Telegraph – The helicopter-maker Sikorsky is to build a pilotless Black Hawk aircraft that can see and fly on its own. After the unmanned drone, the craft could be the next great aerial innovation for the US armed forces. Sikorsky has announced a $1 billion venture it hopes will respond to military demand, which includes the Black Hawk helicopters. Read article
PhysOrg – German scientists at the Department of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK) and the Freiburg Materials Research Center (FMF) have succeeded in developing a method for treating the surface of nanoparticles which greatly improves the efficiency of organic solar cells.Â Read Article
The Australian – LONDON: Herbal remedies taken by millions of people can pose a serious risk to health by interfering with medicines commonly prescribed for heart disease, doctors say. Warnings that supplements such as St John’s wort, ginkgo biloba and garlic can diminish the effectiveness of drugs or cause dangerous side-effects have been restated by researchers in the US. Interactions with medicines could cause “devastating effects” in vulnerable patients such as the elderly, people with liver or kidney problems or those at greater risk of bleeding, they said.
Ed. – FACTS: The media has taken the most dramatic (over)statement to head their article; Other drugs ALSO interact (with any drugs a person is taking) in a dangerous way – potentially worse than most herbal preparations. Herbs are where a LOT of our medicine CAME FROM. //Use commonsense re what you’re ingesting. People: TELL your Health Professionals (Doctors OR Naturopaths) everything you are taking! Doctors & Naturopaths – *** ASK people; if not sufficent consulting time – CHANGE it.
AFP – Iran has taken steps to blunt possible future global and US sanctions, notably seeking out new sources of gasoline in China and Venezuela, the top US intelligence official said Tuesday. US Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told key lawmakers that Tehran was “keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons” but that existing sanctions had harmed the Islamic republic’s struggling economy. Read article
NPR – Building a nuclear plant is a lot like trying to get a mortgage these days to build an expensive house. You might need someone to co-sign your loan.”Now, they never pay any money, but they’re there just in case,” says Jim Connaughton, executive vice president of Constellation Energy.President Obama this week showed how serious he is about nuclear power by proposing to triple the money available for loan guarantees for nuclear plants for a total of $54 billion. His nuclear overture also sent the message that he is determined to woo supporters for climate change legislation, which is stuck in the Senate. Read Article
AP – Some signs of changing attitudes since the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was instituted 17 years ago: -President Barack Obama’s signing last year of hate crimes legislation marked the first time that gays and lesbians were given comprehensive legal status as a protected class. Many states have passed laws against hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity. -Massachusetts, Iowa, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Vermont and the District of Columbia have adopted laws permitting marriage of gay couples. Nine other states – New Jersey, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Colorado, Maine, Hawaii and Wisconsin – have granted similar rights to gay domestic partners in varying degrees. Read Article
ABC – The US military’s top officer says lifting the ban on gays serving openly in uniform is “the right thing to do”. Former president Bill Clinton tried to lift the ban on gays in the military in his first term but had to accept a “don’t ask, don’t tell” compromise which allowed gays to serve as long as they kept their sexuality a secret. Read Article
BBC – The number of people needing food aid in south Sudan has quadrupled in a year to more than four million, the UN’s World Food Programme says. The WFP wants to ensure the people have enough food to last until their next harvest in October. Southern Sudan’s agriculture minister Samson Kwaje blamed the surge on internal conflict and drought. Read article
BBC – A US missile defence test designed to shoot down long-range missiles was aborted when the radar system failed. Rick Lehner, a Missile Defense Agency spokesman, said the target missile represented the type of technology that North Korea or Iran might develop. Read article
The Guardian – Scientists sometimes like to portray what they do as divorced from the everyday jealousies, rivalries and tribalism of human relationships. What makes science special is that data and results that can be replicated are what matters and the scientific truth will out in the end. But a close reading of the emails hacked from the University of East Anglia in November exposes the real process of everyday science in lurid detail. Many of the emails reveal strenuous efforts by the mainstream climate scientists to do what outside observers would regard as censoring their critics. And the correspondence raises awkward questions about the effectiveness of peer review ““ the supposed gold standard of scientific merit ““ and the operation of the UN’s top climate body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Read Article
The Guardian – The embattled chief of the UN’s climate change body has hit out at his critics and refused to resign or apologise for a Âdamaging mistake in a landmark 2007 report on global warming. In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said it would be hypocritical to apologise for the false claim that ÂHimalayan glaciers could melt away by 2035, because he was not personally responsible for that part of the report. “You can’t expect me to be personally responsible for every word in a 3,000 page report,” he said. Read Article
Guardian – A new Israeli report defending the military’s conduct in the Gaza war was challenged tonight after evidence emerged apparently contradicting one of its key findings. Israel submitted a 46-page report to the UN on Friday saying its forces abided by international law throughout the three-week war last year. It was meant to avert the threat of international prosecutions and to challenge a highly critical UN inquiry by South African judge Richard Goldstone, which accused both Israel and Hamas of “grave breaches” of the fourth Geneva convention, war crimes and possible crimes against humanity. Read article
The Times – One of the most extraordinary engineering feats undertaken in postwar America is to lie unused inside a mountain unless someone thinks of a new purpose for it. The Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, chosen by Congress in 1987 and opposed by environmentalists ever since, is to be shut before receiving a single barrel of spent fuel, thanks to a line in this week’s budget that eliminates federal funding for the project. The move comes despite President Obama’s backing for new nuclear plants. About $9 billion (Â£5.6 billion) was spent on the first phase of concrete tunnels and chambers designed to keep waste safe for at least a million years. A 5 mile (8km) U-shaped tunnel was bored into the side of the extinct volcano, which is inside the Nevada nuclear test site.Â Read Article
Scientific American – International Paper and MeadWestvaco are planning to transform plantation forests of the southeastern U.S. by replacing native pine with genetically engineered eucalyptus. Genetic engineering is coming to the forests. While the practice of splicing foreign DNA into food crops has become common in corn and soy, few companies or researchers have dared to apply genetic engineering to plants that provide an essential strut of the U.S. economy, trees. But that will soon change. Two industry giants, International Paper Co. and MeadWestvaco Corp., are planning to transform plantation forests of the southeastern United States by replacing native pine with genetically engineered eucalyptus, a rapidly growing Australian tree that in its conventional strains now dominates the tropical timber industry. Read Article
FDR – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s announcement of a new U.S. policy on global Internet Freedom included a bold new statement about the responsibilities of American technology companies: “…We are urging U.S. media companies to take a proactive role in challenging foreign governments’ demands for censorship and surveillance. The private sector has a shared responsibility to help safeguard free expression. And when their business dealings threaten to undermine this freedom, they need to consider what’s right, not simply what’s a quick profit.” We couldn’t agree more. While Clinton focuses on media companies “” meaning Internet media companies like Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft “” there are plenty of other companies deserving scrutiny. Read article
Times Online – Strained ties between the US and China could deteriorate further if President Obama goes ahead with a meeting with the Dalai Lama, Beijing warned today. China’s anger at the Tibetan spiritual leader’s overseas visits and the warm reception he is afforded by foreign leaders spilled over in tough words from officials in Beijing who led the latest round of talks with his representatives last week. Read article
Daily Mail – Heinz is recalling thousands of pots of baby food because they could contain small pieces of plastic. A batch of its Fruity Custard Fruit Medley baby food has been identified as a choking hazard to babies. Heinz and the Food Standards Agency issued the alert after four parents contacted the company to say they had found plastic in the pots. Read Article
Politico – In the midst of two wars and the fight against Al Qaeda, the CIA is offering operatives a chance to peddle their expertise to private companies on the side “” a policy that gives financial firms and hedge funds access to the nation’s top-level intelligence talent, POLITICO has learned. In one case, these active-duty officers moonlighted at a hedge-fund consulting firm that wanted to tap their expertise in “deception detection,” the highly specialized art of telling when executives may be lying based on clues in a conversation. Read Article
BBC – Stem cell experts say they believe a small group of scientists is effectively vetoing high quality science from publication in journals. In some cases they say it might be done to deliberately stifle research that is in competition with their own. It has also emerged that 14 leading stem cell researchers have written an open letter to journal editors in order to highlight their dissatisfaction. Read Article
Ed. – A shorter version of this story was run in The Scientist under the title: ‘Peer Review Trickery?’. It includes a link to the original letter for those who are interested.
The Independent – A secret plan to foster an internal coup against Saddam Hussein was drawn up by the Government two years before the invasion of Iraq, The Independent can reveal. Whitehall officials drafted the “contract with the Iraqi people” as a way of signalling to dissenters in Iraq that an overthrow of Saddam would be supported by Britain. It promised aid, oil contracts, debt cancellations and trade deals once the dictator had been removed. Read article
Press TV – A secret meeting between the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Leon Panetta and Israeli officials has reportedly centered on Iran’s nuclear program. In a secret flying visit to Israel on Thursday, the head of the CIA reportedly discussed Iran’s nuclear issue in a sit-down with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Mossad Chief Meir Dagan. Read article
Ed – Any report that starts off with the words “A secret meeting … ” should ring alarm bells, especially when it also uses words like “reportedly”. A complete fail in credibility, but we report it just the same and ask you to take it with a pinch of salt. The content may be genuine despite the poor journalism.
ABC – South Australia’s Attorney-General Michael Atkinson admits he misjudged public opinion on the state’s attempt to curb political comment on the internet. Mr Atkinson says he will repeal a law which would have meant that anyone posting comment or blogs during an election period would have had to give their real name and postcode. Read Article
Digital Journal – Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca will cut its workforce by 16 percent by 2014, even as it continues to show strong growth in its profits. The company reported $31.6 billion in profits last year, an increase of 6.9 percent over last year.Â Read Article
Post Tribune – Dr. Kevin Brunski wants to chip your tooth. More specifically, the Crown Point dentist, who has a patent pending on his invention, I-Denti-Fied, hopes to one day see every person in the United States wearing the device — a chip about the size of a grain of rice that stores a person’s unique identification number linked to his or her entire medical history. Read Article
Ed – The micro-chipping and permanent tracking of the human race comes a step closer
Healthday News — There is good news for people who have never had chickenpox or received the vaccine but are exposed to the virus: vaccination within five days of exposure can significantly reduce the risk of illness, or at least make it less severe, Spanish researchers say. The study, published in the January issue of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, found that out of 67 people who received the varicella zoster vaccine within five days of exposure to chickenpox, only 22 got sick. Read Article