RT – U.S. bloggers have pointed out that every U.S. and NATO airstrike seemingly kills 30 people each time. They call this The Magic Numbers. One of the bloggers documented no less than 12 occasions in which news reports, relying on field commanders’ estimates, noted that exactly 30 suspected Taliban were killed in airstrikes and, occasionally, artillery attacks. This is believed to be Pentagon policy from the Rumsfeld days on acceptable kill rates. Bloggers say thirty casualties seem like enough to justify a military attack, or few enough to not attract too much attention per incident. Read article
The Register – Google has sent itself a memo as part of an ongoing effort to perpetuate the self-delusion that it’s the world’s most open company. Monday afternoon, at the official Google blog, Google vp Jonathan “Perfect Ad” Rosenberg published an email he recently sent to company staffers under the heading “the meaning of open.” Like so many others, Google enjoys telling the world how open it is, but Rosenberg believes the company should go a step further. He strives to actually explain what the word means – and to follow that explanation to the letter. “At Google, we believe that open systems win. They lead to more innovation, value, and freedom of choice for consumers, and a vibrant, profitable, and competitive ecosystem for businesses. Many companies will claim roughly the same thing since they know that declaring themselves to be open is both good for their brand and completely without risk. After all, in our industry there is no clear definition of what open really means. It is a Rashomon-like term: highly subjective and vitally important,” he writes. Read Article
Press TV – A Lithuanian inquiry has found that the US Central Intelligence Agency set up and used secret prisons on its soil following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the US. Lithuania’s intelligence agency assisted the CIA-run secret prisons, which were used to hold at least eight al-Qaeda suspects, the parliamentary panel in charge of the probe said in a report on Tuesday. The National Security Committee report records instances in 2005 and 2006 when chartered planes were allowed to land in Lithuania, adding that all the Lithuanian officials, including President Dalia Grybauskaite, were kept in the dark about the aircraft’s passengers.Â Read Article
Bdaily business news network – Father Christmas is a bad role model, encouraging obesity, drink-driving and risk-taking, according to a top doctor. Public health expert Dr Nathan Grills says Santa is overweight, and blames the mince pies and alcohol left out for him by families across the world. Read Article
Ed. – Source article ‘abstract’ in the British Medical Journal; Source article comments – one of which is as good as the source article itself.
BBC – Iranian security forces have clashed with crowds of opposition supporters in the city of Isfahan, according to opposition website reports. Activists said police used tear gas and batons to disperse people gathering to commemorate Grand Ayatollah Hoseyn Ali Montazeri, who died at the weekend. Read article
ScienceDaily “” Antibiotic resistance in the natural environment is rising despite tighter controls over our use of antibiotics in medicine and agriculture, Newcastle University scientists have found. Bacterial DNA extracted from soil samples collected between 1940 and 2008 has revealed a rise in background levels of antibiotic resistant genes. Newcastle University’s Professor David Graham, who led the research, said the findings suggest an emerging threat to public and environmental health in the future. Read Article
AP — President Barack Obama’s commitment to close the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by next month may be delayed until 2011 because it will take months for the government to buy an Illinois prison and upgrade it to hold suspected terrorists. The drawn-out construction timetable shows the political risk of Obama’s pledge, a delay that could even be extended by congressional opposition to funding the purchase and upgrades for the Thomson Correctional Center, an underused state facility about 150 miles west of Chicago. Read Article
Daily Telegraph – Female cleaners and scientists are at greater risk of having a baby with birth defects than those in other jobs, a new study suggests. The findings were published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Read Article
Ed. – Commonsense tells us that cleaners would be exposed to many harmful chemicals, that at present, are legal. Add to that, the low income; and affordablity of good, clean food. This leaves the body’s immune system down, so people are more vulnerable to any disease. Re scientists: Safety standards, in laboratories in the West, are currently extremely high. Regulations, re the handling of hazardous waste, are strict. What statistical issues are arising from this study could be due to earlier exposure in careers when standards were less high. It all depends on the population studied.
Daily Mail – Eight years of uncertainty over the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden’s closest family members has been blown open by a relative’s admission that they are living in a secret compound in Iran.One of the terror mastermind’s wives, six of his children and 11 of his grandchildren are living in a high-security compound outside Tehran. It exposes as false the repeated denials by the country’s government that members of the family were living in Iran. Read article
Ed – Straight out of the George Orwell 1984 textbook on how to arose the masses for the coming war with Iran. The evil Goldstein (Osama) is associated with this nasty country. Onwards to war comrades!
Bloomberg – Canada’s Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said China, with the world’s largest currency reserves of $2.3 trillion, may be poised to buy Canadian dollars as it seeks to shield its reserves against the U.S. dollar’s decline Read Article
Associated Press – A senior Republican senator is urging the Obama administration and European allies to consider rearming Georgia, an action that would inevitably upset Russia. The recommendation comes from Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, a lawmaker who has long cultivated cooperation with Russia. Lugar has been a key ally for President Barack Obama on his pursuit of an arms control deal with Russia that has been the centerpiece of the administration’s efforts to improve relations with the Kremlin. He also is leading efforts to win essential Republican votes to ratify the treaty once it has been completed. Read article
BBC – Swiss multinational Nestle has suspended operations at its dairy plant in Zimbabwe, citing harassment. After international criticism, Nestle announced in October that it would stop buying milk from a farm owned by President Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace. The company said since then it had come under pressure to accept milk from “certain non-contracted suppliers”.Â Read Article
Ed – A clear example of public relations disaster damage limitation in action
Mail Tribune – Troubled home loans continued to mount in the nation’s banks in the third quarter as even once-solid borrowers increasingly fell behind on their mortgage payments. For the first time, foreclosures on mortgages serviced by U.S. national banks and savings and loans topped the 1 million mark, according to figures released Monday by the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The report, which covers about 34 million loans or about 65 percent of all U.S. mortgages, underscores the obstacles facing policymakers trying to strengthen the nation’s housing market. Persistent unemployment is making it tough for millions of homeowners to pay their home loans. Read Article
ScienceDaily “” The risk of complications and early death after commonly performed abdominal surgical procedures appears to be higher among older adults, according to a report in the December issue of Archives of Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. Read Article
Ed. – This has been known for DECADES! We’ve now got a few more figures. Empiricism is tripping us up already in some areas of research. The money spent here was needed more elsewhere!
Reuters – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday dismissed the West’s year-end deadline for Iran to accept an enrichment fuel deal aimed at calming international fears about its nuclear program. If Iran misses the deadline for agreeing to ship most of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) abroad in exchange for fuel for a Tehran research reactor, Washington has made clear it intends to pursue harsher sanctions against Iran in the United Nations. “Who are they to set us a deadline?” Ahmadinejad said in a televised speech in the southern city of Shiraz. Read article
The Nation – “If you don’t have enough evidence to charge someone criminally but you think he’s illegal, we can make him disappear.” Those chilling words were spoken by James Pendergraph, then executive director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Office of State and Local Coordination, at a conference of police and sheriffs in August 2008. Also present was Amnesty International’s Sarnata Reynolds, who wrote about the incident in the 2009 report “Jailed Without Justice” and said in an interview, “It was almost surreal being there, particularly being someone from an organization that has worked on disappearances for decades in other countries. I couldn’t believe he would say it so boldly, as though it weren’t anything wrong.” Read Article
Physorg.com – People who have Alzheimer’s disease may be less likely to develop cancer, and people who have cancer may be less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study published in the December 23, 2009, online issue of NeurologyÂ®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Discovering the links between these two conditions may help us better understand both diseases and open up avenues for possible treatments,” said study author Catherine M. Roe, PhD, of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. Read Article
Telegraph – Iran’s opposition leader, Mir Hossein Moussavi, was dismissed on Tuesday from his last remaining state-funded position as president of the Academy of Art, the Fars news agency reported. “Members of the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution dismissed Mir Hossein Mousavi as head of the Academy of Art,” a council member, Mohammad Mohammadian, told the news agency. “Ali Moalem Damghani replaced him,” it added. Read article
National Post – In the thousands of emails released last month in what is now known as Climategate, the greatest battles took place over scientists’ attempts to reconstruct a credible temperature record for the last couple of thousand years. Have they failed? What the Climategate emails provide is at least one incontrovertible answer: They certainly have not succeeded. In a post-Copenhagen world, climate history is not merely a matter of getting the record straight, or a trivial part of the global warming science. In a Climategate email in April of this year, Steve Colman, professor of Geological Science at the University of Minnesota Duluth, told scores of climate scientists “most people seem to accept that past history is the only way to assess what the climate can actually do (e. g., how fast it can change). However, I think that the fact that reconstructed history provides the only calibration or test of models (beyond verification of modern simulations) is under-appreciated.” Read Article
Eureka Alert – Scientists in Canada are reporting the development of a fast, inexpensive “dipstick” test to identify small amounts of pesticides that may exist in foods and beverages. Their paper-strip test is more practical than conventional pesticide tests, producing results in minutes rather than hours by means of an easy-to-read color-change, they say. Read article
Press TV – Four people have died in a bombing attack on a club for journalists in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar as media offices become a fresh target for terrorists. The incident took place when a bomber blew himself up after police officials at a security gate stopped him from entering the building, police told AFP. Peshawar’s hospital officials and medics confirmed four deaths including a policeman and a press club employee. Read article
National Post – Now that the Copenhagen political games are out of the way, marked as a failure by any realistic standard, it may be time to move on to the science games. To get the post-Copenhagen science review underway, the world has a fine document at hand: The Climategate Papers. On Nov. 17, three weeks before the Copenhagen talks began, a massive cache of climate science emails landed on a Russian server, reportedly after having been laundered through Saudi Arabia. Where they came from, nobody yet knows. Described as having been hacked or leaked from the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, the emails have been the focus of thousands of media and blog reports. Since their release, all the attention has been dedicated to a few choice bits of what seem like incriminating evidence of trickery and scientific repression. Some call it fraud. Read Article
ABC – More than 80 activists packed a Brisbane university classroom on Monday night, hoping to build on a social media campaign against the Federal Government’s proposed internet filter. Last week federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy announced the Government would move ahead with plans to force all ISPs to block “Refused Classification” material. The material would include sites on overseas servers containing child sex abuse, bestiality, sexual violence or detailed information about how to use drugs or commit crimes. Activists argue the blacklist will also include material that should be accessible to adults, such as pornography that is legal to possess in Australia, and information about topics such as abortion and euthanasia. Read Article
LA Times – The Obama administration’s new plan to give a boost to small businesses reflects continued trouble in that sector, which is facing new failures even as much of the nation’s economy is stabilizing. As credit lines have shrunk and consumers have cut back on spending, thousands of small businesses have closed their doors over the last year. The plight of struggling firms has been aggravated by the reluctance of banks to lend money, said Brian Headd, an economist at the Small Business Administration’s office of advocacy. California has been particularly hard hit. The latest data show small-business bankruptcies up 81% in the state for the 12 months ended Sept. 30, compared with the previous year. Filings nationwide were up 44%, according to the credit analysis firm Equifax Inc. Read Article
The Cairns Post – CAIRNS residents are giving each other water filters as Christmas presents in a rush before the Far North’s water supply is permanently fluoridated. Shopkeepers say they have been rushed off their feet with sales of filters to residents concerned about the effects fluoridated water may have upon their health. Read article