Daily Archives

Scientists Make Progress on Cocaine Vaccine for Addicts

VOA News – Researchers have developed a cocaine vaccine that could eventually offer addicts another way to break their habit. The vaccine prevents the drug from stimulating the brain’s biochemical reward center. In 2008, the United Nations estimated there are between 16 million and 38 million so-called “problem drug users” in the world, including people who are addicted to cocaine. Beyond psychological counseling and support groups, experts say, there is no treatment for cocaine addiction. Now, U.S. researchers say they have developed a vaccine that may someday help a sizable portion of cocaine addicts kick their habits. Read Article

Archaeological site, dating back to Iraq’s Ancient Sumerian Era, discovered in Nassiriya

Aswat al-Iraq -The archaeological sites in Thi-Qar Province, comprising amazing ancient archaeological sites, date back to the ancient historic eras of Misopotamia (Ancient Iraq), some of them dating back to the Somerian era and others to the Acadian, Babylonian, Firthian, Akhmenian, Sasanian or Islamic eras, whilst it comprises the world’s most ancient archaeological hill, called “Al-Obali Hill”, dating back to 6,000 BC. Among the most ancient positions in Thi-Qar Province is the ancient city of Ur, the birthplace of Prophet Ibraim al-Khalil (Prophet Abraham), the site of the 1st Flood, as well as its King Ornmo, who laid the first law in the world, preceding King Hamouraby’s law, and its ancient Ziggorat, its Royal Semetery, that comprised the world’s largest trearsure, dating back to the Sumerian Kingdom, with its Queen Shaabad, where the world’s most ancient worshipping place, known to have the first relationship of human beings with Heavens exists. Read Article

Brazil FinMin Warns Of Trade War Due FX Manipulation

Market News – A global trade war is looming due to the manipulation of exchange rates, Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega said in an interview with the Financial Times published Monday. Mantega said Brazil is ready to take further measures to control capital inflows and stop the recent sharp appreciation of the real. He also told the FT that Brazil would take up the issue of currency manipulation at the World Trade Organization and at the Group of 20, charging that the United States and China are among the main culprits. “This is a currency war that is turning into a trade war,” said Mantega, who coined the term “currency war” in September last year to describe the sharp rise in the exchange rates of developing countries. Read Article

US concerned over China’s rapid development of new weapons

The Guardian – US defence secretary Robert Gates says China’s rapidly developing defence capabilities are worrisome to the US. China has made strides in building a new stealth fighter jet and Washington is also concerned about a new ballistic missile that could theoretically explode an aircraft carrier nearly 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometres) out to sea. China has also apparently beaten US estimates to develop that weapon. Gates arrived in Beijing today for talks about these weapons and other military issues with Chinese leaders. Read Article

For further analysis on this read our Editorial of 31st October 2010

UK Met chief attacks rise of the police in black shirts

Daily Mail – Britain’s most senior policeman has launched a stinging attack on the ‘paramilitary style’ uniforms being worn by many forces. Sir Paul Stephenson, Commissioner of the Met, spoke out against the all-black kit favoured by an increasing number of constabularies. As Scotland Yard prepares to police the Olympics next year, Sir Paul said he wanted his officers to look like ‘traditional British bobbies’ – complete with white shirts. He has no plans to introduce the so-called ‘boys in black’ uniforms being worn in forces such as North Wales, Sussex, Kent, Surrey, Hampshire and Thames Valley. Read Article

Sudan north-south border clashes kill 23: source

Reuters – At least 23 people have died in clashes with Arab nomads near Sudan’s north-south border, leaders in the contested Abyei region said on Monday, on the second day of a week-long referendum on southern independence. Analysts cite Abyei as the most likely place for north-south tensions to erupt into violence during and after the vote, the climax of a troubled peace deal that ended decades of civil war. The south is expected to split from the mostly Muslim north, depriving Khartoum of most of its oil reserves. Read Article

Explaining Why Meditators May Live Longer

Time – The image of the ancient but youthful-looking sage meditating on a mountaintop might be closer to reality than you think, according to a new study that found that after a three-month stay at a meditation retreat, people showed higher levels of an enzyme associated with longevity. The study is preliminary and didn’t show that meditation actually extends life, but the findings suggest a possible means by which it could. Researchers led by Tonya Jacobs of the University of California-Davis compared 30 participants at a meditation retreat held at the Shambhala Mountain Center in Colorado with matched controls on a waiting list for the retreat. Participants meditated six hours per day for three months. Read Article

Israel destroys East Jerusalem hotel for settlements

BBC – Israeli bulldozers have demolished part of a hotel in East Jerusalem to make way for 20 homes for Jewish settlers. The destruction of the Shepherd Hotel has angered Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. The Palestinian leadership said Israel was destroying any chance of returning to peace. The US called the demolition a “disturbing development”. Israel says it has a right to build homes in any part of the city. Read Article

Google violates Korean laws: police

Korea Herald – Google’s high-flying Street View service is in violation of Internet privacy laws here, police said Thursday. According to the Cyber Terror Response Center, the National Police Agency’s Internet crime unit, the conglomerate’s Street View mapping service had gathered sensitive private information from unencrypted wireless networks during the filming process. “We succeeded in breaking the encryption behind the hard drives, and confirmed that it contained personal e-mails and text messages of people using the Wi-Fi networks,” said a police official. Read Article

Broccoli reduces bouts of Crohn’s disease

Times of India – Plantain and broccoli fibre could help prevent relapses of Crohn’s disease, a new study suggests. Crohn’s disease is a condition, in which the intestines can become painfully inflamed, causing diarrhoea, vomiting and weight loss. Now scientists have found that certain types of soluble fibre can help prevent bacteria from sticking to the gut’s walls, and hence reduce the progress of the disease. They found soluable fibre from plantain and broccoli – dubbed a ‘superfood’ for its abilities to fight cancer and prevent furring of arteries – had a marked effect. However, soluble fibre from leeks and apples did not. Read Article

41% of NYC pregnancies end in abortion

WABC — Eye-opening statistics about the rate of abortions in New York City have been released by the Health Department. It raises questions about the effectiveness of current birth control education. 41% of all New York City pregnancies end in abortion. Read article

Fourteen killed in Tunisia unemployment protests

BBC – The number of people killed in unrest over unemployment in Tunisia over the past 24 hours has risen to 14, officials say. The deaths occurred in the towns of Thala, Kasserine and Regueb, in the west and centre of the country. An interior ministry statement said that in Thala and Kasserine, police had fired in self-defence after rioters attacked public buildings. The protests first erupted last month over a lack of freedom and jobs. Read Article

Climate Fact Of The Day – Recent energy balance of Earth

International Journal of Geosciences Vol.1 No.3, 2010

Authors – R. S. Knox and D. H. Douglass (Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester, NY)

Abstract
A recently published estimate of Earth’s global warming trend is 0.63 ± 0.28 W/m2, as calculated from ocean heat content anomaly data spanning 1993–2008. This value is not representative of the recent (2003–2008) warming/cooling rate because of a “flattening” that occurred around 2001–2002. Using only 2003–2008 data from Argo floats, we find by four different algorithms that the recent trend ranges from –0.010 to –0.160 W/m2 with a typical error bar of ±0.2 W/m2. These results fail to support the existence of a frequently-cited large positive computed radiative imbalance. READ FULL PAPER

Blue Shield of California seeks rate hikes of as much as 59% for individuals

LA Times – Insurer says the increases result from fast-rising healthcare costs and other expenses resulting from new healthcare laws. The move comes less than a year after Anthem Blue Cross tried and failed to raise rates as much as 39%. Another big California health insurer has stunned individual policyholders with huge rate increases — this time it’s Blue Shield of California seeking cumulative hikes of as much as 59% for tens of thousands of customers March 1. Read article

High fluoride intake may boost risk of forearm fracture

Food Consumer – A study in Epidemiology suggests that high cumulative intake of fluoride or long term exposure to fluoride through water fluoridation may boost risk of forearm fracture in women. Some other studies have suggested that high intake of fluoride may increase risk of hip fracture. Fluoridation is a process by which fluoride is added to tap water to help dental caries. But there is some concern about its toxicity as it can increase risk of fluorosis if the exposure is excessive. For the current study, Feskanich D and colleagues of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass collected toenail clippings from 62,641 women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study who were at baseline free of cancer, heart disease, stroke and previous hip or forearm fracture. Read Article

Attacks in Iraq kill 4, including two children

AFP — Gun and bomb attacks in Iraq on Saturday killed four people, including two children, and wounded a soldier, security officials said.Two children, one six and the other 10, were killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) on a chicken farm in Al-Hashamiyat, 10 kilometres (six miles) west of Baquba, an official in the Baquba Operations Command said. Read Article

China buys up EU government debt

Global Post – China has been increasing its holdings of European government debt amid the euro-zone crisis, including that of Spain. China has been increasing its holdings of European government debt, including that issued by Spain, amid the euro-zone crisis, Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng was quoted as saying on Thursday. The Spanish daily El Pais on Thursday cited Spanish government sources as saying China has committed to buy about 6 billion euros ($7.89 billion) worth of Spanish sovereign debt. Read Article

Food Stamps Used by Record 43.2 Million in October, USDA Reports

Bloomberg – The number of Americans receiving food stamps rose to a record 43.2 million in October as the jobless rate stayed near a 27-year high, the government said. Recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program subsidies for food purchases jumped 15 percent from a year earlier and increased 0.7 percent from September, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in a statement on its website. Participation has set records for 23 straight months. Read article

Obama signs bill, stops Guantanamo closure

PressTV – US President Barack Obama has signed a major defense bill effectively preventing the closure of the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Obama has vowed to repeal the curbs regarding the Guantanamo Bay prison, saying he was forced into signing the bill on Friday. The new bill bars Guantanamo suspects from being brought to the United States for trial. The US president further stated that the bill was vital for funding the country’s foreign wars in 2011 and that was why he signed it into law. “Despite my strong objection to these provisions… I have signed this Act because of the importance of authorizing appropriations for, among other things, our military activities in 2011,” Obama stated. Read Article

Islamic group is CIA front, ex-Turkish intel chief says

Washington Post – A memoir by a top former Turkish intelligence official claims that a worldwide moderate Islamic movement based in Pennsylvania has been providing cover for the CIA since the mid-1990s. The memoir, roughly rendered in English as “Witness to Revolution and Near Anarchy,” by retired Turkish intelligence official Osman Nuri Gundes, says the religious-tolerance movement, led by an influential former Turkish imam by the name of Fethullah Gulen, has 600 schools and 4 million followers around the world. In the 1990s, Gundes alleges, the movement “sheltered 130 CIA agents” at its schools in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan alone, according to a report on his memoir Wednesday by the Paris-based Intelligence Online newsletter. Read Article

Potential New Anti-Cancer Mechanism

ScienceDaily — Scientists attached to VIB and K.U.Leuven have succeeded in decoding a potential new anti-cancer mechanism. The researchers discovered that normalizing abnormal tumor blood vessels through HRG (histidine-rich glycoprotein) prevents metastasis of tumor cells and enhances chemotherapy efficiency. In tumors, vessels formation is disturbed, leading to inefficient delivery of chemotherapeutic drugs and allowing cancer cells to escape to other parts of the body (metastasis). Read article

U.S. tells agencies: Watch ‘insiders’ to prevent new WikiLeaks

MSNBC – The Obama administration is telling federal agencies to take aggressive new steps to prevent more WikiLeaks embarrassments, including instituting “insider threat” programs to ferret out disgruntled employees who might be inclined to leak classified documents, NBC News has learned. As part of these programs, agency officials are being asked to figure out ways to “detect behavioral changes” among employees who might have access to classified documents. Read Article

Bodies decapitated in mass killing in Mexico blamed on drug cartels

The Guardian – Mexican police found the bodies of 15 slain men, 14 of them headless, on a street outside a shopping centre in the resort city of Acapulco on Saturday. Handwritten signs were left on the bodies, a common calling card of Mexico’s warring drug cartels, signed by “El Chapo’s People” – a reference to the Sinaloa cartel headed by drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, according to Fernando Monreal Leyva, director of investigative police for Guerrero state, where Acapulco is located. The cartel is thought to have killed the men for trying to intrude on the gang’s turf. The discovery is the largest single group of decapitation victims found in recent years. Read article

British Royal Family granted new right of secrecy

The Independent – The Royal Family is to be granted absolute protection from public scrutiny in a controversial legal reform designed to draw a veil of secrecy over the affairs of the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William. Letters, emails and documents relating to the monarch, her heir and the second in line to the throne will no longer be disclosed even if they are in the public interest. Sweeping changes to the Freedom of Information Act will reverse advances which had briefly shone a light on the royal finances – including an attempt by the Queen to use a state poverty fund to heat Buckingham Palace – and which had threatened to force the disclosure of the Prince of Wales’s prolific correspondence with ministers. Read Article

U.S. orders Twitter to hand over WikiLeaks records

Reuters – A U.S. court has ordered Twitter to hand over details of the accounts of WikiLeaks and several supporters as part of a criminal investigation into the release of hundreds of thousands of confidential documents. The December 14 subpoena obtained by the Department of Justice and published by online magazine Salon.com on Friday said the records sought from the microblogging website were “relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.” It ordered Twitter to provide account information on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army intelligence analyst suspected of leaking Pentagon documents made public last year by WikiLeaks. Read Article