Daily Archives

South Korea and US ‘plan more drills’ amid N Korea fear

BBC – South Korea is planning to hold more military exercises, after its joint naval manoeuvres with the United States end in the Yellow Sea on Wednesday. Seoul officials said they were in talks with Washington to stage further naval drills, possibly as soon as this month. A US aircraft carrier arrived in the region last week shortly after the North shelled a South Korean island. Read Article

Kenyan PM threatens to arrest gays

CBC – An official with Kenya’s largest gay rights organization said Monday there is panic among its members after remarks made by Kenya’s prime minister that homosexuals should be arrested. The office of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya received calls from concerned members, some of whom are HIV-positive and fear they will be arrested when they collect life-prolonging medicine from government clinics, board member Nguru Karugu said. Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Sunday said homosexuals who are found in the midst of sex acts will be arrested. Odinga’s spokesman said in a statement Sunday night that the prime minister was quoted out of context. Read Article

‘Firm sold Israel torture instruments’

PressTV – A Danish-British security company has sold torture instruments to the Israeli prisons, holding Palestinians inmates, a Danish newspaper has written. The firm, named G4s, sells the devices to the detention facilities in the occupied West Bank, which provide the necessary means for torture of the Palestinian prisoners, Berlingske Tidende reported on Nov. 23. Merav Amir, from Who Profits?, an Israeli organization which is dedicated to expose those who stand to benefit from the occupation, said it knew that the firm did not directly engage itself in torture, has created the circumstances required for the abuse. Read Article

In WikiLeaks wake, US whistle-blower bill set to pass

AP — Following the latest baring of U.S. secrets on the Internet, Congress is poised to pass legislation giving employees in the most sensitive government jobs a way to report corruption, waste and mismanagement without turning to outside organizations like WikiLeaks. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill, and it is viewed by supporters as a way to discourage leaks of classified information. It would give intelligence agency whistle-blowers a way to raise concerns within their agencies instead of giving classified materials to WikiLeaks or other outlets, which is illegal. Read Article

Was the Big Bang Preceded by Another Universe (Which Was Preceded by Another Universe)?

Popsci-The current widely-held theory of life, the universe, and everything holds that at some point roughly 13.7 billion years ago everything that now is was packed into a tight little package from which sprung the Big Bang, which violently hurled everything into existence. But 13.7 billion years to get to where we are isn’t enough for renowned physicist Sir Roger Penrose, and now he thinks he can prove that things aren’t/weren’t quite so simple. Drawing on evidence he found in the cosmic microwave background, Penrose says the Big Bang wasn’t the beginning, but one in a series of cyclical Big Bangs, each of which spawned its own universe -Read Article

Australian Billionaire and Labor MP’s push for nuclear power

ABC – Queensland mining magnate Clive Palmer has backed the development of nuclear power in Australia. Several federal Labor figures are pushing the party to debate the issue at its national conference next year. Mr Palmer says he supports the new industry, despite his own interests in other resources. “We’ve also got to consider the ability of people to have a reasonable lifestyle and the cost and the damage done to our planet by fossil fuels – even though I’m mining coal I can say that,” he said. “In the long term nuclear will be the way to go.” Read Article

Internet Freedom Under Attack – FCC May Put Net Neutrality on Agenda for December Meeting

Daily Tech – Any ruling is expected to treat wireless differently than wired broadband. Net neutrality is a topic that raises some serious support from both sides of the table. The cable and phone companies that provide the majority of the nation’s broadband connectivity don’t want the FCC to impose rules and regulation on the industry. At the same time, many consumers want the FCC to step in and force the broadband providers and wireless carriers to treat all traffic equally rather than forcing slower speeds for things like video streaming. Read Article

Chinese activist held over Tiananmen picture

Guardian – A Beijing activist was detained on a charge of inciting subversion after posting a photo online of China’s 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations, which the military eventually crushed, killing hundreds of people. It is the first time Bai Dongping, 47, has been arrested, although he was taken out of Beijing “on holiday” by police or told to stay inside his home during high-profile events such as the Olympics, his wife, Yang Dan, said today. Bai was taken away on Saturday, Yang said, and Beijing police called her the following day to tell her why. Read Article

US embassy cables: Pakistan backs US drone attacks on tribal areas

The Guardian – The US ambassador to Pakistan reports on meetings with (now president) Asif Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani and General Ashfaq Kayani. They discuss immunity for former president Pervez Musharraf; the upcoming election and US drone attacks on the tribal areas. Although publicly the officials oppose the attacks, the meetings show they back them in private. Key passage highlighted in yellow. Read Article

Tuesday was the coldest November night on record in parts of UK

BBC – Temperatures plummeted to the coldest on record for November in parts of the UK overnight. Northern Ireland hit a new low of -9.5C (15F) at Lough Fea, Co Tyrone, and in Wales, a record minimum of -18C (0F) was reached at Llysdinam, in Powys. Read Article

New Opinion Editorial – The Last Fling of the Thermophobics?

In our latest Opinion Editorial Viv Forbes insightfully asks just why do the thermophobics of the IPCC have their annual bash somewhere tropical like Cancun, when clearly they fear warmth so much? CLICK HERE TO READ

US: FDA cautious on breast milk sharing as trend grows

Reuters – U.S. health officials are cautioning new parents about sharing breast milk as a growing number of women are using social networking and other websites to share their milk instead of turning to infant formula. Health experts have long promoted breast-feeding as the “perfect food” to provide babies with needed nutrients as well as ward off illness, but the Food and Drug Administration is worried about the practice. Read article

The Food Crisis Of 2011

Forbes-Every month, JPMorgan Chase dispatches a researcher to several supermarkets in Virginia. The task is to comparison shop for 31 items. In July, the firm’s personal shopper came back with a stunning report: Wal-Mart had raised its prices 5.8% during the previous month. More significantly, its prices were approaching the levels of competing stores run by Kroger and Safeway. The “low-price leader” still holds its title, but by a noticeably slimmer margin -Read Article

Silver Prices Surging on Near-Record Demand

CNBC – The price of silver is surging and so is business at many coin dealers across the country. At Plaza Collectibles, an appraisals shop in Manhattan, owner Lee Rosenbloom says he’s seeing a tremendous demand both in new and older silver coins. “This is probably the strongest demand there’s been in the last 25 years,” he says. Silver prices have soared 60 percent in 2010, driven in large part by a strong investment demand, particularly strong buying of exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, backed by the physical metal. Read Article

WikiLeaks cables expose Pakistan nuclear fears

The Guardian – American and British diplomats fear Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme could lead to fissile material falling into the hands of terrorists or a devastating nuclear exchange with India.The latest cache of US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks contains warnings that Pakistan is rapidly building its nuclear stockpile despite the country’s growing instability and “pending economic catastrophe”.Mariot Leslie, a senior British Foreign Office official, told US diplomats in September 2009: “The UK has deep concerns about the safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons,” according to one cable classified “secret/noforn [no foreign nationals]” Read Article

UK Councils spend £315m on CCTV cameras

Independent – Councils spent at least £315 million on installing and operating CCTV cameras over the last three years, campaigners said today. Birmingham City Council, home of the controversial Project Champion scheme which saw more than 200 surveillance cameras installed in two largely Muslim neighbourhoods, topped the list of local authority big spenders with £10.5 million on CCTV alone, Big Brother Watch said. Read Article

Four Loko: Does FDA’s caffeinated alcoholic beverage ban go too far?

Christian Science Monitor – “These keep me going where other alcoholic drinks always drag me down,” says Terry McAfee, a 20-something recent graduate of Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Calif. Although health-care professionals and addiction specialists have applauded the FDA, some groups agree with consumers such as Mr. McAfee that this is the latest example of a “nanny state” government pushing itself too far on the public. Advocates of limited government say the FDA is going too far. Read article

Related article: Caffeinated alcoholic beverages — a growing public health problem

Caffeinated alcoholic beverages — a growing public health problem

PhysOrg.com – In the wake of multiple state bans on caffeinated alcoholic beverages (CABs) and an FDA warning to four companies to remove their products from the marketplace, an article published online today in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine delineates the scope of the public health problem and suggests areas of research that might help address it. “Although several manufacturers of caffeinated beer have withdrawn their products from the market, there is no sign that young people have decreased the practice of combining alcohol and energy drinks,” commented lead author Jonathan Howland,… “…CABs …have been subject to very little systematic research.” Read article

Related article: US could ban caffeine-alcohol drinks within months

WikiLeaks: British Government ‘protected US interests’ in Iraq War inquiry

Daily Telegraph – The British Government gave secret assurances that it would “protect US interests” in the Iraq War inquiry, leaked diplomatic cables show. According to a communique released by the Wikileaks website, British officials warned the inquiry would attract a “feeding frenzy” when it started in earnest. A dispatch sent by Ellen Tauscher, the US Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, disclosed how Jon Day, the Ministry of Defence’s Director General for security policy, “promised that the UK had ‘put measures in place to protect your [the US] interests’” during the inquiry. The pledge was made on 22 September 2009, two months after the start of the inquiry, chaired by Sir John Chilcot.  Read Article

Iceland Is No Ireland as State Free of Bank Debt, Grimsson Says

Bloomberg – Iceland’s President Olafur R. Grimsson said his country is better off than Ireland thanks to the government’s decision to allow the banks to fail two years ago and because the krona could be devalued. “The difference is that in Iceland we allowed the banks to fail,” Grimsson said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Mark Barton today. “These were private banks and we didn’t pump money into them in order to keep them going; the state did not shoulder the responsibility of the failed private banks.” Read Article

Climate Fact Of The Day – Cosmic rays linked to rapid mid-latitude cloud changes


B. A. Laken , D. R. Kniveton, and M. R. Frogley – Atmospheric  Chemistry and Physics, 10, 10941-10948, 2010

Abstract. The effect of the Galactic Cosmic Ray (GCR) flux on Earth’s climate is highly uncertain. Using a novel sampling approach based around observing periods of significant cloud changes, a statistically robust relationship is identified between short-term GCR flux changes and the most rapid mid-latitude (60°–30° N/S) cloud decreases operating over daily timescales; this signal is verified in surface level air temperature (SLAT) reanalysis data. A General Circulation Model (GCM) experiment is used to test the causal relationship of the observed cloud changes to the detected SLAT anomalies.
Results indicate that the anomalous cloud changes were responsible for producing the observed SLAT changes, implying that if there is a causal relationship between significant decreases in the rate of GCR flux (~0.79 GU, where GU denotes a change of 1% of the 11-year solar cycle amplitude in four days) and decreases in cloud cover (~1.9 CU, where CU denotes a change of 1% cloud cover in four days), an increase in SLAT (~0.05 KU, where KU denotes a temperature change of 1 K in four days) can be expected.
The influence of GCRs is clearly distinguishable from changes in solar irradiance and the interplanetary magnetic field. However, the results of the GCM experiment are found to be somewhat limited by the ability of the model to successfully reproduce observed cloud cover.
These results provide perhaps the most compelling evidence presented thus far of a GCR-climate relationship. From this analysis we conclude that a GCR-climate relationship is governed by both short-term GCR changes and internal atmospheric precursor conditions. READ FULL PAPER

‘Hands-only’ CPR works, but survival still low

Reuters – “Hands-only” CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is usually as effective as traditional CPR that includes mouth-to-mouth breathing – but the odds that cardiac arrest victims will survive with minimal brain damage are still quite low, a large study from Japan finds. Researchers say the findings support statements from the American Heart Association and other groups that compression-only CPR can be a comparable alternative to the traditional technique of alternating chest compressions with mouth-to-mouth breathing. Read article

Wikileaks – Blackwater Aimed To Hunt Pirates

New York Times – Besieged by criminal inquiries and Congressional investigators, how could the world’s most controversial private security company drum up new business? By battling pirates on the high seas, of course. Other Articles In late 2008, Blackwater Worldwide, already under fire because of accusations of abuses by its security guards in Iraq and Afghanistan, reconfigured a 183-foot oceanographic research vessel into a pirate-hunting ship for hire and then began looking for business from shipping companies seeking protection from Somali pirates. The company’s chief executive officer, Erik Prince, was planning a trip to Djibouti for a promotional event in March 2009, and Blackwater was hoping that the American Embassy there would help out, according to a secret State Department cable.  Read Article

Australia: Perth has warmest spring on record, Eastern States wettest spring on record

ABC – The Perth metropolitan area has had its warmest spring on record.The average temperature during Spring was 29.3 degrees, making it the warmest since records began more than 100 years ago.It has also been the second driest year on record.It is a different story in the rest of Australia which has had its wettest spring on record, with an average of about 160 millimetres of rain falling across the country. The figure is about 100mm more than last year’s average. Read Article