Daily Archives

Legality of drone attacks challenged

UPI – The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit demanding the U.S. government prove its legal basis for targeted drone attacks overseas, documents show. Tuesday’s lawsuit seeks to press the departments of State, Defense and Justice on the ACLU’s initial January Freedom of Information Act request for information on the drone program, the organization’s release said. Read article

Powel: Sanctions against Iran ineffective

Press TV – Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell says sanctions against Iran will be to no avail as Tehran is “determined to have a nuclear program” not a “nuclear weapon.” “I don’t see a set of sanctions coming along that would be so detrimental to the Iranians that they are going to stop that program,” Powell said in an interview with Bloomberg TV broadcast today. Read article

Lung cancer gene found in non-smokers

BBC – A gene that could help explain why some non-smokers develop lung cancer has been pinpointed by US researchers. But Cancer Research UK said more work was needed to work out the exact reason for the link. Read article

MPs caught by sleaze sting

Telegraph – Senior MPs and former cabinet ministers have been caught up in a sting operation exposing the way companies can buy political influence. Stephen Byers, Patricia Hewitt, Geoff Hoon and Margaret Moran were among those targeted by an undercover operation by the Channel 4 Dispatches programme, which used a fake lobbying firm to offer MPs cash to use their position to help various businesses. Conservative MPs were also featured on the programme including Julie Kirkbride, who declined to take the bogus firm up on its offer. Read article

Thousands rally to pull troops from 2 war zones

Associated Press – Thousands of protesters – many directing their anger squarely at President Barack Obama – marched through the nation’s capital Saturday to urge immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. At least eight people, including activist Cindy Sheehan, were arrested by U.S. Park Police at the end of the march, after laying coffins at a fence outside the White House. Friday marked the seventh anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Read article

Regulators shut 7 banks in 5 states; 37 in 2010

Associated Press – Regulators on Friday shut down seven banks in five states, bringing to 37 the number of bank failures in the U.S. so far this year. The closings follow the 140 that succumbed in 2009 to mounting loan defaults and the recession. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over First Lowndes Bank, in Fort Deposit, Ala.; Appalachian Community Bank in Ellijay, Ga.; Bank of Hiawassee, in Hiawassee, Ga.; and Century Security Bank in Duluth, Ga. Read Article

‘Day of Wrath’ brings Russians on to the streets against Vladimir Putin

Guardian – Nationwide protests sparked by falling living standards and demanding the prime minister’s resignation have taken Kremlin by surprise. Thousands of people across Russia took to the streets yesterday demanding the resignation of Vladimir Putin, in the largest show of discontent since he came to power more than a decade ago. Opposition movements called the nationwide “Day of Wrath” to express growing discontent at falling living standards following years of oil-fuelled growth. The protests followed weeks of sustained demonstrations across Russia that have riled a leadership that does not forgive displays of unrest. Read article

US says base needed to defend Japan

AFP ““ The United States has said that it needs to maintain a base on the Japanese island of Okinawa to defend the region, as the new government in Tokyo considers scrapping a previous plan. Senior US officials told Congress that while they respected the decisions of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s six-month-old government, they hoped to go ahead with a plan to move the Futenma air base within Okinawa. Read article

Drones may be sent soon to help with border security, Napolitano says

Dallas News – The federal government may soon send unmanned aircraft to scour West Texas and the state’s coastal waters in an effort to boost border security, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a letter to the governor sent Friday. Perry had formally requested the assistance a week ago. The need also was underscored in a phone call that Democratic nominee Bill White had with Napolitano on Thursday. Read Article

Obesity’s role in cancer

Los Angeles Times – It may not cause the disease, but studies show a link between fat and certain types. Most Americans understand that excess weight contributes to heart disease and diabetes,… But obesity as a risk factor for cancer? “As time goes on, we’re realizing that obesity is related to more cancers than we originally suspected,” said Dr. Donald Hensrud, an associate professor of preventive medicine and nutrition at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. Read article

Thailand PM seeks talks after Red Shirts protest halts Bangkok

Times – Tens of thousands of opposition activists have marched through Bangkok to demand a new election in Thailand. Police in the capital city estimated 65,000 protestors, many wearing red shirts, assembled in to an eight-mile long convoy and completed a 28-mile route, handing out leaflets saying: “We love Bangkokians”. Read article

Medicating the military

Army Times – At least one in six service members is on some form of psychiatric drug. And many troops are taking more than one kind, mixing several pills in daily “cocktails” “” for example, an antidepressant with an antipsychotic to prevent nightmares, plus an anti-epileptic to reduce headaches “” despite minimal clinical research testing such combinations. Read article

In Bid to Sway Sales, Cameras Track Shoppers

NY Times – The curvy mannequin piqued the interest of a couple of lanky teenage boys. Little did they know that as they groped its tight maroon shirt in the clothing store that day, video cameras were rolling. At a mall, a father emerged from a store dragging his unruly young son by the scruff of the neck, as if he were the family cat. The man had no idea his parenting skills were being immortalized. At an office supply store, a mother decided to get an item from a high shelf by balancing her small child on her shoulders, unaware that she, too, was being recorded. Read Article

Water: Battery-power desalination offers hope to parched areas

Scientists said on Sunday they had made a nanotech device to strip salt from seawater, paving the way to small-scale or even battery-powered desalination for drought-hit regions and disaster zones.
The tiny prototype is reported on the eve of the UN’s World Water Day, which aims to highlight the worsening problems of access to clean water. Conventional desalination works by forcing water through a membrane to remove molecules of salt. But this process is an energy-gobbler and the membrane is prone to clogging, which means that de-sal plants are inevitably big, expensive, fixed pieces of kit. The new gadget has been given a proof-of-principle test by Jongyoon Han and colleagues of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It works through so-called ion concentration polarisation, which occurs when a current of charged ions is passed through an ion-selective membrane – Read Article

How America Became a Surveillance State

Time – It reads like a spy novel, but in The Watchers: The Rise of America’s Surveillance State, author Shane Harris lays out the U.S. government’s real-life efforts to see and hear more in the face of growing terrorist threats. He pays particular attention to Total Information Awareness (TIA), a post-9/11 research project spearheaded by John Poindexter, once President Reagan’s National Security Adviser. Harris, a reporter for National Journal, spoke to TIME about Poindexter, the fate of TIA and the state of surveillance in America. He didn’t object, mind you, to being recorded. Read Article

Iceland’s eruptions could have global consequences

AP ““ Blasts of lava and ash shot out of a volcano in southern Iceland on Monday and small tremors rocked the ground, a surge in activity that raised fears of a larger explosion at the nearby Katla volcano. Scientists say history has proven that when the Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupts, Katla follows “” the only question is how soon. Like earthquakes, predicting the timing of volcanic eruptions is an imprecise science. An eruption at the Katla volcano could be disastrous, however “” both for Iceland and other nations.
Iceland’s Laki volcano erupted in 1783, freeing gases that turned into smog. The smog floated across the Jet Stream, changing weather patterns. Many died from gas poisoning in the British Isles. Crop production fell in western Europe. Famine spread. Some even linked the eruption, which helped fuel famine, to the French Revolution. Painters in the 18th century illustrated fiery sunsets in their works.
 The winter of 1784 was also one of the longest and coldest on record in North America. New England reported a record stretch of below-zero temperatures and New Jersey reported record snow accumulation. The Mississippi River also reportedly froze in New Orleans – Read Article

Honey Bees Disappearing: Still A Problem

Discovery News – The 2010 prognosis for honey bees doesn’t look good, according to Jeff Pettis, Research Leader at the USDA Bee Lab. Although hard data won’t be available until April, preliminary surveys of our nation’s beekeepers suggest that at least as many bee colonies have died off over the winter as they have the last few years — and possibly even more than in years past — thanks to Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD – Read Article

Wachovia pays $160 million to settle drug money probe

Reuters – Wachovia Bank has agreed to pay $160 million to settle U.S. charges that it failed to stop more than $100 million of Colombian and Mexican drug traffickers’ money being laundered through accounts at the bank, U.S. authorities said on Wednesday. The deferred prosecution agreement announced in Miami, which included a $50 million fine to be paid to the U.S. Treasury, was the largest penalty ever imposed for a violation of the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Jeffrey H. Sloman told reporters. Read Article

Federal Reserve Must Disclose Bank Bailout Records

Bloomberg – The Federal Reserve Board must disclose documents identifying financial firms that might have collapsed without the largest U.S. government bailout ever, a federal appeals court said. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled today that the Fed must release records of the unprecedented $2 trillion U.S. loan program launched primarily after the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. The ruling upholds a decision of a lower-court judge, who in August ordered that the information be released. Read Article

UK: Government backs away from banning children reality shows

Daily Telegraph – Children under 14 will be allowed to appear on shows such as Britain’s Got Talent and X Factor, after the Government backed away from calls to ban them appearing on reality shows. A new review commissioned by the Government has called for younger children to be given more opportunities. The recommendation is an about-turn by the government who in December said that said young people were often put in “stressful” situations by producers who placed “shock value” before children’s rights. Ministers identified programmes such as Boys and Girls Alone, the Channel 4 show in which a group of 20 children aged eight to 11 were left to their own devices in isolated cottages in Cornwall. The show contained scenes of youngsters fighting and crying. Read article

Latvia government collapses amid economic crisis

Telegraph – The People’s Party, the largest group in a five-party coalition, walked out amid disputes over how to cope with the country’s severe problems. Unemployment has now hit 20 per cent and the economy contracted by 18 per cent last year. The People’s Party quit after its action plan failed to get the backing of Valdis Dombrovskis, the Latvian prime minister, who labelled it “populist”. Mr Dombrovskis warned the People’s Party’s departure could cause yet further economic instability. Read Article