Daily Archives

Danger of a junk food diet for children: Study reveals toddlers who eat more chips, crisps, biscuits and pizza have lower IQ

Daily Mail – Toddlers fed a diet of junk food can suffer lasting damage to their brainpower, researchers warn. Children who eat more chips, crisps, biscuits and pizza before the age of three have a lower IQ five years later, a study showed. Read article

As Egypt Protest Swells, U.S. Sends Specific Demands

NYTimes – Pressure intensified on President Hosni Mubarak’s government as the largest crowd of protesters in two weeks flooded Cairo’s streets on Tuesday and the United States delivered its most specific demands yet, urging swift steps toward democracy. Protesters, some inspired by an emotional interview with an online political organizer on Egypt’s most popular talk show, occupied Tahrir Square, surrounded the Egyptian Parliament and staged sporadic demonstrations and strikes in several Egyptian cities. Read article

Wikileaks: No 10 urged commander to play down Afghanistan failures

The Telegraph – A senior adviser to Gordon Brown put pressure on the commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan to play down the “bleak and deteriorating” situation to reduce criticism of his government, leaked documents disclose. Mr Brown, the prime minister at the time, visited the country and met Gen Stanley McChrystal, the US military commander, who described the growing threat posed by the insurgency and warned that the Afghan authorities faced a crisis of confidence. A cable states that a security adviser to Mr Brown told Gen McChrystal — with Mr Brown present — that his “bleak assessment” could result in negative press coverage. Read Article

SOMALIA: Rising number of child landmine victims in Somaliland

Irin – Somalia’s self-declared independent region of Somaliland has experienced an increase in landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) explosions in the recent past, with officials calling for mine awareness education in schools, as children have been the main victims. “Child victims of land mines have increased in Somaliland in the past two months,” Ahmed Ali Maah, director of the Somaliland Mine Action Center (SMAC), told IRIN. “Some 93 children have been killed by landmines in the past three years.” Farhan Abdi Saleban, a child protection officer with Comprehensive Community-Based Rehabilitation in Somaliland (CCBRS), a local NGO, said three children died and five were injured by landmines in January; and two others were injured in December 2010. Read Article

Hamid Karzai says Afghanistan aid teams must go

BBC – Afghan President Hamid Karzai has accused foreign reconstruction teams of undermining efforts to build up the state’s institutions. He said the Provincial Reconstruction Teams were like a parallel system of government, and they would have to go. The teams build roads and schools and carry out other aid projects, funnelling billions of dollars into areas outside Kabul. Read article

U.S. starts new amnesty for offshore tax cheats

Reuters – Wealthy tax evaders with assets stashed offshore can come clean with U.S. authorities under a new amnesty program with reduced penalties, the government said on Tuesday. “It gives people a chance to come in before we find them,” Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Doug Shulman said. The new effort follows a 2009 amnesty program, which lured 15,000 taxpayers with hidden accounts. It is unclear if the new effort will net as many wealthy tax cheats as the prior amnesty program, which was backed by the force of the U.S. government’s fraud case against UBS AG, alleging the Swiss bank helped U.S. citizens avoid taxes. Publicity surrounding the government’s case against UBS, and fears among the bank’s U.S. clients that their names could end up in government hands, spurred an unprecedented response to the earlier amnesty, tax attorneys said. Read Article

Mexico Hesitates to Intervene as Rising Peso Pressures Its Exports

NY Times – Six years ago, Benjamín Hernández turned his family’s small metal-stamping company into an exporter. Although the firm barely survived the global economic crisis, it bounced back last year. But now he has a new worry. Mexico’s peso is rapidly rising against the United States dollar, which means that the cost of producing in Mexico for the American market is climbing in dollar terms. But because Mr. Hernandez faces global competition for his plant’s fire extinguisher brackets, “increasing our price isn’t an option,” he said. So Mr. Hernández keeps reinvesting in the company, called Bicar, and praying for the United States economic recovery to continue, to stimulate his sales. “We just have to make a better effort to be more efficient,” he said. Read Article

‘At least 297 killed in Egypt unrest’ – rights group

BBC – At least 297 people were killed in the unrest in Egypt in the last two weeks, Human Rights Watch (HRW) says. “It was the police’s excessive use of force and illegal tactics that caused the vast majority of these deaths,” HRW researcher Heba Morayef told the BBC World Service. “The majority of deaths occurred on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th, and the primary cause was live gunfire,” Ms Morayef added. Ms Morayef told the BBC that other protesters “were killed because of the use of teargas at close range and officers firing it into the crowd as opposed to into the air”. Read Article

Cannabis can hasten onset of psychosis, according to new research

The Australian – The smoke is clearing on the link between cannabis and mental health problems, as latest research shows how the drug can hasten the onset of schizophrenia by several years. The study, which took in data from 20,000 patients with a psychotic illness, has found those who smoked cannabis were diagnosed almost three years ahead of those who did not use the drug. Dr Matthew Large, from the University of NSW’s School of Psychiatry and Prince of Wales Hospital, said the study was unique in scale and it should settle debate on whether cannabis could trigger earlier mental health problems. Read article

Coal used for indoor heating is associated with shorter stature in very young children

PhysOrg.com – In a finding of significant worldwide public-health consequence, researchers at the UC Davis School of Medicine and in the Academy of Sciences in the Czech Republic have found that emissions from the indoor use of coal for heating and cooking may impair early childhood growth and development. Read article

South Sudan backs independence – results

BBC – They said nearly 99% of the voters in January’s referendum were in favour of dividing Africa’s biggest country. Earlier, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir again said he would accept the outcome of the vote. The poll was agreed as part of a 2005 peace agreement ending more than two decades of civil war between the south and north Sudan. Although the vote was peaceful, tension remains high in parts of the oil-rich border region. Read article

‘Tortured’ British man in Iraq faces trial tomorrow

Amnesty International - A British man is set to stand trial in Iraq on terrorism charges tomorrow amid claims that he suffered prolonged torture while being held in secret detention. Ramze Shihab Ahmed, a 68-year-old dual Iraqi-UK national who has lived in the UK since 2002, is due to appear at the Al-Rusafa Criminal Court in Baghdad tomorrow morning to face charges of inciting and fundraising for terrorism, charges that may attract a death penalty. Read Article

Pakistan: Two policemen killed, six injured in Hangu attack

Daily Times – Terrorists fired rockets and bullets at a police patrol van in Peshawar on Monday, killing two officers and injuring six others, police said. The incident, responsibility of which has been claimed by the Taliban, took place in Balyamina village, 10 kilometres west of Hangu, a town suffering from the effects of a Taliban-linked insurgency. Read Article

Khodorkovsky film vanishes again as director says: ‘It’s like a bad thriller’

The Guardian – The final edit of a documentary about jailed Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been stolen from the director’s office in Berlin, just days before its world premiere. In what police described as a “very professional break-in”, four computers containing the last cut of the film, titled simply Khodorkovsky, were removed from Cyril Tuschi’s premises. The documentary was due to be premiered at the Berlin film festival next week. Read article

China Raises Key Interest Rates to Counter Inflation

Bloomberg – China raised key interest rates for the third time since mid-October after growth accelerated and inflation stayed above 4 percent for a third month. The benchmark one-year lending rate will increase to 6.06 percent from 5.81 percent, effective tomorrow, the People’s Bank of China said on its website today. The one-year deposit rate will rise to 3 percent from 2.75 percent. A jump in lending at the start of this year may have exacerbated price pressures by adding to an excess of cash in the fastest-growing major economy. Inflation may have climbed to as much as 6 percent in January after snowstorms damaged crops and as demand climbed ahead of a Lunar New Year holiday, according to Daiwa Capital Markets. Read Article

Climate Fact Of The Day – Arctic Oscillation brings record low January extent, unusual mid-latitude weather

Arctic sea ice extent for January 2011 was the lowest in the satellite record for that month. The Arctic oscillation persisted in its strong negative phase for most of the month, keeping ice extent low.

Figure 1. Arctic sea ice extent for January 2011 was 13.55 million square kilometers (5.23 million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1979 to 2000 median extent for that month. The black cross indicates the geographic North Pole. Sea Ice Index data. About the data.
—Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center

WikiLeaks: Israel’s secret hotline to the man tipped to replace Mubarak

Telegraph - Mr Suleiman, who is widely tipped to take over from Hosni Mubarak as president, was named as Israel’s preferred candidate for the job after discussions with American officials in 2008. As a key figure working for Middle East peace, he once suggested that Israeli troops would be “welcome” to invade Egypt to stop weapons being smuggled to Hamas terrorists in neighbouring Gaza. The details, which emerged in secret files obtained by WikiLeaks and passed to The Daily Telegraph, come after Mr Suleiman began talks with opposition groups on the future for Egypt’s government. Read article

Cambodia appeals to UN over temple ‘war’

ABC – Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen has called on the United Nations to intervene in an ongoing and deadly dispute with Thailand over the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple. The Cambodian government says the latest round of fighting, which broke out on Friday, has killed several people, including a local tourist who was apparently taking photos of the temple. Hun Sen has described the clashes between troops on the Thailand-Cambodian border as “a big skirmish or a small war” and claims Thailand is trying to capture the disputed 4.6 square kilometres around the border temple. Read Article

UK ministers ‘wanted Lockerbie bomber released’

BBC - The previous UK government did “all it could” to help facilitate the release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, a report on the case says. Sir Gus O’Donnell, the country’s most senior civil servant, said there was an “underlying desire” to see Megrahi released before he died. But his report concluded that it was made clear to Libya that the final decision was up to Scottish ministers. Read Article

Guardian’s Moscow correspondent expelled from Russia

The Guardian’s Moscow correspondent has been expelled from Russia, in what is believed to be the first removal of a British staff journalist from the country since the end of the cold war. Luke Harding’s forced departure comes after the newspaper’s reporting of the WikiLeaks cables, where he reported on allegations that Russia under the rule of Vladimir Putin had become a “virtual mafia state”. Read article

BREAKING NEWS: Calgary removing fluoride from water supply

CBC – Calgary city council has voted 10-3 in favour of removing fluoride from the city’s drinking water. Two members of council, Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Ald. Brian Pincott, were out of town during Tuesday’s vote. Earlier in the day, city council considered and rejected by a vote of 8-5 putting the fluoride issue to a plebiscite during the 2013 municipal election. Council also rejected the idea of referring the matter to an expert panel. After a well-attended, all-day public meeting late last month, the removal of the chemical was recommended to council by a city committee. On Tuesday, council also supported using some of the savings of removing fluoride to examine ways of improving dental health for children living in poverty.Ald. Druh Farrell, who led the anti-fluoride charge, said helping families who can’t afford fluoridated toothpaste is a better idea that medicating the entire population. “It’s not our responsibility, but what we’ve said is because we had this responsibility and because children in poverty are used as a reason to support fluoride, then let’s really help those children,” she said. Read Article

Inflation worries push fed fund futures lower

Reuters – U.S. federal fund futures fell for a fifth straight day on Monday as investors brought forward bets on when the Federal Reserve would increase interest rates to fight rising inflation. Fed fund futures <#FF:> imply that the first chance of the U.S. central bank boosting interest rates is in September of this year. Early last week, futures pointed to the first chance of a rate hike in November. Rising oil and other commodity prices are increasingly expected to pressure the Fed to boost interest rates from the current ultra-low level near zero. The Fed last month reiterated it intends to hold rates at current levels for an “extended period,” and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke recently said “overall inflation remains quite low.” Read Article

Brittain – GPs to share £150m bonus pot for spotting mental health problems

The Guardian – Family doctors will be entitled to share in a £150m bonus pot for identifying problems in adults and children that would reduce the risk of depression and other mental health problems, the government has announced. With mental health already costing the NHS £10bn a year – a figure forecast to double in real terms over the next two decades – ministers are calling for a new approach that tackles the underlying causes of the illness which represents a third of GP cases. Read article

Egypt’s Brotherhood warns it could quit talks with government

Reuters – U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday talks to resolve Egypt’s crisis were making progress, but the main Islamist opposition in Cairo said it could quit the process if protesters’ demands were not met. Obama’s comments seemed to contradict those by Egyptian opposition figures who reported little progress in talks over demands including the immediate exit of President Hosni Mubarak. ”Obviously, Egypt has to negotiate a path and they’re making progress,” Obama told reporters in Washington. Read article