- Signs of the Times Archive for Mon, 05 Mar 2007 -

Sections on today's Signs Page:

SOTT Focus
Signs Economic Commentary for 5 March 2007

Donald Hunt
Signs of the Times
2007-03-05 04:59:00

The big story last week was the fall in stock markets across the world on Tuesday. In the United States the Dow had its biggest one-day drop since September 2001, while the housing market continued its slide and signs of recession mounted.

As for the continuing problems in housing, these will have more effects on stock prices than some might think, due to the massive amounts of bad paper being held (usually as funds holding securitized debt and derivatives connected to those markets) as assets by most all of the top financial institutions.

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Best of the Web
Report: 13 Palestinian Civilians killed, 188 injured by Israeli army during February 2007

IMEMC & Agencies
2007-03-05 17:46:00

Israeli army forces a Palestinian civilian to strip naked in an attack on the town of Nablus. Shades of Nazi Germany

The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza issued a report on Monday which stated that 13 Palestinians including one woman, were killed while 188 others were injured by Israeli army fire during the month of February 2007.

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Why the towers fell: Two theories

William Rice
Vermont Guardian
2007-03-05 17:29:00

Having worked on structural steel buildings as a civil engineer in the era when the Twin Towers were designed and constructed, I found some disturbing discrepancies and omissions concerning their collapse on 9/11.

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U.S. News
Apartheid Comes to New Jersey

Columbia Spectator
2007-03-03 17:53:00

It was a cold Sunday morning in Teaneck, N.J. Some two-hundred-odd Jewish-Americans were entering the Orthodox synagogue Congregation B'nai Yeshurun where they were to hear a sales pitch by the Amana Settlement Movement aimed at convincing them to buy homes in illegal Israeli settlements.

America, the land that gave the world the separation of church and state, is hosting an auction where only members of one religious group can buy property.

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Cherokees accused of racist plot as sons of slaves are cast out

Tim Reid
The Times of London
2007-03-05 17:09:00

Cherokees voted yesterday to expel descendants of black slaves they once owned, a move that has exposed the unsavoury role played by some Native Americans during the Civil War and renewed accusations of racism against the tribe.

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Flashback: Pentagon boosts 'media war' unit

BBC News
2006-10-31 17:08:00

The US defence department has set up a new unit to better promote its message across 24-hour rolling news outlets, and particularly on the internet.

The Pentagon said the move would boost its ability to counter "inaccurate" news stories and exploit new media.

Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said earlier this year the US was losing the propaganda war to its enemies.

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Flashback: The Pentagon is toying with the idea of black propaganda

BBC News
2002-02-20 17:03:00

As part of George Bush's war on terrorism, the military is thinking of planting propaganda and misleading stories in the international media.

A new department has been set up inside the Pentagon with the Orwellian title of the Office of Strategic Influence.

It is well funded, is being run by a general and its aim is to influence public opinion abroad.

Black and white

It has been canvassing opinion within the Pentagon on what it should do.

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US regime is creating giant fake film-set versions of Iraq and Afghanistan to record propaganda footage

UK Guardian
2007-03-05 17:00:00

They came with dreams of working on a movie set, or at the very least of earning some respectable cash as a walk-on extra, encouraged by a mysterious advertisement printed recently in a Berlin tabloid.

But the reality was different for dozens of Arab-speaking applicants at a supposed casting session, only to be told they were wanted to play Iraqis and Afghans in a US wargame planned for later this month.

For between £61 and £88 a day, 600 German-based Arab speakers are being offered work with the US military, pretending to be mayors, shopkeepers, terrorists or even brothel owners. The Americans call them COBs or Civilians on the Battlefield. The idea is to set them in a landscape simulating Afghanistan or Iraq, in Bavaria.

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War protesters arrested at Wash. port

Associated Press
2007-03-05 16:11:00

TACOMA, Wash. - Police arrested three people early Monday during a protest of Iraq-bound Army vehicles at a Washington state port.

Several dozen people showed up at the Port of Tacoma to protest the shipment of Stryker vehicles and other equipment from Fort Lewis. Caitlin Esworthy, Walter Cuddeford and Jeffery Berryhill were arrested for investigation of assault.

Zoltan Grossman, a geography professor at Evergreen State College in Olympia who was observing the protest, said he didn't know what prompted the arrests.

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UK & Euro-Asian News
2007 German horror tale - Teen locked in psych hospital for being Home-schooled

By Paul Belien
Washington Times
2007-03-05 00:36:00

Earlier this month, a German teen-ager was forcibly taken from her parents and imprisoned in a psychiatric ward. Her crime? She is being home-schooled.

On Feb. 1, 15 German police officers forced their way into the home of the Busekros family in the Bavarian town of Erlangen. They hauled off 16-year-old Melissa, the eldest of the six Busekros children, to a psychiatric ward in nearby Nuremberg. Last week, a court affirmed that Melissa has to remain in the Child Psychiatry Unit because she is suffering from "school phobia."

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Al Qaeda Targets Prince Harry

2007-03-04 23:46:00

Al Qaeda terrorists have vowed to kidnap or kill Prince Harry when he fights in Iraq, it is reported.

The 22-year-old is due to be sent out in May with colleagues from the Blues and Royal regiment.

Threats have been posted on extremist websites since his deployment was revealed, The Sun says.

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Flashback: U.S. forces shoot just-freed Italian hostage, kill negotiator

Various Sources
And Signs of the Times
2005-03-04 19:01:00

ROME - Joy turned to horror in Italy on Friday when an Italian journalist who had been held hostage in Iraq was released, only to be shot by U.S. military forces at a checkpoint in Baghdad.
Journalist Giuliana Sgrena underwent shoulder surgery in Baghdad Friday.

Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena suffered a shrapnel wound to her shoulder when an American armoured car fired on her vehicle, while an Italian intelligence officer who had negotiated her release was killed.

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Italy still wants justice from U.S. for Iraq shooting

2007-03-04 18:32:00

Italy has raised the stakes in a spat with the United States over the killing by a U.S. soldier of an Italian intelligence agent in Iraq, saying Washington must set things right by assuming responsibility for the death.

Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema openly challenged the United States at a weekend commemoration of Nicola Calipari, the agent killed on March 4, 2005 at a U.S. military checkpoint near Baghdad airport.

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Around the World
U.N. must boost presence in Somalia: aid officials

Robert Evans
2007-03-05 15:32:00

GENEVA - The United Nations urgently needs international support to boost its presence in Somalia and restore basic services, or the country could collapse into chaos, U.N. aid officials said on Monday.

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Russian Journalist Dies in Suspicious Fall From Window

abc news
2007-03-05 14:34:00

Respected Russian journalist Ivan Safronov, who reported on military affairs, mysteriously plunged to his death from the 5th floor of his apartment building Friday, making him the 14th journalist to die under questionable circumstances in Putin's Russia, according to statistics compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Ivan Safronov

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Troops ready for Taliban spring offensive, O'Connor says

CBC News
2007-03-04 06:37:00

Canada is well prepared in Afghanistan for the possibility of a spring offensive by Taliban insurgents, Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor says.

"If there's any return of the Taliban in any large numbers we would know instantly. We also have the whole area targeted, so we are well prepared," O'Connor said Sunday in an interview with CBC News from Ottawa.

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Chavez correctly identifies U.S. envoy, Negroponte, as 'professional killer'.

Elizabeth M. Nunez
Associated Press
2007-03-04 18:49:00

CARACAS, Venezuela - President Hugo Chavez on Sunday said he believes enemies including the CIA are out to kill him, and called U.S. diplomat John Negroponte a "professional killer."

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Big Brother
No more secrets

Steve Boggan
The Guardian
2007-03-05 06:17:00

Earlier this year, Tony Blair announced plans to allow government departments to share more information about us, while rubbishing the suggestion that this would lead to the creation of a "Big Brother" super-database. At the moment, he said, over-zealous rules on data-sharing leave government departments hamstrung. Each one stores information on us, and much of it is out of date. Ministers even cited the disturbing case of one man who had had to contact 44 branches of government to sort out affairs when a family member died. How much simpler it would be, then, to have all our identity information in one place where it could be easily updated with one phone call or letter.

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Hey kids, no talking in the classroom, Big Brother is watching

Pia Chandavarkar
Pune Newsline
2007-03-05 06:13:00

This is not an everyday scene in a classroom in a regular school: Seven-year-old Amit Mane's teacher has stepped out after giving the class an assignment. Having completed his work, Mane is now leaning over to chat with his mate. Suddenly a voice booms through the speakers on the classroom wall, commanding Mane to get back to work. He obeys meekly, suddenly remembering that innocent chatter let alone pranks that is part and parcel of schools elsewhere, is not acceptable here.

For the students of Zilla Parishad school (classes I-V) at Loni Kand, some 10 km from here, this has become daily routine. Even as most ZP schools battle with shortage of teachers and infrastructure limitations, the Loni Kand School seems to be playing catch up with some of the pricey Panchgani private schools, by going in for closed circuit cameras to monitor each move that a student makes.

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AA Employee To Be Retrained Following Gore Faux Pas

2007-03-04 23:43:00

EVERYONE Goes Through Security

He could have been president... and ANN is forever in his debt for "inventing" the Internet. His documentary won an Oscar... and he brought global warming to the forefront of world issues. Any way you look at it, everyone knows who he is, and a man of such stature requires special service, even at the airport. Right?

Wrong. So found out one American Airlines employee Wednesday who led former Vice President Al Gore and two staffers around an airport security line. The employee, who has not been identified, will be required to re-take an airport security training course.

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MI5 trains supermarket checkout staff

Sophie Goodchild and Paul Lashmar
The Independent
2007-03-04 18:42:00

Supermarket checkout staff are being trained by the security services in how to detect potential terrorists. MI5 has been secretly advising food retailers, including Asda and Tesco, on how to identify extremist shoppers.

Measures include increasing CCTV in underground carparks to prevent bomb attacks and being alert to mass purchases of mobile phones, which can be used as bomb detonators. The awareness training for staff also covers bulk sales of toiletries which could be used as the basic ingredient in explosives.

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Axis of Evil
Abbas asks why EU allows Israel's crimes to continue

2007-03-05 17:18:00

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas complained yesterday to the European Union of "a series of provocative and illegal Israeli actions." He went on to accuse the EU of discrimination against the Palestinians, and of fostering an unjust, pro-Israeli approach. In an unusually harsh letter from Dr. Rafiq Husseini, Abbas' chief of staff, to German Foreign Minister Frank Walter-Steimeier, the Palestinian leadership complained of several instances in which Israel has allegedly violated its prior commitments, including the road map.

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Zionists accuse Americans of 'a shameful betrayal of American values' for meeting Iranian politicians

2007-03-04 17:16:00

A late-February meeting between representatives of American Christian denominations and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad amounted to "a shameful betrayal of American values and the Christian-Jewish relationship," the Anti-Defamation League said over the weekend. [Apparently, the ADL would like every American to adopt unquestioning support for Israel and automatic rejection of Israel's enemies as basic "American values".]

"By meeting with Ahmadinejad, these American Christian leaders are collaborating with a dangerous despot who calls for the destruction of Israel and denies the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust," said ADL national director Abraham Foxman.

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Guantanamo inmates appeal detention to US top court

James Vicini
2007-03-05 15:28:00

WASHINGTON - Some of the Guantanamo prisoners have been unlawfully detained for more than five years and deserve at least a hearing on their challenge to their confinement, their attorneys said on Monday in an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The lawyers argued a U.S. appeals court was wrong in its ruling last month that upheld a key part of an anti-terrorism law sought by President George W. Bush that took away the rights of the prisoners to challenge their detention before U.S. federal judges.

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US Soldier Censors, Threatens AP photographer

Raw Story
2007-03-05 11:46:00

Following a suicide bombing and ensuing gunfight between Afghan militants and American soldiers on Sunday, a US soldier demanded that an Associated Press photographer delete his photos. The photographer, Rahmat Gul, did not witness the suicide attack or the gun battle, reports the AP, but was in the vicinity.

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Did 'Flawed' US intel boost North Korea's nuclear program? (Where have we heard this before?)

By Tom Regan
2007-03-05 00:50:00

The belief that North Korea has an active and "clandestine" uranium enrichment program has come under question after statements this week from US officials. The Washington Post reports that the US is now backing away from this position, which has led "experts to believe that the original US intelligence that started the crisis over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions may have been flawed."

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New Doubts On Nuclear Efforts by North Korea - U.S. Less Certain of Uranium Program

By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post
2007-03-05 00:48:00

The Bush administration is backing away from its long-held assertions that North Korea has an active clandestine program to enrich uranium, leading some experts to believe that the original U.S. intelligence that started the crisis over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions may have been flawed.

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Middle East Madness
Injured Palestinian dies after being held up at gate by Israeli Troops

2007-03-05 17:43:00

On 17 February 2007, around 9:40 P.M., three young men from 'Azzun 'Atmah were summoned to help free a car that was stuck in a field in the village. They drove to the area in a tractor without lights. The tractor went up onto a boulder and flipped over. One of the men, 'Adel 'Omar, 21, was pinned under the tractor and seriously injured. One of the men ran to the village to get somebody to bring a bigger tractor to aid in the rescue. The bigger tractor then lifted up the tractor under which the man was pinned. The injured man was evacuated in a private car, in order to get him to the hospital in Qalqilya as quickly as possible.

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Crazed Illegal Israeli Settlers launch first drive in U.S. to sell homes

2007-03-03 17:39:00

A campaign launched this week to convince American Jews to buy homes in the West Bank is the first organized sales effort of its kind, activists from both sides of the political spectrum said.

Amana, the settlement arm of Gush Emunim, hosted housing fairs in New York and New Jersey this week and plans are underway for similar events in Miami and Chicago.

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Iraqi government condemns 'illegal' raid in which British forces released captured terrorists again

BBC News
2007-03-05 17:14:00

Iraq's prime minister has called for an investigation into Sunday's raid by Iraqi and British forces in Basra on an intelligence agency detention centre.

Nouri Maliki issued a statement calling for those behind the "illegal and irresponsible act" to be punished.

The British military said the raid was part of an operation led by Iraqi counter-terrorist forces who were seeking a "known death squad leader".

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US military takes cameras from journalists to delete photo and video evidence of war crimes

2007-03-05 16:16:00

Afghan journalists covering the aftermath of a "suicide attack" and shooting in eastern Afghanistan say US troops deleted their photos and video and warned them not to publish any images.

Afghan witnesses and gunshot victims said US forces fired on civilians in cars and on foot along at least a six-mile stretch of road in Nangarhar province following a "suicide attack" against the Marine convoy. The US military said militants also fired on American forces during the attack.

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U.S., Iraqi forces enter Shiite center

Brian Murphy
Associated Press
2007-03-05 00:37:00

BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. and Iraqi troops poured into Baghdad's main Shiite militia stronghold Sunday, encountering no resistance in the one-time Sadr City combat zones but testing the Shiites' commitment to the U.S.-promoted campaign to drive militants from the capital.

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Purim Special: From Esther to AIPAC

Gilad Atzmon
2007-03-05 00:19:00

"In certain contexts, memory can be subversive; in others, memory can shield the status quo. When individuals and communities become vested with memory as a form of identity and specialness, then other suffering threatens to displace the centrality of our experience. Instead of a bridge of solidarity to others who are suffering in the present, suffering in the past can become a badge of honour, protecting us from the challenges that are before us. Then our witness, originally powerful, opening questions about God and power, becomes diluted, can be seen as fake, contrived, even wilfully so. An industry grows up around you, honours you, and at the same time uses your witness for other reasons. In the end a confusion results, externally and internally, until the witness himself can no longer differentiate between the world of interpretation he helped articulate and the world that now speaks in his name. Is this what happened to Wiesel, or is Finkelstein's more acerbic analysis accurate?"[1]

Jewishness is a rather broad term. It refers to a culture with many faces, varied distinctive groups, different beliefs, opposing political camps, different classes and diversified ethnicity. Nevertheless, the connection between those very many people who happen to identify themselves as Jews is rather intriguing. In the paragraphs that follow, I will try to further the search into the notion of Jewishness. I will make an attempt to trace the intellectual, spiritual and mythological collective bond that makes Jewishness into a powerful identity.

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The Loan Gunmen
HSBC Bank profits up to £11.5bn

The Independent
2007-03-05 16:00:00

Banking giant HSBC saw profits rise 5% to 22.09 billion US dollars (£11.48 billion) today but counted the costs of increased bad debts in its US mortgages operation.

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Correction: this could become a crash after all

Larry Elliott
The Guardian
2007-03-05 15:56:00

With his low opinion poll ratings, George Bush needs a crash on Wall Street like a hole in the head. The days are ticking away towards the end of his presidency and the Pentagon is warning that unless the "surge" in Iraq works the United States could be heading for another Vietnam.

Little wonder, then, that Washington did its best to rubbish any suggestion that last week's turbulence on the financial markets amounted to anything more than a little temporary difficulty. In this, the Bush administration was ably supported by the great and good of New York - or at least that part of the financial elite that wasn't banged up for alleged insider trading last week by the securities and exchange commission. As ever, the same reassuring story was spun. Like a hypnotist faced with a sceptical member of the audience, the words were repeated over and over again. Listen, this is a correction not a crash. Relax, the fundamentals of the global economy are strong. Are you listening to me? There will be no recession in the US. Did you hear what I said? There will be no recession in the US.

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Asian stocks plunge, Nikkei tumbles for 5th day

CBC News
2007-03-05 06:41:00

Markets in Asia and Europe fell again Monday, extending their slide into a second week as investors worried about a possible global slowdown dumped stocks that had surged in recent weeks.

Also sparking jitters was the yen's jump to a three-month high against the U.S. dollar as traders sold off higher-yielding investments funded by borrowing money at Japan's ultra-low interest rates. A decline in this so-called yen-carry trade could hurt global liquidity.

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Gasification may be key to U.S. ethanol; Corn demand could push up prices

Associated Press
2007-03-05 05:24:00

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The government awarded $385 million in grants last week aimed at jumpstarting ethanol production from nontraditional sources like wood chips, switchgrass and citrus peels. What's surprising is that half of the six projects chosen will use a process first discovered almost a century ago to turn coal into a gas.

President Bush set a goal in his State of the Union address of producing 20 percent of the nation's fuel supply from renewable resources by 2017. Much of those supplies will come from the conversion of corn into enthanol, fueled by a boom in new ethanol plant construction that's already under way.

But Thursday's forecast from the Agriculture Department that half of this year's U.S. corn crop will be consumed by ethanol producers has raised red flags. Critics say surging demand for corn could push up prices of everything from corn-sweetened soft drinks to meats, since corn is a common feed ingredient for livestock.

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Asian markets plunge across board

Associated Press
2007-03-05 05:21:00

TOKYO - Markets in Asia and Europe fell again Monday, extending their slide into a second week as investors worried about a possible global slowdown dumped stocks that had surged in recent weeks.

Also sparking jitters was the yen's jump to a three-month high against the dollar as traders sold off higher-yielding investments funded by borrowing money at Japan's ultra-low interest rates. A decline in this so-called yen-carry trade could hurt global liquidity.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index fell for a fifth day, tumbling 575.68 points, or 3.34 percent, to 16,642.25 points, dragged down by major exporters such as Canon Inc., Sony Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp., whose earnings are eroded by a stronger yen. Since reaching a nearly seven-year high last Monday, the Nikkei index has slid 8.64 percent.

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Revealed: Blair's billionaire buddies

Times Online
2007-03-04 20:18:00

TONY BLAIR is wooing some of America's biggest billionaires with a Downing Street reception during his final days in power, including the tycoon who hired Bill Clinton after he left office.

Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, regarded as one of London's most influential political hostesses, has arranged the select gathering. At least seven billionaires with a combined worth of more than £25 billion are on the guest list.

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The Living Planet
Heavy storm hits Russia's Far East, state of emergency declared

RIA Novosi
2007-03-05 05:53:00

A heavy storm that hit the Primorye Territory in Russia's Far East Sunday has paralyzed the region and prompted local authorities to declare a state of emergency, the press office of the regional administration said Monday.

The snowstorm, the most powerful in more than 100 years of weather observations in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok in March, disrupted transportation and power supplies in several areas in the region's south, leaving some 2,000 people without electricity, the regional authorities said.

First Deputy Governor Alexander Kostenko has been placed in charge of the regional administration's efforts to restore order in the snowstorm's wake, the administration's press office said.

"The main task for all of the region's essential services and the emergency ministry's teams is to clear the roads," the press office said.

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Tornadoes wreak havoc across US

NewScientist.com news service
2007-03-05 00:07:00

Tornadoes ripped across the Southern and Midwestern US on Thursday, killing at least 11 people, most of whom had been taking shelter in an Alabama high school when it collapsed.

Five people died when the school building was torn open by the twister in the town of Enterprise, according to Yasmie Richardson of the state's Emergency Management Agency. The agency had said earlier that 17 people had died in the town, but later lowered the state-wide toll to seven, blaming initial miscommunication among officials.

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Early flurry of killer tornadoes linked to cold winter

Catherine Brahic
NewScientist.com news service
2007-03-05 00:04:00

The tornadoes that tore across the south-eastern US on Thursday, killing at least 19 people, were devastating but not unprecedented, say tornado experts. However, the twisters did strike unusually early in the year.

The tornado season in the US normally reaches its peak between mid-April and June. The tornadoes tend to get stronger as the year progresses because warming temperatures increase the amount of energy in the atmosphere.

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Brutal Cold Returning To The Northeast US

2007-03-05 00:00:00

State College, PA - While wicked weather will not return to the nation early next week, arctic air will make a comeback across the Northeast. After a seasonable day on Monday, frigid air from the north Tuesday will send temperatures back to the brutally cold values of this past February.

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The Great Global Warming Swindle

2007-03-04 23:57:00

Channel 4 Thursday 8 March at 9pm

In a polemical and thought-provoking documentary, film-maker Martin Durkin argues that the theory of man-made global warming has become such a powerful political force that other explanations for climate change are not being properly aired.

The film brings together the arguments of leading scientists who disagree with the prevailing consensus that a 'greenhouse effect' of carbon dioxide released by human activity is the cause of rising global temperatures.

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'Global Warming Is Lies' Claims Documentary

2007-03-04 23:55:00

Accepted theories about man causing global warming are "lies" claims a controversial new TV documentary.

'The Great Global Warming Swindle' - backed by eminent scientists - is set to rock the accepted consensus that climate change is being driven by humans.

The programme, to be screened on Channel 4 on Thursday March 8, will see a series of respected scientists attack the "propaganda" that they claim is killing the world's poor.

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Health & Wellness
FDA may approve cow drug

2007-03-05 06:46:00

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to approve a powerful antibiotic for cattle despite warnings it would be dangerous for people, U.S. media reported on Monday.

The drug, called cefquinome, belongs to a class of highly potent antibiotics that are among medicine's last defenses against several serious human infections. No drug from that class has been approved in the United States for use in animals.

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Blame your genes for hunger pangs

Kerala online
2007-03-05 06:30:00

A genetic abnormality that makes people hungry between meals is behind the problem of obesity among almost 50,000 Britons, say scientists at the University of Cambridge.

The gene mutation prevents approximately one in every 1,000 individuals from identifying the presence of the hormone that normally tells the brain when they have eaten enough.

Scientists say that up to one per cent of obese people find it virtually impossible to diet due to the abnormality in the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that plays a central role in hunger.

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Study: The color red impacts achievement

Science Daily
2007-03-05 06:04:00

U.S. and German scientists have discovered the color red can affect how people function, keeping them from performing at their best on tests.

University of Rochester and University of Munich researchers looking at the effect of red on intellectual performance found if test takers are aware of even a hint of red, their performance will be affected to a significant degree.

University of Rochester psychology Professor Andrew Elliot, lead author of the research, said investigators found when people see even a flash of red before being tested, they associate the color with mistakes and failures. In turn, they do poorly on the test.

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Sleep deprivation affects moral judgment

Dr. Priya Saxena
2007-03-05 06:00:00

Research has shown that bad sleep can adversely affect a person's physical health and emotional well-being. However, the amount of sleep one gets can also influence his or her decision-making. A study published in the March 1st issue of the journal SLEEP finds that sleep deprivation impairs the ability to integrate emotion and cognition to guide moral judgments.

The study, conducted by William D.S. Killgore, PhD, and colleagues at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, was focused on 26 healthy adults, who made judgments about the "appropriateness" of various courses of action in response to three types of moral dilemmas on two separate occasions: at rested baseline and again following 53 hours of continuous wakefulness.

Compared to baseline, sleep deprivation resulted in significantly longer response latencies (suggesting greater difficulty deciding upon a course of action) for moral personal dilemmas.

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Severe PTSD Damages Children's Brains, Study Shows

Science Daily
2007-03-05 05:40:00

Severe stress can damage a child's brain, say researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. The researchers found that children with post-traumatic stress disorder and high levels of the stress hormone cortisol were likely to experience a decrease in the size of the hippocampus - a brain structure important in memory processing and emotion.

Although similar effects have been seen in animal studies, this is the first time the findings have been replicated in children. The researchers focused on kids in extreme situations to better understand how stress affects brain development.

"We're not talking about the stress of doing your homework or fighting with your dad," said Packard Children's child psychiatrist Victor Carrion, MD. "We're talking about traumatic stress. These kids feel like they're stuck in the middle of a street with a truck barreling down at them."

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Bird flu breakthrough could halt pandemic says expert

2007-03-05 00:56:00

HONG KONG (AFP) - Researchers in the United States believe they have found an easily-produced vaccine for the killer H5N1 bird flu that could halt a feared pandemic, a media report said Monday.

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Science & Technology
The Big Green Fuel Lie

Daniel Howden
The Independent
2007-03-05 15:48:00

George Bush says that ethanol will save the world. But there is evidence that biofuels may bring new problems for the planet

The ethanol boom is coming. The twin threats of climate change and energy security are creating an unprecedented thirst for alternative energy with ethanol leading the way.

That process is set to reach a landmark on Thursday when the US President, George Bush, arrives in Brazil to kick-start the creation of an international market for ethanol that could one day rival oil as a global commodity. The expected creation of an "Opec for ethanol" replicating the cartel of major oil producers has spurred frenzied investment in biofuels across the Americas.

But a growing number of economists, scientists and environmentalists are calling for a "time out" and warning that the headlong rush into massive ethanol production is creating more problems than it is solving.

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Learning From Mistakes Next Challenge For Japanese Humanoids

Tokyo AFP
2007-03-05 12:07:00

Japan's advanced humanoids can now serve tea and wash the cup afterwards, but they still need to learn from their mistakes if they are to become real household helpers. A Tokyo University team this week showed their latest robots which can perform more complicated daily tasks, but the machines still have a learning curve.

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Animal abuse or great achievement? Scientist create computer controlled pigeon

The Future of Things
2007-03-05 08:31:00

Chinese scientists succeeded to attach a chip to the brain of a pigeon which allowed them to remotely control the pigeon movements. The scientists from the Robot Engineering Technology Research Centre at Shandong University of Science and Technology in China used hair-thin electrodes which were implanted in the brain of the pigeon in key locations responsible for movement.

The Chinese scientists already successfully implanted similar electrodes in fish, rats, mice and monkeys in research that was driven by military and intelligence interests. This is the first time a bird is being controlled in this way. The scientists reported that they successfully ordered the birds to fly right or left or up or down using a computer and remote control.


The US navy also hopes to use similar implants to exploit sharks' ability to sense minute electrical changes left by a vessel as it sail in the vicinity of the shark. IN this way the navy will have a highly sensitive biological sensor which will be very hard for the enemy to detect.

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Galaxy Ripped to Shreds

Sara Goudarzi
2007-03-05 05:43:00

Astronomers are watching a galaxy rip to shreds, a finding that could help reveal how galaxies go from stellar riches to rags.

While looking at the galaxy cluster Abell 2667 with the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists found a spiral galaxy which they nicknamed the "Comet Galaxy."

The gas and stars of the Comet Galaxy-moving through the cluster at speeds of more than 2 million mph-are being stripped away by the tidal forces of the cluster. Also, the pressure of the cluster's scorching gas plasma - known as ram pressure stripping - is adding to the damage.

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Model puts new spin on hurricane prediction

Jon Cartwright
2007-03-05 05:37:00

Physicists in the US have got to grips with a phenomenon that can cause hurricane winds to intensify rapidly. So-called "eyewall replacement" occurs when the cloud wall encircling the eye of a major hurricane breaks down, only to be replaced by a new wall farther out. The physicists claim that this latest insight will help to predict when and to what extent hurricanes will intensify

The dynamics that govern a hurricane's path and intensity are incredibly complex, and one of the least understood is eyewall replacement. In this process the wind speed drops initially when the first cloud walls collapse. But the new walls that move in to replace them re-intensify the wind as they shrink inward - a similar result of angular momentum conservation that makes ice skaters spin faster as they fold their arms.

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Why Starkey believes this is the unknown face of the teenage Queen

Dalya Alberge
The Times
2007-03-05 05:20:00

She was Queen of England for nine days in 1553, but historians have had to rely on contemporary descriptions of Lady Jane Grey's appearance as no portrait was thought to have survived from her lifetime.

Now a miniature measuring less than 2in (5cm) in diameter has been identified as a portrait of England's briefest monarch. It had languished in an American collection, its subject described as "unknown woman".

After 12 months of research, David Starkey, the Tudor specialist, believes that it is a contemporary portrait of Lady Jane Grey, the great-granddaughter of Henry VII who was deposed and beheaded by Mary I. "Jane need not remain one of history's invisible women," Dr Starkey said.

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Our Haunted Planet
Edo-period kappa sketches

Pink Tentacle
2007-03-02 16:06:00


Kappa, arguably Japan's most well-known creature of legend, are mischievous river imps notorious for luring people - particularly children - into the water to drown and eat them. They smell like fish, enjoy cucumbers and sumo, and are said to be very courteous despite their malicious tendencies.

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A "village walking through the air"

Daniela Giordano
American Chronicle
2007-03-05 06:37:00

A fleet of motor fishing vessels from Mazara del Vallo (Trapani, Sicily, Italy), composed by a ten of floating, got ready to spend the nocturnal hours resting after a profitable fishing expedition. They were in a gulf in international waters approximately 20/25 miles from the African coast, at exactly Lat. 33.22.oo north and Long. 12.10.00 east. It was the evening of 9 December 1997, between the 20,20 and the 22,30 hours. The sky was serene, the stars were visible and the sea was calm. A quiet fell over the crews. Below deck many rested, whilst others did crosswords or smoked on deck. On average each fishing vessel was manned by a crew of ten. On board the Schedir the engineer Gaspare Calamusa, a young man approximately 30 years old, was busy chatting with Vito Giacalone, the 53 years old skipper of the Orchidea by radio. The radio was located in the wheel house, from where Gaspare had a good view of the horizon.

All of a sudden he jumped dumbfounded, the north-western part of the horizon seemed to burst into flame as though it were sunset, the product of ten suns.

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Wisconsin: Fireball thought to be meteor

The Associated Press
2007-03-05 00:00:00

From southeastern Wisconsin to as far as Des Moines, Iowa and St. Louis, people reported seeing balls of fire, possibly meteors, streaking across the sky Sunday night.

No major meteor showers were expected in the northern hemisphere on Sunday night, said Jim Lattis, director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison astronomy department's Space Place. But he said it was possible that a minor shower may have been what prompted calls to authorities.

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Don't Panic! Lighten Up!
Garage has nose for hidden snake

2007-03-05 17:36:00

A mysterious smell in a family saloon car led mechanics to a grisly find - a dead snake behind the instrument panel.

Staff at Murketts Garage in Histon Road, Cambridge, said they spent about three hours exploring a Vauxhall Astra before locating a 3ft python.

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Human liver, partial head mistakenly delivered to Michigan family home

Associated Press
2007-03-05 06:43:00

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Two packages containing human body parts - including a liver and a partial head - that were intended for a lab were delivered to a home instead and officials said more than two dozen similar packages could be dispersed across the United States.

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Couple leave son, 3, on plane

2007-03-05 06:25:00

A Chinese couple were in such a rush to meet relatives they left their three-year-old son on a plane.

An attendant on the China Southern Airlines flight from Guangzhou to Dalian city found the child after landing.

She told Bandao Morning News that she spotted an unclaimed red coat on a window seat after the passengers had disembarked.

"I lifted the coat, and found a child around three-years-old sleeping underneath," she said.

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Obese woman unaware of pregnancy until near birth

2007-03-05 06:08:00

A woman who weighs more than 400 pounds (180 kg) said on Sunday she did not know she was pregnant until two days before giving birth this week to a healthy baby boy.

April Branum, 39, of Garden Grove, just south of Los Angeles, went to a local emergency room on February 26 with stomach pain only to discover she was pregnant with a full-term fetus.

Doctors discovered the baby as they took X-rays of Branum's abdominal area and referred her to UCI Medical Center in the nearby city of Orange, California, for prenatal testing, said Susan Mancia, a spokeswoman for UCI Medical Center.

No defects were detected and two days later on February 28, Branum gave birth by caesarean section to a healthy, 7-lb 7-oz (3.4 kg) boy named Walter Scott Edwards III.

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