Daily Archives

Whopping crayfish species stayed hidden for decades

New Scientist – A crayfish twice the size of its close relatives has been found lurking under a rock in a creek in Tennessee. The creek has been a popular research area for biologists for half a century, but nobody had noticed the colourful creature before. Named Barbicambarus simmonsi after the scientist who first spotted it, it is only the second member of the genus to be found. It is rare which may explain why it went unnoticed for so long. Read Article

Suicide car bomb kills 3 at central Iraq police HQ

AFP — A suicide attacker blew up a bomb-filled car at a central Iraqi police headquarters on Thursday, killing two policemen and a female journalist in the third attack on local forces in as many days. A separate roadside bomb in southern Baghdad, meanwhile, killed a Shiite pilgrim as worshippers gathered for Arbaeen commemoration ceremonies, with the latest attacks shattering a relative calm in Iraq following Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s formation of a new government a month ago. Read Article

Whitehall chief blocks release of Blair’s notes to Bush on Iraq

The Guardian – Britain’s top civil servant, Sir Gus O’Donnell, is preventing the official inquiry into the Iraq invasion from publishing notes sent by Tony Blair to George W Bush – evidence described by the inquiry as of “central importance” in establishing the circumstances that led to war. O’Donnell, the cabinet secretary, consulted Blair before suppressing the documents, it emerged tonight. The Cabinet Office said: “There is an established convention covering papers of a previous administration whereby former ministers would normally be consulted before release of papers from their time in government.” The prime minister’s spokesman said David Cameron had not been consulted. Read Article

Editorial Comment – Can a nation really describe itself as a ‘free democracy’ when an unelected civil servant on the public payroll can deny the same public the right to know what its leader was actually saying to the US President – as against what they were saying in public – in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, an invasion that has killed and maimed millions on the justification of a calculated lie?

Swiss banker Elmer re-arrested over Wikileaks charges

BBC – Swiss police have re-arrested a former banker on fresh charges of breaching bank secrecy laws by passing data to whistleblowers’ website WikiLeaks. Only hours earlier Rudolf Elmer was found guilty by a Zurich court of breaching another bank secrecy law. Elmer, 55, was fined more than 6,000 Swiss francs ($6,250; £4,000) but escaped prosecution demands for a prison sentence. He had said the leaks were to expose tax evasion by the rich. “The state prosecutor’s office is checking to see whether Rudolf Elmer has violated Swiss banking law by handing the CD over to WikiLeaks,” the Zurich cantonal (state) police and prosecutor said in a joint statement on the latest arrest. Read Article

NATO and Afghan forces kill 10 insurgents in north

AP — NATO and Afghan forces killed more than 10 insurgents in two days of fighting in northern Afghanistan, the alliance said Thursday. The operation in Faryab province was aimed at disrupting Taliban cells that have moved freely in the area, the statement said. The troops searched many houses without incident but were fired on from some compounds and returned fire, the statement said. Meanwhile, insurgent attacks killed two NATO service members — one Thursday in the north and another Wednesday in the south, the alliance said. It did not identify their nationalities or give further details. Read Article

Spike in suicides for Army Guard and Reserve

Associated Press – Suicides among active duty soldiers dropped last year for the first time since 2004, the Army said Wednesday, but the improvement was overshadowed by a sharp increase in suicides among National Guard and Reserve troops. After working much of the past decade to stem the rise of suicide in its ranks, the Army said that 156 active-duty soldiers killed themselves in 2010, down from 162 in 2009. Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli attributed the progress to improved training and counseling programs that help soldiers deal with stress, including from the repeated wartime deployments common for soldiers in an Army still fighting two wars. Read Article

Tunisia arrests 33 relatives of ousted president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali

The Guardian = Thirty-three members of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali’s family have been arrested on suspicion of “crimes against Tunisia”, local television reported tonight, showing images of seized gold and jewellery. “Investigations will be carried out in order for them to face justice,” said a statement read out on state television, citing an “official source”. The statement apologised for not giving more details about the deposed president’s family members, but showed gold and jewellery it said had been found in their possession. Read Article

Wife of China dissident speaks out on abuse

AFP – The wife of missing Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng is going public to urge President Barack Obama to raise her husband’s case, saying she fears for his life after revelations of abuse. Gao, who has defended some of China’s most politically sensitive groups including the Falungong spiritual movement and underground Christians, has not been heard from since April, when he recounted a brutal two-day beating. His wife, Geng He, sneaked out of China in early 2009 with their two children, journeying by foot to Thailand before escaping to the United States. She has since kept a low profile but traveled Tuesday to Washington as Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived for a closely watched state visit. “I want him to release my husband immediately so our whole family can be reunited,” Geng told AFP. “I am hoping that I can get my message out.” Read Article

British anti-fluoride campaigners take to High Court

Daily Telegraph – Campaigners have mounted a High Court bid to prevent fluoride being added to their water without their consent because they are concerned over its health consequences. They say they will have “no choice” but to drink fluoridated water if South Central Strategic Health Authority (SCSHA) is allowed to add it. The potential side-effects, they argue, range from bone cancer to thyroid problems and dental fluorosis, brown spots on the teeth. SCSHA wants to add the chemical to supplies in Southampton and parts of south west Hampshire, arguing it is the best way to cut tooth decay, particularly in poorer children. About 5.5 million people in Britain, just less than a tenth of the population, drink fluoridated tap water Read Article

Child Flu Vaccine Contains Mercury

Express – Up to a million under-fives have been inoculated against the flu virus with a controversial vaccine containing poisonous mercury. Pandemrix has been given to almost a quarter of all healthy babies and young children as well as thousands of older children with health problems. Inquiries by the Sunday Express reveal it contains a preservative made with a form of mercury that was phased out of childhood vaccines in 2004 after fears about its safety. The preservative, called thimerosal, has been linked with autism and developmental disorders in children and was withdrawn from childhood vaccines in the United States and parts of Europe 10 years ago. Read Article

Iran may face further US sanctions

BBC – The US secretary of state has said the US is considering imposing additional unilateral sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme. Hillary Clinton made the comment after admitting some Chinese “entities” were failing to comply fully with sanctions. She said the US was pushing China, whose president is on a diplomatic trip to the US, on the issue. Six world powers are negotiating with Iran over its nuclear programme, which it insists is for peaceful purposes. Read Article

Tunisia frees prisoners, says wants break with past

Reuters – Tunisia’s interim leadership promised a “complete break with the past” and freed political prisoners on Wednesday in efforts to appease street protesters who want a total purge of the old guard from a unity government. Five days after veteran strongman Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia with some of his wealthy entourage, former political allies including the prime minister were still trying to coax opposition figures into a national unity government which can restore order and oversee promised free elections. Read Article

Australia: Wettest month in history for state’s north and west

The Age – Regional Victoria has recorded its wettest month since records began, contributing to unprecedented flooding of the Wimmera, Avoca, Loddon and Campaspe rivers. More than 200 millimetres fell in the west and north in the past week alone, compared with a weekly January average of 20 to 30 millimetres. Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Terry Ryan said weather stations near Castlemaine, Kyneton and Bendigo, and the Mallee and Wimmera regions, had recorded not only their wettest January, but their wettest month. ”It’s a really significant event,” Mr Ryan said. ”It’s the worst flood in western Victoria in their history as far as our records go in terms of the depth of water and the number of places affected … For some of them it’s double their previous record, which go back more than 70 or 80 years.” Read Article

Swiss banker linked to Wikileaks on trial over secrecy

BBC – A former Swiss banker has gone on trial in Zurich accused of breaching banking secrecy and extorting money. Rudolf Elmer, who headed Julius Baer’s office in the Cayman Islands, admitted passing on data and sending threatening letters to his former employer. Mr Elmer argues he did not breach Swiss banking laws, as the leaked documents referred to accounts in the Caymans. On Monday, he gave Wikileaks website bank account details of individuals and firms he said were evading taxes. During Wednesday’s hearing in Zurich, Mr Elmer alleged that his former employer had him followed and that he felt desperate, our correspondent says. He told the court that he had leaked clients’ data because he felt morally bound to expose what he claimed was tax evasion. Read Article

UK-Nordic summit aims forge free-market ties

Financial Times – Britain’s prime minister will host an unprecedented “UK-Nordic-Baltic” summit on Thursday, bringing together the leaders of some of Europe’s most liberal, free-market, green and fiscally tough nations. David Cameron has been keen to present the meeting of nine countries as a cosy get-together, where issues such as wave power and family-friendly policies feature on the agenda alongside technology and growth. But others in Europe may see the summit as a power play by Mr Cameron – an attempt to forge a “northern league” of often Eurosceptic, Atlanticist countries that share a desire to rein in the power of Brussels and European Union spending Read Article

New CPR technique for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest increases survival by 53 percent

Physorg – A study led by Dr. Tom P. Aufderheide, professor of emergency medicine at The Medical College of Wisconsin, shows an alternative method of cardio-pulmonary resuscitation increases long-term survival of patients. The study, which is published in the January 19th, 2011 online version of Lancet, and will be in an upcoming publication of Lancet, determined that active compression-decompression cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) with augmentation of negative intrathoracic pressure gave patients a better chance of survival. When the pressure inside the thorax decreases, blood flow to the heart and brain increases. About 800,000 people in the U.S., Canada and Europe have an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest every year. The survival rate averages just 5%, in part because standard CPR is inefficient, providing just 25% of healthy blood flow to the heart and brain. Read Article

Climate Fact Of The Day – Dramatic Ocean Circulation Changes Caused a Colder Europe in the Past

ScienceDaily — The unusually cold weather this winter has been caused by a change in the winds. Instead of the typical westerly winds warmed by Atlantic surface ocean currents, cold northerly Arctic winds are influencing much of Europe. However, scientists have long suspected that far more severe and longer-lasting cold intervals have been caused by changes to the circulation of the warm Atlantic ocean currents themselves. Now new research led by Cardiff University, with scientists in the UK and US, reveals that these ocean circulation changes may have been more dramatic than previously thought. Read Article

Australia: Worksafe WA lays charges over 2008 death of Aboriginal man in prison van

The Australian – The WA government, a private security firm and two guards have been charged over the death in custody of an Aboriginal man almost three years ago. Mr Ward, whose first name cannot be used for cultural reasons, died from heatstroke in the back of a clapped-out prison van while being driven 360km across the desert to face a drink-driving charge in January 2008. The van’s air-conditioning and an emergency distress buzzer were not working at the time. The Department of Corrective Services has been charged with failing to ensure that Mr Ward was not exposed to hazards and, by that failure, causing the death of Mr Ward. Worksafe WA will allege that the department did not adequately maintain the van and ensure that its contractor, private security firm G4S, had safe systems in place to transport people in custody. Read Article

Karzai Delays Afghan Parliament as Vote Crisis Deepens

New York Times – President Hamid Karzai ordered a month’s delay in seating a new Parliament on Wednesday, heightening a constitutional crisis that threatens to fuel bitter infighting and potentially even violence among the country’s rival factions. The move leaves Afghanistan without a Parliament five months after its September election, with the prospect of even further delays. It also puts Mr. Karzai squarely at odds with his international backers, who insist the elections were valid after investing heavily in them as a way to promote Afghanistan’s fledgling democracy.  Read Article

Zimbabwe: The wettest rainy season

The Zimbabwean – Do you think there is something unusual about the wet spell Zimbabwe is experiencing? You are right. This is the wettest rainy season in 30 years and its going to continue like this until the end of this season, according to the Meteorological Department. Zimbabwe has been pounded by sporadic but heavy rains since the start of the season. It has continued into the new year. In the past 30 years, there have been only one rainy season wetter than this one in 2007. The Met Department is not promising a breather. “At least for the next days, we are expecting more heavy showers while the rest of the month is also likely to get good rain,” said head of rainfall in the Met Department, Tirivanhu Muhwati. “The mid season is going to see lots of rains pouring and those in Region 1 and 2 should expect above normal rainfall,” he said. Read Article

Silvio Berlusconi attacks judges over Ruby sex case

BBC – Italy’s prime minister has said that the magistrates who mounted what he called a politically motivated campaign to oust him should not go unpunished.Silvio Berlusconi has been summoned for questioning over allegations that he paid an under-age prostitute.In a 10-minute – often angry – TV address, Mr Berlusconi said the investigation was unconstitutional and procedurally flawed.He vowed to pass new laws to prevent magistrates pursuing elected officials. Read Article

Fight against fluoridation in Southampton could go to the government

Daily Echo – COUNCIL bosses could call on the Government to step in to stop health chiefs adding fluoride to Hampshire water supplies in the months before their powers disappear. A High Court legal bid to stop the controversial scheme starts tomorrow, but the health bosses who approved the plans say they will press ahead with the project if they win the case. That is despite the Health Secretary confirming Strategic Health Authorities (SHA) will be scrapped early next year, with the say over future fluoridation proposals falling to elected councils instead. And the heads of Southampton City and Hampshire County councils have told the Daily Echo they would fight any moves to introduce fluoride before power is handed to them, in a bid to make the process more democratic.  Read Article

Ban for Coca-Cola’s ‘Vitaminwater’ ad

Independent – An ad for Coca-Cola’s Vitamin Water has been banned for claiming that the drink is “nutritious” while containing up to five teaspoons of sugar, a watchdog said. Three people complained that the poster for Vitamin Water was misleading for using the word “nutritious” in the catchline, while one of them understood each 500ml bottle contained more than 30g of sugar. Coca-Cola said the product actually contained 23g of sugar per 500ml – “a significantly lower amount”. Defending the use of the word “nutritious”, Coca-Cola said the product contained “nutritionally meaningful quantities of several nutrients including 25% of the recommended daily allowance of four B vitamins (B6, B12, niacin and pantothenic acid) along with 100% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C”. Read Article

More dead birds found, this time in Scottsboro

WAFF – More dead birds are found, this time in a suburban Scottsboro neighborhood. A sample of 15 birds was sent to Auburn University. The remainder were picked up and discarded. Officials say this could just be something that happens naturally in nature. It was Monday afternoon around 1:00pm along Morning Glory and Golden Rod Drives that the dead blackbirds were found. Many dead blackbirds. “We estimate between 50 and 100,” said Jackson County Emergency Management Agency Director Victor Manning. Manning was called to the scene. He says the birds were found all along a tree line. “It appeared that they were in the tree. It did not appear to be an instance where they were flying and fell out of the air,” said Manning. Read Article

Russia backs independent Palestine

Press TV _ Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has reaffirmed Moscow’s support of an independent Palestinian state as recognized by the former Soviet Union in 1988. “Russia made its choice a long time ago …we supported and will support the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to an independent state with its capital in East Jerusalem [al-Quds],” Medvedev said on Tuesday at a press conference with acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank oasis town of Ariha (Jericho).  Read Article