Daily Archives

KBR on Trial–At Last

The Nation – Five years after alerting authorities that she was gang-raped in Iraq, KBR/Halliburton employee Jamie Leigh Jones will finally get her day in court. On Wednesday, after fighting tooth-and-nail in the lower courts to keep the case from going to trial, KBR announced that it was dropping its Supreme Court appeal in the case. (The company actually withdrew its petition to the court on March 11, according to KBR spokesperson Heather Browne. This was less than two weeks after it was awarded a new $2.3 billion logistics contract by the Army.) Read article

US Home price dip extends to 4th month

CNNMoney – The market seems to have pulled the rug out from under housing industry hopes for a sustained early recovery. After a five-month run-up in home prices starting last spring, prices have now fallen for four consecutive months, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index of 20 cities, a gauge of market values, released Tuesday. Read Article

Study: Quality of Israeli sperm down 40% in past decade

Haaretz.com – The quality of Israeli sperm has declined alarmingly in the last decade, according to recent research conducted at Jerusalem’s Hadassah University Hospital, Mount Scopus. The cause for the decline is not known, but it’s believed by some researchers to be connected to the exposure of children and pregnant women to hormones and other contaminants in food and water. Read Article

AP INVESTIGATION: Cautionary tale from CIA prison

Associated Press – More than seven years ago, a suspected Afghan militant was brought to a dimly lit CIA compound northeast of the airport in Kabul. The CIA called it the Salt Pit. Inmates knew it as the dark prison. Inside a chilly cell, the man was shackled and left half-naked. He was found dead, exposed to the cold, in the early hours of Nov. 20, 2002. Read article

The internet: Closing the frontier

Financial Times – China may be public enemy number one when it comes to internet censorship. But ask executives at Silicon Valley’s leading companies about other countries that cause them concern and the first name that springs to many lips may seem surprising: Australia. Read Article

Scientists discover moral compass in the brain which can be controlled by magnets

Daily Mail – Scientists have discovered a real-life ‘moral compass’ in the brain that controls how we judge other people’s behaviour. The region, which lies just behind the right ear, becomes more active when we think about other people’s misdemeanours or good works. In an extraordinary experiment, researchers were able to use powerful magnets to disrupt this area of the brain and make people temporarily less moral. Read Article

Iraq panel to bar 6 lawmakers from taking office

LA Times – If upheld, the move against the alleged Baathists would cost the winning Iraqiya bloc its plurality in parliament. Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s slate, Iraqiya’s main rival, stands to gain the most. Reporting from Baghdad – An Iraqi government commission said Monday that it would bar six newly elected parliament members from office, accusing them of having been members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party. Read article

Is Your Mobile Phone Giving up Your Phone Number?

PC World – When mobile users surf the Web they also may be inadvertently disclosing their phone numbers, a security researcher said Thursday. The problem lies in the way that some networks are reformatting Web data on what are known as proxy servers, which are used to help Web sites display properly on the tiny screens of some phones. Read Article

Vatican confirms report of sexual abuse and rape of nuns by priests in 23 countries

The Independent – The Catholic Church in Rome made the extraordinary admission yesterday that it is aware priests from at least 23 countries have been sexually abusing nuns. Most of the abuse has occurred in Africa, where priests vowed to celibacy, who previously sought out prostitutes, have preyed on nuns to avoid contracting the Aids virus. Read Article

A big night out: drinking, dancing, fingerprinting

The Age – SOMEWHERE in Perth’s central business district is a building containing the names, ages, addresses, photographs and unique fingerprint codes of thousands of revellers who danced and drank at Sydney’s Home nightclub last year. Home, in Darling Harbour, began trialling a biometric ID scanning entry system nine months ago. Patrons lined up before six large terminals to have their photo taken, and their driver’s licence and right index fingerprint scanned. The information was copied and sent to Western Australia, where it is stored on a secured central database by the system developers. Read Article

U.S. take if it sells its Citi stake to settle cost of bailout: $8 billion

Washington Post – Among the banks that rule Wall Street, Citigroup got a bailout that was bigger than the rest. Now the company is about to pay a king’s ransom for its federal rescue. The Obama administration is making final preparations to sell its stake in the New York bank, according to industry and federal sources. Read Article

Scientists Say F.D.A. Ignored Radiation Warnings

NY Times “” Urgent warnings by government experts about the risks of routinely using powerful CT scans to screen patients for colon cancer were brushed aside by the Food and Drug Administration, according to agency documents and interviews with agency scientists. After staying quiet for a year, the scientists say they plan to make their concerns public at a meeting of experts on Tuesday called by the F.D.A. to discuss how to protect patients from unnecessary radiation exposures. Read Article

UK Police criticised for staging mock burglaries

Guardian – It was meant to be an imaginative way of hammering home the message that some householders are making life too easy for burglars. But police were under fire today after admitting they had been sneaking into people’s homes through open doors and windows and gathering up their valuables into “swag” bags. Read Article

French Endorse Sarkozy’s Scrapping of Carbon Tax, Poll Shows

Bloomberg – French President Nicolas Sarkozy was right to scrap a planned tax on carbon emissions, according to the majority of people in an Ipsos option poll. The poll released today found 69 percent of those surveyed endorsed Sarkozy’s decision, while 21 percent said it was wrong. 948 people were surveyed on March 26 or 27 and no margin of error was given. Read Article

South Africa to kick homeless off streets before World Cup

Mirror – Thousands of homeless people are being forced off the streets of South Africa to hide the scale of poverty there from World Cup fans. More than 800 tramps, beggars and street children have already been removed from Johannesburg and sent to remote settlements hundreds of miles away. And in Cape Town, where England face Algeria on June 18, up to 300 have been moved to Blikkiesdorp camp where 1,450 families are crammed in a settlement of tin huts designed for just 650 people. Read Article

HSBC Ejects Carbon Traders From Index

New York Times – The banking giant HSBC removed two companies involved in carbon trading from its Climate Change Index on Monday because they had lost too much value. Analysts from HSBC said the cause was mainly that governments had failed to come up with a timetable for a global climate deal at the United Nations summit in Copenhagen in December. Read Article

Precious research rediscovered, ‘a breakthrough for Indigenous studies’

ABC – A long-lost collection of work by one of Australia’s early anthropologists has been recovered by Queensland researchers in what has been heralded a breakthrough for Aboriginal studies. Caroline Tennant-Kelly worked in the south-east Queensland Aboriginal settlement at Cherbourg in 1934 and at other settlements in New South Wales in the late 1930s. Read article

Burma’s opposition party to ‘boycott polls’ after Aung San Suu Kyi ban

Telegraph – Burma’s opposition party led by Aung San Suu Kyi said it would boycott polls expected later this year, after the country’s military rulers introduced a controversial new election law. The National League For Democracy (NLD) decided at a meeting to refuse to register for the first polls to be held in two decades, a move that would have forced it to oust its detained leader and recognise the junta’s constitution. Read article

Protected Forest Areas May Be Critical Strategy for Slowing Climate Change

ScienceDaily “” A new study involving scientists from 13 different organizations, universities and research institutions states that forest protection offers one of the most effective, practical, and immediate strategies to combat climate change. The study was published in PLoS Biology and makes specific recommendations for incorporating protected areas into overall strategies to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses from deforestation and degradation (nicknamed REDD) – Read Article

Councils win against Lehman, may open way for class action

SMH – Local councils seeking to recoup losses from the Lehman Brothers collapse have had a win in the High Court, which has dismissed an appeal from the failed bank. The ruling could spark a class action from 70 aggrieved councils and charities that bought complex debt products from Lehman before the financial crisis struck. These investments have since plunged in value. Read Article

Ex-IBM exec offers plea in inside trading case

Associated Press – A former IBM senior executive says he is pleading guilty to federal charges arising from what prosecutors call the largest insider trading case in hedge fund history. Robert Moffat of Ridgefield, Conn., announced his plea Monday in federal court in Manhattan. It was not immediately accepted by the magistrate judge. Read Article

Germany’s Catholic Church launches sex abuse hotline

BBC – The Roman Catholic Church in Germany is launching a telephone hotline for victims of sexual abuse. The helpline will be run from the western city of Trier. Its bishop has been appointed to handle any allegations made against clergy. Read Article

North Korean mine ‘may have sunk warship’

BBC – A mine laid by North Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War may have caused the blast which sank a warship from the South on Friday, Seoul says. South Korean Defence Minister Kim Tae-young said the North had placed thousands of mines during the conflict – and not all of them had been cleared. Rescuers saved 58 crew from the Cheonan and are still hunting for 46 more sailors believed to have been trapped. Read article

Internet Freedom Under Attack – Australia – Google and Yahoo criticise Australia’s ‘heavy-handed’ internet filter plans

Guardian – Australia came under fire today from the United States for its proposed internet filtering system, which, if implemented, would be the strictest of any democracy. A US state department official said that it had raised concerns with Australia over the plans, which are to be voted on by its parliament. Read Article

Falklands delivers poor results for Desire Petroleum

Business Times – Hopes that the Falkland Islands would emerge as a significant oil producer were dealt a significant blow yesterday when it emerged that the first well to be drilled in the region for more than 12 years had yielded only small traces of oil and gas. The announcement from Desire Petroleum sent its shares plunging 48 per cent to 50½p, wiping about £160 million off the company’s market value to £163 million. Read Article