Daily Archives

Iraq holds landmark vote, attacks kill 38

Reuters – Bomb blasts and rocket and mortar fire killed 38 people as Iraqis voted on Sunday in an election they hoped would distance their nascent democracy from years of sectarian slaughter as U.S. troops pack up to leave. The explosions rumbled across Baghdad and other cities after Sunni Islamist insurgents vowed to wreck voting for Iraq’s second full-term parliament since the 2003 U.S. invasion, a vote watched closely by global oil companies planning to invest billions to develop the country’s dilapidated oilfields. Read Article

Wet summers drive five British butterflies close to extinction

The Independent – Three years of heavy rain and low temperatures made it hard for insects to fly. Five of Britain’s rarest butterflies are on the road to extinction after three sodden summers in a row, the charity Butterfly Conservation reveals today. Headed by the rapidly vanishing Duke of Burgundy, a small but very attractive insect whose wings are a lattice of marmalade-orange and black, the threatened species continued to plummet in numbers or remained at near rock bottom levels during the course of last summer. Read Article

Rape risk rises in Cambodia, says Amnesty International

BBC – Human rights organisations in Cambodia have called for the government to tackle the rising incidence of rape. A report by Amnesty International says victims have limited access to justice, medical services and counselling. It claims that rape cases are often settled by cash payments to the victim – or bribes to the authorities. Read article

Central Nigeria attacks lead to ‘at least 100 deaths’

BBC – At least 100 people have been reported killed in suspected religious clashes near the central Nigerian city of Jos. Witnesses said several villages just outside of the city were attacked simultaneously overnight. Acting President Goodluck Jonathan has put security forces in central Nigeria on full alert. Read Article

Huge Garbage Patch Found in Atlantic Too

National Geographic – Billions of bits of plastic are accumulating in a massive garbage patch in the Atlantic Ocean””a lesser known cousin to the Texas-size trash vortex in the Pacific, scientists say.”Many people have heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” said Kara Lavender Law, an oceanographer at the Sea Education Association in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. “But this issue has essentially been ignored in the Atlantic.” The newly described garbage patch sits hundreds of miles off the North American coast. Although its east-west span is unknown, the patch covers a region between 22 and 38 degrees north latitude””roughly the distance from Cuba to Virginia Read Article

Strong earthquake hits eastern Turkey

BBC – A strong earthquake has struck eastern Turkey, killing at least 57 people, officials have said. The 6.0-magnitude quake, centred on the village of Basyurt in Elazig province, struck at 0432 (0232 GMT). It has been followed by more than 40 aftershocks. Read Article

Premier should heed the measures of a fair society

The Australian – COMMENT: It’s often said that a good society is measured by how fairly it treats the poor, the underprivileged and those facing court. That’s why there are strict limitations in Australian courts on the admissibility of prior offences and evidence showing that an accused has acted similarly in the past. The concern is that such circumstantial material can unfairly prejudice a jury against an accused and lead to wrongful convictions. Read Article

Pay bonanza for council bosses

Times Online – COUNCIL bosses have goldplated themselves against the recession with more than 2,000 of them earning above £100,000 last year. As local authorities plead poverty and prepare to axe up to 180,000 workers, there has been a fivefold rise in the number of senior staff receiving six-figure packages since 2004. The highest earner last year was an official in Cornwall who received at least £400,000, including bonuses and a payoff. The sum is more than twice the prime minister’s salary. Read article

Spaniards rally against abortion

BBC – Thousands of demonstrators have marched through Spanish cities to protest against a bill that will make it easier for women to seek an abortion. In Madrid, families with young children carried banners, flags and balloons and chanted “No to abortion! Yes to life!”.
The bill, already passed by parliament, introduces abortion on demand up to 14 weeks into a pregnancy. Read Article

A Third of Pakistan Drone Victims Are Civilians, Group Says

Bloomberg – Missile attacks by U.S. drone aircraft in northwest Pakistan since 2004 have killed as many as 1,216 people, one third of them civilians, according to a report by a Washington-based think tank. The unmanned aircraft based in neighboring Afghanistan have carried out 114 raids in the past six years, killing up to 849 militants, the report by the New American Foundation said. Since Jan. 1, drones have attacked Taliban based in the South Asian country’s tribal areas 18 times, it said. The minimum number of people who likely died in the total attacks is 834, of whom 549 were thought to have been militants. The data was collated from media reports. Read article

Climate Fluctuations 115,000 Years Ago: Were Short Warm Periods Typical for Transitions to Glacial Epochs?

Science Daily “” At the end of the last interglacial epoch, around 115,000 years ago, there were significant climate fluctuations. In Central and Eastern Europe, the slow transition from the Eemian Interglacial to the Weichselian Glacial was marked by a growing instability in vegetation trends with possibly at least two warming events. This is the finding of German and Russian climate researchers who have evaluated geochemical and pollen analyses of lake sediments in Saxony-Anhalt, Brandenburg and Russia. Read Article

Vitamin D ‘triggers and arms’ the immune system

Daily Telegraph – The so-called sunshine vitamin, which can be obtained from food or manufactured by human skin exposed to the sun, plays a key role in boosting the immune system, researchers believe. In particular it triggers and arms the body’s T cells, the cells in the body that seek out and destroy any invading bacteria and viruses. Read Article

Ed. – The study might be new, but that Vit. D plays a vital role in keeping a healthy immune system is NOT. e.g. From Vit. D information on the NIH website: “Vitamin D has other roles in human health, including modulation of neuromuscular and immune function and reduction of inflammation.” Vit. D is also known for it’s role in bone health.

The Future of Robot Drones

Fox News – Drones are aircraft, but the technology that powers them has been advancing more like a rocket. Here’s a look at tomorrow’s drones, which are key to a modern military. Drones are aircraft, but the technology that powers them has been advancing more like a rocket. Here’s a look at tomorrow’s drones, which are key to a modern military. Read article

Huge island of rubbish floating off California

Daily Telegraph – Oceanographers have found that a vast floating island of rubbish in the Pacific has doubled over a decade and is now nearly six times the size of Britain. The giant waste collection, known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” lies between California and Hawaii and has been gradually growing for 60 years. It contains everything from plastic bags to shampoo bottles, flip-flops, children’s toys, tyres, drink cans, Frisbees and plastic swimming pools. The soupy water is heavy with toxic chemicals and the broken-down plastic particles are now turning up inside fish. Up to 26 pieces of plastic were recently found inside a single fish and researchers have warned that the chemicals will work their way into the human food chain.  Read Article

Ed – As we have reported many times previously there are similar ‘islands’ of rubbish in all the other oceans too.

Are media, arts and culture really starting to censor themselves? (2)

RSF – Reporters Without Borders continues its weekly look at the state of free expression and self-censorship in Denmark by publishing an interview with a leading figure from the world of the Danish media and arts. This week’s interview is with Carsten Jensen, a writer and journalist who is very critical of the liberal-conservative coalition government. He has just been awarded the Olof Palme Prize for his “courageous, committed and determined” defence of human rights. Read Aricle

OIC calls for intl. action over Israeli raid on Al-Aqsa

Press TV – The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) urges an all-out international effort aimed at ending the Israeli aggression after an Israeli raid on the Al-Aqsa Mosque. On Saturday, OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu called for “an international intervention effective at every level to end Israeli aggressions and make Israel respect international law,” AFP reported. The Israeli forces on Friday raided the compound of the holy site in the occupied East Jerusalem (Al-Quds) to push out Palestinian worshippers who had gathered for the weekly Friday prayers. Read article

Vioxx maker urged to pay all victims

The Australian – PHARMACEUTICAL giant Merck is being urged to settle with hundreds of Australian heart attack victims after a Federal Court judge found the company’s blockbuster drug Vioxx doubled the risk of cardiac arrest. In a landmark decision with international ramifications, judge Christopher Jessup ruled the anti-inflammatory drug was not “reasonably fit” to be on the market and the selling of it by Merck’s Australian subsidiary breached the Trade Practices Act. Read Article

Vioxx ruling raises questions over drug marketing

ABC – SHANE MCLEOD: Some believe the structure of the modern pharmaceutical industry means cases like Vioxx are inevitable. Dr Peter Mansfield is a GP (general practitioner) who founded the group Healthy Skepticism that campaigns for changes to the way drugs are marketed. He’s also a visiting research fellow at the University of Adelaide. He joins me on the line now. Read transcript/listen to audio.

Dutch Prince Bernhard ‘was member of Nazi party’

Telegraph – Prince Bernhard, the father of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, was a member of the Nazi party, a new book has claimed, contracting the German-born Dutch war hero’s life-long denials. “Bernhard, a secret history” has revealed that the prince was a member of the German Nazi party until 1934, three years before he married Princess Juliana, the future queen of the Netherlands. Annejet van der Zijl, a Dutch historian, has found membership documents in Berlin’s Humboldt University that prove Prince Bernhard, who studied there, had joined Deutsche Studentenschaft, a National Socialist student fraternity, as well as the Nazi NSDAP and its paramilitary wing, the Sturmabteilung. Read article

Ed – He was also the founder of the Bilderberg Group

US national debt to be higher than White House forecast

Washington Post – President Obama’s proposed budget would add more than $9.7 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, congressional budget analysts said Friday. Proposed tax cuts for the middle class account for nearly a third of that shortfall. The 10-year outlook released by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is somewhat gloomier than White House projections, which found that Obama’s budget request would produce deficits that would add about $8.5 trillion to the national debt by 2020. Read Article

Europe’s New Debt Solution: Create Their Own Ratings Agency That Only Gives Friendly Ratings

Business Insider – Is your nation under massive financial pressure due to deteriorating sovereign debt ratings?
Rising interest costs got you down? Rather than having to actually tackle your mounting debt problems, here’s an innovative solution from some Eurozone finance ministers — create your own, friendlier credit ratings. Read Article

5 ways your TV is slowly killing you

msnbc – Too much boob tube also makes you weaker, research shows. You’ve accepted the idea that TV makes you dumber. You know there are lots of more edifying things you could be doing with your time than cheering on the contestants on “Survivor.” And unless you’re working out to an exercise video, you know those hours sprawled out in front of the screen are going to make you fatter “” not to mention the impact of all that junk food you’ve been tempted to scarf down during the commercial breaks. But you’ll be surprised to learn the host of other bad things TV can do to you. Read Article

One child dies every two minutes in Afghanistan

Sunday Mirror – Children in Afghanistan are more likely to die before the age of five than children anywhere else in the world, according to Save the Children. At the current appalling rate, one child dies every two minutes in the violence-wracked nation. The study shows that last year was also the deadliest for Afghan children since the fall of the Taliban. More than 1,050 were killed in suicide attacks, air strikes, explosions and crossfire, according to latest figures. Read article

The Spoils Of War: Iraq Opens Up to Foreign Oil Majors

Bloomberg — BP Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. took the best deal they could get in Iraq last year when they won the largest oil contracts since addam Hussein was toppled in 2003. Oil companies may wait a long time to get a better one. Parliamentary elections may produce a weak or unstable government incapable of tendering new oil contracts, said Samuel Ciszuk, a London-based analyst at IHS Global Insight. He said he does expect the 10 technical-services contracts won by Exxon, BP and 20 other companies to be honored. Read Article

EU Chief Vows To Run UK Economy From Brussels

Daily Express – EUROPE’S chief bureaucrat last night provoked fury after threatening to use the “full force” of the Lisbon Treaty to impose economic control over every EU nation.European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso claimed that financial stability was so critical that sweeping new powers were needed for Eurocrats in Brussels to meddle in the economies of all EU members.But his threat sparked an angry backlash from critics of an ever- growing Brussels bureaucracy. Read Article