Daily Archives

Tories claim Labour is using taxpayers’ money to fund election advertising campaign

Telegraph – Advertising spending by the Government has quadrupled since Labour came to power and has risen by almost 40 per cent in the last year, ahead of the general election, it was claimed last night. The Conservatives accused Labour of “raiding” taxpayers’ money to fund their election campaign. New figures uncovered by the Conservatives show that spending on advertising has increased to £232 million, which is a 39 per cent increase on the previous year. Read article

Ethiopia ““ country of the silver sickle ““ offers land dirt cheap to farming corporate giants

The Guardian – Addis Ababa sells vast fertile swaths to international companies in effort to introduce large-scale commercial agriculture. Ethiopia’s great land lease project is moved swiftly ahead. In an effort to introduce large-scale commercial farming to the country, the government is offering up vast chunks of fertile farmland to local and foreign investors at almost giveaway rates. By 2013, 3m hectares of idle land is expected to have been allotted ““ equivalent to more than one fifth of the current land under cultivation in the country. The move is part of a wider trend that has seen other African and Asian countries seek to take advantage of high global demand and the cost of crops by offering agricultural land to foreign companies, private equity funds and governments, particularly those of import-dependent Gulf countries.If done properly, the investments have the potential to increase local food availability and create badly needed jobs. If not ““ as was the case with the attempt by the South Korean firm Daewoo to lease half of Madagascar’s arable land to grow corn for export in 2008, a deal many saw as 21st- century colonialism ““ they could prove disastrous. Read Article

Eye Test that Spots Alzheimer’s 20 Years Before Symptoms: Middle-Aged Could Be Screened at Routine Optician’s Visit

Daily Mail – A test that can detect Alzheimer’s up to 20 years before any symptoms show is being developed by British scientists. The simple and inexpensive eye test could be part of routine examinations by high street opticians in as little as three years, allowing those in middle age to be screened. Dementia experts said it had the power to revolutionise the treatment of Alzheimer’s by making it possible for drugs to be given in the earliest stages. Read Article

Obama to ask for $33 billion for Afghan troop buildup

Reuters – U.S. President Barack Obama plans to ask Congress for $33 billion in emergency war funding for a major U.S. troop buildup in Afghanistan this year, defense officials said on Wednesday. The money, mainly for the deployment of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan and other war costs in the current 2010 fiscal year, would come on top of Obama’s expected request to increase the Pentagon’s overall budget in fiscal 2011 to a record $708 billion, the officials said on condition of anonymity. Read article

Just one innocent DNA profile removed by police from UK database every day

Daily Telegraph – Innocent people’s DNA profiles are being removed from the national database at a rate of barely one a day, figures show. Home Office minister Alan Campbell said just 377 profiles were deleted in 2009 after appeals to police chiefs. Shadow immigration minister Damian Green, who fought successfully to have his DNA profile removed from the database after no charges were brought following his arrest over Whitehall leaks in 2008, said: “This is a pathetically small number given that Home Office figures show that the database itself is increasing by 30,000 profiles every month. ” Read Article

Gene Map of Anti-Malaria Plant Could Boost Supply

BBC – Global supply of a key, plant-based, anti-malaria drug is set to be boosted by a genetic study, scientists say. Researchers have mapped the genes of Artemisia annua to allow selection of high-yield varieties. The study, published in the journal Science, aims to make growing the plant more profitable for farmers. Read Article

Ed. – It is pleasing that they have not leapt into inserting genes into it, but seem to be actually breeding them, using the genetic information to select which varieties to use. This is much safer than inserting animal genes etc.

Senator: US should consider drone attacks in Yemen

Associated Press – A Senate chairman said Wednesday that the U.S. should consider airstrikes, armed drones and clandestine operations in Yemen to defeat an emboldened al-Qaida force there. The remark by Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, is a rare public admission by a senior U.S. official that direct U.S. military action in Yemen is possible in coming months. Read article

Sudan hangs six over 2005 refugee riot in Khartoum

BBC – Six Sudanese men have been executed for their part in a riot at a refugee camp in Khartoum in 2005. The men were held responsible for killing 13 policemen during the riots in which five civilians also died. The violence flared when police tried to clear the Soba Aradi camp, which housed refugees from the two-decade long north-south civil war. Rights group Amnesty condemned the executions, saying that the men may have been tortured into confessing.  Read Article

Full Veil Not Welcome In France, Says Sarkozy

The Guardian – Nicolas Sarkozy last night threw his weight behind moves to ban the full Islamic veil in France, calling for an “unambiguous” parliamentary resolution against an item of clothing he said was “not welcome” in a country which valued sexual equality. The president, who had shied away from speaking on the issue recently, used his new year’s speech to express his desire for a move against face-covering veils. But, perhaps to dampen down accusations of stoking anti-Muslim feeling, Sarkozy said any law should avoid stigmatising any sections of society. Read Article

Netanyahu: Israel will never share Jerusalem with Palestinians

Haaretz – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared on Tuesday that Israel would never cede control of united Jerusalem nor retreat to the 1967 borders, according to a bureau statement. The statement came after Egypt’s foreign minister said in Cairo last week that Netanyahu was ready to discuss making “Arab Jerusalem” the capital of a Palestinian state. Read article

Obama outlines $117bn bank levy – Spin or Serious?

BBC – President Barack Obama has said Wall Street must repay $117bn (£72bn) to taxpayers and criticised banks for “massive profits and obscene bonuses”.The tax is to recoup money US taxpayers are expected to lose from bailing out the banks during the financial crisis. “My commitment is to recover every single dime the American people are owed,” the president said. The move follows populist anger at banks, seen as being responsible for causing the recent economic crisis.  Read Article

Ed – Please forgive our scepticsm however this is coming from a man who was bankrolled by Wall Street and whose cabinet is made up of Wall Street insiders. Bearing in mid this would still need to be approved by the Senate it strikes us as much more likely to be a populist announcement to improve in theratings than a genuine attempt to tighten up on corporate greed.

Recession: Millions More US Children in Poverty

Brookings “” Nearly one in five children under age 18 lived in poor families in 2008, according to poverty statistics released by the Census Bureau in September 2009. Though high, this statistic does not capture the full impact of the economic downturn, which is expected to drive poverty even higher in 2009. However, updated poverty statistics will not be released by the Census Bureau until next August or September. To better understand the effects of the recession on children and families, this brief examines child poverty rates in 2008 in conjunction with increases in families’ use of nutrition assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps). Read article

US drones collecting ‘too much information’

Telegraph – US remote-controlled spy drones used over Afghanistan and Iraq are producing so much video intelligence that analysts are finding it more and more difficult to keep up with it, according to The New York Times. The newspaper said the Air Force drones collected nearly three times as much video over Afghanistan and Iraq last year as in 2007 — about 24 years’ worth if watched continuously. Read article

Internet Censorship – Losing the Internet as We Know It

Huffington Post – How much have you already used the Internet today? We don’t think twice about how much we rely on the Internet. Imagine not being able to map directions on Google or check the weather online. A business that doesn’t have a Web site? Forgettable. Or rather, unsearchable. Remember when we didn’t have e-mail? Would you want to go back to those Dark Ages? Me neither.The Internet is in the very fabric of how we communicate, learn, shop, conduct business, organize, innovate and engage. If we lost it, we’d be lost. But did you know that we’re at risk of losing the Internet as we know it? Millions of Americans don’t know that a battle over the future of the Internet is being played out right now in Washington. How it ends will have deep repercussions for decades to come. Read Article

Scout, 8, mistaken for suspect on US no-fly list frisked at airports

Daily Telegraph – An eight-year-old boy scout has been repeatedly frisked at airports in America because he has the same name as a person on a security watch list. Michael Winston Hicks, from New Jersey, was first singled out as a baby when his mother tried to get him on a flight in Florida. She was told by airline officials that her son’s name “was on the list”. As a two-year-old the boy, who is known as Mikey, was patted down by security officers at Newark Airport, which reduced him to tears. His name appears to be among 13,500 on the “selectee” list, which sets off a high level of security screening, after a man called Michael Hicks at some point triggered suspicion. Read Article

UK Says Sorry To Thalidomide Victims

ABC – The British government has apologised and offered compensation to hundreds of people who suffered the effects of thalidomide. Between 1958 and 1961, pregnant women were prescribed the drug as a treatment for morning sickness and insomnia. There are now 466 people in the UK whose mothers took thalidomide when they were in the womb. Most of them are missing two or four limbs, and some have lost their sight or hearing, or both. Read Article

Ed. – Well, FINALLY the British Govt has apologised. Now how about other countries governments?

Haiti earthquake death toll ‘may be 50,000′

BBC – The Red Cross estimates 45,000-50,000 people have died in Haiti’s devastating earthquake, as rescue teams race against time to find survivors.The US is sending up to 3,500 troops and 2,200 marines but correspondents say aid is so far only trickling in. Read Article

Goldman E-Mail Lays Bare Trading Conflicts

New York Times – For years, Wall Street whispered that Goldman Sachs profited handsomely by trading ahead of “” or even against “” its own clients. On Tuesday, a Goldman executive made an unusual admission that, in some cases, the rumors were true, Andrew Ross Sorkin writes in The New York Times. In an e-mail message to select clients, Thomas C. Mazarakis, the head of Goldman’s fundamental strategies group, acknowledged that his unit often provided investment ideas that the firm had already traded on. Sometimes Goldman has even taken the opposite approach, betting against particular instruments that the group has recommended. Read Article

UGANDA: Museveni distances himself from “cruel” anti-gay bill

IRIN -PlusNews – Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has indicated he will not back a bill that would impose the death sentence for the crime of “aggravated homosexuality” – when an HIV-positive person has sex with anyone who is disabled or under the age of 18. Museveni appears to have bowed to international pressure, telling members of his ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had all urged him to ensure the controversial bill does not go ahead. Read Article

China heightens bubble fears as it tightens monetary policy

Daily Telegraph – Fears that China could fall victim to a speculative bubble resurfaced on Tuesday as country’s authorities ordered its banks to set aside more reserves in a precursor to a full-blown interest rate increase. Read Article

A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health

Int. Journal of Biol. Sci. – We present for the first time a comparative analysis of blood and organ system data from trials with rats fed three main commercialized genetically modified (GM) maize (NK 603, MON 810, MON 863), which are present in food and feed in the world. NK 603 has been modified to be tolerant to the broad spectrum herbicide Roundup and thus contains residues of this formulation. MON 810 and MON 863 are engineered to synthesize two different Bt toxins used as insecticides. Read article

Monsanto’s GMO Corn Linked To Organ Failure, Study Reveals

Huffington Post – Comments 1,187 In a study released by the International Journal of Biological Sciences, analyzing the effects of genetically modified foods on mammalian health, researchers found that agricultural giant Monsanto’s GM corn is linked to organ damage in rats. According to the study, which was summarized by Adam Shake at Twilight Earth, “Three varieties of Monsanto’s GM corn – Mon 863, insecticide-producing Mon 810, and Roundup® herbicide-absorbing NK 603 – were approved for consumption by US, European and several other national food safety authorities.” Read Article

Ed. – For your convenience the next article is the written-up study.

Nevermind the pathologicals: Facebook’s Zuckerberg says “privacy is no longer a social norm”

e-week Europe – Privacy is no longer a social norm, according to the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg commenting on the rise of social networking. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and chief executive of Facebook has said that people no longer have an expectation of privacy thanks to increasing uptake of social networking. Speaking at the Crunchie Awards in San Francisco this weekend, the 25 year-old web entrepreneur said: “People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people.” Read Article

Kenya: Trial HIV Vaccine Leaves 46 Infected

All Africa “” A failed clinical trial HIV vaccine that left 46 Zambian women infected with the virus has sparked controversy. The Microbicides Development Programme (MDP) 301 trial, which was testing if the gel PRO2000 would prevent HIV infection took place between September 2005 and 2009. It was conducted at six research centres in South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia and 9,385 participated. Read Article