Monthly Archives

Taiwan and China sign landmark trade agreement

BBC – China and Taiwan have signed a historic trade pact, seen as the most significant agreement since civil war split the two governments 60 years ago. The Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement (ECFA) removes tariffs on hundreds of products. It could boost bilateral trade that already totals $110bn (£73bn) a year. Correspondents say that, economically, the deal favours Taiwan but that Beijing hopes for political gains in its long-standing unification campaign. Read Article

Mayor Falls Far Short of a Vow on Diversity

NY Times – Since winning a third term in November, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has announced a parade of major appointments: bringing aboard three new deputy mayors and six commissioners and trumpeting most of those arrivals in the Blue Room at City Hall. All nine are white. All but one is a man. Those selections are hardly anomalous. Despite a pledge he made when he took office to make diversity a hallmark of his administration, Mr. Bloomberg has consistently surrounded himself with a predominantly white and male coterie of key policy makers, according to an analysis of personnel data by The New York Times. Read article

US says no to indigenous rights

Presstv – The US, the self-proclaimed protector of human rights, has failed to vote in favor of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Speaking to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) at the UN, Kenneth Deer, the representative of US and Canada Mohawk Indians, said that Washington had refrained from recognizing the UN declaration on indigenous rights. Read article

Combination MMRV vaccine linked with two-fold risk of seizures

PhysOrg.com – The combination vaccine for measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox (MMRV) is associated with double the risk of febrile seizures for 1- to 2-year-old children compared with same-day administration of the separate vaccine for MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and the varicella (V) vaccine for chicken pox, according to a Kaiser Permanente Division of Research study appearing online in the journal Pediatrics. A febrile seizure is a brief, fever-related convulsion but it does not lead to epilepsy or seizure disorders, researchers explained. Read article

LHC smashes beam collision record

BBC – Scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) say they have moved a step closer to their aim of unlocking the mysteries of the Universe. The world’s highest-energy particle accelerator has produced a record-breaking particle collision rate – about double the previous rate. The collider is now generating around 10,000 particle collisions per second, according to physicist Andrei Golutvin. Read Article

Internet porn billionaire to take over Le Monde

Daily Telegraph – Le Monde’s journalists’ association, the paper’s main shareholder, have voted for the daily to be taken over by three French investors who President Nicolas Sarkozy sought to block. The consortium is made up of Pierre Berge, ex-partner of the late fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent, Lazard banker Matthieu Pigasse and internet tycoon Xavier Niel. Mr Niel made his fortune on internet pornography, chat lines and peep shows. The trio have promised journalists at the paper a “blocking” vote on future changes and complete editorial independence. Read article

Blood test predicts menopause date

ABC – Family planning has taken on a new meaning following a discovery that could help women determine exactly when they will lose their fertility. Researchers at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology say a simple blood test will provide an accurate pointer of when a woman will hit menopause. Read Article

Canada to phase out older coal-fired power plants

Reuters – Canada will phase out older coal-fired power plants to cut the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, Environment Minister Jim Prentice said on Wednesday, as it moves to make natural-gas fired plants the new clean-power standard. The new standards, expected to be firmed up by early 2011, will force electricity producers to phase out older, high-emitting coal-fired plants and require newer facilities to match the lower greenhouse-gas emissions of more efficient natural-gas fired plants -Read Article

Miners give tax deadline to Canberra

The Age – The mining industry has warned the new Gillard government that it faces another hostile advertising campaign if agreement on a new tax regime is not reached within two weeks. The industry and government last week called a truce on their respective $100 million and $38 million advertising campaigns on the resource rent tax. Read Article

Jobless Bill Dies Amid Deficit Fears

Wall Street Journal – Spooked by concern about deficits, the Senate shelved a spending bill that included an extension of unemployment benefits, suddenly cutting off a federal cash spigot opened by President Barack Obama when he took office 18 months ago. The collapse of the wide-ranging legislation means that a total of 1.3 million unemployed Americans will have lost their assistance by the end of this week. It will also leave a number of states with large budget holes they had expected to fill with federal cash to help with Medicaid costs. Read Article

Social housing in Northern Ireland does not comply with human rights standards

PhysOrg.com – Social housing provision in Northern Ireland is not adequately funded to comply with international human rights standards. That’s according to researchers at Queen’s University Belfast, who publish their report, Budgeting for Social Housing: A Human Rights Analysis, today. Read article

Death toll in flood-stricken south China nears 400

Reuters- Workers struggled to repair a broken dyke in south China where persistent heavy rains and devastating floods have so far left at least 379 people dead, state media and government agencies said. Bulldozers dumped rocks and soil to repair a breach in the dykes hemming in the Fu River, in Jiangxi province, which forced over 100,000 people from their homes earlier this week. More water may be on its way, as a flood crest passed through Xiang River in Hunan Province, making its way to the swollen Yangtze River -Read Article

World’s millionaires are back to strength after banking crisis

Guardian – Wealth report puts number of high net worth individuals back to 2007 levels, at 10 million, with biggest growth in Asia-Pacific region. The number of wealthy people in the world has returned to levels last seen before the banking crisis. There are now 10 million individuals with more than $1m (£680,000) of free cash and for the first time the Asia-Pacific region is home to as many of these “high net worth individuals” (HNWIs) as Europe. Read Article

Psychotropic Medications Can Cause Birth Defects, Study Finds

ScienceDaily — A new study shows that use of psychotropic medications during pregnancy increase the probability of birth defects. Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have published an article that documents the serious side effects that can be associated with these types of medications. Read Article

Liliane Bettencourt sets France agog over links between money and power

Telegraph – Liliane Bettencourt, heiress to the L’Oréal fortune and France’s richest woman, is at the centre of a web of revelations about money, power and influence in the French Republic. Liliane Bettencourt is the nearest thing the French Republic has to the Queen: regal, elegant, impeccably groomed and wealthy. As France’s richest woman, the L’Oréal heiress occupies the constitutional twilight zone where the extraordinarily privileged meet the extremely political. Read article

The Dangers Of Asian Carp In Great Lakes

NPR-A single Asian carp was found on the other side of barriers engineered to keep the fish from entering Lake Michigan. Guy Raz talks to Asian Carp Rapid Response Team member Duane Chapman about what damage the carp could cause -Read Article

Ofcom opens Neutrality debate with ‘hands off’ warning

Register – Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Baseball. McCarthyism. Net neutrality. Not all US cultural exports succeed abroad, and the latter has landed with a dull thud in Europe. Ofcom today opened a consultation on net neutrality, but its preferred stance is likely to disappoint the Tin Foil Hat brigade of web activists who created and fomented the issue in the USA. Read Article

Israeli foreign minister wants Palestinians stripped of citizenship and relocated

The National – Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s far-right foreign minister, set out this week what he called a “blueprint for a resolution to the conflict” with the Palestinians that demands most of the country’s large Palestinian minority be stripped of citizenship and relocated outside Israel’s future borders. Read Article

Swine flu risk ‘was vastly over-rated’ by World Health Organisation

Daily Mail – Threats of a swine flu pandemic were ‘vastly over-rated’ by the World Health Organisation, an inquiry has concluded. The Council of Europe last night also accused the UN’s health arm of ‘grave shortcomings’ in the process that led it to declare a pandemic last year. Plummeting confidence in health advice could prove ‘disastrous’ in the event of a severe future pandemic, parliamentarians at the Strasbourg-based senate said. Read Article

Kyrgyzstan holds referendum after ethnic clashes

BBC – Kyrgyzstan has held a referendum on a new constitution amid fears it could inflame ethnic tensions. The proposed constitution would give parliament more power and set the stage for a general election in September. Hundreds people died in clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in the south earlier in June. Read article

BARC report too finds high uranium, heavy metal levels

Timesofindia-After reports from a German lab highlighted the threat of high uranium content in water, linking it with high incidence of abnormalities among residents of the Southern-West Malwa region of Punjab, another preliminary report by Baba Atomic Research Center (BARC), Mumbai, and researchers at Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), Amritsar, has found unsafe concentrations of uranium and heavy metals in water samples collected from Bathinda, Faridkot, Muktsar and adjoining areas -Read Article

Russia urges creation of new international monetary control system

Ria Novosti – Russia called on the participants at the G8 summit to consider the creation of a new international monetary control system, which could help prevent further crises, an aide to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said. Arkady Dvorkovich told journalists on Saturday that the introduction of additional reserve currencies would be the best measure that could assure global financial stability. Read Article

Romania plans big VAT rise to secure bail-out funds

BBC – Romania plans to raise value-added tax (VAT) to 24% in an effort to curb the country’s deficit, the prime minister has said. Emil Boc said the 5% rise was an attempt to guarantee a $20bn International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan. The move comes after Romania’s top court ruled out plans to cut pensions, prompting the IMF to delay key talks. Read Article

Overture to Taliban Jolts Afghan Minorities

NY Times — The drive by President Hamid Karzai to strike a deal with Taliban leaders and their Pakistani backers is causing deep unease in Afghanistan’s minority communities, who fought the Taliban the longest and suffered the most during their rule. The leaders of the country’s Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara communities, which make up close to half of Afghanistan’s population, are vowing to resist — and if necessary, fight — any deal that involves bringing members of the Taliban insurgency into a power-sharing arrangement with the government. Read Article