have stood alongside us over recent years. Now we are proud to stand – and fight – alongside you,” he wrote. Read article

CHINA: “˜The world does not have Money to buy more US Treasuries’

Shanghai Daily – IT is getting harder for governments to buy United States Treasuries because the US’s shrinking current-account gap is reducing supply of dollars overseas, a Chinese central bank official said yesterday. The comments by Zhu Min, deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, referred to the overall situation globally, not specifically to China, the biggest foreign holder of US government bonds. Chinese officials generally are very careful about commenting on the dollar and Treasuries, given that so much of its US$2.3 trillion reserves are tied to their value, and markets always watch any such comments closely for signs of any shift in how it manages its assets. Read Article

7 More Bank Closures In US. Rises to 140 for 2009

CBS – Regulators on Friday shut down two big California banks, as well as banks in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Illinois, bringing to 140 the number of U.S. banks brought down this year by the weak economy and mounting loan defaults. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over all seven. Read Article

Commonsense: Muslims Mull Mosque Debate after Swiss Vote

The Local – The Swiss vote to forbid the construction of mosques with minarets has sparked calls for a similar ban in Germany. Robert Rigney samples the mood of the country’s Muslim community. Most people wouldn’t consider Switzerland a very trendy place, but Meho Travljanin worries the small, alpine nation’s anti-Islamic sentiments could soon become fashionable throughout much of Europe. “My fear is that the discussion has spread from Switzerland to all of Europe,” says Travljanin, referring to the country’s controversial referendum in November banning the building of mosques with minarets. Read article

Ed.- Read the comments, if you wish to get an idea of the diversity of opinon on this subject.

Prison for pregnant troops in Iraq

ABC – Becoming pregnant has become a punishable offence for female American soldiers in Iraq and for those who make them pregnant as well. General Anthony Cucolo, who commands US forces in northern Iraq, says offenders including married couples could attract punishments such as a court martial, or time in prison. “I have female soldiers in absolutely critical specialties and becoming pregnant takes them out of the fight,” he said. Read article

Climategate: peak oil, the CRU and the Oman connection

Daily Telegraph – Why would a Middle Eastern kingdom be funding a British Climate research business? Oman has just completed a massive investment in LNG, and developed and installed new CO2 removal technology in their process; this lowers the carbon footprint of their gas. So using their gas to drive electricity generation will be less costly once CO2 is taxed. They have no problem with this whole thing. Saudi Arabia, who have oil and not so much gas, are in a different position, they have a problem with this whole thing. Just an observation; a 4 degree rise in temperature in the Sultanate of Oman or Saudi Arabia would change it from really hot to really hot. Maybe it is just good business. Read Article

Video: Faith Complex: Sarah Holewinski

Washington Post – As America re-ups its involvement in Afghanistan, CIVIC’s Sarah Holewinski speaks about the role that religion plays, both positive and negative, in civilian casualties. (Video by Georgetown University)
See video

Ed. – FYI: Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC) advocates on behalf of victims of armed conflict, working to ensure they receive recognition and assistance from warring parties. CIVIC persuaded the US Congress to establish programs for war victims in Afghanistan and Iraq, guides victims to assistance, brings the human cost of war to the attention of policymakers and the public, and is advocating a new global standard of conduct that warring parties should help where they have hurt.

Obama approves aid to Israel, PA

yNetNews – US President Barack Obama this week signed the 2010 foreign aid budget law which includes $2.775 billion in security aid to Israel. This is the second year the budget is transferred to the Jewish state as part of understandings that the American assistance to Israel in the coming decade will total $30 billion. The approved budget comprises, for the first time, $500 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority, including $100 million for the training of Palestinian security forces by American general Keith Dayton. Read article

Climategate: This time Al Gore lied

Herald Sun – Al Gore’s claim last week that the Climategate emails were insignificant relied on two main defences. Both are so flagrantly wrong that it’s not enough to say Gore is simply mistaken. No, Al Gore is a liar. Last week we showed that the first of his Climategate defences was so preposterously wrong that it was doubtful he had even read the leaked emails he tried to dismiss. You see, five times in two interviews he dismissed the emails as dated documents that were at least 10 years old: I haven’t read all the e-mails, but the most recent one is more than 10 years old. In fact, most of the controversial emails, as I showed, were from just the past two years – and the most recent from just last month – November 12, to be precise. Read Article

New Study Links DHA Type of Omega-3 to Better Nervous-System Function

ScienceDaily “” The omega-3 essential fatty acids commonly found in fatty fish and algae help animals avoid sensory overload, according to research published by the American Psychological Association. The finding connects low omega-3s to the information-processing problems found in people with schizophrenia; bipolar, obsessive-compulsive, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders; Huntington’s disease; and other afflictions of the nervous system. Read Article