ScienceDaily — Teenagers who drink alcohol spend more time on their computers for recreational use, including social networking and downloading and listening to music, compared with their peers who don’t drink. Results of an anonymous survey of 264 teenagers were reported in the online edition of the journal Addictive Behaviors in a study authored by Weill Cornell Medical College public health researcher Dr. Jennifer Epstein. Read article
UT San Diego – Northrop Grumman will today unveil a small new spy plane that it secretly developed in San Diego and the Mojave Desert to compete in the fast growing market for aircraft that can do everything from stalk terrorists to patrol borders to provide live video of natural disasters. Read Article
Financial Times – China’s trade balance rebounded strongly in April as exports surged and imports came in lower than expected, according to figures released by Beijing on Tuesday. The trade surplus hit $11.4bn in April, far larger than most analysts expected and well above the surplus of $140m in March. China recorded its first quarterly trade deficit in seven years in the January to March period but the unexpectedly large surplus in April will increase international pressure on Beijing to allow faster appreciation of its tightly controlled currency, the renminbi. Read Article
Bloomberg – More than 28 percent of U.S. homeowners owed more than their properties were worth in the first quarter as values fell the most since 2008, Zillow Inc. said today. Homeowners with negative equity increased from 22 percent a year earlier as home prices slumped 8.2 percent over the past 12 months, the Seattle-based company said. About 27 percent of homes with mortgages were “underwater” in the fourth quarter, according to Zillow, which runs a website with property-value estimates and real-estate listings. Home prices fell 3 percent in the first quarter and will drop as much as 9 percent this year as foreclosures spread and unemployment remains high, Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries said. Prices won’t find a floor until 2012, he said. Read Article
Independent – A coalition of campaign groups says the right to hold demonstrations in Britain is being fatally undermined by hardened police tactics, mass criminal trials and pre-emptive arrests. Defend the Right to Protest, an umbrella organisation that has been founded to support many of the groups behind recent protests against the Government’s cuts, is planning to hold a protest outside Westminster magistrates’ court this morning against what it says is “widespread tactics of intimidation” against demonstrators. Read Article
BBC – Some 200 people, mostly civilians, have been killed by retreating militiamen and Liberian mercenaries loyal to ousted Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo, officials say. The killings happened last week in coastal communities as the fighters headed for the Liberian border, the defence department said. The claim has not been independently verified. Mr Gbagbo was last week questioned over alleged human rights abuses. He was arrested a month ago, after refusing to accept defeat in the November 2010 elections. President Alassane Ouattara was sworn in as president last week and is trying to restore normal life after the four-month dispute, during which an estimated 3,000 people were killed. Read Article
Canadian Medical Association Journal – With the scientific pendulum appearing to slowly swing away from the value of fluoridating tap water, the United States Department of Health and Human Services has indicated that it will lower the recommended level of fluoride to be added to drinking water. The partial retreat comes on the heels of city of Calgary, Alberta’s decision to discontinue fluoridation of its drinking water in a bid to save $750 000 per year in direct fluoride costs and a projected $6 million equipment upgrade at its treatment plants. Although fluoridation proponents argue that such moves invite tooth decay, particularly among low-income groups who can’t afford dental care, US and Calgary officials counter that recent scientific evidence suggests that a high intake of fluoride can place people at risk of bone abnormalities and fractures. READ ARTICLE
Calgary Herald – For Calgarians wary of the side-effects of water fluoridation, it will be the day the taps can flow freely. For dentists, it will be the day that more tooth rot begins to set in. Some undetermined day in the next few weeks will mark the end of Calgary adding fluoride to its water supply. Council repealed its 20-year-old fluoridation bylaw Monday, and within two weeks Alberta Environment will give formal authority for the change, a report to aldermen says. “Once the order is issued, we can turn the taps off,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi told reporters before the evening vote. The bylaw repeal passed 10-4 on Monday, with Nenshi among those voting against it. It’s been an issue that previous councils and voters have grappled with for decades, with repeated plebiscites and council decisions. Read Article
Reuters – Army tanks shelled a residential district in Homs on Wednesday, said a rights campaigner in Syria’s third city which has emerged as the most populous center of defiance against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule. “Homs is shaking with the sound of explosions from tank shelling and heavy machineguns in the Bab Amro neighborhood,” said Najati Tayara. Assad initially responded to the unrest, the most serious challenge to his 11-year grip on power, with promises of reform. He granted citizenship to stateless Kurds and last month lifted a 48-year state of emergency.But he also sent the army to crush dissent, in Deraa where demonstrations first erupted on March 18 and then to other cities, making clear he would not risk losing the tight control his family has held over Syria for the past 41 years. Read Article
The Northern Rivers Echo – A ruling by the Land and Environment Court last week has Rous Water chair Richard Staples questioning whether Rous should continue to fight for fluoridation. Anti-fluoride activist Al Oshlack is claiming a win in the case against Rous Water, although it is far from the end of the matter. Justice Biscoe handed down a decision on a preliminary legal matter last Thursday, ruling that Rous was required to comply with sections 111 and 112 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, with respects to the impacts of fluoride on human health and the environment. The ruling means The Fluoridation Act 1957 does not stand in isolation from the EP&A Act as was previously understood. Read article
AFP - Israel plans to invest $1 billion in the development and production of batteries for its Iron Dome rocket interception system, a top Israeli defence official said in an interview published Monday. Defence Ministry director-general Major General Udi Shani told the daily Haaretz newspaper that five countries have already expressed interest in the system, which was successfully deployed during a rise in rocket fire from Gaza in early April. Read Article
NPR – In the deep waters off Cuba’s north coast, a Chinese-built oil rig is due to begin drilling this fall in an area geologists believe may have huge beds of undersea crude. A significant find could transform Cuba’s economy and possibly alter relations with the United States, but it may also present new environmental threats for the Florida coast. Mariel — the town 30 miles west of Havanna that was a departure point for more than 100,000 Cubans who left the island in the 1980 Mariel boatlift — is being remade into a servicing hub for the Cuban oil industry of the future. Crews there are working furiously to finish new port facilities and a railway with hundreds of millions in Brazilian financing. Read Article
Reuters – Japanese power firm Chubu Electric on Monday agreed to shut a nuclear plant until it can be better defended against the type of massive tsunami that in March triggered the worst atomic crisis in 25 years. The temporary shutdown of Hamaoka, which supplies power to central Japan — home to many manufacturers including Toyota Motor Corp — has added to concerns about power shortages following the crisis at another plant in northeast Japan that was crippled by the March 11 quake and tsunami. Chubu’s decision was in response to an unprecedented request by Prime Minister Naoto Kan last week to halt all reactors still operating at Hamaoka, citing the high risk that a powerful earthquake would hit the region in coming years. Read Article
Dr. David Whitehouse – Global averaged temperature data is now available for the first three months of 2011, 25 per cent of the year’s data. I thought it would be interesting to look at it through the eyes of the HadCrut3 and NasaGiss datasets. Clearly the influence of the cooling La Nina is strong, but there is something else that can be tentatively deduced from the data.
According to NasaGiss 2011 is, so far, cooler than 2010, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 1999, 1998, 1995, 1988 (aprox equal). That makes 2011 the 12th warmest start to the year on record.
The fact that the figures stretch so far back, note the appearance of dates as far back as the early 80’s in HadCrut database, emphasises the now undisputed fact that, for whatever reason, the annual global average temperature has not increased since 2001, allowing a La Nina to reach the temperatures of such relatively early years. Read Article
AFP – Privacy and consumer groups welcomed a “Do Not Track” bill introduced in the US Senate on Monday that would let Internet users block companies from gathering information about their online activities. The Do-Not-Track Online Act of 2011 was introduced by Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. “Recent reports of privacy invasions have made it imperative that we do more to put consumers in the driver’s seat when it comes to their personal information,” Rockefeller said in a statement. Read Article
New Scientist – One in every 38 children may have an autism spectrum disorder – more than double the current US estimate. The latest research in a South Korean population suggests that by overlooking children attending regular schools, previous reports wildly underestimated the true prevalence of the disorder. Autism spectrum disorders, or ASDs, include autism and Asperger’s syndrome, and are developmental disorders characterised by social, communication and behavioural problems. Young Shin Kim and her colleagues at Yale University’s Child Study Center in Connecticut set out to assess the prevalence of ASDs in over 50,000 seven- to twelve-year-olds in a South Korean community. Read article
Newsy – It’s a century-long dispute over an ancient Buddhist temple, renewed by fresh clashes in recent weeks. The temple is located within the borders of Cambodia, but Thai nationalists say it rightfully belongs to their country. Read article
AlJazeera – Iraq is full of street kids; children with one or both parents killed, or some who have merely been abandoned. It has been estimated that there are now over a million orphans in the country. But there are just four small orphanages in the capital, Baghdad – none of them filled to capacity. The Iraqi government says that relatives would rather abandon children they are unable to take care of, than bear the shame of bringing them to an orphanage.
Al Jazeera’s Jane Arraf reports from Baghdad.
AP – Navy chaplains would be allowed to perform same-sex civil marriage ceremonies under new training guidance that would take effect if the Defense Department moves this summer to recognize openly gay military service. The Navy says it is updating its training after questions arose about civil ceremonies for gay couples. Same-sex marriage ceremonies were not mentioned in Defense Department training guidelines, but also were not prohibited. Read Article