Daily Archives

Iran confirms two detained Americans to face trial

Reuters – Iran’s intelligence minister confirmed on Wednesday that two U.S. citizens detained for more than a year will face trial, news reports said. “The two Americans will be tried,” Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi was quoted as saying by ISNA news agency. “We will hand any evidence we have to the judiciary.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters on Tuesday that she had heard Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal would be tried on November 6 but she still hoped they would be released. Read Article

Judge tentatively upholds gays-in-military order

Reuters – A federal judge tentatively refused Monday to let the Pentagon reinstate its ban on openly gay men and women in the U.S. military while the government appeals her decision declaring the policy unconstitutional. The Obama administration has insisted it supports ending the policy, known as “don’t ask, don’t tell,” but urged the judge again to allow more time for a political remedy to the issue rather than a court-imposed one. Read article

WA Parliament apologises to mothers forced to give up babies

ABC – The West Australian Parliament has formally apologised to the unmarried women who were pressured to adopt out their babies between the 1940s and 1980s. More than 100 people packed the public gallery to witness the apology and applauded the Premier when he finished his speech. Colin Barnett acknowledged the policies of the day were unsupportive of pregnant, unmarried women and offered this apology on behalf of Parliament. Read article

Afghanistan rules 1.3m parliamentary votes are invalid

BBC – Afghanistan’s election authorities have cancelled 1.3m votes in last month’s parliamentary election because of fraud or other irregularities. The number of void votes amounts to almost a quarter of the nearly 5.6m ballots cast in the 18 September poll. Turnout was around 40% in the election for the lower house of parliament. It will take some weeks before final results are released because more than 200 candidates are being investigated for fraud. Read Article

Yulia Tymoshenko urges West to stop ignoring Russian takeover of Ukraine

Daily Telegraph – Ukraine’s former prime minister has accused the West of ignoring a Russian takeover of her country, warning that the Kremlin is poised to swallow up its giant gas pipeline network which is vital for Europe’s energy security. Read Article

The New Tax Man: Big Banks And Hedge Funds

Huffington Post – Nearly a dozen major banks and hedge funds, anticipating quick profits from homeowners who fall behind on property taxes, are quietly plowing hundreds of millions of dollars into businesses that collect the debts, tack on escalating fees and threaten to foreclose on the homes of those who fail to pay. The Wall Street investors, which include Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase & Co., have purchased from local governments the right to collect delinquent taxes on several hundred thousand properties, many in distressed housing markets, the Huffington Post Investigative Fund has found. Read Article

French President Orders Lifting of Fuel Depot Blockade

New York Times – Faced with widespread protests over his plans to reform the pension system, President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Wednesday that he had ordered the authorities to end blockades of fuel depots that have left a third of the country’s gas stations dry. In a statement seemingly designed to re-assert authority, he also insisted that weeks of strikes and demonstrations would not deter him from pursuing “to its term” his plan to raise the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62. Read Article

Longer-lasting options to treat drug addiction

AP — New treatments for addiction to heroin or narcotic painkillers promise longer-lasting relief that may remove some day-to-day uncertainty of care: A once-a-month shot is now approved and a six-month implant is in the final testing phase. The main treatment options have long been once-a-day medications – controversial methadone or a tablet named buprenorphine – that act as substitutes for the original drug, to suppress withdrawal and craving without the high. Read article

Diagnostic Techniques Help Inflammatory Bowel Disease Patients Avoid Ionizing Radiation Exposure

ScienceDaily — At the American College of Gastroenterology’s (ACG) 75th Annual Scientific meeting in San Antonio, Texas, several studies of the effectiveness of non?X?ray techniques to evaluate Crohn’s disease revealed that diagnostic strategies such as capsule endoscopy (CE) and magnetic resonance enteroscopy (MRE) are useful in managing patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and avoiding ionizing radiation. Read article

Pakistan temporarily suspends 125 lawmakers

Daily Telegraph – A Pakistani watchdog said on Tuesday it had suspended 125 lawmakers, including three cabinet ministers, for failing to submit details of their assets. “According to our official data 125 members of the national and four provincial assemblies cease to function now,” Afzal Khan, a spokesman for the Election Commission of Pakistan, told AFP. Under Pakistani law elected lawmakers are required to list their assets and those of their spouses and dependants by September 30 each year.  Read Article

Officials Push to Bolster Law on Wiretapping

NY Times – Law enforcement and counterterrorism officials, citing lapses in compliance with surveillance orders, are pushing to overhaul a federal law that requires phone and broadband carriers to ensure that their networks can be wiretapped, federal officials say. The officials say tougher legislation is needed because some telecommunications companies in recent years have begun new services and made system upgrades that caused technical problems for surveillance. They want to increase legal incentives and penalties aimed at pushing carriers like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast to ensure that any network changes will not disrupt their ability to conduct wiretaps. Read Article

Australians too lazy to get healthy: study

ABC – A new heart study shows many Australians are either too lazy, do not have the time or have an existing health condition preventing them from changing to a healthier lifestyle. The study by the National Heart Foundation shows 60 per cent of Australians are not getting the recommended amount of physical activity per week. The foundation’s doctor, Lynn Roberts, says close to half of overweight people falsely believed their health met national guidelines. “It is a bit depressing because we’ve run this survey now for three years and I’d have to say the results are not encouraging,” she said. Read article

The cure with a sting: Eczema cream meant to soothe ‘makes skin WORSE’

Daily Mail – For years people with eczema have been advised by doctors to use a cheap emollient cream to soothe their irritated skin. But researchers have now discovered that aqueous cream BP can make the condition worse. Tests show a detergent contained in the cream thins the skin and actually causes irritation. Read article

US to tell Congress of Saudi arms deal

AP – The Obama administration is expected to notify Congress on Wednesday of a multibillion-dollar sale of fighter jets and military helicopters to Saudi Arabia, officials said Tuesday. The State Department scheduled a news conference for Wednesday to announce the deal, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the notification had not yet been made. Read Article

Japanese economy ‘at standstill’

BBC – The Japanese economy is at a standstill, Japan’s government has said, as concerns about the strong yen continue to grow. The recovery in the economy was “pausing”, the Cabinet Office said in a monthly statement. It is the most negative the government has been about the economy in nearly two years. The rising yen and a slowdown in global demand for Japanese exports was blamed for the downgrade. In recent months, the government has insisted that the economy is “picking up”. But it said it now expected the economy to remain weak for some time, with “weakening” exports a chief concern. Read Article

Climate Fact Of The Day – Northern Hemisphere ice volume

Source - D.Archibald, The Past & Future Of Climate

Source - D.Archibald, The Past & Future Of Climate

The Milankovitch cycles that cause glaciations have been operating for billions of years since the Earth was formed. The reason why the current glacial period started 3 million years ago is a consequence of the Antarctic tectonic plate moving over the South Pole, causing a build-up of permanent ice. Oceans reflect only about 5% of incident sunlight, whereas snow and ice can reflect up to 90%

Fresh wave of violence in Karachi leaves 25 dead

BBC – At least 25 people have been killed in attacks by gunmen in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi, police say.They said about 12 were killed in an attack on a car spare parts market. The rest died in a series of attacks elsewhere. All the dead are civilians.More than 50 people have now died since violence erupted on 16 October prior to a highly charged election in the city. Read Article

U.A.E.: Man can beat his wife and children ‘as long as no physical marks are made’

Daily Telegraph – The United Arab Emirates’s highest judicial body has ruled that a man can beat his wife and young children as long as the beating leaves no physical marks. The decision by the Federal Supreme Court shows the strong influence of Islamic law in the United Arab Emirates despite its international appeal, in which foreign residents greatly outnumber the local population. The court made the ruling earlier this month in the case of a man who left cuts and bruises on his wife and adult daughter after a beating. Read article

UK Pension firms ‘take up to 80 per cent of contributions in fees’

Telegraph – The Panorama programme to be broadcast tonight claims that workers who paid £120,000 into a particular HSBC pension plan over 40 years would see £99,900 take out by managers. Experts say the charges are so high because fund managers trade shares so frequently rather than investing for the long-term. Consumers fail to realise how much of their retirement savings they will come to lose, meanwhile, because the annual charges look smaller than their cumulative effect. Read Article

Five killed in Iraq attacks on police, pilgrims

AFP — Two policemen and three members of a police officer’s family were killed while 12 Iranian pilgrims were wounded in a spate of bomb attacks across Iraq on Tuesday, an interior ministry official said. Read Article

US Largest Bank Will Resume Foreclosure Push in 23 States

NY Times – Bank of America announced on Monday that it would resume home foreclosures in nearly two dozen states, despite the running controversy over how banks handled tens of thousands of cases of homeowners facing eviction. Bank of America, the nation’s largest bank and the servicer of roughly one in five American mortgages, insisted that it had not found a single example where a foreclosure proceeding was brought in error. The move is also likely to encourage other giant lenders, like JPMorgan Chase, to resume the foreclosure process that threatens two million homeowners. Read Article

Treating cancer with light: New LED device may help advance photodynamic therapy

PhysOrg.com – Can skin cancer be treated with light? Scientists at the University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine), believe so. They’re exploring new ways to image cancerous lesions using LEDs that might advance a technique for treating cancer called photodynamic therapy (PDT)… In PDT, photosensitizing chemicals that absorb light are injected into a tumor, which is then exposed to light. The chemicals generate oxygen radicals from the light energy, destroying the cancer cells. PDT is currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of esophageal and lung cancer. Read article

Australia’s role in Afghanistan will last another decade at least: PM

News.Com.Au – AUSTRALIA will remain in Afghanistan after its troops complete their training mission in 2014 and be engaged there “through this decade at least”, Julia Gillard said today. The Prime Minister, in a speech to launch federal parliament’s debate on the deployment of troops to Afghanistan, also warned Australians to brace for more casualties and “hard days ahead”, The Australian reports. Ms Gillard said there would still be a need for Australia to play a supporting role after it finishes training the 4th Brigade of the Afghan National Army in Oruzgan province – a task expected to be completed in 2014. Read Article

Starbucks to bombard people with money-off vouchers direct to their phones when they pass coffee shops

Daily Mail – Shoppers are to be targeted with money-off electronic vouchers as they wander the High Street with the arrival of ‘Ping Marketing’. The electronic vouchers will be sent direct to a mobile phone by coffee shops such as Starbucks or beauty brands such as L’Oreal as they pass stores offering deals. The technology relies on the GPS satellite system that allows mobile networks to track people every minute of the day via their mobile phone. The system has created concerns that the tracking of the movements of consumers by stores chasing sales is a threat to personal privacy. Read Article

U.S. Agrees to Uphold Right to Photograph Near Its Buildings

NY Times – It’s O.K. to take photos while standing in public spaces near federal buildings after all. In a settlement with the New York Civil Liberties Union reached Monday, the federal government agreed to instruct its employees in writing of the “public’s general right to photograph the exterior of federal courthouses from publicly accessible spaces” and to remind them that “there are currently no general security regulations prohibiting exterior photography by individuals from publicly accessible spaces, absent a written local rule, regulation or order.” Read Article